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Self-examination in a climate of welcome.



Last week we began exploring repentance with the intention of stabilizing a climate of welcome within. This week let us allow that same intention to be part of the Lenten practice of self-examination. We often mistake the practice of self-examination for our innate ability to self reflect. As humans, we are naturally capable of being able to watch ourselves and examine what we see in ourselves. This can be a very useful practice and grows our world 48 creaturely self awareness in many helpful ways. However, this kind of self-examination comes from the seat of our egoic consciousness and can be easily and skillfully executed by our spiritual super ego. “The superego is the ethical component of the personality and provides the moral standards by which the ego operates. The superego's criticisms, prohibitions, and inhibitions form a person's [egoic or narrative] conscience, and its positive aspirations and ideals represent one's idealized self-image, or “ego ideal”” (Britannica). There is no doubt that the superego has many beneficial aspects and yet as we saw last week in Cynthia's words, "by virtue of its own internal hardwiring is always going to see the world in terms of polarized opposites," including when it comes to ourselves.

 

The kind of self-examination that we are invited into is one that arises from the seat of a different Selfhood beyond the egoic or narrative selfhood. The Self that can see without justification, shame, and defensiveness. This Self can practice an examination of our self in time objectively and within a climate of welcome. This Self has the capacity for objective consciousness which allows freedom from the egoic narrative selfhood. From this seat of Selfhood we can look at our challenges, parts of the personality, the world, and life objectively, as is. From here we can see that our egoic self often pushes up against that objectivity, against seeing things as they really are. When we notice this resistance, rather than viewing it as a problem in the way, we can allow it to remind us to step back into that deeper Self and open to a climate of welcome.

 

Within the interior climate of welcome this kind of self-examination—seeing ourselves and the situation at hand as we are, as it really is—can support our deepening in objective conscience. In the Gurdjieff Work, objective conscience can help us to de-contract and loosen up our mechanical and less than human ways of operating, and as a result can revive the innate sacred impulses such as Faith, Hope, and Love. Within the interior climate of welcome this kind of self-examination leads to remorse of conscience, “which produces a state that can be briefly described as a sort of glad sadness. Simply put, when we wake up to something that has been keeping us from being whole we experience a sting, accompanied by a type of joy from seeing the opportunity to grow. In this regard, our Objective Conscience is also an emotional sense of ourself and our organism’s health/wholeness. Conscience will then regulate the emotions of our organism to motivate it to correct the issue” (gurdjieff.work).

 

This kind of self-examination practice is in a way another form of repentance, metanoia, going beyond our ordinary egoic mind into the Larger Mind or Heart of God within us. True self-examination must arise from "that nondual knowingness of the heart which can see and live from the perspective of wholeness." Thus we can welcome the remorse of conscience these practices illicit and be grateful that there is another Selfhood operating within us, regardless of how dormant it may seem.

 

And so we continue on stabilizing enjoyment and a climate of welcome within. . .

 

Lenten joy and peace to you and yours,

Heather


 

Daily Contemplative Pauses Readings

from last week

Monday, February 26th with Heather

“Centering Prayer teaches…[us that ] we can allow anything to come up out of the unconsciousness, and it will have absolutely no hold on us as long as we are willing to let go of it. If we don't grab it, it can't grab us... it is utterly true that the practice of not clinging to the creations of the imagination will allow us to stand deeply and quietly gathered in the heart of God, no matter what outer or inner storms may assail us.” — Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening

 

Chant: sink into the taproot of your heart 

 

Tuesday, February 27th with Heather

Here I am, as I am

Holy, Human

In this world, as it is

Sacred, Profane

Ever connected, in this wondrous luminous web

Ever abiding, in the Heart of God

— Body Prayer composed by Heather Ruce, first and third line words are from Babette Lightner




 

Chant: help me open my heart, so I can love all that I need to love


Wednesday, February 28th with Heather

Deep peace of the rolling waves to you.

Deep peace of the silent stars.

Deep peace of the blowing air to you.

Deep peace of the quiet earth.

Let peace, let peace, let peace fill your soul.

May peace, may peace, may peace keep you whole.


Thursday, February 29th with Tom

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” —Matthew 5:8

"In wisdom teaching, purity means singleness, and the proper translation of this Beatitude is, really, “Blessed are those whose heart is not divided” or “whose heart is a unified whole.” Jesus emerged from his baptism as the ihidaya, meaning the “single one” in Aramaic—one who has unified his or her being and become what we would nowadays call “enlightened.”

According to Jesus, this enlightenment takes place primarily within the heart. When your heart becomes “single”—that is, when it desires one thing only, when it can live in perfect alignment with that resonant field of mutual yearning we called “the righteousness of God,” then you “see God.” This does not mean that you see God as an object (for that would be the egoic operating system), but rather, you see through the eyes of non-duality: God is the seeing itself." Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus


"The more you seek God, the less you will find God.

If you do not seek God, you will find God.

God does not ask anything else of you except that you let yourself go and let God be God in you.

Above all else, then: Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones.  For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive."

Matthew Fox, Meditations with Meister Eckhart


Chant: Ihidaya


Friday, March 1st with Heather

Chant: 

Help me open my heart, so I can love all that I need to love

Help me open my heart, so I can tend all that I need to tend

Help me open my heart, so I can sense all that I need to sense

Help me open my heart, so I can feel all that I need to feel

Help me open my heart, so I can think all that I need to think

Help me open my heart, so I can tend all that I need to tend

Help me open my heart, so I can love all that I need to love

— adapted from chant Open My Heart by Alexa Sunshine Rose, Sasha Rose, & Aimee Ringle


Prayer:

May all I say and all I think

be in harmony with Thee,

God within me,

God beyond me,

Maker of the Trees.

— Chinook Prayer


Saturday, March 2nd with Joy

You are Shining Radiance (interpretation by Joy Andrews Hayter) 

“You are the light of the world.” (Mt 5:14) I looked at this passage in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke. The ‘you’ in this verse is plural – Jesus is talking with a group of people. The Aramaic word for light, nura, has at its root the verb nehar which means to sparkle or shine, to light or to burn. It also means to be glad, or rejoice. In addition, in this rich language where one root is used in many words, nehar also means to flow, or flow together, especially in referring to a group of people flowing together. (It is used, for example, in the Old Testament in Isaiah 2:2 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hill, and all people shall flow unto it.”)

Imagine all of us flowing together, rejoicing! 

Then I looked at the Aramaic word olma, translated in this verse as ‘world’. This is not the same word as earth, or ar’ah, but refers to an age, or length of time. It is also used in the verse, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” (Mt 6:13, nkjv) Olma is also translated as eternal, everlasting, or perpetual. It is seen as a vanishing point, more like time outside of time. I find it reminiscent of the words in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, “I go forward into the season of the Great Age, the Aeon, and there, where time rests in stillness in the eternity of time, I will repose in silence.” It also calls to mind Teilhard de Chardin’s Omega Point, which lies outside of time and draws all things back together, much as they began. I think Jesus is encouraging us to find the light at the core, and to bring the strength of our integrated being, that knows its home as part of a flowing together much larger than any of us alone. In a language where words are rich with multiple meaning: we are shining, sparkling, and encouraged to flow together in time outside of time; in the heart of the One. 

You are the light of the world.” Or, You are shining radiance, flowing together in time outside of time. Mt 5:14        


Chant: Light shining in us, light shining on us, light shining through all things (by Henry Schoenfield)


Sunday, March 3rd with Joy

Uncover the radiance within (interpretation by Joy Andrews Hayter) 

Mt 5:15 Nor do they kindle a lamp and place it under a bushel, but upon a lightstand, and it gives light to all that are in the house.

Note: Opening up a verse to look into its potential meaning for us is a kind of midrash – a practice going back through the centuries. Midrash does not claim to be a definitive meaning of the scripture, rather it is an interpretation. It can be done via various lenses – the one I’m using is by looking into Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, and into the roots of the words, where a word can be shown to have many meanings.

In this verse, the Aramaic word translated as kindle, menharin, means to light a lamp or illuminate, and also to bring to light or explain, enlighten.  To place it under (tekheit) can mean in the lower part, that which is below. The basket or bushel, satha, is a measure for grains, and comes from an old root meaning to define. As a wisdom student I feel drawn to an interpretation of this verse to look into our attempts to define, or box in our inner light. We often do that, with our ideas of who we are, what our prayer is, and who we think God may be. This verse may be an invitation instead to leave it a mystery. This boxing in or covering can hamper the shining of the true light of our being. In our Centering Prayer we are un-boxing all of this, letting go of subtle assumptions and identifications; even our identification as a “spiritual” person and what we might think that means, as well as more obvious thoughts. 

In the second part of this verse, the lampstand, menarta, is a variation of ‘menorah’ (with the root nur, or light/fire), or the great candlestick which stood in the tabernacle of witness (Ex 25:31). This is a portable dwelling place for the One, the Holy. And it gives light to all who are in the house (baita). Baita can mean house, and also temple, but is also used figuratively to mean the human body, or what is inside, within

Thus, when we uncover our identifications, or assumptions, and are willing to be this holy temple, we can bear witness to the One. This brings light to our inner being, or to our body as a temple, as well as to others in the temple. This is what we are doing in our Centering Prayer – we let go of our own ideas and thoughts, consenting to the presence and action of the divine within. 

So we have: Nor do they kindle a lamp and place it under a bushel, but upon a lightstand, and it gives light to all that are in the house.

OR: Let go of trying to define yourself, to box in the radiance within: but let your inner light bear witness to the Holy within you, shining forth all around you. 


Chant:   With you is the well of life. And in your light we see light (by Susan Latimer) 

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