Last week I mentioned that during the Holy Week retreats we worked with four different postures which Jesus and Mary Magdalene embodied both inwardly and outwardly. I suggested that we can continue to work with these same postures in our bodies (movement center), as attitudes (feeling center) and ways of considering something (intellectual center) throughout Eastertide. These postures require all three centers of intelligence and ways of knowing to fully occupy them. The first posture I suggested is the posture of being grounded and rooted in our two realities: in the reality of our ordinary being existence, our planetary body and in the reality of our divine/kingdom of heaven/imaginal being existence, our second body. The second inner posture we can work with is the posture of standing firm in our center, not bending (to use some of Jacob Boehme‘s words) in the face of the shadow (in ourselves, our blood or spiritual ancestral lineage, and in the collective) and struggle. Although both Mary Magdalene and Jesus reveal this posture, we will focus more on Jesus’s example this week. We will look more at Mary and the other remaining two postures in the coming weeks. Jesus showed us this second posture over and over again. He was awake to the reality that he was very human as well as divine. He had to stand in the face of his psychological and physiological nature of being human. For example, when he went into the desert for forty days, he too had to face the temptations to give into his planetary being’s agenda for survival and looking to the ways of the world for grounding and happiness through power/control, affection/esteem, and safety/comfort (Thomas Keating’s programs for happiness). He had to see these human reality tendencies and not give into them in attempts to find inner stability. And again, in the Garden of Gethsemane when he turned three different times to both God, for another way besides death by crucifixion, and his friends, for presence and comfort, he found no relief for his human self’s desires. But rather than losing it in reactivity or collapsing, instead this drew him deep into his center. He returned to the place where he dwelled most of the time, where his selfhood was anchored in a deeper state of consciousness, and what ultimately guided him in his life. This center is a bit mysterious to speak about but I am guessing we have all experienced or had a glimpse of it within ourselves. In his book Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly puts it into words. He says, “Meister Eckhart wrote, "As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness." Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within which illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the face of men. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all.” We have the opportunity to continue to develop a connection to and stand firm in this center within, where Christ also is within us. We witness Jesus revealing this second posture most in his journey to the center of the earth on Holy Saturday. In The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia speaks of this quite well when she says, “I suddenly understood what..Jesus was actually up to during that pivotal moment in the passion drama. He was just sitting [or perhaps standing] there—surrounded by the [most unlit], deepest, most alienated, most constricted states of pained consciousness; sitting, if we can imagine it, among all those mirroring faces of the collective false self that we encountered earlier in the crucifixion narrative: the anguish of Judas, the indecision of Pilate, the cowardice of Peter, the sanctimony of the Pharisees; sitting there in the midst of all this [unlit territory], not judging, not fixing, just letting it be in love. And in so doing, he was allowing love to go deeper, pressing all the way to the innermost ground out of which the opposites arise and holding that to the light. A quiet, harmonizing love was infiltration even the deepest places of [unlit territory], in a way that didn’t override or cancel them, but gently reconnected them to the whole.” p.123 We are not required to do this to that same extent, to face the entire collective shadow, but we can be present to a piece of it within ourselves, our blood/spiritual lineages, and/or the collective to the extent our nervous system has the capacity to without being knocked completely out of center and more importantly to the extend of which we are genuinely called to it. It is very important to remember that when we stand firm and do not bend in the face of shadow and struggle, we do not stand alone. We are met and helped. Cynthia often reminds us of this when she refers to Jacob Boehme in The Way to Christ who says “Here now is the right place for you to wrestle before the divine face. If you stand firm, if you do not bend, you will see and perceive great wonders. You will discover how Christ will storm the hell in you and will break [or tame] your beasts.” We can wrestle, stand firm without bending, pause, and wait . . . and Christ will do the heavy lifting for us, even now . . . on our behalf . . . as an act of substituted love. The more we are able to develop our ability to occupy this posture, to stand firm without bending, and to return to our center from which we are guided, we can begin to participate in the act of substituted love alongside Christ. We do not need to stay in that center at all times because in fact, we cannot and that is okay, as Cynthia also says the power is in the return. We can willingly bear some of the suffering within and around us through what Gurdjieff calls intentional suffering. We can take on a bit of the shadow and struggle and give back to God—whose heart breaks with and for humanity—to be in service to “lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our Common Father”/Mother/Creator (Gurdjieff's fifth obligolnian striving). We can do our part to strengthen this muscle of being able to see what we do not think we can see and bear as well as surrender to the process of being strengthened beyond our efforts. And in so doing, we offer something back to the whole. In Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home Toko-pa Turner says, “There is a special quality of stillness in a person who encounters the shadow wholeheartedly. Your body may relax in their company because it understands, in the subtle communications of their presence, that nothing is excluded in themselves, therefore nothing in you can be rejected. Such a person, who has given up guarding against the shadow, who has come to wear their scars with dignity, no longer squirms from discomfort or bristles at suffering. They no longer brace in avoidance of conflict. They carry a deep willingness to dance with the inconstancy of life. They've given up distancing as a strategy, and made vulnerability their ally.” We too can become this kind of person as we work with this posture within ourselves.
With Great Love,
From a few of the Pauses : On opening ourselves to the Light Here we are, Loving One, Mystery, Light, beginning to quiet ourselves, beginning to be still; remembering you created us to flourish in your love, remembering an old desire to grow in you. We long to be more than we are living now, we long to live all we can become but, fearful, wonder how we can. We try to choose the best and truest path but stumble in our living and in our choosing. We want to handle things ourselves; we'd rather make it on our own, and besides, trusting you, God, can be very hard. But we need more light, your Light to see the ways ahead, we need more wisdom, yours, to choose the way that's well for us. Here we are, beginning willingness, beginning to trust, to open ourselves, our lives and our decisions to your illuminating Light. Here we are, Loving One, ready to begin. — Nancy L. Beiber, Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way (The Art of Spiritual Living) While the theme of resurrection is an ancient one, Jesus' resurrection and what it means have no exact parallel in spiritual literature—especially in contrast to many forms of Eastern spirituality, where the whole idea is to awaken from the world of time and space, to get off the wheel of karma, to arrive at a state of spiritual enlightenment so you will no longer be reincarnated. The goal in these forms of spirituality is literally to leap off of the wheel of the dualistic world and transcend it, so you don't have to come back into form. Jesus' story is just the opposite. Jesus descends directly from the Kingdom of Heaven; he descends from enlightenment into the human condition. This signifies a way that spirit, rather than trying to escape the dualistic world that we live in, is giving itself to the world. Spirit is relinquishing itself, out of love, back into the world, to bring forth the light of radiance into the world and reveal that nothing is separated from divinity; nothing is actually other than the divine itself. — Adyashanti from Resurrecting Jesus, p. 190 "We find the same emphasis on embodied spirit at the very end of the Jesus story. Jesus' life ends on the cross; that death is the great release, the great transcendence of time and space. But of course, his life doesn't really end with the crucifixion; it culminates in the resurrection, as once again Jesus comes back to the world of time and space. In the journey of awakening, when self has been annihilated and dropped away, we experience a kind of resurrection. We realize a new orientation. In other words, we are no longer the center of our individual lives, and life is no longer about satisfying oneself, not even in order to arrive at some spiritual state of development." — Adyashanti from Resurrecting Jesus, p. 191 Here we are, Loving One, Creator God half-awake to this astounding world. half-awake to our own mysterious lives, absorbing only drops of this richly layered life. We want to notice more, to be alive to who we are within, to the stories and the dreams, to the person we have been and the one we can become. To know what is real we are ready to surrender illusion, that painted comfort which has been our friend. We want to see what is true, what is real, to hold as much as heart and mind can hold of the world we live in and whom we can become. We want to be awake, God, to your opening of paths, to create and participate in this shaping of the way. Here we are, Loving One, ready to begin. — Nancy L. Beiber, Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way (The Art of Spiritual Living)