Giving it over to God

 

For the first several years after the initial opening, my practices were simple and heartfelt. They consisted of resting with what’s here, notice all as awakeness (Spirit, the divine, intelligence, love), gratitude for whatever happened, prayer, Heart/Jesus prayer, Christ meditation, tonglen, and giving it all over to Spirit. All of these happened very naturally.

Then, I got “sidetracked” by traditions and teachers with ideas of how things should be done.

And now, I am hoping to find back to a more natural and simple approach. For instance, giving it all over to the divine.

Notice. Notice what’s here – emotions, stories, the fear or wounds behind them.

Rest with what’s here. Take time resting with and as it.

Give it all over to Spirit. To the divine.

There is a beautiful simplicity in this. It’s a reminder that all is Spirit. And it doesn’t exclude any other approach or exploration.

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Rune Cazuli: Be the love you never received

 

Be the love you never received .

– Rune Cazuli

Be that love for yourself.

For you experience here and now.

For the content of your experience, as it is now.

How do I do it? Through the support any heart centered practice, such as ho’oponopono, loving kindness / metta, heart flame, Christ meditation, heart prayer etc. Through the support of inquiry. Through natural rest, and noticing, seeing, feeling what’s here which in itself is a form of love.

Cultivating the light vs meeting the dark

 

Some people talk about cultivating the light, or meeting the dark.

For me, the two go hand in hand. As so often, it depends on what we mean, and how we do it.

For me, cultivating the light means to cultivate what I wish more of. And meeting the dark means loving the unloved and examining the unexamined. It means healing the unhealed, and examining painful identifications and beliefs.

Already here, we see how they two go hand in hand. I wish to cultivate and become more familiar with loving what’s here, including what’s been previously unloved in me and my experience. I also wish to cultivate exploration of what’s here, and seeing more clearly what’s here, including how identifications and stressful beliefs are created.

This cultivation supports the meeting of the dark. And in meeting the dark, I am supported in continuing with the cultivation. (It inspires me to do so, I see it’s needed, and I get to test and fine tune my approach.)

How do I cultivate the light? Here are some practices I am familiar with:

Kindness practices, including loving kindness, ho’oponopono, tonglen, and also the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation. Kindness towards me, parts of my experience, others, life.

Training a more stable attention also fits here, since it’s what I wish for and it supports any other activity and practice.

Natural rest. Noticing and allowing what’s here. Noticing it’s already allowed.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. To be shown the way. For Your will be done.

Body centered practices, such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema.

Spending time in nature. Spending time in service to life.

Setting the intention to live from love, examine what’s here, rest with what’s here, live in service of life (including my life).

 And how do I meet the dark?

By finding love for the previously unloved. Finding kindness towards parts of me and my experience I have habitually ignored, rejected, or battled and seen as undesirable.

By notice and allow what’s here. Including the discomfort, anger, sadness, fear, grief, and whatever else is here in the moment.

By questioning the unquestioned. Examining beliefs and identifications. Finding what’s more true for me than the initial beliefs. Investigating how my most basic perceptions of deficient and inflated selves, threats, and compulsions are created.

By resting with what’s here. Notice. Allow. Rest with in kind presence.

It can be quite simple and straight forward.

When I use the words light and dark here, it’s mostly to connect with how some use these words. I usually don’t use the words light and dark since they are quite imprecise, there are assumptions about the world behind them that I don’t quite agree with, and I don’t even know how I would use the words so they make good sense. That’s why the use of them in this post feels a bit awkward to me.

Why is love, kindness, examination etc. light? I don’t really know, perhaps just because it’s what our personalities tends to like and prefer. We tend to like sunshine and daylight, and also certain qualities in ourselves and certain experiences, so we use the word light for both.

Why are identifications and beliefs dark? They are what creates what some see as darkness, including hate, fear, grief, compulsions, trauma, violence and more. I suppose some call them dark since they are often seen as undesirable, and they are often what we try to hide from ourselves and others, and keep “in the dark”.

Behind the surface expression of these “dark” qualities and experiences is a desire to protect the self, and deep caring and even love. A worried and confused love. That’s one reason I often avoid the word dark about these things. It only addresses and highlights one level of understanding. There is something different behind it.

These words and ideas themselves can be taken to inquiry. Any ideas of light or dark, or cultivation or meeting, or love or inquiry, or anything else that comes up, can be taken to inquiry.

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Did Jesus exist?

 

Did Jesus exist?

The reality is that we don’t know. There are hardly any historical sources suggesting that he did exist, apart from Christian sources.

Looking at the data, it seems that it’s very possible that he didn’t exist.

And yet, most historians and theologians seem to gloss over this question. They don’t mention it, or perhaps say of course he existed, don’t be silly. (As one theologian did when I asked.)

Why this lack of intellectual honesty and courage? It’s perhaps because aspects of Christian theology, as it was created in the centuries after Jesus may have lived, depends on Jesus having existed as a historical person.

And yet, maybe there is another way. A way where we can be intellectually honest about the historical question, and still benefit as much if not more from the Jesus story, and Jesus’ teachings.

The Jesus story is, as many have realized and pointed out, a metaphor for the awakening process we all may go through. Adyashanti’s Resurrecting Jesus is a clear and insightful book on this topic.

Jesus’ teachings applies to us whatever label we put on ourselves – Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or whatever else it may be. As any good wisdom teachings, they are pointers. Questions. Experiments.

And, it seems, we can connect with the Christ energy whether or not we know if Jesus existed as a historical person. The Christ presence responds, as it seems to have done for centuries or millennia, to prayer and Christ meditation. (I experience it quite strongly, and know that many others do too.)

Note: Was Jesus a Pagan God, by Freke and Gandi, is an interesting exploration on this topic.

Note 2: Some say that the mutual disagreements between the texts in the New Testament is an indication that Jesus didn’t exist, but that seems a weak argument. Disagreement between historical sources is expected and inevitable, even if they refer to something that did happen.

Also, some point to the striking similarities between the Jesus story and stories from religions and mythologies in the middle east prior to Christianity. It almost seems that someone did a cut & paste job when they created they Jesus story. Again, that doesn’t seem that this is a good argument for the non-historical Jesus.

Finally, there is the Shroud of Turin. From what we know about it today, it’s possible that it’s real. Science can only determine if it’s a fake, and haven’t been able to conclusively do so yet. In any case, it’s an interesting question.

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Love is the answer

 

Love is the answer.

At least at a certain phase in the process, and to certain questions.

What am I? What’s the meaning of life?

How do I heal? How do I deal with pain and discomfort?

What am I really looking for? How do I find it? 

To all these, love is one – and perhaps the main – answer.

And this is the quiet simple love for what’s here. Meeting what’s here – this experience – with a quiet presence and love. Perhaps aided, for a while, by practices such as loving kindness, tonglen, ho’oponopono, the Heart Prayer, Christ meditation, holding satsang with what’s here, and more.

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Love is the universal healer

 

Love is the universal healer.

If it doesn’t heal the situation (an illness, circumstances), it heals our relationship to it. And that’s the healing we all deeply crave.

Love can be a feeling, and this can be found through practices such as prayer, loving kindness, tonglen, ho’oponopono, Heart Prayer, Christ meditation, heart flame visualization, and more.

Love can also be independent of feeling, through a falling away of delusion, and Spirit recognizing itself as all there is. This love is a lived love, independent of fleeting feelings.

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Inviting my soul, Christ and Spirit to work on me

 

In my teens and twenties, before my Zen days, one of my main practices was to invite and allow my soul and the divine to work on me. I gave myself – my human self – over to my soul and the divine. And I often did this through the Heart Prayer and the Christ meditation.

Looking back, I see that leaving myself started – in some ways – as I decided to let go of much of what really worked for me so I could be a “good Zen student”. So now, it feels like it’s time to return to what worked back then, in my days of “innocence” and before I tried to fit into a tradition.

How is it to invite and allow my soul, Christ and Spirit to work on me?

Love your enemies – as medicine

 

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Matthew 5:44.

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. – Luke 6:27.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:35.

Love your enemies. It sounds like a should, but it’s really medicine. It’s a prescription for finding wholeness and well being of myself, which in turn benefits those around me.

Who or what are my enemies? It’s anything in my world I don’t like. Anything I see as undesirable, bad, that shouldn’t be there. It can be an emotion, pain, discomfort, a person, an illness, war, delusion, a political party, noise, or anything else.

How do I find love for it? I have found these helpful:

I wish you love. I wish you ease. (Loving Kindness, Metta).

Tonglen. Ho’oponopono.

Holding satsang with what’s here. (You are welcome here. Thank you  for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me. What would satisfy you forever? What are you really?)

All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for…. (Anything in my life, including and especially that which I don’t at first like.)

Placing myself in the heart flame. (When it’s something in me I perceive as an enemy.)

Christ meditation. Visualizing Christ at the seven points (in my heart, above and below me, in front and back of me, either side of me.) I sometimes also do this for others, and the Earth.

Inquiry into anything – any stories, perceptions, assumptions – that I use to close down my love for myself and others. Any stories of enemies. Any stories of love not being here. Any fearful stories about love.

What’s the effect of finding love for my enemies? For me, it’s a sense of wholeness and love for myself and others. A sense of coming home, and of deep well being and nurturing.

Why does this work? If life is love already, and we are life and love, then this is a way for us to come home to ourselves.

In a very real sense, love may be the medicine we are all looking for. If we had a choice, would chose to be free of a particular situation or illness, or find deep and genuine love for it? Perhaps a healing of our relationship to ourselves and the world is the healing we really wish for. (It’s not one or the other. We can find deep love for an illness, and still go to the doctor and follow her prescriptions. We can find deep love for a person, and still not allow him to hurt others if we can help it.)

Finding deep and genuine love for what’s here may even open up for our natural fearless wisdom and intelligence, allowing us to act with more kindness and clarity in the world.

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Purgatory and love

 

A dark night is a form of purgatory, a cleansing out.

And it’s as much or more about love.

What’s surfacing seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love. It seeks a loving presence.

It seeks to be seen, felt and loved.

It seeks for the believed stories that created it and maintains it to be seen through.

It seeks to be felt as is, and for it’s sensation component to be felt as sensations.

It seeks to be recognized as love, coming from confused love and a wish to protect the apparent separate self, and to be met with love.

It seeks it’s own liberation.

What’s triggering these wounded parts of us also seeks love.

Any situation in the world bringing these parts up in us also seeks love. It seeks to be recognized as love, and met with love.

Any person bringing this up in me comes with an invitation to be met with love.

Any perceived challenging situation is a potential purgatory, in this sense. It comes with an invitation for us to see through our stories about it, feel it, and find love for it.

It comes with an invitation for me to see through any of my stories about it. (Head center.) Recognize it as love, and find love for it. (Heart center.) And feel it. (Belly center.)

And for the heart facet of this, simple practices can be very helpful.

Prayer. Prayer for guidance. Prayer for the well being of myself and others. Prayer for love for me, suffering parts of me, and others. Prayer for receptivity. Prayer for support in meeting what’s here with love.

A simple loving kindness practice. I wish you love. I wish you ease. Said to myself or parts of me (my heart, pain), and others.

Tonglen. Ho’oponopono. (With me, parts of me, others.)

All-inclusive gratitude practice. I am grateful for….. (anything, what’s its easy to be grateful for, and especially what it’s less easy to find gratitude for.)

Seeing myself in the heart flame. Seeing others, and the world, in the heart flame. (Fanning the heart flame with my attention and devotion. Then seeing myself – body and mind – inside of it, allowing it to burn away anything not like itself, anything not real, anything not like clarity and love.)

Christ meditation, visualizing Christ in my heart, above and below me, in front and behind me, and on either side of me.

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Darkening of the faculties

 

A dark night of the soul is sometimes described to include a darkening of the faculties – a dampening of the will, intellect and perhaps even morals.

Since I have done the Christ meditation the last few days, I am again more aware of a peculiarity I have noticed for a while.

It’s as if the body from the heart down is light (lightness + light), and from the heart up there is still lightness but it’s also dampened, darker and obscured.

I also notice there is a clear “no” to invite light into this area. I assume it dampened so a needed process can take place with less interference from the personal will and intellect.

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Christ Meditation

 

In my teens and early twenties (before my Zen days), I used especially two Christian practices daily.

One was the Jesus or Heart Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”, with the heart beats and breath. (Inbreath: “*Lord *Jesus *Christ”. Gentle pause: *. Outbreath: “Have* Mercy* On* Me*” Gentle pause: *. The * are heart beats.) It’s very powerful. And it’s purpose is to open to Christ, allow Christ to work on me, and give my life over to Christ.

I didn’t use the Heart Prayer so much after I moved to the Zen center, since I wanted to do Zen completely and see its effects on me.

Now, I feel drawn to more Christ centered practices again. The Heart Prayer feels a bit too much for me now. It’s very “fiery” and tends to open me further, increase the energy, and bring the energy up. It also activates the crown chakra very strongly. Neither of those feel right for me now, as I am still in a “spiritual emergency” of sorts.

The other practice was the Christ Meditation. (It may have another name.)

Visualize Christ at the seven points: In the heart, above the head, below the feet, in front and back of the heart, and either side of the heart. Christ can be visualized in different ways. For me, it’s often a golden light. Visualize Christ in the heart, and about 1 meter outside the body at the six other points. This is a silent meditation. A silent opening to Christ, a silent allowing of Christ to work on me, and a silent giving of my life (my body, mind, actions) to Christ. This one feels more right for me now, and I may do it and see what happens.

With both of these, I notice that they become “automatic” after a while. I may sit and do it intentionally and formally once or twice a day, or whenever it comes to me. (In bed, on the bus or train, while walking in nature, etc.) And I notice that it tends to keep going on its own in between these more formal sessions. It lives it’s own life, as I live my daily life. It keeps working on me.

Note: I learned about these practices from reading Wilfred Stinissen, and also The Way of the Pilgrim (Heart Prayer) and other Orthodox books.

Note II: These practices tend to bring up material for inquiry. That’s one of the reasons practices are helpful. For instance, if not much happens, what does it say about me? If something happens -such as all revealing itself as consciousness & love & light, heart opening, seeing a “flame” on top of the head and more – what does that say about me? What deficient selves are triggered, or compensated for, or filled up, through what’s happening? What’s the worst that can happen if the practices don’t work? What’s the best that can happen through these practices? What do I find when I take this to inquiry?

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Ways through the dark night III

 

Another way of organizing some of what can be helpful in a dark night of the soul.

Head center. Inquiry into our stories about what’s happening, who we are, and the nature of reality. Seeing through these stories helps us find equanimity (no need for drama when we see they are stories), and helps us be a loving presence for what’s surfacing. Inquiring into stories about what’s surfacing (emotional and physical pain, discomfort) is a support in feeling sensations as sensations, without getting (too much) caught up in the associated stories.

Heart center. Heart center practices helps us recognize what’s here as love, and meet it as love. These include prayer (for guidance, support), giving it all over to the divine (our body, mind life, pain, pleasure), metta (to ourselves, the suffering self, and also friends, enemies, the world), tonglen (same), ho’oponopono (same), all-inclusive gratitude practice, Christ meditation, and more.

Belly center. Breathe, feel the sensations, allowing them to move through. Notice any images or words “stuck on” the sensations, and inquire into these. That makes it easier to feel sensations as sensations. Also, body-centered activities and practices can be helpful such as walking in nature, gardening, or Breema, yoga, tai chi and more.

Support. Find support from friends, family, people who are in the same process as yourself, and guides who have gone through it. Eat well. Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Drink plenty of water. Find a nurturing environment. Engage in nurturing activities. Learn about the process. (Spiritual emergencies, dark nights.) Give yourself a break, when you need to. See if you can find patience, and trust in the process.

Also, if you are drawn to it, notice what makes it difficult to do any of the things that seems supportive and helpful, and take it to inquiry.

This is obviously a very simplified outline, and a great deal more can be said about each point. I wrote this mostly because it’s interesting to see how the practices can be organized according to the three soul centers. I also see that Buddhist traditions tends to emphasize the head, while also including the heart and belly, and theistic traditions tend to emphasize the heart, with head and belly sometimes included. It seems that it may be possible to go through a dark night emphasizing practices from any one of the centers, perhaps with support from one or both of the two other.

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Arvo Pärt: The Deer’s Cry

 

 

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,

Christ in me, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me,

Christ with me

– 0 –

The sacred Lorico or Deer’s Cry was composed by Saint Patrick in the year 433. Knowing of an ambush to kill him and his followers, St. Patrick led his men chanting it as they passed through a forest. They were transformed into a deer and twenty fawns, and thus St. Patrick and his men were saved. Pärt composed the work in 2007 and it was first performed in Louth the following year.

– 0 –

This is one of the most beautiful songs I know. And it reflects a common practice in several different spiritual traditions. For instance, both in Christianity and Buddhism, one of the basic practices is the visualization of Christ / Buddha above and below us, on either side, in the front and behind, and in the heart. And there is also the “walk in beauty” prayer attributed to the Navajo.

Christ as what comes & goes, or is always here

 

Two ways to approach Spirit is (a) as a state, as what comes and goes, and (b) as what’s always here, and both have their place.

Especially in the beginning of the process, it seems common – and perhaps helpful – to explore Spirit as a state, as an experience, as something that comes and goes. It gives a glimpse of the reality of all as Spirit, it provides inspiration for further exploration, it gives trust that reality is perhaps quite different from how it appears when filtered through our beliefs.

At some point, this approach may get a bit old. Experiences come and go, and it’s clear that Spirit is reality itself, it’s what doesn’t come and go. So can I find Spirit right here, in the midst of and as any experience – as the person I am with, as the experience that’s here?

Christ can be seen as equivalent to Spirit, the Divine, Buddha Mind, Big Mind/Heart, Brahman, life and reality, and that’s true in my experience. Christ consciousness is life recognizing itself, releasing identification out of the story of I. And Christ does also have a particular quality, a fiery, heart centered and action oriented quality, at least in my experience.

When I explore Christ through the Heart Prayer – Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy Upon Me said with the breath and heart beat so it eventually is continuous day and night, or the Christ Meditation – visualizing Christ in my heart, above and below me, at both sides of me, and in front and back of me, I initially explore Christ as what comes and goes. There is a strong presence of Christ, my aura brightens up, there is a fiery quality in my heart and on top of the head, and there is a “flame” that appears in my aura on top of the head. This can in itself be important for transforming my human self and inspiring trust and faith, and it can also shift into recognizing Christ as what’s always here – independent of any particular states or experiences.

And this exploration – of Christ as what’s always here – can be continued through asking myself how is it to meet the person I am with, and the experience that’s here, as Christ? And perhaps, is it true this person, this experience, is not Christ? 

 

Christ Meditation & Prayer

 

When I lived in Norway, I engaged in the Christ meditation and heart prayer daily, along with sitting meditation, and appreciated it very much. The effects were powerful and blissful, and gave a passion and zest to my life.

Since then, I have focused mostly on sitting practice, and over the last few years have felt the passion fade. Today, I engaged in the Christian meditation and prayer again, and the passion returned almost immediately and is brought into the rest of my life.

Both practices are wonderful, simple and powerful.

The Christ mediation consists of sitting in meditation posture or on a chair, with the hands at the heart – holding the heart, in Christian or Buddhist prayer position, or with the heels of the hands at the heart and opening up as if receiving something poured down. I then visualize Christ – in the form of light – in my heart, and five feet in front of me, behind me, at either side of me, below me, and above me. Music such as Arvo Part’s Passio (or other compositions) and Rachmaninov’s Vesper is a great help in coming to a prayerful/receptive atmosphere.

The Hear Meditation is similarly simple, and can be done any time. It follows the heart beats and the breath. On the inbreath and with the heart beats, say (loud or within you) Lord (1) Jesus (2) Christ (3), and on the outbreath and with the heart beats Have (1) mercy (2) with me (3). Pause for a few heart beats, then repeat. This practice is described in “The Way of the Pilgrim”. My experience in Norway was that after a relatively short while, this prayer becomes continuous – day and night. A part of the mind recites it with the breath and heart beats – continuously.

With both practices, I experience a golden/clear light throughout awareness and in/around the body, especially centered in the heart and the crown. There is a passionate, fiery and joyful energy, and a deep humility and gratitude, that is quite different from what I experience in regular sitting meditation. Today, possibly because it is so long since I engaged in either practices, I experienced a shot of golden light coming down from the point above me during the Christ meditation. It shot down through the crown and into the heart, followed by a rain of golden light. My crown area has been very active since then.

For me, sitting practice is very good for resting in the part of me that is not this body/personality, for spaciousness, clarity, insights in the nature of mind, and for equanimity (from allowing experiences to unfold within spacious awareness).

Christ meditation and prayer brings something else in. It has the same effect of allowing me to rest in that part of me which is not the body/personality, but adds passion, joy, love and fire. It seems more directional and engaged. There is a stronger sense of passionate fullness and richness.

The combination is wonderful.