Flame above crown of head

 

I usually don’t write about things peripheral to awakening, embodiment, maturing, and healing. Mainly because it’s often a distraction. But I’ll make a few exceptions since it could be helpful for a few out there.

In my late teens and early twenties, I had a period where the Christ meditation and heart prayer were my main daily practices.

The Christ meditation is where you envision Christ 2-3 meters in front of your body, behind, on either side, above, below, and in the heart (in all six directions and the center). I usually envision Christ as a light. Rest with this visualization for as long as you want, usually from a few minutes to an hour or two. (I was pretty gung-ho and often did it for 1-2 hours at a time, mainly because it felt profoundly like coming home.)

The heart prayer is where you say “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” with the breath and heartbeats. (I have given more details in other articles, and it can also be found in books and other online articles.) This is often done for dedicated periods, and also throughout the day. Over time, it becomes an ongoing prayer and it can even continue – as an intention and energetically – through the night and sleep.

Before this, I had noticed I could see auras and energies. I initially saw it around leaves of trees, and then around everyone and everything. Even nonliving things have an aura, although it’s simpler than for living beings. For people where there is a higher level of awakening, the aura becomes very subtle and extends out indefinitely. These days, I usually use it to see where spiritual teachers are at.

In the periods where I engaged in the Christ meditation and heart prayer, I noticed a light above the crown on my heart. (Yes, surprisingly enough, auras can be seen in the mirror.) And I then realized that this is exactly how the descent of the Holy Spirit is traditionally depicted, as a flame above the head. It was quite astonishing and created even more of a sense of connection with the (alive) Christian tradition and early Christians.

So, at least in my experience, what art historians and others may see as a symbolic representation may actually be meant as a literal depiction of what is going on in the aura of those with a strong connection with Christ, and which can be seen by those able to see energies and auras.

Note: This article on Women at Pentecost has several beautiful depictions of this flame. The mosaic above this article shows the flame a bit higher up than how I experienced it. It’s really touching the top of the head.

Since the paintings depict Pentecost and the disciples, it shows a group of people with this flame. And that reflects how it’s not limited to a few select people but accessible to (I assume) anyone with some sincerity and dedication, and it’s more about a community of people with shared aim and connection than separate individuals.

Note 2: When I mention the “alive Christian tradition” I mean the thread within Christianity that’s alive in a spiritual sense. Christianity as a whole is less alive in that sense but there are many exceptions.

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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.

Attributed to St. Patrick, 385-461(translation by Kuno Meyer)

The coming of Patrick to Ireland about the middle of the fifth century initiated the “most peaceful invasion and lasting conquest of all”. This hymn is attributed to Patrick and certainly reflects many of the themes found in Patrick’s thought. The version we have today was likely written in the late 7th or early 8th century. The hymn is a celebration of the wisdom and power of God both in creation and redemption.  It is an excellent example of a lorica — a “breastplate” or corslet of faith recited for the protection of body and soul against all forms of evil — devils, vice, and the evil which humans perpetrate against one another.  The name of the hymn derives from a legend of an incident when the High King of Tara, Loeguire resolved to ambush and kill Patrick and his monks to prevent them from spreading the Christian faith in his kingdom.  As Patrick and his followers approached singing this hymn, the King and his men saw only a herd of wild deer and let them pass by.  The word ‘cry’ also has the sense of a prayer or petition.

From rc.net

Would Christians be delighted?

 

At the end of the gypsy episode of Stuff You Should Know, the hosts reads a listener email asking them if you could go back in time, where and when would you go, and what would you bring?

One of the hosts said he would go back to the time and location of Jesus, and bring a video recorder. Both hosts seems to think that Christians today would be delighted by the footage.

I am not so sure, and the reasons seem obvious.

We don’t know if Jesus was a historical person. It’s quite possible he wasn’t, and it’s also possible he was. We just don’t know. We don’t have sufficient historical information. (The information we have is all from the Christian tradition, which isn’t an independent source.)

Even if he was a historical person, what he said and did may not be represented accurately in the New Testament. The NT stories were written down decades and centuries after he lived, and they were written by people with their own understandings and agendas. The “real” Jesus may have been quite different from how he was represented there.

What we do know is that all or nearly all of the vital elements of the Jesus story are found in a wide range of earlier religions and spiritual traditions around the Mediterranean. (See, for instance, The Jesus Mysteries by Peter Gandi and Tim Freke.)

It may be that Jesus is an invented figure, used to convey (valid and important) spiritual principles and pointers.

It’s also possible that he was a historical figure, and later followers added familiar stories from existing regional traditions, either to make the Jesus story more familiar and attractive, or to convey spiritual messages and pointers.

It’s even possible that Jesus was a historical figure, and his life just happened to fit into all these existing stories. This seems quite unlikely, although theoretically possible.

Even if the footage did show Jesus as (a) not an historical figure, or (b) quite different from how the NT portrays him, some Christians would still be delighted. And that’s the Christians who genuinely are OK with Jesus (a) not being a historical figure, and (b) not being accurately represented in the NT.

It’s fully possible to have a deep relationship with Jesus/Christ, and still be OK with these two things. The Jesus story is still full of important and helpful metaphors for our own spiritual path. Christ is still a powerful and transformative presence. In short, it’s fully possible to have a deep and alive relationship with Christ, and still be intellectually honest.

It’s also simpler because it is more honest, and it reveals the essence of Jesus/Christ more clearly. It reveals the important pointers and metaphors in the Jesus story. It reveals the importance of the alive presence of Christ. It strips away the peripheral things.

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Adyashanti: The spirit that Jesus embodies is not a safe spirit

 

The spirit that Jesus embodies is not a safe spirit; there’s no guarantee of how it will all play out in your life. There’s only one guarantee that Jesus gave: if you can receive and awaken and embody what he is speaking about, then your life will never be the same again. Then you will realize that you’re already living in the Kingdom of Heaven.

– Adyashanti, Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic

It’s not a safe spirit since what it wants with us and our life may be contrary to what we, as a human being, wants. Jesus is the best example of this, with his crucifixion. And that goes for any awakening, not just one that’s (explicitly) associated with Christ.

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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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Images of God

 

Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God.

Justin Welby tells BBC radio interviewer there are moments when he doubts – but he is certain about the existence of Jesus.

– from a The Guardian article

I am sometimes puzzled that people who make God their business sometimes seem to have a quite naive and immature way of looking at it. (Of course, there are many exceptions.)

In this case, as I have mentioned before, it’s all about our image of God. If I see God as equal to reality, what is as it is, then the whole question of belief falls away. God equals reality and is something I can explore through science, and also in immediate experience. Also, if I see God as consciousness itself, then I can find it through a simple inquiry here and now – for instance through the Big Mind process, the headless experiments, or the Living Inquiries.

Similarly with Jesus. It’s all about how I see Jesus and/or Christ.

If I see the Jesus story as a teaching story, it doesn’t matter whether Jesus – as a historical person – lived or not. The Jesus story reflects me and my own process.

And if I see Christ as a particular flavor of Big Mind/Heart, then again it doesn’t matter whether Jesus lived or not. It’s something I can access here and now, allow work on me, and live from.

It allows me to be more honest about the historical question of Jesus, and admit that there is hardly any convincing data suggesting that he did live as a historical person. It doesn’t matter because the Jesus story is still a very important teaching story, and Christ is alive here and now.

Note: See Resurrecting Jesus by Adyashanti, and The Jesus Mysteries by Tim Freke and Peter Gandy, among other books, on this topic. Also, when it comes to our views of the divine, I am aware that these tend to reflect phases of adult development, as outlined by f.ex. Fowler.

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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Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed

 

But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.
Matthew 8:8

And paraphrased, used in some Christian traditions before reviving the bread and wine:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

I attended Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral yesterday, and was deeply touched by this simple phrase.

I – as what identified mind says I am, this human self – is not worthy to receive Christ. It cannot be worthy, because it’s a mistaken identity. It doesn’t exist as it appears to exist. It also is not worthy since it operates from images and thoughts taken as true, while reality is quite different. It’s not worthy because it operates on a basic lie, and this basic lie engenders any number of other lies.

The grace comes from Christ, it comes from the divine. Say the word, and I shall be healed. Say the word, and this human self will function in its real context, within what I am noticing itself. Within awakeness – the divine, noticing itself. Nothing needs to change for that healing to take place, apart from the noticing.

The reversals are also true. This human self is worthy to receive Christ, because it is already the divine. It is the divine temporarily appearing as a human being and the world it’s in, and either identifying as that human self or not. And when awakeness (the divine, Christ) notices itself, this human self is bound to change. At the very least, it initiates a process of aligning this human self – more and more thoroughly – with reality, with reality noticing itself.

Giving it over to Christ

 

Giving it over to Christ. Experience what’s here and give it over to Christ.

That too is a form of inquiry, an experiment. What happens, what do I notice?

I notice some of the beliefs and fears not wanting to do it. The thoughts saying that something terrible will happen if I give it all over to Christ. I won’t be in control anymore. (And that I am in control if I don’t hand it over. That I can be in control. It’s possible to be in control.)

I notice the relief, the sense of coming home.

I notice I still function in everyday life as before, and perhaps from more heart and clarity.

I notice the relief in giving it all over, including what seems the most dense, and the most personal, the most like who and what I am.

I notice it’s a prayer, a meditation. It’s an intention to shift center of gravity from identified to non-identified mind, from being blindly caught up in beliefs to more clarity, from head to heart, from this human self to Christ. (And I notice how all those words seem very clunky, far from the utter simplicity and beauty of it.)

I notice it’s all already Christ, including confusion, frustration, dullness, brain fog, tiredness, anger, what mind takes to be mine, me and I. By giving it over to Christ, it’s easier to notice it’s already Christ.

I notice how it all – the whole field of experience without exceptions – seems more transparent, more alive as awakeness, presence, love.

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Update

 

A few things going on now, much of it – I suspect – related to my sessions with Barry.

Right now:

A sense that identified mind (ancient mind, confused mind) and non-identified mind (clear mind) are the same. It’s as if the images held in my mind of the two being somehow separate are falling away. They are revealed as the same, as they are, of course. It’s one mind, and it can appear as identified (confused) and non-identified (clear) at the same time. Specifically, it appears as old wounds (beliefs, fears) surfacing at an emotional and physical level, coexisting with clear mind, and – when remembered – met with love and clarity, held in love and clarity, and with love and clarity inside of it.

There is a sense of heart surgery happening, with a quite physical soreness and achiness in the heart area. Old wounds, emotions, regrets etc. also surface. (These are not really old, they are created right here now.)

I have had periods of very strong (and inexplicable) nausea, perhaps related to something happening (releasing? working itself out?) in the belly and solar plexus area.

A few weeks now:

A sense that Christ (the divine, the light of Christ) is within and inside of all of me, including the darkest (most unresolved, most contracted) areas of the psyche. There is also a sense that the love and intelligence of this light of Christ is at work there.

An experience of Christ – the light of Christ, presence of Christ – in a more yin way, as very soft, deep relaxation, holding. During the initial phase of the awakening process, Christ was experienced as more fiery (filtered through head and heart centers). Now, it appears slightly different, as velvety soft (filtered through the belly center?).

In general, love is brought to whatever is here, when remembered, including – and perhaps especially – any resistance, fear etc. surfacing. I notice that behind the heart ache is sadness, grief and regrets, and I also notice a part of me seeking to go into blame, accusations and victimhood to protect me from feeling, experiencing and meeting that sadness. And that too can be met with love. It’s innocent, it’s there to protect me, and it’s love. Seeing that, it feels natural to meet it with love. When remembered….!

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Incarnation trauma

 

This keeps coming into focus:

As a kid, I had memories of how it was before this incarnation – all as a presence with infinite love and wisdom, an infinite sense of being home, timelessness. What’s closest in the physical world is perhaps an ocean – in this case of awakeness, love, presence, wisdom, beyond and including the impersonal and personal – and of myself and any other more personal presences as part of this ocean. Before this incarnation, there was a council of sorts and a knowing of all of us that it was time for me to incarnate again. It was good for me (especially the first half of my life?) and good for others and humanity (especially the last half of my life?). There was a match between what I – as a soul – could learn and contribute, and what humanity as a whole would be learning and shifting into in this phase of our history. At some point, resistance set it, pretending I didn’t want it and didn’t chose it, pretending I was a victim, had lost something of infinite value, that God had chosen it for me, that it was a terrible tragedy to incarnate (not so much because this life isn’t enjoyable and interesting, but because of what was lost).

So there was a knowing that it was all right, and a wanting of this incarnation. A pretending it was a terrible tragedy. And quite a split between the two.

Later on in my life, I see some of these themes play themselves out, especially not fully wanting to be here (with my whole being) and repeated stories of loss of what’s most valuable to me, especially people, places and opportunities.

I also see how I tend to make idealized images of the past, as I did very early in life with my images of how it was before incarnation. Compare them with the present. And get caught up in the suffering created that way.

And I see how I – for a while – imagined that what was then isn’t here now. By holding onto an idealized image of the past, comparing it with an image of the present, and telling myself I lost something of infinite value, mind distracted itself from noticing it here, noticing it didn’t go anywhere.

Right now, I am most drawn to letting the (soft, gentle, loving, infinitely wise) light of Christ shine on this, the wound, the part of me pretending I didn’t want this incarnation, pretending I lost something of infinite value. And in this, there is a very quiet, soft, wordless loving inquiry, or sometimes just a whisper.

Is it true? What’s more true? How is it to take it in? Feel it? Stay with it?

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Session with Barry – #4 in new series

 

I did a session with Barry last week, where we invited in the presence of Christ, resurrection etc.

Here is a brief recap of some of the highlights:

I notice something descending on me, enveloping me. It’s an experience of being held. What’s enveloping me is white, soft, gentle, loving, silent, creative, intelligent.

I notice it seeping through me, suffusing me, my body and mind becomes this soft, gentle, loving presence.

There is a large golden ball of light beneath me. It ascends, up to my arms, then enveloping me.

There is a shower, as if a shower of golden sparks on me and through me.

Barry experienced the same at the same time as I did throughout this session. He asked, and was told this is the first mantle of Christ, described on page 51 in the e-version of his book We Are the Awakening Christ. This is where Christ takes us on and commits to bring us home. The second mantle is where we commit our lives to Christ, all of it without exceptions (I am not quite there yet, during this turn of the spiral).

Since that session, I have experienced this soft, gentle, white – or light golden – presence of Christ through and in me, in my heart area, and I have stayed with the flame in the chest and brought anything that comes up – resistance, fear, hesitation, wounds etc. – to it, knowing the flame knows what’s needed for it to resolve.

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Primal fear of death

 

As seems quite common in this process, a primal fear of death has come up for me for a while now. It was very strong for some months up to about a year ago, and now comes up a little less intensely.

What is is about?

It’s about the death of who I take myself to be, and this takes two forms: (a) The death of identification with images and ideas about who I am – a human being etc. (b) The physical death of this body. And the latter is of course really about the former. If I take myself to be this body, then the death of this body is perceived as the death of me. It’s all about identification and beliefs.

The invitation here is for two things:

(a) Open to the fear and the impulse to recoil from it. Take it as an inquiry and notice what happens when I recoil from it, and what happens when I open to it all. Ask myself, is it true I cannot take it? Is it true it’s too much? Is it true it’s (the fear, the impulse to recoil) is not already allowed? Not already opened to?

And (b) identify and inquire into (i) the beliefs behind this fear, and (ii) the beliefs behind the resistance to the fear.

(i) It’s terrible to die. I will die. Death means…. What I fear the most about death is…..

(ii) It’s overwhelming. It’s too much. This dread/terror means something terrible has happened/will happen. It’s easier to recoil. Something terrible will happen if I open to it. I am not up to the task. I need to be up to the task. What I am most afraid would happen if I open to this dread/terror is….

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Christ with me

 

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.

(The Sacred Lorico or Deer’s Cry by Saint Patrick)

– 0 –

Can I recognize Christ in everyone who thinks of me, whatever they think?

Can I recognize Christ in everyone who speaks of me, whatever they speak?

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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 Exploration

 

How is it to meet whomever I am with – in person or my mind – as Christ?

How is it to meet whatever is here – noise, discomfort, hurt, pain, thoughts, identifications – as Christ?

It’s very simple, there is nothing that’s not Christ. And it works because it’s true.

– 0 –

It also helps me see how I tell myself that this person, this experience, is not Christ.

So I can explore how it is to meet that person, that experience as Christ.

And make a note of the resistant thought and take it to inquiry.

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The Divine in Disguise

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
– Matthew 25:40

After the woman had gone, Martin ate some cabbage soup, cleared the things away, and sat down to work again. He sat and worked, but did not forget the window, and every time a shadow fell on it he looked up at once to see who was passing. People he knew and strangers passed by, but no one remarkable.
– from Where Love Is, God Is by Leo Tolstoy

Most everyone is lousy at math and does that to God – dissects the Indivisible One, by thinking, saying, “This is my Beloved, he looks like this and acts like that, how could that moron over there really be God.
– from Lousy at Math by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Love said to me, there is nothing that is not me. Be silent.
– Rumi

Encountering the divine in disguise is a common and beautiful theme in many traditions.

How would it be to meet the person in front of me as Christ? How would it be to meet this experience – the one right here right now – as Christ?

How would it be to meet the woman on the tram, looking like a veteran meth user, as Christ? How would it be to meet the noisy neighbors as Christ? How would it be to meet someone not giving me what I want as Christ? How would it be to meet whatever is here as Christ – pain, illness, discomfort, anger, grief, hurt, reactivity, contraction, confusion, thoughts, beliefs, identities and identifications? How would it be to meet that in me I have the hardest time befriending as Christ?

How would it be to meet whatever I recoil from as Christ?

The Divine or Christ is not in disguise. The Divine is here plain as day as everything and everyone.

The disguise is in my own mind, my own beliefs, my thoughts saying something is not OK, not good, not the Divine and then taken as true. The disguise is only created in my own mind.

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Garden of Eden

 

There are of course many ways of understanding the story of the garden of Eden and the “fall”, each with some validity to them.

Any story, including the ones from mythology and religion, can be seen as reflecting something here and now.

So one of the simpest ways of understanding this story, and one of the almost literal interpretations, is that eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a reflection of taking stories – specifically stories of good and evil, right and wrong – as true. When I “eat” the stories of good and evil, I take them as true and somehow inherent in reality. It’s something that happens here and now for most of us, and it is a “fall”, a loss of paradise.

All that’s needed is clarity about the stressful story that’s here now. Christ may represent that clarity, and Christ may especially represent clarity around the story of I. When any story is seen for what it is, Christ reveals itself to some extent. The wisdom and kindness that’s always here can shine through our lives a little more clearly. And when the story of I is seen for what it is, Christ reveals itself even more clearly to itself and in our lives. Even here, there may still be beliefs in stories. There may be a fall, being thrown out of paradise, and (the opportunity for) another redemption through clarity.

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Christ with a sword

 

I sense that this really powerful aspect of the Christ, the one that carries the sword is the next really powerful archetype that is about to unfold for the collective.
– from an email from Barry responding to my dream about the white wolf.

Here is something very simple that comes up for me around the white wolf and Christ with a sword:

Through Tension/Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), tension and trauma is released from the body. A facet of this process is a reorganization of me at all levels – mental, emotional, energetic and physical – in a way that is more natural and healthy, wise and kind. And this more healthy and natural functioning includes (what appears as) the most primal aspects of me, the ones that have an earlier evolutionary origin.

Through inquiry, there is more clarity around thoughts, and this also opens up for a more natural, healthy, wise and kind functioning. Some of these beliefs are very basic and form my perception about life and death, me and the world, survival and so on. And these and any other beliefs create my whole world. They filter, label and interpret perception. They create emotions, the appearance of instincts, and even what appears as the most primal impulses. So when there is more clarity around these thoughts, even what appears as most primal in me is more aligned with reality (Spirit). It functions in a more healthy and natural way, in a way that looks more kind and wise. The primal aspects of me are more aligned with reality, and – in a certain sense – are more in service of reality awake to itself.

So the white wolf can be seen as the primal impulses aligned with reality. And Christ with a sword can be seen as Christ functioning through a human self where more of the most primal is more aligned with reality. (I use the word “more” since I assume it’s an ongoing process for anyone, even – or perhaps especially – for those where there is more clarity.)

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Rewiring of the heart

 

Over this last week, there has been a great deal of sadness and also a physical sensation of a rewiring of the heart.

The sadness has surfaced from memories of close and intimate relationships where I held back love, where I didn’t allow myself to feel and express how much I loved the other person, and from seeing how much pain it caused myself and the other.  So there has been a great deal of pain, sadness, grief and regret surfacing, along with that sense of a rewiring of the heart, and a sweetness in it all.

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A visualization from Anthony de Mello

 

Suppose I return to a scene that causes me much distress. An event that brought me humiliation, like a public rebuke, or one that brought me great pain, like the death of a friend. I relive the whole event, in all its painful detail. I feel once more the pain, the loss, the humiliation, the bitterness. This time, however, Jesus is there. What role is he playing? Is he a comforter and strengthener? Is he the one who is causing me this pain and loss? I interact with him, just as I did with the other persons in that event. I seek strength from him, an explanation of what I don’t understand; I seek a meaning to the whole event.

What is the purpose of this exercise? It is what some people call the healing of memories. There are memories that keep rankling within us — situations in our past life that have remained unresolved and continue to stir within us. This constitutes a perpetual wound that in some ways hampers us from plunging more fully into life, that sometimes seriously handicaps us in our ability to cope with life. [….]

It is important for our personal growth, both spiritual and emotional, that we resolve these unresolved situations that keep rankling within us. When we relive them in the company of Christ, again and again, if need be, we will notice that a new meaning comes into them, that the sting goes out of them, that we can now return to them without any emotional upset; in fact, that we can even return to them now with a sense of gratitude to God, who planned these events for some purpose that will rebound to our benefit and to his glory. This form of prayer is good therapy and good spirituality.

An excerpt from Contact with God by Anthony de Mello.

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The Story of Job and more

 

Here are some stories from the Bible and the New Testament that have come up for me lately….

The story of Job

Job is purified of shoulds. His stories of what should be and what is, clash. He is humbled. His views are invited – in the strongest possible way – to be more aligned with reality.

Life happens, and it is not always aligned with our personal preferences. We can either throw a tantrum and blame the world, God, others, fate or ourselves. Or we can take a closer look at our fixed views, recognize what happens when we hold onto views not aligned with reality (stress, blame, resentment), and find what’s more true for us. We can (a) replace these stories with other stories more aligned with reality, and (b) softening our hold on these stories in general. We can find more trust in reality and truth. And we can find more comfort in not knowing, using stories as guides for ourselves and yet recognize that they are just stories. Reality is the boss. Through his experiences, Job matures from being blindly caught up in beliefs to recognizing stories more as stories.

Said another way, Job’s individual will (beliefs) is worn off, and he finds himself more receptive to God’s will (reality).

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Trinity

 

The topic of trinity came up again yesterday, in a conversation.

How do I find the trinity in my own experience?

For now, it seems quite simple….

God is Buddha Mind, or awareness, this awake no-thing appearing as whatever is happening – thoughts, sensations, sights, sounds, smell, taste, or more elaborate, as emotions, pain, bliss, confusion, clarity, discomfort, tension, suffering, images of past, future and present, images of others, the house, the city, nature, the earth, civilization, solar system, the evolution of the universe, and so on.

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No escape

 

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It is Good Friday, and as I woke up, and later when I went for a walk, I stayed with the image of Jesus on the cross.

What comes up for me? What does it mean for me, right now?

The first that comes up is Jesus nailed to the cross. Pinned down. Unable to escape. And that is how it is for all of us. We are unable to escape our experiences, even if we try. It may seem to work for a while. We can distract ourselves. But our experiences are still there, including the ones we try to escape from. Much better, then, to consciously allow experience as it is. To welcome it. Say “yes” to it. Be with it. With heart, compassion, and kindness. This is what we do in choiceless awareness and shikantaza practice. But we can also do it in daily life, throughout the day. I notice an impulse to escape experience. I notice discomfort. And can ask myself can I be with what I am experiencing right now? And in that is an inquiry. What happens when I try to escape experience? What happens when I allow it as is, with kindness?

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The nativity as a dream or teaching story

 

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Joel (from the Center for Sacred Sciences) gave his traditional Christmas talk on the 25th, and I missed it unfortunately. The audio will be available in a few weeks and can be ordered from the center. 

The talk was on the nativity scene as a mandala, or seen as a dream or teaching story, and a friend was kind enough to send me a brief summary as he remembered it. 

Here are a few things based on that summary, with additions on my own. This has already gone through a few filters, so it only reflects my own take on it. Not necessarily what Joel said. 

The virgin birth. The awakening is born of spirit, not of the human. It is what we are awakening to itself. The timeless now awakening as always and already here. It does not come from and cannot be initiated by anything human. It is grace.

The stable. Awakening can happen in ordinary and humble circumstances. It also embraces and is often lived through ordinary and humble circumstances.

The shepherds. Awakening includes the ordinary in our lives. And it is available to ordinary and humble people.

The wise men. (Sometimes kings.) Wisdom is in the service of awakening. The ruling views and habits align with and are in the service of what we are awake to itself. 

Animals. Awakening embraces and is lived through our animal and human nature. 

The star. A guiding star. Also the presence of the celestial. Spirit. That which all experience happens within and as. What we are. 

The angels/messengers. ??? (Maybe the knowing that comes with awakening. The obviousness of Ground awake to itself as the awake no-thing appearing as the myriad forms and experiences.)

The baby. The innocence of awakening. Not knowing. Curiosity. Wonder. 

The gifts. An offering of what we take as most precious. A sacrifice of our most precious stories and identities. 

All of this reflects the fruits of awakening, and are also guides and pointers for the path

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Deny me three times before dawn

 

I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” – Matthew 26:34. Also Luke 22:34. Mark 14:30. John 13:38.

Adyashanti talked about this during his July intensive this year (I have listened to the two first session on CD.)

As so much in the New Testament, it is a beautiful expression of what we are likely to encounter on the path.

I find this for myself in small daily situations, and also in the overall process of recognizing what I am and taking the consequences of it in my daily life.

Mainly, I notice I am caught up in a story. I find what is more true for me. I live from that for a while. Get caught up in the story again even if I know better. Shift into living from what is more true for me. And so on.

John is, as so often, even more to the point:

Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” – John 13:38

Of course, for most of us it happens more than three times. But it doesn’t have to.

(The illustration is an Ethiopian painting from the 1600s.)

The Jesus story

 

From New York Times today:

JERUSALEM — A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

If such a messianic description really is there, it will contribute to a developing re-evaluation of both popular and scholarly views of Jesus, since it suggests that the story of his death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

Of course, the Jesus story has parallels with not only Jewish myths, but also myths from other earlier traditions of that time and region.

Some examples are given in The Jesus Mysteries by Tim Freke and Peter Gandi where they outline the following parallels of the Osiris-Dionysus and Jesus stories:

  • Osiris-Dionysus is God made flesh, the savior and “Son of God.”
  • His father is God and his mother is a mortal virgin.
  • He is born in a cave or humble cowshed on December 25 before three shepherds.
  • He offers his followers the chance to be born again through the rites of baptism.
  • He miraculously turns water into wine at a marriage ceremony.
  • He rides triumphantly into town on a donkey while people wave palm leaves to honor him.
  • He dies at Eastertime as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
  • After his death he descends to hell, then on the third day he rises from the dead and ascends to heaven in glory.
  • His followers await his return as the judge during the Last Days.
  • His death and resurrection are celebrated by a ritual meal of bread and wine, which symbolize his body and blood.

Why is it so? The obvious answer is that the Jesus myth picked up elements of existing myths to make it more familiar to the people of the time.

But another answer, as Freke and Gandi points out, is that these stories are about an inner truth more than an outer – historic – truth. They reflect an inner process of growing and waking up.

And that is why similar story elements not only appear in traditions of that place and time, but around the world in many different cultures, and also in dreams and visions of people today.

None of this really touch whether Jesus was a historic figure or not. He may well have been, and the specific events of his life may or may not have followed the lines of the Jesus story as we know it today.

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Two masters

 

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:22-24

This whole passage is interesting. From a conventional point of view, the two first paragraphs don’t make much sense, and the third is taken literally and maybe seen as overly harsh.

Yet when there is a shift into headlessness or Big Mind/Heart, it becomes clear and is revealed as a beautiful and true passage.

The single eye is awareness itself, that which all happens within, to and as. When it notices itself, all is revealed as luminous both metaphorically (clear insight into what we are) and literally (sense of luminosity in all there is).

If it doesn’t notice itself, there is darkness. We are confused about who and what we are, and also don’t notice the luminosity inherent in all form and experience. This confusion is the root of all that is conventionally seen as evil, including all suffering and unease.

We cannot serve two masters. We cannot be confused and identify with content of awareness, and at the same time notice what we are.

Or more accurately, we can – and inevitably do – for a large stretch of the awakening process. Both may be present simultaneously to some degree, with one shifting into the foreground and then the other. But there comes a time when we have to make a clear decision.

Am I going to continue to indulge in whatever comes out of this mistaken identity, even as I know it is a mistaken identity, or am I going to wholehearted give myself to what I already am?

And this shift may involve strong resolve which is reflected in the somewhat harsh language of the passage above.

Lookin’ good for Jesus

 

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I thought this was cute. Why not look good for Jesus?

Seems that it would be part of any comprehensive and integral approach 😉

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And it is always interesting to explore where I find the genuine truth in this, for myself. Where do I find the genuine truth in looking good for Jesus?

For me, it has to do with inviting guests.

Any content of awareness is a guest, so if we take a visit by Jesus to happen within content of awareness, we can invite it in.

We can do certain (second person) practices, find receptivity of the three centers, and more. We can invite Jesus in as alive presence in its many forms such just alive presence, or its aspect of luminosity, or infinite love, or wisdom, or the fiery heart quality I find when I do Christian practices, or for others, maybe as a vision or a voice, or something else. Or just the good old taste of an open heart at our human level.

And if we take Jesus, or Christ, or the combination, to be a noticing of what we are (that which experiences happens within, to and as), then that is also something that can be invited in. We can prepare the situation, as best as we can. And that guest may come as well, or not.

So by inviting in Jesus as any or all of these guests, we want to look our best. We want to look good for Jesus, inviting him in for a visit.

Of course, Jesus, as anything else, lives his own life, on his own schedule. And that is also part of the game.

Becoming like children

 

Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of God.
[Mark 10:15]

Some of the ways I find myself more childlike…

  • Exploring the sense fields, and the simplicity of noticing what arises in each, how thoughts combine with the others to create gestalts, and how these gestalts are as ephemeral and insubstantial as thoughts themselves when this is seen, and appear very substantial and real when this is not seen.
  • Learning to trust what is really here, what I notice and discover through simple practices such as the headless experiments.
  • The simplicity of finding myself as awareness, and all that arises as awareness.
  • Receptivity of the three centers – view, heart and belly.
  • Finding the genuine truths in accusations, joining in with the other.
  • Saying yes or no from clarity.
  • Not having to defend the truth in any story, nor defend against the truth in any story.
  • Making a fool of oneself, through acting from what is alive here now. (As i do with this blog.)
  • See thoughts as thoughts.
  • See thoughts as tools for this human self to orient and function in the world, and having no value beyond that.
  • Not knowing. See thoughts as tools only.
  • Willing to be wrong. Exited to be wrong, to move out of familiar views and identities.

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine…

 

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)

As with so many of the saying of Jesus, this one is beautiful, simple and true in many different ways.

It is true through a Jungian filter, where we see Christ as the realized wholeness of this human self, and the ways we treat others as mirroring the ways we treat ourselves. This one is helpful, although a little limited.

More interestingly, it is true in the sense discovered by mystics from any tradition… There is only God. There is no I with an Other to be found anywhere, even if it may appear that way. All beings happen within, to and as God.

God can notice itself or not while functionally connected to a living being (in our case, this particular human self). If it doesn’t, there is suffering. If it does, there is a release from suffering.

And if there is suffering, it is, in a very real sense, God that is suffering.

It doesn’t touch what God is, which is this stainless awakeness untouched by anything in the world the same way as space is not touched by its content. Suffering is nothing else than this awakeness itself, no other than God itself.

Yet, it is experienced as real, substantial, happening to a separate I, so it is very real in that sense.

All of this means that whatever we do for any being, we do for God. Whatever we do for the least one, the one who suffers, we do for God. When we help someone, even in small ways, it is God we are helping.

It is God helping God. God exploring how it is to be finite, to be helped, to help.

All happening within, to and as awakeness.

Jesus Christ

 

A simple way to look at Jesus Christ…

Jesus was the human being, reorganized within the context of a soul awakening (alive presence, oneness) and quite possibly a nondual awakening.

The soul and nondual awakening is the Christ part. The awakening to who/what we are at the soul level, as this alive presence, and what we are as awakeness and this field of awakeness and form inherently absent of an I with an Other.

When we engage in Christian practices, such as the heart/Jesus prayer (brief prayer with the breath/heartbeats) or the Jesus meditation (visualizing Christ in the six directions and the heart) we invite our human self to reorganize within this new context, we tap into the particular Christ flavor of soul level awakening (one that I experience as especially fiery in the heart and on top of the head), and we invite what we are to notice itself.

Dream: the full embrace and deepening embodiment of the life of Christ

 

I am organizing an event with a man from Sweden who is coming to prepare us for Christ. He arrives with his family, his wife and children, and the soulful and rich embrace of family, friends, local community, the three centers, and human self, soul and Spirit is essential for the coming and physical embodiment and life of Christ.

Christ is already coming in our community, and the Swedish man and his community arrives as a catalyst for a deeper, more full and mature integration, one that includes all of these – family, friends, community, head, heart, belly, human self, soul and Spirit.

The Christ is coming as a very strong presence and light, golden and red, with blue and green included as strains of light.

The dream, and the sense of Christ awakening in and as the community, was very vivid. Christ awakening as the community of our individual self, embracing head, heart and body, human self, soul and Spirit, and awakening as our human and Earth community of family, friends and local (and global) community.

The soulfulness and maturity, which I find most readily in Scandinavian cultures, is an important catalyst of the embodiment and lived life of Christ. My sense of my own inner and outer community, in the dream and my waking life, is of one that is impoverished, deeply needing this infusion of soulfulness and fullness of life.

Death and resurrection

 

This dream is a direct reflection of what happened as I fell asleep, where I continually surrendered anything and everything to the alive luminous blackness: any identities, all knowing, anything familiar, any remaining toeholds.

There is a real sense of fear here, of death, of complete annihilation. But it is needed, and I feel ready for surrendering it all, completely, over and over. There is no other way. I know deeply that it is the least painful way. Holding onto anything is suffering, and there is no way out except for surrendering it all.

Death and resurrection

Since this came up related to the Christ meditation, I also thought of how Jesus (the man) mirrored this process in his own life. He went through a process of awakening, then a death, and then resurrection.

At some point, we are invited (a polite term!) to surrender it all. To die to all that we know ourselves as. We surrender all identities, all knowing, anything familiar, any remaining toeholds. It all has to go. And it really is experienced as a death, with all the fear and terror that can come up around that. And through that process, that complete willingness to surrender it all, we do die as anything we know ourselves as, and are resurrected into a new life.

Although it isn’t really an invitation. It is a process that goes far beyond our intention or will. We are just swept along with it, almost helplessly. The only thing we can do is to willingly surrender to it, which makes it a little less painful.

And it may also happen many times, in many different ways. Each time surrendering new layers, dieing to current identities and familiar ways of living, and being resurrected into something new. Over and over.

Deaths and resurrections within realized selflessness

Even in the midst of realized selflessness, there are these deaths and resurrections.

There is the realization of everything as always fresh, different and new. There is a deepening into realizing and living from realized selflessness. There is a deepening into new realms of being.

Each of these involves a continuous dying to anything familiar, and a continuous resurrection into a new life.

Christ meditation

 

I did the Christ meditation last night, and noticed a new shift and a few familiar things as well.

In the Christ meditation, I visualize Christ in my heart, and in front and behind, on the left and right, and above and below, about 5-8 feet out. Christ can be visualized as a presence, a light, or even in the physical form of Jesus, depending of what resonates the most and gives the strongest sense of presence. For me, a combination of presence and golden light seems to work best.

Soft alive loving intelligent receptive luminosity

The difference this time was the quality of the light. This time, it had a soft rounded quality, as a soft luminous deep infinitely loving, intelligent and receptive luminosity, with an alive presence. It has the deep velvety quality of the fertile darkness, and the aliveness and love, intelligence and receptivity of the alive luminosity.

In my dream that morning, the fertile blackness took on the qualities of the alive luminosity, revealing itself as luminous blackness. And during this meditation, the luminosity took on the deep soft quiet qualities of the fertile darkness. They seem to be revealing themselves as just two facets of the same, in different ways, with one in the foreground, then the other.

Directions

I also noticed the experience of the directions again, as I often do.

The front seems to have to do with my conscious daily life and interactions.

The back with my individual shadows, maybe shared with people in my groups such as culture and nationality, and in general what I tend to be unaware of in my daily life.

The sides with community and relationships with humanity, animals, plants and the Earth.

Above with traditional yang spirituality, such as transcendence and ascension.

And below with deep feminine spirituality, and also deeper collective shadows.

Placing, or noticing, the Christ there allows the light of awareness into these realms, allowing them to reorganize within the light of consciousness.

Unique quality

I also notice the unique Christ quality. It involves the heart center, but so do anything else related to Big Heart, such as Avalokiteshwara (Chenrezig, Kanzeon, Quan Yin). It involves the head center as well, especially the crown. But it also has a very distinct quality, a fiery alive presence that I have not experienced with anything else.

Tongues of fire

I also took the opportunity to look at the tongue of fire in the mirror afterwards (I know this is weird! I am definitely pushing my comfort zone by writing about this.) It looks like a cylinder of very clear light attached to the crown, maybe about 1.5-2 inches wide and 5-6 inches tall. When I move my head around, it follows exactly, as if solidly attached to the crown.

So it doesn’t really look like a tongue of fire, but it is very understandable why it may be described – and depicted – that way. It is of clear brilliant light, attached to the top as a flame to a candle (!), and it also has the fiery quality of the Christ presence itself.