A documentary which shows the journey of Christianity from flavored by amber (fundamentalist, authoritarian, ethnocentric) and earlier to orange (science, rationality, early worldcentric) and beyond.
For someone like me who grew up in a culture that is heavily orange, green and beyond, and where the church is mostly the same, there is nothing new in the approach of this documentary. We learned mostly about the historical aspects of the Bible and Christianity in school, including the authoring of the various parts of the Bible, the politics of selecting the final books, translation issues, and so on.
And since the culture is at orange/green+, this approach was taken for granted… maybe too much so, since there is now an influx of people there who has more of an amber minus background, which creates conflicts and problems they were – and are – not prepared to deal with.
It is still interesting to watch, and maybe especially because it is also a personal journey for the presenter, from amber to orange+ Christianity.
Purgatory is a fiery purification, and have elements of both heaven and hell.
And that is an accurate description, at least in my experience, of the practice of being with experiences, as we do in Shikantaza (sitting practice) or by asking ourselves in daily life can I be with what I am experiencing right now?
It is especially accurate when the content of our experiences are intense, such as strong pain or emotions. The content of our experiences, including any resistance to experiences, are allowed to arise as they are, without or with less identification, and this allows a habitual pattern of identification with them to burn through.
The fiery hellish elements is the fire of the intensity of the content, and the blissful heavenly elements is the bliss of fully allowing any experience, independent of its content. Together, there is the purification of purgatory.
When we worked with the Hebrew letters on Sunday, sounding and visualizing them above the head and at the three soul centers, we used letters with tongues of fire above them.
It reminded me of one of the most surprising experiences in my life. In the years following my initial awakening, I did did the heart prayer and Christ meditations and visualizations along with a more Buddhist practice, and along with everything else happening, I noticed an unusually intense activity on the crown on my head. The awakening also allowed me to see energies, and as I happened to walk past a mirror following an especially alive Christ meditation, I saw a flame on top of my head.
It was hugely surprising to me as it seemed to reflect the descriptions in Acts, which I up until then had taken as purely metaphorical. Now, it seemed that it was far more than metaphorical. The tongues of fire is a literal description of what happens when we connect with the Christ consciousness and energy. There are literally tongues of fire, energetically, activated at the top of our heads, and visible in our energy systems.
I am also surprised by drawings and paintings such as the one above. It is just about exactly what I saw, and see whenever I immerse myself in Christ practices. Have these artists seen it for themselves? Do they intuit or sense it? Do they base it one representations made by others who have seen it? It is probably a combination, and different for each artist. But it is still surprising, and beautiful.
The Gospel of Thomas is known to be more esoteric (in the sense of reflecting a mystic’s approach) and closer to Eastern philosophies than many of the other gospels, both those included in the New Testament and not.
One of the sayings in the Gospel of Thomas is…
What you do not have within you will kill you.
This seems closely related to the being eaten by time vs. eating time topic. And it is another topic that can be explored with the Big Mind process, even if what is (Big Mind, Buddha Mind, Spirit) has not yet completely awakened to its own nature.
Identification as a fragment
If there is an identification as a fragment of what is, then whatever is “other” can (and eventually will) harm me – at least in my own experience.
Identification as Witness
If there is a belief in the thought I, now referring to Witness, to pure awareness, then I find myself as a mirror for the world of phenomena. The world of phenomena, including this human self and anything else, is arising within me and I am not touched by it, I am stainless. The world of phenomena is a seamless whole, including this human self and anything else. It is absent of I and Other. There is nothing outside of me to harm me.
But there is still a belief in the thought I, which does create a sense of Other. I am pure awareness, the world of phenomena is Other. There is a subtle sense of subject and object. There is still an identification with a fragment, even if this fragment is timeless and pure awareness. There may be an experience of oneness, intimacy and no separation with all there is, yet within a context of a(n apparently) subtle I and Other. So there is still something outside of me which can harm me, and it will so I can have an opportunity to see this.
If there is stuckness here, there can be a fall from grace allowing the remaining belief in the thought I to wear down and off (the dark night of the soul). Immediate experience is out of alignment with the belief in the thought I, so existence shakes things up to allow even this belief to erode and fall away.
Absent of beliefs
When there is an absence of belief in thoughts, including the thought I, there is really no inside or outside, no subtle I remaining to create a sense of a subtle Other. It all is, as it is. Or we can say that the whole field is I, beyond any sense of subject or object. There is nothing outside to harm, and no “me” to be harmed. It is all just emptiness dancing.
Another way to look at this is in terms of projections. Whenever something is perceived as only or mostly “out there”, there is a blind projection going on, and this can and will (apparently) harm me.
There is a belief in a set of thoughts, creating an identity, and whatever does not fit into this identity is experienced as “Other”. As long as these are seen as Other, there will be a sense of struggle, a sense of war with what is, an experience of stress and even suffering.
As what is seen as Other is gradually included in I or me, there is a gradual and progressive sense of wholeness, of being at home, of being at peace with what is.
I used to focus on heart centered practices – mainly the heart prayer, Christ meditation (visualizing Christ in the heart and about 5 feet away in all six directions), and gratitude (for everything happening, through for instance repeating the word “thanks” as a mantra) – and it seems that they are slowly coming back. There is a quite different embodiment that comes from heart-centered practices, a different sense of engagement in the world.
There are many ways of talking about this, and I am only scratching the surface here as with everything else (and am obviously far behind many others who have explored this).
Where inquiry and basic sitting practice gives insight and clarity, heart-centeredness gives engagement. The first is a zero/first person relationship with God, and the second a second person relationship with God. One gives the context, the other the content. One gives clarity and space, the other fullness and richness. One gives equanimity, the other joy, gratitude and compassion.
And both seem needed, at least in my case.
There is a continuing deepening into the heart and living from the heart possible, before and after a nondual awakening.
The mystical (practical spiritual) movements within all of the world’s major religions all seem to be able to lead people into an awakening into Big Mind. But there are some differences in emphasis. For instance, it seems that the Buddhist awakening emphasizes clarity and wisdom, although the compassionate aspect is strong. And it seems that the awakening through Christianity and Islam (Sufism) emphasizes the fullness and richness of love and compassion. Buddhism may be more head-centered, and Christianity and Islam more heart-centered. Within Big Mind/Heart, Buddhism may emphasize Big Mind, and Christianity and Islam Big Heart. Buddhism may be more yang, Christianity and Islam more yin. And together, there is an even richer experience.