Out in the cold too long?

jenjulian
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Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » December 30th, 2007, 8:57 am

I am struggling with loneliness right now. It is not the physical loneliness that ails me, it is the lonliness of my soul to connect with other open souls. I do not doubt that the holidays have somehow brought something that was already simmering to a boil. I will again use Weil to express my concern over this time on my spiritual path:

"Realtions between the collectivity and the person should be arranged with the sole purpose of removing whatever is detrimental to the growth and mysterious germination of the impersonal element in the soul.
This means, on the one hand, that for every person there should be enough room, enough freedom to plan the use of one's time, the opportunity to reach ever higher levels of attention, some solitude, some silence. At the same time the person needs warmth, lest it be driven by distress to submerge itself in the collective."

My soul is in distress and I do not want to make movements at this time that will steer me wrong or will cause me to back track. I'm not even sleeping because I cannot answer the question, is God speaking to me to come towards a spiritual community more, or is it the distess of my soul, that is out in the cold that simply needs warmth? I don't want to live dishonestly and I do not want to be unaware of my motives, as much as possible.

Any thoughts are welcome. Holidays, who needs them? They are seriously messing with me this year. I thought of taking the advice of another to create an anonymous name to discuss something this personal, but I can't seem to express myself without Weil's help lately, so I can't even do that.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby W4TVQ » December 30th, 2007, 3:27 pm

I think none of us here would fail to relate to what you have posted. Even the greatest of saints have described periods of alienation, loneliness, feelings of dissociation, emptiness, you name it. Notably, of course, St. John of the Cross, who wrote about The Dark Night of the Soul. Even more notably, Jesus, on the cross, wondering "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?"

I think it is part and parcel of the seeking process. I have found -- and this may or may not be helpful, as it is "my" experience -- that when I am feeling most alone and most confused, it is because I am obsessing about "my" situation, "my" feelings, "my" this or "my" that, and in the process creating a most marvelous fog of "me" through which I cannot see you or God. Once we get ourselves out of the way, we are amazed at the way in which God takes command of the situation, re-constructs it, fixes it and hands it back to us as a thing of beauty.

We cannot, of course, be disconnected from other souls ... because, simply, there are no other souls. I am you, and you are me, and we are they, and they are we, all of us of one origin, one substance, waves on a single sea, God Himself manifesting as "us." If we feel "separated" from others, it is because we have temporarily accepted the illusion of "otherness." Yes, we do that, and it is not "wrong" or "unspiritual" to do that, it is human to do that. We simply need to understand, if passing through a tunnel we will see darkness, and need only be aware that the darkness is only in the tunnel. And, the tunnel is part of the journey to the destination we seek. ACIM advises us, "the part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not." And, "If you knew who walks beside you on the way you have chosen, fear would be impossible." You never walk alone.

One helpful thing is Emmet Fox's "golden key." The "golden key" is simply, "if disturbed by a situation or condition or problem, stop thinking about it and think about God instead."

If you were not well along the path to the destination you seek, none of the things that bother you would bother you. You would not care. You would not realize that the stuff in the tunnel was darkness. You're experiencing "seekeritis." Be thankful for it!

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

jenjulian
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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » December 31st, 2007, 5:44 am

Thank you for your response, w4tvq. Everything you wrote is right on, correcto. I agree, I'm worrying way to much about me right now, to put it honestly, I have my head, well, you know where. I can't see anything...it is so dark!!! :uhh: It came over me so quickly and is so all consuming that I cannot find my footing. I know I'm not alone. I know even if I toss around the idea of joining into a church community, it will not last. I tried that a few years ago. At times like this, I want to be part of a group and I want to just agree with everything they say, and be accepted and take a rest for a while. Maybe I need to do as you said, and shut up the mind and find my rest inside. I think it is at holiday's that I allow the worlds judgement of my life to slither into my head and make its home there for a while. WHen I view myself and my life from our societies values, I add up to one big loser. I need to balance this out with what I know in my soul, I'm exactly and I mean right dab, exactly where I'm suppose to be. All is well, as Julian states.

Blessing to all for the new year. Thank God I'm working, and thank God my car broke down. Nothing better for the soul than lots of walking. It is saving me right now. :D
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 2nd, 2008, 7:26 pm

Question for anyone out there. I had the strangest dream last night. Within it I was the good guy/gal and the bad guy/gal. I've heard before that the characters in our dreams are simply different aspects of ourselves, but this is going too far. I'm thinking more a sign of severe mental illness. The bad Jen was truly wicked, WOW. But, she pittered out by the end of the dream, with all of her controlling and greed and selfishness and lack of compassion for others. She tricked me and tried to take everything that mattered to me and tried to keep me locked in a small box of a prison. Right before the end of the dream, after she, the devil me, locked me up, first a doctor came with different advice and then a priest showed up. They both brought comfort, but did not help me. I overcame on my own. :wink: Any symbolism here?
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 9th, 2008, 1:05 am

So glad you are here Dr Seus, and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I would say that I was probably born depressed! I think my alcohol and drug addiction probably resulted from this initial condition. I have a son just like me. In the fourth grade he was tackling issues of Is there a God, and why are religions so full of it! Goodness boy, go play ball!!! I am glad to report that he is on his way to Kansas State University. It will suit him well.
I do have a wonderful medical doctor that I have a working relationship with through my job and as a dr/patient. I am taking something since I've started the change of life and the start of the empty nest time of my life, and it has helped a lot. So, you are probably quite correct in what you see.

I think, though, that what I probably need more is a soul doctor, than a religious doctor, or a medical doctor. That is what I find in the books I read, many soul docs out there, and at places like Zoo Fence...Stephan and Anna are most definately soul doctors, as well as Art. I share my burden when I become overwhelmed, such as the holidays and I try to strike a balance in my life, the best I can.

I have always been an odd bird, and one thing I have given to myself, is the permission to be who I am, as I am and to allow myself to have needs and to be okay to say I need a brotherly or sisterly hand every so often. I love my life, my job, my kiddo's and my dogs. But, there is a part of my, the searching of my soul that is not fulfillled in any of these places in my life. I need to be here and I need to share right now. So I am, until it is time not too.

Blessings, Dr Zeus.
jen
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 9th, 2008, 1:49 am

"
Realtions between the collectivity and the person should be arranged with the sole purpose of removing whatever is detrimental to the growth and mysterious germination of the impersonal element in the soul.
This means, on the one hand, that for every person there should be enough room, enough freedom to plan the use of one's time, the opportunity to reach ever higher levels of attention, some solitude, some silence. At the same time the person needs warmth, lest it be driven by distress to submerge itself in the collective."


I want to pose this question, for anyone interested. The above quote from Simone Weil speaks to me of the issue of the solitude that is necessary for the kind of spiritual growth that Anna spoke of in the thread "letting go of God" It is an inward process, that happens mostly in silence. Simone (as well as Plato) believed that the person who lives life submerged in the collective---as one finds with most religions---to be the lowest and basest way for a human to live. What I'm curious about it this. Is there some kind of balance that is needed here that Simone talks of, to prevent one from wanting to run to the collective. I do feel envious at times that religion has fellowship. I know that guru's and teacher/student relationships are talked of often, but what of brothers and sisters? I think of the disciples of Jesus and the fellowship this small group had. I remember reading some really cool books, actually fantasy young adult books by Tamara Pierce called Circle of Magic. This had the teacher student relationship within it, but it also had the four students and the importance of the bond between them, that eventually superceded that of the teacher.

Curious what anyone else thinks of this. Posting here and on another site, is sort of equal to this, because I find fellow travelers and kindred souls to share with. My next question would be, is there real value in dialogue? I think there is, if it is authentic. Does all of spiritual growth mean alone? Surely there is somewhere betweent this option and the immersion of oneself into a religious body.

???
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby W4TVQ » January 9th, 2008, 9:15 pm

"Is there some kind of balance that is needed here that Simone talks of, to prevent one from wanting to run to the collective."

Certinly it would seem a balance is needed. There are aspects of personal growth that can only happen in isolation and silence, much as the germination of a seed takes place in the darkness of the soil, away from the light, without contact with or help from other seeds, by the direct action of nature upon it. But there are aspects of growth that can only happen in communion with others. ACIM reminds us that "heaven," like the ark, is entered two by two, and ties personal growth to what it calls "the holy encounter." Presumably, one cannot have a holy encounter without encountering someone. Plus, fellowship of any sort keeps us from becoming fixated on our own image like Narcissus.

I don't mean the sort of "fellowship" that takes the form of pot luck dinners, tent crusades, evangelism projects and the like; Jesus said He would be present when two or three were gathered in his name. Two will suffice, because, as the Genesis myth assures us, "two" (male and female) constitute the "image of God."

And finally ... how can we be apart, isolated, separate from anyone else, when there isn't anyone else, really: I am thou, and thou art I ... tat tvam asi. At the center of our being we cannot avoid each other; we are each other. Understanding and experiencing that truth I find to be still beyond me, but I know it to be true and pursue that awareness eagerly ... and I don't expect there could be much progress in that direction in a hermitage.

Guess I'm rambling a bit here, so I'll shut up, Maybe it was helpful in some way.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby W4TVQ » January 10th, 2008, 9:42 pm

Speaking of separation ... I am a bit sad, but relieved, that the time has come for me to abandon the "ChristianBoard.com" forums. I made some interesting friends there, and will miss them, but a spirit of anger and of spiritual one-upmanship has taken over the boards, and it is like wading through a morass of molasses spiked with garlic. "Orthodoxy" seeems to make some people downright mean. PIty, but there it is.

I love these boards. No one is putting anyone down or jockeying for position in the throne room.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 11th, 2008, 4:16 am

I think this essay is great and talks about the importance of authentic dialogue, and it address what prevents this beneficial practice and what encourages it.

The Art of Enlightened Communication
What would it be like to engage with others in a place far beyond the boundaries of the personal self? What would it be like to communicate from a part of your own self that is absolutely free from self-consciousness, that is fearless, uncorrupted, and passionately interested in the truth? Most people don’t know how to communicate. We share information, sometimes in very sophisticated ways, but we don’t really communicate. Real communication is a creative process. Human beings develop only through interaction, so when I speak about enlightened communication, it means engaging in a developmental process at the highest level of our own consciousness—literally creating a new edge of evolutionary potential through the act of communication itself.

There is an art to enlightened communication—and it’s an unknown art, as far as I know. In order to begin exploring this new potential, it’s imperative that it occur in a disciplined, controlled context, where the content of the dialogue is kept in the realm of the impersonal. If you hold yourself and the other participants to the biggest philosophical and spiritual concepts, without swerving into abstractions or deviating into personal matters, you will discover to your surprise and delight that the liberating depth and clarity of the Authentic Self will spontaneously emerge within you and between you simultaneously. You’ll find yourself unusually awake, oblivious to the passing of time, because your conversation occurs in a context that is infused with ecstasy and evolutionary tension. The instant you or anyone else become too abstract or personal, this new context that you have created together in consciousness will disappear, the evolutionary tension will dissipate, and you’ll lose touch with the Authentic Self. But if you diligently avoid mere opinions, theoretical abstractions, and the personal dimension altogether, your words will become one with the inspired passion, focused intensity, and evolutionary tension that emanates from the Authentic Self. And once you become grounded in the Authentic Self, eventually you will be clear enough to be able to slowly widen the content of the dialogue to embrace all of your humanity, including every aspect of the personal domain, without ever swerving from a truly enlightened perspective.

Enlightened Communication is communication beyond ego. When committed individuals come together in this way, the enlightened mind itself can emerge between them. Once the ego has stepped aside and the Authentic Self is released, suddenly all participants find access to a kind of knowing and cognitive capacity that has nothing to do with any prior accumulated knowledge. They find access to the source of wisdom itself. And this is quite a miraculous experience because it seems to be a new evolutionary development. It’s a newly emerging human potential. Traditionally enlightenment has been an inner revelation, an expansion of consciousness and a higher state of being that an individual would discover within him- or herself. But now what we’re finding is that as we evolve, our spiritual capacities are also evolving and it’s possible to find access to enlightened consciousness beyond the internal subjective experience of the individual.

When this higher state emerges between us, what was once a subjective experience becomes an intersubjective experience. Because we meet in the Authentic Self, the difference between the one and the many disappears and the enlightened mind becomes the one voice speaking to itself. In this profoundly awakened context where higher consciousness has emerged as the intersubjective ground, a truly revolutionary potential is revealed. It’s a window into a completely new order of human relationship in which we not only awaken to this higher level of consciousness together but, even more importantly, begin to engage with it in order to find out how to create the future.

Andrew Cohen
http://www.andrewcohen.org/teachings/art-of-ec.asp
"I am what I am."--Popeye

jenjulian
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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 12th, 2008, 5:46 am

I understand your 'bit sad, but relieved' with leaving cboard. Why would any of us stay around others that are intent on hurting us? I have struggled for the last year with my boss, but loved the residents at the facility where I work. So, as you did, Art, I stayed around past what was a good thing. I have been 'on call' for the last year almost 24/7, 30 days a month, with little compensation. I was kind enough to go into work yesterday at 5am on my day off to cover for an out of towner because of snow. Since I'm salary, I don't show up with overtime, so I've started to watch my own time and limit it to 40 hours, because I'm burning out. I left an hour early today, to recoup my time, after my work was done and of course I'm always reachable by phone. My boss called and started an issue of it and I gave her a thought or two, pretty plainly, and she fired me.

I then went out this evening and slipped on a piece of ice, flew into the air and landed on my a** smack dab on the nice blunt corner of the porch. Just to drive two blocks, so my car that was just fixed could die on me.

I will say, that as I spent time talking to my sponsor on the phone tonight, I felt all of the stress and burden I have been carrry for the last few months start to slide away. It didn't take long to understand this is one of those times that my insides are shifting and now the outside world is shifting also. All is well.
The beauty of the day, is at a funeral I attended this morning, the paster gave the most amazing sermon about the seed. I call that a holy moment.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby W4TVQ » January 12th, 2008, 1:41 pm

It does seem that things can go along "as is" for a while, and then, suddenly, the universe pokes a finger in and says "Okay, now we're going to change all your parameters; stand by for Changes." It always seems to be a disaster,and it always turns out to have been a good thing after all.

Sort of like, when we came home from the hurricane shelter and found that Hurricane Wilma had thoughtfully removed our roof, our lanai and our carport, and scattered them all over the neighborhood. It meant months of endless hassles trying to find contractors to fix things. But in the long run, we have a better roof, a new carport, and insurance covered all but $500 of it. And a miracle was included: out double-wide manufactured home was otherwise intact, only a couple of small leaks, after a category 3 storm. "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

I think my wife could relate to your story, having been part of the 12-hour shift, night shift, much-labor-for-poor-pay nursing scene. She loves her job now as a public health nurse, with normal 9-5 hours and weekends/holidays off. Maybe your state has similar jobs available?

I'll miss ChristianBoard, but I won't miss the abuse. It's time to move on. These boards are like a quiet place of rest. I'm reminded of the beautiful chapel at Unity Village in Lee's Summit, MO, a very plain, small room, the only focal point beng a sky/cloud scene with the words "Peace, Be Still."

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby anna » January 12th, 2008, 3:44 pm

Re longing for groups, and solitude.

I think that all individuals, whether aware of it or not, have a core loneliness, what might be called existential angst by the professionals, that is unavoidable, and inevitable by virtue of the fact that we are human beings. Many of us buffer that very normal human feeling by constant activity, distraction of any form, frequently by joining groups in an effort to distract, and if we are unable to distract ourselves, then, if we are unaware of the normality of this state, turn to self medication of one form or another. As a result of the pain suffered from this state, we learn to un-relate, in order to tolerate the inevitable pain of that loneliness which rears its head from time to time no matter what steps we may take to avoid it. (This unrelating, of course, just compounds it.)

The first step toward real inner growth I think is recognizing this inevitability and facing it, letting it happen. The efforts to distract ourselves from it is the first problem. As the Buddha said "Life is suffering." He required that recognition, and only after that could one go about finding one's way out of that inevitability. Even so, Buddha died, and probably had arthritis and assorted other ailments, and probably, physiologically feared death. But psychologically, or "spiritually", knew who he was, so he could accept it and transcend it.

This requires great courage, and is why in my own process I went through a period of becoming a "spiritual warrior", even to the extent where I had a vision of Jesus tying my hair up in a ninja type samurai knot on the top of my head, and telling me that I was a man now. It was a pivotal moment in my own ability to face my own sadnesses, disappointments in others (that is another huge subject), discouragement with my own lack of strength, with the world, with the underlying sadness of life with its suffering. When one faces this fact, and accepts it, courage is required, but surprisingly, with that acceptance, it looses its sting. Our suffering is created by us in our efforts to escape pain and suffering, and our delusion that life as a human can be made to be without either pain or suffering. This is part and parcel of what I include in surrender - surrender means just that, giving in and up to the present situation of my own life. Only when one truly experiences that kind of acceptance, does one begin to learn how to transcend it.

With that said, I am not suggesting that there is nothing to be gained by social interaction with others. Indeed, we are social animals, and need that interaction for mental health. I think again, it is the expectations that cause the problems. Social interaction, simply for the pleasure of it, and the sweet coziness that being with others brings, is healthy in and of itself, and need provide nothing more than that. Kind of like chewing your cud like a cow in a pasture with other cows. There is no expectation there, it is just "being there" with others of like interests. So, in that manner, church groups are supreme examples of social interaction. It is when those groups start using the social interaction in order to build power or restrictions that we get into trouble. I have always thought that the Catholic Church, paradoxically is the safest church to go to for this kind of social comfort. It is so mammouth that it has no need to coerce anymore, and is simply a safe haven for people to worship together, and no one knows who that God is that is being worshipped, except the individual worshiper, however much dogma may be expressed. It's safety, comradship, social interactivity, and encouragement to honor something greater than oneself that is its greatest gift. Were I inclined to go to church, I think I would choose that one for that reason, with all of its warts, it has a core of individual, and privately exercised, devotion which is individually directed. (As an aside - I find it significant that Catholic Churches remain open through the week, whereas most other Christian churches, close. That signfies to me the emphasis on the individual worship of God, within the house of God. I believe that some Buddhist Temples remain open all the time as well, probably for the same reason.)

Someone on this board wondered aloud what it is that signifies a true friend or comrade, and by extension, group, and by extension, society. I think it is someone who wants nothing from you OTHER than comradship. Who wants to be with you just because she wants to be with you, not to gain anything. (This includes spiritual grasping as well, you know?) That is rare unfortunately, but rare only because we feel limited and in want of something "more" ourselves and live in a society that is founded on limitation and want by virtue of its consumerism. I saw a show last night about Happiness, on 20/20. They found that the Danes in Denmark are the happiest society in the world. One of the major reasons is that they pay 64% of their income in taxes toward the democratic socialism which serves them, and which in turn eliminates poverty, health fears by virtue of their health system, and class stratification, because they consider everyone equal, from the garbage man to the prince, quite literally. The professional earns not a whole lot more than the low level clerk, probably because of the tax incentive toward NOT accumulating wealth, and thus there is a levelling of one-up-manship and social climbing, all causes of alienation and unhappiness. In many ways they are a prime example of the herd of cows chewing their cuds happily together in the meadow. Of course, this attitude of mine will be construed to be anti-individual, anti-capital, but it is certainly not anti-social, in the best of the sense.

This can be done on an individual basis right in the middle of the "war", but it takes great courage in this country to embark on that process, because it goes against everything we have been conditioned to consider important and "good" in this society. Thus in this regard, solitude is important, and necessary to built the strength to "stand alone" amongst a crowd of "beggars and thieves". The beggars and thieves of course are those who want something from us, and either beg for it or take it. Living amongst beggars and thieves is unfortunately the human condition. But by becoming something other than a begger or thief, we CAN transform our own vision of the world, and its expression around us.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 13th, 2008, 5:16 am

I will say that I've handled this trauma better than any before. I agree, that just as the story of the hurricane and Anna's description of surrendering to the existential angst that being a human being entails, these times are for moving even deeper into that acceptance. For me personally, God often doesn't seem to think I'm moving quite quickly enough, so a big slap onto the butt is needed, and I mean literally. :D Art, I love that your wife works for the health department. I can't think of a better place to give to others. I live in a smaller town, and any job like that is about impossible to fall into. I am interested in hospice, but will try to be quiet and find out where I'm to go and what I am to do.

I'm sharing some parts (I wish I could share the whole thing, instead of snipets) of an essay called Friendship, by S Weil. I think she has written about what we are talking about so beautifully.

There is a contradiction between seeking our own good in a human being and wishing for his good to be increased. For this very reason, when the motive that draws us toward anybody is simply some advantage for ourselves, the conditions of friendship are not fulfilled. Friendship is a supernatural harmony, a union of opposites.

When a human being is attached to another by a bond of affection which contains any degree of necessity, it is impossible that he should wish autonomy to be preserved both in himself and in the other. It is, however, made possible by the miraculous intervention of the supernatural. This miracle is friendship.

“Friendship is an equality made of harmony,” said the Pythagoreans. There is harmony because there is a supernatural union between two opposites, that is to say, necessity and liberty, the two opposites God combines when he created the world and men. There is equality because each wishes to preserve the faculty of free consent both in himself and in the other.

When anyone wishes to put himself under a human being or consents to be subordinated to him, there is no trace of friendship. Racine’s Pylades is not the friend of Orestes. There is no friendship where there is inequality.

Friendship is a miracle by which a person consents to view from a certain distance, and without coming any nearer, the very being who is necessary to him as food. It requires the strength of soul that Eve did not have; and yet she had no need of the fruit. If she had been hungry at the moment when she looked at the fruit, and if in spite of that she had remained looking at it indefinitely without taking one step toward it, she would have performed a miracle analogous to that of perfect friendship.

From the fact that the desire to please and the desire to command are not found in pure friendship, it has in it, at the same time as affection, something not unlike a complete indifference. Although it is a bond between two people it is in a sense impersonal. It leaves impartiality intact…Friendship has something universal about it. It consists of loving a human being as we should like to be able to love each soul in particular of all those who go to make up the human race.

When the bonds of affection and necessity between human beings are not supernaturally transformed into friendship, not only is the affection of an impure and low order, but it is also combined with hatred and repulsion.

When Christ said to his disciples: “Love one another,” it was not attachment he was laying down as their rule. As it was a fact that there were bonds between them due to the thoughts, the life, and the habits they shared, he commanded them to transform these bonds into friendship, so that they should not be allowed to turn into impure attachment or hatred.

Since, shortly before his death, Christ gave this as a new commandment to be added to the two great commandments of the love of our neighbor and the love of God, we can think that pure friendship, like the love of our neighbor, has in it something of a sacrament. Christ perhaps wished to suggest this with reference to Christian friendship when he said: “Where there are two or three gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.” Pure friendship is an image of the original and perfect friendship that belongs to the Trinity and is the very essence of God. It is impossible for two human beings to be one while scrupulously respecting the distance that separates them, unless God is present in each of them. The point at which parallels meet is infinity.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby Speculum » January 13th, 2008, 5:45 pm

This is a good thread, well addressed. Let there be applause all around. Here I consider only one small piece of it.

Jesus said He would be present when two or three were gathered in his name.


As I read them, those words are among the more important Teaching lessons in the Gospels. And again as I read it, the passage is composed of two parts, both of which are essential to its full understanding by a seeker. The parts are (1) “two or three gathered ” and (2) “in My Name”. (Here’s the language at Matthew 18:20, RSV: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.)

It has become increasingly glaringly clear to me that if I cannot see the Divine in my neighbor, in a frog, in a tree, in a Big Mac, then I am only deluding myself, however unintentionally, when I say to myself that I see God in a statue of Krishna or an aphorism of Buddha or a cross on a wall or a page of a scripture or an image in my head.

If we were to be asked in any circumstance what we perceive, we would respond something like, “I see me, I see you, I see the furniture or landscape around us, I see the floor or ground beneath our feet, I see the sky above” and so on. That is the human condition, the separative egoic body/mind way of being; that is “our nature”. God being Infinite, it is perfectly Divine, but it is what it is, and no more than it is.

If you ask a Self-Realized Teacher what he or she sees, he or she will respond, “I”. That is the Nature of the Divine.

I wish that I could read Aramaic and that I had access to the original words (Who doesn’t!) but I’ll bet that by “My Name” the Teacher meant “My Nature” or “in the Nature of Who I Am” because what “when two or three are gathered together in My Name” means to me is: When I am truly, openly, enthusiastically seeking to be in Relationship with every aspect and every element of “my life” – every person, every place, every thing, every idea, every event, every time, then I am exposing myself to the Nature of the Divine, to the Nature of What Is. I am seeking to walk where and as the Teacher walked. Clearly, that cannot be done "separatively". By definition, that is Relationship, and so must be done in Relationship. That's why the Teacher said "two or three". Being truly in Relationship means perceiving the other person or persons, thing or things, as one's self, not just as a source of some experience or feeling or thing which we want for "me" ("You make me feel so good").

Here’s the thing. From physical birth, we learn how to relate, how to love, from our parents, those whom we call “mother” and “father”. Those are our teachers. And so, in childhood, relating and loving as they do, as they taught us, relating and loving “in their nature”, is the best we can do, because it is all we know.

Then, as adults, we choose other teachers, eventually as seekers, responding to the prodding and prompting of the Inner Teacher or the sadguru, we choose a Teacher, and we learn to relate and to love differently – to release the ego-centric perspective of ourselves, our lives, and the universe, to release the need for control of ourselves, our lives, and the universe. We learn to relate and to love in their Nature because it is becoming (being recognized and realized as) our Nature. (“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”)

To be sure, it is not enough to learn new ways and simply adapt our old patterns to them, for that is “old wine in new skins”. We have to embrace and adopt and become the new ways. We have to go from living in and according to our parents’ nature to living in and according to God’s Nature. That, in my view and experience, is what being born again is about.

There is an exchange between Nisargadatta and a seeker reported in I Am That which, for me, puts this concept into a nice practical framework:

A questioner, apparently a medical practitioner of some kind, has a young patient who has suffered blindness because of some improper treatment the child's mother administered out of ignorance. The questioner asks Sri Nisargadatta, “Does it make any difference that I ask you to help?”

Nisaragadatta responds: Your asking is part of the boy’s blindness. Because he is blind, you ask. You have added nothing.

Questioner: But your help will be a new factor?

Nisargadatta: No, all is contained in the boy’s blindness. All is in it – the mother, the boy, you and me and all else. It is one event.


"You have added nothing." There is the entirety, and nothing more, nothing less. Don't ego-personalize it. In that specific instance (but it applies to every instance in every life), don't try to be "the healer" or the "good person" or whatever. It is not about "me". It is about the event itself, the entirety of the event. Simply be what you are, give what you have, and let all the other aspects of the event do the same.

Surely, True Relationship is not about me and not about you, just as a see-saw is not about the two ends. It is about allowing and enjoying the Divine-being-us. So, where an apparent two or three seek to understand their apparent selves and their lives and the universe in those terms, to understand them, to embrace them, to adopt them, always with enthusiasm, There Am I in the midst of them.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

jenjulian
Posts: 137
Joined: July 20th, 2007, 11:46 pm

Re: Out in the cold too long?

Postby jenjulian » January 14th, 2008, 3:41 pm

Speculum, could you expound on your idea of Relationship, as you used it in your post? I find this very interesting and would like to understand better how you are using this word.

a side note: I called up my old employer that I worked for while I was going back to school and a family moved to town last week and has a five year old girl that was a near drowning victim and needs 24 hour nursing care. SO... I will be getting the same pay to be with this little angle while she goes to school! I'm going back to kindergarten! yahoo! I think I will probably go back to school myself too, maybe get a masters, just for fun :) God just picked me up and put me where he wanted me...I will savor every moment of this new experience with my new friends... 8)
"I am what I am."--Popeye


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