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Monday, November 26, 2007

Yet Another Digital Exchange....

I think I've mentioned before how much I enjoy discussing spiritual principles with people I barely know but have come into contact with, online.

here's an excerpt from an interesting conversation I thought would merit posting here.

the other correspondent, a beautiful American guy who I admire quite a bit, was saying that we're trying to talk about too many enormous spiritual subjects simultaneously, and it's too much. I keep telling him about the importance of the miracle energy, and he keeps trying to frame it that either a) I'm sounding like a dogmatic Christian or b) science should verify the miracles I claim to have witnessed.

overall, I'm just impressed that someone coming from a skeptical point of view wants to engage thoughtfully in this very deep and complicated subject.

so, here's the exchange. my correspondent's comments are in bold.

"well, yes, there are too many big things at once! it's an avalanche! you're right -- let's bite off small pieces and grind them. maybe we'll reach an understanding, maybe not. *grinning* but the fun is in the process.

I need to repeat myself, hoping that you got the point about what I was saying, below, that it's NOT at all about worshipping any figure or another -- that the miracle energy is operating through all kinds of people, in order to help others wake up to their OWN inner divinity.

that's a huge statement, not at all a light one.

I don't think talking about miracles or even demonstrating miracles is something for the masses to 'accept such claims' or 'make them credible'. at a certain point, and I'm not sure you'll accept this statement, but I can verify from my own experience that it is true, and I've seen it validated in many, many other people who were also skeptical, it comes down to what you know in your heart -- what you FEEL in your heart, your inner self -- not the mind.

the mind will never accept something greater than itself. it simply won't. esp in the West, where we've put such praise and store into accomplishments of the mind, of the intellect.

for the mind to surrender to love, to miracles, to something it can't immediately understand, the dynamism of what it's exposed to has to be enormous.

a Beethoven symphony played live, for example -- that's pretty mind-shattering! or a sunset so exquisite that the mind just stops and tears come to the eyes.

the miracles are a little like that. the mind has to stop.

which brings me to a point -- you can't, as they say in Maine, 'get theah from heah.' you can't reach the inner knowledge of the divine through the intellect. there's a gap between the mind and the heart/soul. that's a chasm requiring the proverbial leap of faith.

in my experience, the miracles demand that leap but also reinforce how possible it is."

You do seem quite religious to me. That I will admit. It's a jacket that comes with the climate of awe and mystery of the things you engage, the highly esoteric experience, the obvious amazement coupled with lots of emotionally charged exclamation marks and capitalization, words like "Jesus energy" "holy," "saint," "miracles," etc., along with all the Indian trappings, the offerings or whatever it is that you do. if all of this is because you believe in these things, that's quite appropriate. If it is because they are useful tools to draw people into your circle of supporters, that presents a different light.

"I really have to giggle about being called 'religious.' omigawd. I guess everything is relative, and religious is in the eye of the beholder.

I consider myself a kind of iconoclast -- with a healthy respect for all spiritual traditions but a general distaste bordering on revulsion for organized religions of all walks.

I think there's an enormous difference between spirituality and religion that needs to be distinguished at this point.

religion, to me, is a codified belief system that may or may not have some truth in it, where people who practice the religion have forgotten whatever the real dynamics behind the religion are but observe the dogmas as best they can (church on Sunday, mosque on Friday, Shabbat on Saturdays, etc.)

everywhere on the planet, religions have lost their way. I meet people constantly from all different faiths and beliefs, and most of the time they're going through the motions, and their priests and rabbis, leaders and teachers are ALSO going through the motions. they've forgotten the energy links BEHIND those motions.

most religions, too, are characterized by a kind of rigidity -- as people lost their connection to the truth, they rely more on structures. well, those structures may no longer apply to people's realities!!!! but they still cling to them.

spirituality -- the pursuit of the truth, the inner knowingness of god and connectedness and the desire to merge with and understand god directly.

I would call the Gnostics more spiritual people than religious. same with the Sufis, in Islam -- they're the mystics, not the dogmatists. same with certain types of Buddhism that delve into the mystical rather than sitting in the silence staring at the wall.

same with the great souls like Buddha, Jesus, Sri Ramakrishna, and others -- they weren't religious. they were shattering the confines of religions and remaking human divine experiences in the direction of spirituality.

so, for me -- I'd say I'm much more 'spiritual' than 'religious.'

in terms of the rituals and the "Indian trappings" -- we use them because they work to connect to certain aspects of the divine. it has nothing to do with attracting people -- ha! -- quite the opposite seems to be the case. people get turned off because it looks like an Indian cult. no problem.

what I've learned about spirituality is that the price of admission is often jumping into a practice DESPITE whatever seems to be happening on the surface. it's always counter-intuitive, if viewed from a surface perspective.

Jesus was terrifying to the people during his era -- you can see accounts of that in the Christian Bible, where he goes to a village, does the work to cast the demons out of the people and toss them into the pigs (another yogic technique, btw) and then the people of the village, while grateful for the relief to their village, ask Jesus to LEAVE immediately because they thought maybe he was a black magician, an evil sorcerer.

it's hilarious to me, today, to think that people were standing right next to JESUS, fer gossakes, and couldn't recognize that greatness -- but that is Ignorance. that is the colossal grip of the Illusion (as I would call it, from the Vedic perspective) on people's minds. it is confusing. they can't see clearly, underneath the surface. the surface reality has them mesmerized.

in terms of calling me religious because of my emotionally charged exclamation points and comments!??? no, seriously!??? I was writing that way long before I got swept up into the tide of Indian mysticism. *grinning* I guess you could say, for better or worse, that is just my nature. no reflection per se on how I experience spirituality or miracles, love, or whatever."

You have to admit that statements like "The historical Jesus coming to this planet" sounds like a subtle way of saying that he was on a mission from God in the traditionally accepted Christian manner because you suggest that he did not originate on this planet but somewhere else.

it's not a subtle way of saying he was on a mission from God. it's a direct way of saying it! everyone who is here, incarnated on this planet today, even the bad guys like Hitler.... well, you could say that each of us is playing a role in god's drama. we're each on a soul mission. the mystery -- the job of spiritual life --is to figure out WHAT, exactly, that soul mission is.

I wouldn't at ALL say being 'on a mission from god' (why oh why am I hearing John Belushi in my head right now!?????? *snickering* him and Ackroyd in the Blues Brothers, proclaiming they're 'on a mission from god!') is a particularly Christian message or piece of dogma. most Christians, as I understand it, think that Jesus is the ONLY soul who came into this planet on a mission from god.

uh, oh. BIG flaw in the ointment, to my perception.

you know, people often ask my teacher in India, who has miracle abilities and is an astonishingly beautiful divine character, 'are you an avatar?' (avatar literally means, 'descent of the divine into form' -- it usually signifies a very high level saint, someone who is in union with the god consciousness all the time.) his unfailing response is ALWAYS: "isn't everyone?"

meaning -- aren't we ALL emanations of the divine into different forms? of COURSE. of course we are.

this is why I'm not at all a Christian -- because they distorted what Jesus was saying (of course) and twisted it, somehow, into Jesus On A Pedestal being the ONLY 'Son of God' and the ONLY descent of the divine into this madhouse of a planet.

he was saying, I am A son of god, not THE son of god. and the invitation is for humanity at large to wake up and recognize itself as the divine in forms. "I tell ye, ye are GODS!" says Jesus, at one point, quoting the Psalms. he wasn't kidding.

but how to bridge that gap, between being a confused human being and an awake human being? it's not that easy. it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, faith, patience, and surrender to the divine.

that's the part that the human mind has a lot of trouble with.


and it's also why we suffer so much.

I feel compelled to share a story from my childhood, to illustrate what I mean about spirituality versus religion. this was a moment of blinding insight when I was about 10 years old.

my older sister (I'm the youngest of 6 children), 12 years my senior, married the scion of a prominent local Catholic family in my small town in Missouri, over all objections from both families. (it was all very Shakespearean -- my family was totally agnostic, my dad, a surgeon, was a politically radical left-wing champion of education, economic equality, eradicating racism and prejudice, his views on women's right to a safe and legal abortion (pre Roe v. Wade) and his vehement opposition to the Vietnam War and all things Nixon got us thrown out of town BY the local Catholics!!!! and his new son-in-law's father was one of those who'd led the charge to get us thrown out....! )

well, the son didn't care that much at all about Catholicism, being an acid-dropping, conscientious objector to the war (much to the horror of his Korean War-decorated militarist father!), a hippy, and a closet intellectual who read Mark Twain and Bertrand Russell when he wasn't farming his land by horse and plow, literally.

that boy's mother, a devout Catholic and -- I have to say -- one of the most true-to-the-message-of-Jesus' love and kindness Catholics I've ever met, was beside herself that her son wouldn't go to church. she was really convinced that his soul was going to fry in hell because he didn't attend Catholic services on Sundays.

it really upset her, and she cried and cried about it. she let my sister -- about as skeptical a mind as you'll ever meet about all things religious or spiritual -- know how upset she was about this. the mother was always calling my sister and sobbing about her son's heresy and that she was worried for his soul since he didn't have any connection to god.

my sister, recounting the story to me, at 10 years old, in a kind of disdain for her mother-in-law's dramas, said, "the weird thing is that she doesn't realize that when he's plowing his fields, when he's out in nature, with his horses, he IS in church! it's just HIS way of being with god."

when my sister said this, every bell in my inner system went off in a thrill of recognition. oh my god, I got it -- ! really got it ! that god was something we find inside, each in our own way, and my brother-in-law was communing with god his way and it was equally valid to his mother's Catholic way -- in fact, even more direct, maybe.

this exchange shattered my young idea that maybe god could only be found in churches. that he was exclusively the domain of these religions and their practices.

what I learned in India, after years of meditating and spending time poring over Vedic knowledge, is pretty much the same lesson that I learned through my sister that day.

that's why I laugh to hear myself referred to as 'religious.' anyone who knows me personally would, I think, be amused to hear that appellation.

I'm glad to hear that you've read the Nag Hammadi texts. the ones that move me the most (and, to me, reveal the most about what Jesus was really doing and saying) are the Gospels of St. Thomas and of Magdalene. clearly, in the beginning (what's left of it!) of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, Jesus came and was explaining to her about how the soul leaves the body. he was teaching her that mechanism -- presumably in reference to what he, himself, ha just done while on the cross.

because this and many other references in these gospels is consistent with what mystics from every other mystical tradition (Sufism, mystical Buddhism, Vedic knowledge, Native American shamanic and nagual traditions, Kabbalah, etc) have said -- I have absolutely no reason to regard these as 'just stories.' these kinds of mechanisms exist, have been practiced and demonstrated over human history enough to get the drift that every tradition has some access points to these same energy mechanisms.

have you ever read the Sufi poets, like Rumi or Hafiz or Kabir?

(or even the Q'ran, which says in no uncertain terms that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross?)

have you read accounts of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, and some of the astonishing characters who were his students back in the 1200s? John of the Cross? Theresa of Avila? Hildegard von Bingen?

have you ever read "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda? or his later book, published more than 50 years after his death, in 2004, called "The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Consciousness Within You" -- ?

it's difficult to have a discussion like this without the context and backdrop of a few points:

1. there have been mystics throughout human history who have had and demonstrated supernatural powers, given from their connection to god, in order to help uplift and inspire and heal humanity to recognize its own divine birthright.

2. these mystics have appeared at different times in history, and different geographical regions on the earth, to help particular groups of people (the Jews in the Middle East, the Gulf Arabs, the European Christians of the Middle Ages, Buddhists in Tibet, Andes mountain people, etc., etc.) at particular times.

3. the Vedic tradition of India -- as distinct from the 'Hindu' religions and beliefs -- again, "Veda" simply means "Knowledge" -- has expressed the blueprint for how this creation operates, including the miraculous abilities. yogis for thousands of years have followed the formulas of the Vedic principles, tested and refined those processes, and demonstrated them -- with the sole purpose of helping humanity know itself, and see through the temporary illusion of the material world, to recognize the god consciousness living within each person."

but I'm inclined to think that religious tendencies being what they are in average people, let alone people of some knowledge like some of the folks in our discussion group, is that you have a greater challenge than you think in dragging people out of their slumber.

"fortunately, it's not my job to drag people out of their slumber -- I'm just an instrument of the divine, as we all are for one another. my job is just to make some knowledge and energy available, and leave the results in god's hands.

as a great soul once said, "let those who have the ears to hear, hear."

I think you'd be surprised, though, at the quantity of people who ARE ready to jump into this kind of knowledge and wild, unorthodox spirituality -- many many people are starving for a taste of the truth that underlies this uncertain and painful creation. when they feel drawn to something that is carrying a flavor of the truth -- either certain teachings, or certain people who embody that truth -- their souls automatically pull them to be around that truth, like a remote control or a tractor beam.

the problem is that the truth isn't easy. getting at it requires a huge determination and dedication, and surrender -- and some really hard work. in the process, everything that isn't true in us (who we think we are, for example, or where we really came from), including most especially our belief systems and our mind's investment IN those belief systems, has to dis-integrate.

that is NOT fun, not by a long shot. not in the beginning.

like the poet T. S. Eliot said -- it's

'a condition of complete simplicity
costing not less
than everything.'

I hope this is more instructive about my beliefs and experience in spirituality.