Intimacy with the Infinite Wholeness
This work is not time-consuming even though some people believe otherwise. Actually it is the shortest you can imagine; as brief as an atom.. Your principal relational faculty, the will, needs only this brief fraction of a moment to move toward the object of its desire.
.It is the Infinite Object alone that can fully satisfy the hunger and longing of our being which, transformed by Its own permission, enables us to embrace It by love. This Reality cannot be grasped by humans or any being by knowledge but can be embraced by love. For the intellect of all beings is too small to comprehend Infinite Reality as it is in Itself.
Try to understand this point. Rational creatures.possess two principal faculties, a knowing power and a loving power. No one can fully comprehend the uncreated Infinite Reality with ones knowledge; but each one, in a different way, can grasp this Reality fully through love. Truly this is the unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through his or her love, can embrace Ultimate Reality, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation. And this marvelous work of love goes on forever, for the One we love is timeless. Whoever has the gifted insight to appreciate the truth of what I am saying, let them take my words to heart, for to experience this love is the joy of endless life while to lose it is endless torment.
The one who with the help of the Infinite permission becomes aware of the wills constant movements and learns to direct them toward the Infinite Object will never fail to taste something of the joy of timelessness in the present and always. Now do you see why I rouse you to this interior relational work You would have taken to it naturally had you and humanity not chosen a relationship of separateness and dis-unity. For humanity was created to love and everything else was created to make love possible. Nevertheless, by the work of contemplative love humanity will be healed. Failing in this work one sinks deeper into estrangement and further from the unity of Reality. .But by persevering in this work one moves beyond separation and grows in intimacy with the Infinite Wholeness.
Therefore, be attentive to time and the way you spend it. Nothing is more precious. This is evident when you recall that in one tiny moment the Infinite connection may be gained or lost. Reality, the master of time, never gives the future. It gives only the present, moment by moment, for this is the law of the created order, and Uncreated Reality will not contradict itself in the creation. Time is for humanity, not humanity for time. Reality, the master of time and space, will never anticipate humanitys choices which follow one after another in time. A person will not be able to excuse him/herself at the final moment saying to Reality: You overwhelmed me with the future when I was only capable of living in the present.
.And so do not neglect this contemplative work. Try also to appreciate its wonderful effects in your own being. When it is genuine it is simply a spontaneous desire springing suddenly toward the Wholeness of Being like spark from fire. It is amazing how many loving desires arise from the being of a person who is accustomed to this work. And yet, perhaps only one of these will be completely free from attachment to some created thing. Or again, no sooner has one turned toward Wholeness in love when through human frailty s/he finds him/herself distracted by the remembrance of some created thing or some daily care. But no matter. No harm is done; for such a person quickly returns to deep recollection.
And now we come to the difference between the contemplative work and its counterfeits such as daydreaming, fantasizing, or subtle reasoning. These originate in a conceited, curious, or romantic mind whereas the blind stirring of love springs from a sincere and humble heart. Pride, curiosity, and daydreaming must be sternly checked if the contemplative work is to be authentically conceived in singleness of heart
At Home in the Darkness
Desire the mystery of the Infinite for its own sake and not for any tangible result that may be generated from this pursuit. Center all of your attention and desire on the Infinite and let this be the sole concern of your mind and heart. Do all in your power to forget everything else, keeping your thoughts and desires free from involvement with any creatures or their affairs whether in general or in particular. Perhaps this will seem like an irresponsible attitude, but I tell you, let them all be; pay no attention to them.
What I am describing here is the contemplative work of the interior life.
The work of contemplation is intending ones love exclusively toward the mystery of the Infinite and paying no attention to the created world or the affairs of the created world. Through this apparently irresponsible posture, others, the created world and ones own self are transformed in a process the rational mind cannot grasp.
Persevere in this work until you feel joy in it. Trust that the transformative permission of the Infinite itself will support you in this work. For in the beginning it is usual to feel nothing but a kind of darkness about your mind or, as it were, a cloud of unknowing. You will seem to know nothing and to feel nothing except a naked intent toward the Infinite in the depths of your being. Try as you might, this darkness and this cloud will remain between you and your Infinite Object. You will feel frustrated, for your mind will be unable to grasp the Infinite One, and your heart will not relish the delight of the Infinite love. But learn to be at home in this darkness. Return to it as often as you can, letting your being cry out to the One you love. For if, in this life, you hope to feel and see the Infinite Object as it is in Itself it must be within this darkness and this cloud. But if you strive to fix your love of this One forgetting all else, which is the work of contemplation I have urged you to begin, I am confident that the Infinite One in Its goodness will bring you to a deep experience of connection. 1
Another day I came across a saint in a cave. Excessive weeping had blinded him; his skin was all scales, the result of sanctity and uncleanliness. He gave me the advice that was both most correct and most frightening. When I weigh it in my mind my hair stands on end.
I bowed down, prostrated myself before the saint, and said, Holy ascetic, I have set out to find God. Show me the road.
There isnt any road, he answered me, beating his staff on the ground.
What is there, then I asked, seized with terror.
There is the abyss. Leap!
Abyss I screamed. Is that the way
Yes, the abyss. All roads lead to the earth; the abyss leads to God. Leap!
I cant father.
Then get married and forget your troubles, he said, and stretching forth his skeleton-like arm he motioned me to leave. - Brother Leo
(Kazantzakis, Nikos, St. Francis) 1
In one of my favorite Star Wars scenes Yoda, at an advanced age, is bent over and hobbling on his cane into the presence of Count Dooku. Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker lie unconscious on the floor having just been thrashed by the nasty Count. The future of everything rests upon this aging, decrepit, Jedi Master. Yoda summons The Force and his light sabre and begins doing all kinds of flips, gyrations, and physical gymnastics to save the day. As I, and millions of young movie goers, consider the power of The Force, we ask, Why not me How can I access this power too
This story of course is fiction but, as is true of any worthy metaphor, it is not. The story points to a deeper truth than literal explanation can reach.
Today there are many sports psychologists making lots of money helping athletes at all levels control their minds. Mind over matter, right! I appreciate this perspective. I spent several years engaged at the NCAA Division I level doing this myself (I missed the money part). There are also lots of deep people, or pretend deep people, selling the concept of mindfulness. I believe in mindfulness. It is a good thing. May we all nurture mindfulness. Yet..there is a deeper practice upon which I wish to reflect.
This deeper practice does not resonate much with the popular culture. It is also a practice for which it is difficult to figure out how to make money teaching it. This is because, among other things, we human beings are prone to resist practicing it. We dont much like the presuppositions upon which this practice is built; presuppositions that do not put our egos and personalities and self-development at the center of the universe. Yet, the greatest of athletes and the greatest of ascetics throughout history have based their fundamental posture toward wisdom and life upon this practice.
What is this practice
It is the practice of mindlessness!
Yes, mindlessness is just what you think it is. Mindlessness removes the center of our existence from this popular pursuit of brain science as the answer to all of the questions and problems of humanity. Mindlessness renders impotent the realm of the mind and its first cousin brain science as the way to finally make sense out of everything and control all the stuff in our lives that seems wacky.
So where does mindlessness take us
Mindlessness simply takes us out of the mind. Mindlessness delivers us to a much, much, much deeper place. This is The Deep Place to which the curriculum of Interior Mythos Journeys attempts to seduce us. Mindlessness is the practice of visiting the abyss. It is the practice of visiting the void. It is the practice of visiting the emptiness to which our friends from the East invite us to pay attention as we remove our focus from all the self-help books, human psychology, and our studies of mindfulness.
I am the worker of the abyss. I am the spectator of the abyss. I am both theory and practice. I am the law. Nothing beyond me exists. To see and accept the boundaries of the human mind without vain rebellion, and in these severe limitations to work ceaselessly without protestthis is where mans first duty lies.
- Nikos Kazantzakis 2
Great masters from all traditions have invited us into this very special empty place. It is the empty place from which all creation, all great thoughts, breakthroughs, and creativity emerge. It is the no-thing-ness upon which the totality of civilization stands. It is the Infinite Silence within which Ultimate Reality dwells now and forever. It is the mystery from which the experience of flow flows. It is the quantum realm where things come into being and go out of being simultaneously and The Force is ever present.
On the track, in the swimming pool, on the court, out on the field of play, wherever athletes find themselves, they will encounter their highest performance when, within themselves, they are able to surrender the temptation to center in the head. Instead, the Force-filled athlete finds an interior path into the Deep Place from which all extraordinary performance comes. Thoughtless action remains the place where we human beings act most fully, most completely, and most unimpeded by intellectual reflection. Such reflection has its place, but not in committed action.
Mindfulness puts a foot on the brake when we are executing some difficult physical or interior maneuver. Mindlessness takes our foot off of the brake and releases us to invest everything into the performance, becoming one with the action.
Ascetics throughout history and the greatest of athletes today know this special secret: To enhance performance, lose your mind!
May we practice finding our way to The Deep Place affirming always, The Force Is With You!
1 Kazantzakis, Nikos, St. Francis, Touchstone Books, New York, NY, 1962, p xx.
2 Kazantzakis, Nikos, The Saviors of God: Spiritual Exercises. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc.,
1960, p 48.
Under pressure I can see things very clear.. Once you find that peace, that place of peace and quiet, harmony and confidence, thats when you start playing your best (1) Roger Federer
For years, decades, I congratulated myself on perfect 20/20 vision. Then at some point I discovered my vision, all these years, has been radically distorted, flawed, and blurred, by time.
As a maturing athlete, I am now learning to see.
On Sunday, July 16, 2017, Roger Federer stepped onto the world stage of the Wimbledon Finals, once again, in route to his record 8th Wimbledon Championship. One could encounter a poise, a peace and a depth that has been nurtured over many years. It was this interior posture that would, once again, carry him to victory. As Prince William and Princess Kate and Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and a world-wide audience of millions watched, Rogers interior equanimity remained a constant to which, in a quiet interior place, he found a way to return again and againin the midst of a titanic human battle.
How did he discover this path Can I, at this advanced stage of life, find and practice this path Can I find this deep place, for myself Can I find it in the middle of my everyday life and the inevitable challenges
A small yellow tennis ball hurling through the air at 120 miles per hour seems very urgent to me; it seems urgent to the viewing audience. It is why we watch.
It is urgent!
From what place does Roger Federer practice seeing this urgent event How does he connect with a timeless place when squeezed by this battle within time How does one develop the ability to see with the equanimity that emerges from a connection with timelessness
How does one develop Flow Vision
Some athletes today are discovering a path to a connection with timelessness the ascetics have traveled for centuries. They are discovering Flow Vision. They are discovering Flow Vision through a connection with the place where Time Does Not Flow. (2)
When we just be here, that means we stop thinking about the flow of the time and just being here, and be one, just be here..We become one with the time that doesnt flow. That means from the beginning-less beginning, and to the endless end, this one seamless moment, time flows only in our thinking, because of my memory about past and my hope about the future, it seems time flows.
If we dont measure time - that means without human beings - from that moment of Big Bang until today, until now, this is one moment. Before human beings appeared on this planet, theres no such time flows. I call this eternity. Time that doesnt flow. (3) Shohaku Okumura
And back to the reality of the court and my everyday life:
Some people think that they are just too slow to return a hard shot when they are at net. But time is a relative thing, and it really is possible to slow it down. Consider: there are 1000 milliseconds in every second. Thats a lot of milliseconds. Alertness is a measure of how many nows you are alert to in a given period. (4) Timothy Gallwey
One thing I am clear about is that Roger Federer did not discover the deep place, the source of his apparent equanimity, by simply sitting around peacefully, savoring the calm, breathing deeply, and thinking happy thoughts. He discovered the deep place by waging war and engaging a cosmic battle; first and last, within himself! His inner peace is a peace nurtured through many external and internal wounds. But during these battles, Roger stayed awake in the classroom of his body; as have ascetics throughout history.
Today there are lots of purveyors of joy juice providing motivational messages, giving talks, selling books, promoting self help and the promise of a fulfilling life discovered by focusing primarily on ones own belly button and the attainment of all of ones personal needs. These ubiquitous teachers seduce us with the tempting promise of avoiding inner conflict and battle and simply taking a deep peaceful breath.
Beware of the false guides.
The yellow ball really is flying at 120 mphat me!
(2) Okumura, Shohaku, Interior Mythos Journeys Interview, The Fiction of Time, Sanshin Zen Community, Bloomington, Indiana, Friday, April 28, 2017.
(3) Okumura, Shohaku, Interior Mythos Journeys Interview, Sanshin Zen Community, The Fiction of Time, Bloomington, Indiana, Friday, April 28, 2017.
(4) Gallwey, W. Timothy, The Inner Game of Tennis, Random House, Inc., New York, NY, 1974: p 84-85.
The word monotheism has experienced some disrepute among recent theologians and secular philosophers. Nevertheless, H. Richard Niebuhr gave this old term monotheism some new life in his breakthrough book Radical Monotheism and Western Culture.
Too often overlooked is Niebuhrs insight that the word God in biblical writings does not point to a being, but to a devotionthat the word theism or God is a devotional word, like the word sweetheart. Niebuhr holds that the Hebraic Scriptures and the New Testament, as well as Augustine, Luther, and thousands of others use the word God to mean a devotion to a source of meaning for our lives. Luther was very explicit about this: Whatever your heart clings toand relies upon, that is properly termed your God.
So, if we view the syllable theo in the word theology to mean a devotion rather than a being, then theology might be termed devotionology. Monotheism becomes mono- devotionality. Polytheism becomes poly-devotionality. And henotheism becomes heno-devotionality.
According to Niebuhr, monotheism, polytheism, and henotheism are three different devotional attitudes toward the whole of life. I will describe these devotional attitudes beginning with poly-devotionality.
Both Augustine and Mohammed conducted a severe critique of the poly-devotionality that dominated their surrounding cultures. Gods like Venus and Mars are about devotions to real realms of lifein this case love and war. It is understandable that both of these devotions can exist in a single life, along with many other devotions: family, work, nation, race, sex, gender, virtue, personality, etc. Niebuhr points out that each of these many temporal devotions can make an ultimate claim upon our lives. And when they do, we experience our lives being torn apart among these many claims. Perhaps we have experienced this tension between our family and our work, or between other meaning-givers of our lives. Niebuhr calls this the war of the gods.
Niebuhr also points out that each temporal god-devotion is doomed to disappoint us. Each of these temporal gods (devotions) will disappoint us because each is temporal. None of these gods can endure as an ultimate devotion. Our family can die or abandon us. Our work can end or bore us. Our nation can embarrass us. Our strong body can become old and fragile. Any one of these god-devotions can cease to be a devotion that renders our life meaningful to us. Niebuhr calls this the twilight of the gods.
Niebuhrs radical mono-devotionality resolves these poly-devotionality short-comings. A fully radical devotion to the ONE INCLUSIVE REALITY relativizes all the many devotions. It provides a context of devotion within which these sub-level devotions can have a place, a place that is not ultimate, but a relative place rendered so by that ONE devotion to the Final Source and Final Terminator of all the temporal gods and god-devotions.
Heno-devotionality is an attempt to resolve the poly-devotionality short-comings, but it does so in an incomplete manner. The heno idea points to a cultural pantheon like a nation or peoplehoodthat holds the many devotions in some socially prescribed order. Nativism or nationalism is a form of heno-devotionality, rather than a mono-devotionality, for it does not include a devotion to every other nation, as well as to our own nation. Similarly, a devotion to life, the life of all animate beings, is a heno-devotionality rather than the mono-devotionality, for it does not include a devotion to the inanimate as well as to the animate, to the processes of dying as well to the processes of living. As the Sufi poet Rumi said, Life and death are two wings on the same bird.
These reflections allow us to see the fully radical nature of mono-devotionality. Mono-devotionality turns out to be a complete form of realistic living. To quote a phrase from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this faith means a lived life in which the good and the real come together. If something is real, it is good. If something is going to be viewed as good, then it must be real. Evil from this perspective becomes all those humanly invented value-universes of delusion, escape, and substitution for what is real. Radical monotheism (mono-devotionality) is a radical realism of the most thoroughgoing sort.
This means that the findings of the scientific approach to truth are good to whatever extent they are real. For example, if the evolution of life on Earth is real, it is good. If the climate crisis is real, it is goodfacing this crisis demands our full attention and our full responsibility toward ending our dependence upon greenhouse-gas-producing energy sources. We can have vigorous debates about our various interpretations of the facts and their meaning, but making up our own facts to support our greed-based biases is selling ourselves to the dark-side.
Similarly, the findings of our contemplative inquiries into the essence of our own human consciousness is a valid approach to truth, and if such findings are true, they are good, requiring our ethical obedience and loyalty. For example, if we find that bigotry, racism, nationalism, sexism, and other oppressive views are not in accord with our reality-based humanity, then those attitudes are a fall from a true mono-devotionality. This fall does not change the essence of our true humanity, but it sets up a split in the self that we can call despair. This fall is a fall into abject hopelessness, because in the final outcome, the real always wins over the fabricated. If our devotionality is attached to the fabricated, then we are trapped in the losing side of the real drama of life.
It is not an accident that the mono-devotionality religions, at their best, have espoused and lived a thoroughgoing devotion to the Real, as well as to an unconditional love for our real selves and our real neighbors.
Sport and religious practice both embrace ordeal in the service of illumination and freedom. By consciously transforming pain into delight, the athlete begins to awaken to the inner presence of which the world is not the master. *
- Michael Clarkson
The athlete and the ascetic both seek to escape the confinement of the world through the gateway of the body. They seek a deeper truth in tension; a truth unappreciated, dismissed, and avoided by our popular consumer culture.
Smoking cigarettes helps some to relax and release tension.
Chewing gum helps some to relax and release tension.
Taking a vacation helps some to relax and release tension.
Sex helps some to relax and release tension.
Alcohol, drugs, video games, watching TV, spending money, eating ice cream, and consuming distracting entertainment help some to relax and release tension.
Our contemporary popular culture pounds it into us that stress is bad, tension is bad, and invites us to find release through the above activities and 10,000 others not mentioned.
The truth ascetics have always grasped is being rediscovered today by athletes.
The athlete and the ascetic intentionally nurture the core truth human beings spend much life energy attempting to avoid: truth rests in tension. Conversely, true rest, true peace, is experienced only in tension.
Continuity and a sense of the universal come with the knowledge of the inevitable alternation of tension and relaxation in eternal rhythms of which each inhalation and exhalation constitutes one cycle, wave or vibration among the countless myriads which are the universe. **
It is interesting to note that muscle tone is background tension within resting muscle tissue.*** How much alcohol do we consume and how much TV do we watch attempting to numb the background tension that physiologically is the epitome health
Many New Agers, Hippies, Woo-Woo folks, and human-centered idealists promote a life posture oriented toward a place of peace and rest and stress-free living beyond the universal state of tension we all encounter as our real lives. They seek a make-believe world somewhere beyond The Big Squeeze. ****
This peace-filled interior Utopia does not exist.
Only The Big Squeeze can deliver us to our real authentic lives. *****
To be clear, one may not connect with authentic peace and rest without engaging a journey. It is this journey, interior and exterior, consuming the attention of the conscious athlete or ascetic.
In full disclosure, I do some Yoga five days most weeks.
In full disclosure, I hate Yoga!
There is no authentic life without Yoga.
Yoga is one of the oldest continuously practiced disciplines of human beings to manage consciousness. The Yogi uses his/her body to connect with the Comprehensive One, the Great One of the Deep (G.O.D). Today, most of us are too smart to acknowledge the existence of the Great One of the Deep from the lofty perch in our head from which we view and judge all things. Many of us are alienated from our bodies and lost in our heads; mistakenly believing that life occurs by thinking about it. Yet, all thinking about it does, is remove us from the depth and flow of our real lives and most essential reality. Yoga can allow the practitioner to surrender to a deeper place, a truth in tension.
Tension is where Yoga happens.
It is in the midst of the stretch I discover my essential reality.
A posture is interiorly imaged and intended and then a pose is assumed.
Tension is where the posture is embraced; or better, where one is embraced by the posture. Tension is real. It is within the tension of the pose I may discover balance. It is within the tension of the pose I may learn to rest, to breathe, to find a peace that is not apart from the tension but a part of the tension. It is in this special place I seek to be present; I seek my home.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate ones attention on, to use and apply. It also means union or communion. It is the true union of our will with the will of God. ****** B.K.S. Iyengar
Can the human family, can I, once again grasp and practice the truth that the instrument of the body is the vehicle, the classroom, within which, and only within which, I may connect with the All-That-Is
A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the essential reality within. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by grace within finds fulfillment. Then s/he knows the timeless joy, which is beyond the pale of the sense, which reason cannot grasp. S/he abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. S/he has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. S/he who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.*******
Sri Krishna (Bhagavad Gita)
Sometimes, just about always, the above consciousness is a little too much for me so I trick myself with a warm up. A warm up is a subtle way of coaxing the body into the tension of movement and exercise. Warms ups communicate to me that, this really isnt so hard or serious, in fact, this is easy! Warm ups are critical in every dimension of real life, because only the non-threatening nature of the warm up can deliver me into the intensity of the tension.
As I move delicately into the heart of the tension, I may discover my authentic balance and, more deeply, my reason for existence, my mission, and that-which-is-mine-to-do-today. The truth of my purpose in this world is discovered only as I surrender to the tension that is my real life.
Resting in the tension is learning to rest into the tension that is my life; being in my life, being present.
When I am present to my life and resting in the tension, I discover Fire! It is in this Fire I am transformed. The great secret is this: only my life can transform my life! It is only when I submit and surrender in docile obedience to my real actual life that the ever-present energetic phenomenon I am resonates and oscillates and vibrates within a transformative Fire that creates a new me out of the stuff that was idly waiting for something else to show up. Only my life can transform my life. And only my life can transform my life when and if I choose to be in it.
Life transforms life.
Learn to wait properly by letting go of yourself, leaving yourself and everything yours behind you so decisively that nothing more is left of you but a purposeless tension.
.The bamboo leaf bends lower and lower under the weight of snow. Suddenly the snow slips to the ground without the leaf having stirred. Stay like that at the point of highest tension until the shot falls from you. So, indeed, it is: when the tension is fulfilled, the shot must fall, it must fall from the archer like snow from a bamboo leaf, before s/he even thinks it.
Wait without purpose in the state of highest tension. *******
Master Kenzo Awa
It is time to practice my life. It is time to stretch. It is time to discover Fire.
It is time to do some Yoga.
I love Yoga!
* Clarkson, Michael, Competitive Fire, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 1999, p 160.
** Iyengar, B.K.S., Light on Yoga, Schocken Books, New York, NY, 1966/1979, p 11.
*** Mooney, Jean, Illustrated Dictionary of Podiatry and Foot Science, Elsevier Limited, 2009.
**** Greulich, Maryellen, The Ultimate Reality The Big Squeeze, Transparent Works, Bloomington,
***** Greulich, Maryellen, The Ultimate Reality The Big Squeeze, Transparent Works, Bloomington,
****** Iyengar, Light on Yoga, Schocken Books, New York, NY, 1966/1979, p 19.
******* Iyengar, Light on Yoga, Schocken Books, New York, NY, 1966/1979, p 19.
******** Herrigel, Eugen, Zen in the Art of Archery, Vintage Books, New York, NY, 1989. pp 32,48, 51.
It should not surprise us that history has honored Moses and his descendantsof rule-writing companions. If realism is your master context, these oldrules still breathe deep common sense. Here is my 21st Century wording ofthe classical Ten Commandments as listed in Exodus 20:
1. You shall not devote your life to any reality more than to Reality with acapital R.
2. You shall not mistake any names, thoughts, ideas, or symbols, for thisunnamable Reality.
3. You shall not trivialize the symbols that do illuminate this Reality.
4. Keep free a seventh of your time for nurturing your Reality devotion.
5. Honor your ancestry in Reality-devoted living.
6. You shall not murder your neighboring beings.
7. You shall not misuse your sexual powers.
8. You shall not take for yourself what belongs to another.
9. You shall not falsely accuse the life of another.
10. You shall not covet having a life that is not your very own potential.
All the stories surrounding Moses are the wildest sort of historical fiction,but this truth need not diminish the rich meaning of these old stories. As thestory goes, Moses, in his concern for his enslaved brothers and sisters, losthis cool and killed an oppressing soldier. He then had to flee to the desert.Walking about one day he spied a strange sight: an ordinary bush, a smallpiece of the natural world was enflamed with the Awesome Wholeness ofRealitywith a burning of Awe that did not quit, but turned the spacearound it into Holy groundthat is, into an Awe-invested space.
The truth that was breaking through to Moses in that signal event was avocational calling of astonishing magnitude. He was to lead slaves fromtheir captors without getting killed by the pursuing armies of Egyptiancivilization into the wilderness and there construct for them a new kind oflife. Surely we can all identify with Moses when he cried out, Callsomebody else.
We can also surely identify with Moses when he wanted to know who it wasthat was calling him to such a radical vocation. The answer he got from theburning-bush revelation was not very satisfying. Just say that the IS inevery is has sent you. The Final Reality of the Moses dedication was, andshall ever be, an unnamable mystery. We still ask the Moses-typequestions: Who or what sourced this cosmos What are we up against inthe horrific events of our overall history Will human effort ever makesense of it all Is it truly my best case scenario to devote my life to aradicalform of realism. Would I be better off creating for myself a morecomforting view of reality
Also, in spite of the fact that freedom from the slavery of Egypt was ablessing to be intensely celebrated on the other side of the Red Sea whileEgypts chariots sunk into the mud, this freedom is also an anxiety. Thosepeople knew how to be slaves in the then well-ordered Egyptian society;they didnt have any experience being freedom in the wilderness. Werethey sure they wanted to be free Surely we can identify with thatquestion. We still have to answer it for ourselves.
It really does not matter to us that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were devotedto this course of living These flawed patriarchs whom we also meet inthese ancient stories were pretty weak recommendationseven if they trulyare ancestors of the Mosaic Spirit wisdom
Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a lot of other men, as well as women,plus Jesusall thought that the devotion of Moses was right on. But whowere they Even if Jesus did turn out to be another hot burning bush ofAwed expression, he was indeed only an unauthorized peasant, in an out ofthe way place, centuries and centuries ago. It still takes some strongimagination to see the full blaze of Final Reality in his birth, life, teaching,death, and living presence among a small selection of ancient religiousfanatics.
Nevertheless, this small community of men and women have expanded, andtheir Spirit descendants are still recommending to us that realistic living isthe best case scenario for our one and only lives.
"Is it possible to know the Unknowable
Is it possible for me personally to know the Unknowable
Is it possible for me to personally know and nurture a consciousrelationship with the Unknowable Ultimate Reality
- Amanda Storywarrior
For the past couple of years, my grandparents and I have met forlunch just about every other week. I bring falafel sandwichesfrom a local restaurant, complete with ali geffen and baklava. Shirley and I stuff our faces and utter plenty of mmmms whileWendell talks as much as he likes. We all cherish both thefalafels and our special date.
One of the gifts of these lunches is that my grandparents alwaysask about my work. I am a videographer and provide the videoyou see on this website. But often, I do not understand how todo the work I am assigned to do! My grandparents have been a sounding board for me as I process the stories I get toillustrate. It is still unbelievable to me that I can ask them aboutthis stuff - and they get it. Because they lived it!
My grandparents attended a series of lectures in the early 1960sat the Ecumenical Institute of Chicago. The messages were soawakening, so earth shattering, that they picked up their family ofthree children and moved from their safe suburban life into theSouth Side ghetto of Chicago. And they werent alone!Hundreds of others made similar radical lifestyle choices as aresult of this encounter. Families and individuals moved-intogether so that they could continue to do the work of the OrderEcumenical and explore what it meant to know the unknowable.
The latest video assignment I was given, Life Journey #2- TheUltimate Reality, is a re-statement of a lecture called TheQuestion of God as well as The Bultmann Paper seminar. Wendell and Shirley St. John attended these original lectures. They have now been instrumental in the rebirth of thesestatements in visual form by serving as special advisors.
I often wonder about the question that Amanda Storywarriorposes above, Why bother
The Life Journey series is a personal journey. It is an invitationto YOU and to ME to go on a personal journey. It will shake upyour insides, thats the point. Just as Wendell and Shirley andso many others were shaken up by this message in the 60s, thisvideo series seeks to provide that same JOLT!
Theres a hole in our societal institutions when it comes totalking about, relating to and knowing the unknowable. In thismoment in history, it is far too easy to ignore, deny, escape andavoid the unknowable. No ones talking about the elephant inthe room or teaching us how to relate to it. Our schools, ourinstitutions, our parents, teachers, ministers and mentors arentdoing it because they dont know how. The call to mystery hasbeen convoluted with human-centered moralism, sentimentalism and literalism. The call to know the unknowable has beenambushed by gimmicks and self-help feel-good happy horsedoodoo.
Ive been looking my entire lifeand everything has fallenshort - but not this. Imagine my surprise after going on a questto know the unknowable, when I found the path had been laidbefore my feet. The journey was taken by my own kin beforeme, when they made the choice to explore what it meant to knowthe unknowable in their lives.
Life Journey #2 The Ultimate Reality is ready to engage. Over the next 6 weeks you will receive email notifications invitingyou to encounter each of the final six modules of The UltimateReality exploring the practice of Knowing the Unknowable.
Pope Francis has invited you and me toconsider approaching the world in the contemplative posture of ThomasMerton. As we attempt to find our way on this time between the myths,personally and collectively, this posture represents a transformative optionfor the human family. The challenges of the environment, local and globalpolitics and economics, cultural conflict, military struggle, world hunger,disease, human trafficking, immigration and 1000 other issues will only beresolved as, solitary by solitary, the human family reestablishes itsconnection with the Deep Place, the wellspring of all authentic truth, peace,and hope.
Why bother Why take a journey to personally know and nurturea conscious relationship with the Unknowable Ultimate Reality
That's a question each of us gets to pose for ourselves.
We invite you to ask the question, and see what shakes up inyour world!
Moving Out of My Mind
The athlete in championship form has a quiet place within herself. There is a center that must be known and held. Unless this center is found, the turmoil will destroy us. *
- Joseph Campbell
I am moving.
Moving can be a traumatic act. Apart from the advertising creations of Madison Avenue that wish for us to believe The Adventure of Moving, most of us dont want to go. We like it here in the known, the familiar, the comfortable, the dependable, safe, here at home! We dont want to move. I dont want to move. Moving is scary. I dont want to do it. I like it here.
Yet, sometimes we are overcome by an interior urging, often a gentle nudge and sometimes an overwhelming compulsion, or an external intrusion we have not sought but now cannot avoid forces a move: the flood, the tornado, the fire, the divorce, the bankruptcy, the war, the event that has shattered our comfortable home.
Home is home. Moving is not. We like our nests. We like our familiar safe places. We fundamentally dont like moving. At least let me confess, I dont.
But what happens when we are prompted to leave the home of our attention; our default awareness, the place where we attend our fundamental focus toward life And what if that fundamental place-of-attention happens to be my mind What if this place I have been living is in my head What then
Living is not a matter of ideas about living. **
- Joseph W. Mathews
I am moving out of my mind.
I am moving out of my head.
Yes, I have spent a number of decades there in my head. Yes, my family of origin and the human family at large have all tirelessly worked to get me to understand reality as a lot of things that make sense and to which I can only really connect through the instrument of my mind located somewhere in my head. But what if, now that I am getting old, I have discovered this home to be a lie
I am moving out of my mind.
Thinking has become a disease. ***
The single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this: learn to disidentify from your mind. ****
- Eckhart Tolle
The process of moving out of ones head is not easy or fast.
The mainstream human community will certainly not support us in our journey if we choose this path. If we are too vocal about our commitment to this special path, the human community may actively seek to destroy us on the way.
The process of moving out of ones head is not fast especially if one has spent years or decades living there. Just as a huge home can become cluttered with years and years of accumulated possessions and things to which one is attached, the head does not release its occupant easily or without resistance.
The process of moving out of ones head requires persistent practice and perhaps the remainder of a lifetime to accomplish; at least so I am discovering.
Since the first oddball humanoid, the Shaman, the Tribal Medicine Person, the Witch, the Sorcerer, the Mystic in the Woods, the Oracle on the Mountain, the Monk in the Desert, or the Mad Person at the edge of the Village, personally discovered the big lie that human life makes any rational sense whatsoever, others have, from time to time in every generation, crawled out on the ledge of human consciousness and looked over. Some have made the leap!
This may or may not be your day to begin such a journey.
Those who do begin such a journey often do so by rediscovering the fundamentals they may have neglected to notice for decades or a lifetime.
One such fundamental is breath.
The newborn babys first lesson in this world often begins with a sharp whap on the butt....eliciting..the first breath!
At that special moment, I believe most of us get it right. We immediately begin practicingattention to the breath and appreciating the deep center to which this focus delivers us. Ahhh..but then comes the instruction from the human community and promptly we are confused with where to focus and identify Am I my fingers Am I my toes Am I my nose Am I whatever name is written on the birth certificate and by which those around keep calling me This is only the beginning of the human familys instruction in helping me to identify with lots and lots of things that make sense; especially my own seemingly unique personality!
The end goal of this instruction is for me to properly identify with whatever we mean by the mind and all of the stuff happening in a brain located in my head.
For those radicals in every generation who have found their solitary path out of the head, the breath is often a starting point. The ascetic and the yogi have long modeled this practice. Today many athletes are also discovering this special path, at least as it pertains to their specific sporting engagement. For the ascetic or the athlete, attention upon the breath can serve as a guide into the deep center of ones being. The distractions of reflection and anticipation disappear as breathing occurs only in the present tense; only in this now moment.
Athletes in movement sports understand the principle of lowering ones attention closer to the center of gravity. This principle has to do with dropping ones attention closer to the physical center of the body, the core, from which all balance and play actually emanates. To be caught in ones head is to be caught in ones head, and therefore, unbalanced.
Part of the aging problem in contemporary society is that of balance. Balance is a problem because we have spent a lifetime in the practice of dwelling in the most imbalanced place possible at the end of the fulcrum of our bodies: the head. Were we to practice centering in our center, closer to our actual center of gravity, perhaps the issue of balance would not be such a contradiction in the aging process.
Our attention focuses and rests wherever we intend it within the vessel of our physical body. We may or may not choose to be conscious of this truth. When I was a child my father would instruct me to lift with my legs in order to avoid injury to my lower back. In this elementary example I was learning to shift the focus of my attention from one area of my body to another. While shaving, try thinking about the process and what is occurring and where it is occurring. Blood is almost guaranteed! Attention must be deposited elsewhere to experience a bloodless shave.
The truth principle applies: Where attention goes, energy flows.
First, establish the breath!
The mind and emotions are both servants of a deeper place. The breath can deliver us there.
The breath is the physical foundation for managing an intentional interior life and can deliver us out of the places of unbalance: the head and the heart.
The breath.the breath..the breaththis is the key. Focus here!
Throughout history, the great ascetic masters have invited us to journey to a special place.a connecting point.a gateway, a portal, located within the physical body. It is only in this deep place clarity beyond the rational can occur. This is not a clarity of the head or the heart, both of which deliver us into a swamp of conflicting thoughts and feelings; a labyrinth of un-clarity from which there is no escape.
The ascetic master invites us to explore the Deep Place. What it means to go deep is literally to descend within the mysterious chamber we know as the human body to discover this connecting point.
When a storm comes, it stays for some time, and then it goes. An emotion is like that tooit comes and stays for a while, and then it goes. An emotion is only an emotion. We dont die because of one emotion. We are much, much more than an emotion. So when you notice that an emotion is beginning to come up, it is very important that you put yourself in a stable sitting position, or you lie down, which is also a very stable position. Then focus your attention on your belly. Your head is like the top of a tree in a storm. I would not stay there. Bring your attention down to the trunk of the tree, where there is stability.
When you have focused on your belly, bring your attention down to the level just below the navel and begin to practice mindful breathing. Breathing in and breathing out deeply, be aware of the rise and fall of the abdomen. After practicing like this for ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes, you will see that you are strongstrong enough to withstand the storm. In this sitting or lying position, just stick to your breathing the way that someone on the ocean would stick to a life vest. After some time the emotion will go away. ***** - Thich Nhat Hanh
Every athletic playing field, every court of sports competition, every track and road and pool containing the race represents a very real battle; a palpable storm. We are attracted to athletics as participants and as spectators because these activities represent the storm of real life we each encounter every day. These activities call to us to explore a path the ascetics have practiced choosing again and again, and through their example, call us to do likewise.
But, why practice the art of handling a storm
Why attempt to grasp the relationship between the mind, the heart, the body, and The Deep Place known to mystics and ascetics and to me if I choose to follow
Why leave the comfort of a home in my head where the world makes perfect sense
Why not keep my head up my ass
I am moving.
* Campbell, Joseph, Moyers, Bill. The Power of Myth. New York, NY: Broadway Books/Random House, 1988: xviii.
** Mathews, Joseph W., Teaching the Question of God Lecture, Ecumenical Institute, Chicago,
*** Tolle, Eckhart, The Power of NOW, New World Library, Novato, CA, 1999, p 13.
**** Tolle, Eckhart, The Power of NOW, New World Library, Novato, CA, 1999, p 17.
***** Hanh, Thich Nhat, Selections from a talk given at the State of Maryland Correctional Institution
Our job as prophets of Reality, as teachers of religion and ethics, as aware persons of our profound humanness is to tell the truth. We just tell the truth as we see it; the truth we genuinely believe has been shown to us by that Final Reality that baffles us as it also informs us. We begin such radical pedagogy from within our own awareness of how Final Reality has revealed to us some measure of truth. We do not know the whole Final Truth, we only know what has been revealed to us a measure of truth that makes real for us our commission to speak truth to our times.
As radical pedagogues, it is our assignment to be as clear as we can, honoring all sources of truth scientific, contemplative, and socially practical, workable ethical insight. Radical pedagogues just tell the truth, live the truth, keep learning the truth, and stick to doing so.
We are not responsible for other people accepting the truth we speak. That is their responsibility. We cannot manipulate them or force them to see what we see. Wecan only present to them an opportunity to see what we see, and thereby provide them the opportunity to choose or not choose to see it. We can in no way prevent them from going along with their current indifference, half truths, and downright lies. We can perhaps show them how what they believe or tend to believe is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We can ask them to inquire of themselves if they actually believe what they take to be true. We might even make fun of the lies they believe, perhaps humiliating them for their gullibility in comforting themselves orhurting themselves with their untruths. But we have no power to hinder them from rejecting the truth we try to share. And we have no powerto assist them in submitting to that new edge of truth that we are presenting. This is their choice, and their choice alone. We are powerless to change that. We might profit from the style of Jesus, who said what he had to say, and keeping on walking down the road to say his say to others. Truth is a matter to be settled between the essentially free person and the Author of that freedom.
Therefore, our success as a prophet of truth is not measured by other peoples responses. Our success is only measured by our actually telling the truth, and how well we do so. We must expect all who live otherwise to be offended by the truth. We must expect people to delay for days or even years before they hear the truth that we speak. We have no control over when they hear, or if they ever hear, or even if they want to hear. Our pedagogy is itself a lie if we assume we have any control over the results of our pedagogy. We may never know for sure the results of our pedagogy. And we do not need to know.
If people respond with bitter tears over having been so gullible as to believe the lies that we have challenged, we can guess that Reality is using our words to bring these persons home to Reality. We can welcome them with our certainty of Realitys forgiveness and provision of a fresh start. But we have no control over whether they will accept such forgiveness or begin a fresh start.
All we can know for sure is whether we are speaking the Truth that Reality has revealed to us. And we know this not by other peoples responses, but by our own inner assurance. This Spirit of Truth rising in our own most personal being is our only certainty. Such certainty is a solitary thing.
There is no other authority.
Reality will provide us with people who join us in loving the truth and with people who reject us and the truth we tell. Both are valuable gifts to us. As Jesus suggested to his disciples when they meet rejection: Dust off your shoes in protest to that village and move on to the next village. We certainly do not need to moan or complain about rejection, or waste time analyzing the rejecters. Just tell the truth, and move on to tell the truth some more. The results are entirely out of our control.
If it takes a hundred years for most people to hear what we say and act upon that truth, such delay, or lack of it, is not our concern. To be concerned about the results of our witnessing is a type of co-dependence; a craving for support that we in no way need. The deniers of truth have no support to give us. And if they cease to lie, that is still no support. Our only support comes from the Spirit of Truth.
[Realistic Living Pointers, March 15, 2015]