Monday, August 31, 2009

Rosaries of the Divine Union web site.....

While researching this series, I came upon an article entitled Resting In God...An Interview with Fr. Thomas Keating, OSCO by Anne A. Simpson on the Rosaries of Divine Union website. 

The website is unique...for me anyway....because it is written from a very Catholic, contemplative perspective.  The introduction page talks about two subjects that are mainly associated with Catholicism.  The Rosary and Mary.  Perhaps in some future "series" I will post about some of the thoughts piqued in my brain as I read at this site.  It is all somewhat of a mystery to me since I am not Catholic.  I don't know much about the Catholic faith even though I have known many Catholics and have been related (and even married to) to Catholics. 

I've seen rosaries.  I always thought they were very lovely and I know that there is more to them spiritually than the penance my ex associated with them....doing multi "Hail Mary's" and "Our Father's."  I learned most of what I know about Catholicism from sarcastic jokes he used to tell about his experiences with the nuns and the priests in a very strict Catholic elementary school.   He was raised Catholic but  because of inconsistencies and doubts.....and the near abuse he endured during his early school years,  he is definitely not a practicing Catholic. 

I guess I have always thought of Catholicism as a very legalistic faith....but Keating developed his methods of comtemplative prayer within the Catholic faith.  In the interview (which I will talk about in the next few posts) he talks about the similarities with Zen meditation.  There are similarities.  One of the big differences however, that I see is that Zen attempts to connect/lose oneself in the "Void" while contemplative/centering prayer seeks to connect with God.  Big difference imo. 

I would very much welcome any comments or insights into the Catholic faith and especially experiences with the rosary....

Gotta' run.  First day back to work in 9 days.....ugh.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Anger Eating Demon aka The Pain Body...

I read the following parable "Retold from an ancient Buddhist story by Nyanaponika Thera." on the DHARMATALKING Column on the site that houses the article about Thomas Merton and Buddhism.  What with guests and day trips and parties and issues with kids unique to a bi-nuclear family...purchasing a new car...having Keith's 84 year old dad staying with us for the week...a trip back to Ontario to take him home etc. etc. etc.  I have been somewhat lax with posting. So consider this is a bonus post!!

I was struck by the similarity of the anger eating demon in this story and the pain body...Eckhart Tolle's term for the "entity" that lives within all of us in varying degrees.  An entity that awakens now and then to feed on negative energy....doing whatever is necessary to provoke others to arouse their pain bodies so it can feed on their anger and negative energy.  It is, indeed, sometimes a monster....just like the one in the story.  And when two pain bodies clash, watch out!!

In this particular column there is also a short story called The Reviler...a tale about a man, a Brahman of the Bharadvaja clan, who is royally ticked because one of his clan became a monk "under the recluse Gotama."  He went to where the Buddha was and reamed him out.  To which Buddha ultimately replied:

"Brahman: you revile us who do not revile in return, you scold us who do not scold in return, you abuse us who do not abuse in return. So we do not accept it from you and hence it remains with you, it belongs to you, Brahman..."

Sort of like water off of a duck's back.  Offense meant but none taken.  Proof of another tired and trite takes two to argue. 

Or as the Bible says:

Proverbs 19:11 A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (NIV)

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NIV)

Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. (NAS)

Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. (NAS)

Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quickly angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of a fool. (DRB)

Proverbs 14:17 A quick-tempered man acts foolishly (NAS)

And now the story, copied and pasted below....

ONCE THERE LIVED A DEMON who had a peculiar diet: he fed on the anger of others. And as his feeding ground was the human world, there was no lack of food for him. He found it quite easy to provoke a family quarrel, or national and racial hatred. Even to stir up a war was not very difficult for him. And whenever he succeeded in causing a war, he could properly gorge himself without much further effort; because once a war starts, hate multiplies by its own momentum and affects even normally friendly people.

So the demon's food supply became so rich that he sometimes had to restrain himself from over-eating, being content with nibbling just a small piece of resentment found close-by.

But as it often happens with successful people, he became rather overbearing and one day when feeling bored he thought: "Shouldn't I try it with the gods?" On reflection he chose the Heaven of the Thirty-three Deities, ruled by Sakka, Lord of Gods.

He knew that only a few of these gods had entirely eliminated the fetters of ill-will and aversion, though they were far above petty and selfish quarrels. So by magic power he transferred himself to that heavenly realm and was lucky enough to come at a time when Sakka the Divine King was absent. There was noone in the large audience hall and without much ado the demon seated himself on Sakka's empty throne, waiting quietly for things to happen, which he hoped would bring him a good feed.

SOON SOME OF THE GODS came to the hall and first they could hardly believe their own divine eyes when they saw that ugly demon sitting on the throne, squat and grinning. Having recovered from their shock, they started to shout and lament: "Oh you ugly demon, how can you dare to sit on the throne of our Lord? What utter cheekiness! What a crime! you should be thrown headlong into the hell and straight into a boiling cauldron! You should be quartered alive! Begone! Begone!"

But while the gods were growing more and more angry, the demon was quite pleased because from moment to moment he grew in size, in strength and in power. The anger he absorbed into his system started to ooze from his body as a smoky red-glowing mist. This evil aura kept the gods at a distance and their radiance was dimmed.

Suddenly a bright glow appeared at the other end of the hall and it grew into a dazzling light from which Sakka emerged, the King of Gods. He who had firmly entered the undeflectible Stream that leads Nibbana-wards, was unshaken by what he saw. The smoke-screen created by the gods' anger parted when he slowly and politely approached the usurper of his throne.

"Welcome, friend! Please remain seated. I can take another chair. May I offer you the drink of hospitality? Our Amrita is not bad this year. Or do you prefer a stronger brew, the vedic Soma?"

While Sakka spoke these friendly words, the demon rapidly shrank to a diminutive size and finally disappeared, trailing behind a whiff of malodorous smoke which likewise soon dissolved

THE GIST OF THIS STORY dates back to the discourses of the Buddha. But even now, over 2500 years later, our world looks as if large hordes of Anger-eating Demons were haunting it and were kept well nourished by millions slaving for them all over the earth. Fires of hate and wide-traveling waves of violence threaten to engulf mankind. Also the grass roots of society are poisoned by conflict and discord, manifesting in angry thoughts and words and in violent deeds.

Is it not time to end this self-destructive slavery of man to his impulses of hate and aggression which only serve the demoniac forces? Our story tells how these demons of hate can be exorcised by the power of gentleness and love. If this power of love can be tested and proven, at grass-root level, in the widely spread net of personal relationships, society at large, the world at large, will not remain unaffected by it.

-- Story based on Samyutta Nikaya, Sakka Samyutta, No. 22


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thomas Merton and Zen

In my meanderings, I came upon an 6 "cyber page" article about Merton and his experiences with and study of Christian Buddhism.  On EU, it has been said that Buddhism is the "how" of Christianity meaning that Buddhist philosophy gives practical ways of achieving the death to "self" and non-clinging ....non attachment (dying to self) that Christianity talks about.

In the book How God Changes Your Brain, they present their findings that seem to prove that meditation and contemplation of just about any topic or thing causes actual changes in areas of the brain that promote compassion and empathy. The emphasis on meditation in Buddhist philosophy does spark real changes...positive changes in brain chemistry.  These changes are good. The world can certainly use more compassion and empathy but meditation by itself is incomplete.  It lacks the "who."  The who is God.

Following are a few quotes from the article about Merton.  A visit to the site would probably be worth your while.  There are some other interesting writings there written from a Buddhist Christian perspective.

THIS BUDDHIST--CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE for Merton centered upon experience supported by an accurate historical, cultural, theological and phenomenological study of religion. He wanted to be the good Buddhist only because he found himself to be more Christian than ever. In those depths Merton found an ancient teaching that he started to take very seriously in his study of Buddhism. Ambrose, a 4th century Christian bishop of Milan, had said that “all that is true, by whomever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit,”

Ibn al-Arabi a twelfth century Muslim mystic said it this way:

Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest; otherwise you will lose much good, nay, you will fail to recognize the real truth of the matter. God, the omnipresent and omnipotent, is not confined to any one creed, for, he says, "Wheresoever ye turn, there is the face of Allah."

I think it is a big mistake to limit where truth can be found.  I have found Him in the most unlikely surroundings and I am always delighted to bump into him in out of the way places.  Merton was willing to look outside the boundaries of his "home" faith of Christianity...yet he never left Christianity. 

The article goes on to say:

Merton thought it was the contemplative Buddhist and the contemplative Christian who could best make contact with the other. He would even come to say that he felt more in common with such Buddhists than with noncontemplative Christians. It was Zen’s concentration upon direct experience instead of doctrinal formulations and its sometimes brutal rejection of the false self, or ego, that spoke directly to Merton, who believed God was experienced in the center of the true self.

Yes...while researching this series of posts, I came upon several web sites that were sounding the apostasy warning about Merton (and Keating too...but he is the subject of tomorrow's post) Tonight on EU...Joan used a term that perfectly describes those who cling to doctrinal formulations; she called them "law livers."  Those who cling to the law...and theology...and rules and regulations do not trust direct experience. 

IN ZEN HE FELT HE HAD found a way to see the Christian faith in its original spirit, before the theological formulations based upon Hellenistic philosophy became central. As he would say:
“This obsession with doctrinal formulas, juridical order and ritual exactitude has often made people forget that the heart of Catholicism, too, is a living experience of unity in Christ which far transcends all conceptual formulations." (Zen & Birds of Appetite, p. 39).

For Merton, being as good a Buddhist as he could meant being a Christian more profoundly than ever which, to his delight, enabled him to be as good a Buddhist as he could.

For more on Merton's view of Christianity/Buddhism, check out the google books limited preview of his book, "Zen and the Birds of Appetite"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Christian Buddhist?

Debra posted an article on EU entitled Buddhism Strengthens Ties To Church.  The article begins with the following excerpt

Buddhism is not only accepted as a mainstream American religion, it is a path increasingly trod by faithful Christians and Jews who infuse Eastern spiritual insights and practices such as meditation into their own religions.

The article very much resonates with me.  Contained in the article are a few quotes here and there from Rev. Stuart Lord, an ordained Baptist minister and new president of Naropa University, a Buddhist-founded institution.

"I've been studying Buddhism and meditation for about seven years. I look at it as helping a person lead a fuller Christian life."


Lord said the interdenominational yearning for meditation and deeper spiritual experience is not reflective of a desire for different doctrines or ethos — or a taste for Asian cultural trappings.

"It's about cultivating an inner life, not the outer appearances," he said. "You don't have to shave your head."

And from Judith Simmer-Brown a Buddhist scholar and a professor at Naropa. She has several podcasts on Buddhist Geeks.  About those "yearning for a deeper spiritual experience" she says:

"They literally have rebuilt their Christian meditative forms," Simmer-Brown said. "Some borrow heavily from Buddhism."

The article mentions Methodist Rev. Toni Cook, a founder of St. Paul's Buddhist Christian InterSpiritual Community in Denver who was challenged about the "gangs" within Christianity while trying to help find a way to keep young people out of gangs.  

In doing some google research for this post (what a delightful way to spend an afternoon...if I could just get my mind off the bed that needs making and the family pack of ground round in the refrigerator that needs "pattying") I came across some really interesting quotes.  One in particular by Thomas Merton applies to this topic.   

"I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity.... I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can." --Thomas Merton

Well, that is pretty plain, don't you think? 

And there is even a book about Merton's views on Buddhism...and for an article that deals with it in depth, check out  What Was The Christian Monk Looking To Find In His Dialouge With Buddhism?

I am going to end this post with a few other quotes by those who call themselves Christians yet who embrace a similar view of interfaith spirituality. The following quotes, while not addressing Buddhism specifically, go along with the gist of this post.  

"For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained."Donald Miller, author of the popular Blue Like Jazz

"I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts." - Brian McLaren

"I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions: --Rick Warren

"Allah is not another God ... we worship the same God.... The same God!  The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews--and the Muslims--worship." --Peter Kreeft


Okay...the rabbit trail is getting too long.  More the Merton-Buddhism connection tomorrow....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

8-25-09 Tale of Two Dead Atheists....

My mind works in quirky ways.  As proof, I offer this post as evidence.  In God Is Dead, Now Zen Is The Only Truth, Osho talks about the funeral of an atheist. 

I have heard about one very famous atheist. He died, and his wife brought his best clothes, best shoes, before he was put in the coffin -- the best tie, the costliest possible. She wanted to give him a good farewell, a good send-off. He was dressed as he had never dressed in his whole life.

And then friends came, and neighbors came. And one woman said: "Wow! He's all dressed up and nowhere to go." He was an atheist, so he did not believe in God, he did not believe in heaven, he did not believe in hell -- nowhere to go, and so well-dressed!

Which piqued a memory of another tale about another famous atheist that I read in a book by Max Lucado... He Still Moves Stones.  Max says:

Several years ago I heard then Vice President George Bush speak at a prayer breakfast. He told of his trip to Russia to represent the United States at the funeral of Leonid Brezhnev. The funeral was as precise and stoic as the communist regime. No tears were seen, and no emotion displayed. With one exception. Mr. Bush told how Brezhnev’s widow was the last person to witness the body before the coffin was closed. For several seconds she stood at his side and then reached down and performed the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.

In the hour of her husband’s death, she went not to Lenin, not to Karl Marx, not to Khrushchev. In the hour of death she turned to a Nazarene carpenter who had lived two thousand years ago and who dared to claim: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.”

All dressed up with nowhere to go?  Hardly. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

God Is Dead, Mankind Is Free?

We took my father in law (who is visiting from Canada) to a "nearby" state park late yesterday afternoon.  It was an impromptu thing...Keith, who does not like to fritter away a vacation sitting around at home, sprung it on me at the last minute.  I am not good at doing "last minute" stuff...but I, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to go along.  It turned out to be a longer trip than expected, but it was a scenic drive and the view from the overlook at this park is spectacular.  I took along a Bible with the apocrypha to read in the van...and also my mini Dell. 

I began reading fits and starts...after daniel posted a few verses from it on EU.  There is a lot of stuff in that book.  Pity it was not included in the Protestant version of the the Holy Scriptures.  It seems to mirror Proverbs...and Psalms....and confirms so many other verses in the Bible.  I have found a lot to underline and reflect upon within its chapters.  I hope to write about some of the stuff contained therein...but let's face it, I may run out of years before I run out of ideas to muse about and publicly ponder here on this blog :)

But anyway...Sirach is not the subject of this post.  On the way home, after dark...too dark to read a book, I fired up the mini to look through some old files (blog ideas, more blog ideas, draft posts, really draft posts, more draft posts, quotes for get the idea)  I came upon some quotes I had saved from The Shack.  Now if there ever was a book that "put a face with a name"...the Shack showed us a face of God.  Not the expected face (an overweight black woman) nor the only "face" by which God reveals himself... as Papa explained in the Shack

She picked up the wooden spoon again dripping with some sort of batter. Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.

But then, he paused, still focused on staying rational, “why is there such an emphasis on you being a Father? I mean, it seems to be the way you most reveal yourself.

Well, responded Papa, turning away from him and bustling around the kitchen, there are many reasons for that, and some of them go very deep. Let me say for now that we knew once the creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don’t misunderstand me, both are needed..but an emphasis on father is necessary because of the enormity of its absence.

I've expressed before, here on this blog, that God has revealed himself to me as Father.  That is the "face" I "see" when I think of God.  "Seeing" God causes a mental short circuit in my brain because truly, he is not a face....but, I see/feel him as Father.  To me, he is Father...but I acknowledge that to many he reveals himself as Mother...similar to how he appeared to Mack...a heavy set black woman...and he reveals himself in many, many other ways...meeting us at our point of need...out of his great love for us. 

But I am still digressing somewhat because the original point of this post was to talk about this freedom Osho mentioned.  Since God is dead (or to more accurately express his view....since God was always a figment of man's imagination) we are free.  Yippee! But free for what?  In The Shack, Mack and Papa (in the form of an overweight black woman) discuss this issue of freedom....

“You knew I would come, didn’t you?” Mack finally spoke quietly.

“Of course I did” she was busy again, her back to him.

“Then was I free not to come? Did I not have a choice in the matter?”

Papa turned back to face him, now with flour and dough in her hands. “Good deep would you like to go?” She didn’t wait for a response, knowing that Mack didn’t have one. Instead she asked, “Do you believe you are free to leave?”

“I suppose I am. Am I?”

“Of course you are! I'm not interested in prisoners. You’re free to walk out that door right now and go home to your empty house. Or, you could go down the Grind and hang out with Willie. Just because I know you’re too curious to go, does that reduce your freedom to leave?”

She paused only briefly and then turned back to her task, talking to him over her shoulder. “Or, if you want to go just a wee bit deeper, we could talk about the nature of freedom itself. Does freedom mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want to do? Or we could talk about all the limiting influences in your life that actively work against your freedom. Your family genetic heritage, your specific DNA, your metabolic uniqueness, the quantum stuff that is going on at a subatomic level where only I am the always-present observer. Or the intrusion of your soul’s sickness that inhibits and binds you, or the social influences around you, or the habits that have created synaptic bonds and pathways in your brain. And then there’s advertising, propaganda, and paradigms. Inside the confluence of multifaceted inhibitors, “ she sighed, “what is freedom really?”

Mack just stood there not knowing what to say.

“Only I can set you free, Mackenzie, but freedom can never be forced.”

At this point you don’t even understand that freedom is an incremental process.

Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the wood shop right now covered in sawdust. (She is referring, of course, to Jesus Christ) Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out.”

So Osho was wrong.  Zen does not offer mankind salvation...nor wholeness...nor hope.  There are principles contained in Zen that can enhance our Christian journey...but wholeness, our destiny, dwelling in the secret place of the most high...our Father's heart cannot be found in the simple process of meditation.  "Existence, the cosmos" have a name...and they have a "face."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Osho's "God" Is Too Small...

While Osho claims not to believe in a god, it seems he exalts something he labels existence...or "cosmos"...something we need to connect to via Zen meditation.  I closed by saying that I thought his god is too small. I was reminded me of a quote from Richard Dawkins, the well known atheist:

If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.

And I agree.  None of us, at this stage of our spiritual journey can really comprehend the vastness of God. His magnitude ...nor can we truly understand how a being who is infinite can also be intimate...involved in every aspect of our lives. 

Today on EU, daniel posted a link to another online e-book.  No not Osho's God Is Dead...nor excerpts from Dawkin's The God Delusion...but rather an ageless classic, Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips. 

The first section of the book deals with deconstructing inaccurate or harmful images of God:

1. Resident Policeman
2. Parental Hangover
3. Grand Old Man
4. Meek-and-Mild
5. Absolute Perfection
6. Heavenly Bosom
7. God-in-a-Box
8. Managing Director
9. Second-Hand God
10. Perennial Grievance
11. Pale Galilean
12. Projected Image
13. Assorted

And the second section of the book deals with reconstructing our images of God:

1. God Unfocused
2. A Clue to Reality
3. Further Clues to Reality
4. Is There a Focused God?
5. If God Were Focused (I)
6. If God Were Focused (II)
7. Has _A_ Arrived?
8. Life's Basic Principles (I)
9. Life's Basic Principles (II)
10. Further Basic Questions
11. Christ and the Question of Sin
12. Satisfactory Reconciliation
13. Demonstration with the Enemy
14. The Abolition of Death
15. Theory into Practice

In the section in the deconstruction chapters of the book there is a section in the "assorted" unreal god's section entitled God For The Elite, Phillips says this:

It is characteristic of human beings to create and revere a "privileged class," and some modern Christians regard the mystic as being somehow spiritually a cut above his fellows. Ordinary forms of worship and prayer may suffice for the ordinary man, but for the one who has direct apprehension of God -- he is literally in a class by himself. You cannot expect a man to attend Evensong in his parish church when there are visions waiting for him in his study!

The New Testament does not subscribe to this flattering view of those with a gift for mystic vision. It
is always downright and practical. It is by their fruits that men shall be known: God is no respecter of persons: true religion is expressed by such humdrum things as visiting those in trouble and steadfastly maintaining faith despite exterior circumstances. It is not, of course, that the New Testament considers it a bad thing for a man to have a vision of God, but there is a wholesome insistence on such a vision being worked out in love and service.

It should be noted, at least by those who accept Christ's claim to be God, that He by no means fits into the picture of the "mystic saint." Those who are fascinated by the supposed superiority of the mystic soul might profitably compile a list of its characteristics and place them side by side with those of Christ. The result would probably expose a surprising conclusion. There is, in fact, no provision for a "privileged class" in genuine Christianity. "It shall not be so among you," said Christ to His early followers, "all ye are brethren"

And another section that, I think, addresses some of Osho's claims is called God Without Godhead:

This conception is one of the most "enlightened" and "modern." God is completely de-personalized and becomes the Ultimate Bundle of Highest Values.
Such an idea is usually held by those who lead sheltered lives and who have little experience of the crude stuff of ordinary human life. It is manifestly impossible for any except the most intellectual to hold in his mind (let alone worship and serve) a God who is no more than what we think to be the highest values raised to the Nth degree.

And about that freedom that mankind know, with God dead and all.  I will post about that tomorrow....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Osho's God Without a "Face"

Osho says:
There is no God, and there is no question of his revelation. I don’t see any possibility of God’s existence.

Well...that is pretty blunt, don't you think?  In the comments sections, baawra pointed out that my description of Osho as an agnostic was inaccurate. It caused me to take a second look. at all of this.  Yesterday, when I typed something along the lines of "Does Osho believe in God" into google it led me to an article called "God, The Imaginary Puppeteer" which is from an online e-book by Osho called God Is Dead, Now Zen Is The Only Living Truth.

In the article, Osho talks about Friedrich Nietzsche and his theology/philosophy about God.  Pretty simple theology...God is dead and man is free.  Osho rightly ponders the question "free to do what?"

Man is free, but free for what? If there is no God and man is free, that will simply mean man is now capable of doing anything, good or bad; there is nobody to judge him, nobody to forgive him. This freedom will be simply licentiousness.
There comes the other side. You remove God and you leave man utterly empty. Of course, you declare his freedom, but to what purpose? How is he going to use his freedom creatively, responsibly? How is he going to avoid freedom being reduced to licentiousness?

His answer is Zen...meditation.  Nietzsche went nearly insane because he did not know about/practice meditation. 

Really?  It's as simple as that? Meditate?  I recently read (and plan to write about) a book called How God Changes Your Brain.  It is a somewhat scholarly work written in a style that is easily understandable for those of us (like me) with a Joe Schmoe knowledge of brain chemistry etc. In a way, Osho is right.  There ARE certain changes in brain chemistry that take place during meditation/contemplative prayer...changes that occur whether one is contemplating/communing with God....or an especially colorful rock or lovely flower.  On Zen meditation he says:

But it has a tremendous science to transform your consciousness, to bring so much awareness to you that you cannot commit evil. It is not a commandment from outside, it comes from your innermost being. Once you know your center of being, once you know you are one with the cosmos -- and the cosmos has never been created, it has been there always and always, and will be there always and always, from eternity to eternity -- once you know your luminous being, your hidden Gautam Buddha, it is impossible to do anything wrong, it is impossible to do anything evil, it is impossible to do any sin.

To me, when Osho speaks of the cosmos that has never been created, that has always been, I think he is speaking of God.  Perhaps, to Osho, God remained anonymous.  God had not fully revealed himself (or Osho refused to see him) as something other than a mysterious no-thing.  Osho's "god" does not have a "face."  He saw the need for connection and the benefits of the connection.  But connection to what?  Existence.

And there is a tremendous need in man's being to be related to existence. He needs roots in existence, because only when the roots go deep into existence will he blossom into a Buddha, will he blossom into millions of flowers, will his life not be meaningless. Then his life will be tremendously overflowing with meaning, significance, blissfulness; his life will be simply a celebration.

Exactly what is existence? He doesn't really explain what it is but he claims he can teach you how to come in contact with it. 

I am teaching you how to come in contact with existence, how to find out where you are connected, wired with existence. From where are you getting your life moment to moment? Where is your intelligence coming from? If existence is unintelligent, how can you be intelligent? Where will you get it from?

Which is a really good question. Where will you get it from?  Does it come from some elusive, ethereal, mystical, nameless, faceless force labeled "existence?"  No, that just doesn't cut it for me.  I credit God as the source of my whom we all live and move and have our being.  I've "leafed" through this e-book today...and Osho's god is way too small.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And the other guy...Nisargadatta....

Nisargadatta was the other guru mentioned in the post about The 7 Principles of Freedom by Timothy Schoorel.  Again, his paradigm is quite different than my paradigm but a few of his quotes struck me....

The greatest guru is your inner self. Truly he is the supreme teacher. He alone can take you to your goal and he alone meets you at the end of the road. Confide in him and you need no outer guru.

Quite similar to the words of Jesus..about the Comforter who would come and lead us into all truth.

Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident that unless it is totally discouraged it will not give up. Mere verbal conviction is not enough. Hard facts alone can show the absolute nothingness of the self-image

Shades of Ecclesiastes there...the futility of human effort.

And very soon...back to a more Christian paradigm...the eye scripture no less!!!

Commenting on Sue's Comment....

In response to my post about the online e-book by Timothy Shoorel  called The Seven Principles of Freedom Sue said:

That is interesting stuff. Beautifully put. Alive silence - yes :) I read in the "about the author" part of that site something that I'm unsure about. He speaks of how as a wave is part of the sea so is he, and that if a person wants to see themselves as a human being then they will also see him as such.
I understand what he was saying, but I don't feel entirely comfortable with that thought from within a Christ context. I'm reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at the moment and struggling in this area too. Of course, it could just simply be egoic struggling but I'm really at this stage just sitting with the not knowing of what I *do* think about that and being aware of what I really want it *to* be - I want to be a separate part, an individual person who continues on. I feel like this man and the Buddhist tradition tap into the same thing I tap into, that vast wonderful losing yourself which I think is God, but I do not want to give up this idea of an individual soul - even though it seems so obvious that I am part of the ocean. Do you know what I mean? Im wondering what you think about that??

Yes, indeed, I do know what you mean. When I die, if the life force that fueled/powered this body is sucked into the whole, with no memory of Cindi...or this life I've lived, well, to use a Grandma Payne analogy...that is still dead as a doornail.  What is the freaking point then? 

We talked about this a while back on Emerging Universalist.  I think I wrote a series of posts about it here on this blog.

What's Left and Absorbed Into the Whole

On EU, I think it was, someone posted an alternate to the ocean vs. wave analogy...which I like a lot better.  How about a string of Christmas lights.  All the lights are connected to the cord...the life's force...yet all retain their "individuality."  I like that better. 

A while back, Keith gave me an article written by Preston Eby entitled "Where Are the Dead?"  Yes, I want to know where the dead are.  Since, the older I get, the closer I get to being among them.  For years, the thought of ceasing to exist scared the crap out of me.  Still does if I dwell on it.  Eby writes from a very Christian perspective yet he has a keen understanding of the carnal nature/christ nature.  Anyway...about retaining our individuality after death, he says:

Even in the Old Testament there was belief in conscious existence after death. A brother in Christ has written, "We read from Gen. 25:8 'Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years (175 years) and was GATHERED TO HIS PEOPLE.' And again in Gen. 35:29, 'And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was GATHERED UNTO HIS PEOPLE.' 'And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was GATHERED UNTO HIS PEOPLE.' Gen. 49:33. So far, we have cited only three specific cases, namely, the deaths of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What we see in each case, the deceased was 'gathered unto his people'. This in itself suggests a home coming; indeed, a rejoining of loved ones who had gone on before. But if there was no 'knowing each other': if there was no consciousness, why would the writer bother to record that indeed, the deceased was gathered unto his people? We learn from Eccl. 12:7, 'Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.' Paul indicated that being absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. Since this is true, it is rather needless to think that there is unconsciousness in God.

He goes on to say:

All the MYSTICS throughout the centuries believed in the consciousness of the spirit after death. If we have a spirit IT MUST BE CONSCIOUS. I personally know three or four people who have died and been raised from the dead. One was dead for several hours - no, two of them were dead for several hours. ALL of them were conscious apart from the body and saw and heard and spoke in the spirit realm - all were in communion with Jesus in the realm of Spirit, and all "came back into" their body.

That statement seems a bit far fetched, I know.  I have anecdotal knowledge of a similar situation.  A long time "another life"...while married to my first husband, we lived in Nashville, Tennessee.  He worked for Service Master and they managed the food service at St. Thomas Hospital...a very large hospital in Nashville, renowned as a leading "heart hospital." I don't remember all the facts because, as I said..that seemed like it was another life...and it was over ten years ago.  I tried to look it up online and couldn't find anything....but like I said, it was over ten years ago.  But, it was quite the hub hub at the hospital when a man who was clinically dead for over an hour, maybe longer and "came back to life."  I don't remember a lot of the was a cardiac thing...and the doctor, who was an unbeliever at the time, became a believer.  My ex listened in on some of the conferences and discussion that took place afterwards...under the guise of checking on the food etc.  Perhaps when I have more time I will research it further. 

So anyway...that is my long, meandering comment to your comments, Sue.  What do you think?

and sort of as a PS I came upon the following article from Time Magazine while searching.  It seems to be a secular article...but interesting so I am including the link....

What Happens When We Die?

Monday, August 17, 2009


In yesterday's post, Osho was described as a controversial mystic.  Ahh...indeed he was.  From his 93 Rolls Royces, to his arrest and deportation...assasination his teachings on sex and aids and all manner of eccentricities.  He was also agnostic...

Very strange guy.  And while I would not spend the time talking about him that I spent posting about Frank Laubach, I think he is interesting enough for one post.  Most of his teachings do not really speak to me because, being an agnostic, he does not come from the same paradigm I live in.  I believe in a living, personal God.  He believes, I think, in some kind of energy...and the word love is thrown about quite a bit in his teachings. 

There is a plethora of info available on line about him.  For a quick synopsis, as always, wikipedia gives a concise overview (and the writing on Osho has citations galore. This guy certainly got a lot of attention) And then at his home page there are literally hundreds of e-books containing his teachings.  Amazing considering that I read somewhere he never wrote a single book. His books are his spoken messages, transcribed by his followers.  So, all in all, he might be worth a quick look...but there are a lot of sticks to sort through before you get to any hay. 

One little snippet of his that caught my eye was the following quote about sympathy.  Very true, don't you think?

Sympathy is not compassion; it is just the opposite. Sympathy is a kind of exploitation of the other person. When you sympathize with somebody, you are higher, better, and the other is lower, falling, degraded. Your ego gets immense satisfaction out of sympathy. But this is how the unconscious mind functions. You don't know exactly what you are doing.  

And it is an enjoyable moment for you, because the other is in need of your sympathy. You are the giver, the other is the beggar.

It occurs to me that pity is an even more stronger demarcation of status.  Pitying another really puts us on an even higher rung of the least in our own mind.

Nothing particularly profound in this post...perhaps verging on news you can't use...although I kind of like the sympathy vs. compassion thought.  It makes me realize that sometimes, even though we might think we are doing/feeling a good thing, the motives (which may be unbeknownst to us) are ultimately selfish and self serving.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Interesting Website - Nisargadatta...Osho

But I digress...well, not just yet... but I'm going to.  I started to look at some of the verses that use the Greek word translated as "eye/eyes" and found some very interesting verses.  They birthed some of those lightening quick thoughts that come fast..almost too fast to really think them..but you try (usually in vain) to slow them down because you know there is some significance to them.  They are elusive.  Sort of like a name of a person or a movie you are trying to remember. It keeps flitting around in your head but you can't quiet catch the thought.  And so, today, I am not going to even try.  Over the next few day I am going to try to get the thoughts to hold still long enough for me to think them...ponder them and then perhaps write a few lines of worth.  But in the meantime, I came upon a couple of interesting sites today...purely by happenstance.  And so, I am going to post about them. 

On the Now2 yahoo group, someone posted a link to an online         e-book by Timothy Shoorel.  The book is called The Seven Principles of Freedom.  The excerpt in the post was from the chapter about "not thinking." 

How to literally not think So how to not think? We need to consider the thought process. We need to have a better idea of how it works. The thought process is like a train, a steam-train of thought. In order for the train to move, we have to burn pieces of wood in the engine: we have to provide the brain with thoughts. One log feeds on the previous, and this is how we get the train moving. So we keep feeding these logs into the train's engine in order for the train to get moving and gather momentum. One thought feeds on the previous, the momentum builds, and our train of thought gets moving.

This is a train without brakes though, and if we want to stop it, the only way is to let it run out of steam. Of course, if we keep feeding new logs into the engine, the train will never run out of steam.

Gee...sounds a bit like the thought process I was describing in the first paragraph of this post :)

The chapter goes on to discuss letting your train to run out of steam....

On the page that tells a bit more about the author it mentions two of his "gurus." (oh my...what an new agey term THAT is!!!) 

Timothy Schoorel was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 1965. At the age of 15, he decided to become a disciple of the controversial mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later called Osho.

In 1991, he met Alexander Smit, a Dutch sage who was taught by the famous Advaita Vedanta guru Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

In December 1995, Timothy realized his absolute nature, finding the freedom he had intuited since childhood.

And so...I went to the link of these two gurus...and found some interesting stuff there.  But that is fodder for two more posts.  Probably tomorrow and the day after.  Unless of course, the train runs out of steam before then....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If Thine Eye Be Single....

So I was curious if there was any reference to the third eye in scripture....
I found the following in my web journeys this morning.

Third eye, the gate that leads within
The third eye is universal. In the Indian tradition it is jnana-chaksu, the eye of knowledge, the seat of the antar-guru, or 'teacher inside'. In Buddhist art, it is figured as a gem on the forehead of buddhas. And in the words of the Gospels,
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matthew 6:22)
The third eye, in essence, is the portal to inner realms. The Upanishads describe a human being as a city with ten gates. Nine gates (eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, urethra, anus) lead to the outside world. The tenth gate, the third eye, opens onto inner worlds: the whole spectrum of levels of consciousness.

I looked up the work "eye" in the original language.  It is the word ophthalmos.  In the King James version, it is translated 101 times as "eye" and once as "sight."  It's definition according to the Strong's is:

the eye
metaph. the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing

It comes from the root word optanomai which means

to look at, behold
to allow one's self to be seen, to appear 

Which is an alternate of horao which means

to see with the eyes
to see with the mind, to perceive, know
to see, i.e. become acquainted with by experience, to experience
to see, to look to
to take heed, beware
to care for, pay heed to
I was seen, showed myself, appeared

The post is not meant to be a vocabulary lesson in Greek, (like I could teach one) but I think the meaning of these three related words is very telling.  "The eyes of the mind," "the faculty of knowing," "to allow oneself to be seen," "I was seen, showed myself, appeared."  I think those definitions are ripe with spiritual implications to ponder for yourselves with no further comments from the peanut gallery.  :)
More on this topic....tomorrow.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

About That Third Eye...


Warning....very strong "new agey" post ahead.  We strongly urge spiritual discretion :)

Actually in this post, I am just going to copy and paste a few of the things I found on the internet about the third eye/ajna chakra/brow chakra.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll have more commentary...perhaps not.

Is There Really A Third Eye?

Although there is no real proof that the third eye exists, those who actually seek true enlightenment have reportedly felt something between their eyebrows. It serves as a stimulating point for numerous individuals who tread on the path of attaining spiritual wisdom.

Third eye meditation means that you concentrate on the point between your eyebrows for a long time.

It is believed that the third eye is associated with the pineal gland, which French philosopher Descartes defines as the 'seat of the soul'. It is said that the pineal gland is dormant and can be made active through third eye meditation. So meditation comes across as the only way in which you can take a glimpse into the world of the higher consciousness. 

And from Wikipedia
The third eye (also known as the inner eye) is a mystical and esoteric concept referring in part to the ajna (brow) chakra in certain Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. It is also spoken of as the gate that leads within to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In New Age spirituality, the third eye may alternately symbolize a state of enlightenment or the evocation of mental images having deeply-personal spiritual or psychological significance. The third eye is often associated with visions, clairvoyance (which includes the ability to observe chakras and auras) [1], precognition, and out-of-body experiences, and people who have allegedly developed the capacity to utilize their third eyes are sometimes known as seers.

Some writers and researchers, including H. P. Blavatsky[5] and Rick Strassman, have suggested that the third eye is in fact the partially dormant pineal gland, which resides between the two hemispheres of the brain. This concept is supported by the pinealocytes, one type of cells within the pineal gland, having a strong resemblance to the photoreceptors of the eye Additionally, the pineal gland is said to excrete dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which may be factor, but not in the sense of the psychedelic drug[6][improper synthesis?], which induces dreams, near-death experiences, meditation, or hallucinations. Various types of lower vertebrates, such as reptiles and amphibians, can actually sense light via a third parietal eye—a structure associated with the pineal gland—which serves to regulate their circadian rhythms.

And in a book I found on google books.....Working With Your Chakras page 163

In fact, an open third eye means simply seeing life from a clear spiritual perspective; maintaining hope, faith and balance in a confusing and changing world; having a concept of oneself as a responsible spiritual guardian - and being able to develop the inner strength required for such a task; perceiving the inner quality of others without judgement and still loving them unconditionally. 


And from the Achieving the mind-body-spirit connection book on 14 

Sixth Chakra is more commonly known as the brow chakra or the third eye.  This chakra is associated with intuition and the ability to access the ageless wisdom or bank of knowledge in the depths of universal consciousness.  As energy moves through the dimension of universal wisdom into the chakra it promotes the development of intelligence and reasoning skills.  Directly tied to the pituitary and pineal gland, the chakra feed energy to the brain for information processing.  Unlike the solar plexus chakra, which is responsible for gut level intuition regarding personal matters, the wisdom channeled through the brow chakra is more universal in nature, with implications for the spiritual aspect of life. 

Healing Yourself Naturally page 25

The Ajna chakra is associated with the eyes and it is understood that the right eye is related to insight or spiritual vision and the left eye with the lower, material aspect of the mind.  The third eye is really a synthesis of the two eyes and becomes the organ for spiritual vision. 

The Art of Conscious Creation

The sixth chakra is the site of intuition and insight of which the intellect is one expression.  This chakra is located on the forehead just above the bridge of the nose and between the eyes.  It is often called the third eye and is seen to have a gold or indigo color.  Besides intuition and insight, intelligence and wisdom, this chakra is associated with sight beyond the five senses, plus clarity and soul force.  The energy here involves intellectual and Universal truth, ability to grasp the lessons in life, including the purpose and meaning of our emotions, learning to trust intuition and the information available to us, willingness to entertain the opinions of others, questing for greater knowledge and education. 

The Practical Book of Reiki

Known by its Sanskrit name Ajna menaing "command", the sixth chakra is located over the forehead slightly above the eyebrows between the eyes.  The sixth chakra provides lifeforce to the eyes, much of the control nervous system and the brain.  It also funnels energy to the pituitary and pineal glands, both endocrine organs located in the middle of the brain.   These two glands work in harmony to support the individual and unified functions of the sixth and seventh chakras. 

Most of the authorities say that the sixth chakra is associated with the pituitary gland, which is the master gland of the endocrine system.  It controls virtually all endocrine functions and thereby influences the entire body both in its everyday operations and in the body's growth and development. 

The sixth chakra is said to control various states of concentration and consciousness.  This is the realm of omniscience.  Whenever someone breaks through to this level of consciousness, extra sensory perception, clairvoyance, visions, psychokinesis and other paranormal experiences occur.  The sixth chakra is associated with the color indigo.  The chakra is symbolized by OM, the cosmic sound.  Om represents the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end of all things.  There are no elements associated with the sixth chakra, since it is beyond the material existence.  It is the world of cosmic law, harmony, perfect order and vibration.  Thus the sixth chakra is the world of perfect knowing, the world of wisdom.   


And in fact, I think I even wrote about it....last year about this time

Right Brain/Left Brain


Right Brain/Left Brain/The Fall?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Vision?

The study of the Koran was the beginning of Laubach's literacy program...

Laubach came down the hill and told the leaders of the Moros that he wanted to study the Koran. Dialogue ensued. Barriers broke down and Laubach had the opportunity to learn their language. As he listened to their oral traditions, he realized no one had written down the language, which he proceeded to do. When the Moros saw what he had done, they begged him to teach them how to read their own language.

That was the origin of Laubach's unique literacy teaching methods, which in time enabled people all over the world to learn to read. In April 1949, Life magazine credited him with teaching sixty million people to read. He traveled extensively, well into his eighties, challenging Americans not to forget the "the silent billion" illiterate people in the world who lived for the most part in poverty and disillusionment. (Surprises Around the Bend)

During our own present economic challenges due to the recession, it might be encouraging to learn that the "Each One Teach One" Literacy Campaign Laubach is known for began because of the severe economic conditions of his era....the Depression....

The reading campaign was a great success. Over 11,000 people had learned to read that first year. However, the economic depression of the 1930's threatened to undermine his work. For lack of funds, he would have to layoff over half of his staff and cut salaries for the rest. Thus the work would be seriously crippled.

Laubach called the Moro leaders together fearful of telling them the bad news. But they determined that the work must go on, seeing it as Lanao's only hope. Thus was born the "Each One Teach One" concept--a revolutionary idea in which everyone who knew how to read must teach someone else. As Laubach saw it, nothing could be better for a newly literate person than to share his new found skill with someone else.

Over the next thirty five years his teaching methods were used successfully in one hundred and three countries, and for the first time worldwide literacy was considered a possibility.

But there's more to this guy (wondering why I haven't heard of him before this series)
He was grieved by war and the buildup of nuclear weapons....

Horrified and sickened by World War II, and the threat of a nuclear war with Russia, he was convinced that the way to win the world's heart was through "a war of amazing kindness" in which love, not bullets and bombs would be the weapons.

And he continued to have mystical experiences with God.

In the early 1950's, at age 70, Laubach had a vision of God and Christ together in a long room. Christ showed him how to deepen his minute by minute attunement by focusing deeply at the point between the eyebrows. Jesus spoke to him, saying it was time for him to take "a long stride toward becoming a full grown son of God"

"Your game with the minutes, " He said, was in the right direction, but tonight you are going beyond that game into the game with moments. To be fully grown means to spend your life, day and night, with the door wide open into the secret audience room with us."

"The audience room, " He explained, "is in front of your head. When you wish to consult us, lift up your eyes a little and there we are, not beyond the stars but just over your own eyes."

Okay...this is ripe with ideas to write about, think about, ponder. What's this between the eyebrows stuff? Isn't that the supposed location of the Ajna chakra? Associated with the pineal gland? Wow...pretty new age stuff coming from a Christian missionary....who claimed Jesus as his savior until the end of his days and never renounced Christianity....

More on the third eye tomorrow......

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Still More...Part 2

In another article I came across....found on talks a bit more about the distrust of the Maranao people.  Not only had missionaries tried to shove Christianity down their throats since the days of 1521, they had other reasons to distrust them.  According to the article (taken from Clarity Magazine)

Five years previously, some of the Christian Filipino teachers who had come to Dansalam either did not know Moslem customs or chose to flout them.  They became intimate with some of the Moro schoolgirls.  Several of the teachers were killed and at least fifty of the schools were burned down. 

Unsuspectingly, Laubach had walked into an atomosphere of suspicion and explosive hatred, everywhere he went he was met with hostility and indifference.  After a month he had to acknowledge to himself that he was beaten. 

Every evening he hiked up Signal Hill...praying the whole way up and back.  One evening God spoke to him....and the answer, surprisingly came out of his own mouth.  It was his own voice...saying God's words.  

My child you have failed because you do not really love these Moros.  You feel superior to them because you are white.  If you can forget you are an American and think only how I love them, they will respond.

Laubach answered, "It is the truth, God.  Drive me out of myself.  Come and take possession of me and think Thy thoughts in my mind"  And the voice said again through his own lips, "if you want the Moros to be fair to your religion, be fair to theirs.  Study the Koran with them."

The next day, he told some of the Moro priests that he wanted to study the Koran with them.  They responded eagerly, thinking he wanted to become a Moslem.  They brought with them a list of the four holy books of Islam--The Torah (the laws of Moses) the Zabur (the Psalms of David) the Kitab injil (the gospel of Jesus Christ) and the Koran of Mohammed.  Laubach explained as well as he could in their language, "From childhood I have studied the first three books on your list"

Recently, I have pondered reading through the Koran.  I've found several versions online...and even a site that allows comparisons of different versions.  In my reading, I came upon the 99 attributes of Allah....which intrigued me. Most of them are very positive attributes encompassing mercy and grace and divine love.  I want to write about some of them on this blog.  I wasn't aware, however, that Muslims consider writings other than the Koran as sacred.  The Torah, the Psalms and the Gospels.  Intriguing.  I wonder how many Christians know this? 

So Laubach, a devout Christian who never left or lost his faith...studied the Koran with the Moros priests.....

Another post about this...tomorrow....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Still More on Frank Laubach--Part 1

As I was dinking around on the internet today...typing goodness knows what into google....I came upon something about Frank Laubach that I hadn't read before.  Thus, the inspiration for yet another post (or two) about him.  I know I have written several posts about him...perhaps droning on too long....but then again, if it interests me enough to write about it, it may interest you enough to read about it..... his first years as a missionary, he and his wife Effa lost three of their children to malaria and dysentery.  I cannot imagine losing three of my children and yet continuing with the work I felt God had laid out for me to do.  I would probably be more inclined to shout..."YOU do it," while shaking my fist at the heavens.  He was alone during the time he wrote the journal entries that were published after his death as Letters By a Modern Day Mystic.  Effa was back in the States with their only remaining child, a son named Robert,  while he regained his strength.  Effa and Robert later rejoined Frank Laubach and worked with him. 

I came upon a book on google books called Surprises Around the Bend - 50 Adventurous Walkers

There is a section in the book about Frank Laubach...we walk by faith and not by sight.

I typed up some excerpts that I thought were interesting....

Laubach had a promising start.  He grew up in the tiny town of Benton, in north central Pennsylvania, in a devout and supportive family. 

(Side note here....Keith often delivers in Benton.  He has been reading this series and noticed the other day that the welcome to Benton sign mentioned Laubach)

He went to Princeton University and then to Union Theological Seminary in New Your, eventually gaining a Ph.D in sociology at Columbia University.  His dissertation focused on research he had done among a hundred vagrant men connected to the City Mission Society in New York City. 

In 1914, as an ordained minister of the Congregational Church, he and his wife Effa left the United States.  They sailed to the Philippines where he labored at Mindanao.  Frank and Effa saw their first three children die of malaria and dysentery.  Robert, their only surviving child, was taken away by Effa to the United States for a period of time to regain his physical strength during an outbreak of severe illness.  Effa and Robert eventually came back and assisted Laubach in his mission work. 

Even though Laubach spent much time writing, teaching, and serving where he could, he did not feel he was doing much good.  He suffered keen disappointment when he lost a close election to become the president of Union Theological Seminary in Manila. 

On December 1, 1929, Laubach arrived in Lanao, a place he had originally gone to fifteen years before.  On his first visit he was asked to leave because of the distrust of the US armed forces in the area.  Even now, as he returned, he sensed a strong resistance among the Maranao people to his Christian message.  The largely Muslim population did not take kindly to any effort at conversion.  

But he did in fact break through to Maranao people.....I will write more about that tomorrow.....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mother Angelica....

While on the rabbit trail that began with Greg Boyd's recommendation... for those interested in a christ centered way to Practice the Presence...I came upon a neat little book (on google books...LOVE google books) called Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality

Very cool...and proof that we don't always need to go to "new age" teachers to find the pearls of wisdom about living in the now...putting the ego to death and consciousness.  Jesus did not limit "eternal life" or living in the kingdom to some time off in the future.  His message was about living the abundant life NOW.  Folks like Eckhart Tolle, Ram Dass, Marrianne Williamson (whose teachings have all shed light) do not have a monopoly on how to live in the present moment or commune with the divine.  There are many mystics who come from very traditional (Christian) disciplines who do just that.  Mother Angelica might be considered one of them. 

I'll write more about her in a few upcoming posts...but for today I am posting an excerpt from the book mentioned above. 

There is a chapter in the book called Living in the Present Moment

Most people live in their past, in sin, guilt, remorse, resentment.  They see every tiny detail related to those past events.  They are actually living in that moment and it's wrong.  Because the moment you have now, this Present Moment, is all you have.  You don't have the next moment, and the past is gone forever.  But we keep bringing it back...someone offended me, "someone said something" and we keep reliving it in our minds over and over and over.  You are then living in a moment that is gone, a fantasy.

Every moment of life is new to you, and God gives you Actual Grace in that moment.  It is different from Sanctifying Grace.  If you are baptized and keeping the Commandments and loving your neighbor, then you are in a state of Sanctifying Grace.  (Catholic nun, remember? Eat the hay...spit out the sticks) But God grants us the Actual Grace of this moment, not the grace of tonight or tomorrow, just the grace for this moment.  So we mustn't project tomorrow into this moment, because God will not give us that grace now: He waits until it is needed. 

I mean, I can say to myself that I would be a martyr for the faith if someone threatened my life and demanded that I renounce my Lord.  I would hope I would have the courage to accept death, but you don't know what you would do because the trial is not here.  God does not give me the grace today to endure the pain of tomorrow.  But if I am living in the imagined pain of tomorrow with the grace I have now, I will always feel at a loss. 

You handle this moment, then the next, and then you forget about it and move on to the next moment.  If you have to think of something in the future because it is part of the Present Moment, then you have to do that.  But to bear everything that happened today and everything that will happen tomorrow all at one time is too much for anyone. 

Our Lord taught: the past is dead, the future unborn, all that's mine is right now. 

Or as another short, snappy little quote I found declares....

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.” Fulton Ousler

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I, Myself Will Look After Them....

While doing the research for this series, I came upon an eclectic web site via google.  Excerpts from the writings of the three mystics recommended by Greg Boyd can be found at the site.  The site is called  Dialectical Interchange.  The three mystics (who are the subjects of this somewhat haphazard series) are Brother Lawrence, Jean Pierre de Caussade and Frank Laubach.  There is another guy on this site...about whom surprisingly little can be found on the Internet.  Not even on Wikipedia!  His name was Rufus Moseley. He authored 2 books....Manifest Victory and Perfect Everything.  Both books are out of print...and neither readily available via the used booksellers on Amazon.  The collection of quotes from Manifest Victory on the Dialectical Interchange web site is pretty much all there is to be found online. 

I think it is interesting to note that the mystics throughout the ages have pretty much said the same thing.  The language is a bit different but the ideas are very similar in many ways.  I was never much interested in reading anything mystical.  I was too busy trying to figure out the facts...the truth about total sovereignty...about the existence of evil....about freewill.  Lately, my attention as turned more toward the "who" than the what.  And the writings of the mystics pique my interest. 

Caussade (yesterday's mystic du jour) talked about learning directly from the who....

We can only be well instructed by the words which God utters expressly for us.

And Rufus Moseley also talked about knowing the who...more so than the what.

"I was never meant to be disciple of any disciple; I can only be a disciple at first hand of the Teacher of Teachers. . . . I cannot be anything other than an immediate disciple of Jesus and the Spirit of truth, getting my orders direct from the Source, not through imperfect and too often blind guides."

A few years ago, I read through Ezekiel.  Somewhere I came upon the interesting snippet where God ordered Ezekiel to cook his food over a fire fueled by human dung. Curiosity got the better of me and I read through the book...actually studied the book....of Ezekiel. 
I remember finding UR Chapter 34...and the promise that God would tend to his

"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.

When we listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, the clouds clear and the darkness turns to light. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Mystic--Jean Pierre de Caussade....

In spite of the sudden stops and starts and rabbit trails here and there I am (admittedly in a haphazard fashion) writing a series of posts about several mystics...recommended by Gregory Boyd as an alternative to the writings of Eckhart Tolle. Brother Lawrence, Frank Laubach, Jean Pierre de Caussade. Boyd believes that these mystics will "encourage people to cultivate an on-going awareness of the presence of God and to surrender to this presence on a moment-by-moment basis. Tolle aims at experiencing one’s own divine “I AM” on a moment-by-moment basis. Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach aim at experiencing a loving relationship with the I AM on a moment-by-moment basis."

And it is that final sentence that rings true with me. As much as Tolle's writings helped me understand the very Biblical concept of the adamic man/christ man....flesh/spirit.....soulish man/spirit man I am still drawn to the relationship with the I AM as opposed to seeing myself as my own little self propelling, self sustaining god. Tolle is not exactly Biblical...but via his writings I was better able to understand an important...perhaps THE most important Biblical truth. Yes, I know I've said this a dozen times on this blog. Sorry...digressers do that.

So's post...and an as yet undetermined number of posts to about Jean Pierre de Caussade. He is French and with the name Caussade that is probably not a huge surprise. He was a Jesuit who lived a long, long time ago.....1675-1751. He is known for his writing Abandonment to Divine Providence.

Tonight, as I was reading some excerpts from Caussade's manuscript, I came upon one that resonated with the way I (and my cyber buddies) have come to see God's communication with us. Rather than believing he sewed it all up in the Bible and the teachings and preachings of the early church fathers and the saints, we think he is still speaking. And not just from the pages of the Bible. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, many things can be scripture. In fact, ANYTHING that he breathes the breath of understanding on IS scripture. Apparently, Caussade ran into folks way back when who thought God only spoke through the Bible. He said the following:

"Spiritual reading with the divine action, often contains a meaning that the author never thought of. God makes use of the words and actions of others to infuse truths which might otherwise have remained hidden. If He wishes to impart light in this way, it is for the submissive soul to avail itself of this light. Every expedient of the divine action has an efficacy which always surpasses its apparent and natural virtue."

In other words...He IS GOD...he gets to talk to us however he wants...using whatever means he deems acceptable. Caussade also writes:

"O unknown Love! it seems as if Your wonders were finished and nothing remained but to copy Your ancient works, and to quote Your past discourses! And no one sees that Your inexhaustible activity is a source of new thoughts, of fresh sufferings and further actions: of new Patriarchs, Apostles, Prophets, and Saints who have no need to copy the lives and writings of the others, but only to live in perpetual abandonment to Your secret operations. We hear of nothing on all sides but ‘the first centuries,’ ‘the time of the Saints.’ What a strange way of talking! Is not all time a succession of the effects of the divine operation, working at every instant, filling, sanctifying, and supernaturalising them all? Has there ever been an ancient method of abandonment to this operation which is now out of season? Had the Saints of the first ages any other secret than that of becoming from moment to moment whatever the divine power willed to make them? And will this power cease to pour forth its glory on the souls which abandon themselves to it without reserve."

Or as the United Church of Christ declares....

God is still speaking.

On their website you will find two quotes about God's willingness....his continue the "conversation."

There is more truth and light yet to break forth from God's holy word.
- John Robinson, 17th century pastor to the Pilgrims

and one that I particularly like.....

Never place a period where God has placed a comma.
- Gracie Allen, 20th century American comedian

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Random Web Journey (more on Frank Laubach)

While researching Frank Laubach, I came upon a copy of a sermon preached at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer....purely by happenstance.  And, proving once again, that truth can even be found all over the internet....through doors we might never darken without google leading us on.  The sermon was preached by Revernd Don Pieper. He said a few things I found note (blog?) worthy.  He also included several quotes from Laubach...and a bit of his history.

Probably the statement that got me thinking was really very simple...

I  don’t know about you, but listening to God is not so easy for me.  I’m so used to doing all the talking in this relationship

Isn't that the truth!!!  So often we come to God with our mouths wide open and our ears shut tight!!!  We do not come as Frank Laubach did, humbly seeking.....

 "God what have you to put into my mind now if only I can be large enough?"

We come to him rattling on about this, that and the other thing...and do not pause long enough to listen to the still small voice we are drowsing out with our incessant chattering.  We totally ignore the directive to "Be Still and know that I am God." 

In this sermon, Pieper talked about an experiment his church was "trying out" called the 60 x 60 Experiment. Sort of a modern day version of The Game of Minutes.  Instead of thinking of God once every minute like Laubach urged us to do...the goal is to seek God once every hour. There is a web site dedicated to this endeavor, although it seems kind of unfinished.  But there are a few interesting links and an interactive topical scripture finder thingamajig (in the highly technological descriptive words of my grandfather)

So check it out if you have the inclination.  Or perhaps, even though it may sound hokey, set an alarm...on your watch, your cell phone, outlook express if you are on the computer all day like I am....for once every 60 minutes.  Direct your thoughts to God.  No telling what might happen.  What were the words to that infamous Alka Seltzer commercial?  Try it, you'll like it?   

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Still More From Frank Laubach....

So back to what I was talking about the other day...Frank Laubach, the modern day mystic.  I read through about half of "Letters By A Modern Day Mystic" which are excerpts from his journals written during the year 1930. Because of health issues, his family was unable to join him on the island where he was a missionary so he spent much of his time alone...with God.

I have been so desperately lonesome that it was unbearable save by talking with God. And so every waking moment of the week I have been looking toward Him, with perhaps the exception of an hour or two.

My brain is a bit foggy this morning so I am just going to post snippets from his writings and if a seemingly worthy comment comes to mind, then I'll toss one out from the peanut gallery....

There is, there must be, so much more in Him than He can give us, because we are so sleepy and because our capacity is so pitifully small. It ought to be tremendously helpful to be able to acquire the habit of reaching out strongly after God's thoughts, and to ask, "God what have you to put into my mind now if only I can be large enough?"

Frank Laubauch sought to put on the mind of live out of his spiritual nature rather than his egoic/adamic nature.  It is interesting to note that he, like Brother Lawrence, was not just zapped into the mystic mindset.  They yearned for it...they sought it out.  "Letters" talks about his burning desire to seek God every waking minute of every day. 

But this year I have started out trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice, asking without ceasing, "What, Father, do you desire said? What, Father, do you desire done this minute?"

And he is candid in his failures. 

This conscious, incessant submission to God has proven extremely difficult, and I have surrendered for the past few days. And today and yesterday I saw evidences of the result.

A crowd of people arrived who, when they are in a crowd, wish to talk or think nothing of religion. I fear I have not wanted some of them to think me religious for fear I might cease to be interesting.

In an effort to be witty I have said biting things which have hurt the feelings of others, and have been short and impatient. I tremble, for I have told at least one of these men of this experiment, and he will think this is the result. It is very dangerous to tell people, and yet, I must tell and I must start over now and succeed. This philosophy that one can begin all over instantly at any moment, is proving of great help.

And so he continued with his quest..looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. 

Now that I have discovered Him I find that it is a continuous discovery. Every day is rich with new aspects of Him and His working. As one makes new discoveries about his friends by being with them, so one discovers the "individuality" of God if one entertains him continuously.

He sought the mind of Christ...have this mind in you that was also in Christ Jesus.  Put on the mind of Christ.  The new man....the new creation man.  Live out of that nature.  Cast off the old nature...

Can I bring God back in my mind--flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind as an after image, shall always be one of the elements in every concept and percept?
If our religious premises are correct at all then this oneness with God is the most normal condition one can have. It is what made Christ, Christ. It is what St. Augustine meant when he said "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in Thee."

And when you live out of that nature you see the way God sees....and think the thoughts God thinks.  It spills over and out of you and touches all those around you.  You become God's Christ...walking the earth again and talking to those whose veils are thick.  Those who don't know their great and grand and wonderful father who is ever reaching out to them.  As Neale Walsh says (paraphrased) God is always speaking...but we are not always listening!! 

And I know that He makes my thought--life beautiful when I am open all the day to Him. If I throw these mind--windows apart and say to God, "what shall we think of now?" he answers always in some graceful, tender dream. And I know that God is love hungry, for he is constantly pointing me to some dull, dead soul which he has never reached and wistfully urges me to help Him reach that stolid, tight shut mind. Oh God, how I long to help you with these Moros. And with these Americans! And with these Filipinos! All day I see souls dead to God look sadly Out of hungry eyes. I want them to know my discovery! That any minute can be paradise, that any place can be heaven! That any man can have God! That every man does have God the moment he speaks to God, or listens for him!

I was blessed by these excerpts...and hope that you were as well.