"Soul Consciousness" - (chapter 2) Sadhana – The Realisation of Life A Book on Spirituality by Rabindranath Tagore

PART 2 (of 8 part series)
Facts are many, but the truth is one. The animal intelligence knows facts, the human mind has power to apprehend truth. The apple falls from the tree, the rain descends upon the earth - you can go on burdening your memory with such facts and never come to an end. But once you get hold of the law of gravitation you can dispense with the necessity of collecting facts ad infinitum. You have got at one truth which governs numberless facts. This discovery of truth is pure joy to man - it is a liberation of his mind. For, a mere fact is like a blind lane, it leads only to itself - it has no beyond. But a truth opens up a whole horizon, it leads us to the infinite. That is the reason why, when a man like Darwin discovers some simple general truth about Biology, it does not stop there, but like a lamp shedding its light far beyond the object for which it was lighted, it illumines the whole region of human life and thought, transcending its original purpose. Thus we find that truth, while investing all facts, is not a mere aggregate of facts - it surpasses them on all sides and points to the infinite reality.

As in the region of knowledge so in that of consciousness, man must clearly realise some central truth which will give him an outlook over the widest possible field. And that is the object which the Upanishad has in view when it says, Know thine own Soul. Or, in other words, realize the one great principal of unity that there is in every man.
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"What Did Jesus Know?" by Father Sean ÓLaoire

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For a few years in the 1970’s, I was the headmaster of Kipchimchim Harambee Secondary School at the western end of the great Rift Valley of Kenya. I also taught math, physics and Scripture. At one stage we were studying Luke’s gospel and we came upon the story of the boy Jesus being ‘lost’ in the Jerusalem temple. Chastened by an upset mother, we are told that he returned to Nazareth with his parents and was obedient to them. Then Luke adds, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” In an earlier story, the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple some 12 years before, we read, again in Luke, “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.”

Theses phrases led to a very interesting discussion. The students had no problem accepting that Jesus might have grown in age or size or physical strength but baulked at the idea that he progressed in wisdom or grace. After all, wasn’t he divine? Wasn’t he God-incarnate? Wasn’t he God’s only son? Ipso facto, he must have been omniscient and, thus, wouldn’t have needed to grow in wisdom or in grace. So, I teased them and asked, “Do you think Jesus could speak Kipsigis (the local language) or Japanese or Portuguese? Did he know the height of Kilimanjaro? (which lies on the Kenya/Tanzania border)? Could he solve a quadratic equation? Or recite Boyle’s law?”

Jesus as a real, incarnated human, was not omniscient. Moreover, he sometimes got things wrong e.g., in Matthew chapter 15, when he, at first, refused to heal the Canaanite woman’s seriously-ill daughter, saying dismissively, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel…It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” As well as using mixed metaphors, it was an extraordinarily-insulting and narrow-minded retort to a suffering mother. So, God whacked him upside the head and he finally acknowledged that he found her faith to be amazing.

In another encounter, John 4:22, in a very judgmental encounter with a ‘sinful’ Samaritan woman at a well, he pompously says, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” He was still learning and still somewhat stuck in cultural and religious prejudices. He was fallible; and sometimes he was fearful; otherwise he couldn’t have been an exemplar for us. He wasn’t just God-pretending-to-be-human. When he cried out on the cross, “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?!” he wasn’t just quoting Psalm 22; he was really in distress. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before, he had the mother of all panic attacks; fear so intense that he literally sweated blood.

With my Kipchimchim students, I tried to illustrate visually what Jesus’ wisdom and grace looked like. I took a balloon and blew into it. I then asked, “Is there any space in this balloon that doesn’t have air in it?” They correctly answered, “No.” I blew some more, increasing its volume and repeated my question. Once again, the answer was, “No!” A third time I inflated the balloon and asked once more. They averred that there was no empty space in it. Then I asked, “Is the balloon the same size as it was when I had first blown into it?” They shouted, “No, it is much bigger now.” I told them, “That is what it was like for Jesus to grow in wisdom and grace. At no stage of his life was there a discrepancy between his potential and his actualizing of it. There was no ‘empty space’ in him; no gap between what, on the one hand, God and life was teaching him and, on the other hand, his instant willingness to embrace it.”

That’s what perfection (telos) really means; to be radically committed to the mission for which one has volunteered and incarnated. Perfection is not about a stainless-steel sinlessness; it isn’t about not making mistakes; it is about the radical devotion to one’s life purpose. It is the acorn hell-bent (pardon the phrase!) on becoming an oak tree.

Part of Jesus’ growth was to, initially, buy into the mythology of Moses and the 613 precepts of Torah but to, eventually, reinterpret the meaning of these laws. In his own words, he came not abolish the Law but to bring it to fulfillment. But look at what ‘fulfillment’ meant to him. Again, and again, almost like a mantra, he would proclaim, “You have heard that it was said to the people of old…but I say to you…” Then he would go on to take issue with some of the most important precepts e.g., an eye for an eye, the uneven field of divorce, the Sabbath rest, the death penalty for adultery. In conclusion, he would say that the Law was made to serve humans not the other way around.

You could say that Jesus was to Moses as Einstein was to Newton.

Namasté,
Seán
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Richard Rohr’s Levels of Spiritual Development (Part 1-4) by Wes Eades

This morning at St. Paul’s Episcopal, here in Waco, I’ll be facilitating our second conversation on what it looks like to bring faith into every crevice of our lives. What does it mean to be a “Christian Businessperson, “Christian Teacher,” “Christian Parent,” or “Christian Grocery Shopper?” Most of us acknowledge that there is much about Christian faith that is “subversive” to he culture, and yet most of us participate in the culture, usually, without thinking twice about it.

I’ve asked the members of the class to be reading to classics of Christian Spirituality: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and In His Steps by Charles Sheldon. Each of these books raises the question “What would Jesus do?” Read More...
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"The Smouldering Paradigm Shift: Bushi Yamato Damashii's Buddhist-Christian Journey" by Buddhistdoor International Adrian Gibb

Adrian Gibb is a PhD candidate in Studies in Religion and History at the University of Queensland. He is also the coordinator of PAX (Progressive Anglican Christians) and was one of the original admins for Hedge-Church, an online multi-faith community.

Senior Pastor Dr. T. Marquis Ramsey and Daishin Buddhist Monk Bushi Yamato Damashii have much in common, and they should do, as they are one and the same person. A person who is at the forefront of a slow smouldering paradigm shift where two faiths, thought by some to be mutually exclusive, come together in an inter-faith temple.
 
“To some this is blasphemy. They will cite that “man cannot serve two masters.” I tell them I am serving no master. I serve neither Buddha nor Christ. I serve humanity (laughing).” Bushi Yamato Damashii declares.
 
The journey to a combined faith, ordination as a Monk and the establishment of the St. Stephen Interfaith Temple in North Carolina is one that began many years ago.
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Tao Te Ching – Chapter 64 (Part 1 and 2) by Galen Pearl

This uncharacteristically long chapter comprises several parts that may at one time have been separate. It reminds me of the book of Proverbs in the Bible, which contains many pearls of wisdom that can be considered as stand alone verses. Because of its length, I’m going to break discussion of this chapter into two posts.

Some key lines from the first part:

Peace is easily sustained
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“Infallibility and Its Errors - Part 3: The Infallibility of the Bible” by Father Seán ÓLaoire

Note: This is the third of three essays.  Number one was entitled: The infallibility of the mass media; number two was entitled: The infallibility of science; and this final one is entitled: The infallibility of the Bible.

The infallibility of the Bible
And the fourth shock to my hopes for some bastion of infallibility came as I studied the Bible.  It, too, for all its wisdom and insights, has been filtered, edited, redacted and massaged by hundreds of generations of priests, translators and, yes, even emperors.

I have learned lots from newspapers, from theology, from science and from the Bible, but I am duty bound to separate truth from tactic, and fact from fiction; to recognize metaphor and allegory and distinguish those from historical data.
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"Tasting Teilhard" by Brie Stoner

Teilhard
After a million years of reflection, there is a dynamic meeting in the consciousness of man between heaven and earth at last endowed with motion, and from it there emerges not simply a world that manages to survive but a world that kindles into fire! ~ Teilhard de Chardin, Activation of Energy, 280

I remember first coming across the name Teilhard de Chardin five years ago in a Foundations of Christian Mysticism course that the Dominican Center hosted in Grand Rapids, MI. His name sounded mystical in and of itself, like an exotic French 50 year old bottle of wine, the subtleties of which my un-refined Bota-Box palate would never differentiate. Like all things French, I immediately assumed I wouldn’t “get it,” and so a couple of his works sat untouched collecting dust in my study for several years. However, during my first year in the Living School at the Center for Action and Contemplation, I experienced Teilhard as the critical key that unlocked all that was theologically tangled and seemingly unresolvable for me between Christianity and its relevance to my peers and future generations.

Midwifed by Cynthia Bourgeault’s masterful introduction and insistence that we were capable of comprehending him, I began a journey to read as much of his works as I could get my hands on. Like any good wine enthusiast, I’ve been swirling and slowly sipping his words…and little by little the subtleties are making themselves known, forming a larger vision of creation and the world that is downright intoxicating.

If you and I were sitting next to each other at a bar for an evening of wine tasting and you asked me to make my best Teilhard pitch, this is what you would most likely hear me say (accompanied, no doubt, by a multitude of wild hand gestures and one or two more colorful words):

Since the time of the enlightenment, humanity has lost its place in the family of things. Our neurotic human souls are crying out to once again find our meaning in the meta-story, to sense ourselves as belonging…not just to one another, but to the whole of the cosmos. We’ve lost our place, and religion has lost its message of hope by becoming bogged down by theology that is not only incompatible with what we know about the cosmos, but in some critical ways psychologically damaging to the collective human soul as well. From the moment we discovered that our earth and humanity were not the center of the universe, to the post-modern age of dissected fractal meaninglessness that has haunted us of late, the intelligent human soul seeking to be faithful to the Christian tradition has had to develop something of a split personality. On the one hand holding the unwavering belief in the devotional heart that insists by experience that the Christian Tradition contains mystical and transformational truth, and on the other hand the unshakable belief in the luminous human spirit of exploration within the sciences which resulted (until now) in a drastically different picture of the universe.

Teilhard presents a message of the world for which humanity desperately hungers: the convergence of matter and spirit through the lens of evolution. As a scientist and theologian, he paints the picture of a universe that is still in the process of becoming, the body of Christ still forming. As such, our theology can at long last rest in the future instead of some paradise lost, freeing up all the energy thus far employed in the prison of our collective shame. Even though Vatican II acknowledged that our understanding of the universe must now be evolutionary, we are still collectively holding on to the religious paradigm that at one time things were perfect and that humanity wrecked it all through “original sin”. Through the lens of evolution, however, all things are still in motion. Creation isn’t “finished”…which means, frankly, humanity didn’t ruin it by eating a piece of fruit.

Right about here, between tasting the Pinot Noir and the highly anticipated—by me, anyway—Grenache, you would stop me and ask the inevitable question:
“Wait a minute, wait a minute….If the universe isn’t the finished “clock” we’ve made it out to be, and if humanity didn’t break the clock… then what’s the meaning of the Incarnation? Isn’t the whole point of Christ that God sent him to fix the damn clock? Isn’t the whole point of Christ that he is the “redeemer”?”

Teilhard’s evolutionary lens elevates the idea of Christic redemption into another dimension. Teilhard declares, “Cosmogenesis…culminates in Christogenesis,”[1] or as present day Teilhardian scholar Ilia Delio interprets it, “Christ the redeemer IS Christ the evolver.”[2] To Teilhard, Christ had to be present and infused into matter from the beginning and exist organically or could not exist at all.[3] Christ is the catalyst of creation that was embodied by the person of Jesus, fulfilling the incarnational and personal message of Love. Jesus as Christ demonstrates the directional potential of the convergence of evolution, which Teilhard calls Christ Omega, and elevates humanity’s awareness that we have a conscious choice in the matter. In his poetic and mystical The Hymn of the Universe, Teilhard declares, “Through your own incarnation, my God, all matter is henceforth incarnate.”[4] Far from being a pantheistic statement, Teilhard outlines a panentheism: A God inextricably interwoven into a matter while still infinitely beyond it, calling creation onward from the future towards its fullest potential and convergence into Christ Omega.

Teilhard’s theology places humanity once again in the critical center of things, not as we once thought in our Ptolemaic universe, but as the “arrow pointing the way”: the directional thrust of evolution itself.[5] In humanity, evolution is now moved into the subtle energies of consciousness, which Teilhard calls the noosphere, and is now a choice.[6] Evolution, in other words, is entirely up to us. In this theological paradigm, the role of sin and human suffering transitions from a punitive one to a collective ascensional force in the process of evolution. For Teilhard, suffering as embodied by the passion of Jesus Christ, represents the energetic exchange that if consciously borne, can further our course in evolution into Omega.

No longer the result of the distant actions of an ancestor’s temptation in the Garden of Eden, this perspective on sin as a frictional byproduct of creation[7] creates a much more subtle relationship to the problem of evil: one of active responsibility. Unlike the individual responsibility that has been thus far characterized in Christianity by a quest for salvation in the afterlife, Teilhard depicts the salvation of the whole of creation as happening now, mediated by the actions of the human collective. We have a conscious choice in the furthering of evolution in our suffering, which Teilhard describes as a cosmically necessary ingredient in creation, and our participation in this choice affects not just our individual lives, but the outcome of the whole evolutionary story.

Teilhard’s theology is one that at long last moves Christianity away from the foundations it has uncomfortably rested on thus far in the metaphysics of duality, with it’s static schism between matter and spirit. Instead, Teilhard places our Christian paradigm on a creative, unfolding and non-dual metaphysics: something much more akin to the ecstatic mandala of the Christian Trinity, the thrust of the Incarnation, and the comprehension of the cosmos as an interconnected whole of quantum physics. Teilhard portrays a deeply hopeful and globally inclusive Christianity that restores humanity into a participatory role as the mediators of the salvation of creation. It is the collective human species that is now forming the body of Christ, with religion once more (or perhaps at last becoming) the animating force for this “zest for living” and belief in humanity, as we continue to consciously evolve into the zenith of creation’s potential in Christ Omega. Like a prophet in the wilderness, Teilhard widens the lens and challenges us to foster, “No longer simply a religion of individuals and of heaven, but a religion of mankind and of the earth—that is what we are looking for at this moment, as the oxygen without which we cannot breathe.”[8]

(At this point in the wine tasting, we’d be starting in on a dessert wine. The bar would have emptied out by now of its more raucous counterparts. The solitary glow of the candle in front of us would draw our gaze as I gave you my closing Teilhard spiel.)

These are some of the reasons why I believe Teilhard’s theology is the theology of the future. On a personal level, he has become for me a beloved teacher, facilitated the discovery of a lifelong vocation, and has inspired me with a zest for the world that is proving contagious. While recently on a trip to Nashville, a musician friend told me, “Whatever you’re smoking, Brie…I want some. I want to see humanity like you do.“ I told him my drug of choice is the mystical vision of Christianity and the World found in the writings of a man named Teilhard de Chardin. In my opinion, Christianity has always held this life-giving, hopeful message in its mystical heart. Like a puzzle containing an image we simply couldn’t decipher, we’ve been trying to put the pieces of Christian theology together without an appreciation of the cosmic whole, resulting in some forced incompatible fits and the scrambling of the image’s graceful shape. Teilhard helps us to see the luminous, all-encompassing vision of what this puzzle can form. Perhaps now we can start moving some of the pieces around so that all of humanity can see it too.

If Teilhard were a 50 yr old fine French wine, and I desperately wanted you to try him, I would use his own words on the label. On the front of the wine bottle I would place an image of the World, not in its typical spherical form, but a World in the shape of a heart on fire…with the following words on the back:

Let there be revealed to us the possibility of believing at the same time and wholly in God and the World, the one through the other; let this belief burst forth, as it is ineluctably in process of doing under the pressure of these seemingly opposed forces, and then, we may be sure of it, a great flame will illumine all things: for a Faith will have been born (or reborn) containing and embracing all others—and, inevitably, it is the strongest Faith which sooner or later must possess the Earth. ~ Teilhard de Chardin,  The Future of Man, 268

 NOTES:
[1]. Teilhard, Christianity and Evolution, 81.
[2]. Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution, 76.
[3]. Teilhard, Pierre Teilhard, ed.King, 115.
[4]. Teilhard, Hymn of the Universe, 24
[5]. Teilhard, The Phenomenon of Man, 220-221
[6]. Teilhard, Phenomenon of Man, 226.
[7]. Teilhard, Activation of Energy, 247.
[8]. Teilhard, Activation of Energy, 240.
 
SOURCE: https://wisdomwayofknowing.org/resource-directory/tasting-teilhard/
Wisdom way of knowing
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