Thursday, December 13, 2012
As Christmas Approaches
Lately I've had a few conversations with Christian fundamentalists who've judged me harshly, and have told me I'm going to hell unless I repent and get "saved."
Saved from what? They apparently want me to surrender what I have experienced as truth, in favor of what they imagine they know. They believe that by forsaking my own radically subjective life experience and embracing their Bible book learning I'll somehow come to a higher truth than the one I have come to already, through plunging into the depths of myself and surrendering to what I've met there. In their belief system, God rejects those who opt to experience the fullness of life through radical self-inquiry, while favoring those who study someone else's experience of life, and who choose to worship that.
No, thank you.
I was raised Catholic, but through my own inner work I've found a spirituality that far surpasses the limitations and boundaries of that Catholic doctrine. I no longer conceive of God as some good, big sky-man who judges humanity (and who rules over a place called heaven that's filled with people who are being rewarded for believing in Jesus) while engaging in a fierce war with a fallen angel named Satan (who inspires evil and rules over some fiery brimstone place down-under called hell, where the bad people go to get punished for all of eternity.)
I have come to realize that God is infinite/eternal ALLNESS, so ineffable in its awesomeness that human language, thought, metaphor, story lines and beliefs can't possibly contain or capture it. It is beyond dualities, freer than thought, more spacious than the entire universe. It is all things, thus no-thing. It is absolute stillness, out of which all of creation, form, life, love and expression manifests. It has created, nurtures, contains - and flows through - everything, thus there is nowhere it is not.
I therefore find all of reality holy; all life sacred and all relationships divine.
To be told my thoughts are vile and I can only be saved from eternal damnation if I embrace Jesus as my savior hurts my heart. I've already embraced Jesus in a more profound way than just reading about his life and works and celebrating them, while rejecting all insights from anybody else. My love for Jesus's insights (and those of Buddha, and Krishna, and Lao Tsu, and Muhammed) is so great that I resolved to follow in his footsteps. From the depths of my personal suffering, and out of a desperate longing to truly know God and be free of the heaviness of my inner torment, I plunged inside myself and dropped everything that was of this world to beg God to reveal the truth of itself to me. And what I discovered during my journey is there is nowhere God is not...including inside those who are as yet unaware of the "godness" of their own nature. To condemn anyone then, is to condemn God. The God that made us, flows within us, contains us, nurtures us, and to which we will all return when our human forms disintegrate.
Sadly, many Christians seem to be missing out on the point of their own faith. The ultimate message of Christ was to exhort us all to have faith in our own capacity to shed our egos, our stories, our dogmas, our beliefs, our desires, our ambitions, and our social conditioning at the unlocked doorway of our own heart; at which point we can enter - naked and utterly surrendered to the not knowing, like little children - to at last meet and fully realize the "godness" within ourselves. It has always been there, closer to us than our own skins, waiting patiently for us to stop seeking it somewhere outside of ourselves. The illusion that we have ever been separate from it is the Great Lie. Yet this lie can only be exposed for what it is when we personally take the trip inside of ourselves to discover the truth for ourselves. As Gangaji says, "The diamond was always right there, inside your pocket."
This is also what's meant when the saints and mystics say, "die before you die." We all must die to self, sooner or later. By grace, we've been gifted the option to do so while still alive. What a gift that is! We can meet God during our precious lifetime, and by doing so we can become a conscious, living channel by which God's energy can flow freely into this world, through the gateway of our open heart. How wondrous it is to be a living, conscious witness to the joy of God's love flowing into the world through you, touching and serving others in ways that elevate and enhance the life experience of everyone and everything you meet.
That experience is the story of Jesus, Buddha, and all the great mystics and saints who have graced this world with their presence. It can be your story as well. The truth is, you are worthy beyond measure of having that experience, through grace and by the existence of the ever-unlocked door that is your own heart. But you must have faith that you are worthy - despite your greatest fears that you are not - before you can pluck up the courage to seek and discover the truth of yourself.
Fear of what you might find waiting for you once you turn around at last to face yourself is the only barrier that exists to entering the Kingdom of Heaven that exists inside you; and that fear has been created by your own mind. It's the monster under humanity's spiritual bed; the shadow that darkens so many of our nightmares. It's the interior story we carry that informs us we're not worthy of entering heaven, because we're somehow separate from that which is ALL-loving.
You cannot be separate from that which you're inextricably and integrally a part of; you can only be smaller than its sum totality, incapable of mentally encapsulating the infinite vastness of the eternal whole. Is your blood cell unworthy of being a part of your body, although it has little knowledge of what it is in? Is a fly unworthy of being a part of its natural ecosystem? Is our sun unworthy of being a part of our Milky Way galaxy?
Does not your body love and care for your blood cells? Does not the natural ecosystem provide for the needs of the fly? Does not the Milky Way hold our sun and energetically feed it? And are all these components not reabsorbed by the larger whole system that holds them upon their deaths? And do not each of these aspects - in their tiny but precious way - contribute to the miracle that is the whole?
Because the mind, which is a temporary, physical expression of the body, cannot imagine that which is infinite and eternal, the mind fears it, so it conjures stories about how scary God must be. Your heart though, will always point you to truth - the True North that is unconditional love - if you set it free and allow it to guide you home. You have the power to shine the light of your own heart's unconditional love on the mentally generated monsters underneath your spiritual bed, and watch them vanish like the shadow wraiths they are.
One of my favorite lines from a wonderful Sufi poet and mystic is this: "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there." ~Rumi
And so I invite everyone, this blessed Christmas season, to make some time to explore the eternal field of love that exists within the infinite spaciousness of your own heart, and to realize God for yourself, alive within yourself...
...and I will meet you there.
Merry Christmas, my loves.