Spiritual Reading 13

13. Mind-Made or Real?

Since we are never outside our own psyches, are we generating religious experiences and realizations or are we channeling them? Once all is psyche, that is, all the universe is one world soul, the question about the origins of our religious experiences becomes less perplexing. We see no distinction between interior and exterior. Our deepest reach within ourselves, our heart, is one with the core of the universe and all of this is the heart of God. We channel spiritual and religious insights because they are intrapsychic.

Then “the sacred” represents deeper, wider, richer—not wholly other— levels of the psyche that we have not yet contacted or that we do contact in mystical awareness. Indeed, the sacred shows us what we look like in our truest and fullest reality. The higher Self in each of us imagines itself —revisions itself— through the very same images we find in religion. The images portray the archetypes of our inner life, a pantheon we share with all our fellow humans. Religion preserves a treasury of realities that take the form of faith statements, such as resurrection or incarnation. Someday we shall see how they are archetypal names for potentials in the psyche that we can access by grace once we awaken from our ego coma of dualism and division. Perhaps this can happen once we have the clarity and energy to face and fulfill our destiny of freedom from encapsulation in ego for wider evolutionary purposes such as generous service to the world and a commitment to nonviolence, i.e., reckless love.

In the fourth century, Christian theologian, Origen saw the world as one vast being and the logos as its soul: “The sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies are living beings.” The mystical body of God is the cosmos. Material and spiritual worlds no longer constitute a valid division. Scientist David Bohm goes so far as to acknowledge a field of energies everywhere that is full of consciousness and compassionate love. This realization can help us let go of our goal of achieving more and more merit. We show love and act virtuously because that is who we are by grace right now, not because we want to gain points for heaven in the future. This is why saints referred to their motivation for virtue as simply “for the glory of God.” That glory is on earth as it is in heaven, free from dualism. No dualism means that there is a radical oneness in all of life and nature. This grants priority to love of one another since there are no dichotomies not even between differing humans. The new cosmology radicalizes love which itself helps us let go of dualism.

In such a view, God is not a separate being. God is not a subject except in the sense that all entities have subjectivity when they act. The fact that the whole transcends its parts may be how God is transcendent. The autonomous archetypal psyche feels like an Other so it is understandable that the divine feels like a Supreme Person far from us. At the same time, the ability of things and of all creatures to self-organize can be a way of being personal. This may be how God is personal.

God as creator can be perhaps reconfigured mystically as “the universe creates.” The universe as subject is the equivalent of what we traditionally knew as God. “I was created by the universe” is not a new insight. In the ancient Orphic Greek rites of preparation for death, the soul is advised: “When you come to a black poplar you will be asked your name. Do not give your name as it was on earth. Say ‘I am a child of the earth, the sky, and the stars.’” The Gospel adds: “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

To say that we have faith in a creator means we believe in a mystery not accessible to our left-brain style of thinking. Mystery helps us avoid reification/idolatry in which spiritual realities become things. Mystery to us in the past may have been the equivalent of an inability explain something rationally. In the new cosmology, to say that God is a loving father is to say that built into our universe/reality is an abiding fatherliness. This adds a sense of a nurturing loving direction to our appreciation of evolution. “I believe in God the father almighty” does not have to be taken literally as meaning that a personal father/God lives in the sky. That belief is just as real when it means that I am committed to trusting that a fatherly love is everywhere accessible in the world and I am committed to showing it in my world. This is how faith comes to mean commitment, as St. Thomas Aquinas says: “Faith does not end up in a notion but in a reality.”

The new science tells us that matter is more flow than mass, that atoms are mostly empty space but replete with energy and movement. We can apply this to our understanding of God: the ground of all being not a being, substantial but not separate, really there in the sense of everywhere but not out there as distant. Just as life is within, between and around us, God is too close to be separate from us. This is not just a modern view. Mystics always understood that God was not a separate being, i.e., reified. In Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a sixth century Syrian monk and mystical theologian, we read of the via negativa which states that God cannot be known or spoken of literally only analogically, what we referred to above as apophatic mystical knowledge. We know more about what God is not than what God is and that is all we need to know. Historian of religion, Huston Smith writes: “Belief is knowledge held with certainty but not with evidence.” Faith does not mean that we always know with certainty but that we act as if we were certain. Love is that certainty, the Sacred Heart of the world.

13.1. PRAYERS

What moves in me when I look at your heart, Jesus?

Jesus your heart is the center of my life and of my universe.

Make me conscious of the needs of the world and give me the grace to show your heart to everyone everywhere.

Expand my narrow circle of love so I can love with universal caring, as you do.

Show me how I can join you in evolving the world in love.

Jesus, I feel myself passionately alive in the heart of the universe and I feel your heart alive in me.

May my care about nature reflect the good news that heaven and earth are full of your glory.

May my compassion for the poor and the exploited become as tender as yours.

May I and all my fellow humans go for refuge to your heart, the treasury of graces from which we draw the strength to live on earth in peace.

Jesus, I am not always the best person I can be. I often act in ways that hurt others. I ask forgiveness of them and I ask forgiveness of you.

Your heart is in me so even when my heart becomes dark in its purposes or actions, you have not given up on me. Under each of my sins is a potential, a grace, I have not yet accessed:

When I am controlling and I acknowledge that as a trespass on the freedom of others and I repent, you grant me the grace to find my ability to be responsible.

When I am vengeful and I acknowledge that as a way of satisfying my ego and I repent, you grant me the grace to show my sense of justice in restorative not retributive ways.

When I am arrogant and I acknowledge that as a trespass on the equality of all of us and I repent, you grant me the grace to grow in healthy self-esteem.

When I am critical or prejudiced and I acknowledge that as a trespass on the value of others and I repent, you grant me the grace to find my capacity for discernment in the Spirit.

When I am envious and I acknowledge that as a disregard of my own gifts and I repent, you grant me the grace to admire and honor others.

When I act out addictively and I acknowledge that as harmful to myself and others, you grant me the grace to find a spiritual program and build a stronger personal relationship to you.

When I lie, cheat, or cause harm and I acknowledge that as unfair to others and I repent, you grant me the grace to use my creativity in more spiritual ways.

I am thankful that you give me a grace in every moment. It is thanks to your grace that I examine my conscience, repent, change, and find the light of your Heart in my darkness.

Your Heart is in me whenever I go beyond myself and care about others as you do.