Sunday, December 28, 2014

Three Poems on Timelessness

In all ten directions of the universe, 
there is only one truth. 
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same. 
What can ever be lost? 
What can be attained? 

If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time. If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.Look: this ball in my pocket:can you see how priceless it is?

~ Ryokan
Art: @Ganz Natürlich - Ju Dosi's Bilderürlich-Ju-Dosis-Bilder

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Superior—for Doors—

Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—

Of Visitors—the fairest—
For Occupation—This—
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—

~Emily Dickinson
Art: Bob King

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I’m flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.

~Rainer Maria Rilke,Trans. Stephen Mitchell in the Enlightened Heart
Art: blackmorphin on deviantart

When we expand our minds outside of the realm of concept and form we approach Ultimate Truth, that which cannot be fully defined - that which precedes all concept, holds all possibility, and flows into and out of ideas/dreams/concepts/matter and action...and we realize we are that...I AM.

_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If You Want

you want
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy
and say,
“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
taking birth

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence externally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb of your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
His beloved servant

If you want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and
sing . . .

~St. John of the Cross, translated by Daniel Ladinsky,
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
Artwork: Dirbi fresco

Saint John of the Cross, (1542 – 1591), was a major figure of the Counter Reformation, a Spanish mystic, a Roman Catholic saint a Carmelite friar and priest. He and Teresa of Avila founded the order of Discalced Carmelites, a mendicant order in the tradition of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, also called the Barefoot Carmelites. His writings on the study of the soul and spiritual journey are highly mystical, with movement toward God framed in a masculine (commonly used in mystical theology), ascent to the Divine context (versus a more feminine spiraling paradigm, such as Teresa's Interior Castle). John of the Cross was canonized a saint in 1726 and is one of 35 Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church.

May your Advent journey be blessed with the quiet openness of a compassionate heart, watching and waiting for the virgin to come walking....bringing the light of peace.

_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Oneness of Reality Goes by Different Names, or Not

The divine essence, the Trinity, describes every aspect of reality. From incarnate matter through essential energies and forces by which matter comes into being and returns to no-thingness, reality is sacred, divine expression.

Hindus say, "There is nothing that is not God."

"The One has no limits. It is neither form, nor formless. It is indivisible. Everything that exists, exists in It. It seeks only Itself. It is eternal and the giver of eternity."
~The Apocryphon of John

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.*
~ Gospel of John

Buddhists prefer not to imbue reality with a divine immanence. But of course they value reality, with equal concern. Buddhist ideology goes straight to awakening and alleviation of suffering as its primary assertions, rather than assigning a theology. Of course, the alleviation of suffering is also the highest agenda of Hindus and Christians.

All of these consider the goal of attaining God-consciousness (enlightenment, or the awareness that all of what we experience is [divine] relationship as One) as the ultimate state of being, from which naturally flows compassionate doing and relationships of natural order.

May you know yourself as a divine expression of God within the divine expression of God.
_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS
Art: Creation, 13th century Byzantine mosaic, St Marks Basilica Venice

*Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC), used the term, Logos, for a principle of order and knowledge. Aristotle referred to "reasoned discourse," Stoic philosophers used Logos as the divine animating principle of the Universe, Philo (20-50 CE) adopted the term into Jewish philosophy. The Gospel of John identifies the Logos, through which all things are made, as divine (theos) and further identifies Jesus as the incarnate Logos. The Hebrew equivalent to Logos is dabar or creative expression.

The colloquial meaning of logos among the religious Greeks of the first century was "god of gods", the divine mind of the gods or "supreme knowledge," also known as gnosis (awareness, enlightenment, insight).  ~adapted, Brad Scott, The Dabar of  Elohyim or the Logos of God.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ladders to Heaven - Ascent to Love - Tzim Tzum of Life

Climbing the ladder
whose rungs are the names of God,
I come to myself.

Richard Zimler, Love's Voice, 72 Kabbalistic Haikus

The idea of ascending, as climbing a ladder, toward "Godliness," or Ultimate Being, in mind and action is found throughout faith traditions. However, this is not a one-way trip. In cultivating awareness or illumination/enlightenment we "see" and then we don't. We take one step forward and 2 steps back. 

In Christianity, this idea comes from Neoplatonism: "every effect remains in its cause, proceeds from it and returns to it." Proclus. 

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (late 5th c apophatic mystic) wrote: "Inspired by the Father, each procession of the Light spreads itself generously toward us, and, in its power to unify, it stirs us by lifting us up. It returns us back to the oneness and deifying simplicity of the father who gathers us in."

One could certainly go on citing examples of the location of the Divine relative to the human. Scripture talks of temples and tents, mountains and deserts; of Jacob's dream of a ladder and Ezekiel's vision of chariots of man-angels and God on a throne in the firmament.

Ezekiel 1:26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

Our human experience is not only comprised of this Neoplatonic idea of "procession and return" or being lifted toward the light and falling back toward material life, we are surrounded by it. This is change, the flux and flow of Life itself, from particles and waves to cosmic universe; the becoming and the retreating, moving toward and falling away, ascent and decline. The resolution of the Self (or awareness, if you prefer), the evolution of the cosmos. The miracle is that we can know this in our mind of objectivity and we can experience this in our mind of subjectivity.


1. Heavenly Ladder, McGookin

2. Ladder to Heaven inspired by the writings of John Climacus (7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai). Icon 13th century, St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai. John Climacus is shown at the top of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, with other monks following him.

3. Heavenly ladder sent to Buddha (the Bodhi tree) to meet his deceased mother after enlightenment, Sanchi, India

_/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God Bless the Animals - Angels Unaware

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. ~Hebrews 13:1,2

My blog today is very different from most.This morning I felt compelled to write about my dog, Maggie. I have dogs. I love dogs. I studied Veterinary Medicine because I love dogs, and other animals. Animals have always been my teachers. They don't have nearly the capacity that we do to objectify the self, and that keeps them grounded in the natural order of life...a benevolent and honorable posture. I have great reverence for that quality in animals. .

This morning at o’dark thirty I was checking my mail on the phone in my big easy chair. My tried and true buddy, Maggie, a black Shar Pei  cross loyally lay at my feet. I started to get up and glanced down to mark my step over her sleeping body and she looked up at me. Now, I am just in love with this little dog. So I immediately began to pet her and speak to her in my lovey-dovey voice about how thankful I am that she stopped by my house 4 years ago. In my mind, I go to this place of deep gratitude and wonder at the mystery of how so many of the dogs we’ve owned simply show up in our life, seemingly from nowhere. Such blessed gifts from God.

It was four years ago on an Ash Wed evening, that I came home to find my big dog, Spot, Security Central, had trapped something in a corner of the outside of our house. Thinking it would be an opossum or a ‘coon, or something of that nature, I went immediately over to see what Spot was guarding. It was a small black puppy, the size of a basketball, about 3 months old…Maggie. She was just petrified with fear, growling and snarling and all kinds of mean. Well, yeah! Spot is a gangster of a big dog and can be very intimidating. Suffice to say, we kept Maggie, as we do so many of the dogs and puppies that appear on our doorstep.

It’s bit of magic, I think, that these sweet animals come to us. Divine intervention, if you will. They have to have a mama and siblings somewhere, a place of origination. But that remains a mystery. We do have a dog whose mama was a wild stray that could not be caught. When she had puppies, my friend managed to corral the pups and find homes for them, but the mama dog remained feral. Most of the time, we don’t know where our dogs come from. But I feel they are supposed to find us. And they make incredibly loving pets.

So, this morning, I loved all over little Maggie, telling her how grateful I was that she chose to stay with us and how I loved her. I kissed the top of her soft black head, rose to standing, and strode toward my study. She, anticipating my movement, jumped up and ran for the kitchen (the treats). Half way between my study and the chair I looked back at her. She stood poised at the kitchen door looking at me with a shocked expression that said, “After all that lovey-dovey talk you aren’t going to give me a treat?”  Oh okay, I turned and went to appease her complete obsession with the “snaps.” My days of rationing treats are waning….dog lives, and my own, are too short for such nonsense. In the dog world, if you really want to profess your love, you pet, talk lovey-dovey and you treat. And so it is….

God bless the animals...may we remember that we share this planet with them and they depend on us to make good choices for them. Go love on your pet today and don't forget the treat! (NOT people food!)


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Kingdom of God & The Inward World of Intuition

The Blue, by Billy Collins*

You can have Egypt and Nantucket.
The only place I want to visit is The Blue,
not the Wild Blue Yonder that seduces pilots,
but that zone where the unexpected dwells,
waiting to come out of it in the shape of bolts.
I want to walk its azure perimeter
where the unanticipated is coiled, on the mark,
ready to spring into the predicttable homes of earth.
I want to stroll through the pale indigo light
examining all the accidents about to rocket into time,
all the forgotten names about to fly from tongues.
I will scrutinize all the surprises of the future
and watch the brainstorms gathering darkly,
ready to hit the heads of inventors
laboring in their crackpot shacks.
A jaded traveler with an invisible passport,
I am at home with this heaven of the unforeseen,
waiting for the next whoosh of sudden departure
when, with no advance warning, to tiny augery,
the unpredictable plummets into our lives
from somewhere that looks like sky.
*Thank you John March!

I love to watch how people perceive/think. Here are some thoughts this poem stirred up. In the end, it is all about the Kingdom of God (and self knowledge) 

You know how, when we chat about our lives in the world, we compare destinations? You may say, "I went to Paris last year." And, if I had gone to Paris, I would say, "I did too!!" And we'd have this common ground for conversations about our experiences in Paris. This is widely and well-accepted practice.
Do you know that we also do that with our inward universe? Say, I read a poem, or a beautiful quote that incorporates a metaphor or simile such as, "I strolled through a pale indigo sky..." My inward experience recognizes that - I remember how it feels to be there. I may even have written a poem at one time about my presence in an indigo sky. I can feel and remember my experience in the implications of those words, just as if I were in that place.
The first scenario is a "Sensor" experience - we all have those. The second is an "Intuitive" experience. We all have those too....if we pay attention to them, we realize there is an inward universe just as vast and beautiful and intriguing, but still very much wilderness. And it is an advantage to have some understanding of this amazing, undiscovered land. In fact, there are gifts here that significantly enrich our travels in the physical world....

I  find it interesting that, because the sensor experience is something we all must have and use collectively, we find it to be a more valid and acceptable platform for socialization. Our culture is more extrovert than introvert, more sensor-biased (77%) than intuitor (23%). The introverts and the intuitor-biased folks have to conform to that - they have to abandon their natural energetic needs and perception gifts to fit in. And it truly causes difficulties for some of them, because they are, in essence, denying them self.
So if we understand the ways we bring perceptive experience to our circumstances, that is, that we BOTH sense the facts (outward) and intuit through memory and feeling (inward) to create the entire experience we are having, we understand our self much better. And we understand those who are majorly introverts and/or intuitors in the ways they approach the world.When it comes to spirituality it is essential that we understand the inward universe.
Here are a couple quotes that illustrate the importance of this point:

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” 
~Carl Jung

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." 
~Gospel of Thomas

What these refer to is subjective experience - intuition and feeling - present in every experience whether recognized or not.

Contemplative practices - meditation and prayer - will cultivate subjective experience. When we eliminate the distractions - the noise - of our outer perceiving, we can tune in (literally) to the inner universe of Self, and get to know who we really are. We realize the Kingdom of God because we are at One, reconciled, with all that is. We reconcile (or "re--friend") our outer:inner person, our sensing:intuiting and thinking:feeling, and bring that balanced person to a more reconciled world experience. 

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself, if you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”
~ Attributed to Lao Tzu ( more likely Hua Hu Ching, Wang Fou, ca. 300 CE)

Peace and "Be Still" to you, Peggy _/\_

Further reading on the Kingdom of God within you and self knowledge:

Friday, September 19, 2014


If you put your hands on this oar with me,
they will never harm another, and they will come to find
they hold everything you want.

If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer
lift anything to your
mouth that might wound your precious land-
that sacred earth that is
your body.

If you put your soul against this oar with me,
the power that made the universe will enter your sinew
from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm
that lives in us.

Exuberant is existence, time a husk.
When the moment cracks open, ecstasy leaps out and devours space;
love goes mad with the blessings, like my words give.

Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and future?
The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond its capacities
will find no rest.

Be kind to yourself, dear- to our innocent follies.
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance.
You will come to see that all evolves us.

If you put your heart against the earth with me, in serving
every creature, our Beloved will enter you from our sacred realm
and we will be, we will be
so happy.

- Rumi, From ‘Love Poems From God’ by Daniel Ladinsky.

Moving into autumn, one gets a sense of the deep humility of Life. Red sumac and bittersweet line the fence rows and acorns crunch underfoot. A gust of wind lifts red, yellow, and brown leaves from their childhood homes and carries them into the unknown, a new place to serve the eternal order. And eventually the stoic trusses of their birthplace stand empty of those laughing children, whose shimmering and shaking brought such life through the summer months.

Perhaps it is those very trusses that were used to turn the oar on which we are invited to put our hand; to hold the surrendered life and know that without it, we could not make this journey. This insight brings us to our knees in reverence for such a tenderly graced give and take that lays the humility of our being before the work of our hands, the doing; the willingness to let go before any and all new expression can birth. Like the push and pull of the oar, or the eternal stillness that stirs between strokes.

Peace to you all on this still....and know,  Peggy
Photography by Life in the Northwoods

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Until Your Own Dawn

Daybreak: everything in this world is a luminous divine dream
I have spun.

I did not know life was a fabric woven by my soul.
Any form that can appear to you-should I confess this?-
it is something I made.

All roots nurse from me.

God’s art is mine.  I did not want His divine talent.
It simply grew in my heart from
the way I

Existence is as a young child moving through
a lane at night;

it wanted to
hold my

Here, dear earth, hold me,
until your own

— St. Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380, Dominican Doctor of the Church
Artwork: Mike Karakas

St. Catherine of Siena was devoted to relieving suffering in the world. "Strange," she once said, "that so much suffering is caused because of the misunderstanding of God's true nature. God's heart is more gentle than the Virgin's kiss upon the Christ. And God's forgiveness to all, to any thought or act, is more certain than our own being." At the age of seven years Catherine desired so strongly to wed God that she left home with a loaf of bread and attempted to live alone in a cave. She had a vision, while there, of God telling her how brave she was, but to "let the wedding be later." The next thing she knew she woke up in her own bed. Was it a dream or reality? Later, she took her brother to the cave and asked him to enter and let her know of anything he found there. He brought out two sticks bound in the shape of a cross. Catherine had made this during her stay there with thread torn from the hem of her skirt.

Catherine joined the Dominican Order and lived a life of both deep contemplation and active devotion to the suffering and destitute. She died at the young age of 33. Although completely uneducated, she was highly revered as a theologian, even during her lifetime, and was officially made a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Her book, The Dialogue, can be found here:

Grace and Peace of the ever-present New, Peggy _/\_

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Contemplative Practice of Lectio Divina

In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the meaning of sacred text. It is a process of bringing life to scripture and scripture to life.

Lectio Divina is not intellectual, it is experiential and insightful. The focus of Lectio Divina is not an analysis of biblical passages, but on holding them in mind and allowing the Spirit to reveal their meaning. It is a contemplative practice that moves one from active (reading and thinking) to receptive (intuiting and feeling).

The roots of Christian scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Jewish liturgical practices when the scriptures were proclaimed, interpreted and preached in the synagogue. Time was allowed for the spoken scripture to be savored and memorized by those present so that the wisdom imparted would continue in daily life. This “hearing” of the Word into memory involved the whole person, body, heart and spirit, so that even in the slightest moments in life, God’s direction could be revealed.

Before the emergence of the Western monastic communities, a key contribution to the foundation of Lectio divina came from Origen in the 3rd century, with his view of "Scripture as a sacrament.” Origen believed that The Word (i.e. Logos) was incarnate in Scripture and could therefore touch and teach readers and hearers. Christ as the "interpretive key" unlocks the message in Scriptural texts.

The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 5th-6th century by Saint Benedict of Nursia, and later, in the 11th century, a Carthusian prior, Guigo, formalized the practice of Lectio Divina, into 4 steps of deepening thoughtfulness:

Lectio (reading): An attentive, slow, repetitious recitation of a short passage of scripture.

Meditatio (meditation): An effort to understand the passage and apply it to my own life.

Oratio (prayer): Engaging or talking with God about the passage.

Contemplatio (contemplation): Allowing oneself to be absorbed in the words of God as the Holy Spirit draws us into God’s presence through scripture.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139:7-12

Select a passage of scripture to read. You may use the Psalm printed above or find something in a book that touches your soul.

Lectio – In lectio we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God's word for us this day.

Meditatio – Indentify a word or a passage in the Scriptures that speaks to you in a personal way, take it in and ponder it.

Read the scripture again….

Oratio – Lift up to God in prayer the thoughts and feelings that God’s word has evoked within you.

Read the scripture again….

Contemplatio - Rest in the presence of the One who has used His word as
a means of inviting you to accept His transforming embrace.

We can practice contemplation on objects as well as on text. In fact, just this morning I posted a Richard Rohr quote on FB about becoming "the other." And I likened it to Martin Buber's I-Thou or Thich Nhat Hanh's notion of Interbeing. Here is the quote: 

"When there is the encounter with the other, when there is mutuality, when there is presence, when there is giving and receiving, and both are changed in that encounter, that is the moment when you can begin to move toward transformation." 
- Richard Rohr

The process of lectio divina moves us from conceptual to consensual, from active to receptive, from objective to subjective, from without to within. This is the goal of all spiritual practices.

My you quiet your thinking long enough to receive the rich messages that are waiting for you! 

History adapted from:

1. Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer by David G. Benner, 2010.
2. Christian Spirituality: Themes From the Tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham, Keith J. Egan, 1996.
3. Meditative Prayer by Richard J. Foster, 1983, Intervarsity Press.
4. Teaching World Civilization with Joy and Enthusiasm by Benjamin Lee Wren, 2004.
5. The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Avila, 2007.
6. Reading to Live: the Evolving Practice of Lectio Divina by Raymond Studzinski, 2010.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Left Brain: Right Brain...Knowing:Experiencing

“The way we know God is through God’s self disclosure, and the medium of that self disclosure is prayer”  ~Urban Holmes, History of Christian Spirituality

An ongoing discussion among church people: How do we bring experience of God to our congregation? Lots of suggestions for sermons and teaching (all good left brain approaches) is the answer! -"When religion does not give people an inner life or a real prayer life, it is missing its primary vocation." Thank you Fr Richard Rohr - Breathing Underwater!
Church, teach your people to pray....teach that prayer is not all one way and that there is a developmental/maturational progression of one's prayer life. In the same way as exercise for the body, or math for the intellect, prayer is the growing medium for the spirit.

Here is a very simplified explanation. Humans should be a balance of left brain rational/intellectual and right brain creative/experiential. We in the West are way biased to the left brain side. We think we can rationalize and
compartmentalize everything. But still we yearn, and long for, and sense that God is among us, within us...that there is "meaning" to all of this! This "feeling" is realized through right brain experience. Left brain
sees matter. Right brain experiences energy (atoms and space where left sees matter). In order to unite the two - to make the realization that both are the same thing, both left and right brain must engage. (This is also how one may understand a Trinitarian concept for God).

 If you want to left brain intellectualize what happens in prayer you talk about the inner senses - intuition, empathy, compassion;you talk about subconsciousness and what becomes available in quiet prayer through the inner senses. But this is imposing left brain construction on what is understood and experienced by the human as matters of the spirit. You cannot tell people how to intuit, or empathize or love, or forgive, or experience grace. These
attributes of the human can only be developed and matured through experience of them. The way you open yourself to these experiences is to pray - meditate in quiet with God. In this way you grow your capacity for love, forgiveness, compassion, grace...nondual thinking (oops! there is my left brain again!).
The church's job is not to left brain intellectualize people in order to help them grow in spirit and experience God. It is to give people the tools - the prayer tools to experience God. This is why other religions spend worship time in meditation...not intellectualizing. I am not saying don't teach, but we do plenty of that. I am saying, what we lack, and what we are looking for so desperately, is God experience...and it comes through maturing the spirit in PRAYER.

 Jesus spent as much time praying ALONE in prayer (or in the wilderness, or climbing up the side of a mt) as he did healing (maybe more!). He had to because this is how he deepened his unity with the Father and drew trust and energy from Source in order to give it to the world. This is our example! We are a society of DOERS....We must learn to BE. Then we will be mindful in the doing. We will be energized for the doing. Right humanity will flow from each right heart that is full of God experience -mature in God experience - abundant with compassion, filled with great love - ever restoring its Love conviction from the eternal source of Love. Balance - Being and Doing, Contemplation and Action, Right and Left Brain, Intellect/Body and Spirit.

We learn about humanity and how humanity has thought about God through teaching. This will not give us experiences of God, in fact it keeps us thinking we are separate. The only way we can analyze something is by setting it apart from us. BUT We experience our humanity and our unity with each other and with God through moment experiences of transcendence - learning to pray is THE WAY to grow the spirit's capacity for Moment experiences of God.

Prayer/meditation is the vehicle all religions use to experience GOD.

Your intellect watches God in a movie. Your  intuition/empathy/compassion, all cultivated in prayer, are in the movie with God. 

With you in prayerful, amazingly rich and deeply understanding peace of Christ, 

Peggy _/\_

Originally published September 17, 2011 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Awareness ~Eyes that See, Ears that Hear

Awareness is always present. We cannot function 
without it, but we can function without recognizing it. 
~ Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

In the Christian tradition, illumination (also called enlightenment or awareness) is named, “being made in the Image of Christ.” Paul of Tarsus called this having the Mind of Christ. The title Christ is derived from the Greek term Khristós meaning "the anointed one." The symbolism of anointing in this sense is recognition of something spiritual, sacred and Godly. Khristós is also related to Keres, associated with anointing to purify or heal the body or rid the self of negative influence. Thus, as is the case in Paul’s writings, anointing can be understood as a state of mind (and body) in which both negative influences are dispelled and sacred Godliness is assumed; or in the context of "re-ligare" or reconnecting (the meaning of the word, religion), to perceive with an illuminated or enlightened awareness. The notion of awakened mind or anointed perception was understood across sacred traditions preceding the first century. Thus, the Christ-mind may be called Buddha-nature (“buddha” literally means, “awakened one”) or bodhi in Buddhism or moksha in Hinduism. Enlightenment is the threshold of nondual awareness, a singular or ongoing perception of unified thought, in which subject and object are not opposites, but one and the same. Enlightened, nondual awareness reconciles opposites and is a benefit of contemplation.

“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in... parables so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’"

~Mark 4:10-12

This enlightened/aware/Christ mind is one that thinks conceptually, intuits and feels with appropriate balance between the three. Richard of St Victor  (12th century mystic) wrote that humanity was given three sets of eyes: the eye of the flesh (for seeing without), the eye of reason (for thinking and judging) and the eye of true understanding (for creating wisdom by using seeing, thinking and intuiting simultaneously).(1) The third eye as enlightened consciousness is an ancient concept predating Christianity.(2) The New Testament authors use this language all the time, Let he who has eyes see. Let she who has ears hear. (Matthew 13:9-16; Mark 8:18, Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, for example) Everyone has all three eyes, but we don’t all use them to their capacity. Contemplative practice can cultivate the use of these in balance.

May you take the time to be still. Allow your mind to rest in the present moment, setting aside plans, concerns, all thoughts...Open to your inner wisdom, but don't try to name it. Allow it to rest with you and you will receive it. Awaken to that which is beyond thought and feeling. Breathe...Open...Allow...Receive.

_/\_Peggy, from Promoting Reconciliation Through Contemplative Christian Prayer Formation  
1.  David Berreby, Us and Them: The Science of Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). 
2.  Richard Cavendish, Man, Myth and Magic – Volume 19. (New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 1994), 2606.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meditation at Compline

Burrowed deep in my bed
I hear the rain fall
weightily in the garden,
sweep the roof with galloping gusts,
indifferent to my plights.

I fall asleep with poems
dropping from the sky,
caught beyond my eyelids
by nocturnal leafy arms.

All night long they murmur.
In the morning I awake
with poetry on my lips.

~Antoinette Voute Roeder

May the peace of night time rest in the fold of your eyelids, the still of your lips, the laxity of your sinew, and may you drowsy dwell this night in the quiet comfort of the arms of  love. Peace be with you, Peggy

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Contemplative Mind - the Integrated (or Reconciled) use of Objectivity and Subjectivity

Mohandas Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The value of contemplation is an integrated, well-rounded person, whose values, emotionality, ideologies and behavior are reconciled in benevolent and compassionate relationship. The prayer path has been a means of reconciliation for centuries in the Christian tradition, as in other religious traditions, contemplative prayer being equivalent to meditation.

Western culture holds a definitive value bias toward objective perception that greatly impacts our economy, ecology, social equality, and religious understandings. With the Age of Enlightenment (a paradoxical term for what came to be), came a Western cultural bias toward objectification and rational reductionism. The creative, intuitive, imaginative, subjective mind was, and still is, downplayed for what we can objectify and make factually logical. But strictly factual learning carries no influence from affective or meaningful inner volitions. For facts to become wisdom, just as for circumstances that cause suffering to become opportunities for renewed hope and healing, the inner subjective must come together with the outer objective mind. We must know how our thinking determines who we are. Enlightened wisdom makes balanced use of both objective and subjective mind. This is the self, reconciled. This is, in Christian terminology, the path to union with God.

In the Christian tradition, we read Paul’s words, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view [objective only]. …Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [the anointed/ enlightened mind], the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled [re-ligare, "binds-back"] us to himself through Christ [See etymology for"Christ" below] and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” 2 Cor 5:16, 17, 18

So let's get contemplative for a moment.
What are you thinking as you look at this picture? Don't ask what you see, but what you feel. Ask what it means and why it illustrates the points of the words above. What is it's symbolism? We forget that images, words, numbers...they are symbols. And symbols have (subjective) meaning. An object, like a symbol, is not simply and only an object. Objects, concepts, symbols...they carry more than face value. They represent something intangible. Always. Now, after you have looked at this image for a few moments, questioning what it means and how it makes you feel, you have established a relationship with the image. It speaks to you...what do you hear? ("Let those with ears, let them hear." Matt 13:9) This exercise allows your inner subjective, that which is beyond thought, an opportunity to inform your outer seeing and factual thinking. Contemplation is receptive.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me,
~Peggy Beatty, Promoting Reconciliation Through Contemplative Christian Prayer Formation

Note: In the Christian tradition, illumination (also called enlightenment or awareness) is part of a process, “being made in the Image of Christ.” Paul called this having the Mind of Christ. The title Christ is derived from the Greek term Khristós meaning "the anointed one." The symbolism of anointing in this sense is recognition of something spiritual, sacred and Godly. Khristós is also related to Keres, associated with anointing to purify or heal the body or rid the self of negative influence. Thus, as is the case in Paul’s writings, anointing can be understood as a state of mind (and body) in which both negative influences are dispelled and sacred Godliness is assumed; or in the context of re-ligare or reconnecting (the root of "religion"), to perceive with an illuminated or enlightened awareness. The notion of awakened mind or anointed perception was understood across sacred traditions preceding the first century. Thus, the Christ-mind may be called Buddha-nature (“buddha” literally means, “awakened one”) or bodhi in Buddhism or moksha in Hinduism. Enlightenment is the threshold of nondual awareness, a singular or ongoing perception of unified thought, in which subject and object are not opposites, but one and the same. Enlightened, nondual awareness reconciles opposites and is a benefit of contemplation.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prayer and Subjective Well-being

Researchers at the University of Illinois studied the correlation of prayer type with subjective well-being.
Participants were assessed for the types of prayer they engaged in: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, reception and obligatory prayer. They were also assessed for subjective well-being, using measures that included spiritual support, optimism/pessimism, meaning of life, life satisfaction and self-esteem.
Prayers of thanksgiving, adoration and reception were statistically significant predictors of positive subjective well-being, while prayers of confession, obligation and supplication were significantly correlated with negative well-being.
 Prayers of adoration, thanksgiving and receptivity are aimed at allowing things to be as they are without referring to needs and outcomes. Prayers of obligation, confession and supplication are aimed at a desired outcome or an obligatory measure to avoid an outcome. With relationship to the Self, the latter (negative well-being) prayers are self-focused versus the prayers associated with positive well-being are God-focused. The authors noted, “To a large extent, these egoless forms of prayer are an attempt to give something to God.”
In the Abrahamic traditions, prayer is the medium through which union with God in the Spirit of love and adoration takes place. Many of the non-Abrahamic traditions, Buddhism and Hinduism for example, include meditation/prayer practices with an objective of negating ego-self. Meditation and mindfulness practices are being widely used in behavior therapy as a means to reduce anxiety and treat certain cognitive disorders. Neurophysiologic studies are demonstrating  physiological evidence of brain activity during stress and during meditation that correlates with awareness and emotional arousal and  inhibition.
Prayer, or the process of being in quiet reflection, give us time to let go. It provides a space for us to bring our presence of mind and receptive heart together in alignment in a way that can limit thoughts that impose negative energies, opening to a thoughtlessness that allows God or Ultimate Reality to hold a benevolent and positive space with us. It "heals." It facilitates “right relationship,” whether you perceive that as being with God, or with Self, it is the elimination of ego-barriers to positivity. 
True orthodoxy or “right ideas” is akin to the Wisdom (Panna) and Concentration (Samadhi) aspects of the 8-fold path in Buddhism. It is not about correct doctrine or intellectualism, but about correct holistic thinking or non-thinking, using both objective and subjective mindfulness in order to attain “right relationship.”

1 Corinthians 2:10-16
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord

    so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

What does it mean to "have the mind of Christ?"

May your mind and heart find comfort and serenity in the stillness of your prayers. 
Peace and all goodness to you, Peggy _/\_

Orthodoxy -from Greek orthos ("right", "true", "straight") + doxa ("opinion" or "belief", related to dokein, "to think."

Whittington, BL and Scher SJ. Prayer and Subjective Well-being: An examination of six different types of prayer. International Journal of Psychology and Religion, 20:59-68, 2012.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Knowledge, Love and Suffering - the Paradox of Passion

The image of the cross to Paul is what opens the mind to the spirit. Richard Rohr says there are two things that lead us to transformation (that is, redemption/metanoia/changing the way we see things) love and suffering. Love opens the heart space and then the mind space. Suffering opens the mind space and then the heart space. This latter path is what Paul describes – 

“But the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved (enlightened), it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18.

The goal of spiritual life, according to John, was more about agape (love) than gnosis (wisdom) as with Paul. This is not affective emotional love, however. It is the love exemplified in the cross, the washing of the feet, the caring for the unlovable. It is compassionate love.

One thing we will discover is the way in which knowledge and love vary in importance as the manifestation of the presence of God in the person opens to his grace. In the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries, knowledge will prevail. In the 11th through 14th centuries, love will take over.

New Testament Images:
Metanoia = Mind of Christ
Cross = Love in total Humility
Purity of Heart = Logos – emptiness (poverty) which allows for enlightenment and union (apophatic explanation) OR Kierkegaards definition, the ability to will one thing – to see the light of God (kataphatic explanation); these can also be likened to transformative suffering (opens the mind, then the heart) and love (opens the heart then the mind).

As I reread this, I realize that both the Cross image and the Purity of Heart image can converge the concepts of suffering and love or receptive (apophatic) and active (kataphatic). Truly, one of the most profound interpretations of the Cross is the union of love and suffering, the two occurring at once, the reduction of paradox into one symbol that includes everything!

One Christmas while writing an advent devotional on Joy, I discovered paradox. I realized the unity and the paradox of love and suffering, and the word, Passion, that captures both. We often think of passion as romantic, ardent love. In Latin, the verb patior means "to suffer."  I then understood the Passion of Jesus the Christ. Love in humility suffering willingly for the greater good. These mingle all the time, every day. They are. And they are not. All of reality is paradoxical (the point of parables and koans). 

When Ireneaus said, "The glory of God is a human fully alive." He was referring to the paradox of being human. Everything exists as both positive and negative, good and bad, matter and energy, what is seen and what is not. We coexist like particles and waves. We tend to see objects and concepts linearly and either one way or the other. But they are exchanging places all the time. And our awareness simply catches them at one point in time and another and another...indeed, how would we know light without the darkness? 

In part, adapted from Urban Holmes, A History of Christian Spirituality

If I remain silent, paradox will reveal itself to me. It is in silence that I can hold the tension of either - or. And once I realize that either/or is both/and, I have discovered something very special. I have eyes to see! I have discovered the Unity of Life, the Oneness of all things.

Blessings, Peggy

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hold On To Nothing

“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

Death evokes such fear in us, here in America. What is it we are afraid of? Dr Seuss once said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." It's a great way of overcoming the attachments we make in life that appear to be so real...could there be a greater Oneness than temporary form? I, for one, choose to think so, to feel so, to experience so. And not only does it make me profoundly grateful for e...very moment I have with you in body and conversation, but it allows me to have little fear of death. I live as fully in spirit as in form right now. I know myself as a spiritual being. Mind - Body - Spirit. I visit with my departed loved ones right now. When I feel the grief and fear of their loss, the physical pain that overcomes me without any apparent physical cause, I know that it is the tension of our human experience in body and spirit, and I choose to change the perspective on our relationship; to LOVE them all the more clearly in formlessness, in spirit. It's a different way of seeing things, and it sure keeps me smiling because it happened.

We die a thousand deaths every day, yet live on....Life is like that. It lives on. Beyond all the attachments, beyond every letting go...We ache with pain at how we miss the ones we love and lose. Yet, truth be told, they have not left us. We came from Oneness and we depart to Oneness. And if we are quiet enough while here, we know that we have never been separated. Death is a transition of Life. The more we understand it - illuminate the illusion of darkness it brings - the more fully we Live.

This is a wonderful essay written by a fellow Kansas-Citian with terminal prostate cancer. He brings up another very important way to approach what we fear - love into it. Embrace it. Denying our fears and foibles holds fear outside the walls of our castle. It severs our relationship with everything that is fearful, most importantly, our own inner being. We cannot find reconciliation with Self, with God, or with others if we have
built a wall between our heart and fear.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

Love is vulnerable and courageous in vulnerability. Love is humble, not defensive. Love remembers her identity in relationship - spiritual, mindful and bodily - and she finds ways to offer her hospitality and balance to the entire human experience. So while we are able, in our mind of consciousness, to choose how Love's hospitality will look and feel and express itself, be aware of your fear and don't let it control or numb your experience of Life!

Ashes to Ashes, but First Put a Nice Pine Box - NYTimes

There is a movement - worldwide - gaining momentum every day; conversations about death and end of life issues. Whatever the concern, logistical, spiritual, financial, medical, we talk about it. Check out Kansas City Death Cafe - Dying to Live at the following link, or find us on Facebook, and join the conversation! Next meeting is February 22.

To Life!  Peggy

More on the Death Cafe movement here: Death Cafe- Discussing Mortality Over Tea and Cake - BBC