Saturday, January 31, 2015

Nicholas of Cusa - Self Knowledge and Intuition

I received a wonderful book yesterday - Selected Writings of Nicholas of Cusa. Ok, I know you are
going, "Right, Peggy. Sounds exciting," as you roll your eyes. Yeah well, it is!!

I have known Nicholas as the mystical visionary of the docta ignorantia and coincidentia oppositorum for many years. A philosopher - prophet a la Socrates, who answered all questions with another question because he was "smart" enough to know "the more you know, the more you don't know." Nicholas' docta ignorantia (doctrine of learned opposites) and the coincidentia oppositorum (tension of opposites, or unity of opposites; same thing, different perspectives) are major elements in the philosophy of paradoxical reality.

Paradoxical reality is an essential notion of all religious doctrine, parable, koan and, fundamentally, human psychology...i.e. the way we assimilate perception. If you are savvy to this, you can understand it as you read it in texts throughout the ages in all traditions and it easily crosses into science as well. It is common ground.

This is how I perceive things, and many others do as well....and it simply has to do with using intuition; with knowing the difference between that which can be fully defined and that which cannot; facts and meaning. Every "mystic" has an intuitor personality bias (I did an experiment and literature research that confirmed this). But you don't have to believe me, the psychologists have been writing about it for years...mystical intuition is a common search phrase. Of course, I am over simplifying. But it's an important generalization that certainly illuminates why some people insist on creating a reality of either/or and some, who are generally more accepting and calm about differences, prefer to create a world of both/and. Without the intuitive perspective, the perception that there may be different meaning, value, interpretation, truth to the ways each one of us perceives facts and concepts, we live in a reality of differences, we judge, we argue, we criticize, we exclude. Intuitives allow things to take different form, different meaning, different (relative) truth. Intuitives also see differences, but they know that the differences often exist from the point of view (perception) of the beholder, thus, the larger viewpoint is the forest, rather than the trees.

So back to Nicholas. Suffice to say, in my theological reading, I have learned that some of the earliest writers of theology had mystical points of view. That is, they used equally well, their rational intellect and their insight (wisdom intellect). In fact, subjective intelligence (meaning and value) is more primitive than objective, but that is a story for another day. All of us have insight, but many of us do not listen to, or give validity to that "still small voice" or those feelings of well-being or dis-ease. These people are more inclined to "believe" what others tell them, to accept only factual information as valid, and to see differences rather than similarities. They are sensor biased on the Myers Briggs inventory and 77% of the Western population are sensor-biased. Only 23% of us are intuitor-biased. But there is a way we can deepen our intuitor skill. It is silence and self-reflection.

So now you know why meditation or contemplative prayer expands your "consciousness." It allows your thinking mind - the sensor - to be still while giving your intuiting capacity space to be "heard." In fact, if you read about early Christian prayer practice, you will learn that self-reflection is imperative, and is framed as a means of realizing God's presence within us.
I do not know if I have explained this clearly: self-knowledge is so important that, even if you were raised right up to the heavens, I should like you never to relax your cultivation of it; so long as we are on this earth, nothing matters more than humility. And so I repeat that it is a very good thing — excellent, indeed — to begin by entering the room where humility is acquired rather than by flying off to the other rooms. ~Teresa of Avila: First Mansions, Chapter 1

Finally, as I begin my journey with Nicholas and his writings, I offer his words on the importance of self-reflection, knowing who you are and being authentic with yourself. This is the important first step in contemplation.
"…when I rest in the silence of contemplation, you, Lord, answer me within my heart, saying, ”Be yours and I too will be yours.”

The sweetness of every delight, you have placed within me freedom to be my own if I am willing. Hence, unless I am my own, you are not mine, for you would constrain my freedom since you cannot be mine unless I also am mine. Since you have placed this in my freedom, you do not constrain me, but you wait for me to choose to be my own. This depends on me and not on you, O Lord, for you do not limit your maximum goodness but lavish it on all who are able to receive it.” De Visione Dei
~Nicholas of Cusa 1401-1464

My Friends, 
Be Still.
May you hear the words of Nicholas, and allow them to illuminate those of Jesus, expanding your perception of  this world of concept, with the "eye" of your heart, intuitive insight, that brings unity, balance, peace and freedom to the truth you see and live. John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  _/\_Peggy

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Good Morning Grandfather

Good morning Grandfather. 
I entered this life a ways back 
and put skin on to walk two legged in this creation
and what a glorious time it was.

It taught me about breath
and about sensing and feeling and caring through my heart.
I walked on around that Red Road
looking and trying to understand more
about the mystery and the secrets She holds.

And You spoke to me through the wind
And You sang to me through the birds
You brought challenges forth so that I might listen to the message You bring more sincerely
And I kept walking down this road.

And I came around the bend at the middle of that curve in the road and I began to find the secret in the Spirit of Myself
And still I walked on,
Sometimes blind and deaf
and sometimes with pain
but I fought with my fears and I embraced my unknowingness
and still I walked on.
And my children and my family stood with me
and we came to know each other in those later years more than we had before. For some of our falseness had fallen away
and still I walked on.

And I kept walking on this road towards You,
towards that other world that grew closer to me with each step.
And as the door of the Great Spirit world came closer
my fear loomed up inside sometimes...

But something called me forth.
The morning star rose with each day.
And my prayer became a centering and still I walked on.
Until I began to hear the song of the Mother,
and her arms embraced me so,
That instead of walking She carried me right to the door.
And as the door opened I heard her song.
And her song lifted me up so I could soar.

Jyoti, Good Morning, Grandfather in Graceful Passages a Companion for Living and Dying

May you embrace this beautiful Life with both tenderness and zeal! As you travel, may your ears ever listen for the assurance of God's perfection, Life's Perfection ....and know that it has always been with you, will always be with you. Be still. Be still. The earth has secrets to tell you! Be still! Each person you know is an eternal mystery present to you for a sacred purpose. You cannot know it unless you quiet your mind and open your heart.....with reverence for who you are with them, and they with you. You may not know the facts. You don't need to know facts. All you need is quiet reverence and you will hear the truth. 

There is more than meets the eye. "only with the heart can one see rightly." Love each other. Love your self, you are made in the image of the Holy One, a perfect beautiful child of Life. Love the earth, the sacred humus that clothes you and sustains the Spirit of Life within you. 

Be still. 

Honor these with your open heart: 
Spirit, The Life of the Divine within you, poured into you like wine in a golden chalice.
Flesh, the perfect vessel of the Divine that you are, form and formless, filled and empty, a holy temple.
Source, the Ground of Being that gives you birth and Life, the perfection of the ages and of agelessness....

...And that which you honor will flow forth to the world like a shining river of love and peace.

Be still. Be Love. _/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

Monday, January 5, 2015

Epiphany - Awakening Truth

Epiphany celebrates the appearance of God’s glory in the world through God’s incarnation, the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel… ‘God with us.’ The Greek word epiphany means literally, ‘sudden appearance’ A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something…. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization. The realization of a truth that has always been present, but not always evident.  A light bulb moment, if you will. Truth illuminated.

Simeon called Jesus “A light to lighten the Gentiles” and Jesus calls both himself and us  “The light of the world”…and so the symbolism of light and truth pervade this Christmas season and inform our worship this day.

The Christian celebration of epiphany involves the travels of 3 wise men- commonly thought to be scholars/astronomers (recently a newly translated Syriac text – "The Revelation of the Magi” identifies the magi as “Those who pray in silence.)” Perhaps most significantly, these men were not Jews or Christians, they were "gentiles," people from outside of the Hebrew culture who were also searching for a miracle. Another perspective sees them as people who were, perhaps wealthy with worldly goods as a result of their heritage, but poor in spiritual wealth.  You see, their worldly treasures obscured this true wealth, but in their heart of hearts, in their souls, they knew their poverty, and so it was that they set out looking for the spirit of truth, the richness of Christ, by following a sign;an uncommonly intriguing celestial event, a “star,” a light the likes of which surely held the promise of deeper truth than the stars peppered throughout the average night sky. 

With them, the Magi took their worldly wealth, gold, frankincense and myrrh, to finance their trip.  They traveled for, perhaps years, finally arriving at the town of Bethlehem where, indeed, they found truth and light.  There they found a child. 

They offered their worldly wealth in symbolic gesture to the child. 

Gold: incorruptible immortal precious metal of the sun, symbol of divinity and royality.
Frankincense: Exotic resin of divine communication and healing. 
Myrrh: in Arabic called “bitter,” the sweet resin of tears for healing and anointing, in life as at death, a symbol of fragile humanity. 

But whenever a gift is given, a gift is received. And on this 12th night, it was the magi who received a gift, an epiphany – the remembrance of a truth they had always known:  That God is revealed to the hopeful, the faithful, to those who have time to see. 

Here in a manger they found the Christ child, and in Him they saw a new light. A light that was reflected in their own hearts. A light for everyone – a light of the world.

And so it was that the magi came to find the Christ child and became truly wealthy for they discovered the light of the world, the gift of truth and love, Jesus the Christ. And they brought gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. But these were worldly gifts, symbols of the event. The true gifts of the magi were these: hope, time and faith.

The gift of hope.  Hope that their emptiness of spirit would be filled when they reached their journey’s end.  Hope that spurred them to action; to risk all material wealth and seek the most important gift of a lifetime.

The gift of time.  We have no accurate record of the length of time it took for the Magi to reach Bethlehem.  May have taken months to years.  They set out on their journey with no time limitations in mind.  They set out to seek a miracle for whatever length of time it took.  The gift of time.

The gift of faith.  Faith that their journey would fill the voids in their lives. Faith that their questions would be answered.  Faith that the truth would be revealed.  And it was. 

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life”.  And as he offered the disciples a counselor, “The Spirit of Truth” He said, Because I live, you will also live.  On the day when you realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 8:12, 14:20. 14:27

Loving God, we offer our gratitude for the gifts of Life you give us: Hope, time, faith, love, light, truth. Keep the mystery of Christmas alive in us. Let your son Jesus become flesh in us so that we may be, for all our brothers and sisters, a revelation of your love. 

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

A very interesting book, Revelation of the Magi, on a recently discovered ancient text, The Revelation of the Magi, by Brent Landau gives an interesting perspective on this beautiful ancient story.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Inner History of a Day by John O’Donohue

For the New Year - Thanksgiving

 No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

I offer this prayer of thanksgiving to the eternal Grace of the Day and Night and the Life enfolded in her arms.

Yielding to Grace, I offer a heart full of prayer for those who are struggling with grief, with pain, with worry. I offer a heart of compassion to those who are enduring the very difficult fear of change, of illness, of the unknown. I ask for resolution, for reconciliation, for acceptance and forgiveness…may all our fears, resentments, and hurtful biases be embraced and dispelled through the humility of an innocent love that leads to peace of mind and a quiet heart. Let us all know the depths of our own tenderness, and allow each other to feel the reassurance flowing through a Love far greater than any one of us can enlist alone. 

On this new graced Day, I remember, "Wherever two or more are gathered, there I am also"…speaks of the perfect love that casts out fear, the perfect order of compassionate unity amid the chaos, the perfect peace that passes understanding.  

May we lay all that stands in the path of such Grace willingly aside and open the vessel of our being to love, compassion and peace. All this, I invoke with a quiet mind and an open heart, resting in the assurance that all will be well and every manner of thing will be well.

New Year, New Day blessings to all, Peggy @ Ecumenicus