Saturday, October 31, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ An Example of Attack/Forgiveness

Imagine this all-too-real-life situation with me ...

Here I am, sitting somewhere, minding my own business ... and you walk into the room, and offend me, by insulting me, or doing something to me that I interpret as harmful. Let's say that when this happens, I'm in my egoic mind (my not-right mind), sitting here in a state that imagines God is not with me, that I am guilty and disconnected, and in general, not feeling good about myself.

So, you come in being "offensive" to me, and on some level I feel I deserve the attack, since I was believing (if even subconsciously) that I'm guilty and worthy of punishment. So, you do to me what I believe I have coming to me. The "attack" reinforced what I already believe ... that I am bad, guilty, deserving of punishment. It will also reinforce the guilt that you feel, because you wouldn't be "attacking" me without already feeling guilty (remembering that we project that which we desire to "get rid of").

So, both of us have just reinforced the guilt we believe we have. My guilt meets your guilt head-on, condemning each of us even more to our own prisons of guilt.

My next reaction may take various forms, but if I remain in this guilty state (my not-right mind), I will either play the victim, or villain (attacking back). If I play the victim, I may cry, and accuse you of abusing me, blaming you for the misery I'm now feeling. I will try to make you feel responsible for how bad I now feel. I will try to alleviate my own guilt, but putting it back on you ... this is manipulation, and is really just a cleverly-disguised attack (passive-aggressive).

Or, I can go for straight aggression, and attack you openly ... calling you names, accusing you of being evil, etc.

Now, what would happen if I were sitting here in my right-mind, seeing myself as God does (my real identity)...? What if I knew that God is with me, that God loves me, accepts me, adores me ... and that nothing and no one can harm me...? What if I know that no matter what you do to me, you can't hurt me, because I am completely safe and secure in Him...? What if I know that even if what you say to/about me is true on some level (the ego level), on a deeper level it *can't* be true, because I am a Son of God, perfectly loved and completely acceptable by my Father...? Nothing you can do or say can alter that, once I *KNOW* that.

So, if you enter the room, insulting or attacking me, I am free to look at what you've said/done in a new way. For perfect love casts out all fear, including sin, guilt, anger and suffering. I cannot be fulled with God's Love and also be afraid/angry/guilty/vengeful.

I can then see that if you are trying to hurt me, at that very moment, you do not believe that you're filled with God's love ... you have forgotten, or perhaps you've never consciously known that you're that loved. At that very moment, you have lost touch with your identity as a Child of God. And in your separated-ego mindset, you feel guilty and threatened ... and the only way you know to alleviate yourself of this feeling is to project it onto another, by projecting your stuff onto someone else ... and you have chosen me.

If I know this, if I'm in my right-mind, knowing my connection-with-Father, then I can interpret your "attack" this way: "Please remind me of who I am! Please remind me of God who loves me, and that I am His Child! Please remind me of the Love I cannot feel at this moment!"

I can learn the truth that every "attack" is really a cry for love.

When we feel love -- when we know we are loved -- we cannot attack.

And when I know I'm loved, and I'm attacked by another, I can learn to see what they're really crying out for (love), and I can respond with what they most need: Love.

There's no blueprint or formula to follow, for how to demonstrate love in each situation. That's the job of the Holy Spirit -- to show us how to do so in each instance. If I want to respond in Love, then I will be shown. But if I respond in kind, from my own ego, then I will forget who I am, and block myself from the Love that's always available to me.

"Love God, and do what you will." (one of the few things Augustine wrote with which I fully agree!) If love is in my heart, all I do will be right; if love is not in my heart, all I do will be wrong. My goal is not to "do the right thing" but to be "in my right mind". A Course in Miracles states, "seek not to change the world, but to choose to change your mind about the world."

My *desire* is to see all attacks clearly, as cries for help, for love.

In broadening this notion, it seem to me that everything I then experience is either an expression of love, or a cry for love. Simplistic, perhaps, but think it through ... imagine all possible scenarios, and see if can boil each one down to it's barest essence ... either the person is expressing love to you, or else they're in dire need of it, and do not know what they are doing (do not know how to ask for the very love that they fear they don't deserve...). So, whether the person is demonstrating love, or asking for love, how could my own right-minded response be anything OTHER than love...?

And doesn't this fit with the words of Jesus ... whether the "other" is a brother, sister, neighbor, friend, or perceived enemy, my response to them, according to Jesus, is LOVE.

Would that we would take that seriously...!

It makes all of life sublimely simple ... truth IS simple -- it's the ego that seeks to make everything complex, and "exemptional".

So... forgiveness is my choice to look beyond and through the attack, and to recognize it instead as a cry for love, for light. My goal is to meet every situation, and every person, with this awareness... without exception. For whenever I make even a single exception, I'm declaring that there is a part of me that I want to keep hidden in darkness, rather than being liberated by Light. In the practical application, this is what I then project on to you, and refuse to forgive in you.

I can use this for my own healing, once I see that the way I see you is the way I see myself. Therefore, the most challenging and troublesome people in my life are my greatest gift, because as I heal my relationship with them, I'm healing my own relationship with God.

Do I really see that? Can I let it become my practiced reality?

I see that I'm continuously tempted to see my own secret stuff as belonging to someone else, so that I can attack them, and therefore keep my guilt, which bolsters my ego's seeming existence. The best way for me to justify my own guilt is to clobber someone else with it. And when I do so (and I will do so, until I don't), the Spirit gets my attention and says, "Choose again." My choice is always whether to forgive or to not forgive. Forgiving another is forgiving myself ... what's outside is really what's inside ... it's all a projection of what I feel/believe/think inside. If I feel guilt, I project guilt. If I feel the love of God, I project the love of God. ALL others, and all situations, provide me with the blessed opportunity to see what's going on within me ... and offering me the chance to "Choose again."

Next, I want to look at, "IF this is true, then what might it mean ... exploring some what-ifs."

Shalom, Dena

Friday, October 30, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ Anger/Forgiveness

Have you noticed how the ego thinks it's pretty smart...? Well, rest-assured that the Spirit is infinitely smarter ... in fact, it's so smart that it USES the ego's tactics to work on exposing and dismantling (& ultimately absorbing, as in embraced-to-death!) the ego.

Y'know, hug the snot out of it 'til it's utterly enfolded in Love ...!

Such could be our response to our "enemies", once we saw them as they are, once we saw their attacks as a cry for love ... (more on that next time).

It seems crucial to me to keep in mind that I draw people into my circle in order for them to mirror my blind spots to me. I "project" my own imagined guilt onto the "screens" of their behavior so that I can see my own stuff, and thus be healed. So simple. So elusive...!

When I see my guilt in you (the guilt I cannot bear to confront in myself), I have the blessed opportunity of letting it go. And that's the bare essence of forgiveness ... "undoing the projection of guilt." Don't let the ego convince you that you're exempt from this, or try to distract you by saying, "but that guy's stuff isn't your stuff ... you don't do that precise thing!" It's the content of the sin that matters -- NOT the form. Don't get sidetracked from the healing you can receive -- the healing you need.

When I forgive you for the sin you "commit against" me ... I'm really forgiving myself for having the sin I projected onto you. And when I can see you through the lens of the Spirit, then I'm able to see myself through that same Spirit-lens. I can then, finally, see that you and I share the same Light -- the Light of God.

What this tells me is that I can only be grateful for each and every person who comes into my life (whom I drew into my life), *especially* those with whom I experience the most struggle, challenge, and pain...! These gift-persons are the very ones sent/drawn to me to enable me to heal from that which is most harming me from *within* ... that which I am terrified to look at, which is eating me alive, and which is causing me the most devastation. These folks are gifts-in-disguise. I must see past the disguise, into the GIFT that they bring -- the gift that they ARE.

Of course, when I'm in ego-mode (our typical MO), that's the LAST thing I WANT to do! What I want to do is to see my problem as *that guy*, and what he *did to me*, and see myself as a poor victim ... and I will gather others to my "side", to support my ego-version of my story, and further justify my martyrdom, my anger, my judgment, my hatred, for that one who dared to harm me. But ... how's that working for me so far? What's the fruit of that position, of telling myself that story? Of believing my own egoic propaganda...?

Would I rather be "right" or happy...?

Forgiveness is crucial ... it may not be an overstatement to say that it's one of THE points of this life. Certainly we can see the destructive and cataclysmic results of a *lack* of forgiveness all around us ... divorce rates ... church splits ... marital squabbles ... gang rivalries ... racial clashes ... gender battles ... family grudges ... tribal breaches ... international wars ...

And also, disease within our own bodies ... numerous studies indicate a connection between unforgiveness and auto-immune disorders and cancers ...

What would this world look like -- what would we feel like, and how would we live -- if we made forgiveness a true & practiced reality in our lives...?

And what if, with the practice of deep, true forgiveness ... we came to realize that there's nothing to forgive...?

Perhaps we could look more deeply into forgiveness ... for surely the "forgiveness" we've been taught isn't working too well ...

It's been surmised by some that forgiveness can be summarized in three basic steps.

Step One: I recognize that the problem is not "out there" in the other person (i.e., the "screen"). I recognize that the problem is in me, and I am projecting it onto someone else. So ... in this realization, I see that my anger towards another is not justified. The problem is not outside of me but inside of me (this is important to realize, because God has put the Answer, the Spirit, within me ... and if I keep the problem "out there" then the problem is kept separate from the Answer). The ego, who is utterly invested in me NOT solving this problem, will insist, over and over, that the problem is outside of me (in you, my parents, a teacher, a boss, a friend, a spouse, a child, the President, the economy, another religion, another nation, another race, a disease, or even God). In truth, there is only one problem: my belief that I am separate from God. From this stems my fear, guilt, sin, anger, and conflict with all others.

Step Two: (The hardest part of all!) I recognize that I have to face and deal with my own stuff (my guilt). My fear of facing it will strongly tempt me to see it as belonging in you (or another). But if I face my fear, and look at the guilt, and question the guilt ("Is it true?"), I will come to see that I made a decision to see myself as guilty. And I can make another decision -- to see myself as a guiltless Son of God, rather than a guilty son of the ego. Like the prodigal in the pig sty (of his own making), I can look around and say, "this is not who I Really Am ... I can return Home to Who I Really Am. I am not what I think I am -- and you are not what I've made you in my mind ... we are really what God has created." We can go Home, to God, and hear Him say, "Child, you are always with Me -- all that I have is yours."

Have you noticed that like begets like..? An oak tree begets more oak trees ... a dog begets more dogs ... a salmon begets more salmon -- we see this in the world all around us, teaching us this lesson. What does God beget...? Sons of God.

This is what we see when we dare to face our other-projected guilt, and really look at it, and see it as God sees it (rather than as the ego declares it to be). It's painful ... it's fearful. It's necessary. It's what Jesus spoke of when He said, "take up your cross and follow Me...". It's what Paul the apostle wrote when he said, "work out your salvation [which means wholeness] with fear and trembling." We are so invested in the ego's perspective, and it is so very entrenched in this whole world, that there is no way for anyone to go through this process without severe difficulty and pain. And the final obstacle to peace, is our belief that we are to be fearful of God ...! When that one is questioned and dismantled, the rest falls into place.

Step Three: I choose to invite the Holy Spirit to renew my mind ... correcting the wrong-thought system that I've erected and protected in my own mind. I cannot do this on my own -- it's too huge. I invite and allow the Spirit to transform my perspective from a "child of guilt" to a "child of Love." The former is birthed by the ego (& is an illusion) ... the latter is birthed by God (& is real). We don't do this step, the Spirit does ... and in reality, we realize that it's ALREADY DONE. God never saw us as guilty ... WE did. Our acceptance of this is the only problem.

So, to simplify the process: 1. I see the anger as in me, not outside of me. 2. I realize that I made up the problem in the first place. 3. I decide I no longer want this problem, and I give it to the Spirit... and He takes it from me.

Sounds simple. But it takes a lifetime, or beyond, to live it out. Having our minds renewed IS a way of life ... the best way of life ... the reason why we're here. The experiences and situations that make up our life are the tools sent to us to assist us in awakening to Who We Really Are, in Christ, in God.

The real and practical goal is not to *rid* ourselves of all problems, but to recognize the problems as the gifts they really are, and to use them as a means to our healing. The process is slow, and requires patience ... and those who say they have arrived, are only speaking out of their egos ... LOL!

Next, I want to go through a specific example of how this works out, in the context of "real life experience".

For Halloween, how appropriate to take off the ego's mask a bit...!

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ Counterfeit Relationships

The ego knows only two ways to have relationships -- and both are dishonest.

One is the type we've already looked at -- the "special hate" relationships ... wherein we blame others for our own stuff, attack them for showing us our stuff, and then banish them from our lives, to alleviate our guilt for having our stuff.

But what's even more insidiously damaging, and far more subtle, are the "special love" relationships. We're talking about a counterfeit "love" here ... not real love, but that which seeks to *get* rather than to *give*.

To recap: It all starts with the belief that there's something inherently wrong with us ... that something is broken, missing, beyond-repair, and must be kept hidden at all cost -- from ourselves and from others (oh - and bonus points for fooling God, too..!). We live in unbearable dread, believing that we are inherently incomplete and destined to bee unfulfilled.

This colors our world with a sense of "lack" ... "limitation" ... "scarcity." The background music for most humans is the sound track of "there is not enough [of anything] and I must grab my share, at the expense of others."

And, being a self-fulfilling prophecy, this is how we will *experience* life ... we will indeed experience lack/limitation/scarcity, and we will indeed see others as competitive-threats to having our needs met.

Of course, our ego, which must keep us guilty in order to justify it's "existence", tells us "of course you're right -- you're a worm, a depraved creature, worthy of being despised ... inherently flawed, and hopelessly so. Yes, indeed, you are missing something vital to life."

Now, what the ego does *not* tell us is that what's missing, is God. For, if we let God show us how He fills us, the ego could not exist. (All too often, the ego masquerades as God, whether in our thoughts, or in religion -- and we think that it's GOD who is telling us that we're wretched, and separated from Him...!).

So, the ego affirms that our darkest suspicions are correct, and while it tells us that there is no solution, it whispers to us that it knows a way to numb the pain ... an endless variety of ways, actually ... from diversion, to distraction, to denial, to depression, to addiction, to performance, to co-dependent relationships ...

Let's look at that last one, the one that *seems* to be such a wonderful solution...

Here's how it works: I have believed that I am "flawed" and I have special needs - but God (whom I have made a separated-enemy) cannot meet my needs, and so I go looking for a "special someone" to meet my needs. I have a check-list for this special someone ... but basically, the only requirement is that they enable me to feel better about myself. So I (the flawed one) find you (the special someone), and I determine that my special needs will be met by your special qualities. When you meet my needs, then I will love you. And when I, in turn, meet your needs, then you will love me. We will enter into this mutually-dependent relationship, and all will be well, happily ever after, right?


First of all, at the truest level, this won't work because we are violating God's reality ... when we seek outside of ourself for a solution, we are creating an idol -- a substitute for God. And ONLY God, within me, can meet any of my needs, real or imagined.

Secondly, when you seem to meet my perceived needs, I subconsciously render you a symbol of the (erroneous) guilt I'm trying hard to not face. I associate you *with* my perceived guilt. And I make you responsible for keeping my guilt hidden from me.

This word-picture may be helpful (this did not originate with me ... credits to follow):

Imagine the mind as a glass jar. My desire, my job, is to keep all of my perceived (but erroneous) guilt IN that jar -- I do not want to see it, or be aware of it (not realizing that looking at the "guilt", really looking at and through it, shining Light on it, causes that fluffy bit of darkness to evaporate, being absorbed by the Light ... but this is the ego's perspective). When I go looking for that "special someone" I am really wanting someone to be the "lid" that will keep all the guilt safely in that jar, without leakage. Must. Not. Have. Leakage.

The very fact that I *need* someone to be the lid continually reminds me (on a subconscious level), that I "am" guilty in the first place, so I'm never at peace with that special someone ... in fact, things get quite complicated ...

You see, people don't stay the same. Have you noticed? ;) And when that special someone starts to change (as is inevitable), they no longer meet my needs in quite the same way as they once did. As they start to change, the "lid" starts loosening ... and the guilt becomes more threatening, rising to the surface of the "jar" and escaping ... and I am reminded, again, of how terrible I believe I am.

The experience of confronting how terrible we believe we are is so overwhelming that we will do ANYthing to avoid facing it...! The panic that we feel is the source of many (all?) of the relational conflicts we experience ... for when we feel this overwhelming panic, we nip it in the bud, and lash out.

So, when this special someone dares to go and change on me, and the lid is loosened, and the guilt is escaping, and the panic is rising, my only goal is to GET THAT LID BACK ON TIGHTLY...! My solution is simple: make the special someone return to how they once were, when things were "working" in my favor. And I will resort to what works: manipulation via guilt.

"What's happened to you?!? You've changed in a horrible way! You used to be so nice, so kind, so loving and thoughtful ... but now you're selfish, self-absorbed, insensitive..."

You know the drill -- you're likely both given it, and received it.

Now, if the other person plays the same guilt-game, they'll fall for it, and they'll enact out their portion of the "script", keeping with their side of the "bargain." They will acquiesce, and comply and I will love them again.

But if they *don't* play this game (if they have grown, become more aware, have awakened to reality), then I will become enraged (for unchecked fear turns to fury), and my "love" will turn quickly, on a dime, into hatred. Actually, this is just the veneer of faux-love being peeled away ... this is my true colors coming out ... for it was always hatred in the first place, thinly disguised by conditional "love" -- which is never love. If it has conditions -- it ain't love.

Thus endeth the honeymoon ... whether it be a literal marriage, or a friendship, or a parent-child relationship, or a boss-employee relationship, or any human relationship.

But, my relentless ego, ever seeking faux-solutions to avoid a real solution (dealing with my own perceived guilt), will simply find "another" ... and there is an endless supply of "anothers" for me to use.

Whenever we use others to meet our needs, we objectify them. We use others as "vehicles" for the meeting of our own needs ... we end up idolizing/worshipping them, and then we inevitably turn on them when they let us down. By doing so, we don't see them for Who They Really Are -- we do not see Christ in them. It all becomes about manipulating others into getting our needs met ... and we call it "love" in our confusion. We don't let ourselves see the Light in the other ... we're too busy trying to match our own darkness with another's corresponding darkness (ego-meeting-ego). Focused on the imagined darkness, we miss the Light ... we see what we behold.

There are "special" (i.e., egoic) relationships, and there are holy relationships. I can experience the latter only when I have examined and questioned my "guilt" ... thus freeing me to truly learn to love, without conditions.

Here are some hallmarks of each type of relationship:

"Special" ~
- Manipulative
- Guilty
- Exclusive
- Jealous
- Competitive
- Getting
- Demanding

Holy ~
- Cooperative
- Freedom
- Generosity
- Inclusive
- Trusting
- Sharing
- Giving
- Honoring

To the ego, "love" is quantitative -- it's limited, and if someone has it, someone else is lacking it. To the Spirit, love is qualitative -- it embraces and includes all people, with no one lacking.

Of course, there are those who are chosen in our lives ... those given to enable us to learn forgiveness, and to remember God's love ... we will experience more intimacy with some than with others, but this intimacy will not diminish the love we can experience with others as well ... just in different expressions.

Next, I'd like to invite you to explore and unpack the incredible depths of forgiveness ... only in a way that's perhaps new to us ... at least, it's quite different than what many of us have been taught by the traditions-of-man. It may take a couple days or more ... but it will be well worth it. There's freedom to be had ... can you feel it?!?

Shalom, Dena

P.S. Some may have already guessed, and for others it may be a bit of a surprise, but these understandings are from A Course in Miracles ... a book/course I'm exploring. It's been on my radar for a long while, and now is the time to delve in. I've been led to such a time as this. I'm sharing as I go ... which is part of how I learn. Please feel free to chime in -- I learn that way too...! And I don't want to miss out on a thing (as IF that were possible, LOL!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ The Tactics of Attack & Defense

All set to peel back the veneer of the ego's tactics...? Go get that cup of whatever, get comfy, open your mind, and let the Spirit highlight whatsoever He will, if anything, out of what I'll share here ... it's perfectly ok with me if this is *just* for me -- for I certainly need a daily dose of this expose...!

Keeping in mind that the ego's main goal is to keep me thinking/feeling/acting guilty, follow me in this line of thinking: once I believe that I'm guilty, and I thus project my guilt onto you, and attack you for my own guilt, I then believe that I am deserving, and even in need of, punishment. I believe that my attack on you justifies your resulting attack on me. Even if you don't choose to attack me, I will believe that your attack is imminent, and I will move into "defense mode" ... I will be committed to proving that I'm not guilty, and so I will judge your counter-attack as unjustified.

(Do you see the insanity? I am pre-judging you for doing to me as I did to you, even as it started with me judging and attacking you by projecting my OWN STUFF onto you...! AND, the whole thing is designed to be my own liberation, for I cannot receive healing for anything I'm unaware of ... you are merely the mirror enabling me to SEE my own self-blinded stuff ... so in effect, I go and shoot the divine messenger...!)


Back to my supposed need for defense ... the greater my "need" to defend myself, the more I am actually reinforcing my (erroneous) belief that I am guilty. The motivation behind every defense is my desire to protect myself against facing my own fear. If not for my fear, I would have no need to have a defense ... but my desire to self-defend tells me that I should be afraid (vicious cycle).

So, as I am defending myself (from the counter-attack that I initiated!), I am cementing the notion that I *should* be afraid, and my fear is rooted in my belief that I am guilty. I imagine that my defense is protecting me from fear, but it's actually increasing my fear! My self-defense allows the ego to increase ... and I become more and more convinced that I *am* my ego ... that I am sinful, fearful and guilty.

The ego then is quite invested in perpetuating this cycle ... "you must defend yourself, you must control how others see you, you must correct them, you must hide your dark side, so that no one knows how truly wretched you really are!"

But here's the truth: "In my defenselessness my safety lies." Sounds counter-intuitive, no? But if I want to know that I am truly safe, and that my true protection is God ... the best way for me to *know* that is to not get in the way with my false self-defensiveness. Jesus showed us this example ... He knew that no matter what anyone "did" to Him, they could not harm Him ... for He knew He was not His body, and He knew He was not His reputation. He was utterly secure in His true identity (which is OUR identity). He knew that the thoughts and efforts of others "against" Him could not touch who He truly was. And so it can be, and is, for us: once we really KNOW Who we are, and know Who our Father is, there is no more need to protect ourselves ... for we will *know* that we need no defense. Therein lies peace...

It's only within the ego's fluff-and-nonsense system (which only *appears* to be real) that we need to defend ourselves. The guiltier we feel, the more we will attack. The more we attack, the guiltier we will feel. The more we attack the more we feel the need to defend ourselves from the expected counter-attack (or the punishment we secretly believe we deserve).


And it all comes down to believing that we are separate from God, and thus enemies of God, and thus that sin (which is an announcement/demonstration of separation) is even possible... and the resulting fear that when God "catches" us, we will be punished.

Upon this (mistaken/erroneous) premise, Christianity was founded. Christianity is nothing more than the insanity of the ego, Institutionalized and Ritualized. Which is why sermons declaring how all are sinful, wretched and separated from God, are continually preached - for separation/sin must be promoted or Christianity collapses - AND the ego and the Collective Ego will do everything possible to drown out the still, small Voice of the Spirit within (including sermonizing about how we cannot trust our own wicked hearts ... and how we need Them, the Professional Egoists, to interpret the Word of God - the Voice Within, for us). For, if we allowed ourselves to be led, by the Spirit, into all Truth, we would have no need for any egoic/human voice to influence us... and yet we would be utterly open to hearing the Spirit speaking through anyone and anything...! (Ironically enough, this is what the prophet said would happen -- in the new covenant, which, you may have noticed, we've been in a long, long while now..! Read the following passage from Isaiah 31 carefully, with fresh eyes ... don't let the ego's familiarity with it keep you from seeing what God was really saying!)

31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD,
"when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah. [notice when this new covenant came about -- so why do we act like we're "still waiting"...?)

32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"
declares the LORD.

33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

It is so very, incredibly crucial that we see this, the egoic world (both within us and around us), for what it is, so that we are no longer seduced by its lies. The ego keeps us believing we are guilty, by making us *think* we are getting rid of our guilt by projecting it onto others, and then attacking them, and banishing them. It inflames our anger, for anger seems to justify the projection of guilt onto others (we THINK it's about THEM, when it's about US). We go to inordinate lengths to justify our anger against another, when really we are enraged (the anger covering up our deeper FEAR) at ourselves ... but we feel too fragile to be able to face it honestly. We think we NEED an enemy -- a scapegoat -- someone on whom to cast our pain/fear/guilt/shame/sin. We divide up the entire world into good and bad ... separating them from each other .. we need at least one person, or one idea, or one group, to make "the bad one" ... and THIS is the source of all prejudice and discrimination ... this perceived need (largely unconscious, therefore insidious) to find someone to take away our sins, so that we can escape the burden of our own (imagined) guilt...!

We even did this with Jesus ... the ultimate scape-goat. And then we turned the ego-need into a religion, and required that people believe in this "means of salvation" as the ONLY way to get to God.

(OMG ... I never saw that connection before, until I just typed it out ...! Wow. This is huge.)

Spirit of God ... show us how we've been duped ... let our perspective be replaced with Yours. Let us let go of what we think we know, about You, about Jesus, about the Atonement, the crucifixion, salvation ... ALL of it, no matter how "holy" and "critical" we think any of it is ... let us hold it up to You, and allow You to show us what's of man, and what's of You ... let us see as You see, and know as You know. Show us out religious "facts" have replaced Truth.

Let us trust YOU more than we trust what we think we know ...

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ The Tricks of Denial & Projection

To recap yesterday ... we have the erroneous belief that we are Wrong, Bad, Depraved ... and Separate-from-God. We then feel guilt. We believe we must be punished for this guilt. And we live in fear of this punishment (sound familiar?!?).

Because we believe that we and God are at odds, and even enemies, we cannot turn to God for the help we need, in overcoming the guilt ... so, we do what humans have always done instead -- we turn to the ego. I.e., our inner-idol. That Which Pretends to be Us and God. We beg the ego to give us something that will numb the pain, guilt, shame and fear ...!

Our ego is only *too* happy to help us with it's suggestions ... and it has two "drugs" that we've easily fallen for. See if they sound/feel familiar to you:

- Repression, or Denial. It ain't a river in Egypt. But it sure does flood our "world". The ego suggests that we just pretend that our guilt, our sense of sin, our shame, the fear that permeates us, just doesn't exist. And if we would only push it down, waaaaaaay down, we can make it "go away." Sweep it under the rug. Hide our heads in the proverbial sand. Or, the very-popular "get busy with religious work" approach... if we get really busy doing good work for God, maybe we'll fool both God *and* ourselves in our religious flurry! We know how this works. Except ... it doesn't work. Because on some level, conscious or not, we *know* that the guilt is still there, and it's still in obvious effect in our lives. So, we go back to the ego and ask for something else ... something stronger and more effective (this reminds me of an addict who goes back to their pusher, since the last drug didn't take off the edge ...!). And the ego has "just the thing" to help us feel better, it promises us ...

- Projection. Ohhhhh, how alluringly wonderful this "drug" seems to be! Simply speaking, projection is taking something from inside of you and saying it's not really here, in me -- it's out there, in someone else. So we take that guilt, that belief of sinfulness that we believe is in us, and we say: "This is not really in me -- this is really in YOU. I'm not the bad/guilty one -- YOU are the bad/guilty one. I'm not responsible for how I feel -- YOU are." It doesn't matter who the "you" is ... anyone (or anything) will do. The point is to scapegoat someone/thing in order to dump our guilt outside of us ... and then, of course, we banish the "scapegoat" from our presence. This, we believe, will alleviate our guilt, and enable us to escape our misery. This is such a pervasive defense, that it was even ritutalized within the Jewish religion -- it became ceremonialized (& "Godified") via the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur (check it out in the 16th chapter of Leviticus -- read it with fresh ego-exposed eyes).

So, we take our "sins", and say "they are not in me - they are in you". And then we put space between ourselves and our "sins". So we think. We do this in one of two ways -- either we separate ourselves physically (i.e., moving, changing jobs, divorcing, breaking off relationships, changing churches, committing murder etc.) or we separate ourselves psychologically (i.e., judging, discounting, condescending, gossipping, slandering, holding a grudge, shunning, etc.). The latter is actually far more damaging... for it continues.

Here's how we separate ourselves from someone else, after we've "put our sins" on them: We attack them. We use our anger at them. ANY form of anger, whether annoyance, frustration or intense range (or anything in between) is the same. Anger is always an attempt to justify our guilt-projection -- it's never about what it *seems* to be about. Others cannot *make* us angry -- we USE others as scapegoats, or vehicles, to carry our sins/guilt away from us. Hear this: the need to project our guilt is the ROOT cause of ALL anger (read it again -- in case your ego just balked and said "no way!").

Now here's something that's crucial to "get": The very second we experience a personal reaction of anger/judgment/criticism ... it is ALWAYS because we have seen in that other individual something that we have denied in ourself. IOW, we project our own sin/guilt/shame/fear onto another person, and then we attack it. Because we cannot bear to see it in ourselves, and yet we MUST do something about it, to alleviate the wretched feeling that our guilt gives us. It feels "safer" to project it "out there" than to deal with it "in here".

This explains, so very clearly, what was going on with the Israelites, who declared others to be "unclean" and then banished them outside of the camp ... imagining that they were keeping themselves separate and pure ... and the insanity of imagining that God was commanding this...! It seems clear to me that we have to keep in mind that the old testament was written from the ego's point of view ... which was projected, by man, onto God. Of course, the Spirit can, and does, use the text to teach us what we need to know -- and it quite often exposes the tactics of the individual or collective ego ... we err when we think that it's all exemplary, of how we *should* behave or think...! Notice, too, how Jesus turns the tables even further when He shows up ... He comes *against* all teachings of cleanliness/separation ... He embraces those who are deemed "unclean" ... He hangs out with "sinners" ... He touches lepers. He included the "outcasts" ... He was saying, "You cannot project your guilt onto others - you must identify it within yourself, and heal it there." He makes it clear that our sinfulness is not outside, but inside ... not from "the devil" but from within our own egoic minds/hearts ... When we project, we miss the opportunity of seeing what is IN us, what is in need of healing within.

Here's the problem with heeding the ego's solutions for our guilt: When we project our guilt, and then attack another, it backfires on us. In fact, attacking another is a SURE way of ensuring that we STAY guilty. And make no mistake about it -- the ego is highly invested in *keeping* us guilty ... it's very "survival" depends on it.

But, let's back up a bit to see what's behind this ...

The ego itself is not a "thing" ... you couldn't locate the "ego section" of the brain. It's nothing more than a belief, a thought ... a belief in the reality of separation from God. It was "born" when we believed ourselves separated from God -- the ego is our false self. It's not real. BUT, as long as we believe that we are separated from God, the ego is in operation. AS soon as we believe that there is NO separation, the ego ceases to exist.

If we believe in original sin, and the separation from God -- the ego seems real, and wrecks havoc, pretending to be us. The ego depends on us believing in separation. And what teaches us that sin is real, what reinforces our fear, is GUILT. The ego has a vested interest in keeping us guilty.

When the ego is confronted with the notion of guiltlessness (i.e., one who realizes that they are free from guilt ... one who realizes that there is no separation from God), the ego MUST attack ... for that one is a threat to its existence. This is why the religious (i.e., professional egoists) came against Jesus, attacking and killing Him. Jesus was "blaspheming" against the ego...!

This also explains why those who believe in original sin, and believe it is a teaching of God, will attack those who declare that they are not separate from God ... if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. AND, it will happen *within* you, as your own ego becomes threatened by what you are learning, and being led into...! (more on "ego-attacks" on a later day...!)

The ego, in wanting to insure that it stays "alive" in reigning, will convince you that the best way to alleviate your guilt, is to see your stuff in another, and attack it. And, for the moment, you will believe you are free of your sins, and thus feel relieved ... this relief is highly addictive, and may ensure that you attack over and over and over, justifying your anger, believing that THEY are the bad guys and you are the victim here ... but attack is the best way to STAY guilty.

Here's why: on some level, beneath the "feeling good for the moment" level, you *know* that you were wrong to attack another for your own stuff, that it was a false and hypocritical attack. Thus is set up the clever egoic-cycle of guilt-attack-guilt-attack-guilt-attack, ad nauseam. Do you recognize it? In yourself? In inter-personal squabbles? In children's fighting? In school-yard tussles? In corporate encounters? In denominational church-splits? In politics? In national wars? Do you see how truly all-pervasive this really is? How the ego truly does rule this world?

In reality, it's this cycle of guilt and attack that "makes the world go 'round" ... it ain't Love. Love is God's world, and His Kingdom is NOT of this world. But it's our calling to be Light ... to reflect Love IN this world.

But before we can do that well, we have to see this world, the ego, for what it is. We have to dare to dig deep within ourselves, ruthlessly and bravely looking at what's there, to bring healing to ourselves, and to others.

For this have we come into this world ...

(next, if you hang with me in this, let's look at the Attack-Defense cycle ... it's breathlessly revelatory!)

Shalom, Dena

Monday, October 26, 2009

Exposing the Ego ~ The Foundation

Got to confess ... right now, as I'm learning a whole 'nother level of awareness ... I'm finding myself face-to-face with some uber-challenging concepts ... none of it is new, and I can see how I've been led to this point, to this moment in my story ...

So, on a deep level, down where I Know Who I Am, this is good, right, timely. But on the more surface level, wherein my ego thinks it's running the show, tumult is reigning. Which lets me know that this is GOOD. My surface-resistance is proof-positive that I'm being led by the Spirit into the dismantling of the ego, in a way that I both welcome and resist ... depending on "which mind" I'm currently operating in...!

So, of course, I must share the angst...! ;)

You're welcome.

See if any of this resonates with/for/in you ... see if it makes you as uncomfy, and yet as drawn, as I am.

It seems to me that the real conflict in life, once we boil away all the fluff and nonsense, is the conflict between the ego (wrong-mindedness) and the Spirit (right-mindedness). Of course, the Spirit knows that there IS no conflict ... the conflict is all in the eye of the ego ... but the Spirit uses this illusion to lead us into more truth.

The huge irony in my experience (perhaps in yours?) is the discovery that Christianity has been a huge component for promoting the ego -- the wrong-thinking that is so prevalent in our experienced world (I see Christianity as ego-Institutionalized ... and did you ever notice how Christianity rhymes with Insanity?).

It seems to me to be crucial to expose and undo the errors of Christianity, in order to radically change the thought processes of the world-system. It also seems to me that in order to move beyond Christianity, I must first understand it, and forgive it. I cannot have enemies, and be set free -- for they are mutually exclusive mindsets ... the former being of the ego, and the latter of the Spirit. In not knowing what I was doing, I have chosen wrongly in my life, but I can choose again.

Here's the sneaky part: the thought systems of both the ego, and the Spirit, are completely logical and innerly-consistent. Therefore highly defendable. BUT - they are mutually exclusive.

We are Spirit ... we are manifestations of the One Life, the One Source, which is God (and which is beyond any definition of God that any human has yet given or comprehended ... God is bigger and gooder than we can fathom!). However, we THINK we are egos. Whether we call it that or not. The ego (or carnal nature) was born in the belief that we have separated ourselves from God. And this is the bare essence of sin -- the (erroneous but prevalent, and seemingly obvious) *belief* that we are separate from God. It isn't true -- but if we believe it, it will seem to be true, and our experience will "prove" it to us (even though our experience is our very own projection - more on that later).

The direct result of this perceived separation is guilt ... "I must have done something wrong to have caused this separation-from-God". This guilt goes FAR beyond anything I do -- it becomes who I AM... the ego tells me that there is something inherently wrong with me ... that I am depraved, that I am beyond-hope ... it's the sum total of all the negative beliefs, feelings, experiences I've ever had ... it's self-hatred, self-despising, self-rejection ... incompetence, failure, hollowness ... the strong foundational belief that something is lacking, something is missing, something is broken in my very core.

We humans have believed the insidious whisperings of our egos to such a degree that we have doctrinalized these beliefs, and have turned them into dogma ... into the very foundation of our religions.

Obviously, we don't walk around feeling this way consciously (most of the time). We couldn't cope if we did ... it would be too overwhelming to face. So, we keep it largely unconscious ... not aware that it's our operating bedrock, permeating all we think, say, and do.

Now here's the tricky part about guilt: when I believe we are guilty, I believe I am deserving of punishment. Thus, I live in fear ... fear of what will happen next, what others may say or do (or even think) about me. No matter what *form* the fear appears as, all fear stems from my belief that I *should* be punished for what I believe I have done, out of how wrong I believe I AM. It hangs over me, this looming threat of punishment ...

And, because I believe that I have offended God in my inherent wretched sinfulness, the ultimate source of my imagined fear is GOD. It is God I believe will ultimately punish me. THIS universal fear, borne of the ego's wrong belief that we are separated from God, is the source of the biblical passages that speak of the wrath of God, the vengeance of God, the punishment of God...! God, who is Love Himself, is not about punishment (He tells us, via John's epistle, that perfect love casts out ALL fear, and that fear is an immature response we are meant to outgrow, AS we experience the God of Love ... but if I believe God is a God-of-Wrath-&-Punishment, then I won't *allow* myself to experience God ... I will make sure that I have all manner of "safe" rules and dogmas between me and this too-scary God, so that I canNOT experience Him - whew!).

We humans are the ones who project our own guilt, fear and errors onto God! God created us in His image, and we've returned the favor ever since. "Adam and Eve" didn't get cast out of the "Garden" by God -- they cast themselves out!

The fear of God is the BIGgest obstacle we experience, that keeps us from experiencing the God of Love.

And yet -- the ego insists on this image of God. The ego insists on creating God in it's own image, in order to continue to exist ... in order for the ego to reign and run the show, God must be our enemy.

In effect, then, we render God unavailable to us ... in fearing God, we dare not approach God ... how can we turn for help from One of whom we are terrified? Instead, we turn to our own egos for answers ... which it is only too happy to supply. And yet, as with all things pertaining to the ego, the "help" actually causes untold harm.

Next, I want to "tell on" the ego ... I want to expose the types of "help" it offers, so that we can become aware of its tactics ... which is the first step toward freedom from the ego's tyrannical reign...

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Connect the Dots...!

Today is my eldest daughter's birthday, and I'll be celebrating her life, and so I'm going to keep this post short and sweet ... (because tomorrow I want to get into dismantling the sneaky/crafty ego-system...!).

I received these messages yesterday, and the comprehensive message they present is too good NOT to share (my additional comments are in brackets) ... Inquire Within, and let the Spirit connect the dots for you (& come out of the insanity that our fears project):

Elder's Meditation of the Day - October 24

"We create that bad among ourselves. We create it; then we try to call it devil, satan, or evil. But man creates it. There is no devil. Man creates the devil."
--Wallace Black Elk, LAKOTA

Inside every human being are the laws and codes by which we should live [written on our hearts!]. These laws and codes are communicated to us through a little voice [the Still, Small Voice]. When we are still, this voice guides us. If we choose to live out of harmony, our lives become filled with anger, hate, selfishness, dishonesty, etc... When these things appear in our lives, we give up accountability and blame it on something or someone else [scape-goating or "projecting" -- more on this tomorrow]. If we want to live in harmony, we need to pray our way back to living the principles the Creator gave us [and allow the healing to be IN us, rather than projecting the pain "out there"].


Remembering Means Re-Membering

For you are all a part of Me, a member of the Body of God, and when you remember Who You Really Are, you are doing that quite literally. That is, you are re-membering — becoming a member once again — of the One Body.

There is only One Body.

One Being.

Always remember that.

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Original Blessing ~ Our Inherent Dignity

First, I really must promote this: Transcendence Ezine (put out by my good friend, Tim King -- trust me on this, you *want* to keep up with what's happening in and through and around this man...).

And next ... I want to wallow a bit in "how to see ourselves - and each other - as God does."

And why not?!? Beats the snot out of how we're currently seeing ourselves and others, no? I mean, how's this self-despising, other-attacking thing working so far...?

Listen -- do you hear the echo of the mystics...?

"You have made humans a little less than God, and you have crowned them with glory and honor, You have given them dominion over the works of your hands, putting all things under their feet." (Psalm 8:6,7 -- and I notice that all things are said to be under the feet of Christ, too ... connect them dots!)

"Royal dignity was yours from the day you were born, on the holy mountains, royal from the womb, from the dawn of your earliest days." (Psalm 110:3)

"...Every person is created to have dominion in the world, i.e., to be stewards of the world and builders of community within society." (Helen Kenik)

"Every human person is an aristocrat. Every person is noble and of royal blood, born from the intimate depths of the divine nature and the divine wilderness." (Meister Eckhart)

"Human nature had ineffable dignity." (John the Scot)

"When will we teach our children in school what they are? We should say to each of them: do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you. And look at your body - what a wonder it is! your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?" (Pablo Casals)

What IF we taught our children that ....? Can you imagine? What if YOU had been taught that, years ago, when ideas were forming and becoming foundational-cement within you...? Do you feel that wistful ache, when you think on that... what if? Here's the good news: it's not too late -- it's *never* too late...! Our minds are amazing things, capable of being re-wired, re-formatted, re-NEWed! Break up that cement, and let the fertile soil be exposed...!

And we *can* teach our children afresh ... even if they've already been programmed ... even if we already taught them when we "knew not what we were doing" ... we can begin afresh, inviting them to discover with us what we're daring to learn ... what we're daring to entertain and contemplate ... and as we share, as we "teach" (which is really just to remind -- we have no need for anyone but the Spirit - the Only Teacher - to teach us), we learn with them. And, have you noticed how much more receptive the fresh generation is..? Not having been steeped in the stew of modernism (wherein intellect dwarfs intuition, wherein facts replace experience, wherein logic trumps the Spirit), they are marvelously more attuned to the flow of the Spirit within them ... not having been indoctrinated with the dogma of institutionalism (& the arrogance of its very nature), they are *open* to the "much more" that Jesus wanted to share with His disciples ... the "much more" that God still wants us to see, and indeed IS displaying, if we would but have eyes to see, and ears to hear ...!

And the little children shall lead us ...

Once we see ourselves as God does (and this takes time, depending on how much we have swallowed the "I am but a worm to be despised" mentality of traditional Christianity), we see that God is reminding us of both our inherent dignity (made in His image and likeness), AND of our resulting responsibility. The responsibility is for justice-making, and creation-preserving. For those who are poor (the have-nots) this means asserting one's own dignity, one's inherent rights, and letting go of the images that speak contrarily. For those who are comfortable (the have's) this means letting go and aligning with those who are afflicted.

We are told that we are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world ... to those who have been given much, much is required ... for we are One. This is not about socialism (being forced to share), but about Love (sharing out of a desire to meet needs, out of our inherent connection-with-all, responding out of Who We Really Are).

The fall/redemption tradition has continuously lost sight of the reality of "royal personhood" because it confuses the kingdom of God with the institution of the church (& this would very much include "house/simple" church). Theologian Alfred Loisy thus complained ... "Jesus came preaching the kingdom, and what we got was the churches -- what a letdown!"

Harsh words, perhaps ... but look at the fruit ... lift off the veneer of good-works, and see what motivates most of it ... are folks responding out of knowing they are deeply loved and accepted, and thus cannot help BUT respond in kind ...? OR, are they reacting to a fear that they are separated from God, and thus must earn His acceptance, approval, and love...?

Only each heart, daring to be radically honest, can answer for itself...

May we be enabled to see ourselves -- and each other -- as God sees us, which is Who We Really Are. And may our doingness flow out of our BEingness...!

Shalom, Dena

Friday, October 23, 2009

In Defense of Truth ...

I have to wonder how much we really trust in the Spirit to lead us ... it appears that most of us believe, or have been taught, or think, that God needs our help, and that unless we defend God, God's reputation is smeared ... that the Spirit doesn't know how to lead us into all truth ...

The meek man will attain a place of soul rest. As he walks on in meekness he will be happy to let God defend him. The old struggle to defend himself is over. He has found the peace which meekness brings.
- A.W. Tozer

I'm learnING this, am in the thick of learning it ... am letting it transform me.

It seems to me that if a thing is true ... it will be (or will become) self-evident.

No need for declarations, defenses, proofs, attacks, or mind-numbing doctrinal recitations. If it's true, it just IS (& truth is strong enough to withstand all manner of scrutinizing, all manner of questioning, all manner of exploration).

Just share the thing, as you currently see it ... (everyone bearing in mind that this is a journey into all truth, that only the Spirit can lead, and that all of us are doing the best we can, at any given time ... God certainly knows how He has made us, and isn't shocked).

If the thing is true, the Spirit is IN it, is OF it, and the Spirit, who alone can, will plant the seed in the hearts which are receptive, and cause it to grow.

The Spirit alone can dismantle whatever is in the way of each of us seeing, knowing, embracing, and living that truth. The Spirit, who alone can, will lead (& is leading!) each of us into all truth -- meeting each of us where we are, leading us, shining Light into our dark and blind spots, as we can bear it.

Our marching orders, while en route...?


Oh - and the Spirit alone can show us how that love manifests ... in each and every situation, with each and every soul.

Unless, of course, we don't trust the Spirit to do what Jesus told us He will, and we instead insist on leading the egoic charge into an egoic battle ... attacking specks while ignoring our own logs ...

"What is that to you? You follow Me." (Jesus)

Shalom, Dena

P.S. I notice that Jesus said, "The Spirit will lead you into all truth." He didn't say, "a book will be compiled by councils of man, which will contain and spell out, and limit, all truth." When we substitute the living-leading Spirit with even the most inspired of written words, we do so to our peril. Jesus said, "It is written, but *I* say..." & He's still saying. The Dabhar of God (the living word) is that which the Spirit is saying, within ... separating soul (ego) and Spirit (truth). Are we listening..? Or, do we think we already *know*...?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

~*Guidelines for Enlightenment*~

[Note: I didn't write this, though I wish I had...! Still, I must share it ... many thanks to my unknowingly-enlightened friend, who sent it along ... anything that inspires both enlightenment and merriment is a KEEPER! And I shall return to more "serious" matters next ... much to explore in the Via Positiva.]

Shalom, Dena

by Swami Beyondananda

1. Be a Fundamentalist--make sure the Fun always comes before the mental. Realize that life is a situation comedy that will never be cancelled. A laugh track has been provided, and the reason why we are put in the material world is to get more material. Have a good laughsitive twice a day, and that will ensure regularhilarity.

2. Remember that each of us has been given a special gift, just for entering--so you are already a winner.

3. The most powerful tool on the planet today is Tell-A-Vision. That is where I tell a vision to you and you tell a vision to me. That way, if we don't like the programming we're getting, we can simply change the channel.

4. Life is like photography. You use the negative to develop.

5. It is true. As we go through life thinking heavy thoughts, thought particles tend to get caught between the ears, causing a condition called truth decay. So be sure to use mental floss twice a day. And when you're tempted to practice tantrum yoga, remember what we teach in Swami's Absurdiveness Training class: "Don't get even, get odd."

6. If we want world peace, we must let go of our attachments and truly live like nomads. That's where I no mad at you, you no mad at me. That way, there'll surely be nomadness on the planet. And peace begins with each of us. A little peace here, a little peace there, pretty soon all the peaces will fit together to make one big peace everywhere.

7. I know great earth changes have been predicted for the future, so if you're looking to avoid earthquakes, my advice is simple. When you find a fault, just don't dwell on it.

8. There's no need to change the world. All we have to do is toilet train the world, and we'll never have to change it again.

9. If you're looking to find the key to the Universe, I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is---there is no key to the Universe. The good news is--it has been left unlocked.

10. Finally, everything I have told you is channeled. That way, if you don't like it, it's not my fault. And remember, enlightenment is not a bureaucracy. So, we don't have to go through channels.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Original Blessing ~ PanENtheism ~ God as All in All

In music, in the sea, in a flower, in a leaf, in an act of kindness ... I see what people call god in all these things." (Pablo Casals)

"My Beloved is the mountains,
And lonely wooded valleys,
Strange islands,
And resounding rivers,
The whistling of love-stirring breezes,
The tranquil night
At the time of rising dawn,
Silent music,
Sounding solitude.
The supper that refreshes and deepens love." (John of the Cross)

"God is love - and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God in her." (1 Jn 4:16)

"It is in God we live and move and have our being." (Paul in Acts 17:28)

"The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw - and knew I saw - all things in God and God in all things." (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

"We are in God, and God, whome we do not see, is in us." (Julian of Norwich - you go, girl!)

"God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God." (Hildegarde of Bingen -- wonder if Hilde and Juli knew each other...?)

"Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears plentiful fruit." (Jesus)

"Father may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me." (Jesus, again ... and read that one again, carefully ... dare to realize what He's saying...!)

"Matter is transparent and malleable in relation to spirit." (Teilhard de Chardin)

"I laugh when I hear the fish in the water is thirsty." (Kabir)

"What sort of God would it be, who only pushed from without?" (Goethe)

Jung wrote that one of the ways to lose your soul is to worship a god outside of you. The (popular and insane) notion that God is "out there somewhere" is likely the ultimate in dualism ... separating God and humanity, and minimizing a "relationship" with God to an immature state of either pleasing this distant God, or pleading with Him. This creates a subject/object relationship to God ...

But there's another way of seeing God ... Panentheism. Not pantheism. Pantheism says that everything is God and God is everything. PanENtheism says God is IN everything, and everything is IN God. There's a distinction there ... the former makes God irrelevant. The latter seems God as transcendent-Omnipresence.

As Meister Eckhart says, "We must learn to penetrate things and find God there."

As an artist, and as a writer, I recognize this, albeit on a much smaller scale ... my role is to become transparent ... a conduit for the creativity and Dabhar of God, flowing through the mediums of color, words, images ... for His life in me is the only life I have ... the only life there IS.

Panentheism is an awareness of the "amongness" of Immanuel -- God *with* us. Even as Jesus told us, in our midst, within us. This awareness draws us into inter-connectedness with all that is, with all others, even as the "otherness" fades ... we are able to celebrate group-immersion in God on one hand, and yet to enjoy the unique creativity of each amazing demonstration of the diversity of God, in each human being, on the other hand.

It can be said that Panentheism is a "mature" understanding of the Presence of God. It goes beyond seeing God as noun, or even God as verb ... Yes, God is love, and God is justice ... but even more profoundly, God is preposition ... God *with* us, God *in* us, God *of* us, and even, in dawns upon us, God *as* us...!

Shalom, Dena

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Original Blessing ~ Compassion

It seems clear to me that every form of spirituality needs to be questioned, as to it's foundations, it's presuppositions, and it's logical conclusions ... or "fruitage."

Is it founded on, and fueled by, fear, or love?

Does it presume that we are foundationally bad, or basically good?

Does it build on the concept of God as angry and disappointed, or God as accepting and welcoming?

Does it lead to fear-based conformity, or trust-based love-response?

Does it inspire anxiety, or peace?

Does it cause relational divisions, or relational unity?

Does it result in judgment, or move us into compassion?

I have spent the past five years transitioning from the former to the latter ... as my puny concepts of "god" have fallen away, revealing the True God who Always Was. Along the way, many concepts of Christianity, and then finally Christianity itself, had to be shed, as I became aware that this religion of man so poorly reflects the heart of God, and the teachings of Jesus.

William Eckhardt, in his study on the psychology of compassion, says, "compassion is a function of faith [read trust] in human nature, while compulsion is a function of lack of faith in human nature." The fall/redemption message of Christianity leads us to compulsions and conformity... which does not give way to compassion.

I have to ask: why is compassion not an important spiritual commodity within the Christian religion, when it's the clear fulfillment of Judaism, and the unquestioned teaching of Jesus' message and life?

Allow me to quote Matthew Fox's assessment of this dilemma:

One reason why compulsion rather than compassion has so characterized the patriarchal [i.e., ran-by-man] era of religion is that trust has been so much less important than fear. And spiritual expansion has been so much less important than guilt. But a new era dawns. For you cannot long imprison the word of the Lord."

And here's some good news: Compassion can be LEARNED...!

God-incidentally, my daughter stumbled upon this amazing article, while doing some research about compassion (like mother, like daughter!). Enjoy!

Shalom, Dena

Monday, October 19, 2009

Original Blessing ~ A Conspiracy of Trust ...

SO very much is happening, in me, around me, through me ... it feels like I'm thick in the birthing process ... with all of the uncomfy feelings that go with it ... feeling the urge to "nest" ... to prepare ... to gather supplies ... to focus ... to wonder what the "baby" will look like ... and to deal with all the new and unfamiliar sensations that go with something totally new coming forth ...

I'm experiencing this on the physical plane (getting my art-biz going), and on the spiritual plane (opening myself up to more mind renewal ... thrilling to the Spirit, and threatening to the ego at the same time).

Yeah, a wee bit uncomfy right about now ...! :)

Seems like a very apropos time to delve into the concept of trust...

Check out, with me, the echos of the mystics on this topic:

"Trust shows the way." (Hildegarde of Bingen -- I've got to meet this gal!)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart ... Happy is she who trusts in the Lord ... He who trusts in the Lord will be enriched." (Psalms 3:5, 16:20, 28:25)

"Go your way. Your trust has healed you." (Jesus the Christ)

"You can never trust God too much. Why is it that some people do not bear fruit? It is because they have no trust either in God or in themselves." (Meister Eckhart -- I really like this dude!)

"What God does first and best and most is to trust his people with their moment in history. He trusts them to do what must be done for the sake of his whole community." (Walter Brueggemann - woah!)

"Often our trust is not full.
We are not certain that God hears us
Because we consider ourselves worthless and as nothing.
This is ridiculous
and the very cause of our weakness.
I have felt this way myself." (Julian of Norwich -- I would love to schmooze with this chick)

"Where there is fear, there is no religion." (Mahatma Gandhi)

"Fear is driven out by perfect love." (1 Jn 4:18)

When a religion has, as its starting point, the concept of original sin ... when religion is exclusively built around the concepts of sin and redemption ... such a religion does not teach trust.

No trust of existence, nor of the body, nor of society, nor of creativity, nor of the Universe. Instead, it teaches, both consciously and unconsciously, the necessity of FEAR. Fear of self, of others, of the universe, of thoughts, of feelings, of relationships, of concepts, of the unfamiliar, of punishment, of judgment, of condemnation and eternal damnation ...! Gandhi said, "What is gained through fear lasts only while the fear lasts." Think on that...! Any religion founded on fear *must* continue teaching and preaching fear in order to keep that religion going.

My own experience, and my observation on a large (even if subtle) scale, is that more and more are leaving religion in the West, precisely because they are growing, maturing and shedding the immature need for fear ... they are growing and maturing into trust ... and it becomes painfully and liberatingly obvious that religion is no longer adequate for their more developed needs.

There was a point in my life in which I needed my umbilical cord -- it was vital... for without it I would have perished. It served me well, and I am grateful for it. But, I notice that there came a time in which I no longer needed it ... and it even became a liability. If I had insisted upon retaining my umbilical cord, after its purpose was over, it would have rotted, and would've spread gangrenous poison into the rest of my body, threatening my very life. It was wisdom to discard it, to thank it for a job well done, but to acknowledge that it was no longer needed in my life. So too, with notions that once served me, but which now are preventing growth and life.

A two year old needs the fear of the hot stove to protect him from pain and damage. But if that person is still fearing stoves at age 20, that would be an obvious problem. Fear may be the beginning of wisdom, but wisdom itself is meant to mature, so that we are guided from within, and no longer needing the "training wheels" of rules and dogma to protect us ... at some point, those very rules and dogma "expire" ... and serve to cripple our growth. Perfect love casts out ALL fear -- including the immature fear of God.

At some point, trust must become our way of life ... the more I look at this creation, the more I see that God is utterly worthy of my trust ... and so is this creation. And I notice that God trusts me with it ... I keep turning things over to God, and I'm even sensing that He is turning things over to me ... wanting me to step out in trust, acting as if I *believe* that that HE is IN me, as the Spirit, leading and guiding me into all truth ... that life itself conspires to lead me in directions that will most bless me, and even bless all others, at the same time (no blessing-competition going on here, as IF there were only a certain amount of blessing, and we each had a limit, and if I get more than my fair share, someone else goes without ...! Ha! There's a super-ABUNDANCE of all that we need...! God, the universe, the creation, is LAVISH! Spread it around thickly! Roll in it! Throw it in the air! Fling it far and wide! Yee-HAW!).

I see that we have a powerful gift, and responsibility to USE the gift ... of seeing each other as we ARE, and not as we appear to be. If I treat a person as she appears to be, then I reinforce the illusion of that presenting-ego... IOW, I assist in "making" her worse than she IS. But if I treat her as she really IS, the deep-down base-potential of what she could be if only she saw herself as God does, then I assist in "making" her AS she truly IS! Do you see the awesome power of this? And how we all too often (unknowingly) use this power for harm...?

We are here, in this physical realm, to *expand* our gifts, and not -- out of fear! -- to bury them. Our possibilities for expansion have NO limit! For God is the very boundary of our limit ... and if your God has limitations, boundaries, or even a definition, then your god is too small ... and you need to fire that god and let the True Omnipotent/Omniscient/Omnipresent God rise up in your consciousness...!

Try this on for size: We are as big as we allow ourselves to be. woah. Julian of Norwich (my good friend!) says, "We are of God. That is what we are. I saw no difference between God and our Substance but as if it were all God."

Our passion has long been focused on defending status quo ... holding tightly to what we think is true ... protecting ourselves from growth itself! Instead, we would do well to invest our passion into growing and expanding ... and yes, change is a necessary part of that. And yes, pain is a necessary part of that. But, as this oft-pregnant mama has noticed and experienced: pain gives birth to joy. The pain of change is transformed into joyous liberation from the fear-shackles that stunt our growth.

If we base our understanding of the universe on nature's cycles, rather than on a mythological past state of "perfection" from which we "fell" ... then we learn to reverence change and process. We are either clinging to the false perfection-standard of the mythical past, or treading water while awaiting the "soon" (but endlessly futuristic) mythology of the coming perfection-utopia, OR, we are embracing the eternal-Now, inhabited by the I Am, who encourages us to follow the Spirit's leading into all truth ... shedding what no longer fits as we grow ... and it dawns upon us that we never fell from grace in the first place ... that we were always perfect and complete in the image of God.

Once the shock of seeming-heresy fades away, and we remember who we are (the very one that God knew before He knit us together in our mothers' wombs...!), then everything falls beautifully and peacefully into place. Fear evaporates, and trust grows roots. WE can even lose our fear of "death" ... for if we have God's life, and that life is, by its very nature, eternal, then we do not die ... we "merely sleep" as Jesus told folks. What we call "death" is then seen as merely the next of many transitions ... just like birth, just like all the many changes we experience between our entry and exit of this physical realm. Yes, the body may return to dust, but we are not our bodies ... who we are continues on. We can trust the death-process as much as we learn to trust every life-process ... for life and love and God (synonymous words) is all there IS. All is One.

Next, I'd like to explore how this leads to compassion ... and what a compassion-infused life looks like ...

Shalom, Dena

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me...!

Today is my birthday ... I am celebrating 48 years on this planet...! (and I've earned every laugh line, every grey hair, and every single blessed stretch mark, too!)

I'm taking the day "off" from blogging, but wanted to share one of the most amazing emails that I received this morning (along with a couple hundred Facebook "Happy Birthday" messages):

Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu,
Happy Birrrrthday Dear Dena,
Happy Birrrrthday to Youuuu!

A few years back, not so long ago, heaven and earth erupted into a major celebration with the news of your impending adventure into this very time and space. You see, someone like Dena Brehm doesn't come along all that often. In fact, there's never been a single one like you, nor is there ever ANY possibility that another will come again. You're an Angel among us. Someone, whose eyes see what no others will EVER see, whose ears hear what no others will EVER hear, and whose perspective and feelings will NEVER, ever be duplicated. Without YOU, the Universe, and ALL THAT IS, would be sadly less than it is.

Quite simply:

You're the kind of person, Dena,
Who's hard to forget,
A one-in-a-million
To the people you've met.
Your friends are as varied
As the places you go,
And they all want to tell you
In case you don't know:
That you make a big difference
In the lives that you touch,
By taking so little
And giving so much!

Dena, you are so AWESOME! For your birthday, friends and angels from every corner of the Universe, including buddies you didn't know you had, will be with you to wish you the HAPPIEST of days and an exciting new year in time and space. You won't be alone!


PS - Dena, this is going to be YOUR year!!

It made me laugh, made me smile, and made me feel a little bit glowy.

Yeah, of course, my ego got in on it too ... that's just where I am in this journey!

(I may let my ego have a wee bit of cake today, too...!)

Shalom, Dena

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Original Blessing ~ Universal Harmony/Beauty/Jutice

Back to exploring Original Blessing ... evidence of this deeper-than-appearance
truth ...

It seems to me that all which we see, that which we experience, comes out of the prevailing collective thought about what IS. Most of us were raised in, or at least hugely affected by, the prevailing belief in original sin ... that this universe (or at least this planet) fell from grace, became separate from God, and is thus hopelessly and utterly depraved, unless and until we do/believe the "right thing" and get back into God's good graces.

(can I get a collective "UGH" for the uber-exhaustion and angst that this concept has caused us ...?!?)

Let's tune in again to the mystics of history, both ancient and contemporary, and see if we hear a thread of sanity through the ages:

When religion lost the cosmos, society became neurotic. And we needed to invent psychology to deal with the neurosis." (Otto Rank)

"The most important function of art and science is to awaken the cosmic religious feeling and keep it alive." (Albert Einstein)

"Mystical experience is the mirror image of negative paranoia. It sees 'the universe is a conspiracy organized for my benefit.'" (Andrew Weil, MD)

"The exilerating quest for discovery, the search to find what magic lies beyond the stars and inside the atom, is at once wonderfully insatiable and wonderfully satisfying. We cannot find happiness in contemplating ourselves; but we can find it in contemplating infinity. Reaching out, with our imaginations, toward its majesty, it will in turn embrace us and inspire us." (Jacques Cousteau)

"The creative Wisdom of all tings has established marvelous and ineffable harmonies by which all things come together in a concord or friendship or peace or love or however else the union of all things can be designated." (John the Scot -- who was actually Irish)

"All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sisters Moon and Stars;
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air;
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water." (Francis of Assisi)

"Earth and Heaven are in us." (Mahatma Gandhi)

I see the Universe as One ... a manifestation of the Only Source of All that IS. I see it as good -- very good. Even glorious beyond comprehension. I see all things as interrelated ... microcosms of the macrocosm ... continuing fractals in both eternal directions ... writ small in the infinitesimal universe of the cell, of each atom, and writ large in the infinitesimal universe of the cosmos ... and all declaring the glory of God.

To explore this cosmos, whether one is a microbiologist, or a cosmologist, is to explore God ... the same story is told, over and over again, if we would have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The cosmos is held together in incredible awe-inspiring order ... balance, harmony, and justice. In this understanding, of all being ONE, true unity is celebrated. Thomas Aquinas says that every person is "capable of the universe" and we are thus invited into a cosmic awakening, a cosmic relationship with all that is. But, our traditional religions have encouraged us to not celebrate this, but to despise the universe (& ourselves) as being "corrupt" ... and what has been the result? We have become sick and violent, confused and attacking, with our human institutions merely reflecting the hearts and minds of the humans who inhabit and promote them. We were made for something cosmic -- we will not peaceably fit into anything smaller than the cosmos.

Without a cosmos-consciousness, humanity becomes manipulative and arrogant -- idolatrous of itself and it's projections.

Even scripture teaches us that we were taught by, and included in the Cosmic Christ -- "the first-born of all creation in whom were created all things in heaven and on earth." (Col 1:15, 20) The earliest followers of Christ saw and celebrated a universality of the Cosmic Christ -- the salvation (reconciling) of all. So what happened?

Augustine had no sense of the cosmic Christ ... he saw the universe as corrupt and separate from God ... his view was cemented early in the history of Christianity, by those who sought to institutionalize the teachings/life of Christ, in order to control the masses. Later, during the scientific era, Newton's mentality broke down all things into disconnected parts. And, patriarchal politics condemned anything that threatened their fear-based control over other humans. One cannot control and manipulate, and thus benefit from, those who live in peace, those who are governed by love.

From the prolific writings of Augustine, we have inherited a hyper-focus on guilt, a practice of introspection, a preoccupation with law, sin, and *personal* salvation. This focus has dominated Western approaches to a relationship with God. And yet the Eastern approach focuses n theosis, the divination of the cosmos... and the transfiguration of the world ... cosmic, not personal, salvation. This fits as well with what the old covenant prophets wrote, about the then-coming new covenant, wherein all would know God (whether they *yet* know that or not...!).

What if our soul is not so much in the body, as the body is in the soul..? What if our thoughts are inside-out? What if we could move past the puny-mindedness of the fall/redemption concept, which causes us to distrust the body? What if we could realize that we are not our bodies, so much as we have them, as tools for this experience? What if that enabled the cosmos to loom large again in our awareness, and we felt our connection to and with and in it? If we knew and experienced our connection with God, and with all others, with everything in the universe, how would that affect our relationships? Our treatment of this universe?

When we cannot welcome the universe, and reverence it as a blessing, then we will fight it. How does this show up in our experience? How has violence permeated our society? Our civilization is arrogant beyond imagining. Such is the consequence of believing that creation is corrupt and depraved ... such is the legacy of believing the doctrine of original sin.

The universe teaches universality. When we approach the cosmos with reverence and openness to learn, we also thus approach others -- even those different from ourselves -- with reverence. All elements of the Creation are available for everyone -- everything was placed here for the benefit of everyone.

To the degree that our religions, and our societies, cannot become open enough for a cosmic spirituality, a unified Oneness, to that degree are they doomed. "It is the disorder in the mind of man that produced chaos of the kind that brings about war ... any right understanding of the proper relation of man to man, and man to the universe would make war impossible." (artist Robert Henri)

If we could, both individually and collectively, replace fall/redemption theology with creation/blessing theology, we, and our society, would become sane. Then, a whole lotta psychologists would be out of work, and a whole slew of artists would be put to very good work ... celebrating the reflections of life and blessing for all...!

Shalom, Dena

Friday, October 16, 2009

God Always IS

Part of my daily routine (except on Sundays, when I indulge in sleeping in, now that I'm a non-church-going heathen) is to go out for a race-walk ... sun, rain, snow, sleet ... unless the sidewalks are so slick that I cannot get up my speed, in which case I resort to the mind-numbing stationery bicycle (a truly evil implement of tortue if ever there was one!).

I usually bring my radio, and listen to National Public Radio as I walk (since I don't do TV, I like to keep informed) ... but this morning, I sensed God inviting me (yes, I sensed the word "invite") to walk with Him, and hear His thoughts.

How could I turn God down, and choose NPR instead (and anyway, they're in the middle of their Fall fund-drive, and that annoys the snot out of me)...?

Most of the walk was uneventful ... no revelations at all. Just me walking in the light rain. I even complained to God that it was rather boring.

Then, on the home stretch, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds ... I mean, gloriously, complete with those massive sun-rays that speak of majesty ... as if they were lighting the orangey-gold leaves of the poplar trees with pure fire.

I gasped ... even though no one else seemed to notice (this is also the Land of the Great Rainbows ... I nearly go off the road gawking and pointing at the massive, bright, bold, and often double-rainbows, as the other folks think of them as commonplace, and ignore the display of beauty - silly Oregonians!).

I suddenly had the clear and distinct thought that the sun is always shining, always there, without fail ... like the very Life of God always flowing. The clouds only appear to stop the sun ... but judge not by appearances, and rise above the cloudy thoughts ... to the pure sunlight. And God's mercy is such that even when all I can see is clouds, and I even declare it to be so in my experience, God breaks through, to show me the Truth, reminding me of what IS, from that higher, *more* real perspective.

I see that I have the choice as to what I see as more real ... the ephemeral, vaporous clouds ... or the steadily shining sun.

Break through, O God...!

Shalom, Dena

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Trouble with Christianity ...

[Warning: To the degree that you believe that God can be defined and confined by Christianity, you will either loathe or love what I'm about to write ... as always, don't take what I write as truth ... go to the Spirit - the Only One Who Knows.]

So far, everything I've seen exposed about Christianity, shows me that Gandhi was right in saying, "I love Christ, but I don't much like Christians."

It's not the people that I have trouble with ... it's the mindset of the people. The fear-based mentality ... the myopic mindset ... the hyper-focus on the UNbiblical notion of "original sin" rather than original BLESSING ... the making of God in our own image ... the projecting of ego/carnal thinking onto God ... the "us vs. them" view of the world that maligns anyone who is not like "we" are, or like they think we're *supposed* to be ...

In short ... the continuation of the teachings/mindset of the Pharisees, and thinking that we're following Jesus.

I see SO much pain and horror that's come from the teachings of Christianity ... the slaughtering of "heretics" ... the crusades, the Inquisition, the murder of "witches (women who dared to use the use of herbs to alleviate the "God-mandated" suffering in childbirth)," slavery, denouncement of the body (including and especially the demonization of sexuality) ... the despising of ourselves, of our bodies, of the planet, of other humans ... the seeing ourselves as separate from God and from each other ...

In short, perverting the "very good" that God declared over all creation, and never took back.

It keeps us from seeing and experiencing the Kingdom which is here and now ... the new heavens and new earth that is here and at hand, within us, in our midst ... only discerned and experienced spiritually ... it keeps us in this never-land of longing for the mythological "glory days" of the past (which never existed), or yearning for the "soon coming" (but always elusive) utopia of the future (which is only a figment of our imaginations). We then forfeit our co-creative responsibility and GIFT, in cooperating with God, here and now, IN this Kingdom, which has always been here, right under our noses, and instead delight with how "bad" things are getting, and even wish it to get worse, so that we can "Make" Jesus come back ... celebrating travesty, thinking it to be a sign of our pending "rescue" from the chaos of our own making ...

Insanity. Doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results.

Thank You God ... that the Spirit IS leading us into all truth (& thank You that You increase our "bearability") ... thank You that You ARE drawing all men (& women, and wee folk) to Yourself ... thank You that you ARE renewing our minds, to align with the Mind of Christ (which we have) ... thank You that Your Dabhar does NOT go forth void, but is active in separating Spirit from ego (which paradoxically makes them one) ... thank You that shift IS happening, and we ARE awakening from this dream of our own making ...

Shalom, Dena

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Unpacking Original Sin ~ Passion Perspective

Let's eavesdrop on the mystics of history again:

"The primary intention of the Song of Sons deals with human sexual love - the experience of it, its delights and its power." (Roland E. Murphy)

"All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits and colored flowers and herbs." (Francis of Assisi)

Our sensuality is grounded in Nature, in Compassion and in Grace. In our sensuality, God is. God is the means whereby our Substance and our Sensuality are kept together so as never to be apart." (Julian of Norwich)

"Do not disdain your body. For the soul is just as safe in the body as in the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

"You cannot devalue the body and value the soul - or value anything else. Nothing could be more absurd than to despise the body and yet yearn for resurrection." (Wendell Berry)

"This earth is precious to the Creator and to harm the earth is to heap contempt upon its Creator. WE are part of the earth and it is part of us." (Chief Seattle)

"The soul loves the body." (Meister Eckhart)

"Do you have a body? Don't sit on the porch! Go out and walk in the rain!" (Kabir)

What has the fall/redemption theology taught us...? Theologian Tanquerry sums it up in his prayer of humility: "May I know Thee, O Lord, that may love Thee; May I know myself, that I may despise myself."

I once believed that, and lived by that ... and I was the most miserable of women. Out of that foundational belief (that we are to be despised, that we are despised by God) came rampant striving, perfectionism, bulimia, exhaustion, contempt for self and others, and deep, impenetrable depression.

Is this true humility?

The word "humility" comes from the word "humus" or earth. To be humble then is to be "in touch with the earth, with creation." To celebrate our earthiness, our sensuality, and our passions. Denial of our passions, our earthiness, leads to oa repression and oppression ... violence, subject/object relationships, and a perversion of "power over/power/under" others.

Thomas `a Kempis used the word "passion" fourteen times in his "Imitation of Christ" ... but it was always seen as negative -- "fight your passions" and "get rid of passion and desire." In his view, in the majority view of Christianity, passions are seen as evil, a curse ... something to slaughter.

But what if we learned to appreciate our passions, and make them work for us...? What if we used a "bridle of love" with our passions ... we do not kill a majestic stallion, but we learn to steer him with a bridle ... putting all that passionate energy to good use, for blessing and transforming.

The Western mindset of division has done us a great disservice ... in "separating" body from mind, from soul, from spirit, we have concluded that we are at war within ourselves, rather than seeing ourselves as a holistic creation of God.

For instance, Jewish spirituality is so undualistic (nonseparated) that it lacks a word for body, or a word for soul. This is the very spirituality from which Jesus emerged. For Jews, there is no separation between carnal and spiritual... but perceives of the spiritual within the carnal...

What, I wonder, can we learn from that..?

In the Song of Songs (also called Song of Solomon), the whole book is a rhapsodic celebration of all things earthy and bodily ... vine, wine, fertility ... passionate lovemaking (with no reference to procreation, by the way ... as if God can only handle sex if we are "making babies" ... as if He has to turn His holy head away while His animalistic offspring "do the nasty", as long as e gets babies out of the equation). The Western Church has been so horrified and shocked at the erotic and graphic imagery of lovemaking in this book, that they tried to justify it's inclusion in the canon of Scripture by insisting that it is NOT about sex, but is instead an allegory of the relationship of the soul to God.

As if it's either/or..? As if lovemaking isn't indeed an allegory of our Oneness with God, with each other...? When male and female become One in a beautiful symbol of integration ... male and female we are made in His image...?

I love this quote by Matthew Fox in his (must-read!) book, "Original Blessing" - "Augustine was fond of saying that 'God is never disturbed by any passions.' This tells us a lot more about Augustine, it seems to me, than about God... being disturbed by his passions haunted Augustine all his life, and, unfortunately, it has also haunted much of the Western Church that took his fall/redemption theology as gospel."

Julian of Norwich says, "It is when our soul is breathed int our body that we are made sensual." Regarding the relationship between body and soul, she says, "Let each of them take help from the other." The key is mutuality ... not control, not either/or, but both/and.

Let me set the stage for you, in what I read next ... there I was, on the "humble throne", the "mercy seat" that is the porcelain throne in my bathroom ... reading this book ... when the next statement caught my eye:

"The simplest natural functions of our body, such as going to the bathroom are acts of co-creation with God."

I had to laugh outloud, in utter delight ...! Ohhhhh, to find my anal observations shared by a much-revered mystic was just too wonderful! :)

Here's a selection from Julian of Norwich's writings, that is too often edited out:

A person walks upright, and the food in her body is shut in as if in a well-made purse. When the time of her need arrives, the purse is opened and then shut again in the most fitting fashion. And it is God who does this, as it is shown when he says that he comes to us in our humblest needs. For God does not despise what he has made, nor does he disdain to serve us in the simplest natural functions of our body, for the love of the soul which he created in his own likeness. For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh is clad in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the chest, so are we, soul and body, clad and enclosed in the goodness of God."

I LOVE it!

I've always deeply appreciated the shortest verse in Scripture, "Jesus wept." For it shows His humanity ... and a part of me has always secretly wished that there had been included yet another short scripture, perhaps, "Jesus pooped." Who knows -- perhaps it was there, and it was edited out ... (and no, lightning has not struck me at my computer after I dared to type that ...).

True humility is an earthiness that celebrates the most basic of life's blessings -- and yes, a healthy bowel movement is among these joys ("I once was constipated, but now I move freely" ... likely another verse that got sanitized out!). I notice that letting go of waste products is a divine act that all creatures share in common. And is this not a metaphor for how we are to let go and shed ALL that we no longer need, spiritually...? Such as religion (a thing which once served us, but which now only festers in the "bowels" of our experience)...?

Yes, indeedy, there is a whole lot of evidence of constipated Christians in this realm...! (Bringing a whole 'nother meaning to the verse, "we are but(t) flesh.")

(I imagine that my mother is enjoying this blog post...!)

Let me rescue this post, and regain some dignity, by quoting again from Matthew Fox's (must-read!) book:

Surely a return to a spiritual tradition that understands humility as earthiness promises a blessed and creative New Creation! Here there is hope that we might come to our senses and let life on earth and in the good earth go on."

Go forth, and celebrate the body-gift that you wear!

Shalom, Dena