…I’m going to put out here some thoughts I’ve had lately and see if anyone is listening.
For most of my life, the books I’ve needed to read have been laid on my path. Most of them placed recently were published in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Feeling the need to read something more up-to-date, I have pulled out Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Heart of Centering Prayer (THoCP). It was published in 2016 and covers updated thoughts on Centering Prayer but also brings in The Cloud of Unknowing from the anonymous 14th Century monk.
I feel an affirmation in doing this reading of THoCP because this morning’s reading from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening (my ‘I Ching’) has him describing his entering a small clearing in some woods which was “so densely overgrown that it felt depressing for nothing seemed capable of getting through. Something in my own makeup resembled this and made me return there several times. But it was finally in winter, without its leaves, that this same clearing undressed itself. So often, in our agitation and impatience, we hurry off, annoyed and troubled, in search of love or peace, never imagining that where we first looked is now letting light through.”
So, I am returning to where I first started on this journey in December 2016, with an exploration of “where I first looked,” Centering Prayer (CP), and in the introduction to THoCP, I find the bread crumb which tells me I’m on the right track: “The roadmap in Christianity is not based on levels of consciousness but on progressive degrees of union whose descriptions are for the most part affective rather than cognitive.”
Backstory: I have most recently finished Jim Marion’s Putting on the Mind of Christ (PoTMoC) and got stalled, thinking that my ability to be of service in the world was limited by other people’s levels of consciousness…that they would not hear what I was trying to say; consequently, the goal of my service would have to be, first and formost, the encouraging and facilitating of the raising of the consciousness of others. (Is that even something I could do?) But, here, Cynthia is saying that the raising of the consciousnes of others is not required. Getting them to do Centering Prayer, is.
“Degrees of union,” I will assume, is with Christ…with God.
In the Introduction, Cynthia points out that the confusion that Christians often experience when learning about this stuff (meditation, contemplation, nondual consciousness) comes because “‘nondual’ is a relative newcomer to the Western spiritual lexicon, having gained widespread currency only in the latter half of the century along with the emergence of interspiritual dialogue and those popular contemporary maps of levels of consciousness as articulated by Ken Wilbur, Spiral Dynamics, and others.”
So, having made my way through PoTMoC and the levels of consciousness, I am returning to CP and find the canopy has dropped its leaves and the light is being let in; with my new awareness of where I am in these woods, I shall start afresh with CP, beginning with the first section of THoCP, “A Short Course on Centering Prayer,” and specifically, Lesson 1: Getting (Re)oriented.
With respect to the “interspiritual dialogues” that Cynthia refers to (in the above quote), I am assuming she is referring to messages from ‘beings of light’ and other ‘channelings.’ I didn’t used to consider these writings and ideas credible, but I do now, In fact, there is one example that I find intriguing. In a book published in 1989, just before the world wide web became available to the public, a supposedly channeled being named Orin, “a spiritual guide and teacher,” tells us through Sanaya Roman that “there is a wave of energy passing through your galaxy that is altering the course of all life it touches. This wave affects the very nature of energy and matter, bringing all matter into a higher vibration…you may be receiving more insights…and feeling a deeper need to know your life purpose.”
Like I said, this book was published in 1989…just before the introduction of the internet as we know it. The ‘web’ of connected computers used to transfer large data files between scientists had been around for many years. Suddenly, about the time of this channeling, people began to see the potential of this capability as a means of communication for all people. Local Area Network (LAN) email had been in use for a while but suddenly people were able to be in touch through Wide Area Networks, around the world, instantly.
Last year, in a post titled Creation is Evidence of God’s Brilliance, I quipped that the Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate. But I’ve been giving some thought to how people who take contemplation seriously, especially scientists, are opening their minds to possibly receiving our civilization’s next best ideas. What better way to facilitate mankind’s evolution than by ramping up communication. Of course, with the ‘light’ of increased communication comes the complementary ‘dark’ of increased communication. I am needing to remind myself of the need for the dark stuff, not just as a contrast but as a rub or friction with which to propel oneself. Without a struggle, there would be no rising above said struggle; there would be no ‘aboving’ done, at all. But that’s a subject for another post…another time.
I am wanting to bring Cynthia’s The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three back up to the top level of my reading stack because I am wondering if this wave of energy, emanating from wherever, is a massive rush of Divine Thought? Also, is the innovation of the Internet as we know it, an example of 3rd Force? 3rd Force is often said to be something that is already present but now used in a new and different way to resolve two forces locked in a duality struggle, which then facilitates the arising of a new thing. I’m thinking not just about information and communications but also how Goodle Earth is facilitating archiological revelations; GPS is infusing traffic back into neglected areas of cities and bringing money back into dying business neighborhoods (With the Help of God and Gladys); our capacities for compassion are expanding in response to our expanded awareness of the global need for it (Suffering and Need: the Mothers of Spiritual Evolution).
I wonder if the ‘technicians’ of the early internet…those who saw the potential…were contemplatives by practice? I have noticed recently how many of the names associated with the latest innovations in medicine, science, and technology look like names of people that might be from India. I asked a doctor friend of mine, who is from India, and I told him that I suspected that it has nothing to do with education being better in India than it is in America, but rather with their cultural custom and value of meditation. He agreed but emphasized that the type of meditation was key: the kinds of meditation for the purpose of opening one’s connection to the highest source possible for wisdom, healing, and guidance…for the benefit of all of us. He shared with me his having met the monks in the Himalayas who spend their entire lives just meditating …holding the connection with the source of all creation for the benefit of the earth. (These monks, by the way, live for hundreds of years.)
(Of course, I am probably going to find this already addressed in one of Cynthia’s other books…perhaps even in The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three.)
Addendum: I haven’t opened Bourgeault’s The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, yet. I was told to read The Wisdom Jesus, first. It was an excellent suggestion.