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ChuckK

Feeling Lost

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I am a 60 year old respected professional. I was raised a strict Roman Catholic and all that goes along with that. My parents went to Mass every day. I attended eight years of Catholic grade school. I am realizing that what I experienced in grade school and from the pulpit in the 1960's was "indoctrination." A psychiatrist that I know labels it as "brainwashing." I was told and internalized that the Catholic faith was the one true faith, that there were an infinite number of ways to go to hell, that we were born deficient as exemplified by "original sin," etc. It has been a long journey. As this point in of my journey I read a again a couple of Bishop Spong's books. I read the books previously but, in hindsight, was not in the appropriate position to proceed at that time in my life and journey. I am further along on my journey and have come across this web site and Message Board. Bishop Spong has given me much to think about and to incorporate into my thinking, beliefs and life. Moving away from the theistic "Father in Heaven" concept has been challenging. Sometimes I feel, falling back to the initial indoctrination, that I am sinning against God by questioning my faith, but I have been able to put that in perspective recognizing that I am challenging and changing a lifetime paradigm. I find myself sort of "feeling lost" as I am walking along this road. Have others felt/feel this way in their own journeys? If so, what has been helpful for you? I eagerly look forward to learning from others who have gone down this way before.

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Hi Chuck,

 

I come from the same background as you do, so I'm familiar with the "indoctrination". I broke free of that when I began to familiarize myself with various Catholic contemplatives and mystics. Among them, my favorites have been Thomas Merton, Meister Eckhart, Bernadette Roberts, and others.

 

As for feeling "lost", that's actually a good thing. I think Merton says somewhere that we should stay lost when we finally get there. There is no path except the one that is "pathless", so I wouldn't look for anything, expect anything, or try to transcend anything. We are all just here now. Of course, that is my opinion; something everyone has to realize for themselves - or not!

 

Peace.

Steve

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Steve,

 

Thank you for our response. I will need to read it a few more times and allow it to percolate. I will explore the contemplatives and mystics you mention. I acknowledge it is a journey. There has been much pain in this regard over the years. My guess is that I am "wishing" for some peace. I know it will come.

 

Chuck

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Chuck,

 

I was raised a fundamental Christianity but left the Church when I got to about 19. A big part of it was 'rebellion' but also I became a police officer at that age and became exposed to a lot more of the world than I thought I knew. Questions arose and old paradigms didn't fit. I reject Christianity outright and said I was atheist. I wish I had thought it through more then, but I didn't.

 

Fast forward about 20 years and I went through a bout of anxiety (over money). Whilst I was vulnerable in this condition a well-meaning Christian friend told me it was God's way of calling me back! I instantly spiralled into 9 months or more of acute depression and worry about going to hell. I even got to a point where I thought suicide was my only way to end the pain. Thankfully I didn't go that far.

 

I say all this because I think I went through perhaps what you might be experiencing to some degree feeling 'lost'. I was questioning everything I had been taught, processing that most of it wasn't true, but finding myself unable to shake it.

 

What I did is spend time reading and writing at this forum, listening to podcasts by Interfaith Voices, reading biblical scholarship by the likes of Marcus Borg, Bart Erhman, Spong too, and many other authors considered 'Progressive Christians'. I found a mix of biblical and religious scholarship, and community with compassionate human beings, helped me reformulate my religious beliefs and find peace.

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Paul,

 

Thank you for your response. I need to think about your words. I will be continuing my exploration. I am a bit confused, as I have indicated, but I will continue on my journey. I will be looking into the authors you mention. Question for you. Do you have a relationship with God? Who is God to you? I am beginning to open up and pose questions that are so important to me at this point in time.

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Probably the closet i come to being in a relationship with God is the feeling I get when I'm with a large group of friends, children playing, everybody laughing and enjoying each other's company. Or when I am immersed in nature, whether it be on a bush walk or mucking out my chicken pen or weeding the garden. Those two simple activities/experiences fulfil me.

 

I am more decided about what God is not, than what God is.

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Chuck, I went to Catholic School my whole life until they kicked me out in High School. Steve gave you some great advice on the mystics. The Catholics have a rich mystical tradition that has been surpressed.

 

I love this stuff so I started a book, "The Science of Christian Mysticism". At this stage I read my last paragraph and then write the next one so it is still rough and will need to be rewriten many times. I am on chapter 4 and this is my last paragraph that I wasn't able to finish. I am playing off of the Trinity, but applying it to our being in three parts. I am open to any criticism as I will have to rethink many ideas.

 

We can think of our being in three parts call it the trinity; being, acting and partaking. Our being is our center and it is a wholesome spirit, a pure consciousness and total freedom. Being is the soul that knows the ideal happiness of heaven in the here and now. It is not disrupted with sorrow and fear because it is enraptured with the whole being of life in the present moment, and it does not take in the daily disturbances that cause us to feel unsteady. The genuine saints, mystics and sages have dived many times into this experience that is centered in peace. This experience with Everything, the Unified Field, or God however way you want to express it is what we hoped religion would be because it is intended to help individuals find their own way to the inner being. The soul just is so does not play off of the feelings and emotions of spiritual enthusiast. Our second part does and it is acting, doing, thinking, sensing, believing and considering action. We are eternally in the present moment so at all times we are in being, but we are not always mindful of it. We might not be aware of the here and now, but it remains and carries on until we experience it again. The acting part of the mind is what distracts us from pure consciousness, our being. It does this with familiar thoughts and emotions that return again and again until we pay attention to them and discover what makes them happen. We have the same thoughts and emotions in different situations or with different people, but the thoughts are usually the same. We think about 60,000 thoughts a day; the problem is we most of the thoughts are the same. Remember, they are lessons that we need to identify, learn from and let go of so we can experience the total freedom and pure spirit of the soul. We are an energy system and energy is constantly flowing through us even if we are not aware of our emotions and thoughts they are using our energy to produce their experience inside us. This is not bad it is just life on earth as a point in time to learn, discover, experience and love. To know things requires ideas, to know another person or God also involves ideas and images in our mind, but we still do not know the person or God just the ideas about them. This is the acting part of us and it knows God through ideas and images, but in the soul one knows God directly beyond the mind, beyond words, beyond images and ideas. The third part is the partaking part which is attracted to the worried magnetism of self-absorption. It is an instinctive interest with material things, the attachment to things and the desire to consume them. It represents the physical reality where we are bound up with everyone and everything. Now, in this model of our trinity we can’t partake in the third part unless we act first in the second so the third part is dependent on the second part. The physical body responds to our thoughts and emotions by producing chemicals at the same time or prior to our mind forming ideas. Our body abruptly reacts to a dangerous situation by creating adrenalin even before we have had time to think about it. Our thoughts, emotions and memories are a psychological energy that generates a natural response that is stored in our bodies. Some can give us a stomach ache, increase our heart rate, tighten our muscles or relax our entire system. Our ideas, concepts and emotions are interconnected with our bodies little by little, built up in stages every day according to our thoughts and beliefs. Some make us jump with joy, but some make us sick. When we develop a critical or serious illness sometimes we become conscious that our unpleasant attitude, fear or negativity has created it, a toxic biology. ..................note to self explain how 2nd part is dependent on 1st part.

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I agree with you, Soma that mysticism has been repressed by the Catholic Church. Approaching the ineffable has never been popular with a hierarchy that values ritual, devotion and attachment to doctrine, over less anxiety-ridden means of realization.

 

I wish you well with your book and I will be interested to see how you resolve "action" and "partaking" into pure being. Just off the top of my head, I would guess that action, or activity is the continuous, creative play of energy within pure awareness. The problem seems to be that we overlay the experiential and phenomenal expression of this energy with a strong belief in its own reality, including morally conditioned judgments, and then grasp at it as though it had a substantial existence in its own right. This results in a very firm belief in a substantial "self", and all of the suffering that goes along with that.

 

Just a few of my own thoughts for what they are worth.

 

Peace,

Steve

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Steve you are right and you express it very well. I agree with you and apreciate the feedback. This is what I put out last night.

 

We cannot act in the second part action without the first part which is being. Christian mysticism communicates with the inner being the soul so it has no need to play off of the emotions, doubts and fears of the second part of the mind. The church is good at evoking fear to motivate people; Christian mysticism is good at just listening within the soul for guidance. The deep spiritual perspective is made by contact with the soul, not by intimidation and pressure. When a spiritual seeker becomes conscious and experiences that he/she is part of everything, united in love, it is an invitation from God, “To let Thy Will be done”. The soul is a happy being, not lonely, but united with everything in God’s love. This is truly the Kingdom of Heaven that gives life a single-mindedness that energizes the whole system so we are less annoyed and can change bad habits. The soul is not guilty of anything, there is no shame or judgment so aligning with the soul is healthy and satisfying. The soul is pure consciousness that gives us sensations or vibrations on the physical plane and intuitions in the mental realm. It does this by linking us to the present moment and the opportunities that the moment brings. This is where we make changes to our lives and if we miss the moment then when we engage with the soul again in the next moment, which will bring us the opportunities of the universe. We have a physical body and a mind with limitations, but in the soul school there are no restrictions we don’t have to worry about failing, being let down or being unsuccessful. The soul is just pure being offering the body and the mind an infinite number of choices to make and to learn from. There is no intimidation or persuasion with fear and doubt because the soul is just out-and-out being radiating love and trust so we can make the most of the opportunities that come to us.

 

This is the way I expressed it in another writing, a while back

 

In the statements 'I am talking’, 'I am drinking', and 'I am smoking', if we remove all the verbs we come to the 'pure I' feeling, "I am." In the brutal pursuit of the crude active pleasures which becomes the chief purpose of life for the ego dominated slaves of our time, one loses the magical pure sensations of the 'pure I'. This 'pure I' is the indwelling fountain of happiness that absolute spontaneity or clarity comes from. It is not a feverish pleasure, but a peaceful experience that one has to continually fight for because one has to endure the innumerable annoyances that try to spoil it. One has to fight and endure for this happiness in the undisclosed art of being spontaneous. In the mystical awareness of the immediate consciousness, one can derive pleasure from the objects around one because one gets the glow of victory of the 'pure I' over the ego or 'doer I'. Life at this moment overcomes death and good overcomes evil in a mystical sensuality. There is an immediate feeling of happiness with an aura of victory or success because love dominates over hate, pleasure over pain, and peace over agitation. This comes as a new revelation of truth.

Our unit consciousness or soul is a resident in a beautifully designed mind and a well-constructed physical body. In our worldly consciousness our mind only knows the outside of the home, the veneer of the body. If the 'doer I' continually directs the mind to the outside, the senses continually run around and about in service of the ego as it forgets the inner altar and the home of the 'pure I'. If the manipulation is long, the altar of 'pure I' gets covered with the cobwebs of ignorance so in time it becomes hard for the 'doer I' to enjoy the peace and joy of the 'pure I'. Tearing ourselves away from our self-created destiny, we can regain peace in the midst of our many activities if we direct our 'doer I' to the center of our being, our soul and pure consciousness.

 

This might be abstract mumble jumble, but I like thinking along these lines.

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I like it, Soma. So, I guess the problem is how to approach unconditioned, unmanifest pure being. That would be the "science" of Christian mysticism. Personally, I don't think we need to approach it at all, since it is always with us. I think we just need to develop a little confidence in this perspective.

 

Peace.

Steve

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Steve thanks for the guidance I guess that is what I have to write about next. I agree that we don't have to approach it because it is all around and inside us so I think I will work on removing the blocks we place separating us.

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Again, best wishes on your endeavor, Soma. There are precious few good, contemporary books on the view and praxis of Christian mysticism.

 

Steve

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I am a 60 year old respected professional. I was raised a strict Roman Catholic and all that goes along with that. My parents went to Mass every day. I attended eight years of Catholic grade school. I am realizing that what I experienced in grade school and from the pulpit in the 1960's was "indoctrination." A psychiatrist that I know labels it as "brainwashing." I was told and internalized that the Catholic faith was the one true faith, that there were an infinite number of ways to go to hell, that we were born deficient as exemplified by "original sin," etc. It has been a long journey. As this point in of my journey I read a again a couple of Bishop Spong's books. I read the books previously but, in hindsight, was not in the appropriate position to proceed at that time in my life and journey. I am further along on my journey and have come across this web site and Message Board. Bishop Spong has given me much to think about and to incorporate into my thinking, beliefs and life. Moving away from the theistic "Father in Heaven" concept has been challenging. Sometimes I feel, falling back to the initial indoctrination, that I am sinning against God by questioning my faith, but I have been able to put that in perspective recognizing that I am challenging and changing a lifetime paradigm. I find myself sort of "feeling lost" as I am walking along this road. Have others felt/feel this way in their own journeys? If so, what has been helpful for you? I eagerly look forward to learning from others who have gone down this way before.

Chuck,

 

It is a certainty to me that you are not alone in this feeling of "lost".

 

It seems to me Peace is not found by avoiding or opposing whatever life brings. It is also not found in comparing the present moment to the past or some desire for the future.To me it is found more in acceptance of whatever life puts before you in this moment and then working from that place of peace that acceptance brings to bring about change. While that may sound a bit paradoxical, working from the spirit of acceptance of a situation slays negativity, internal battles and provides a place of insight within to move forward with life.

 

Just some thoughts on your post,

Joseph

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I grew up with very negative concepts of who God is. Questions like who is God really, what is love really and who am I really and in relation to God can leave one feeling lost. It's my understanding that even the Catholic faith is changing from with in.

 

Dr. Spong has been very helpful for me in getting past the negative concepts presented by traditional doctrines. However, I don't feel one has to agree with him implicitly all the time either. (and I don't believe he would want someone to).

 

We have freedom of religion in this country, so one is free to pick and choose what to believe in. The thing is to get to the truth and not to be stuck with and in misaligned or misguided concepts.

I think we as people can develop our faculty for perceiving the truth. Using this faculty, being in touch with perception of when things really ring true, can be a guide post in the getting there. The thing is to put the truth first and believe that everything else will fall into place from there.

 

Borrowing from and sticking with some traditional beliefs can be a good thing, it can also be very negative. The thing is to get to and keep with the truth no matter where the ideas and concepts come from.

 

Good Luck on your path

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