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Christian Mysticism, The Mind And The Soul


soma
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My eyes being hindered by blind passions,

I cannot perceive the light that grasps me,

Yet the great compassion, without tiring,

Illumines me always.

Hymn 213

Hymns on the Spiritual Masters

 

I want to talk about these four stanzas because they relate to me things so interior and spiritual that words are usually not successful in describing them. Spirit transcends our five senses so it is difficult to speak about the depths of the spirit. I feel these lines speak for the undeviating tenderness of the soul because they describe My Beloved Lord and the awakening within to God. It seems my mind wants to keep this indwelling a secret so it breaks the strings of my instrument so I can’t sing such phrases of joy because it want to remain in control. These lines speak to me about the transformation to the soul.

 

The point of departure speaks about our passions, appetites, or addictions to worldly things. It seems to say that they cause a denial and deprivation from the all-penetrating light and its radiating warmth and love. This denial and lack of light is similar to a dark night in the perception of our soul. Some journey through the night with faith, which is good, but I feel we must not make faith a dark night for the intellect. The intellect can help and shed light at the beginning of the journey through the darkness in order to reach the soul.

 

The intellect though science has illuminated the inner psychological experiences and the outer physical ones. Our intellect tells us that white light is the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum of light, and black is the absence of the radiance of that spectrum and white light. We talk about the Dark Ages as a period when reason and the light of the intellect were absent. We Christians call Satan “the Prince of Darkness.” St. John of the Cross speaking about a mental state describes it as “the dark night of the soul,” a period without the radiant light of the soul or God. What I am driving at is that light is the integration of all colors and darkness is the absence of any color. In deliberation I can refer to light as unity, integration, wholeness, and God, and darkness as the absence of the aforementioned.

 

We as individuals have traveled through periods of our life where we have not seen the individual parts connected to the larger patterns of life. We saw some of the individual colors and some combinations, but didn’t experience an inclusiveness or totality and unity in wholeness. In this period of life, I feel we are out of balanced and can be threatened by evil, which is the lack of light from the soul. The dark night of the soul for me is when I have lost touch with the soul and my source of light. This lack of light distorts and destroys my energy, my insight, and my ability to love. I lose vision from lack of light so to speak so I read, meet people and stumble upon individuals from different places, religions, and times that can give me insights into the causes of happiness and suffering. Thanks to my teachers I have learned the realities of the unseen world and gain wisdom not only by words, but also by the light of the soul, it seems to lead to the Beatific Vision.

 

Deeper investigations, reasoning, and awareness show me what I need for the integration of all colors of light, which usually comes in a conscious choice. The choice is which parts of myself am I going to cultivate and which parts do I release so I need to be aware of the consequences of each choice. The one that leads to higher energy produces love, forgiveness and compassion. The other might gain an advantage, profit, money or security, but can cloud the mind with fear, anger or jealousy. This gives power to the senses, but can remove the guts from the self or my link to the soul. The conflicting parts of the decision are the parts such as compassion, which brings peace and contentment and the other choice which seems to bring discord, fear and anguish on my journey to the soul. I feel Christian institutions in their quest for power and physical matter have chosen to teach through fear and doubt instead of through wisdom. They like to teach with Satan, “The Prince of Darkness”. The alternative path for me is in a vertical direction, which I like to call Christian Mysticism. It is a path of clarity, the growth of consciousness, and knowledge of the soul. It looks at Lucifer as the meaning of that word which is “Light Bearer.” The higher mysteries bring me more light, but other more enlightened people might choose a different way or ways as their soul guides them through the dark night. Each soul perceives what it needs to understand, heal, and grow on its individual journey to the soul.

 

Darkness is the absence of light and holds power over us when we don’t remember that we are the soul with a mind and a body. We tend to think that we are a mind or body having a spiritual experience, but I feel I am the soul having an earthy experience. Darkness has power over me when I strike out in fear, hate, sorrow, or rage. It has no power over me in the light of love, compassion and the light of the present moment because at this time I am aligned with the soul. The person of light has compassion and trust, knowing that the universe is attending to the needs of the soul each moment. This seems to attract to the soul similar colors of light and consciousness.

 

Awareness seems to enter darkness sometimes through a crisis. The light of our soul is in a perpetual interaction with us, but the problem with me is I am either aware of it or not. If I am not aware of it, it is probably because the interaction is not direct because it has to move through the dark, dense currents of my doubts and unawareness. The interaction is on the physical plane and is usually in the form of a crises or problem. If I am aware of the light, it dispels the darkness and the higher wisdom is received directly and instantaneously. Yes, many times there is a loss of physical or earthly power because I let go of the inflexible behaviors that have guided me through my daily life situations; however, I can enjoy the here and now if I cut through the paranoid programming of my bio-computer. When I use my mind and body properly I seem to be in a higher consciousness and happy. I don’t think it requires me to leave my present life because I can discover and learn from the situations that are presented to me. Happiness and Heaven are not distant goals because they become a part of my ever growing here and now.

 

Lucifer, “The Light Bearer” brings temptation in a compassionate way allowing me to see weakness in order to heal and cleanse myself so I may continue to be aware of the light. Temptation is not an ambush, but a thought form from which I can learn to grow by making the right choice. I would say “Light Bearer” because the right choice brings more awareness and light. The snake can’t destroy my soul because it is spiritual and not material. When my mind is directed and occupied with the material Earth, at that time I am bitten and I lose awareness and light, which motivates me spiritually to heal my inadequacies.

 

Temptations give my mind light if I make the right choice and darkness, which is wearisome and tiring if I make the wrong choice. The wrong choice comes from desires that resemble little children. They are hard to please and restlessly whine all the time for this and that. Desires are never satisfied. They seem to be addictions that just make me exhausted and tired because their demands are never satisfied. It is like the starving who open their mouths to satisfy their hunger with air, instead of being filled and satisfied the mouth dries up because air is not the proper food. It seems worldly desires darken and blind my mind from the soul.

 

My intellect clouded by desire impedes the light that is shining within, a constant illumination from the soul. My good judgment becomes disordered and troubled when my mind is mired in physical darkness and has less capacity to receive the peacefully, calm light of the soul. Desires are blind because they have no intellect, but the mind occupied with appetites acts like a blind guide for my addictions. I like what my Lord says in Matthew, (Matthew 15:14, New International Version) 14Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

 

Turning my attention continually to the soul removes the ashes that cover the fire that is constantly burning. The light that is my constant companion even when I can’t see it illuminates me always. The ashes are the different layers of my mind and when they are pure and developed, the light of the soul can shine through them and be seen. This light of the soul simply is and does not direct or condemn my actions or others. It is like the light in a room, I can be reading spiritual books or forging checks, the light doesn't care because it only witnesses the actions. My soul is the life of my spirit within me, and it gives me life, good or bad because without my soul I could neither read the Bible nor forge checks. It is my inner companion on a journey through the different layers of my mind going through the different experiences that are momentary and imaginary. My soul is guiding me on a spiritual journey that is leading me to God.

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My eyes being hindered by blind passions,

I cannot perceive the light that grasps me,

Yet the great compassion, without tiring,

Illumines me always.

 

I saw the thread title, and was surprised when I saw the little verse quoted. A pleasant surprise! I just want to put in my own two pennuth before giving Soma's words a look, as the verse, for me, is an elongated version of the nembutsu, which itself is the heart of the Pure Land way.

 

After quite a few years, I still open to the meaning of the nembutsu. Namu amida Butsu. Often called a "chant", personally I've never chanted in my life...... :D Often called a "mantra", such is not the case. (A mantra will always be a form of "technique" for seeking/gaining enlightenment. It was such techniques that made me run a mile from many expressions of the Buddhist path.) Variously translated, the best - for me - is "my foolish self is embraced by infinite compassion, grasped, never to be abandoned." One small "breakthrough" came for me when I realised that historically, as the Pure Land way has evolved through time, the words of the nembutsu were always "chanted" and expressed in the vernacular/ language of each country. So as one person has implied, one CAN just say "thank you". So "thank you" it can be, for it is not the words, but the realisation, the seeing/experience, not the belief in its efficacy, or an allegiance to doctrines.

 

The Pure Land way is for living. It is not monastic based, nor does it specifically advocate meditation. One lives, embroiled in the thousand and one things and thoughts that snare us and distract us. But from what? What I have always seen in the Mahayana is the complete lack of betrayal of THIS world for any imagined OTHER. Samsara (this world of birth and death) IS nirvana. This fear of betrayal has always been a companion of mine. Rightly or wrongly I have always seen "betrayal" in virtually all institutionalised religion, in its preaching and its creeds and doctrines - sometimes well hidden, yet there for those with eyes to see! The "dialectic" of Pure Land is quite simple. We open to seeing the blind passions, the sheer naked reality of our pettiness, our spites, lack of forgiveness, our conceits, our hypocrisy........see them in the light of infinite compassion, that illumines us always, untiringly. The greater the light, the greater the darkness, the greater the darkness, the greater the light.....

 

Rivers of blind passions, on entering the ocean -

The great, compassionate Vow

Of unhindered light filling the ten quarters -

Become one in taste with that sea of wisdom.

 

One in taste, no betrayal; acceptance. No "self", no "other".

 

In Western terms, "being" comes first (in Buddhism "being" is understood apophatically - negatively) and self and other are created, come to "be" from it. Buddhism would not use "created", yet "what is" can be what is eternally. What we must be is what we are, one with others, yet distinct. Pure Land symbolism sees the undifferentiated nature of enlightenment as gold, while the distinctive nature of each individual is seen as a lotus flower. The Pure Land is full of billions of golden lotus flowers. And THIS is the Pure Land. No betrayal. And what will be tomorrow, will be.

 

Anyway, perhaps this would be best moved to "Other Wisdom Traditions." I'll leave that to the moderators.

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One master said, "To know yourself, be compassionate to others." Compassion seems to be all around us, in our neighborhoods and family so no need to go to the cave. I have found chanting and mantra meditation help open my heart to that compassion. They are only techniques that help me to clear my mind. When I look at pictures of the sacred heart of Jesus I see a two way communication of the pure land entering and leaving.

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I think there has been a few other words on the forum concerning "techniques". It seems clear to me that a "monastery" could be seen as an artificial environment for "gaining" enlightenment/salvatio, and the Pure Land way is "anti-monastic" in many ways, given its unfolding in time.

 

Personally, I wonder just where or what I would be if the lives and writings - and therefore influence - of Thomas Merton and Nyanaponika Thera were taken away from me. Obviously both were human beings molded in many ways by the monastic experience.

 

The lesson is, there is no need to be doctrinaire!

 

So for "techniques".

 

Yet I do reflect upon the idea and the word.

 

:)

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tariki we all have our special techniques and that doesn't mean they will work for another, but we all benefit from the light that we can't perceive. That is why I like the four stanzas at the top. The compassionate and untiring light illuminates us always. It doesn't matter what we call it, it still illuminates us. The techniques I feel help to clear away the blinding effect of the physical plane. I like to think the light is there before I meditate so this reminds me that the meditation technique did not create the light. The technique only helped me see it because I am a Christian I seem to translate it into Christian terms, but I appreciate other translations of the light in other religions. I like the points you bring up they help us dive deep into ourselves, a portal to the soul.

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