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There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

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It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but in every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God.’

Mt 4:4

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This is the response of Jesus to the first desert temptation of Satan.  The word more important than bread.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This, of course, is the opening line in the Gospel of John.  It asks us: to what do you give primacy?  To money?  Power?  Politics?  Yourself?  Celebrity?  Your sexual desires?  Drugs?  Alcohol?  Food?

Food?  Yes, is obesity not a sign of self-deprivation?  Self-consumption? Emotional starvation, and spiritual suffering?  Would not God fill us to satisfaction so much better than food can?  Does Jesus not so very clearly say this?

There is nothing wrong in American society that cannot be radically altered for the better if God and the Word of God is not given primacy to each of us, and to this nation and its culture.  Nothing.

The Toltec Mexican writer Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. reminds us that in our head two entities reside: one is a parasite and the other is an ally.  Each speaks to us.

The parasite is the one who reminds us of the negative things others have said about us or done to us – the words and deeds which would have us think negatively of our self, impose on us the sense that we are deficient, less worthy. The ally offers, in contrast, thoughts that we are valuable and that voice comes to us from the voices and deeds of those who have seen our value.

Don Ruiz reminds us that we must dismiss the parasite and listen to the ally, but more to the point he reminds us that “neither voice represents your whole Authentic Self” for you are not your thoughts …

In our Christian tradition, its story and its truth: you are an extension of the Word of God, a child of the Master – a word in God’s vocabulary.

There is NOTHING in you, or this nation and its culture, that cannot be corrected by simply placing God at the center of our being – the defining reality of our life, this nation and its culture … and of life itself.

Ignore the many among us who speak as godless parasites.

Shalom.

… that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me and I in You, that they may also be in Us …

Jn: 17:21

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” … that they may all be one … “

We often think we must find God, as if God is hiding somewhere or is distant and far from us.  But does God require our search?  What if God is nearer than we are to ourselves?

What if God is in “the all?”  What if the Creator is in “all” that is created – in the visible and invisible, in us and without us – in all time, without absence or pause?

In Jesus words, he is saying that we can be one with God, in God as The Son is in the Father.  Does this not suggest an “allness,” a divine inclusiveness?

In Eastern religions, the human is thought to be able to go beyond all ignorance, fear and change to a stable state in which “All things are Buddha,” the Divine is known and experienced in “all things are without self.”  Yes, where we dissolve into the One that Jesus speaks of in the above words.

Imagine this simple thought: If God makes all, is God not in all, is God not All? And from this, we might ask: Are we not in God and is God not in us?  And this: Is our search necessary?

If we are in God as the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son, would we not change in a drastic and fundamental way how we lived, thought, interacted, spoke?  Would we listen to the godless and uninformed?  Would we pursue matters of discord or division? Would we experience loneliness?  Despair?  Or would we not live in calm, with a quiet inside, softness in our voice?   Would we ever lack for intimacy?

Finding God in All.  Think about it.

Shalom.

The Holiness of Rain

The rain falls hard today in the mountains.  Hard enough to give it voice, a steady presence in a quiet room.  There is a peace in its persistence.  It seems to “hush” with its music, its patter –  coupled with its consistent, rhythmic din.  To match rain, the skies are close in; clouds and their gray dim the light as if to call us within.  Peace is at hand.  God visits today.  Being alone takes on its holiness, forcing the Truth of God’s eternal, everyday – day and night, year in and year out existence.

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” … my … pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself … I know I have seen what I was obscurely looking for.  I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

Thomas Merton

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These are Merton’s words upon visiting a cave adjacent to the ruins of ancient temple buildings near Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, and entering the cave to find large renderings of human beings and a giant reclining Buddha.

He felt in this excursion into this place an “inner clarity.”  He referred to this as “an aesthetic illumination” allowing him to see “beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

This was Thomas Merton’s last journey.  He was to die at 58 in a matter of days.

Is your life a pilgrimage?  Do you seek what you are created to seek.  Or are you captured by what is not Truth, not of the soul, of God, or of your divine nature?

Do not let the thought-police take you captive.  Your warden is a Loving Father.

For Merton the great stone figures were “in full movement,” beautiful and holy.

How does the world look to you?  What do you see?  Hear?  Feel?  Experience in the rain and the clouds?  Do you see “full movement” in motionless stones?

Shalom.

… the first Christian hermits abandoned the cities of the pagan world to live in solitude.

Thomas Merton, in The Wisdom of the Desert

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Why does a man live alone in nature, removed from the population and the city?

‘Tis a useful question.

As for the 4th century men who did so we can say, as Merton does, that they sought their salvation, saw its individual characteristic and their own responsibility for its solicitation.

Indeed, they saw that the pagan society that they knew offered little to further their salvation.  Rather, they concluded that it impeded access to it.

These men would not let the ways and values of the pagan culture destroy them, co-opt them.

They took no comfort in the Cross becoming part of the presiding temporal powers.  This, itself, is particularly interesting.  They seemed to know that civil matters where not spiritual in nature, that to The Divine alone belongs the primacy.

Think for a moment: these men saw Christian life as spiritual, as “extramundane” – as simply existing in the Mystical Body of Christ … and they saw that their responsibility was to seek life in Christ.

These men stood for the idea that man was personally responsible for his life and what it said of him and of God.  

Contrast that with today – when so many are captured by the common denominators of secular culture, its herd, its folly, its untruth and its destructive, conflictive and unsatisfying ways.

These men did not wish to be ruled by the decadence.  They did not see themselves, mind you, as superior to others but rather only more intent on living in accord with their faith. They lived socially in aid of one another and strangers as governed by their faith and “the charismatic authority of wisdom, experience and love.”  They “sought … their own true self, in Christ.”

Today I live on a ridge looking out on rolling pastures, forest, and mountains. Minutes ago the sun rose in the East over mountain peaks announcing once again that God reigns eternally …

Each sunrise – unique in its colors and hues – raises up God the Creator … enkindles my gratitude.

In my solitude, quiet makes the music so much sweeter and evocative.  In the solitude, I think of God in a daily silence, and meet the Desert Fathers.  In solitude, I have good company.

Shalom.

A Post Today for Parents and Children

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Our consciousness does not create itself.  It wells up from unknown depths … it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep …

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Psychology of Eastern Meditation

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Jung would say that we are not born tabula rasa – with a clean state.  No, his views is that each person’s brain has a history of human experience and within each person is a psyche that will seek expression, fulfillment, realization of personhood.

Jung would say that each of us is born with “a high complexity” and “existing determinants” that persist throughout each life.  Yes, in many ways we play out our particular being within this divine design.

The fact that we share this excursion seems, it appears to me, to promise our completeness provided we accept life, its lessons and – listen to the cues we observe within – evolve as we are uniquely called to life within this divine design which is itself made to insure uniqueness and commonality.

It follows, in my mind, that relationships with others, intimacy, marriage, love, family, fellowship, friendship, community and nation flow from this magnificent divine design.

What a gift is this life and its living.

Shalom.

Would any seed take root if he had not believed His promise when God said,

“Dears, I will rain.  I will help you.  I will turn into warmth and effulgence,

I will be the Mother that I am and let you draw from My body and rise, and rise.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

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If there is no God, how can these words from the 13th century survive, interest us, speak to us, make us think, perhaps alter our consciousness, orientation to daily life, and the meaning of our existence?

Aquinas thought that contemplation and solitude were among the greatest gifts we are given.  But alas we are very busy, and noisy.  So easily distracted, indeed to a state of exhaustion and impatience.

He became a Dominican monk and lived a vow of poverty with complete devotion to God.  Even in the 13th century this was a radical departure from what was.

His family kidnapped him and held him in isolation for two years in their castle to try to dissuade his choice of a monastic life.  This only strengthened his will and his faith.  In his solitude and forced imprisonment, he memorized Holy Scriptures.

Released he became a master at the University of Paris and focused his attention on Aristotle’s writings on metaphysics.  From this he learned how to make the profound seem simple to his audience.

In his studies his faith deepened and matters like the growth of a seed or the expanse of the human being came to form and to his understanding and he shared his insights with all.  To this day his words survive.

Are you not the seed promised life-giving water and eternal warmth?

Shalom.

Tomorrow’s Post: How the Democrat Left lost and Trump became President.

” … such loss of faith is ever one of the saddest results of sin.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, in The Scarlett Letter

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Often we think of the loss of faith as an individual thing – that it is the consequence of our individual actions or inactions – ah, but we forget that we live in culture and swim in it; that it, too, can be inclined to sin and structures and dispositions of sin and the explicit and inferred rejection of God that exacts a serious cost as to our attachment to culture and to its sin, its many sins.

Folks: cultures take a tariff.  We often pay unwittingly and without any clue that we are being robbed, reduced, converted to a faithless fate.

I share an example of this.

I recently attended a wedding of a young man who had been in Catholic schools all his life, a man who attended a prominent Catholic university and is through and through attached to the school, if not its rich and deep religious ethos.

Well his wedding was without any reference whatsoever to faith.

The fellow who presided over the ceremony was a lawyer and himself a graduate of a prestigious Catholic university.  His governance over the ceremony evidenced his skill in creative and witty writing and humor, but nary so much as a remote reference to God, or to faith.

As to a sacred ceremony, it resembled more so a bowling banquet, nothing more.

Well, for some reason (perhaps, appearance) I was tapped to give the prayer before the wedding meal and so I did – preparing four short paragraphs and, imagine this: mentioning God, the wedding at Cana and Christ our Lord.

Strangely, at the prayer’s conclusion the attendees clapped, applauded.  I was surprised to say the least.  Then, I realized I was the only one to mention God the entire day.

Friends, what I witnessed was a culture losing contact with faith at an ever-increasing speed.

If anyone had told me ten years ago that I would experience this at a wedding of those previously immersed in faith, I would have flat-out not imagined that could happen.

Dear Friends, we are losing faith faster than can be imagined.

What are YOU going to do about it?  The crisis is at hand.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Shalom.

A Story about Dreams

The truth will set you free.  But only after it is finished with you.

David Foster Wallace

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He concluded that if you live long enough you will accumulate, in an involuntary manner, dreams the way movie buffs collect a library of their favorite films.  But then he realized that no single dream, no matter how vivid and detailed, ever comprised, of themselves, one, complete, beginning-to-middle-to-end short-length movie.

No, they were more like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, frames from different trailers of some obscure opus  – that is, each a piece of something whole that could be only understood if and when the parts were somehow properly assembled by light.

Each dream was more a scene.  In sum, a jumble of disconnected snippets – pieces of string.

And as for sequels?  Yes.  Often the scenes repeated themselves.

There was the recurring River Charles and the boat ride, and West Point and football – with the West Point dormitory that was also a small student center in a manner that only dreams allow one thing to be simultaneously two contradictory things without being an oddity in any way.

And there was various scenes involving his second wife – the unemotional one – who left him and his son simply because she had no interest in sharing what little of herself she had – and besides she reasoned marriage and family were but a photo-op with fridge financial and cosmetic social benefits.  Everyone but her: disposable in time.

He never dreamt of his father who left when he was an infant. The exit befitted a coward’s flight from battle … His absence from dreams was merciful for he was simply unwelcome … no where on the dreamer’s cosmic “must-do” list.

And his wife – who died so young?  Only one dream and so pristine it was, so perfect, so lasting.

Its colors soft, its content warm and comforting.  A short clip in slow motion. Slow as to be savored, recalled, felt in every finite detail until he joined her in his death, and her resurrection.

There he stood in Her dream – there on the low-end of the sloping hill that was for him and other kids the place to go sledding in Powder House Park.

An adult of indiscriminate age, at the bottom of the hill facing the small string of stores where Loude’s offered its homemade candy and ice cream, on College Ave, near Tufts, right where as a little boy he had seen General Eisenhower pass by in an open Cadillac convertible.

He stood directly across from that small driveway that separated Loude’s and the other storefronts from a nice, somewhat Victorian house.  There, at that very spot across from the driveway, a car passed slowly by.

It seemed driver-less … yet there She was on the driver’s side in the back seat, looking as she did in her late twenties, turned toward him as if she was passing in review of an army of one – him, only him, he was the one, her entire army 

She saw him and he saw her.  Their eyes caressed … and the car passed slowly by headed down College Ave toward the Methodist Church and Davis Square.

A dream too short, but everlasting – a dream to say: love does not die and neither death nor time divide.

Dreams.  Dreams.  Dreams.

… so cut up, reels edited by a madman, a captain of chaos whose messages are tangled, out of sequence, twisted and puzzling, a shoebox full of visual knots … an opus awaiting Light.

Shalom.

Postscript – Carl Jung said, “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul.”  Dreams expose the soul, make the unconscious conscious.  Dreams give us a path to freedom, to understanding, belief, faith and God in God’s natural state – supernatural existence.

 

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

Carl Jung, in The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

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We stand between silence and silence.  Dreams close the distance.  Yes, awake each day we live between the silence.

Dreams are “the deepest most intimate sanctum of the soul.”  They present all that comes before our human form.  In dreams we meet God and our true self.

“You formed me in my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.”

Thus, says King David in Psalm 139.

We have all had the dream with contents so real, incidents the same.  Dreams in which a wife, or parent, or significant person appears or looms much as they were – yet, in the dream a truth in and about them and us is conveyed.  We see this important one was distant, not so much friend as agent of their own needs, with demands posted and the distance they maintained even when demands were met.

Yes, in dreams we feel what is hard truth, what was missing.  Dreams show what was real and our most troublesome unease.  In dreams truth is established along with a hurtful tally.  In dreams, we feel our divine value, no matter the tally complied with others.  In dreams distance is explained and we are revealed in value – full and untainted.

In dreams: our deepest most intimate sanctum.

In dreams we see how others fail us and how it does not matter for our soul is in tact and we hold a divine worth that no one may displace, dismiss or deny.

Dreams close the divine silence that lies before mortal life and awaits us after mortal life.

Whole before, whole after.  Soul unblemished – before, in life, and thereafter. Only in dreams do we know this Ultimate Reality.  In dreams we are closest to God – who stands in His Eternal Truth – Author of each intentional and unique soul in each of us.

Dreams are a sacred silence.

When we have really met the world in silence, words do not separate us form the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

See the limits of consciousness and mortal life, or miss what is perfect, good and eternal. None live well when God and soul are denied.

Shalom.

Today we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Uprising that led to the formation of the nation of Ireland.

 

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