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Integral Contemplative Christianity

Last post 10-19-2008, 9:44 PM by Magnulus. 62 replies.
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  •  02-13-2007, 2:23 PM 19331 in reply to 19293

    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    maryw:
    I suppose I could add something of substance here ... but naaaaah. Not at this moment, at least.


    Heh.  To do so might be against the current zeitgeist in these parts, Maryw.  Stick out tongue [:P]

    arthur

    I am seeking meaningful work.

    bio: http://aqalicious.gaia.com/

    I spend most of my "forum time" these days on The Integral Pod: http://pods.gaia.com/ii/

    "You've never seen everything." - Bruce Cockburn
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  •  02-20-2007, 4:38 PM 19522 in reply to 19331

    • DaveAdams is not online. Last active: 03-17-2008, 2:54 PM DaveAdams
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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    First of all thanks to Sagemichael, Adastra, Maryw, Balder, Mconv and others for this really interesting thread.

    And more thanks to Maryw for bouncing it back up again!


     I would like to endorse much of what has been shared and I resonate particularly with
    Balder's desire to seek out common ground between the various spiritual traditions and religions.


    I am a Catholic priest and I am exploring this from within my home territory so to speak. I am reasonably competent in Catholic Christian theology and familiar with the works of Mother Julian of Norwich, St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Jesus. Richard Rohr and Thomas Keating have also been very helpful. My knowledge of Eastern traditions has come mediated by Ken Wilber & others at IN.


    First of all, I believe Christianity is essentially integral in the sense that its vision is
     all-embracing and holistic. There are some great words from the Christian Bible pointing to this, especially in the Gospel of John and the letters to the Romans, Ephesians & Colossians, e.g. "God is in all, through all and with all".


    But the question we are discussing here is: Can (contemplative) Christianity be expressed using the concepts and paradigms of the Integral framework as developed by KW?


    My general response to that question is that yes I do believe it can.


    There are, however, a number of key areas that will have to be handled very delicately. These would include among other things, Spirit as Person/Other, transcendence and immanence, grace and freedom, spiritual growth / development /evolution and the always-already, Divinity & Spirit in Jesus and in us.


    Some of these have already been touched on - like the reference to Wayne Teasdale's words roughly paraphrased as Jesus has Divinity by nature, we share in it by grace / adoption etc. Also there is Fr Thomas Keating's recent conversation on ISC exploring the possibilities of an alternative expression for the phrase "non-dual". He was seeking a language that would be more positive, personal and unitive. Also MaryW raised the question whether the prayer journey is primarily our practice or the Spirit’s initiative.


    I think it’s clear that an Integral expression of Christianity would only make sense to those who are at or near the integral stage of spiritual development. For these people it would provide a basis for further understanding across the traditions, East & West. It may also open up Christianity to new ways of understanding and to the possibility of integrating aspects previously thought to be irreconcilable, e.g. reincarnation and acknowledging other incarnations of the Word/Divine Wisdom. It would, of course, be rejected by red, orange and green but this does not mean it should not be attempted. Indeed this forum, IN, and the work and dialogues of the guests on IN and others on similar paths e.g. Beatrice Bruteau, show that the process has already begun.


    I would like to see an Integral expression of Christianity that is not just a conversion into Buddhist/Hindu categories but a true mutual enrichment that takes us all to a deeper level of understanding.


    A final thought – I do believe the Integral framework is what is needed in our world right now. It enables us to transcend and include the magic, mythic, rational and supra-rational levels of consciousness. The four quadrants enable us to situate all spheres of knowledge and matrices of relationships.  Christianity needs to express itself in the language of this framework in order to release its unifying potential in a non-competitive way.


    Thanks again to everyone.


    Dave


    Gosport, UK

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  •  02-22-2007, 12:17 PM 19584 in reply to 19522

    • maryw is not online. Last active: 09-04-2008, 12:45 PM maryw
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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Thank you for these thoughts, Dave! It's such a joy to read what you wrote.

    I especially appreciate what you are saying here --

    DaveAdams:

    I think it’s clear that an Integral expression of Christianity would only make sense to those who are at or near the integral stage of spiritual development. For these people it would provide a basis for further understanding across the traditions, East & West. It may also open up Christianity to new ways of understanding and to the possibility of integrating aspects previously thought to be irreconcilable, e.g. reincarnation and acknowledging other incarnations of the Word/Divine Wisdom. It would, of course, be rejected by red, orange and green but this does not mean it should not be attempted. Indeed this forum, IN, and the work and dialogues of the guests on IN and others on similar paths e.g. Beatrice Bruteau, show that the process has already begun.

    And these words --

    Christianity needs to express itself in the language of this framework in order to release its unifying potential in a non-competitive way.

    -- brought to my mind a wonderful moment at an interfaith contemplative conference I attended a couple of years ago. Teachers included representatives from the Buddhist, Jewish, Sufi, and Christian traditions. Father Thomas Keating was one of the teachers, and I recall him saying something along the lines of "the traditions need to stop competing for the next generation of meditators." He humbly acknowledged that he used to do this -- that is, he used to feel like he was in a kind of contemplative "competition" (though a subtle and friendly one) with the Eastern traditions which had drawn so many disaffected Christians onto Buddhist and Hindu paths in the latter third of the twentieth century. He worked to "bring Christians back" to their own mystical / contemplative roots which had so long been ignored -- a loss that created a great spiritual hunger among seekers who had been raised nominally Christian. But at some point he realized, as he partook in ongoing dialogues and trainings with teachers from Eastern traditions, that there were so many from these other traditions who were "further along," so-to-speak, than he was, and he thought "who am I to insist that anybody return to Christian forms of contemplation?" (Or that seekers always stay in their own back yards?) While recognizing that Christianity is in need of its own particular kind of contemplative nourishment, he saw that he could relax somewhat and teach side-by-side along with the other traditions, and abandon his competitive stance.

     

    Grateful to hear from you,

    Mary


     


    Let the beauty we love be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

    ~Rumi
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  •  02-26-2007, 2:01 PM 19709 in reply to 19584

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Glad to have found this thread.

    Has anyone read Jim Marion's "Putting on the Mind of Christ"?  any comments.

    Also, is anyone aware of some good resources for exploring God in second person from an integral perspective?  Another way of wording this, What does prayer look like when you give up on Big Daddy?

    Thanks for any feedback

    Paul 

     

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  •  02-26-2007, 4:11 PM 19714 in reply to 19709

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Hi Revpaul --

    I'm familiar with Marion's ideas but haven't yet read Putting on the Mind of Christ. I'm sure several folks participating in this thread have, however.

    Also, is anyone aware of some good resources for exploring God in second person from an integral perspective?  Another way of wording this, What does prayer look like when you give up on Big Daddy?

    Here's an old thread, how to pray, that addresses this question.

    Best,

    Mary


    Let the beauty we love be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

    ~Rumi
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  •  02-26-2007, 4:28 PM 19716 in reply to 19584

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Integral Contemplative Christianity

     Thanks MaryW that was really encouraging to hear about the embracing of the non-competitive attitude.


     There is a great text in Ephesians which speaks to this kind of approach.
    For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups ( i.e.Jews & Gentiles which  therefore includes everyone) into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us. He has abolished the Law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God (2: 14-16).

     What strikes me is that the text doesn’t talk of creating a new, competitive religion but rather a new, reconciling humanity.


     In the thoughts below I am just musing on some aspects of this thread. I’m afraid its a bit disjointed as I haven’t time to make it all more coherent!


     It was interesting listening to the recent IN dialogue between Ken & the students. Ken was making a very valuable point that we cannot move other people to higher stages of consciousness.  But he said what we can do is help them to fully translate (in terms of the four quadrants) at whatever stage they are at. So the integral approach can help an orange be a healthy orange in the terms that orange can understand.


     Taking this further one could say that an integral expression of Christianity could positively situate and correlate all the forms and expressions of this religion according to the different stages and in the context of the four quadrants. Again it’s the “transcend and include” paradigm at work. The paths of meditation/contemplation, compassion and crisis/the cross are the ways to transformation and movement into higher stages of consciousness and relatedness. These paths can be shown to be central to any expression of authentic Christianity. (Its amazing how one reads reality in the light of one’s own consciousness. To a fundamentalist the sacred text is unadulterated monochrome truth, while complexity, nuance, contradiction and paradox are scandalously alien. To an integral consciousness the sacred text is truth in millions of colours in a rich, wonderful, complex and even paradoxical harmony.


     So the integral approach recognises each stage but refuses to absolutize any stage. It regards/accepts all stages with a benign, non-judgemental compassion as a parent smiles at the simplistic certainties or the bizarre crayon drawings of the beloved child.


     The encouraging aspect is that Scripture and dogma, contemplative experience and contemplative theology contain the keys to unlock each stage from within right up to the point where all language & symbol is abandoned before the unsearchable mystery of the great  I AM. As strong as the desire to express, articulate and describe, so equally as strong is the compulsion to be silent, still and empty.


     Just revisiting with this point why we are considering this question of the desirability of an integral expression of Christianity.
    The integral framework is (or is trying to be) a universal framework which provides a conceptual and symbolic language which potentially enables all particular cultural, religious, philosophical & scientific frameworks to communicate with each other and understand each other. The integral framework only becomes intelligible (in its entirety) to those approaching integral consciousness but it has the capacity to fully comprehend whatever it transcends. So the red consciousness thinks it has the whole picture (fundamentalism), the blue/indigo consciousness knows it has a bigger perspective than red while at the same time paradoxically “knowing” nothing!



    Anyway, apologies to RevPaul, I was putting down these thoughts offline & when I came to the thread things had moved on abit again and its now too late to revise things. Ho hum!

    Yours DaveA

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  •  02-28-2007, 1:38 AM 19773 in reply to 19709

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Hi Paul,



    Reference your question about "letting go of Big Daddy" - I wonder if this quote is helpful.  The full article can be found on the web - just do a Google search on the author.



    EUCHARISTIC ECOLOGY AND ECOLOGICAL SPIRITUALITY

    By Beatrice Bruteau

    Spiritual life, especially as contemplative life, follows a kind of cycle, or spiral, in which we first leave "the world," which is experienced as interfering with our contemplation. We "go apart for a while," even far apart from the world, from everything formed and finite, everything that can be spoken or conceived. We follow the via negativa, the way of not-using, not-speaking, not-knowing. We aspire to, and may eventually enjoy, the apophatic experience.

    But the apophatic experience itself disabuses us of the notion that we have any such thing as "our contemplation," or even any separate substantiality. In the Night of the Absolute, everything is empty. Having reached what we yearned to possess, we find that all distinctions have vanished, including the selves that had thought they could possess anything or desire to possess anything. Thus, for us there is nothing left to defend, nothing left to augment, nothing to prefer to something else, nothing to which to accord privilege.

    At this point the distinction is lost between the Absolute itself and the world which we had "left" in order to go to the Absolute by not speaking, by not thinking of any form, by not identifying ourselves with our particular egoic point of view. We discover the paradox that the very distinction of the Absolute from the world, carried to the limit, destroys the distinction of the Absolute from the world. The contemplative, having attained union with the Absolute, discovers that the Absolute is engaged in creating the world; and so, the contemplative too, as united with the Creator, must engage in self-emptying into the world. Once coincided with, the Transcendent--initially set over against the relative, the embodied--reveals itself as self-expressive as the relative, the embodied, the world.

    In religious language, this turn in the contemplative's development may be called "the resurrection of the body." Having lost "the body," the finite and the relative, for the sake of the Infinite and the Absolute, we find ourselves again in the finite and the relative, as glorified by conscious recognition of their being the Body of the Divine.

    We have come back to where we started, but as T. S. Eliot said, we now know the place for the first time. The mountains are again mountains, but now we know what mountains are. Like everything else, they are Buddha-Nature. The story is told of the monastic disciple who asked the Teacher about enlightenment. The Teacher inquired, "Have you had your dinner? .... Yes," replied the disciple. 'Then wash your dish." The disciple was instantly enlightened. Why? Because the disciple already knew what the question was, to which this apparently trivial conversation was the answer. The question is (always is): "Show us the Father (Source, Origin, Ultimate Cause or Ground), and we will be satisfied." And the Teacher, as bidden, showed. The Teacher did not talk about, or explain, but invited the disciple to enter a place in which the disciple would answer the question from the only point of view from which it can be answered. As the Fourth Gospel reveals (John 14:9-10), the Absolute is not available to us in terms of the third grammatical person, nor even of the second, but only in terms of the first.

    That One, which is initially sought as the Cause, the Protector, and the Final Goal, is found in an inexpressible union with the one who sought. Consequently, the seeking one is revealed as transformed: not merely finite, relative, erring, wounded, and helpless. As united with the Sought, the Seeker now participates in the Infinite, the Absolute, the true, the whole, and the omnipotent; and, as united, they freely and spontaneously express themselves as the relative world. Thus the separation between what we had called "relative" and "absolute" is healed. God and the world are reconciled.

    There would have been no need to say "Absolute" if we had not first said "relative." But by the time we discover ourselves, we have already said "relative," so we must persevere and say "Absolute." That is, because we find ourselves in sin and sorrow, we must go the apophatic way to the other pole, to the Transcendent. It is only when we have found our root there, that we can realize that it is that very Reality Itself which is present in, even as, all this.

    This return to the world, to the relative, to the finite, is what I am calling the resurrection of the body in its trans figured state. Ascending to the Absolute and descending from the Absolute are both the same as remaining in the Absolute (cf. John 3:13).



    Just a thought from myself - using the transcend & include model do we ever really let go of Big Daddy?   Is there a  time for every purpose under heaven - do all the ways of relating to God, or the Absolute remain always open and accessible according to our needs? In the spiritual life can we have, or retain different sub-personalities (rfr Voice Dialogue approach)? Sometimes God is awesome, above, beyond, incomprehensible mystery and I know nothing and can only worship. Sometimes God is intimate Other, the compasionate Father, the tender Mother. Sometimes God is companion and friend, sharing as, dare I say it, an equal.  Sometimes God is closer to methan I am to myself - in the words of Catherine of Genoa (oft quoted by Richard Rohr) "My deepest me is God!"

    Peace & love to all

    Dave

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  •  02-28-2007, 1:16 PM 19786 in reply to 19773

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    What a wonderful gem from B.B., Dave! I so love her idea of "the resurrection of the body" as a return, in transfigured form--in a descent from the Absolute--to the relative world. Sounds very similar to one taste.

    I also agree that God is both awesomely transcendent and intimately inmmanent--a "Lord," or Great Other, a friend or tender nurturer, a river of mercy flowing from everything, and also our deepest Self.

    Tomorrow I'm on my way to the Religious Education Congress, where I'll get to see Richard Rohr, John O'Donohue, Meg Funk, and Ronald Rolheiser, among others, wheeeee!!

    Mary


    Let the beauty we love be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

    ~Rumi
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  •  02-28-2007, 1:56 PM 19791 in reply to 19786

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Dear Friends;

    Thanks for your thoughtful replies.  I'll definately pursue BB's writings .

    I recently started a contemplatively oriented congregation (www.liveinthelight.ca) .  It's been a wonderful experiment in Integral Contemplative Christianity.  A curious thing I've observed - those who've come who have a history with Christianity including some theological study have tended not to stick around while those with less formal church experience have remained.  I'm wondering if those with a lot of time around a church are too uncomfortable with the first person face of God? 

    Peace,

    Paul

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  •  03-02-2007, 9:48 AM 19885 in reply to 19791

    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    I want to pick up on this train of thought and attempt to add something of to the question of what an Integral Christianity might look like... I want to do this because basically I think there is an "inner dissonance" in Christianity – a kind of strangeness or awkwardness in the Gospels that is not found in the Eastern enlightenment traditions, and this dissonance opens up a gap between the “dangerous memory” of Jesus of Nazareth and some aspects of the Integral AQAL approach...

     

    For starters, in Christianity, God is Love - and Love is not so much Non-dual Emptiness (Nagarjuna) or the timeless Being of unchanging presence (I AM, Plato/Plotinus)... Rather, Love is an action, something you actually do... whereas Emptiness - as Ken says - simply leaves everything as it is.

     

    So at this risk of forging a false dichotomy (which I’m told is really bad!!), in my opinion the Christian way of Love is not so much on the side of timeless Being (or what Tillich calls the Ground of Being) but on the side of the “less than” Being – or the "an-archic" and "subversive". That is, instead of primordial awareness that leaves everything as is, it's pretty clear to me that Jesus came to turn the world as it IS upside down... i.e. to actually transform the world.

     

    So with the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth, the God of Love is not conceived so much as the Great I AM, the rock solid ground upon  which his unchanging One-ness is erected, but is systematically associated with the  different, the marginal, the outsider, the left out, with the naked ones.

     

    That is, the Love of God is not to be associated so much with the Greek onto-theologians and long robes in the sanctuary within, but with the least among us, the destitute, the stranger, those who are plundered and ground under (Amos 8:4), so that the Christian sense of “God” is to interrupt and disrupt, to confound, contradict and confront the established human order, the human all too human way of being religious... or spiritual… or even integral!

     

    My point is - hasn't this always been the subversive and “revolutionary” impulse of Christianity?

     

    So the key to what is called the Kingdom of God in the synoptics is that God chose not the  "best and the brightest" - which is the noble intent of I-I, but the “outsiders,” the  people deprived of power, wealth, education, high birth, and high culture. 

     

    As Paul says, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not (ta me onta), to reduce to nothing the things that are (ta onta) (I Cor.1:27-28)

     

    The Kingdom of God, then, is a “royalty” of outcasts so that, from the point of view of the “aion”, or the present age, the word “kingdom” is being used ironically, almost mockingly, to refer to those pockets of the despised that infect and infest the world.

     

    So the dissonance or gap between the passion of Christ and the Integral/AQAL framework is that in the Kingdom, things are judged not in terms of the logic of increasing excellence, but by what Paul calls the folly of the Cross which crosses out the logos of the world and in the process gets crucified by the world... whereas the Integral impulse all too often means staying on top of everything that’s going on around you, knowing how to hit the mark and hoping to get lucky (Satori!)

     

    But Jesus' love for the poor in spirit and Paul’s solidarity with “ta me onta” (1:28) makes a mockery of both:

     

    a) The central concept of Greek philosophy, the search for “ousia” and true Being and

     

    b) The Absolute of the Eastern Enlightenment traditions, the sense that what really and truly IS, what is enduringly and permanently Real has "no moving parts", and is prior to all that is fleeting, impermanent and apparent.

     

    Both of these approaches can be used to support the Absolute (Timeless) vs. Relative (time) distinction that underpins Ken’s entire writings – and they are also rhetorically and conceptually associated with Apollo: sun, light, and gleaming manifestation, where the essence of Greek wisdom is to ascend to the element of Being and to avoid the black holes and dark corners of non-Being or the shifting sands of becoming. 

     

    But by choosing “what is not” (ta me onta), over what is, with Jesus of Nazareth timeless Being is short circuited and the love of God “crosses out” the distinction the Greeks make between Being and Non-being, between wisdom and foolishness.

     

    In other words, in the Christ-event God crosses one sort of “Kingdom,” a kingdom of power and privilege in the straightforward sense, with another, paradoxical, irregular even ironical kingdom in which the second-tier logic of ever-increasing excellence has been shot to pieces, for faith in Christ crucified is born in "the night of the real"...

     

    Jack Caputo put it best in his recent work on the Weakness of God, when he wrote:

     

    "The kingdom of God is a kingdom of base, ill-born, powerless, despised outsiders who are null and void in the eyes of the world, drop outs measured by the world’s arche and  the present aion, tax collectors and prostitutes, and yet precisely for that reason the  ones whom God called (kletos) and set apart, whom God chose, even favoured, singling them  out for all their singularity and exceptionality."

     

    And so, if Christians are really honest with themselves they will admit that Jesus is not the messiah that we really want or expect…

     

    Any comments or criticism are most definitely welcome...

     

    Cameron


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  •  03-02-2007, 11:07 AM 19897 in reply to 19709

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Thanks for asking, revpaul! Both Jim Marion's "Putting on the Mind of Christ" and Bernadette Robert's "What Is Self?" are sitting in my bookcase with bookmarks placed at roughly two-thirds of the way through. To be honest, the prospect of passing through the kind of darkness and difficulty over a period of years before reaching a unitive state or beyond was so daunting that I put them aside with the idea that I would return when I felt stronger. I was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic after discovering the writings of the Christian mystics, including, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila and Thomas Merton, but I haven't been a regular attender of Mass or participant in Catholic activities. I have read and "taken in" Father Thomas Keating's "Open Mind, Open Heart" and "Invitation to Love" and I have enrolled in the Contemplative Life Program. Regarding CLP, I would like to become part of a triad (tele-communicating support group) but haven't had any response from the Contemplative Outreach office. My home area (ElPaso, TX / Juarez, Mex.) doesn't seem to have a contemplative community. The Church of Conscious Harmony in Austin does offer contemplation workshops based on Keating's teachings. Blessings, Chad
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  •  03-02-2007, 12:00 PM 19901 in reply to 19791

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Just visited your web site, Paul. Nice! I wish you the best in growing your Church. Could you clone yourself and start a Church in my area? Oddly, though I have been "churched" extensively since birth, I am greatly attracted to the "liberating theology" that you and others are helping to make real in the context of corporate worship and Christian community. However, some of my potentially closest soulmates have a deep distrust of meditation and contemplation as a means to actualizing one's spirituality. They can't seem to include and transcend their levels of consciousness. And one told me he didn't quite understand why one would even aspire to a higher level of consciousness if he were happy with his life (read "complacent"). Blessings, Chad
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  •  03-04-2007, 3:20 PM 20040 in reply to 19885

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Dear Cameron,

    Thanks for your post. This is just a quick reply I will try to give a fuller response later but I think you have really hit the nail on the head. There is of course this, lets hope apparent, dissonance between the Jesus stream and the Buddhist one.

    My instinct is to hope and trust that it is in reality a creative tension, an apparent either/or duality that is reconciled and overcome or integrated in the mystery of the Divine.  I am thinking of the polarities of love and knowledge, how they are distinct in our perception and yet inseparably related.  Indeed can one love truly without some degree of knowing or understanding (cfr the thread begun by DavidD on love & knowledge - it might be on the IN forum)?  St Paul in his famous "hymn" to love says earnestly desire the higher gifts ( wisdom, knowledge etc) but he also says love is the paramount and indispensible gift.

    In my view, putting Christianity into an integral framwork would not mean simply translating Christian beliefs into Buddhist/Hindu categories. it would mean allowing the different perspectives and traditions to interact, to complement, to complete, to enrich, to become a new whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. I would see our participation in Being as a gift of the Love that is  Being itself. Again wisdom and understanding is always gift even when it calls forth from us all the energies and all the dedication of our soul.

    I think there is always a danger of treating knowledge as a personal possession or ego enhancement but this is true as much within Christianity as outside it. For Paul again, Jesus expresses the highest wisdom in that "he did not count his equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself to assume the  condition of a slave.. etc (Philippians 2 ).

    Im getting distracted now so I will have to stop here.  But thanks again for that post.

    Yours

    Dave
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  •  03-07-2007, 10:32 PM 20230 in reply to 19885

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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    Howdy all --

    Cameron, I'm not sure I'm really following all that you are saying, though I think I'm mostly in agreement with you.  But I was looking at your passage here:

    For starters, in Christianity, God is Love - and Love is not so much Non-dual Emptiness (Nagarjuna) or the timeless Being of unchanging presence (I AM, Plato/Plotinus)... Rather, Love is an action, something you actually do... whereas Emptiness - as Ken says - simply leaves everything as it is.

     

    So at this risk of forging a false dichotomy (which I’m told is really bad!!), in my opinion the Christian way of Love is not so much on the side of timeless Being (or what Tillich calls the Ground of Being) but on the side of the “less than” Being – or the "an-archic" and "subversive". That is, instead of primordial awareness that leaves everything as is, it's pretty clear to me that Jesus came to turn the world as it IS upside down... i.e. to actually transform the world.

     

    So with the words and actions of Jesus of Nazareth, the God of Love is not conceived so much as the Great I AM, the rock solid ground upon  which his unchanging One-ness is erected, but is systematically associated with the  different, the marginal, the outsider, the left out, with the naked ones.

    From my point of view, I don't find any problem with viewing God/Spirit as both the great I AM -- the very ground of being -- and the transformer who "turns things upsidedown." In a similar vein, contemplation -- stillness and beingness -- and action -- transformation -- are somewhat like the inhalation and exhalation, sleeping and awakening, rest and movement, darkness and light: distinct yet unified and inseparable from each other. "Beingness" and "transformation" need not be privileged over the other or seen as "greater" or "lesser" than the other, but rather completions of each other ... though of course there will be times when action must rise to the fore, and vice versa.

     

    I was just at the LA Religious Education conference (which I will write about a bit more later) and got to hear Fr. Richard Rohr's* talks on Jesus and Paul as nondualistic teachers. (I inwardly smiled to hear him laud spiritual stages, Spiral Dynamics, Clare Graves, Don Beck and Ken Wilber -- in front of that crowd of hundreds, perhaps even a thousand, Catholic catechists and educators ... !). The main gist of his lectures were that the gospels cannot really come to life if they are looked at through a dualistic, binary, "either/or" mind (or "egoic operating system.") Jesus, the man who repeatedly broke purity codes (by, for example, working on the Sabbath and dining with "sinners" and outcasts), who told stories chock full of paradox, who embraced both the richly poor and the poorly rich, who spoke of the rains pouring down on both the just and the unjust, surrendered in ultimate vulnerability on the cross, "holding the two sides of everything."

     

    All for now.

     

    Peace,

     

    Mary

     

    *BTW, Rohr is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation  Smile [:)] in Albuqueque, NM.


    Let the beauty we love be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

    ~Rumi
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  •  03-12-2007, 6:44 AM 20504 in reply to 19773

    • edison is not online. Last active: 08-20-2008, 4:22 AM edison
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    Re: Integral Contemplative Christianity

    This is such a great thread, so heartfelt.

    I was born and raised Roman Catholic, I even taught CCD up into my 30's and finally just couldn't do it anymore.  It just felt dare I say it, hypocritical.  So I searched for a (long) while and settled on Zen.  But I miss both the 2nd person aspect of God and the incredible pagentry and emotion in the Mass.

    So, my "contribution" to this discussion- I was reading "Path of the Human Being" by Genpo Roshi- I don't recall the exact passage or chapter, but the basic theme was about having enough "faith" that we all do indeed have Buddha mind and that if we just believed that we could simply identify with that Buddha mind or Big Mind, our path to freedom would be much smoother.  After reading that, my mind flashed on two points from my Catholic hertiage.  The first being (please forgive approximate Bible quote) "If you had the faith the size of a mustard seed, you could move mountains."  This always vexed me in my youth, but it seem very resonant the Zen view about drinking the ocean in a single gulp.  The second thing that came to mind seemed more profound to me.  There is a point in the Catholic Mass where the priest consecrates the Eucharist (the point where the "cracker" becomes "flesh and blood" in some views)  it really struck me that it isn't the host being transformed as much as the perspective of the congregation.  "Behold, this is the Body of Christ, happy are those who are called to His supper." is the equivalent to Genpo's "Let me speak to Big Mind/Big Heart." - an invitation to identify in that moment with the infinite, which is always there, we only need to remember and relax (even celebrate) into it.

     

    BT

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