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Being, Consciousness, Bliss

This week on Integral Spiritual Center....

The Hidden Ground of Love - Dee Black/Ken Wilber

The Pearl of Great Price - Father Thomas Keating

The Hidden Ground of Love (audio) 

    "And if you would know God, be not therefore a solver of riddles. Rather look about you and you shall see Him playing with your children. And look into space; you shall see Him walking in the cloud, outstretching His arms in the lightning and descending in the rain. You shall see Him smiling in flowers, then rising and waving His hands in trees."

    ~Kahlil Gibran 

It is said that the human mind, presented with a question and given sufficient time, will eventually yield an answer.  Perhaps one of history’s best illustrations of this involves Ken Wilber, who posed to his mind the broadest of questions—how does everything fit together?—and sat with it for three years.  Toward the end of the third year, an answer began to form—a set of luminous insights that crystallized into the AQAL approach. 

Part of the genius of the inquiry was not to simply ask, for example, how do science and religion fit together—which might result in a tentative synthesis, but without the spaciousness needed to include, say, art—but rather, what sort of Kosmos must we live in, in order for all of this to be true?  The answer was brilliant, elegant, and simple:  with a very few “involutionary givens” (for example, the quadrants and the erotic impulse to transcend) and the spirit of evolution through fourteen billion years, we have arrived at this moment.  And it is perfect…. 

The model, broadly applicable across all domains, has some particularly interesting implications in the domain of spirituality.  With the insight that, in the moment that Emptiness breaks into Fullness, it does so most fundamentally in perspectives, comes the corollary:  if you look up—way up—in your first-person, second-person, or third-person perspective, there you shall behold one of the Three Faces of Spirit. 

The AQAL approach thus re-presents some of the deepest and most ancient of human insights, in the light of modernity and postmodernity.  As Ken discusses with Dee Black in this week’s featured audio, these insights often begin with the experience of what Hinduism and Buddhism call Nirguna Brahman, or unqualifiable Spirit.  And then, in the moment that Spirit emerges—in the experience of Saguna Brahman—It is typically seen as having the three qualities of Saccidananda: Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. 

Incredibly—but not surprisingly—the early Fathers of the Church had precisely the same intuition, which led to the Doctrine of the Trinity, that God exists as three Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—or Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, as seen from the West!).  Meister Eckhart, the great thirteenth-century Christian mystic, expounded on this doctrine, teaching that even the Trinity emerges, and It does so from what he called Godhead—unqualifiable Spirit, or Nirguna Brahman.  This is a startling insight indeed for anyone who has grown up with the Nicene Creed, so often held and taught in a mythic sense.  But in the teaching of Father Bede Griffiths—the Benedictine Christian monk who journeyed to India in the 1950’s and became a realized Hindu Master—even the Creed is a pointing out instruction…. 

And more stunning yet was Eckhart’s next insight:  that from the very same ground from which the Trinity emerges, so do you, and so do I.  We share with God, God’s very Self, the hidden ground of Love.  In some sense, we ourselves are questions, pondered in the stillness, in what is beautifully called the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Who is Spirit-as-You?  Who is Spirit-as-Me?  And as we spring forth into being, into action, with passion and compassion, we ourselves are the answer to the question….

The Pearl of Great Price (video)

Father Thomas Keating talks about his own journey, and his finding of the contemplative path.  The son of a successful Manhattan lawyer, he discovered early on the riches of the spiritual life, with enormous implications for his own life and the lives of the multitudes who have received his teaching.

Published Saturday, September 27, 2008 2:51 PM by rollie


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