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OVERVIEW OF PRESENTATIONS

In planning these presentations, I plotted out many organizational schemes, most of them developing the topic in a rather logical, systematic manner. While it’s certainly possible to present the material in this manner, after awhile it just didn’t feel right. When I studied my reactions, what I noticed was that my own experience and education concerning the Holy Spirit has been anything but straightforward through the years. I was reminded of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, where he states, “the wind blows where its pleasure takes it, and the sound of it comes to your ears, but you are unable to say where it comes from and where it goes; so it is with everyone whose birth is from the Spirit.” (Jn. 3: 8)

What I’ve learned from this passage through the years is that the Spirit works with us on many levels at once, and that it’s generally impossible to “organize” what’s going on into systems and stages without considerably distorting the reality. That’s kind of what it’s felt like writing these conferences as well: inspirations and enthusiasm for one aspect of life in the Spirit would come at one point, then something seemingly unrelated would follow. Things just didn’t flow in an orderly manner, so I finally quit trying to force things into that mold. If Jesus says that no one can predict where those born of the Spirit come from and where they go, then how much more the kinds of thought processes prompted by the Spirit?

This is not a bad thing, however, for while the Spirit doesn’t seem to be opposed to reasoning and logical approaches, She’s not especially enamored of them either. She (and I use the feminine pronoun as it resonates with several Old Testament references to the Spirit) seems to much prefer working on many levels at once, and of keeping one just a little off-balance in the process. Control is not a high priority for Her, but organization that enhances creativity is. Problem is, sometimes, we mistake the former for the latter and that’s what I don’t want to do in these conferences.

So I will jump around a bit—actually, a lot. If it doesn’t hang together or seem to flow from one thing to the next, well, trust your perception, for it will be correct! Nevertheless, I am confident that, on the whole, we will cover the relevant topics and explore the important issues. If you find me negligent in an area, you can always bring it up on the discussion forum and, hopefully, find a helpful response there.

Opening Statement and Conclusions

This opening statement is a good example of what I was referring to above. It’s an introduction to the topic and a concluding statement as well. Everything that follows in the conferences to come will elaborate on this opener, to some extent. In a way this is good, I think, for you’ll know from the start where I’m coming from and where I’m going. You can relax and enjoy the process and the study the material; hopefully, you will also contribute by sharing your own thoughts and experiences on the forum. So here we go . . .

It’s pretty clear from the witness of the New Testament that the gift of the Holy Spirit is what makes it possible to live a Christian life. The Christian “way” is never presented as a matter of learning Christ’s teaching and using one’s mind and will to conform to his values. Without the Holy Spirit, living the life that Christ taught through word and example is not considered possible.

Amazingly, it seems that the Christian life is often presented today as a kind of philosophy or system of values that Jesus modeled perfectly. Little mention is made of the Holy Spirit, or if it is, this is only understood symbolically—as in some kind of “spirit” of Christian love. A case in point, here, would be a conversation I had recently with the head of a religious community. We were talking about the meaning of the life of Christ and he said that, for him, the primary meaning was to reveal to us God’s loving nature. That’s true, of course, but when I asked if that was the main thing, to him, he said that it was. “What more do we need than to know that God is love?” he stated, rhetorically.

The answer to this question is what we need is POWER. It’s not enough for us to know that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God who died for our sins and revealed to us the values that really matter. We need the power to live the kind of life he revealed and taught, and that’s what the Spirit makes possible. In fact, it’s not stretching things at all to say that one of the main reasons Jesus came was to bless us with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s true that he also came to break the hold of evil and sin, but without the gift of the Holy Spirit, the human race would have fallen right back into its old ways. That is why Jesus said; “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (Jn. 16: 7). Certainly, it was good that Jesus came, but even Jesus says that it is better that he go so that he could send the Spirit. Somehow, his death, resurrection and ascension opened the way for the Spirit to be showered on the whole human race in a way that did not exist before his coming. (We will reflect more deeply on this mystery during a future conference.)

As breath is to the human body, regulating its operations and rhythms, so is the Holy Spirit to Christ’s Mystical Body. The Spirit “breathes” the divine life into us and “engineers” a transformative process that changes us from cancer cells in the cosmos to living cells in the Body of Christ. This process—the spiritual journey—is nothing we could accomplish using our own will, intelligence and behavior; it is pure gift, and it is given to all people who belong to Christ either through implicit or explicit faith. All that the Spirit needs from us in order to accomplish this work is our ongoing cooperation in living a life of love and a commitment to spiritual discipline, especially prayer. The rest is a work of grace.

As cells in the Body of Christ, we each have a contribution to make unto growing and maintaining the life of the Body. To accomplish this, the Spirit blesses every individual with charisms, or spiritual gifts, to be used for the good of others. These gifts might be similar to what we can do with our natural talents, but often they are not. Some people, for example, can’t really carry on a good conversation with others, but put them in a position to preach the Word of God and amazing things come from their lips! Through the exercising of spiritual charisms, we grow in the Spirit and we help to build up the Christian and human communities around the world. It seems to be the delight of the Spirit to move people to form communities and it seems to be our joy as well to belong to a Spirit-filled community. As we all know, however, finding such a community is sometimes difficult; the local Christian parish or congregation is often little different from any other kind of secular gathering, and I think this grieves the Spirit greatly.

We can grow in the Spirit and become more attuned to the Spirit’s direction and influence in our lives. We can also learn to better identify and develop our spiritual gifts; we will address these possibilities in sessions to come. Finally, we can learn more about Who the Spirit Is and how She relates to Christ and the Father in the story of creation and redemption. That will be part of our study in the weeks ahead as well, and I think it can help us to come to a deeper love of God. As Frank Sheed once put it, the more we learn about God, the more reasons we have to love God.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

1. What kinds of thoughts and feelings were awakened in you from this conference? What questions?
2. What is it you hope to learn during this series?

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What do I hope to gain from this conference?

I hope to discover that area of my life most in need of conversion. Don Gelpi, S.J. has expanded on the teaching of Bernard Lonergan in suggesting five areas for conversion: 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious. He points out that we don't usually experience conversion in all five areas when experiencing conversion in any one of the areas, although our experience of conversion in any given area of life profoundly influences (Gelpi says transvalues) our experiences of conversion in all of the other areas. In other words, these experiences mutually condition and inform one another.

Father Tom Carroll, S.J. writes:
quote:
Most of us find that some areas of our lives are more �converted� than other areas, and that some areas of our lives fall short of both the awareness and the authenticity we are able to establish and maintain in other areas.
Fr. Carroll goes on to point out that, with increased awareness and authenticity in any area of our life, we can experience greater freedom.

In a nutshell, then, for Gelpi, initial conversion is the passage from childish responsibility to the assumption of adult responsibility for some realm of experience , again, intellectually, affectively, morally, socio-politically and religiously. It must be accompanied by ongoing conversion , which is the practical acceptance of the consequences of the initial transition from irresponsible to responsible behavior.

We might ask, then, have I a) taken responsibility, b) accepted the consequences, c) increased my authenticity, d) enhanced my awareness and e) experienced a greater freedom in the 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious realms of my life experience? In which areas am I more converted? In which have I fallen short? In which areas do I need to overcome a sinful resistance to conversion?

Stacey Christine Wendlinder gives us some examples of sinful resistance to conversion. I'll modify them below, somewhat:

Sinful resistance to 1) intellectual conversion might involve our acceptance of conventional understandings at the expense of deeper or more profound knowledge ; 2) affective conversion comes when one has an inflated sense of one's mastery of self, self-reliance, and self-control. When this illusion is challenged, one needs to experience forgiveness to bring healing to one's unconscious destructive forces. 3) Immoral, selfish (or even righteous, selfless) behavior motivated by egocentricity is a sign of resistance to moral conversion. 4) Finding security in "worldly" things is a sign of resistance to sociopolitical conversion . 5) Succumbing to "minimum Christianity"--doing the bare minimum or compartmentalizing faith to one area of life--reveals resistance to religious conversion .

So, intellectual conversion involves taking responsibility for what we accept as truth. Affective, emotional conversion involves using the information provided by our feelings to make life-enhancing and not life-detracting, relationship-enhancing and not relationship-detracting, responses to our environment and other people. For example, anger, guilt or fear can be either existential (life-enhancing) or neurotic (life-detracting), depending on our responses. Moral conversion and authenticity affirms both a primacy of conscience and a deference to moral authority, not accepting, uncritically, what is offered by legitimate authorities or reinventing the wheel on ethical decision-making, and rejects either complete moral autonomy from or moral dependence on external authorities. Sociopolitical conversion involves the taking of responsibility for discerning of our proper place in establishing and maintaining the common good. When it comes to discernment, I would suggest that the term communal discernment is a redundancy.

It is important to note that these first four of these conversion processes are secular processes. The question that emerges, then, is what difference does the Holy Spirit make? From a Catholic perspective, we could ask how the Sacraments of Initiation effect initial conversion? How do all of the sacraments advance ongoing conversion? What are the concrete differences in the conversion experiences that come about through a) normal developmental growth processes cognitively, affectively, morally (for instance, following the developmental psychologies of Piaget, Erikson, Gardner, Kohlberg, Fowler et al) b) the experience of the Spirit in implicit faith and the salvific efficacies of other traditions and c) the experience of the Spirit in the explicit faith traditions of Christianity, where we are able to journey toward our salvation more quickly and unhindered?

When it comes to our outlook of the Spirit at work in the world, how do we avoid either an extreme pessimism that views the world as radically devoid of grace or an extreme optimism that breeds religious indifferentism, facile syncretisms and false irenicism between the religious and secular realms or between different religions? What does a true incarnational outlook look like as nature interacts with grace?

So, on one level, I hope to open my docility to the Spirit, overcoming sinful resistance to conversion in whichever area emerges as my greatest present need and challenge, looking to see how my experience of sacramental and community life can best mediate my growth in the Spirit, in particular. On another level, I look forward to incorporating the lessons and the personal sharing of all here toward a better understanding of the ongoing journey of conversion in general and the role the Spirit plays in both invoking and convoking us all.

with the Holy Breath,
jboy
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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As a follow to the discussion of conversion, below are some ideas that more directly address our experience of Divine Grace by Gelpi. These are some of my favorite Gelpi quotes and I'll insert them here rather than sprinkle them throughout. Like Phil notes, these ideas form a cohesive whole even if they somewhat defy a linear, logical order or clear construction:

quote:
Christian charity requires one to place no restrictions on what one shares by refusing to ask whether people deserve the help one gives them and by asking instead whether they need it.
quote:
The realm of the supernatural certainly exceeds anything which created nature can deserve, merit , or effect, left to its own resources, but the realm of the supernatural does not lie beyond the human ability to experience it. We experience the supernatural as a divine gift over and above the gift of creation; namely, as the free and gratuitious intervention of God in human history in order to empower sinful humans to collaborate with the deity in undoing the consequences of human sinfulness. The saving intervention of God in human history culminated in the incarnation of the Son of God and in his mission of the divine Breath to transform sinful humans in his own sinless image.
quote:
Instead of grounding the Kingdom in law, coercion and power politics, Jesus grounded it in authentic worship of the Father. Moreover, he required mutual forgiveness as the test of authentic worship ...
quote:
The truth about humanity lies somewhere between belef in total human depravity and belief that human nature spontaneously longs for the beatific vision.
quote:
... the human ability to convert naturally endows human experience with an obediential potency for supernatural gracing. By that I mean that the natural capacity to deal responsibly with finite created realities builds into human nature the capacity to respond in a responsible manner to a God who would choose freely and gratuitously to enter human experience and so act as to undo the consequences of human sinfulness. ... ... Finally, the omnipresence of the Holy Breath gives every human potential access in faith to God's saving action in Christ in whom God has decided to save the world.
quote:
Faith healing can take three typical forms: 1) The very deepening of conversion through recommitment to God in justifying faith marks the first level of healing. 2) The transformation of suffering into a source of union with God marks the second degree of healing. 3) Physical and psychic healing, whether explicable or miraculous, mark the third degree of healing in faith.
quote:
... any authentic doctrine must in its operational consequences conform to the moral exigencies of life in the reign of God which Jesus embodied and proclaimed. The practical, operational consequences of Christian doctrines clarify their theoretical meaning. As a consequence, theological faith, like theological hope, has an irreducibly practical character. One can know the truth of Christianity ultimately only by living it.
quote:
Through participation in and contribution to such a community of faith, one allows the Breath of the Risen Christ to teach one to put on his mind: to see reality through his eyes by learning to live with others in his image. Such gospel living infuses the theological virtue of charity.
quote:
The Church creates a graced environment when it institutionalizes conversion in all of its forms.
quote:
All genuine forms of charismatic ministry in the Church seek to advance the common good of the Christian community and humanity. The Church exists in order to promote Christological knowing in all its members through shared as well as personal growth in hope, faith and love, through the Christian search for a just social order, and through charismatic participation in Jesus' own Breath-filled ministry of proclaiming and embodying God's reign. Such a Christological knowing culminates in a participation in Jesus' own resurrection in the next life.
quote:
Original sin consists of the rest of personal and social sin minus the personal sins I have committed. Each person experiences original sin, therefore, from a somewhat diffeent angle of vision, since my personal sin contributes to your experience of original sin and vice versa.
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So, the Spirit, the Holy Breath is omnipresent and accessible. Using the Gelpian quotes: What are some ways to connect in prayer and sacrament, community and charism, in our personal and shared experiences? I believe that, if we step out in faith and attempt , humanly and humbly, asking God's Helper to assist us and console us, to do any of the following --- the Spirit will flow like a river, taking us further downstream on the journey at a rate and for a distance that we could never have hoped for or conceived! For we did not receive a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-control!

convert

repent

turn away from sin

turn toward God

take responsibility

accept the consequences of conversion

increase my authenticity

enhance my awareness

experience a greater freedom

worship authentically

mutual forgiveness

institutionalize conversion

participate in sacraments of initiation, vocation & healing

seek transformation through suffering

live the truth of Christianity

encounter the Word of God

participate in and contribute to a community of faith

seek to advance the common good of the Christian community and humanity

promote Christological knowing in all Church members through shared as well as personal growth in hope, faith and love

join the Christian search for a just social order

participate, charismatically, in Jesus' own Breath-filled ministry of proclaiming and embodying God's reign
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Okay, my friends, I wanted to contribute some thoughts from Don Gelpi, whom I first encountered over thirty years ago at charismatic prayer meetings in New Orleans, who has developed an incredible body of theological work since then. Rarely does one find such a wonderful combination of scholarship and practicality. I trust you find his work really accessible and practical to your own experiences, just as Phil's approach has been.

What do things like the following mean?

increase my authenticity

enhance my awareness

experience a greater freedom

worship authentically

Hmmmm.... ...

These above, and others on the list, could all be great take off points to share personal experiences. I worshipped most authentically when _____________________________. I experienced a great freedom after _____________________________. I found that ______________________ enhanced my awareness, my living in the now, in love and benevolence, in honesty and truth, and I knew the Spirit was present because ____________________________!

I can not contribute again 'til next weekend but I wanted to help get the ball rolling. Great peace, that the world cannot give.

in the Holy Breath,
jboy
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I find it interesting that you are referring to the Holy Spirit as the Holy Breath. I attended a session of Breathwork a couple of weeks ago. The instructor was a dynamic, Catholic, peace activist here in the Cinti. area. The breath is an extremely interesting function. We not only take in oxygen, but also life force. I am wondering how that fits in with the Holy Spirit.

Katy
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Sarasota, Florida | Registered: 17 November 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In a nutshell, then, for Gelpi, initial conversion is the passage from childish responsibility to the assumption of adult responsibility for some realm of experience , again, intellectually, affectively, morally, socio-politically and religiously. It must be accompanied by ongoing conversion , which is the practical acceptance of the consequences of the initial transition from irresponsible to responsible behavior.

johnboy, I like that approach, and how you've shown its relationship to life in the Spirit. Very rich and holistic! Good meat and potatoes to add to the appetizer I served! Smiler

Katy, I like the idea of the Holy Spirit as the Breath of the Mystical Body of Christ. What breath is to an individual body, so the Spirit is to the Mystical Body. As you noted, there are numerous levels of relevance here.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by johnboy:
[qb] What do I hope to gain from this conference?

I hope to discover that area of my life most in need of conversion. Don Gelpi, S.J. has expanded on the teaching of Bernard Lonergan in suggesting five areas for conversion: 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious. He points out that we don't usually experience conversion in all five areas when experiencing conversion in any one of the areas, although our experience of conversion in any given area of life profoundly influences (Gelpi says transvalues) our experiences of conversion in all of the other areas. In other words, these experiences mutually condition and inform one another.

Father Tom Carroll, S.J. writes:
quote:
Most of us find that some areas of our lives are more �converted� than other areas, and that some areas of our lives fall short of both the awareness and the authenticity we are able to establish and maintain in other areas.
Fr. Carroll goes on to point out that, with increased awareness and authenticity in any area of our life, we can experience greater freedom.

In a nutshell, then, for Gelpi, initial conversion is the passage from childish responsibility to the assumption of adult responsibility for some realm of experience , again, intellectually, affectively, morally, socio-politically and religiously. It must be accompanied by ongoing conversion , which is the practical acceptance of the consequences of the initial transition from irresponsible to responsible behavior.

We might ask, then, have I a) taken responsibility, b) accepted the consequences, c) increased my authenticity, d) enhanced my awareness and e) experienced a greater freedom in the 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious realms of my life experience? In which areas am I more converted? In which have I fallen short? In which areas do I need to overcome a sinful resistance to conversion?

Stacey Christine Wendlinder gives us some examples of sinful resistance to conversion. I'll modify them below, somewhat:

Sinful resistance to 1) intellectual conversion might involve our acceptance of conventional understandings at the expense of deeper or more profound knowledge ; 2) affective conversion comes when one has an inflated sense of one's mastery of self, self-reliance, and self-control. When this illusion is challenged, one needs to experience forgiveness to bring healing to one's unconscious destructive forces. 3) Immoral, selfish (or even righteous, selfless) behavior motivated by egocentricity is a sign of resistance to moral conversion. 4) Finding security in "worldly" things is a sign of resistance to sociopolitical conversion . 5) Succumbing to "minimum Christianity"--doing the bare minimum or compartmentalizing faith to one area of life--reveals resistance to religious conversion .

So, intellectual conversion involves taking responsibility for what we accept as truth. Affective, emotional conversion involves using the information provided by our feelings to make life-enhancing and not life-detracting, relationship-enhancing and not relationship-detracting, responses to our environment and other people. For example, anger, guilt or fear can be either existential (life-enhancing) or neurotic (life-detracting), depending on our responses. Moral conversion and authenticity affirms both a primacy of conscience and a deference to moral authority, not accepting, uncritically, what is offered by legitimate authorities or reinventing the wheel on ethical decision-making, and rejects either complete moral autonomy from or moral dependence on external authorities. Sociopolitical conversion involves the taking of responsibility for discerning of our proper place in establishing and maintaining the common good. When it comes to discernment, I would suggest that the term communal discernment is a redundancy.

It is important to note that these first four of these conversion processes are secular processes. The question that emerges, then, is what difference does the Holy Spirit make? From a Catholic perspective, we could ask how the Sacraments of Initiation effect initial conversion? How do all of the sacraments advance ongoing conversion? What are the concrete differences in the conversion experiences that come about through a) normal developmental growth processes cognitively, affectively, morally (for instance, following the developmental psychologies of Piaget, Erikson, Gardner, Kohlberg, Fowler et al) b) the experience of the Spirit in implicit faith and the salvific efficacies of other traditions and c) the experience of the Spirit in the explicit faith traditions of Christianity, where we are able to journey toward our salvation more quickly and unhindered?

When it comes to our outlook of the Spirit at work in the world, how do we avoid either an extreme pessimism that views the world as radically devoid of grace or an extreme optimism that breeds religious indifferentism, facile syncretisms and false irenicism between the religious and secular realms or between different religions? What does a true incarnational outlook look like as nature interacts with grace?

So, on one level, I hope to open my docility to the Spirit, overcoming sinful resistance to conversion in whichever area emerges as my greatest present need and challenge, looking to see how my experience of sacramental and community life can best mediate my growth in the Spirit, in particular. On another level, I look forward to incorporating the lessons and the personal sharing of all here toward a better understanding of the ongoing journey of conversion in general and the role the Spirit plays in both invoking and convoking us all.

with the Holy Breath,
jboy [/qb]
 
Posts: 8 | Registered: 12 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by johnboy:
[qb] What do I hope to gain from this conference?

I hope to discover that area of my life most in need of conversion. Don Gelpi, S.J. has expanded on the teaching of Bernard Lonergan in suggesting five areas for conversion: 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious. He points out that we don't usually experience conversion in all five areas when experiencing conversion in any one of the areas, although our experience of conversion in any given area of life profoundly influences (Gelpi says transvalues) our experiences of conversion in all of the other areas. In other words, these experiences mutually condition and inform one another.

Father Tom Carroll, S.J. writes:
quote:
Most of us find that some areas of our lives are more �converted� than other areas, and that some areas of our lives fall short of both the awareness and the authenticity we are able to establish and maintain in other areas.
Fr. Carroll goes on to point out that, with increased awareness and authenticity in any area of our life, we can experience greater freedom.

In a nutshell, then, for Gelpi, initial conversion is the passage from childish responsibility to the assumption of adult responsibility for some realm of experience , again, intellectually, affectively, morally, socio-politically and religiously. It must be accompanied by ongoing conversion , which is the practical acceptance of the consequences of the initial transition from irresponsible to responsible behavior.

We might ask, then, have I a) taken responsibility, b) accepted the consequences, c) increased my authenticity, d) enhanced my awareness and e) experienced a greater freedom in the 1) intellectual 2) affective 3) moral 4) socio-political and 5) religious realms of my life experience? In which areas am I more converted? In which have I fallen short? In which areas do I need to overcome a sinful resistance to conversion?

Stacey Christine Wendlinder gives us some examples of sinful resistance to conversion. I'll modify them below, somewhat:

Sinful resistance to 1) intellectual conversion might involve our acceptance of conventional understandings at the expense of deeper or more profound knowledge ; 2) affective conversion comes when one has an inflated sense of one's mastery of self, self-reliance, and self-control. When this illusion is challenged, one needs to experience forgiveness to bring healing to one's unconscious destructive forces. 3) Immoral, selfish (or even righteous, selfless) behavior motivated by egocentricity is a sign of resistance to moral conversion. 4) Finding security in "worldly" things is a sign of resistance to sociopolitical conversion . 5) Succumbing to "minimum Christianity"--doing the bare minimum or compartmentalizing faith to one area of life--reveals resistance to religious conversion .

So, intellectual conversion involves taking responsibility for what we accept as truth. Affective, emotional conversion involves using the information provided by our feelings to make life-enhancing and not life-detracting, relationship-enhancing and not relationship-detracting, responses to our environment and other people. For example, anger, guilt or fear can be either existential (life-enhancing) or neurotic (life-detracting), depending on our responses. Moral conversion and authenticity affirms both a primacy of conscience and a deference to moral authority, not accepting, uncritically, what is offered by legitimate authorities or reinventing the wheel on ethical decision-making, and rejects either complete moral autonomy from or moral dependence on external authorities. Sociopolitical conversion involves the taking of responsibility for discerning of our proper place in establishing and maintaining the common good. When it comes to discernment, I would suggest that the term communal discernment is a redundancy.

It is important to note that these first four of these conversion processes are secular processes. The question that emerges, then, is what difference does the Holy Spirit make? From a Catholic perspective, we could ask how the Sacraments of Initiation effect initial conversion? How do all of the sacraments advance ongoing conversion? What are the concrete differences in the conversion experiences that come about through a) normal developmental growth processes cognitively, affectively, morally (for instance, following the developmental psychologies of Piaget, Erikson, Gardner, Kohlberg, Fowler et al) b) the experience of the Spirit in implicit faith and the salvific efficacies of other traditions and c) the experience of the Spirit in the explicit faith traditions of Christianity, where we are able to journey toward our salvation more quickly and unhindered?

When it comes to our outlook of the Spirit at work in the world, how do we avoid either an extreme pessimism that views the world as radically devoid of grace or an extreme optimism that breeds religious indifferentism, facile syncretisms and false irenicism between the religious and secular realms or between different religions? What does a true incarnational outlook look like as nature interacts with grace?

So, on one level, I hope to open my docility to the Spirit, overcoming sinful resistance to conversion in whichever area emerges as my greatest present need and challenge, looking to see how my experience of sacramental and community life can best mediate my growth in the Spirit, in particular. On another level, I look forward to incorporating the lessons and the personal sharing of all here toward a better understanding of the ongoing journey of conversion in general and the role the Spirit plays in both invoking and convoking us all.

with the Holy Breath,
jboy [/qb]
 
Posts: 8 | Registered: 12 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by johnboy:

In which areas do I need to overcome a sinful resistance to conversion?

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that Luke 12:10 records in his gospel I have begun to understand as being the sinful resistance to conversion that johnboy, citing Gelpi and Wendlinder, related in his post on June 04. Consider the following analogy: If an individual needs a pint of blood, or part of my liver or one of my kidneys to restore his/her health but then refuses to change the ways that led to the health crises then the sacrifice I made will have been forsaken. If that individual is not going to eat well, sleep well, manage stress well, renounce any drinking or smoking addictions or embrace other habits that promote health, in other words repent and convert, he is not choosing to be �forgiven� and the good he has been given will will become corrupted. In the same manner if what God�s Holy Spirit has to offer is not accepted then God�s forgiveness is not accepted and the individual never receives the forgiveness that God continuously offers.
 
Posts: 8 | Registered: 12 February 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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John B. wrote: The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that Luke 12:10 records in his gospel I have begun to understand as being the sinful resistance to conversion

When you first mentioned the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit , John, what you wrote above is what immediately came to mind to me, also. Further, it occurred to me that, while there are many ways to sinfully resist conversion, one of the more common sins against the Holy Spirit is our lack of acceptance of forgiveness, which I suppose is sadly related to the sin of pride. There are some shameful things I have done in the past, some more recent and others long ago, that still wound my pride a tad and reveal to me my need to more fully accept God's forgiveness, to more fully accept my own imperfections as well as sinfulness. I would be a liar if I said I was without sin. I would be a damned liar if I said I was not imperfect. I would be the most pitiable of all if I refused forgiveness for any reason. Finally, not to forgive after having been so graciously forgiven is also a well known obstacle, a point of resistance to conversion, a blocking, so to speak, of the graces of healing and reconciliation.

Thanks, John, for expanding on these thoughts in the light of the Word.

shalom,
jboy
 
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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What kinds of thoughts and feelings were awakened in you from this conference? What questions?

In reference to the statement "As breath is to the human body, regulating its operations and rhythms, so is the Holy Spirit to Christ's Mystical Body. The Spirit "breathes" the divine life into us and "engineers" a transformative process that changes us from cancer cells in the cosmos to living cells in the Body of Christ. This process-the spiritual journey-is nothing we could accomplish using our own will, intelligence and behavior; it is pure gift, and it is given to all people who belong to Christ either through implicit or explicit faith. All that the Spirit needs from us in order to accomplish this work is our ongoing cooperation in living a life of
love and a commitment to spiritual discipline, especially prayer. The rest is a work of grace."

My understanding of the term Christ is that it refers to the state of consciousness that Jesus (and others) attained and that Jesus was a human being who attained Christ Consciousness. I don't see Jesus and Christ as being interchangeable terms, even though I understand that is how the terms are used in Christianity. I am aware that my premise is different probably from most, if not all of the people on this discussion board.

My understanding of the Holy Spirit is that it is a sacred spiritual energy of God that is available to all of the different spiritual and religious traditions in humanity. It is through the experience of this sacred energy, regardless of what each tradition calls it, that one develops a living (alive) relationship that is in alignment with God's will; and through which each expresses their love for Him according to their own languages, cultures and traditions.

I was raised in the Catholic religion, but it wasn't until I experienced Kundalini awakening in my twenties that the stories that I learned in my catechism classes as a child became relevant to me as actual experiences. That was when the experience of God became real in my life. At the time of my Kundalini awakening experience I was not practicing nor consciously seeking any form of spirituality or religion.

Over the years, through many levels of purification, my relationship to God, my commitment to live in alignment with Him, and my convinction of myself as a spark of God's divine energy has become deeper and stronger.
 
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Jean, yes, your statement about Jesus "attaining" Christ consciousness is along the lines of Arianism, which was rejected by the Church for a variety of reasons. It sounds like you're already aware of how this is different from orthodox Christian teaching, however.

I'd be interested in learning more about how your kundalini awakening came about. You mention that you were "not practicing nor consciously seeking any form of spirituality or religion" at the time. What happened? How did you come to associate this with God?
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is for you Phil,

I was working as a temporary employee at a company. My first week at this company, another temporary employee asked if she could tell me about something. She promised that if I didn't want to hear about it all I had to do was let her know and she would drop the subject. She then proceeded to tell me about Siddha Yoga Meditation. Before she started talking I was primed to tell her that I was not interested. But once she started, I found myself wanting to hear more. She then loaned me the book, "Where are You Going?", by Sw. Muktananda. I started reading the book at work and could not put it down. When I got home that evening I was reading the section on meditation and decided to try it then and there. I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor in half lotus position. As soon as I was comfortably situated I felt a ball of energy at the base of my spine. This ball of energy shot up my spine, through the top of my head. I saw visions of gold and gold light everywhere. There were also figures of humans whom I later learned were Bhagawan Nityananda, Sw. Muktananda's guru, the Indian mystic Shirdi Sai Baba and others. After that little smiley faces of Sw. Muktananda came spiraling up my spine, one after another. I wasn't afraid during this experience even though it was quite different from anything I had previously experienced. After that day I felt a low grade heat in my body, like a slight fever, that lasted for the next two or three years. In spite of that, I was fine. The heat never interfered with my ability to continue my life as usual.

Three months after my awakening, this same person took me to the ashram in South Fallsburg, NY for the first time. We stepped into the lobby and across from us there was a large picture of Shirdi Sai Baba. He seemed familiar to me even though knew I did not know who he was and I remember thinking, "Okay, now I know why I'm here". I walked over to the picture and said to my friend, "Who is that saint? I want to meet him." She replied, "Oh, he's been dead." I thought to myself, "Figures."

During darshan that day I received a mantra card. On the card was a picture of Sw. Muktananda that was identical to how I saw him during my Kundalini awakening. Sw. Muktananda took mahasamadhi (left his body) six months prior to my Kundalini awakening. I met Gurumayi when she had just become the Guru. I felt very at home at the ashram and even though I never lived there, it became the focus of my world for the next twelve years.

In my teens and twenties, I was very depressed and angry and I was prone to migraine headaches. Through meditation and other yogic practices I experienced myself and the world in a completely different light. Meditation took me to a place much deeper than my emotions and beneath them was a state of pure peace that I had never before experienced. I began to realize that my emotional state was not who I was and that I had a choice in how I responded to situations. As my meditation practice developed, I no longer experienced migraines. My emotional state became balanced. I learned that my depression was a habitual response and that I had the power to change it. Eventually that response also disappeared.

I read many of the posts on the Kundalini/Holy Spirit. What I did not see on the posts that I read were any references to the practices of meditation, chanting, scriptural study, contemplation, or selfless service, all of which serve to strengthen and support the body's ability to contain the processes that may occur during the Kundalini purification process. The process can be quite difficult, I can attest to that, but I had the support of Gurumayi as well as other people on that path. We often referred to the purification process as "surgery without anesthesia". We had the understanding that during the process of purification you felt/experienced whatever it was that was being expelled and that it would eventually resolve. It took faith and the ability to develop witness consciousness to help maintain a sense of groundedness and balance during those times.

Having experienced Kundalini awakening prior to meeting the physical Guru may have made it easier for me to understand that the physical Guru was not the goal of the path. I focused on understanding the mystical experiences and learning to practically apply that understanding in a way that made a difference in my everyday life. As far as I was concerned, until it could apply what I learned on the physical/denser plane in a practical way, I did not really "have" it. I do have to say that not everything went as smoothly as it sounds from what I have written here. Believe me, I was hardly amenable to the process. Most of what I gained, I gained in spite of myself.

After twelve years, I began to feel that in order to continue to grow it was necessary for me to leave the organization of the ashram. I needed to develop a context of "Who am I now?" in relation to the world at large; otherwise it would become spiritual gluttony. I had been given a great deal and it was time to apply what I was given in service to others. It was an emotionally painful time because I never had any intention of leaving the ashram.

Two years after that I experienced a dark night of the soul, which is directly connected to how I ended up back in school; something else that I never planned. But that's another story.
 
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Quite generous sharing, Jean. Thank you very much!

That's a striking account of a kundalini awakening and of the power and efficacy of shaktipat in that lineage. I've come to know several people who worked with Swami Muktananda and Gurumayi through the years, and I've read a number of their works as well. Very interesting!

I think some of the early and recent Christian communities that emphasized charismatic/pentecostal gifts showed similarities to what we see in a siddha yoga tradition like the one you've encountered. I'm speaking primarily of the shaktipat aspect, and how these energy touches awakened others to spiritual life. So there is a similar dynamic of transmission at work, and even at times similar kundalini-like phenomena manifesting (lights, visions, sublime joy). One major difference is that instead of Eastern masters manifesting, the awakening brings a deep awareness of Jesus as one's spiritual master who is the giver of this Spirit. I even noted at the end of my kundalini book that the Holy Spirit might be related to the kundalini power of Jesus, who bonds to our human nature and in a way takes it into his own. Thus would his Spirit move our spirit to aliveness and new life.

None of which is to say that one cannot know Jesus or the Holy Spirit without kundalini phenomena maniftesting. As noted on another thread on this board, people manifest signs of holiness effected by the Holy Spirit without much evidence of kundalini awakening. Sometimes, the converse happens as well. But it does get very interesting when these two movements become integrated!
 
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Shaktipat, the process that initiates the spontaneous activation of the Kundalini energy, is the function of the guru principle which may occur through a living physical guru, or a guru who does not exist on the earth plane. This process of initiation is defined in Eastern terminology as the descent of grace. What I find interesting in East/West dialogue is that all of the Western religions originated in areas around the Middle East. Jesus, himself was not from the West, so to speak.
 
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Jesus was a Middle Easterner and a Jew. It seems that even in Judaism, there are shaktipat lineages, such as is described in the passing of the mantle from Elija to Elisha, and in other places as well. I don't think it follows, however, that Judaism or Jesus learned of this through contacts with yogic masters, as some writers have suggested. Indeed, what we find is that this shaktipat dynamic is found all over the world -- even in animist religions and in movements that seem more devoted to ways of darkness. Why should it not be so? If shaktipat is a way of communicating the awakened energy of a guru/master to a disciple, then this suggests a capacity in human beings for stirring one another's energy to new levels of intensity.

I think the Eastern/yogic idea of shaktipat as a descent of grace mediated by a living or deceased guru is very much along the lines of the Christian experience of the outpouring of the Spirit at pentecost, and of the transmission of Spirit through the laying on of hands, reading Scripture, and all the other ways in which shaktipat is transmitted (a glance, a thought, a touch, etc.). Seeing these parallels, does not lead me to conclude, however, that Jesus learned this from Hindus (given its presence in Judaism and its universal nature), nor that Jesus' gift of the Spirit is the same as Muktananda's and Gurumayi's shaktipat. As Muktananda notes, "the guru and the energy of the guru are one and the same," which would explain why those receiving shaktipat from a Hindu tradition generally have visions of the shakti masters in that particular lineage. This understanding also helps to explain why people receiving the Holy Spirit in a Christian tradition do not have visions of Muktananda, but are drawn to Jesus. As He notes, the Spirit gives testimony to him: the energy of the guru is related to the guru, in this case, Jesus.

What it comes down to, then, is the question of whether it makes any difference if one has Muktananda's shakti forming one's inner being or Jesus' Spirit. In other words, is there something about Jesus that is unique in comparison to other spiritual masters in other religions? Christianity's traditional emphasis on Jesus as the incarnate, begotten Son of God--the New Adam who forms human nature anew in the grace he communicates through the Spirit--is an attempt to answer this question in the affirmative. I think we can do this without condemning other spiritual traditions or denigrating the good that obviously comes from them.
 
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re: references to the practices of meditation, chanting, scriptural study, contemplation, or selfless service, all of which serve to strengthen and support the body's ability to contain the processes that may occur during the Kundalini purification process.

See this appendix from Phil's book re: Ways to Cope with and Integrate Awakened Kundalini Energies

Also, one of the old threads on Kundalini and Reiki referenced Karma Yoga and a thread contributor recommended the teachings of The Divine Life Society , where one will find these teachings of Sri Swami Sivananda , which track very closely with the strategies Phil advocates re: containing energy processes.

Thanks for the depthful and generous sharing, Jean. It is gift.

pax,
jboy
 
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Phil,

Another question along those lines is, "If (or when) the descent of grace occurs spontaneously who (or what ) is it that determines whether it comes from the Christian or Hindu tradition?" This question comes to me because until the day of my initiation, I had never heard of Muktananda or Shaktipat, but I did have a background in Catholicism and had been bapitized as a baby. Even though I was no longer practicing at that time, in my case, it would have logically made more sense to have had an awakening more in line with Christianity.
 
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Jean, from what you described, I think it's pretty clear that you had opened yourself to shaktipat mediated through the siddha lineage brought to the U.S. by Muktananda (thanks in no small part to Ram Dass). You note, for example:
But once she started, I found myself wanting to hear more. She then loaned me the book, "Where are You Going?", by Sw. Muktananda. I started reading the book at work and could not put it down. When I got home that evening I was reading the section on meditation and decided to try it then and there. I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor in half lotus position. As soon as I was comfortably situated I felt a ball of energy at the base of my spine.
Even though your upbringing was Catholic, the shaktipat dynamic was Hindu. Once again, "the guru and the energy of the guru are one and the same." Furthermore, the formative dynamic intrinsic to the energy is oriented toward the guru, and this has been a problem for some committed Christians who opened themselves to shaktipat from a yogic master--some Gurumayi, others Adi Da or even Joan Harrigan's guru--and found their inner spirits torn between conflicting pulls. I've counseled with a number of people with this kind of struggle through the years. It didn't help matters at all that their Hindu/yogic teachers were telling them that their shaktipat was the same thing as the Christian experience of the Holy Spirit.

FWIW, I have never heard of any Christian describing experiences of Muktananda, Nityananda, Gurumayi, Yogananda, Sivananda, or other Hindu masters when they were confirmed or baptized in the Holy Spirit in a Christian context. Their receptive context is Christian faith and the Guru to Whom they open themselves is Christ. There's nothing arbitrary about this at all--as though one never knows which guru or master will show up.

I think in many ways the Charismatic Renewal/pentecostal movement has restored something of the shaktipat dynamic in Christianity. It seems this was a common feature in the early Church, along with the general outpourings I alluded to in Conference 3. The laying on of hands, flowering of charismatic gifts, and other phenomena related to the "baptism in the Spirit" strongly suggest a shaktipat dynamic, but the focus is decively Christian, with an increase of faith and love for Christ observed among recipients.
 
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re: shaktipat, etc

I have never fully resolved my own take on kundalini, or even reiki, for instance, although I have speculated freely on the putative underlying metaphysics and psychology, posting those musings on the SPlace Forums.

It is instructive to hear accounts of arousals and awakenings that aren't experienced as spiritual emergencies but go more smoothly as part of the spiritual emergence process. How it is managed , as some have noted, matters muchly.

Nonetheless, I am reminded of an old management aphorism that I used to instruct my supervisory level employees: You can't manage what you can't control. You can't control what you can't measure. You can't measure what you can't define.

Now, clearly, one cannot manage or control the Holy Spirit, the Sovereign God, and, as I pointed out before, elsewhere, go to any kundalini reference that treats the management of same and insert, in place of kundalini, the phrase Holy Spirit, and the incongruence of considering the two the same will stand out better insofar as it sounds very silly indeed.

Now, toward the end of defining kundalini that it can be better measured, that it can be better managed, the idea of stewardship emerges, coupled with the distinction between being willful and being willing. Those who follow the kundalini yoga guidelines of selfless service are certainly being willing. They are cooperating with a natural process of enlightenment and are seeking Enlightenment, not just for their own edification, but, rather, out of compassion for their fellow wo/man. To seek Enlightenment to better serve others seems, to me, to be a most excellent stewardship approach.

It doesn't matter, then, whether it is this or that type of created energy, or marks the subjective experience of a powerful psychospiritual individuation/purging process of transformation. What matters is putting it into the service of love. This is reminiscent of any sensible consolations as received in prayer, which prompted Teresa of Jesus to say: Let us desire and occupy ourselves in prayer, not so much so as to gain consolations, but, rather, in order to gain the strength to serve.

There is an interesting analogue between reiki and kundalini versus the charismatic and transformative gifts, I believe. Kundalini and the transformative gifts can work hand in hand to advance our own conversion. Reiki and charismatic gifts can work hand in hand to assist others. The transformative gifts, whether of a natural order and a secular conversion, or of a supernatural order and a religious conversion, also enhance our presence and giftedness to community and mutually inform and enrich other aspects of conversion, transvaluing them. Like all gifts, stewardship is key. Thus, Jean's reference to selfless service is right on the mark.

It could be that shaktipat and laying on of hands are analogous, deeply so, even if not identical. Even then these experiences are gifts that can go hand in hand, and, however distinct, can certainly be united in a holistic, integral way.

I didn't write this as over against or in favor of the other perspectives. It was just some musings I wanted to share.

pax,
jboy
 
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That's a helpful reflection on these topics, Johnboy. I've never really understood this need for all these kinds of energies and transformative processes to be lumped together, as some writers are wont to do, or of reducing the apparent differences to a matter of semantics or cultural conditioning.

E.g., in speaking of causes for rising kundalini, Joan Harrigan notes ( http://kundalinicare.com ):
LIFE SHOCK. The conditions of a life shock occur spontaneously and unpredictably and yield varying results. Risings precipitated by these conditions are more difficult to deal with, particularly in a person who does not have a well established spiritual life.

Physical intensity. These catalysts include extreme physical exertion, pain, injury, accident, torture, trauma, withdrawal due to chemical dependence, certain kinds of ascetic, sexual, or herbal experiences, childbirth, and near death experience.

Emotional intensity. These catalysts include intense excitement, shock, deep loss, grief, terror, hitting bottom, dramatic psychological breakthrough, awesome beauty, and intense romantic communion or yearning.


As you noted, doing a word substitution here can be revealing. There's simply no equivalency here between Kundalini and the Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit. You do not receive the Spirit because you fall on your rear end, as happened to a woman I know who wasn't particularly religious who had a powerful kundalini rising afterwards. Same goes for people like Christina Groff, who had a Kundalini awakening during childbirth while doing lamaze breathing (which is similar to yogic pranayama).

Also, this:
Is it possible for an unholy or unvirtuous person to have a Kundalini rising?

The spiritual quality of a Kundalini rising depends on the individual's own free will choice, intention, and action. A rising does not automatically make a person good and holy. A person can remain unvirtuous and unspiritual even with an elevated rising. Kundalini Shakti operates according to the individual's own choice and inclinations be they spiritual and beneficial or egoistic and pleasure based. Using a Kundalini rising to enjoy occult, psychic, supernormal, or sexual capacities is considered a misuse of its true spiritual purpose.


Christianity would never speak of the Holy Spirit in this way. Never! You do not "misuse" the Holy Spirit, as though She is Someone in our control.

What seems best is to study these various phenomena in their own right to see what they do, how they are activated, what fruit they produce . . . How they can work in synchrony . . . What they hint about human nature and even the metaphysical order . . . If we can't account for them using our existing paradigms, then so be it. . . Time to re-think our paradigms. Of course, who wants to do that? Wink Much easier to condemn what we do not understand (as right-wing Catholics do with kundalini and the like) or lump it all together (Eastern teachers of a pantheistic bent).
 
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Phil:

Just to say it somewhat differently . . . the Holy Spirit isn't wounded. Kundalini carries all our experiences, waiting not only on the Holy Spirit's balm, but our own witnessing, compassionate awareness, so the longings can unfold according to their creaturely nature. There is nothing creaturely about the HS; yet its intimacy is unmistakable.

I also see no need in genderizing the HS. It doesn't have to take such a form to be intimate with us. We tend to think otherwise, especially when we're confusing HS with Kundalini, the latter being understood as the Mother. I had a big problem with there being little mention or metaphorical basis for the feminine in the Christian God-Head, and didn't find the usual, overly scrupulous Marianisms attractive. But once I started doing Lectio and experienced HS, none of those considerations were relevant anymore. This seems to be the case for many.

Let me recommend a book on Lectio . . . which I believe Stephen has read and approves of . . . . "Lectio Divina and Teresian Prayer," by Sam Anthony Morello, OCD. Just a few dollars on Amazon.
 
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