Yes, I wonder about that, too. Have you ever checked out the Eastern / nondualist teachers on YouTube who are coming from the same place? They have large followings. The whole scene of teacher-plus-large-group-of-students makes it seem as though the teachers have found something worthwhile. But have they? Or have they just discovered an oddity of human psychology that really is not that desirable? I do emphasize that I have as yet no answers to these questions.
For sure. Your point about the post-ascension appearances of Jesus is valid. And what about people nowadays who have personal encounters with Jesus? What about the Eucharist for that matter?
I hope so!
That is another common feature of the YouTube nondualists. They hold the fixed opinion that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
Yes, there's this idea that experience = understanding, which might be valid in some instances, but not with regard to doctrinal issues. It seems there's a "new gnosticism" making the rounds, even in Christianity.
I hope you will share a review of the Christ book at some time.
I have actually dipped into a friend's copy of the letter-size, pre-publication version of The Real Christ. It is so rich with ideas that a complete review would be an enormous amount of work. However, it might be able to bring small portions of it into discussions.
Hmmm. I definitely think you are smitten with her.
Oh, I do listen to opposing points of view, too. Like Caryl Matrisciana. Which reminds me, I wonder how Shasha is doing. She was interested in Caryl Matrisciana's story for a while.
I'm not that familiar with Caryl Matrisciana's work, but see that she died recently? Is that the same person? Is she a critic of BR? I listened to some of the youtube (thanks for posting) and she seems to be making essential distinctions.
I haven't heard from Tara for awhile, but have referred a few people to her for counseling through the years. I see that she's still writing books that she claims to be channeled by "White Tara."
She did indeed die recently, and relatively young.
Shasha (not Tara) was interested in Caryl Matrisciana for some research she was doing on people who had been involved in Eastern religions who returned to Christ. Caryl Matrisciana, raised Catholic, was one such person. However, Caryl Matrisciana eschews not only Eastern religions, but also Christian mysticism, and even the Catholicism of her childhood. So, while Christian, she is a polar opposite to BR's Catholic mysticism.
And there, on the youtube sidebar, was this:
I recall your sharing this experience, and it's nice to see and hear you speak of it with such clarity. You seemed so calm and detached. My first thought was, "yep, that's how things are in 7th chakra," and things were buzzing in my crown as I listened to you. But that's too hasty an evaluation, I realize. I can certainly understand your attraction to BR's writings.
But, now, Derek: the big question is "what does this all mean?" Is it, in fact, a glimpse into reality, or what reality is like when certain aspects of ordinary perception are altered? What is reality? What do we call that aspect of consciousness that observes even such non-dual phenomena and reports on it? Granted, there is a thought-aspect to "I," but the symbol can also point to that observer and enable conversation about it, no?
For me, the ideal is what an early Christian teacher articulated: that the glory of God is a human fully alive! To be fully alive -- mind, psyche, body, etc: that's what we need to aim for. I think mystical experiences are only part of the way we do this; the integration of them is even more important. So I think it's best to be cautious regarding the interpretations we have of mystical openings, espcially non-dual kinds. I've been tempted to consider them something of an ultimate goal, but then I recognize that duality, too, is real and a philosophy that denies this is misguided. I believe we need to affirm both and to cherish both equally and simultaneously, which might seem an oxymoron, but is actually possible if one learns how to operate in all of the chakras. This kind of both/and approach is actually the ultimate in non-dual thinking; it seems many non-dual teachers consider duality somewhat unreal or illusory, so they set up an either/or situation: get with non-dual awareness or live in duality. Reality is both, and we can learn to love both.
Yes, that video was made in 2012, so the awakening of 2011 was still very fresh for me. Some of the things BR writes about are recognizable landmarks, even though in her terminology I came to the no-ego event rather than the no-self event. As for what it all means, that’s something I continue to explore. I know that in the East they consider these states goals in themselves. I’m not so sure about that. Washburn’s model of the spirit-filled life post-regression is also appealing to me. As is BR’s discovery of the importance of living “on beam”:
"Initially, the process of learning the difference between [true] doing and self-activity may be compared to balancing on a walking beam, where [true] doing means having your foot squarely on target, so there is something underfoot . . . [by contrast] self-invested activity finds no foothold because there is nothing underfoot..
"At first, making your way along this beam is by trial and error, but eventually, walking the beam becomes second nature; or rather, you discover in time that walking this beam is your real nature and the way you must walk for the rest of your life."
Shasha . . . my mistake. We do have an occasional email exchange. I wish she'd participate here again.
I like Washburn's approach as well and made use of it somewhat in my recent kundalini book. And, yes, after every significant shift, one needs to learn a new way of "walking" or getting around in the world.
It seems that many of the kinds of experiences ensuing from various meditative approaches are more metaphysical than religious. The spiritual soul qua spirit transcends space and time, though in our usual state of embodiment we do not experience this. But Thomistic writers have pointed out that many of these experiences of oneness can be accounted for in terms of the soul's spiritual nature rather than assuming we have somehow awakened to a level of innate divinity. It's as though the soul encompasses the physical universe, and can, under certain circumstances (meditation, openings) experience its natural embrace of the universe, which, after all, provides for the soul's body.
Religious mysticism, in contrast, always seems to communicate something about God. Metaphysical data are often present, but only concomitant to the experience. With a religious experience, there is an unmistakable sense that something is happening between the soul and God, while the God dimension is usually hidden in metaphysical experiences. Jim Arraj wrote quite a bit about all this in some of his books, and I think this distinction between metaphysical and religious mystical experiences is helpful. There could be problems if one conflates them.
No. I'm referring to St. Thomas the Apostle ("Doubting Thomas")...
They followed the original teachings of St. Thomas until 1599 when most of their works were burned and they were forced to adopt the canonized version, although it leads to rebellion, divisiveness, and splits over the next few decades. Their beliefs were heavily influenced by the Essenes and various other sects of the times. Today, the St. Thomas Christians make up >5 million worldwide.
Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri), (https://ocoy.org), has been rather prolific on the subject, and at the least, does a good job of offering perspectives on Original Christianity sans the canonization perspectives that changed the original narrative. All I was offering is that my own mystical and spiritual experiences resonate well, in general, with their basic beliefs (https://ocoy.org/original-christianity/esoteric-christian-beliefs/), which are often in contrast with the canonized version of the New Testament and the life of Jesus.
The brilliant diffuse white light that we often see, especially in very lucid dreams or meditative states is God in the form of the Holy Spirit. In the enlightenment experience one actually 'becomes it', not in a dream, but in an OBE where one is transported across dimensions, through the Void, and drawn into all that is God. As Sadguru said to another once when asked if his experience could have been a very vivid dream, he responded something to the effect of "This was no dream, and could never be interpreted as such." I agree.
In the end, I'm only trying to share that experience, and offer the perspectives that gift (by grace), gave me in the relative flash of an instant, without getting lost in the semantics.
Les, this is all new to me, but according to Wikipedia, they were followers of Nestorius (386-450).
From Wikipedia: "Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine that emphasizes a distinction between the human and divine natures of the divine person, Jesus."
Is there really documented evidence of the Saint Thomas Christians' beliefs prior to Nestorius?
I don't know what role Nestorius might have played, but "The Saint Thomas Christians are an ancient body of Christians from Kerala, India, who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century." ...way before Nestorius. I'd have to look, but he arrived early-mid first century after the crucifixion. There were many subsequent shepherds that came after St. Thomas was killed.
Very interesting! I read the section on "Tradition of Origin"
It seems very little is known of the early community and its beliefs, but that, with time, they adopted some Brahmin customs. It also seems that they were more associated with Eastern Christianity, but were relatively isolated from the governance of the Patriarch. The Portuguese were apparently quite hard on them once they made contact from the 15th C. onward.
Here's a brief summary of the heresy of Nestorianism.
He seems awfully close to the doctrine that finally developed: Jesus as one being with two natures, human and divine. BR apparently has a lot to say about all this in The Real Christ.
Thanks for the clarification, Les.
About BR. One of the passages from the "Path to No-Self", the second book of BR, which struck me as crucial was her description of a talk she had with her spiritual director in the monastery. When she described her prayer as "there is just silence, I do nothing", the director suggested it is a quietist experience. The reaction of BR is telling: she never again shared anything about her spiritual experiences with her director, because her director was not able to understand her. BR was 19! It's hard for me not to see narcissistic aspect of this or in old, good theological language: pride. BR was already convinced that her experience is something unquestionable that only she can interpret properly. Btw, the director was quite right. It's not a description of the prayer of quiet, let alone spiritual marriage! In the prayer of quiet there is always a sense of love, a relationship. And BR claims that all this talk about love is just emotional, unimportant addition to the "real contemplation". For her Teresa is a "mystic" (emotional), John is "contemplative", only a little lower than herself. But in fact love is not an emotional addition to contemplation, but the very essence of it. Even though prayer of quiet can be very vague at times, in my experience, very subtle, almost imperceptible, there can be thoughts, distractions etc. there is always this sense of Someone present and loving.
Sometimes I'm wondering why some people, having experienced non-dual awareness, lose the sense of faith and relationship with God, and some people don't. This is a mystery. Thomas Keating still can talk about God and Jesus in Christian terms, even though he clearly enjoys the "enlightenment", the experience of pure awareness of existence, and not necessarily the mystical contemplation. Phil has never had any problem with that either. But some people seem to lose faith after having this experience or are drawn to heresy. I used to be afraid of that myself. My journey is not very long, 15 years now, and there were periods where I was losing the sense of the personal God as "You" in certain states of consciousness, but now I see them as forms of dryness, something to endure rather than some "higher" experience. I don't understand it, but now it's no longer a hindrance to relating to God. This is strange, because I don't experience anything apart from myself, from my awareness, there are no separate "objects" within the field of my awareness, and yet I have a full conviction that I'm not God, that God is infinitely above me and yet intimately in me. I can't point in my experience to God being an object, out there, other than myself, but at the same time I can pray to God with words, thank him, ask him, praise him etc. I'm so grateful for that. I suppose it is a kind of grace, because there might be a temptation to limit oneself to the simple awareness of being nothing and everything, without relating to God.
I think Meister Eckhart is a marvellous example of this tension between the non-dual experience and Christian faith. He was much more theologically sophisticated than BR, but still there was this pull in his thought to choose "Godhead" rather than the personal God, so the problems he had with the magisterium of the Church were not merely a misunderstanding, in my opinion. One of his Latin treatises begins with a statement: "Esse est Deus", "Existence is God". Of course, St. Thomas is saying the same thing, but he would say "God is existence" rather than "Existence is God", and he would add: "God is the subsisting Existence". But this is a source of this constant confusion. God is I AM. But does it mean that every experience of pure I AM is God? God is "Is-ness", but is every Is-ness God? I don't think so, but BR seems to believe so.
I had a similar experience to Phil, in reading BR. A very strange feeling, strange energy. I couldn't read much, because I'd get a "brain-ache", really. Sometimes I just can't understand what she's saying. And sometimes it's because her logic is not very good. She's not very able to express herself in clear terms. But there is certainly a profound non-dual energy emanating from "The Experience of No-Self".
You're right. I hadn't particularly noticed that before, but her prayer life seems to have consisted solely of silence. The prayer of quiet is, as you mention, characterized by a "loving, general knowledge or awareness of God" (John, Ascent, book 2, chapter 13), perhaps punctuated by "holy follies" (Teresa, Life, chapter 16).
Come to think of it, also missing is "unloading the unconscious" (Keating, Open Mind Open Heart, chapter 7). Do you agree with me that most contemplatives experience growing awareness of thoughts and feelings of which they were previously unaware? I've quoted earlier the bit where she says she began "talking off the top of the head," which would also imply a lack of self-awareness (in the ordinary psychological sense). I believe she also implies that, at her no-self stage, her capacity for introspection disappeared. No self-awareness.
I can't speak about everyone, but in BR's case, I think the key is that other passage I quoted earlier, "I decided that Christ WAS the joy, the emptiness itself." So she applied Christian terminology to aspects of her experiences and hence remained, in her own terms anyway, a Christian. To be fair, she also repeatedly mentions her persistent faith in the Eucharist.
BTW I'm also open to the possibility that we are over-thinking all this. Toward the end of Experience, BR talks about her 85-year-old friend, Lucille. This old lady had also arrived at no-self, though in her case, purely as a result of ageing. So BR does raise the possibility that all she has done is reach a stage most people will reach in time anyway.
Somewhere in one of our BR discussions, wc brought out the whole quietism issues. Jim Arraj mentions it in one of his critiques of her work as well. What struck me odd about that part was her resistance to receiving any more feedback from her spiritual director. Already, at that early age, she was supremely confident in her interpretations of her experiences.
I've read her three main books several times and browsed a bit through The Real Christ and I'm not sure she was a quietist -- have never written such, anywhere. She's definitely a journeyer on the via negativa (apophatic spirituality), but that's perfectly legitimate in Catholicism. I've no real problem accepting her theotic account; the phenomenal self does become transformed, silenced, grounded in divinity.
What's missing completely is articulation of a higher (metaphysical) understanding of human nature that grounds individuality and the life of the faculties in the spiritual soul. That's all still there with her; the spiritual subjectivity of her individual soul is alive and well, she uses her reason extensively to critique others (e.g., Forcing the Fit book), and she still makes choices. Like all mystics who've been deeply transformed, she's still capable of human foibles, defensiveness, and theological error. We ought not believe that every word out of her mouth is truth unless she is describing her experiences, and even there, it's proper to raise questions. She's human like the rest of us, and worthy of respect for what she's undergone in her spiritual life. But she's also in serious theological error on a number of issues, which have been pointed out on this board and by other writers.
What's concerning to me is that many seem to think that because she's an advanced mystic, she now has privileged insights into the true meaning of the core Christian mysteries and is even in a position to "correct the record" on doctrinal matters. This is the point where the term "cult of BR" begins to cross my mind.
This oppositional-defiant attitude dates from an even earlier age than 19. Somewhere on those DVDs, she describes her resistance to receiving feedback from her mother. In fact, she says, by the time she was seven years old, her mother had given up on trying to turn her into a "good little girl"! The battle of wills had been won by a young BR.
Wow! I saw somewhere that she had published what her spiritual journey was like before entering religious life. For anyone interested in studying her life, she's put it all out there.
- see http://bernadetteroberts.blogs...published-works.html
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