It offends me that traditional Christianity is considered outdated. That somehow all this non-dual Kundalini-driven mysticism is assumed to trump the historical faith built on the prophets and apostles, with Christ as its' Chief Corner Stone.
Your description of walking freely in your neighbourhood and interacting with people is fine Stephen, but it could just as easily be interpreted as a manifestation or indulgence in purely human spiritual/mystical realities. In other words, most people live cut off from their spirits, they become primarily materialists and often take pleasure in purely sensual pursuits I.e. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. People like you are aware that life is spiritual and so you take great joy in encountering the spirit in everything...this is in large part the way the East approached reality, hence pantheism.
But the Judeo-Christian tradition went and goes beyond that. Why/How - because God revealed truth to them that could not come through intuition or resonance. Christianity is not a religion of natural mysticism, it is a Supernatural religion based on Revelation. To submit to that Revelation is to attain the truth. To demand that that revelation submit to your resonance or intuition is to miss the point completely.
Jacques - I no longer feel the need to talk about these things so much. It would be like arguing with a part of myself which is now long gone. I should hope it would be the same with you too.
Stephen, you wrote:
- and -
But Eucharist/Mass is the most traditional form of worship, and it does happen at a certain place and time -- the attendance of which does not preclude the other kinds of experiences you describe. I'm not seeing the either/or aspect.
- Re. "non-negotiable dogma"
How about a term like "core beliefs, values and practices." Means pretty much the same thing.
I wasn't meaning to deny those needs, only to point out that liturgical reforms and spiritual renewal movements have been around for several decades, and what is needed now is adult catechetical formation to round it out.
People who are hurting require pastoral care and outreach -- which has not been neglected in Christianity. Only . . . the casualties of secular materialism are so many that it's pretty overwhelming. 12 Step recovery groups and other movements are helping a great deal, here.
With the mention of "core beliefs, values and practices" above, we can now segue back to contrasting Aurobindo and Christianity. Considering that core beliefs, values and practices are constitutive of the identity and mission of both groups and individuals, it can be helpful to highlight the similarities and differences between the two spiritualities. Some of the differences I've pointed out are, I believe, significant and irreconciliable, though some of you probably disagree with me on the significance part. Still, it's good to have clarity concerning core issues.
It's not a question of "either/or" -- more that the requirement to be at church every Sunday morning is "boring" to the post-modern mind, and pretty much at odds with contemporary lifestyles.
A more spontaneous, non-institutional form of worship/spiritual encounter is more appealing. Why can't that be Christian? Didn't the church in Acts hold communion that way -- whenever they met in each other's homes etc?
Anyway, back to Aurobindo. Without knowing too much about him, is it possible to compare his idea of the descent of a Supermind, to New Age ascension, even modified interpretations of Christ's second coming?
Alrighty then. Got to love this debate. Lots of smart and insigthful
souls here. It's an honor to even contribute.
Many years ago I was grasping for an experience, as by that time I
had a few that were transcendent in nature. Nothing was working. I would pray
and meditate until I was blue in the face, but nothing. Then a dream revealed something
that I needed to understand. The dream went like this--- There was a beautiful
butterfly that was spreading its wings and flying around the room I was sitting
in. This Butterfly was gorgeous, painted with colors that were unreal. I got
up from where I was seated, and gently cupped my hands to capture this beautiful creature.
I immediately put this lovely Butterfly in a birdcage that was on a table stationed in
the corner of the room I was in. I was sure I captured this this floating wonder.
However, it folded up its wings and walked between the bars and easily escaped.
I did this several times, and each time the same result.
What a wonderful dream, Mark. Thanks for sharing it with us. The butterfly is a symbol often used for the risen Christ. Is that the connection you made?
Stephen, some emerging church communities are home based and non-institutional. We'll see how long that lasts, as it's all somewhat experimental now.
I'm not following your point about "spontaneous, non-institutional forms of worship," however. The early Church was under persecution, so they could not openly organize or institutionalize. They did agree on times and places to meet, and used a Eucharistic ritual very similar to what we have today. But, of course it's fine to have other forms of worship, and to have them here and there, even to have Eucharist celebrated in homes.
I made a few points early on about the parallels between Aurobindo's idea of Supermind and the Christian idea of the Word. Bliss noted that there are important differences as well. The main difference I see between the idea of the descent of Supermind and second coming is that the descent of the Word has already taken place in the Incarnation, so the second coming is not so much about the Word becoming flesh as flesh being raised up by Christ. This is a very different idea than the eventual divinization of the human race through yogic practices.
I guess my point is, that no matter how we wrap our mind around any
religious, or philosophical notion, this Divine Butterfly is always going
to be in flight and no one is going to capture it. Our modern world is
all about ownership. The church doesn't own the rights to this Divine
knowledge and Love, nor does any institution. A saint, philosohier, poet, etc.,
can only point. If one finds inspiration in the moment, then so be it.
This Divine Light, Life, and Love is very fickle. We have be very still and
a book unwritten for this Butterfly to land and rest within our soul.
In truth, I don't know either. As you say, Phil, it's all experimental, early days. Heck there are even online churches growing which require a time to be online wherever you are in the world.
There are also however spiritual blends growing organically which require expression -- ritual, ceremony. Christian shamanism, Christian tantra, Christian non duality. These might present a real problem to traditionalists, and a real puzzle to those who are rigorously intellectual, but they seem to be genuine, natural movements of energy and spirit ; not at all artificial or contrived, and meeting a real need in today's spiritual climate. I feel very much drawn to this, not attracted superficially, but drawn in accordance with what's unfolding in my life. Again, though, early days, and I'm interested to see what evolves.
Mark -- great dream btw, and I like your interpretation.
Well, golly, of course not, Mark. But that's not what the Church and its teaching is about. Christ has come, and there is a content to divine revelation, which orients us to the new life in God that he came to bring. One responsibility of Church leadership is to faithfully teach the Christian message, and even to point out distortions and dilutions of it, at times. Maybe that's all perceived as being "un-inclusive" or "arrogant" in this age of delicate post-modern sensibilities, but one might also interpret this in terms of faithfulness.
For sure, Stephen. There is plenty of room in Catholicism for such exploration and experimentation -- more than, say, one finds in fundamentalistic communities. One thinks here of Merton's and Johnston's writings on Christian Zen, DeChanet and Ryan on Christian Yoga, Henri Lasaux and Bede Griffiths on non-duality, and so forth. In every one of these examples, however, the term "Christian" can still be applied, for they never abandoned the core beliefs, values and practices that are characteristic of Christianity, and they attempted to show how Christians could understand and benefit from these other traditions. I suppose the same could be done with shamanism, tantra and other spiritual practices.
One's beliefs, values and practices do not constitute a wall or set of defenses that restrict the flow of the Spirit. Rather, they form us as vessels of receptivity to the Spirit -- temples wherein the Spirit comes to rest and also move. The Lord warned us about making ourselves into empty houses (Mt. 12:43-45). I have sometimes wondered if attachment to non-dual states presents such a danger.
Are we on the same page about the importance of core beliefs, values and practices, Stephen? Everyone else?
Where God is the divine source, where Christ is all in all, where love and goodness are nurturing and sustaining, where love of God and neighbour are crucial, yes, absolutely.
But there's lots of room for manoeuvre around these in terms of metaphysics, theology etc. I'm probably on a different chapter there.
In terms of holding core beliefs in inter religious dialogue, well, yes, but again, the spiritual realities of one's life often transcend religion and belief or shift it considerably, and that's not weakness necessarily, but growth or personal realisation. I'm more interested in that than belief per se, although obviously one impacts upon the other.
Sites like this one emphasize the connections and similarities between Aurobindo's teachings and Christianity.
One wonders, then, why Aurobindo was not a practicing Christian?
I think the answer is that he was also very much a Hindu, and so was moved to articulate a synthesis between Christianity and Hinduism. As the site also notes:
And that's what Aurobindoism is -- a synthesis of Hindu and Christian teaching, emphasizing aspects common to both while ignoring significant differences as well. He filters Hindu ideas through Christian filters and Christian ones through Hindu filters, the consequence being a kind of Hindu/Christian hybrid that resonates somewhat with both traditions, but leaves the whole structure grounded mostly in his own vision and exposition. For in the end, neither Hindus nor Christians can give a full "amen" to Aurobindo's teachings; it brings no clarity to either religion and has plenty to annoy both. What one is left with is a new teaching formulated by a teacher who believes himself to have gone beyond the experiences of both Buddha and Jesus, to articulate the spiritual way forward for the human race. If this doesn't sound like a new religion, then I don't know what qualifies.
Here we come to the relationship between the Church of Peter and the Church of John, as explored by Tomberg and, to some extent, von Balthazar. Summary here: http://www.meditationsonthetar...m/the-church-of-john
That's a very quotable quote LOL.
I really like that distinction, Derek.
We might also have had a Church of the Magdalen, if some sources are correct. Did Peter and his followers put an end to that?
I feel strongly connected to the Johannine community and the mysticism that may have been around it. It feels Marian too, as if Jesus's Mother had a strong role. I actually had a dream that my father was being taught by Mary in that community. Very lovely!
It's a long time since I read Tomberg's book, but as I remember, he said something to the effect that the Church of Peter and the Church of John both aspire to be the only church, but in fact neither can survive without the other.
Glad you like that quote, Derek. It just sort of popped into my head.
Meditations on the Tarot is an incredible book, but not the best for getting into the history of early Christian communities. Sandra Schneider's Written That You May Believe is an excellent study of John's Gospel and the Johannine community, as is Raymond Brown's Community of the Beloved Disciple. Both recognize significant distinctions between this community and other Christian groups, but nothing adversarial; quite the contrary. There's nothing in John that conflicts with the synoptics; the author was well aware of those writings and drew from them in some of his own stories.
Stephen . . . "Church of the Magdalen"? What are you talking about? Interestingly, some biblical scholars think she might have been the author of John's Gospel.
Sandra Schneider almost comes out and says this, but not quite.
- and all this is relevant to the discussion about Aurobindo because . . . ?
From the Introduction to the Gospel of Mary, Nag Hammadi Scriptures:
"Although scholars have suggested that the quarrel among the disciples might represent controversies among different groups of Christians, the core issue at stake concerns who has understood the teachings of the Savior. Who is able to go forth and preach the gospel? Mary’s stability of character and advanced teaching present her as the model disciple. Peter, on the other hand, has not understood. He cannot get past the distinctions of the material body to see Mary’s spiritual character. What ultimately matters is the state of one’s soul, and hence leadership should be based upon the capacity to understand the Savior’s teachings, to meet the needs of others, and to preach the gospel."
There's a suggestion that Peter ousted Mary from leadership in the Gospel of Mary.
Here's a reflection on it:
Stephen, you're taking this summary to be an accounting of historical occurrences, but it's more likely just a story from a gnostic-leaning community that was experiencing tensions from other apostolic groups.
It would have been difficult during that time in history for a woman to be recognized as a leader. Also . . .
Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/go...e.html#ixzz3ANkHTAjs
Bang! Who wrote this? Heavily loaded, heavily biased. I get more value than that, especially reading Thomas.
Of course there was never going to be an outer female authority back then, but the suggestion, merely a suggestion, is that Mary led an inner expression of the Church.
Hey, I don't know. Does anybody really KNOW? But that IS what I'm talking about!
LOL. I knew you'd "enjoy" that review, Stephen.
Personally, I think it's pretty cool that Mary Magdalene may have played a significant role in composing the Gospel of John. I don't think anyone KNOWs for sure about her whereabouts following the resurrection narratives, which is where she last appears in the New Testament.
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M...ter_the_resurrection
Scholars can speak with confidence about the message of the Gospel of Mary, however, and its status in comparison with the message of the four Gospels.
And here's a quote from a NY Times op ed piece that demonstrates my point about the need for adult ed today:
There are so many errors in that paragraph that I wouldn't know where to start responding. One thing we can say, however, is that at least three criteria were used to evaluate a writing's worthiness in being placed in the New Testament Canon:
1. It had to be written by an apostle, or someone close to an apostle.
2. It had to be written before the death of the last apostle, John -- 100 - 110 A.D. or so.
3. It had to have demonstrated value to catechetical and liturgical life of the communities.
The Gospel of Mary meets none of these criteria.
It was Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code who elevated the Gospel of Mary to the status of "big deal" and created a pseudo-historical context for its supposed priority in the early Church. But surely we don't want to discuss all that again. . . I sure don't!
Haha, no let's leave Dan Brown in the slush pile. Instead, here's a poem I wrote recently about Mary M, or is it the woman caught in adultery, or were they the same person??? Hope you don't mind me sharing it. Maybe after this we can get back to Auro-what's-his-name.
Drunk with orchids, seized upon and spat at,
yet responding with a pride reserved
for outrageously plumed birds,
she lifts her eyes to the crowd and, drowning, sinks
into the softest silence.
His vast, ecstatic eyes engulf her,
explore the limitless troughs of her heart,
offer her, in an instant, the all encompassing vision
of her tears hung on a myriad dancing ribbons.
The crowd is now a desert rock,
ridiculously dry, a pedestal for thirsty lizards;
her lover is liquid, sparkling light on sea,
rushing currents, a jet stream.
A tender beam lifts her up into full realisation
of divinity and, in no time at all, she has circled
the earth, celebrated birth and mourned a parting,
reunited with the love from which she issues.
He is no longer here, in as much as she has
become his wild entrancing night, and yet his voice
is in her ear, a flautist's whisper, rendering her still
more expansive, on breath, in tone, as colourful
as creation's iris.
There are some now who sit with her, some
indeed who carve her effigy; some who wait
for her return from the plains of his madness,
and, in the mean time, blast the earth with singing,
until only a circle is left, echoing, empty, a hole
torn in the fabric of her life.
That's a lovely poem, Stephen. Thanks for sharing it.
Samson, Beautiful Poem. That is some inpiration.
Phil, I love ya, but you have more border patrol going on inside yourself
then Arisona, and California put together. All I have to say, is you're a good
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