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<HeartPrayer>
posted
Why, indeed...

In 1981 I was drawn, by a series of striking coincidences, to visit Mount Athos, a monastic community in northeastern Greece. For me it was a turning point.

One monk, originally from Peru (but fluent in English and conversant in Norwegian!), spent many hours in conversation with me.

At one point, seizing an opportunity in the moment, he said: "You should repeat the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." or simply "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."

When I asked why, he simply smiled knowingly. "Pray, and you will have your answer."

A year later, sitting down to meditate, I took up the Prayer. Suddenly it opened like a flower of light, and I wept.

At times the Prayer feels more a part of me than my own breathing. Other times it is as though my heart is a bursting cup in the presence of Christ, a cup that cannot possibly contain or fathom what flows from the source!

I have not let go of the Prayer since � or more accurately, it has not let go of me.

That must be my answer as to Why.
 
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Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. That kind of experiential knowledge is priceless.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hi Phil, Jon, ev eryone:

I went through this thread "Why Christianity". Several things stood out for me. One was
that somewhere on this thread, i think, Phil you mentioned that you felt Christianity was about Love.
Could you express what you mean by love in this context please.

Is this thread only for a RC viewpoint or are other Christian understandings acceptable here.?

I relate to what Jon responded earlier in the thread. I am not learned in theology and this term
panenthesistic Christian was a new term for me. So i looked it up. Now this is something i can relate to. Have you addressed this issue on the list. Or some of the other issues Jon mentioned
in his post. If so could you direct me to the conversations please.

Thanks
Ajoy

*******
/Warning: Rant about to be pounded into the Cathedral door. Read at your own risk.

Why Christianity?

I don't know. I just don't know anymore. Why indeed? All I know is that I don't think I can really describe myself as Christian anymore without some significant qualifications--i.e. I'm a panentheistic Christian mystic, or Buddhochristian, or a mystic drawing from both Christian and Eastern traditions, or a mystic, with most my worship activity in Catholic settings.
<cut>
Why is the Gospel activity of lay preaching condemned? If the priests can't tell the truth, let me! I will! But if any of us contemplatives were to really say, REALLY say, unguarded, what God has shown us in the deepest part of our soul, the non-dual Godness and Goodness of ALL, wouldn't we be thrown out of the Church as quickly as Jesus was brought to the edge of the cliff from the Galilean synagogue?
<cut>
jon
 
Posts: 135 | Registered: 05 August 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<HeartPrayer>
posted
quote:
Originally posted by Ajoy:
[qb]But if any of us contemplatives were to really say, REALLY say, unguarded, what God has shown us in the deepest part of our soul, the non-dual Godness and Goodness of ALL, wouldn't we be thrown out of the Church as quickly as Jesus was brought to the edge of the cliff from the Galilean synagogue?
<cut>
jon [/qb]
This is why we have online identities, carefully masking our true names. Big Grin Except for Phil, that is.

There are, of course, good reasons why the Church does not canonise saints why they are still alive...
 
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Hello PrayerHeart:

Thanks for the feedback. Just wanted to say that
those weren't my words you were responding to but
from Jon's in his earlier post.

I realized that i came to this group to see if i
wanted to call myself a Christian anymore. All i
was seeing was confinement with this term. Then when i read Jon's post i saw so much of my own frustration.

With some of the variety within Christianity
he wrote about i saw more of my own process. And it was refreshing. And like him i guess i would only be able to call myself a Christian with qualifications.

And personally after looking at a chapter in a
Matthew Fox book, Compassion, he is so far expressing much
of what i have experienced. And for me it is the
expression of compassion that feels under this whole process. Which is why
i asked Phil what he meant by love. For me
compassion includes love. By compassion i do not mean an emotion. It is beyond the ego. Yet this is not a expression i have heard used before within Christianity. So thanks for the space to
express such things. Smiler

Ajoy
 
Posts: 135 | Registered: 05 August 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Welcome back, Ajoy. It's good to see you here again.

It might be helpful to mention, here, the forum on the Christian Mysteries found on this board. We discuss various Christian beliefs and there's been quite a bit of dialogue already. This thread might be kind of redundant in a way; I think it preceded that forum. But it does address the "why" question, while the Christian Mysteries forum is more concerned with the "what" of Christian belief.

Maybe you could be more specific about what your questions and issues are? E.g., the teaching on love: that's very basic in Christianity and all the world religions. What's unique in Christianity is that this love is considered God's very life -- i.e.
quote:
God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God and God lives in him. (1 Jn. 4: 14).
This love is manifest in and through us by the Holy Spirit, which is God's life indwelling in the soul. It brings forth a wide range of actions and is supplemented by a variety of gifts from the Spirit.

There is a kind of "non-duality" in Christianity in that through faith and baptism, our created human soul begins to draw its life from Christ and becomes transformed by the Spirit into a likeness of Christ. This is a quite different understanding from Eastern monistic systems in that it affirms our created nature and explains how, through grace, we become incorporated into the life of the Trinity.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<HeartPrayer>
posted
Ajoy, misattributed quotes and jokes aside, I certainly hear what you are saying! Smiler

I define my Christianity in terms of my relationship to God, to Christ, to fellow pathwalkers -- and not in terms of institutions. To me Church is about the former rather than the latter. At one level I am unable to take divisions drawn my man seriously; they exist on a relative level, not in the absolute. And I think far too much effort is wasted in institutional boundary-drawing and the judging of others.

Elsewhere I voiced the belief that the Spiritual Body of Christ is the Church. (As opposed to the other way around!) And that we define membership in this one and only Church by the affirmation of our hearts.

That, of course, is very close to your wonderful Scriptural quote, Phil.

I am tempted to write a much longer response, but am quite open to channeling that into what Phil indicates might be a more appropriate part of the Forum.

And I would be very interested in reading more of your own thoughts on this.
 
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Re. that discussion on the Church prompted by some of HP's earlier reflections, click here to read more about why the Church must needs have a visible aspect as well.

quote:
And I think far too much effort is wasted in institutional boundary-drawing and the judging of others.
Like you just did? Razzer Straw man argument, imo -- as though that characterizes organized, institutional Christianity.

But, yes, let's take some of these topics up on threads where they're being more directly discussed.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<HeartPrayer>
posted
quote:
Originally posted by Phil:
[qb]
quote:
And I think far too much effort is wasted in institutional boundary-drawing and the judging of others.
Like you just did? Razzer Straw man argument, imo -- as though that characterizes organized, institutional Christianity.[/qb]
Phil, that is a straw-man rebuttal!

I did not say or imply that this characterises organised, institutional Christianity. Nor that it is universal or even pervasive. In fact I did not point any fingers, no judgment.

Read my post again. Slowly.

Wink
 
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OK, OK. I apologize. It seems I did "straw-man" you. I was thinking not only of your post above, but of others you've made about church which seem to minimize the importance of its visible, organized manifestation. You and w.c. had an exchange about this, which prompted this discussion. I took a lot of time to respond to your earlier points about church, especially:
quote:
The community? Those who have spoken Yes in their Heart � that is the community. And that is the community I encounter time and again. That is the Church!

Call it an invisible aspect, if you will.
To me it is the only one that IS visible! The only one that counts.
I hear that sort of thing a lot and I don't think it resonates much with the biblical and traditional understanding of Church, institutional squabbling notwithstanding. There is surely this hidden, spiritual church that you recognize, but it's quite clear that it was Christ's intention that we also be a visible, organized, public reality with public ministries of all kinds (evangelization, catechesis, spiritual formation, worship, etc.). Indeed, the gifts of the Spirit move us to form such communities.
 
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Would it not be true to say that we are all first the invisible mystical body of Christ who become visible through our participation in the visible communities of God. Is it not true that the Church is not a building but the people of God who all first become Christians in their individual capacities becoming at the same time the individual members of the body of Christ (the Church). Is this becoming not an invisible reality that initially only God and the person are aware of and only later do they manifest this invisible reality by participation in the visible communities?
 
Posts: 712 | Location: South Africa | Registered: 12 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jacques, that's all very good, and highlights the importance of the invisible becoming visible, which is the whole point of the incarnation. That's what we mean, too, when we say that the Church is a sacramental reality -- that it manifests the underlying union we have with God. Baptism, you might say, is "going public" with one's recognition of and commitment to developing that connection we have with God and one another in Christ. And so the Church is not simply an invisible reality; it must-needs and has, from the first, been an organized, visible reality.

I would also add, here, that the institutional bickering that we all lament at times is really an important, ongoing, in-house discussion among Christians. It helps us to clarify who Christ is, how one comes to know and grow in Christ, how we relate to the non-Christian world, and even what it means to love. On the one hand, this is all very "human," and akin to what we see going on in other organizations we establish. But the Holy Spirit is at work in this process, sifting the wheat from the chaff, helping us to clarify these matters. That's always been the case in the apostolic tradition; Paul alludes to this in his letters, for example.
 
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Totally agree Phil Smiler
after all, Christianity would never have become what it has if all that existed from the start was an invisible group of disconnected individuals whos only unifying reality was an invisible one.
 
Posts: 712 | Location: South Africa | Registered: 12 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<HeartPrayer>
posted
quote:
Originally posted by Phil:
[qb]There is surely this hidden, spiritual church that you recognize, but it's quite clear that it was Christ's intention that we also be a visible, organized, public reality with public ministries of all kinds (evangelization, catechesis, spiritual formation, worship, etc.). Indeed, the gifts of the Spirit move us to form such communities. [/qb]
I totally agree, Phil! Smiler

It is a question of form and essence.
And both are, and can be, vital -- to the extent that their heart truly is essence. Then, one breathes as the Spirit inside the other, and they are One.
 
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I agree, and there's no question that a Christian community has more credibility to the extent that it manifests the love of God. That is always the challenge.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hello Phil, HeartPrayer:

Thank you both for your feedback. Sorry to have turned your name around HP.

Phil:

Maybe you could be more specific about what your questions and issues are? E.g., the teaching on love: that's very basic in Christianity and all the world religions. What's unique in Christianity is that this love is considered God's very life -- i.e.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God and God lives in him. (1 Jn. 4: 14).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There is a kind of "non-duality" in Christianity in that through faith and baptism, our created human soul begins to draw its life from Christ and becomes transformed by the Spirit into a likeness of Christ. This is a quite different understanding from Eastern monistic systems in that it affirms our created nature and explains how, through grace, we become incorporated into the life of the Trinity.

***********
Actually what you have written was helpful. And yes, it is this non-dual aspect of Christianity that i am
intersted in. What i understand is that the experience and expression of love can be different at a dualist level and a non-dual level. This explains a whole lot of my confusion within Christianity.

I left the church at 11. I attempted to return decades later but it didn't work out. And after reading another chapter on Compassion by Matthew Fox a whole lot more of my experience within Christianity now makes sense. There are some "real" differences in experience and understanding within Christianity.

I will take a look at the site Christian Mysteries you suggested and see if any questions arise.

Thanks again
Ajoy
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ajoy:
[qb] What i understand is that the experience and expression of love can be different at a dualist level and a non-dual level. This explains a whole lot of my confusion within Christianity.
[/qb]
Dear Ajoy,

Your comment about experiencing and expressing love at a non-dual level is intriguing. You have probably lived through some powerful experiences on your journey. Perhaps you can say more on this topic, if you wish... perhaps we need to start a new thread.

I've harped on this issue myself a few times at Shalom Place. See, I was on the Eastern path of Vedanta-ish yoga and I've been around a few powerful gurus and experienced some forms of non-duality. (I happen to think there are different forms of non-duality.) There are a least a half dozen or so very powerful gurus swimming in unity consciousness who are downright unethical, sexually immoral or just jerks. Despite their exhalted state, love seems absent.

In my opinion, non-duality does not (necessarily) a holy person make. And if love is NOT about approaching holiness, or vis versa, then we are not on the same page. This idea that as consciousness expands, love and holiness grows, is what the Hawkins / Wilber folks as well as the kundalini folks seem to be saying. They seem to claim that everything coming out of them is divine love once they have reached enlightenment.

Furthermore, there are folks like Tal Brooke, who was in the inner circle around Sai Baba before he came to Christ, who claim that this state of non-duality is really a form of satanic possession. He cites Muktananda and Rajneesh as prime examples, along with Sai Baba, who are clearly deranged in the love department as defined my most people's standards.

I had arrived a similar conclusion before I read Tal or others who found imitations of love on the non-dual path and then converted to Christ. You can see my paper, From Seeker to Saved, on the Transformative Experiences forum if you want to know more about how I arrived at my conclusions.

In my opionion, there are spirits which uphold some forms of unity consciousness which are not holy at all, but incredibly powerful and seductive.

To me, the question of "Why Christianity?" is answered as follows: it takes the HOLY SPIRT to build a character of love and this can happen with or without the unity consciousness offered by the Eastern path to God-realization.

The experience of growing in Christ is orthogonal or semi-orthogonal to expanded states of consciousness. And as Phil put it once, "there is a common obfuscation between the Christian mystical experience and enlightenment."

What do you think?

much peace to you, Ajoy!

Shasha
 
Posts: 352 | Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan | Registered: 24 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<HeartPrayer>
posted
.
Those are fascinating thoughts, Sasha.
I�ll wait to make a fuller reply, seeing whether it is best to do so here or in a new thread.

A really important discussion!
I really do feel it deserves its own thread. May I suggest you and Ajoy repost both of your last posts in a new thread?

Just a thought, not my call.
 
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We've had lots of discussions on Christian spirituality in comparison to enlightenment pathways. Try the following:

- http://shalomplace.com/ubb/ult...;f=1;t=000132#000000

- http://shalomplace.com/cgi-bin...;f=2;t=000148#000000

There's also a lot about this in the innerexplorations.com web site.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, yes, yes, precisely...preach it, brother...

After reading that first link, I have to say WOW, Phil, I didn't know we thought so much alike on this topic!

Am I turning into a Phil or are we converging on the some truth? Smiler

So wonderful! Now I can call it a night!
 
Posts: 352 | Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan | Registered: 24 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hello Shasha:

My comment to Phil was in regards to his mentioning that there
is a form of non-duality within Christianity not Eastern religions.

As i mentioned i've been reading Matthew Fox's book on Compassion
the past few days. Half of one book doesn't show me a whole picture
of course. Especially one written almost 30 yrs. ago. I'm sure he's
undergone much change in that period of time. But from what I am reading
about his understanding of compassion (which includes love) he's coming
from a place i know as non-duality. Matthew Fox uses the terms dualism
and dialectic, but i read that after i posted my last response. So i may be incorrect in using
the term non-duality, as i understand it, till i've read more of his work.

When i think of the word holiness i associate it with the RC Church. They
decide what is holy according to their understandings. And apparently they
didn't think the direction Matthew Fox was heading was, so they dismissed
him.

I spent my early childhood years with ministers and a church setting that believed
that children needed to have the fear of G*d instilled in them. And in later yrs. tried
many Christian churches local to me. Their words seemed a little softer but the
underlining message of fear hadn't changed. What i came to understand was that
those ministers, in their own way, felt that their expression of fear was an expression
of G*d's love.

Now comparing that to what Matthew Fox is calling compassion, which includes love, is
something very different. If he were in my area i wouldn't hesitate to attend his services. Big Grin


Ajoy
 
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Dear Ajoy,

Oh, now I see more what you mean...sorry about the misunderstanding.

I've known others who have felt stung by early fear of God training. To them, this was a love-less climate and they felt God and the church to be quite inhospitable as a result.

Perhaps you can share more about how your path resonates with the teachings of Matthew Fox if you want. And/or I'd be interested in knowing whether you feel that fear has any place at all in relation to our spiritual development. Perhaps another thread could be started.
------------------------------------------------

Dear Heart Prayer,

If you're intersted in continuing discussion about enlightenment and Christianity, maybe we could pick up on that first link that Phil provides above, Enlightenment and Christian Spirituality. Or maybe you were interested in something else I said in my post?

much love to you all,
in Christ,

Shasha
 
Posts: 352 | Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan | Registered: 24 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hello Phil and Shasha:

Shasha i would be interested in discussing Phil's
booklet entitled "On Christian Enlightenment".
That is with Phil's permission and if this has not
already been discussed on the threads that Phil
posted on Enlightenmnet yesterday. I haven't had
a chance to read much of those threads yet to know.

Phil this was a great piece of writing. And i'm
experiencing a deep gratitude to you for
putting your experiences and understandings of Christian Enlightenmnet in writing. This is the first time i have seen it written within Christianity. And as you
mentioned that "you see no reason for a person of Christian faith to denouce Eastern experiences of enlightenment." And that you see no conflict between the 2 states.

Ajoy
 
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From Shasha: Am I turning into a Phil or are we converging on the some truth? Smiler

Ha. Smiler I've been reflecting on the enlightenment/Christian spirituality issue for a long time -- at least 25 years. Some of the impetus to do so comes from my own experiences, and from just wanting to better understand what's going on.

- - -

Ajoy, I'm glad you enjoyed the eBooklet on Christian Enlightenment. I do believe there are a variety of non-dual experiences, so it's maybe too general to speak of unitive experiences. Even in the Christian mystical literature, one finds a variety of unitive states described. So long as we don't deny the reality of a distinction between the Creator and the creature, we're somewhere on the Judeo-Christian "map."

Re. Matt Fox. There were lots of problems with his situation, none the least of which his unwillingness to be a "team player" with his own religious order, the Dominicans. His theology was mostly OK, although he does seem to be "down" on fall/redemption theology. His employing a self-professed witch at his creation spirituality center also didn't win many votes from more orthodox Christians.
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Phil:


- - -

So long as we don't deny the reality of a distinction between the Creator and the creature, we're somewhere on the Judeo-Christian "map."

*****
Ok, thank you for that understanding.
Ajoy
 
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