Thursday, January 31, 2013

Failure to thrive - part two

One of my specimens of “failure to thrive” metaphysically speaking comes from a one sentence conversation with a former friend of mine.  Have you ever noticed that some of the most important things we say are those we say as we open the door to leave?  Parting shots, sometimes, or a loving comment offered, when we’re afraid of possible rejection.  Truth, as you well know, has a way of coming in strange, disguised, unobvious ways.  It has been shown that the truth of individual infinity comes to the conceptual level of thought as paradox.

The friend was the leader of the metaphysical church which ordained me a minister, teacher and practitioner of Divine Science.  I had learned earlier that he was dying of a rare, incurable disease.  He had devoted his life to creative mysticism as he called it. He lived himself as enlightened by a traditional way, combining metaphysical science and Eastern philosophy.  He had had the experience of “shaktipat.”  

When we met alone, in the hallway of the old church, just the two of us, he confessed to me, “I didn’t think it would end this way.”  That self-description struck me as very odd from one who had devoted his entire life to enlightenment, spiritual growth, and the practical living of mysticism.  How did he think it would end?  What is the end of Life?

Old Christianity has an axiom that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  So says its Q & A or catechism.  The end of an acorn is an oak tree and not a bigger better acorn.

If we, by nature, have within us a truth-hunger that impels our search for wholeness, completeness, allness, the universal One called “God,” “Tao,”  “Buddha-mind,” “Yahweh,” “Allah,” “true Self,” or whatever, then by scientific definition that instinct includes within itself the recognition of the object which fulfills its hunger.  So we say, in metaphysics, the end is from the beginning.  Life moves itself in a circle and not in a straight line.   The circle everywhere is the symbol of totality, but the spiral up is the symbol of maturity.

Consciously assenting to the fact that “I am one” -- one absolute one -- opens my awareness to the ever-present fact that “I am whole,” - complete in every way.  I am self-contained and self-containing life.  If I am not perfect now, then I will never be perfect - someday.   As I begin to pursue the fact of my allness, disturbances quiet down, conflicts resolve themselves, broken things seem to be mended and destruction appears as construction.  The law of oneness reversed by unconsciousness of it, reverts seemingly by consciousness of it.  Actually it never deviates.  Unawareness of the facts has no effect on the facts, but it does affect our experience of them.

Observation shows that we usually think backwards.  We have an experience.  We think backwards from effect to cause.  In order for this backwards reasoning to go on, descriptions become definitions and definitions, descriptions assume images, symbols, names, labels combining with emotional energy to form complexes of associations.  Before language is verbal language it is the language of unconscious associations we construct within us.  We think that if we had lots of money or possessions then we would be conscious of wholeness;  we think that if we had amiable relationships then we would be conscious of completeness; we think that if we had a peaceful universe then we would be conscious of oneness, unity.  When we suffer from our own what-if thinking, it is none other than this backwards reasoning churning in high gear.  Anthony DeMello, a favorite author of mine, once said that the essence of insanity is thinking that if someone else would change then I would be happy.

Imagine being tied to a chair in a movie theater with nothing to watch but disaster movies, one after another in endless succession.  Do you think you would get bored and look for something else to watch?  But you can’t.  Even your head is locked in a forward direction.  You could close your eyes, stop up your ears, and try to not feel as if this was a way to escaping such miserable living.  This suicidal approach to living has been tried since antiquity.  We don’t have much follow-up information if it worked or not and the person finally succeeded in feeling whole.  Some spiritual systems teach a kind of quasi-suicidal living, where only parts of oneself are shut-off, thinking that other parts will be thereby enhanced.  But spirit (wind, breathing) and asphyxia (not breathing) -- are they paradox or absurdity?

You could try that approach to living or - you could assent consciously to the spiritual facts of being, the science of metaphysics, and know that all the goodies in the pictures you see are not the result of outer, external, objective conditions of oneness, wholeness, and completeness -- which if met will be given to you.  All the goodies of life are simply the growing consciousness which you are, awakening to its own inherent perfection: oneness, wholeness, completeness.  Healing, which originally meant ‘making whole,’ is always nothing more than becoming conscious of what we already are and therefore already have.  And the basic fact of inviolable oneness - the absolute integrity of individual being -- means that there is in reality nothing to heal.  The discernment of that fact appears as that experience appearing.

Conscious assent is the starting place in scientific metaphysics.  Every spiritual teaching in the world talks about the problem of will and desire.  Right use of the will is a discipline or practical necessity in each of them.  Suppose that there are 3 functions of the will - assent, consent and intent.  Intentionality, of course, is the will as action and is the practical discipline of living truth.   Consent is affective will, we consent to a proposal of marriage, whatever our intentions are.  Assent is an act of the intellectual will to a statement of truth.  A statement is a definition.  It can be simple or it can be a model, a map, a metaphor or a myth.  “‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is a statement of truth found in a slightly modified form in every religion of the world.  If everyone in the world practiced this truth intentionally, then we would have a better, nicer world,” is another example of backwards reasoning.  Without the affective-will backing up the practical-will it isn’t going to happen humanly.  But who would have guessed that everything hangs and hangs up on the assent.

My mysticism teacher, who is considered by many to be the most articulate Western model of contemplative living or mystical way of life, taught that the most human act of the will is to form through spiritual practice the intention to consent to the divine presence and action within the soul.  In all of our sessions, I don’t recall him ever talking about assent.  

In my reading, my I Ching author tells me, “Enlightenment is the passage from an intellectual belief in an abstract, conceptual “universal” truth, to existentially being that truth.”  The gears of the will won’t move until one assents to the facts confronting them.

We’ve got to stay with the spiritual facts -- absolute one and its absolute oneness - in all attempts to ‘heal’ - ourselves, each other, the world.  Those facts are the Principle and law of oneness-wholeness-completeness, the facts of absoluteness.  We start by assenting to individual absoluteness -- each conscious human individual is a law of perfection unto one self.   This seems like a highly abstract truth, but actually is highly practical.  Minding my own living necessitates that I grow my intentionality to conduct all of my living on a factual basis.  I cannot be Principle to you nor can you be Principle to me.  The concrete living of this truth makes me a fact-finder instead of a fault-finder.

Question:  In the face of such compelling evidence of human difficulties how can I obtain this consciousness of absolute individual Good, or individual perfection; how can I willingly assent to the hidden oneness when appearances seem so opposite.  It seems like a bare-faced lie.

Answer:  To you.  It seems like a bare-faced lie -- to you.  And no one is saying that the appearances are good.  The looks of things may be very, very bad at the moment - according to the usual human scale of values.  In actual practice, we abandon the good-bad conceptual dichotomy as of no value in our work, since we understand that --nothing is as constant as change.  Paradox, remember.  We start with basic oneness as the law, as the basic Principle of being -- of my being.

Again, we experience first, then we reason next or we may just react emotionally. We may not be aware that reasoning can shut out awareness, can close down perception, just like emotion can.  Reason can offer a larger circle to go round in than emotion does, but the net effect is about the same.  Metaphysics, in older days, was defined as the science of first principles.  The search for first principles requires of one the disciplines and uses of the whole mind: reason and will, as well as sense and intuition, and in definite ways.  That’s why we call it practice, or work.  

As we observe and continue to observe an experience that repeats itself and we begin to see patterns emerging in our imagination, if we jump to judgment, again, we shut down perception.  Close observation of a repetitious experience gradually yields more and more facts and factors involved.  But we are not at the point of knowing, the power of intentional doing, until we start at the beginning -- the first principle.  Being, knowing, doing is the order and being is the first principle.

So we start with conscious assent to the proposition of oneness, allness of individual being individually lived.  We observe. And we keep observing, opening up perception by the power of assent to metaphysical truths that have been time tested.  We don’t analyze, picture or try to guide the outcome of the experience.  This attempt will obstruct the consciousness of the law of oneness, the law of freedom, from being experienced.

You may not be sure that this law of oneness, of allness, when invoked by conscious assent is on the job.  Our conviction of a truth develops through observable stages:  testing it, proving it and demonstrating it.  Proof and demonstration are not identical, just like testing and proving aren’t.  The demonstration of a truth is never an external event, but is always an internal conviction that nothing else is true. If the something is true, it is true.  Whatever is, is. Period.  Doubt disappears in demonstration as a truth becomes self-evident.  Then it lives us, consciously and unconsciously.  Then we are existentially being truth.  This is mental soundness, it is certainty, it is permanence.

The positive acknowledgment of the allness, oneness of each absolute individual will develop into the demonstration of that truth and the side effect will be that we see the universe in its consciously positive aspect instead of its unconscious (negative) aspect.

To acknowledge the absolute oneness, allness, wholeness, completeness of every individual in every experience is not submission to evil, it is not giving consent; it is not license but liberty.  Assent is the necessary step from the unconsciousness of allness to the conscious state of wholeness.  Remember, evil is not something to be destroyed or even resisted, it is an unconscious state from which to be awakened.  In that awakened state (consciousness of oneness), the “otherness” (evil) disappears into wholeness.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Failure to thrive

   I have a kind of collection of stories about people who devoted their lives to spirituality, or truth, or science, or metaphysics, mysticism, psychology and at the end of their lives made statements to the effect that they had missed the point of their life.  The meaning of life generally is a fascinating study and it can keep me very busy and distracted from discovering the truth that I haven’t discovered the meaning of my life.

Failure to thrive is a phrase which the medical community applies to infants and old folks.  The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that most problems in the second half of life stem from the lack of a profound spiritual vision.  The science of metaphysical thinking is based on a single fact: that the basis of life is oneness, wholeness, and completeness.  Regardless of the looks of things, existence of any kind would be impossible upon any other basis.  The law of oneness upholds and sustains all life, including the life of mind and the minding of life.  One absolute and its absolute oneness are the spiritual facts upon which everything must be considered.

When I was a young man, just starting out as an “adult”, within a short time, my world fell apart.  I was utterly lost.  My body was healthy, and so was my bank account.  I was successful in my work and ready to go at the world.  But doors began closing before me and the prospect of great failure stood immovably before me and I stood stunned and immobilized.  Through an amazing to me turn of events, everything changed.  My body was the same, my finances and my career were intact and all of the relationships I lived remained.  Only one thing had changed:  my fundamental point of view.

One new relationship began to grow in my experience.  I became a student of spiritual psychology and my teacher was a charismatic Presbyterian minister with the spiritual gift of “counseling”, who had studied with Dr. Karl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist.

This earth-shattering event, which left the earth unshattered, and me externally unchanged had done a “mighty work of God” in my interior.  From then to much later, something within me guided me along a trail, had me searching for something, and only years later could I name it adequately, correctly and truthfully for myself.  Today, I understand that this something is my own divinity, my own divine nature, the life that is mind, always mine, whose basis is oneness, wholeness, and completeness and whose law is absolute oneness.

Experiences always come before the language which describes them and only later does this language become definitions defining the experience.  You and I experience the “mystical oneness with the divine” long before we discover a language or a community for the shaping of our living of it.  Many of my mystic friends do not seem to know that a student of mysticism is not a mystic.  A mystic has had an experience that so separates two states of life within them as to make the preceding one leading up to the mystic experience, fade into oblivion.  The name is not the thing.  And it is very sad when one comes to the end of their life and discovers they have deceived themselves by the very devotion, study and practices of spirituality, mysticism, or whatever the pursuit of knowledge is called.

Suppose that we have built within us a ‘knowledge or truth instinct.’  Like hunger it has a source, an impetus, an object and an aim.  Suppose like hunger, this truth-hunger nags at us, even hurts us, until we give it the attention it demands.  Have you ever noticed that when you take something to eat, an apple say, your hunger begins immediately to diminish?  During World War II, children whose parents were killed had been gathered into an orphanage.  The children were well cared for in a safe place full of caring people, but many of them could not go to sleep.  Inspiration, came to one of the nurses and she gave each troubled child a piece of bread to take to bed with them.  They just held it --- just in case --- and went to sleep.

If the hunger for truth or knowledge shows up initially as afraidness - anxiety, even panic, is dis-ease a punishment for ignorance of truth or is it a symptom of a specific lack?

There are never two states of life -- good and bad -- if life is one absolute and its nature is absolute oneness.  However, it seems that there is generally an unconsciousness of the basic holistic nature of life, basic completeness, as opposed to the consciousness of it.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the same law obeyed and disobeyed brings opposite results.  It is the awareness of oneness, wholeness, completeness, perfection that we call “good”.  The experience always comes before the language about it.  The absence of the consciousness of perfection, or law of oneness, we call “evil.”  Again, we experience the consequences within ourselves that give these names their force, meaning or value.

But, is there “good” and “evil”,  or is there consciousness and unconsciousness of oneness?

Suppose that every human problem, every trouble and all suffering occurs when we are acutely unconscious of oneness.  When faced with conflict, lack and destruction the common belief is that there are two powers, two presences, two qualities happening and the appearances of things can be very compelling.  It was not until fairly recently that spiritual researchers discovered the fact that the absence of conscious oneness-wholeness-completeness results in the negative appearance of innate oneness, perfection, and in this negative consciousness, the law of oneness seems to operate in reverse.

But what seems to be and what actually is, has long been an interest for spiritual and psychological researchers.  There is no lack of oneness (duality).  There cannot be two absolutes.  There is no lack of wholeness (inadequacy).  Insufficiency of basic substance would mean an inherent self-destructive tendency in the absolute and the absolute would have long ago destroyed itself.  Hence, there is no lack of completeness (destruction).  It is the lack of the consciousness of completeness, wholeness and oneness that makes the universe appear potentially harmful, hostile and negative.  
But another fact needs inserting here.  There is no such thing as “consciousness”.  Consciousness is just a name, just a word - unless and until it is seen and understood that consciousness must of necessity be the consciousness of an individual self.  All consciousness is self-consciousness -- one, only, all.

The lack of conscious assent to the fact of absolute individual oneness appears as opposition; the lack of assent to the fact of absolute individual wholeness appears as inadequate substance, inadequate supply; the lack of conscious assent to the fact of absolute individual completeness appears as destruction and loss.

It is in the conscious assent to these spiritual qualities, to acknowledge them as basic, that opens the way to the perception of oneness, wholeness and completeness in the lived or “human” level called experience.

The negations, apparent violations of the law of oneness, that seem so evident in human experience, the apparent violations of this one divine Principle and its law of oneness is nothing but the absence of the consciousness of that ever-present, ever-operative fact.

Remember, there is no “good and evil”, there is conscious or unconsciousness of oneness.

Remember, when faced with an experience of human conflict, lack and destruction, this is the negative appearing (unconsciousness) of oneness, wholeness and completeness.

Unaware that “I am one” sets me in apparent opposition to myself and makes my universe appear potentially hostile, harmful and negative to me.

Since the absence of conscious oneness-completeness-wholeness results in the negative appearing of the inherent oneness the problem before us, then, is not the obliteration of evil and the preservation of good.  The problem is how to rise to the conscious appreciation of the formerly hidden and unconscious oneness-wholeness-completeness - the perfection of being we already are (have).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Announcement: I have been wrapped up in a writing project requested by the Institute of Metaphysical Science in La Jolla, CA for the past year or so. This work required intense research on my part into the life and works of Margaret Laird a Christian Science teacher and it brought me much light, but also kept me away from my website and blog.
Having brought this project to a final stage I plan to turn my attention now to my own writing. I plan to work up the research I've done into written pieces for my blog and website. Perhaps you may be interested.