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.