Sunday, 30 August 2009

Duality or Non Duality ... which is best? ;o)

Well how have the past few days of discovery panned out. In between gardening and more gardening (which I thoroughly enjoy) I have been doing some research. Having been so enamoured with my latest discoveries along the esoteric road - not least Eckhart Tolle I decided to backtrack. I am never too comfortable in throwing myself 'hook line and sinker' into things without stepping back and looking more objectively. However I reckon I have immersed myself into Tolle's philosophy enough to understand experientially where he is coming from. Definitely I conclude that Tolle and other modern day mystics have alot to offer in terms of finding the present moment and the fulfilment contained therein. However I  am not sure that I would agree with the religious interpretations and applications. The present moment is given to all ... we miss out in using it as a means to the future or living in the past ... but we do not have to spiritualise it anymore than we should spiritualise anything else we have in common ... an arm or a leg. The present moment is a given fact which Eckhart and others have kindly enabled us to see. How we interpret that fact and what we choose to do with it is another matter ...
Now my little web discoveries. Thanks to Fr Thomas Keating for whom I have alot of respect (3 books I recommend: Open Heart open Mind and Invitation to Love and Intimacy with God) I ended up giving my email address to Integral Life, Ken Wilber's big project. An email with a list of the latest posts lead me to (at long last!) a thinking Christian's contribution to non duality holding both the value of Buddhist concepts of non duality as a meeting point and also holding forth the Christian distinctiveness in a sensitive manner. Check out his post and the responses he was given: The role of Jesus in inter-spiritual dialogue by Cameron Freeman. Check out another of his posts entitled Good Friday: The impossibility of Nirvana. Excellent stuff! I must quote two of his references:
G. K. Chesterton “That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already; but that God could have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever... In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss... a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt... When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. [Mt 27:46 quoting Ps 22:1] And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt... Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.” [cf The Everlasting Man CW2:344]
“A Cross is a blunt and graceless form. It has not the completeness and satisfying quality of a circle. It does not have to grace of a parabola or the promise of a long curve... A cross speaks not of unity but of brokenness, not of harmony but ambiguity, it is a form of tension and not rest... The cross is the symbol because the whacks of life take that shape... And unless you have a crucified God, you don’t have a big enough God.” Joseph Sittler  quoted in Westhelle, V. “The Scandalous God: The Use and Abuse of the Cross” Fortress Press, Minneapolis 2006.
Check out also Cameron's blog with an interesting article entitled 'Zen and the paradoxical language of Jesus' Thanks to this guy I have decided to carry on reading Jurgen Moltmann's The crucified God. It is not easy reading but I realise in order to dig deeply into the richness of conscious awareness and not simply indulge myself therein I must also keep in focus the raw reality of the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross. This is where the Christian mysticism (seems to me at this point) takes leave of other paths. This contrast is graphically notable in that between the smiling Buddha inwardly blissful with eyes closed to the world and the suffering Saviour arms outstretched embracing the world. Perhaps we have another paradox to consider. The promise of peace as we become present to all that is and the promise of suffering through being part of this groaning creation ...
I also checked out Eckhart Tolle’s critics. One argued that all his stuff is borrowed not least from Schopenhauer’s ‘The emptiness of existence’. I read that and conclude that it is not true … there are vast differences. However another Christian I have somehow linked up with (can’t remember how) is Fr Richard Rohr … check out an excellent article entitled ‘Living a life less ordinary’. Relevant to this blog I quote:
The act of contemplation helps us to observe the “unobserved” or false self, and by so doing, to gradually detach ourselves from it. But it is not something that comes naturally in our culture. “We are a capitalist society, into accumulation, not detachment,” Fr Rohr says. “That’s why people are attracted to Buddhism. Buddhists have kept their vocabulary and their honesty about the need for detachment up to date, whereas we’re just people who have invested heavily in our own opinions and rightness, with disastrous results.” The secret to detachment, he suggests, is to learn how to live more fully in “the now, not the past or the future”.
He has a book coming out in September The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See … Think I just might get it … anyway time for my 20mins listening prayer!

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