Sunday, December 13, 2020

Words about "the nameless"

     Most of us were born into a religion and traumatized by it, and/or were traumatized by others' religions. So it's very common & understandable to be stuck in cynicism, aversion, anger, hatred etc towards religions. Nevertheless, it's vitally important to FREE ourselves from the prison that our afflictive emotions create:


The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

Laozi, Tao Te Ching


     Below are two deeply insightful mystics, the late Robert A. Johnson, and Cynthia Bourgeault, who happen to use Christian terminology - just ONE of MANY - for "the nameless" - that which cannot be named. 

     “Apparently, one must separate from God so that there is an objective standpoint from which we can observe. In my own homespun theology, I believe that perhaps God wanted human eyes in order to be able to see the splendor of the Golden World. If so, then it’s our business to be the eyes and ears, to see and hear the splendor or God, but it requires that we stand apart from God. To be a discrete observer necessitates that one is separated from what one is observing. That is the alienation of a human life. One is reminded of the Zen comment on the intermediate stage of development when ‘rivers were no longer rivers and mountains were no longer mountains.’
     That sense of being separated is the ego. In arriving at adulthood we all have built an ego structure, a separate sense of ‘I,’ but it is precisely that distance from all else that makes us feel so lonely and alienated. One then must find a way to restore the unity with God, to worship. This is the Zen stage when ‘rivers are again rivers and mountains are again mountains.’
     It is our human duty to witness the splendor of God, which is my sense of worship. What makes all of this so difficult is that our duties are in conflict. These principal duties are to separate from oneness (the childhood paradise), develop an ego, and live a cultural life; and then to reunite with the oneness of God. Generally the early part of one’s life is taken up with the necessary distancing from God: learning about the cultural requirements of the society in which one lives, leaving the house of the parents, developing one’s independence and sense of personal self. There is a constant pull back to the sense of unity from which we came, and in Jungian psychology that it called the mother complex. There is a regressive pull in each of us to quit this business of winning independence, to escape the painful human process of becoming a distinct, separate personality. Physical suicide is the ultimate expression of the mother complex, but it takes many other forms, such as the use of drugs and alcohol or mindless consumption of food or other material goods. When people come to my consulting room with a drug problem, I tell them that they are addressing the right problem but in the wrong way. They are trying to go back to a paradise when they need to go forward to a paradise.
     We must separate from God before we can reunite with God. We must create a useful life, learning the customs of the society in which we live. You cannot put back together again that which has never been adequately differentiated. Consciousness must separate before it can reunite. Many of the spiritual communes, monasteries, and spiritual practices in this country are nothing but institutionalized mother complexes, with selfishness and ego regression running rampant in the name of spirituality.
     It is a legitimate question to ask just how far one really needs to push this differentiation before one can legitimately seek to reunite. That is an individual matter. A very simple person may not be differentiated to any great degree, and I have seen this among the traditional peasants who live in the small villages of India; they have the right to put things back together again without a great deal of differentiation. But educated Westerners go much further in developing their consciousness, becoming so split that it is difficult to become whole again. The cultural laws of Western society encourage us to get as separate, as specialized, as unique as we can get. To get a good job today you must have a college education, and a professional degree or a Ph.D. is better still. We are trained to become more and more specialized. Then on Sunday at church we are advised to merge ourselves with God. It’s no wonder we’ve become a neurotic society; the wonder is that we are not all schizophrenic
     Once we have built a strong ego, we must then link it back to the matrix from which it has grown. Differentiation of consciousness is only one-half of our life journey. But to say, ‘I want an experience of God’ is a total oxymoron; if there is an ‘I’ seeking an experience, that is precisely the problem, since an ‘I’ that sees itself as separate from God is the cause of the suffering in one’s life. There’s a Christian proverb that says he who searches for God insults God, because a search implies that God is separate. Zen Buddhism also is very articulate about this, stating that the very motivation for satori or enlightenment is suspect. You find the kingdom, not by seeking, but only by grace. Seeking after the splendor of God is a highly egocentric and fragmenting thing to do. I now understand that the most profound religious life is found by being in the world yet in each moment doing our best to align ourselves with heaven, with the will of God.”
     Robert A. Johnson, Jerry M. Ruhl. “Balancing Heaven and Earth: A Memoir of Visions, Dreams, and Realizations.” HarperCollins, 1998.

     Cynthia Bourgeault (CB): “I became more and more intrigued and disturbed about why it was that Christianity, a religion that clearly has one of the most loving and inclusive gurus that’s ever walked the face of the planet, at its epicenter, should tend to develop itself in formats that were so rigid and exclusive and non-generous. And why didn’t people walk the talk? It became more and more of a heartbreak to me. So it was actually through reading Jacob Needleman’s 'Lost Christianity' in 1980, that the first pieces began to come together. He said at one point, ‘telling people to wake up and be conscious is like telling stones to pick themselves up, sprout wings and fly to the sea.’ There’s a missing piece, and until you can get that missing piece online, you can’t do the teachings of Jesus. ‘If one aspires to live the beatitudes or any Gospel teaching it is necessary to establish the level of consciousness from which they emerge.’ is virtually a direct quote from Symeon the New Theologian in the 11th century, who was the first one to be on to the fact that the Jesus teachings emerged from a very high level of consciousness, and that until you could basically run that program, you are going to be constantly dumbing it down to a place where it’s basically an inversion of itself. So Needleman was onto the fact that something was broken in the way that we pay attention that kept our consciousness scrambled, low, distracted, and not under our free command, and it was this that was constantly making hash out of the Gospel that Jesus was teaching."
     Rick Archer (RA): “A speaker, or anyone, can only speak from their level of consciousness; a student, or anyone, can only listen or hear from their level of consciousness, which brings in the whole ‘pearl before swine’ thing, the parable of the sower, if we want to quote Biblical references. There’s always going to be a gulf, not only contemporaneously in the life of that teacher, but then as time goes on, and the teachings get passed down like a party-game from one ear to another, over time it gets more and more distorted. I think it’s happened in every tradition.”
     CB: “Even our understanding of what ‘esoteric’ means. Nowadays, people will think esoteric means secret information that’s withheld from people, which is ridiculous. The esoteric dimension of every faith, which is very simple, is hidden in plain sight. Nobody’s hiding anything. But until you reach a certain level of receptivity, and the teacher reaches a certain level of broadcastability, you can’t see it, you can’t pick it up.
     They say that until a student has enough collective well, and is able to sort out on their own and discriminate between a billion different things out there, the thing that has their name on it, they’re not going to be able to appreciate, they’re not going to be fit for work anyway. It’s like a chicken picking its way out of the egg, you have to do that work before you’re ready to be where the teaching is going to put you.”

     RA: “How do you develop that discrimination to find the thing that’s right for you, among all the different influences out there?”
     CB: "Gurdjieff had a teaching about A and B influences. And he said most of us are out there in the world surrounded by A influences, which are all sort of competing things making a play for our attention. And it’s not until you can recognize something that’s a B influence, which has a qualitatively different taste for you, that you can follow it. You’ve got to get there yourself. How that happens? – A little luck, a little management. I certainly think that meditation is a really good starting point, because it allows you to filter out a lot of the garbage that’s obviously just playing at superficial parts of you, and to listen to something qualitatively deeper.
     I think actually we have the direction wrong of the journey all along. We start from the impression that we are here, and God’s over there, and that we have to go towards God. And if you can make enough noise and jump up & down loud enough, you’ll attract God’s attention. But I think rather it is always the opposite - we’re flowing out from the divine at any given moment, as a particular path, as a kind of instantiation of divinity in form. We’re always guided, and the path is always specific to ourself. What we have to learn is simply to stay in alignment with it. That’s what learning B influences is all about. It’s easier to stay in alignment once you get the hang of it, than not to stay in alignment with it and try on a billion different paths because they seem interesting. I venture to say that God is your heart of hearts.
      Cynthia Bourgeault - Oct 23, 2017 Batgap interview

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