We are beloved companions on a mystic journey, sharing our solitude and holding the world in the divine prayer of love.

"Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory. Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance. And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation."
- from St. Clare's third letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Aurobindo on the Trumpian Mind

Sri Aurobindo

President Donald Trump


Over the past year of watching and listening to Donald Trump I’ve been deeply troubled not only by his words but also, and even more, by the process of his thinking. During my teaching years and later during my years of working with emotionally and cognitively disabled children, I did intensive study of human cognitive and moral development. (studies by Piaget, Erickson, Kohlberg, Fowler, and much later of Ken Wilber) It’s been chilling for me to realize that if I were to place our new president on any of these developmental charts, he would be at or towards the bottom. This is not to say that he is not shrewd. Mostly it is a question of whether he has managed to process and incorporate complexity in all the various areas of life. This leads me to conclude that he is not developmentally human enough for the job of being president of any large company and much less of a country. Of course he can make deals and make money. Anyone at the lowest level of Power/Pleasure/Punishment can do that if that person also has the quality of being shrewd.

In his studies of integral spirituality John has been reading the works of an Indian scholar, protester for justice, and spiritual teacher educated at King's College, Cambridge, England, at the turn of the 20th Century.

About 1910 Sri Aurobindo wrote of the undeveloped mind:

“The intellect of most men is extremely imperfect, ill-trained, half-developed—therefore in most the conclusions of the intellect are hasty, ill-founded and erroneous or, if right, right more by chance than by merit or right working. The conclusions are formed without knowing the facts or the correct or sufficient data, merely by a rapid inference …the process being unsound by which the conclusion is arrived at, the conclusion is also likely to be fallacious. At the same time the intellect is usually arrogant and presumptuous, confidently asserting its imperfect conclusions as the truth and setting down as mistaken, stupid or foolish those who differ from them. Even when fully trained and developed, the intellect cannot arrive at absolute certitude or complete truth … but untrained, it is a quite insufficient instrument, at once hasty and peremptory and unsafe and unreliable. …
“The thinking mind has to learn how to be entirely silent. It is only then that true knowledge can come.”
From The Integral Yoga, p. 240 and 242.

In grade school some of us learned a prayer that began, “Come Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds...” Perhaps it is time to channel some of the positive energy  we saw in recent  marches towards prayer for the president (and his staff), that they might grow into their jobs and experience such enlightenment.


Friday, December 23, 2016

O EMMANUEL, COME




O EMMANUEL
GIVER OF A NEW LAW
TO ALL NATIONS
COME AND SAVE US
FOR YOU ARE OUR GOD

This morning I received three love letters from dear friends across the space and time of my life. They were more than Christmas cards; in fact they were not Christmas cards at all, must momentary impulses on the part of three separate people to shower me with the blessing of their hearts. To me, today, these friends came as Emmanuel. “God With Us.”

a virgin shall conceive
and bear a son
and his name shall be called
Emmanuel
Isaiah 7:14

It really happened, my heart whispers. And it continues. Put all this together: There’s a new law. Jeshua tells his friends, “A new law I give to you. Love one another.” Love is not written in stone but in our hearts. Isn’t this the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy (11:19)where God says in him, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”

 The virgin has/IS an undivided heart. That heart conceives a divine child God-With-Us who brings this new law, Love.

Oh dear. Where are the words? As T.S. Eliot says: “Where shall the Word be found? Where shall the Word resound? Not here. There is not enough silence.” And now the music of Handel’s Messiah comes booming into my mind, “Why do the nations so furiously rage together?” And, yes they do. How can there be Emmanuel when the slaughter of children continues in Syria and elsewhere? How can there be peace on earth when stony hearts spread terror?

Yet, the world was no different that year in Bethlehem. It was likely not a silent night. Chances are there was no comfort for that virgin/mother in the cave behind the too full Inn. I suspect people were grumbling about Rome upping their taxes and taking their names. The shepherds probably were cold and trying to get a bit of sleep in shifts somewhere on the rocky earth. In  houses throughout the town other mothers tried to quiet their babies with lullabies, not knowing that in only a few weeks Herod’s soldiers would raid their homes and kill their sons. Into this Emmanuel would come.

Eliot was wrong.

Even in and out of the raging the Word of Love is spoken, heard, found. Emmanuel. Go deep inside. The divine one is what you are. Emmanuel is your deepest being. Even in the body brokenEmmanuel. Even in the bombed cityEmmanuel. Even in the murdered childEmmanuel.  In the refugeeEmmanuel. Deeper than the anger and fear of the terroristEmmanuel. May the stone dissolve to reveal the heart’s tender flesh. It’s the time for it to happen.

May you receive a word of love today, and may your heart be tender to receive.

Let the New Law come to all the nations and into every heart.  Let Divine Love come.


O EMMANUEL, COME

Thursday, December 22, 2016

O RULER OF ALL NATIONS


O RULER OF ALL NATIONS
TRUE DESIRE OF OUR HEARTS
YOU ARE THE CORNERSTONE
BINDING ALL OF US
INTO A HOME FOR GOD
COME
FREE US
WHOM YOU HAVE FORMED FROM EARTH

My heart aches as I meditate on this antiphon. All the centuries of our tearing apart of this earthly home which is not so much a place for us as it is our very body. We are the body yearning. We are the body yearning for that alchemy, that binding, that element of Being, that Suprapersonal Light, that Transformer, that True Light that enlightens everyone who comes into the world. 

We are the heart of the One. we are the mind of the One. We are the mouth through which the Word is spoken. We are the feet and the hands and the wombs. We are the wings. We are the cry, the song, the calling of whales. We are the seas. We are the mountains and rivers and lands. Why do we tear ourself apart? We are the woman on her knees weeping for her children. We are Rachel  and our children are the stars. We are the sky and we are the caves reaching to the center.  

How can I say it? The blood of God flows through us all. How can I find the words? Oh desired One, you do not come; you are already here, but we don’t see you, feel you, know you in our poor abused body. Our brother, Paul, could see when he questioned: Can I say to my hand, “I have no need of you?” Our sister, Mechtilde, knew when she wrote: "The day of my spiritual awakening was the day that I saw, and knew that I saw, all things in God and God in all things.” Our brother, Francis, recognized the kinship of all creatures in one living bodyBrother Sun, Sister Moon, even Sister Death, because I can die and you can die and the Body of God remains.

O Ruler of all nations, O Holy One, O Cornerstone that unites us, touch our eyes and hearts to see who we really are. In all this vastness each is a reflection of the All. In loving anything we increase the One Eternal Love we are and have always been.


O RULER OF ALL NATIONS, COME

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

O RISING DAWN



O RISING DAWN
RADIANCE OF ETERNAL LIGHT
BRILLIANT SUN OF JUSTICE
COME
LIGHT UP THE DARKNESS
THAT HIDES OUR PATH TO LIFE

Today spiritual traditions meet and merge in the Rising Dawn. Medieval and modern Christians sing Winter Solstice songs. Stone Age peoples watch in the shadows of their henges for perfect alignment at dawn of the heavens with the earth. Today we check celestial positions of sun, moon and stars on a smart phone app. Or we meditate on the significance of this time and our personal connection to the universal however it is manifest, and today we feel a turning point. All the antiphons seem to be indicating this, though, the flicker of light in the most profound darkness, and today, the way it rises as the Sun of Justice.

In the shower this morning I found myself singing a verse from an Advent hymn I learned years and years ago. I must have been about 18. “People Look East.” It had been recorded by the Grailville Retreat Center in Loveland, OH.

Stars keep your watch though night is dim,
One more Light your bowl shall brim,
Even beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People look east and sing today,
Love the Star is on the way.

I learned the O Antiphons first in Latin as Gregorian Chant. This one is O Oriens. (Translated as: O Rising, O Appearing, O Originating, O Daybreak, O Dawn, O Sunrise, O East.) This is the dawn of something wholly new, something original, Light beyond light in the mind, the heart, the soul, the spirit, the nations, the world, the universes, the entire cosmos. This is the dawn of a new consciousness, an enlightenment, a new way of being in which Light and Love are identical. It is right here for anyone to seeall we need is to look and receive. Or stay in darkness. It’s up to us.


O Rising Dawn, Come

Dawn at Casa Chiara

Tuesday, December 20, 2016




O KEY OF DAVID
AND SCEPTER OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
YOU OPEN AND NO ONE SHUTS
YOU SHUT AND NO ONE OPENS.
COME
 DELIVER US FROM THE PRISONS THAT HOLD US
FOR WE ARE SEATED IN DARKNESS
OPPRESSED BY THE SHADOWS
OF DEATH.

It couldn’t get much darker. The year is about to tip, but we can’t see it yet. It was midnight when I woke and looked out the tall windows beside the bed at the shadows of trees. What is my prison? I wondered as I lay there wide awake. There would be no going back to sleep, not tonight. Tonight I’d be searching for the key to a prison so dark and filled with shadows it sometimes even seems to have no door.

“When is a key a scepter?” my mind inquired. It is a trickster, that mind of mine. “When is a key a You and not an It? the mind rambled on. (And to demonstrate the wonder I am in over all of this, I will tell you that it is now eleven minutes after two in the morning, and gazing into darkness as I’ve spent the time, these are all the words I yet have written.) Memory reminds me that almost fifty years ago I had a dream in which I chased a key down a street, and every time I bent to pick it up it moved on ahead of me as if leading me to something or somewhere else. Eventually I was in a poor section of the city. The key rolled up against a door and stayed. I picked it up and placed it in a lock. Turned it. Opened the door and found myself looking at my Self. “What is the door opened by the key? What is on the other side?”

In both the antiphon and in my youthful dream, “I” do not open the door. The antiphonal key is David. Note the key does not belong to David, it actually IS David. And by association and genealogy the Key is the One we invoke with COME: the same as was represented yesterday by the Sacred Tree, the Endless One with all the emanations. The Holy One in the Fire of Being whose name cannot be spoken except with innumerable adjectives.

The door to the prison is opened by the Key of David. The “David” within our souls, our relationships, our countries, our governments, our worldwho/what is he? We need to know that or we won’t have the Key to the mystery of opening and closing. My mind teases me, “Why not call your new friend the Rabbi David? Ask him. He should know.” But my heart counsels me to go to the stories. The biblical stories reveal the qualities of the historical David, and each of those qualities are essential to the Key by which we are released from our prisons. The stories are many. Some of us know all of them, others know a few like the one in which he uses his slingshot to kill a giant. If David is the Key to our release from darkness and death, the stories tell me he is fully human, a paradox of glory and ambiguity.

David held opposites together. He was the child-shepherd/king,  mystic poet/warrior, beloved/betrayer.  This is the Key that opens the prison door, that tips the darkness towards the light, that unlocks the way through the shadow of death into the fullness of Life: the acceptance of all our contradictions. And the Key is on the inside. To be human is to be a paradox, and to accept that in the deepest night of our souls, of our nations, of our world, a time of death itself, we can, like David did, throw off our prisons like clothes become too small, and accepting what we arethe Light of God in the clay of earth—we can dance before the Tabernacle of the Great I AM.


This is the Key.


O Key of David, Come.

Monday, December 19, 2016

ROOT OF JESSE


O ROOT OF JESSE
YOU STAND AS A SIGN FOR ALL PEOPLE
BEFORE YOU ALL RULERS KEEP SILENT
FROM YOU EACH NATION SEEKS HELP
O COME
FREE US; DO NOT MAKE US WAIT.


The great urge is to get political about this antiphon, probably because it does actually sound political. It sounds like the Root of Jesse is somehow a source of help and freedom for all nations and their leaders. It is political, but it is also personal, and also cosmic. It is central to most spiritual traditions and an archetype of the collective unconscious of humanity. I was awake most of last night meditating on this, this sacred tree.   

I’m a dreamer and several weeks ago, before I was thinking about O Antiphons at all, I woke stunned by a dream of this tree. I stumbled into the Morning Room at Casa Chiara and, still reeling from what I can only call an encounter, I wrote the dream like this:

“I’m with a group of women, and we are entering into a deep forest by a large body of water. The mood is one of awe and discovery. The deeper we go, the more the canopy of trees covers the sun and the forest is cast into shadow. Through the shadows I see two overwhelming giant redwood trees—the biggest in the world. A person standing next to the larger one would seem the size of an embryo, or a bean, or a tiny river stone. I call out to the others and all of us attempt to move closer to the majestic trees. However the closer I get to the larger tree, the more dense the feel of it becomes—the less space there is around it—until I’m feeling crushed by the presence of the tree itself. It’s almost as though I am being weighed down “under” it, as though I am among its roots, part of it. I’ll be subsumed if I go farther, and yet the attraction and magnetism of the tree is profound.”


Most ancient cultures envisioned a “world tree” at the core of their spiritual life, of their cultural mythology. This image connected the earthly realm with the heavenly. It was the totem pole, the sacred oak, the Tree of Life in Eden, the tree of generations with Jesse as its root. The early Christians traced the genealogy of Jeshua (Jesus) back to Jesse, the grandfather of King David, and saw him as the flowering of that Root, the new World Tree that would reach out beyond a nation to include in its branches the “Others” or strangers then called Gentiles. Jeshua himself would be the Sacred Tree on which the opposites of the world would be reconciled. This is a lot to put my mind around. No wonder my dream stunned me.

The Sacred Tree, though, is even more than a human tribal or world genealogy. In the mystical Jewish Kabbalah it becomes the flowing of God into and through the created world. From Ein Soph, the divine emptiness, to Shekhinah, God among us, the tree’s branches are the energies or emanations of Being itself called the Sefirot. I recommend Daniel C. Matt’s book, The Essential Kabbalah, for meditations on each of these divine emanations, or as Matt says, “stages of God’s inner life, aspects of the divine personality…emerging from Ein Sof, the Endless.” They are the branches of the Sacred Tree and are:

1. Crown/Will/Nothingness,
2. Wisdom/Beginning,
3. Understanding/Womb,  
4. Love/Grace,
5. Power/Judgment,  
6. Beauty/Compassion,
7. Eternity/Prophecy,
8. Splendor/Prophecy,
9. Foundation/Covenant,
10. Presence/Kingdom/Communion/Queen.

Here is the sign before whom rulers keep silence and nations seek help. Personally we enter through the roots and are drawn upwards. God does not change as we ascend, but we do, and as we share in the higher emanations of Being our hearts are transformed and our spirits overflow. IF we are willing. IF we dare to be absorbed into the roots of the Sacred Tree, even though there’s fear in it of oblivion. It will not be oblivion for the person, the nation or the ruler. It will be presence, covenant, splendor, eternity, beauty and compassion, power of right judgment, love and grace, understanding, wisdom and union with the Unending One.

O Root of Jesse, Come.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

O ADONAI, O ELOHIM




O ADONAI, O ELOHIM
LEADER OF ISRAEL’S HOUSE
WHO SPOKE YOUR NAME IN FIRE TO MOSES
AND UPON THE HOLY MOUNTAIN CARVED YOUR LOVE AS LAW
COME
AND WITH YOUR OUTSTRETCHED ARM
FREE US.

O Unspeakable,
O One containing everything
O Name without sound
O Great I AM,
You draw the majesty of all the gods into your One creative fire
Outside You nothing is.
Because we cannot say your name
We call you Adonai, the leadership, providence going forth,
We call you Elohim, the genesis, the ‘let it be’ of creation.
We drop the letters and sounds we can utter
Into the unutterable YHWH.

And we hear you in the fire,
We hear you in the thunder,
We hear you in the heartbeat,
I AM THAT I AM.

O Come!



(for further explanation of these Hebrew names see http://www.myredeemerlives.com/namesofgod/adonai-elohim.html )