This is the first post in a series of posts exploring the new faith for the new earth which God is creating right now. OK, for those who don't want to think in terms of God, just change "God is" to "we are." I will continue to use God language but you can change that to "all humanity" or "all creation" or whatever term you want to use for what Marcus Borg sometimes called "the more."
I believe that God is (remember that you can change that to "we are") creating something new now which will bring us together to solve our huge problems … and they are huge right now. God is doing a "new thing" just as God did a "new thing" when the Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40 to 55) was prophecying 2500 years ago. This prophet discerned that God did not want the Israelites to see themselves as separate and better than others. He discerned that the Israelites should see themselves as a Servant Nation scattered around the globe simply serving humanity with as much wisdom and compassion as it could muster.
He discerned this as his fellow Israelites were suffering immensely from a violent invasion of their homeland causing immense death, destruction and dislocation. But out of the ashes could come a New Israel, not an Israel bound by its past traditions or even its old boundaries, but an Israel which could be found in compassionate action in every place on the planet.
I begin here because I am a Christian and the Hebrew scriptures are an essential part of my story as a Christian. There are many stories in our human treasury of wisdom. My story is important and your story is important. We need to tell our stories and listen to others tell their stories. We need to create a new story together which embraces all of the great traditions of our diverse and fascinating humanity.
Let’s take a journey together and share our stories and create a new common story which can bring our planet to a new place. We desperately need to do this if we are to overcome the huge obstacles standing in the way of our planet’s evolution. We need to hope and pray that we can get to a better place, a place where peace prevails and justice, compassion and abundance for all. Getting there is the task of the true Israel. Israel is not meant to be an exclusive identity for Jews and Christians but is intended to be an identity all humans can embrace because all humans are called to be servants, to be citizens of a servant nation found throughout the planet. That’s the vision of the Second Isaiah. That’s the vision embraced by Jesus when he said that he was fulfilling God’s plan for humanity.
We are all called to fulfill God’s plan for humanity. We are all important. We each have a specific purpose to fulfill to make the planet a better place. Have you figured out your particular purpose, the unique contribution you are making or can make?
I think I have, finally, after a long time of doubt and bewilderment and wandering in the wilderness. I think I am supposed to discern and describe what the new faith for the new earth is. I’m not the only one called to do this. Indeed there are millions of us. But I have been given a unique approach. Hopefully and prayerfully I believe I can help create this new faith for the new earth. I must do my part.
The new faith for the new earth is not a new religion. We don’t need a new religion. The ones we have are really good. Many wise spiritual leaders have urged people to go deeper into their own wonderful traditions rather than convert to another one.
But we do need to stop claiming that “my religion is better than your religion.” This is idolatry. This is NOT God’s plan. I believe we are called to go deeper into our own traditions AND, at the same time, seek wisdom from other traditions. We can and we must come to a place where we can affirm the beliefs and practices of many other human beings. This requires plenty of humility, openness, empathy and compassion. The Good News is God has given every one of us these gifts in abundance. We just need to open them up. It’s an imperative in these times.
We need to find common ground. Our planet is depending on our sharing, our respect for each other, indeed our respect for everyone and everything. Important efforts are now in progress to make this happen more and more. A significant movement is called InterSpirituality. Wayne Teasdale is given much of the credit for starting this movement. He drew upon the ideas of one of his teachers, Bede Griffiths. I have read two books by Wayne Teasdale which describes the essentials of this important movement: The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions and A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life.
More recently, Edward Bastian and others created The Spiritual Paths Institute. I am currently a student of Ed’s working on his seven steps of InterSpiritual Meditation and his Spiritual Paths Mandala Process. You can read about these two important InterSpiritual initiatives at SpiritualPaths.net and in two books Ed has written: InterSpiritual Meditation: A Seven-Step Process from the World’s Spiritual Traditions and Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path: An InterSpiritual Process. The Amazon page on Mandala includes my brief review.
+ Come with me on a journey. The purpose of this journey is to join with others in creating a new earth because the earth we have now is not exactly what God intends for us. Humans have not been good caretakers of the planet. We absolutely must change our ways.
I will use the fascinating tool of the internet. The internet makes it possible for us to quickly find expert guidance for the journey. So, I will offer many links to this guidance which you may or may not find helpful. You certainly will not want to click on every link since I will be offering hundreds if not thousands of them. When I suggest a book, I will often offer a review found at SpiritualityandPractice.com.
On the other hand, I will try to make this a narrative which does not require the internet for those who choose to read this in a printed form or read it on a device without internet access or just don’t want to click on the links.
This journey will occur in four stages: MIND, HEART, BODY, SOUL. I am borrowing this order and these stages from The Seekers Guide: Making Your Life a Spiritual Adventure by Elizabeth Lesser. She calls these stages “landscapes.” In the book she offers excellent ideas and exercises for each of these landscapes. You may want to access some of these in nthe Toolbox section of www.elizabethlesser.org. Also, you may want to listen to an excellent TED TALK she gave called “Taking the Other to Lunch.” She urges us to stop “otherizing” the many people who have different religions, cultures, values, political affiliations, etc. Seek common ground. Develop respect. Engage.
Let’s go on our journey.
THE JOURNEY OF THE MIND
STOP ONE: STILLNESS
· "You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet." -- Franz Kafka
· "Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself." -- Herman Hesse
· "You are never more essentially, more deeply, yourself than when you are still." -- Eckhart Tolle
· "How to know God? By being still. How to be still? By practice of meditation. Meditation is the art of being still in body, in mind, in heart, in will, in the entire inner being, and enabling the higher Divine Consciousness in us to have direct, immediate perception of God." – Omkarananda
Many of us practice Yoga these days. One of the great Yoga masters is Erich Schiffmann. He teaches that stillness is the essence of Yoga in his powerful book, Moving Into Stillness. He says: “Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are.”
Don’t you want to know the truth of who you are? I think it is essential that more and more of us awaken to the reality of who we are. Yoga is one way and, of course, there are many other paths. You may have found a path which works for you. If so, keep practicing but don’t avoid finding out about other paths which are working for others.
What happens when you become really still? You wake up. Buddha means Awakened. Christ asks his disciples to stay awake with him.
Most of us don’t realize how much we sleep even when we are not in bed, even when we seem to be very active. This is because our activity is often mindless, habitual, addictive, inattentive. Stillness leads us to a new style of awareness. We become aware of our greater reality. We become heavenly. We become detached from our earthly reality which is often so limited.
You are on a journey to wholeness. Since this is a journey in inner space, no body movement is required at this time. Even breathing is a choice we make breath after precious breath. It is not required. It is optional. So long as you have an earthly purpose it is highly recommended of course. Earthly life is precious, wonderful, fantastic, fascinating. But it is not the ultimate reality, not even close. Heaven is home, earth is not. Or, perhaps it is better to say that Heaven is our permanent home and Earth our temporary home. Earth is a place of wonder, beauty, abundance and life. It is a good temporary home. There is love here. There is love everywhere. In stillness we come to know this love in new and amazing ways.
“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” Love is required “on earth as it is in heaven.” We are here to love and be loved. That’s what the journey is all about. Wholeness is love. In stillness we become whole, we become loving. We become Love. We are Love. We are whole. We are complete. We are amazing. You don’t need to look for this amazing love anywhere else. You are full of it. Right now. Right here. Breathe. Enjoy the flow of life, of love, of abundance, of joy. You are amazing, fantastic, wonderful, delightful, beautiful, divine. In stillness you discover who you really are. You are NOT your limited ego, your temporary personality. There is nothing wrong with those things. You have ego and personality for a reason but it is not your ultimate identity, not even close. Got that? This is such an important realization. It is a required realization. You must realize who you really are, Love, sooner or later. You are having a temporary earthly experience. Make the most of it but remember you are a heavenly being first, a human being second. Got that?
It is almost impossible to write about this amazing state of stillness. But I will try anyway. But my experience of this glorious state may be different than yours in significant ways so please do not take me too seriously as a guide. You must find your inner guide and follow that guide faithfully. Sooner or later you must. My Inner Guide tells me what to do next all the time and sometimes I listen. I am listening right now and here’s what I am hearing:
John (and all humanity) we love you. Trust us. I am making all things new. I am doing a new thing now. I am. You are. We are. God is. This is a joint project, an adventure of the new humanity, the new earth, the new heaven, the new community, the new faith for the new earth which is creating the new, glorious, fantastic realm of abundance, joy, wisdom, beauty, love, truth, peace, justice and freedom.
This is an amazing moment. A great evolutionary leap forward is happening now. You are on an amazing journey.
Be glad all over.
This great evolutionary leap forward does require commitment, commitment to a new way of thinking, acting, feeling, being, doing. Let’s explore some of these new ways.
Move deeply into the state of stillness right now. Become one with everything. You can do it because you are one with everything. Yes you are. Dwell here in this knowledge. Teachers from many wisdom traditions know this and teach this. This great evolutionary leap forward means that there are now many more sages who know this and teach this.
For a moment don’t let the demands of your earthly life intrude on your state of bliss, your awakened heavenly state of “Love so amazing.” Feel the love coming from the source. You are loved from within. You are love. You are everything. Simply enjoy this moment of awareness. You are awake. You are connected.
We are creating more and more LOVE. Love so amazing. Love so abundant. So healing. So peaceful. So reconciling. So delightful, delicious. Do you feel the love?
There are many forces resisting this amazing LOVE. But we are creating more and more Love. We are overcoming all of the resisting forces.
“Love so amazing” means Compassion, Peace, Justice and Sustainable Abundance. This is God’s plan. It is your plan. It is our plan together. In the state of stillness, the specific ways we create more and more love become apparent, revealed.
It’s not my stillness or your stillness but OUR stillness. I am, you are, limited, imperfect. Even as we become quite skilled in practicing stillness, there is no way we can be sure we know God’s will. We often need correction. I need your stillness. You need my stillness. We need the stillness of many others. A great American judge, Learned Hand, said: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure you are right.”
Remember, the more you practice stillness, the more you will realize how much you don’t know. We are limited human beings who only occasionally attain an unlimited heavenly state of being. Trial and error. Far more strikes than home runs.
The home runs might make you think you know everything. There is a part of you that does. But your ego doesn’t particularly like that part of you and works hard, very hard, to keep you ignorant and distracted. You need to look for all kinds of ways to move beyond that ignorance. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. But, on the other hand, you may be deceived into thinking that you know when you really don’t know. That’s why we need to be open to the wisdom and guidance and correction of others from time to time. Not all the time. There is no better guide than your Inner Self. Just make sure you can distinguish between your real Self and your false self. OK?
The Real Self is the Christ within you, the Buddha nature, the Holy Spirit, the oneness of creation, even the oneness of creator and creation. The ego wants you to believe that this identity is unique to you and to no other. That’s a lie but it’s a lie all too many believe.
This is why it is so important to STOP that chatter, that endless chatter, and be still leading to detachment and humility. You need to be detached from your ego and know who you really are. Then and only then can you begin to be connected to that guide within you which knows what you need, what you need to have, what you need to do.