Monday, September 7, 2009

This Square is Circling around again

7 years ago, when I started seminary, I was SO MAD at Jesus, I didn’t even want to relate to him. When we were asked to spiritually work with him, learn from him, ask him to assist us, etc – I worked with someone else on the spiritual level, because on a deep level, I really didn’t want to have anything to do with Jesus.

(I should say that within a year or so, that had completely changed. It took some investment in our relationship, and allowing God to heal me in a myriad of ways, but I am grateful to report that for a long time now, I have an ever-deepening, respectful, playful & loving relationship with Jesus, and we work Really well together!! I can’t say enough about how amazing he is ; )


But, back then, for many years, I was very mad at Jesus. And, worse, the reasons I was angry had absolutely nothing to do with him. It was all to do with my relationship to Jesus’ followers... Christians.

I couldn’t stand how ‘Christians’ were (in many public ways) behaving in the world, and I blamed Jesus.

More importantly, I was really hurt and angry about how I had been treated by many Christians, and I blamed Jesus.


Since my late teens, I did my best to follow where God led me. God led me to do and be and believe in many ways that are generally unpopular for Christians. So I ‘took a lot of c%^;*p’ from Christians. I gave some back, too ; )

• Part of this was just my path, I had to follow my path, and it was off the ‘beaten-track’. I had to be willing to do God’s will, whether it was popular or unpopular, whether it was in alignment with what I, and Christians in general, thought I ‘Should Be,' or not.

• Part of this was, I had to be re-trained. There are things that most Christians just know to be true: certain ways of speaking, being, understanding spirituality, God and the bible, relating to the world, etc. In the United States there is a generally Christian way-of-being. It has different flavors and variations, but although we fight like the siblings we are, we hold most things in a common ‘world-view’ in the Christian family. God pulled me apart from the 'herd' so I could get un-habituated to this Christian world-view and way-of-being. So I could see the habits more clearly. And mostly so I could drop them, un-habituate from Christianity, and instead habituate to following my unique path in God.

• Part of this was, I had to let go of being validated by Christians. I had to learn to be inner-directed, not outer-directed. I had to learn to listen and follow the ways of God and not be compulsively trying to fit-in, or obsessively needing validation from Christians. I had to learn to let their rejection and judgment pass through my space without “taking me off my game.” I had to learn to let my joy be full, ‘outside the camp.’

Through all this I made ‘friends’ and ‘enemies.’ I have ‘fixed’ and ‘broken’ (repeat) relationships and structures – both inside and outside the Christian 'camp'. Mostly, it has been the experience of going through amazing and endless cycles of feeling ‘fixed’ and ‘broken’ – sometimes both at the same time! All this was often hard and painful, although the fruit is very sweet. And of course this all is still in progress... I'm Not ‘baked’ yet, not nearly!


Meanwhile, after decades of being chased from the Christian 'camp' by God, and feeling like a square peg in a round hole (at best) with many Christians, there is a sea-change happening. I feel drawn back deeper into the Christian 'camp'.

I don’t know for how long? I don’t know how it will go? I am excited and afraid, hopeful and cautious. I guess no matter what, it will be a learning/growing experience!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mountains and Valleys each just Are

Almost a month ago I wrote this, reporting out on my spiritual path:

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I have been getting schooled in some things the last couple weeks - the main message of which, God keeps giving me as:

Mountains are not better than valleys. Valleys are not better than mountains.

Which is the picture and words for the general concept:

dichotomies, or opposites - just Are in this reality, and are not (on a spiritual level) to be set in competition (including judgment) with each other. Mountains and valleys each just Are.

I may Prefer one thing to another at a particular time/space, but in and of itself on a spiritual level -

left is not better than right

fat is not better than thin

old is not better than young

rich is not better than poor

death is not better than birth

war is not better than peace

you probably get the idea...


(Of course, spiritually, one becomes more or less beneficial for me the moment God says - 'go left', or 'sell all you have and follow me'. I am bringing this up to be clear, but this is an aside from what I am learning right now...)


In context, a couple weeks ago, Jesus started working with me on a Big healing project - basically re-integrating 2 large ‘bags of energy’ = basically 'lost parts' of myself. (one bag can be called ‘shadow stuff’; one could say the other bag is a ‘male’ counterpart to myself).

This full integration will probably take about a year, but the perception of change within (and outside me a bit) is palpable. The enjoyable part has been that I feel increasing more whole – remarkably so – like Swiss cheese getting filled in. Or like I was filled with billiard balls and now all the spaces are getting filled with sand – it is bizarre! The interesting part is learning to ride the wave of different emotions and ‘ways of being’ that are surfacing, that I haven’t had to ‘handle’ consciously as I am now – like male aggression! The challenging part energetically is – there are many reasons why I separated these parts of myself (beliefs, experiences, limits, lies, judgments, etc). So, predictably, as I reintegrate these ‘lost parts’, it is intense and stirs up many things that I need to allow God to wash away, if I am to keep going and not pop / die / go insane - whatever!

So Jesus has encouraged me to work for awhile with Lao Tse (yeah, the ~4–6th century BCE Chinese Philosopher, founder of Taoism, who the wrote Daodejing)

Lao Tse has been extraordinary in assisting me to let go of the many things that cause me to be ‘bent’ and reject my self – things like judgment, etc. These issues caused me to separate myself from myself. And now, these issues are in the way of re-integration…

Lao Tse has been assisting me SO Much with these changes. And with helping me to open to receiving energy from God that helps me to release judgment etc, allow more balance, and continually let go. I have been calling the energy equanimity, which is probably accurate, but doesn’t feel big enough. I have found reading a definition of ‘Pu’ (a major concept in the Daodejing) feels like it may be a more well-rounded description of the energy I am receiving from God, and foundationally what I am learning from Lao Tse (I have some stuff below on Pu if you are interested)

Anyway, my picture for this learning of non-judgment and balance is – The mountain and the valley next to each other – juxtaposed – with no prejudice, no preconceptions, no better-ness between them…

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Pu

lit. "uncut wood"

translated "uncarved block", "unhewn log", or "simplicity".

represents a state of receptiveness, child-likeness.

Pu is a symbol for a state of pure potential and perception without prejudice.

In this state, Taoists believe everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion.

unburdened by knowledge or experiences.

no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly.

only pure experience, or awareness, free from learned labels and definitions.

IDENTIFYING Myself with Progress doesn't serve me

I received the quote I just put in post before this one, from a friend the other day, and wrote him the following.

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O, O, thank you
I need these reminders!

One of my Big temptations is 'I will be better in the future'

I have very much struggled with this issue, and continue to – to a lesser degree.

I wrote my friends when I was Really up-against / struggling / had come to a ‘crisis point’ with these issues - about 14 months ago. It is below if you are interested.

It was very validating for me to read what I had written about it again today. In a RELATIVELY short time, I am much more comfortable with these issues. I feel like a different person than the one who wrote about the challenges below.

All the stuff is Still There.
But, as I so fervently hoped and prayed: the issues have settled down to a dull roar.

My perception of my life now, is more bright, comfortable, validating, empowered, self-referential, allowing love and acceptance...
WOW, what a blessing.

Again, thank you for sharing the quote!

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July 15, 2008 - Notes from the Bleeding Edge

AA says 'progress not perfection'
A lot of wisdom there, and it is helpful - very.

AND, what I am Finally starting to be able to see/hear is that IDENTIFYING Myself with Progress doesn't serve me, at the deepest levels.
Deeply, in God, it is about BEING Only.

I have spent my whole life striving to be Better, in a million ways BETTER (because clearly I suck!)
I strive to be better so I can have and be and do; but especially to justify my existence, and hope to get/keep love.

The phrase that goes so well with this striving way of being is Amy Grant's song:

Don't give up on me, I'm gonna make it
I know it's hard for you to see
Don't give up on me, I couldn't take it
If part of me should keep you from seeing
The part of me that should start you believing
I'm changing, so please don't give up on me

What she is pointing at is somewhat different than what I am, but the trajectory is the same.
The basic assumption that I am not good enough... But just hold on! I'll be better tomorrow! (repeat! Forever!)
Not useful for the deep stuff, I am finding - ego all of it, even the seemingly most 'spiritual' aspirations.

The fog cleared on Saturday for about an hour, and God had me see clearly that a big place I have been stuck, in resistance, is in judgment of myself.
I saw 2 me's, stuck! Wrestling, in a stand-off.

ASIDE:
Sometimes my powerful, bullish nature stands me in great stead when I am pointed in a beneficial direction and moving - go inertia!
But when I am fighting myself, wow I can sure get powerful stuck!
When I feel powerless and lack energy, I bet in part, it is because of all these isometrics...
END ASIDE

I saw one me:
1) wagging my finger and
2) holding at arms length and
3) hitting with a mace
The OTHER ME.
Not the easiest or funnest way to live or move forward… gracefully : )

This is where I have learned once before (fortunately), it is time to stop TRYING so hard to change, to grow, to let go, to be good.
It is time to let go of my Agenda and all that freakin' Effort.
Let go and let God, AA says - and it is very relevant here!

This is where I can easily stumble:  Utilizing my very powerful meditation techniques for so long I have become so habituated to spiritually 'letting go' so usefully, to let go of what I don't want.
But at my Core Issues, the key isn't eschewing what I don't want - that, in the end, can be based on more judgment and resistance.

I think I need to say that again:
When dealing with my Core Issues, the key is not eschewing what I don't want - that, in the end, can be based on judgment and resistance.
The key is without effort to ALLOW, to ACCEPT, to EMBRACE, to LOVE, to VALIDATE myself – of course what this means is allowing myself to receive these things from God!!

The only way out is through, because really, truly, I have found that WHAT I RESIST, PERSISTS.
And truly the only thing that makes change possible (if I let go my death-grip on it ; ) is Acceptance.

ASIDE:
What the f*^%l? How weird is this system!
You cannot make this stuff up: the only thing that makes change possible is acceptance! Crazy talk!
It is great in theory – I know this in theory - but in reality, when my life is on the line, this is Crazy Talk!
It is always so funny, this spiritual life, over and over I feel like Alice in Wonderland ; )
END ASIDE


What is behind all this gnashing of teeth, I believe boils down to the trenchant lie: "clearly I suck!"
Hopefully someday soon this lie, and all the striving it engenders, will settle down to a dull roar, and I'll let it stop running my life!

Fortunately, I have paths to do this, and techniques that do this. God is good.
This self-judgment is slowly clearing, I guess… I hope.

So often along my path, and now, Dr Bruce Morgan's wisdom helps me. I am trusting in the process without knowing where the goal is! Dr Bruce used to say that was the feminine spiritual creative principal (or something like that!)

I have been receiving sustenance and signposts from ruminating on basic Buddhism (4 noble truths, etc)

Also, there are 3 Christian scriptures that have been rattling around in my system, which have been a life-line for me and feed me - I will append them.

Thank you for your listening and your love

Hallelujah!

*****

I am sending these three verses in the words I have them stored in my system, with some Commentary, and then in a 'normal version' (New American Standard), and lastly in The Message version – which I am getting very enrolled in, it is often very sweet - as well as, of course, accessible:

Acts 17:27-28

How I store it:
In Him we live and move and have our being

My Commentary:
God is with me, I am with God, I am in God, God is in me, God and I are one, I am a part of God.

NAS:
that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'

The Message:
He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.'

Romans 8:38 - 39

How I store it:
Nothing can separate us from the love of God

My Commentary:
I don't have to be or do a certain thing to be loved, I can let go of fear and control; there is nowhere to go, there is nothing to prove, it is possible to just Be and be ok, loved, accepted, whole, fulfilled…

NAS:
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Message:
I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Romans 8:28

How I store it:
All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

My Commentary:
It is possible to trust God, to trust life, to trust my place in this world, to trust myself, to trust my path; I can stop trying so d*&^g hard every blessed minute, I can let go and let God.

NAS:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

The Message"
That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Amen.

Living in the present moment

A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

We all have the tendency to struggle in our bodies and in our minds. We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. The realization that we have already arrived, that we don't have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient. We only need to allow ourselves to be in the present moment, and we will be able to touch them. What are we looking for to be happy? Everything is already here. We do not need to put an object in front of us to run after, believing that until we get it, we cannot be happy. That object is always in the future, and we can never catch up to it. We are already in the Pure Land, the Kingdom of God. We are already a Buddha. We only need to wake up and realize we are already here.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

(I have comment about this in next post)

'Service' III: Rubber hits Road

Here is the last installment in the is ‘service’ spirituality conversation.
To start at the beginning of the conversation, go here.

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I am in alignment with you on the way many churches and many spiritual folks interface with those who are in need. When people are treated like not-people by religious institutions (by anyone really), I have a really hard time with that.
Certainly leaving those in need 'outside the gate' is directly against biblical teaching, that seems unequivocal to me.
And it drives me nuts, as well.

All I can say is that pretty much all of our institutions are physically-focused, and they teach us to be physically focused. On the physical: time, energy, money, resources… everything is limited. On the physical, the law of the jungle prevails...

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At the same time, I live in a city where I interface with homeless people and those in need all the time (as well as those who are scamming – for there are many of these as well). So, this isn’t just theory for me.
I have systems to deal with these kinds of situations, basically:

1) I try to carry dollars in my wallet, because otherwise I end up giving away $5 or $10, when I want to give $1 or $2.

2) My DEFAULT is to give to someone who asks me. If they ask for 1, I give them 2.

3) AND, I tune in to how God is leading me, IF to give and how much.

4) The important part is, IMO (whether I give or not, or how much), is to treat the person I am interfacing with respect and kindness, as a human being. This is a difficult thing, IMO: to ‘be with’ someone who is in a very different situation.

Michael is very good at this, he interacts with the very poor, and the very rich, all as people, with a high level of comfort and ease. (He is less obviously committed to his relationship with God than I am – but WAY more spiritually ‘developed’ than I am on many fronts, including this one.) I am naturally a shy introvert, so interfacing with Anyone (who is not my intimate) is more challenging for me, those who are very rich and very poor, more so. The fact is, interfacing with them lights-up a lot of ‘pictures’ (issues/hooks) for me, which I have not let go of yet, so I 'trip'…

(I also 'trip' with the very ‘powerful’ and very ‘powerless,’ the very 'ugly' and very 'beautiful,’ the very ‘intelligent’ and the ‘mentally challenged,’ etc - I do a lot of tripping ; )

5) Lastly - honestly, sometimes I don’t want to deal with all this, and I sometimes walk or drive a different way. I am not being my best self here, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to deal with it, so I don’t. Yeah, I judge myself for it...

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Definitely, but for the grace of God go I, from my perspective, as well.
God provides very, very well for us, day to day. But, I have never lived far from the edge economically, so I get it. When we moved across the country, we left many of our safety nets, so the possibility of ‘falling off the edge’ is that much more real for me.

*
When I speak about being filled with God, that is all about spiritual energy. When I allow God to increase in my system - dump the heavy and let in the Light, then I can manifest God more in the world. Basically more of the Holy Spirit is in ‘play’ in this reality. I believe that reliably manifests on the physical, obviously and/or subtly, as ‘good’ fruit - a form of ‘service’

*
I am glad to hear you are not changing your mind, and you are committed to advocating for ‘love in action’. Seems like it is your ‘job’, and you are doing it well.
Part of my ‘job’ is to encourage us to consciously be what we already are: spirit in flesh, playing in the world, and to ‘live and move and have our being’ from that place (from that rock ; )

I also very much appreciate the conversation.

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"Service" II: Fruit

Is 'service' spirituality? conversation continued.
See here for the beginning of the conversation.

(Blue is a question, black is my answer)

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Now whether you agree/disagree with what my premise is (service to others is true love manifestation) ... that's an entirely different conversation and one that I would like to have.

Generally, and on an everyday level, I agree that there is a high correlation between what looks like ‘service’ and ‘true love manifestation’. But I believe sometimes ‘true love manifestation’ may sometimes not look like ‘service’ to some, maybe many.

Jesus cleared the temple, he verbally chewed up Pharisees and spit them out (and that is putting it very kindly), I believe it was ‘true love manifestation’ – does it look like service to you? Did it look like service to them?

Many times ‘true love manifestation’ looks to me like leaving someone alone. Not helping. This is a very hard thing to do. Does that look like service to you? Does it feel like service to them?

IMO, it is best, on a spiritual level to un-collapse these two ideas, so I can be free of my concepts (baggage) about what love is, and what service looks like. And therefore act in (what according to what God is saying to me right now) seems to be a beneficial way.

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You are not in agreement that service/giving are priorities in a spiritual life. Do you mean that they are not "the" priority? Or do you mean that they aren't any priority whether it be a small or big one?

Thanks allowing me to clarify, from my perspective:

Service is the fruit, not the sunshine, water, dirt.

Service comes out of our spiritual life – it is the cart not the horse, IMO.

AND, service may not look like service to most folks, although often it will...

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I understand that we each go thru personal spiritual development and whats true for me is not true for you (i.e. we are each on our own path).

Agreed.

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Some are messengers, some are teachers, some are masters, some are students ... and all of these individuals have great purpose.

Agreed

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But if we're talking about truly living in spirit ... being one with light ... having Christ consciousness ... reaching love manifestation ... what do you think the characteristics of such individuals are/have been?

I believe we all have a unique path and a unique contribution.
Each spiritually advanced soul has a very unique manifestation, focus and energies – as we each do.
And of course they share things in common.

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What are their priorities?

Oh, that is like a whole book if I try to think about it…

I ask God and I see a picture that looks like: being one with God – aligned with their Source, as well as grounded in the physical world.
From my perspective, How that manifests on the physical, again, is completely unique, to each of them, and for each of us…

On a spiritual level, I see how it manifests, it looks like clouds, or waves, billowing out from the spiritually mature, in all directions. From my perspective, it is the energy billowing out that matters most, Not any particular way it looks on the physical…
On the physical - Peach trees make peaches, plum tress make plums. They just do it, no effort, no should, no agenda, no try. It is like falling off a log – and there is the fruit ; )

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Christ taught, he spoke, he did miracles. In teaching he filled the hearts of many. In speaking he brought hope to many. In performing miracles he was an example of breaking the shackles of this world to many. But it was in his actions with the the poor, the sick, the helpless and the discarded ... did he show the many.

Jesus, from my perspective, did a whole lot of NONE of that for ~ 30 years.
Three decades is a Very Long Time.
He was Jesus the Christ and he did relatively nothing of note for ~10/11ths of his whole entire human life!

I believe out of (from, because of) his quiet, non-obviously miraculous / healing / serving / inspirational / freedom-producing / demon-casting / etc 30 years, the stage was set for his public ministry.
Before that, not-so-much…

He did his work (he learned obedience by the things that he suffered, and being made mature); He deepened in himself and in the Father, increased in Knowledge and Power, etc.
He was centered in who he was and what God had him to do.
Then and only then did he go out to serve… and serve he did!

Even then, in the last ~ 3 years of his life, he was constantly moving away from the crowds. He consistently sought out the quiet, if he had to at night, to be with God, to do stay on track spiritually – or else he couldn’t have done what he did.

Great fruit. Amazing fruit. Fruit comes in its season, not before.

*
That’s my opinion – thanks for asking!


see here for the rest of the conversation.

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'Service' I: Is 'Service' Spirituality?

On a spiritual forum in which I participate, there was a big conversation going on about the importance of ‘service’ in our spiritual life. I will share my 3 postings:

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I completely hear you about the value of loving in palpable ways – in my tradition, love includes:

• reality (real on the physical, in ways that are real for the body)

• affinity (an experience of our actual spiritual oneness) and

• communication.

Love is not about concepts, thoughts, especially not about feelings, or sex!


I am in agreement that service and giving are fruits (end products) of our spiritually-focused life – although how it looks may not Always live up to expectations.

Although I appreciate your several recent posts reminding us of the value of love/service/giving/etc as priorities in the spiritual life, I am not in full agreement.

I used to believe in the centrality of these activities

I no longer see them as spiritual behavior per se (in themselves)

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I see spiritual behavior as (non-exclusively, but fundamentally)

1) being with God, giving and receiving from God.

2) being/doing in the direction of my unique spiritual path, in alignment with God – within myself and in my interaction with the world.


I believe Jesus and other 'spiritually advanced' folks did/do this.

I am on my path to do this and I encourage my students to do this.

Doing this is More than enough to fill my plate!


Sometimes it may look like serving the poor, or serving the rich, or serving myself…

Sometimes this will be on another continent, or in the wild places, or in the city, or in my own family (ug!)…

Sometimes it will look like a perfectly ‘normal’ life, or living as a hermit, or as a ‘star’, or as an impoverished wanderer…


An example, Jesus referenced in Luke 7, different ways one can be led to live a dedicated spiritual life, and how this often jives (not!) with social/religious expectations:

And the Lord said, 'To what, then, shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? they are like to children, to those sitting in a market-place, and calling one to another, and saying, We piped to you, and ye did not dance, we mourned to you, and ye did not weep! 'For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and ye say, He hath a demon; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and ye say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners…

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I invest a good deal of my time with my students to assist them to work with God to see and release ‘nice pictures’ and ‘ethics’ as well as ‘religious programming’ – and other concepts / beliefs / attachments / energy of that ilk – the kinds of love / service / giving / etc this post is about.

From my perspective, these concepts serve us on the physical level – they help the body be comfortable with others, grease the wheels of societies, serve religious and political systems, etc

But, from my perspective, ultimately they do not serve us spiritually.

I will say again, IMO, as a rule: being nice, following generic morals and ethics, as well as general religious rules do not serve us spiritually.

From my perspective, it is our job to listen (see, know, etc) to the ‘still, small voice’ which says ‘this is the way, walk ye in it.’


Sometimes God will say go left, sometimes right.

Sometimes we will be called to do/be what others (and ourselves) agree with (and then may will say: oh, you are so, wise, smart, loving, caring, giving, etc).

Sometimes disagree with (and then may will say: oh you are such a sinner, evil, rotten, selfish, etc)

Doesn’t matter.


Sure our bodies don’t usually like going against our social and religious programming.

But we take care of our bodies, love them, retrain them – they can quite easily learn to enjoy going the way of God instead of the way of the world, by and large…

In the old days, following our spiritual information could get us dead, imprisoned, etc – and there are times and places it still can – but usually not.

Often it leads us to the dreaded social ostracizing (or the Fear of it) – which Feels like potential death for many of us – and most of us try to avoid like the plague. (in my tradition we call these 'death pictures', they are very valid experiences in our internal experience – and God can help us see and release them… yes, there is a theme here...)


Our spiritual freedom is a gift from God. A gift that our society tries to steal (pretty much) every minute of every day, and IMO/E a gift I do best to re-own and hold onto with both hands – so I am free to be my unique self in the world, and to follow my unique spiritual path. In this way I best love and serve God and best love and serve my neighbor, as well best love and serve my self.

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In my tradition, On A Spiritual Level, we believe strongly in personal responsibility. Not as a punishment or competition - but as a gift! (free will, always, and again)

I Cannot do stuff (helping) for anyone else on the spiritual level, although I can assist if they choose to do it themselves.

I cannot heal anyone but myself (of course together with God), although I can assist others if they choose to do it.

(Trying to do these things is a great way for me to lose energy, health, joy, life… and make a very small difference in the world - been there, got the T-shirt!)


But, the up side is – the more I allow God to heal me, and fill me; the more I learn to own my own space, my own path, my spiritual power, my spiritual abilities, my relationship with God and the many spiritual friends available…
The more others around me do these same things for themselves.

I learn new tricks, it is easier for them to learn new tricks…

This is not just theory to me – I have watched it happen, over and over and over.

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I invested my 20’s working in non-profits. I have seen first hand so many examples of how ‘good’ is done with the right hand, while ‘evil’ is done with the left.

I have spent a lot of time with spiritual people and do-gooders (as I am one myself!) And it is interesting to watch our shadows playing in our ‘good works’ (we see it on this spiritual board with almost every post - except our own!)


One of my dearest and longest friends, as an example, is the most sweet, caring, giving, loving Christian one would ever want to meet. She does many good works and makes my life and many lives around her So much better. And at the same time, she has a big streak of meanness / hate / cruelty running right down the middle. She doesn’t see it, most folks don’t see it – but it creeps out and does ‘evil’ – like the snap of a whip.

I am not bringing this up to judge my friend (and I have similar shadow stuff myself, of course), but to point to the absolute necessity of allowing God to heal us, deeper and deeper. This is of primary importance before going out to 'save the world,' IMO. Because if we don’t, the ‘good’ we mean to do, can sometimes (often?) come in a dung wrapper.

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If I am doing stuff, even obviously ‘good’ stuff, but I am doing it because I think it is a good idea, or the religion/ethics I was trained in says it is a good idea, or I am compulsively trying to look or be good, etc (anything other than: God told me to do it, here, now).

Then there is a chance that my ‘helping’ could be hurting.

There is a very good chance that my ‘helping’ isn’t helping.

There is an almost definite chance that I am diverting time/energy from the unique contribution I could be making, that possibly only I could be making, that it is my blessed opportunity to be doing in the world right now.

I am missing that opportunity and the huge and multiplied effect that service may have in the world for others…

more about this 'Service' conversation here.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Making Peace with Betrayal

I watched Helen Hunt’s movie (Then She Found Me) the other day. I even watched all the special features, including the movie with director’s voice-over. I recommend the movie. I found it moving: funny and sad; insightful, true.

Turns out I had written about some main themes in this movie year and a quarter ago – because I had read Helen Hunt being interviewed about it and I was really moved. (added below)

I watched the movie and didn’t realize it was THAT movie until it was done. I’d ‘accidentally’ bought the DVD at goodwill for $4 because it had great people in it.

Ho ho, in the flow!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Hi Friends,

I haven’t seen Helen Hunt's new movie, J & Y weren't overly impressed by it.

But, I received some treasure from reading about her process with it. This is from an interview Redbook, May 08:

I spent a lot of years writing, then put the script away because I just couldn't get it made. The best movies have one sentence that they're exploring, a thesis, something that people can argue about over dinner afterward. I couldn't say what that was.

At the time, I was wanting a baby. April's younger in the novel, and I thought, You either have a baby, want a baby, or don't want a baby, but you don't nothing a baby if you're in your 30s or 40s. Then a friend sent me an essay by James Hillman [author of The Soul's Code] called "Betrayal." I studied and studied it. I started to realize that people will think this movie is about adoption or motherhood, but for me it's about this issue of betrayal. April feels betrayed by everybody. She betrays herself. She feels betrayed by God. I finally landed on the idea that you can't be loved until you make peace with betrayal. With that, I had a compass for the movie.

I read this line and I was arrested by it:
you can't be loved until you make peace with betrayal.

WOW, That sets an interesting and useful context for issues I have been chewing on and struggling with in the last few years, and for most of my life. And it is not just me, I see other folks that I am close to be “hooked” around the issues in this arena.

So, of course, I immediately found this essay (last night), and I am already profiting from it - and I expect I will continue to find continued blessing as I dwell here. Hillman presents several aspects to this issue of betrayal that I find to be useful places to stand to consider my own world-view and experience; it has already given me useful insight into others’ choices around things like intimacy and leadership, as well.

If you are interested, here is a link.

I hope you are enjoying your cycles of love and learning!

I have found what I'm looking for

This post is referencing quote by Nee, posted previously.

I interacted on a Christian board about the quote I posted. I would like to share the interaction here:
(blue is note to me, black is my response)

I think I read Watchman Nee some 30 years ago, and really appreciated what he had to say back then. But I think it dangerous now to put such judgment on people. God works through the unsatisfied as well...and perhaps there is a true strength in those able to offer service and love from a place of emptiness. It is the emptiness, the loneliness, the yearning, which keeps us searching for God. It is in weakness that God's strength is perfected. I find Nee's work to be quite dualistic...focused on either/or kind of thinking. Making room for both/and is like seeing the world in living color versus in shadows. It gives a wider view.

We seem to be coming from different places about Watchman Nee’s quote.
I really appreciate your sharing because it gives me, and us - whoever would like to play on this discussion board - a chance to go deeper around these issues.

I have been mulling over these issues and praying about what to say – I am left with 2 concerns:

1) the issues we are dealing with are important and at the same time easy to misunderstand each other.

2) I am concerned that I will be heard as judgmental along with Nee.


I am willing to risk sharing anyway, because I believe there is a really important point here – I guess it boils down to this:

God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory – Phil 4.

I believe this is true and those spiritual riches are available to us, When and only When we are spiritually available to receive them.

I would like all to (biblically) know this opportunity.
I would like to encourage all of us to wrestle spiritually, to do Whatever it takes, and to not let go until we are spiritually blessed.

That is the essence of what I have to say, I guess.
The rest is just commentary...
So feel free to stop reading here. Below are more thoughts, if interested…

Hope you all enjoy a blessed weekend – I am going away into nature, and I am thrilled.

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I think I read Watchman Nee some 30 years ago, and really appreciated what he had to say back then. But I think it dangerous now to put such judgment on people.

Thanks so much for sharing your response to the Nee quote.
When I contemplated the quote and sent it, it didn’t occur to me that it / I may seem judgmental – but of course it can…

I certainly didn’t mean to step on toes, so now I get a chance to explicate what I mean with the quote, and hopefully everyone will have happier toes!

As I said, I don’t agree with all of Nee’s theology, fer sure!

But perhaps it will help to say the kinds of things I hear in Nee’s quote.
I don’t hear judgment, I hear description, basically:

• Those who are not spiritually filled by God are spiritually weak. (Those who are not spiritually full are spiritually empty, those who are not spiritually strong are spiritually weak…)

• Those who are filled by God are spiritually strong

• Hey if you are in spiritual need – there is a spiritual banquet table, go eat and drink!

• If we want to be spiritually filled, God provides, and we are then complete within.

• We don’t have to go chasing about in the world looking to be filled from outside ourselves… When we do this we are led by flesh, not by Spirit.

• As we let God spiritually provide our needs, we can also let God fill us with spiritual Knowledge – everything we uniquely need to spiritually know, in God.

• Intellect doesn’t help us in spiritual things – it gets in the way, actually.

• God’s power and God’s will come to us from the inside, not the outside.


That’s some of what I hear – and I experience and mean it to be Good News!

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God works through the unsatisfied as well...

Absolutely, I believe God works in all and through all – regardless of what we think or how we feel; whether we believe we are running toward God or we believe we are running away. Still God is God.

But WE miss the blessing of being consciously God’s will in the world, when we focus on our experience as flesh instead of our experience as spirit.

We can focus on the flesh – what we think, what others say, what we have, what we desire, how we feel, etc, ad nauseam – that is fine.

But if we allow God to build our spiritual muscles, here is one description Jesus gives us for what is possible:

John 14: Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

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and perhaps there is a true strength in those able to offer service and love from a place of emptiness. It is the emptiness, the loneliness, the yearning, which keeps us searching for God.

I agree with you, many are still spiritually empty and unsatisfied.
This is a Descriptor of our human experience
– I don’t believe it is the GOAL of our dance with the Divine.

Yes, it is the human condition, and unfortunately I expect it is as common among Christians as anyone else.

Unfortunately, I spent most of my life like that (empty, lonely, yearning…) – one of my very favorite songs of all time was U2’s ‘I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For’ (I added at the end, if interested)

I was not satisfied, I was searching and not finding – forever it seemed. The promises in the bible eluded me, for almost 20 yrs in my conscious walk with God.

I had given up on living the filling, living waters, peace, spiritual fruits promised in the bible, at least experiencing them with any kind of regularity. I knew almost no one who Really experienced being complete – certainly not day-to-day. I never expected that to change. I stopped believing it was even possible.

It took major pressure from God to turn me around – to repent.

Since then, I HAVE found what I am looking for, spiritually.

It has not been easy. I have given up lots of stuff on the physical that I thought I needed - lots of beliefs, lots of ways of being. Folks would look at my physical life, and not be too impressed. I have gone through hell. I am continually facing my pain and fear, etc, and allowing God to bring the darkness out of me. I am continually facing myself and God, and letting go, learning new ways of being.

There is a reason, I believe, that the bible describes each of our unique spiritual journeys as ‘taking up our cross and following...’ Because on the physical that is often what it feels like and what it may look like... the old Death & Resurrection trick. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

But, yes, for a long time now - I have found what I am looking for – not on the physical, but in the spiritual. The song no longer rings true – Hallelujah!

God fills me spiritually, and the relationship with God grows richer all the time. And the experience of being present for life and enjoying the riches of living in a body on this earth are so… poignant, sublime, sometimes almost overwhelming.

I believe this experience of God is available to all. I prefer it to a soul expereince of loneliness, brokenness, emptiness...  who wouldn't?

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It is in weakness that God's strength is perfected.

I agree, and I would add some more descriptors - I would say, it is in the weakness of our flesh that God’s spiritual strength is perfected in us. I believe this is Nee’s primary point in the quote, as well.

2 Cor 12, Paul says: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We can stop looking to the flesh! and start looking to God to allow us to be filled with God and strong in God.

If I do not allow God to fill me, all I am left with is my own weak flesh, my many many needs, my own roiling emotions, and my own intellect (which wants me to think It is god). Like this, I am in no position to Pick Up My Cross and Follow (to follow the still small voice inside me that says ‘this is the way, walk ye in it’) because all I can do is be broken and hungry and desperately chasing my needs on the physical – because they aren’t being met on the spiritual, and I am only human after all…

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I find Nee's work to be quite dualistic...focused on either/or kind of thinking. Making room for both/and is like seeing the world in living color versus in shadows. It gives a wider view.

And I’m with you on the full-spectrum view. On the physical, I want as wide a view as possible – lots of info and possibilities, lots of opening doors and being open to all.

But on the spiritual, I am learning more and more, that single, focused attention is most useful for me. Of course we hear a lot about focused attention in Buddhism, but not so much in Christianity, these days. Here are just a couple examples that come to mind from scripture that point in that direction:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Mat 7

if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. – Mat 6


Regardless of Nee's duality, I study and quote him for many reasons – here is one:
this is what I clearly hear from Nee, and not very often in every day life - this mirrors my experience:

• God is Real, and experienced spiritually,

• the promises of God are spiritually Real,

• the spiritual fulfillment of living in God is Real.

• Do Not Settle for Anything Less!


These mirror some of God’s promises to us, for example:

There Is a rest for the people of God – Heb 4

The waters that God gives do not leave us thirsty – John 4

We are given life, abundantly – John 10


I could go on and on – my point is – these are not just words – this is for Real.

• Not theoretical.

• Not only back in the 1st century.

• Not “we have the blessing, we just don’t experience it."

• Not just for a chosen few.


No – Real.
Real for everyone who chooses to spiritually open to the Rivers of Living Waters from God. (John 7)

I know many of us do not experience that – yet. But that doesn’t take away the truth of the spiritual riches God wants to bestow on us, when we are spiritually ready to receive them. This is my opinion and experience.

We all have different paths; some will never experience spiritual 'rest' in this lifetime. Meanwhile, the ‘pearl of great price’ IS available.

Mat 13: the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

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..…A note on the language of certainty…..

Let me play devil’s advocate about Nee’s language. When I bring my attention to the issues of potential duality and seeming judgment - it seems to me Nee is less confrontational and dualistic than Jesus, as portrayed in the gospels – or probably any of the biblical prophets… hmm as I think about it, most of the bible from Genesis to Revelation has a very strong POV.

Rev 3, for example: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The language of certainty is not usually appropriate in everyday life. Not in groups from different points of view.

But, I believe the strong language of spiritual certainty is necessary for preaching, for prophecy, for spiritual teaching, for exhortation, etc – and therefore has an important place in spiritual conversation. IMO, it is needed and necessary, in some contexts. I see it as ‘insider’ language, for those who choose to listen. I see it as a useful way to convey spiritual information, especially if it is owned as one person’s perspective.
I hope that this language remains acceptable among Christians.

Basically, I am asking allowance because Nee is literally preaching – so he is using the language of certainly. Perhaps in everyday conversation as a person, not a preacher, he would be more nuanced – IDK (probably not)

But, I request his quote be read, not as black and white – not as judgment, but as What Is Possible.

So Many have Given Up - we stop pursuing our first love – we don’t live in the fruit that God spiritually provides to us – every minute of every day. Paul lists some of the fruit of the Spirit as:

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, humility, temperance – Gal 5

What Nee is pointing to, in my experience – is not intellectual, not in any way about belief or doctrine. It is not emotional. It is not physical or of the flesh in any way. What he is pointing to is Spiritual Filling and Spiritual Knowing.

The Beloved cries out for us, and all our needs are met in that embrace.
This is real and spiritually available for every one of us.

Meanwhile, we all have different spiritual blocks in the way of our experience of the Divine – most of us have many, many things in the way – conscious and unconscious.

But from my perspective – God shines on us, like the sun – relentlessly. God is pursuing us relentlessly. It is Our job to spiritually let God in – to move off the clouds more and more, so we can melt in God’s embrace. The clouds are ours to increase or decrease – it is our (free will) spiritual choice to let God in or not... although it usually doesn’t look or feel that way on the physical.
This is my belief and my experience, for myself and watching many others.

So, I read Nee for encouragement, And I quote him for the same reason – for encouragement.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. - Mat 11

God Does spiritually give us all we need – When We Let God.
I encourage all, to Leave No Stone Unturned until we experientially live in the Beloved’s embrace, and all our spiritual needs are met in God.
Like Jacob: "I will not let go until you bless me." And then he became Israel... He also then walked with a limp… You have been warned.  This is the Death & Ressurection God,  Say YES, and it is a Wild Ride!

I, like Nee, am preaching – speaking in a modified language of certainty – I hope this ‘lands’ acceptably.
I am passionate about what is possible for us in relationship with God. I hope we all are!!!

At the same time, of course, this is from my perspective. Please 'eat the fruit and spit out the pits', as you see fit.

Thank you for being in this conversation!

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'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'
U2

I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing fingertips
It burned like a fire
This burning desire

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

I believe in the Kingdom Come
When all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well, yes I'm still running

You broke the bonds
And you loosened the chains
Carried the cross
Of all my shame
all my shame
You know I believe it

But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

.....

PS - And what I didn't say, how I didn't put the pieces together, is...

These spiritual blessings are available for those who allow them - I know, because I experience it, and because I have worked with many folks who expereince it, as well.

It is my ministry to work with folks who are ready and willing to Experience God and allow the many blessings of God and come into alignment with God... to follow in Jesus' footsteps, to be his disciple.

I offer one pathway to expereince these blessings. There are many paths. Please, find one that works for You, and WALK it.

As Jesus did, I exhort you to Not Let Anything:
any one, any doctrine, any leader, any habit, any agreement, any other desire, attachment or resistance
stop you from experiencing your unique, palpable, life-changing relationship with the Living God
and your experience of spiritual reality, what Jesus called the Kingdom (Reign} of God,
NOW.

peace, wendy

Strength & Knowledge -> from God

One of my (many) favorite Watchman Nee quotes:
(if you don't know much about Nee, I have a bit of info in previous post)

Those who are always empty, always thirsty, always seeking for this or that, never satisfied, are weak, and of little use to God. It is the satisfied who are strong, and God has made provision that we should all be satisfied. He offers us such satisfaction in His Son that we are able to say, `I want nothing, I need nothing for myself.' That is strength. Is it not true that our greatest weakness as Christians arises from within, because we are unsatisfied, or dissatisfied?

…Knowledge comes from, and is the fruit of, strength and satisfaction, not of doctrine. The weakness of today's knowledge is that it is mere information. Without the strength of the Lord satisfying us and producing knowledge, we have no knowledge at all. The vessel God wants for His work is not prepared by hearing a lot of things, but by seeing and receiving and being satisfied. Its understanding is based on the life of Christ within, not on information about Him. We must beware of just passing on to others what we hear. No matter how precious or profound the teaching may be, we are not to be disseminators of information. In this respect people with good memories can be most dangerous. To prattle on about divine things will achieve nothing, and may take us far from the will of God. God's power on earth cannot be maintained by what we hear but only by our knowledge of Him. What must characterize the Christian Church is what we know within us. God deliver us from a merely intellectual Gospel!

- Watchman Nee, Changed into His Likeness

(I comment on this amazing and inspiring quote, in the next post)

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Changed into His Likeness

I can't get enough of Watchman Nee's book: Changed into His Likeness.
(here is info about the book, here is the book online)

I first read it over 25 yrs ago, when first consciously and committed-ly walking with the Lord. I liked it, of course I was like a sponge and had few distinctions... And then again about 10 years ago I read it, and got different things from it. Then about 3 years ago I read it and it was like GOLD to me - I've read it and read it over and over many times since - just the highly highlighted and underlined parts, at this point...

Although I don't agree with him in every jot and tittle (not nearly), I am so inspired and encouraged by his faith. Seems he has been gifted with a triple helping of faith, and to 'fellowship' with him, helps me to allow God to increase my faith.

Tangentially, thinking about Nee helps me to remember God's perspective. Nee, after a rich 30 year ministry, traveling throughout China planting churches among the rural communities and holding Christian conferences and trainings in Shanghai; God seems to have conspired with Nee to have him spend the last 20 years of his life in a Chinese prison; where he died persecuted by the Communists. I am sure Nee was in the best place for him and for God to do the work God had Nee to do - of course we don't know what that is! I expect it was pretty important, since Nee sacrificed a large portion of his life to it...

It ain't the flash, it ain't the numbers.
God's ways are not our ways - period.
I believe, help Thou my unbelief…

I have one of my favorite Nee quotes in the next post.

You can learn more about the Life & Ministry of Nee here.

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