Wednesday, June 29, 2005

What you get


Someone asked me as I began this year long retreat what I would get from it. I pondered a moment and said, "Nothing." Now it might appear on the surface that anyone who is setting about for a year's labour, albeit a project of inner work, and expects to get nothing from it, is a candidate for lunacy. This is not the first time my reality orientation might have been questioned. Yet that is the logic of the culture of the world of human society based on separateness and competition. Isn't this what Yeshua spoke of when he challenged us to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world. To live a life rooted in the reality of the Heart, in the Reality of the Christos, is to be in tension with, to be rejected by the world and the values of human society. The Gospel beatitudes tell us that accessibility to the Kingdom of God happens not when we grasp, not when we seek more, but when the grasping fist becomes an open hand, when we cease from taking and craving, but open, release, and offer in love. The limitless life of Yeshua, the Living Spring within us, then becomes possible.

Meister Eckhart says that God doesn't have a choice. When we are ready, God in God's nature must pour God's Self into the space that awaits. So, perhaps I am doing nothing more than making space, space for God to live and breath, space for Yeshua to breathe in me and I to breath Yeshua. This is the Great Way of Christosis, becoming Christ in each moment of consecration. Nothing dramatic, just breathing in and breathing out, in Adoration and Self-offering, in sweeping the floor and cleaning out the house, in cooking the meals, in quiet presence with my wife,Jeanette, in my silent sitting Prayer of the Heart communion with Beloved Yeshua, entering into Christosis. In each breath, in each day, in growing spaciousness. In this I get nothing, I only learn to be more deeply and fully given.
Blessings always,
Bill Ryan

Saturday, June 25, 2005


Yeshua says: "If you are searching you must not stop until you find. When you find, however, you will become troubled. Your confusion will give way to wonder. In wonder you will reign over all things. Your sovereignty will be your rest." Logion 2- The Gospel of Thomas

In this Coptic Gospel the Wisdom Yeshua presents Himself, His true nature to us and presents the possibility of the Great Way to all. They are the same. Everyone begins by searching. There is the arising of a great desire. The Zen master ancestor, Dogen, calls this the "Mind that Seeks the Way." The author of the Cloud of Unknowing calls this our naked desire, our heart's desire. Doesn't matter, it's innate, it's in all of us. It may remain dormant in some, stifled in others, or given full reign in others. In every case our heart's desire is the way in to the Divine, the way Home. What may be tragic or sad in a life, is that because of despair or confusion, persons either seek cheap substitutes for their heart's desire or give up altogether.

The invitation is to listen to your desire to be Home, to be one with the Unity That Is. In the Christian tradition Yeshua offers Himself as the gate to that essential Unity He calls Abba (loving parent) or Allaha (the Unity from which all things arise.) Yeshua urges us not to stop, for anything, Keep on following this desire, this searching. As we open to it, as we discover the Home that is Christ in our own heart, it can be disturbing, for the very simple reason that our soul, our behavior, our attitudes and values are stunningly out of harmony with this Deeper Life of Christ in our life. Hence the illumination of awakening to oneness is just the beginning. The path then takes us into a lifetime of contrition, conversion, and bringing all of our humanity, all of our soul/consciousness as a lamp of this inner Light of Christ.

Yeshua notes that our confusion subsides as we began to understand that this process of divinization, of continual conversion, of transformation of becoming Christ, is the what we're here to do. The wonder is that there is a Life, the Heart of Christ within us that does reign over all that is our rest and the sovereignty to whom we can give our entire life each moment. This is the meaning of the Consecrated Life.

As time goes on and as I enter this year of retreat, as I do my manual work practice of cleaning out the garage, the closets, the garden shed, the storage room there is some pretty yucky stuff there, mice dung, dirt, and debris of every sort. Well it's a joy to bring some light into these spaces and sweep them clean and bright. This is not unlike the shape we may find our own soul/consciousness. There's yucky stuff in there! Knotted and dark places in need of wholesome Light and space. I shake my head at times, rediscovering with humility what kind of shape I'm actually in. Not a problem, don't judge it as unworthy or unclean. Just sort through it and invite the Light and the spacious healing of the Savior Christ into it. In the same way it is a joy to bring Light and healing and let Christ live in us. That is true living and that is the purpose of our practice, that Christ may live fully in us, in the bosom of our very humanity. As our searching and our wonder grows, the Heart of Christ will reign over all and we will rest and abide in Him as He has welcomed us to do. Our searching begins and ends as we follow the Great Way of the Beloved Disciple, laying our cheek on the breast of Yeshua, listening to the Heartbeart of the Eternal One, Heart of the Universe, Heart of Love, Heart of Compassionate Life.
Yeshua is my home eternally.
Blessings to all,
Bill Ryan

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Big Fish

Dear Friends,

Yeshua says: " A true human being can be compared to a wise fisherman who casts his net into the sea and draws it up from below full of small fish. Hidden among them is one large, exceptional fish that he seizes immediately, throwing back all the rest without a second thought. Whoever has ears let them understand this." Logion 8- Gospel of Thomas

We are invited again and again in the canonical Gospels and in this saying from the Gospel of Thomas to live the undivided life. It is the paradox and the tension of human life that what we seek and what brings happiness is simple and uncomplicated, our heart's desire. The Heart as the seat of Essence brings us Home to the Heart of Christ as the ultimate refuge we seek, the ultimate purpose we choose, and the ulimate Love we embrace and give ourselves to. The Heart is the true spirit within us. And yet we were also given a mind to engage with the incarnate, ever transitory and shifting nature of the created world. We were given a mind that weaves and creates a sense of self, a self of separateness to defend and enhance. In imagination the mind loses connection with Home and creates new illusory worlds to seek, to possess, and to conquer for itself. It creates an opposition to other beings and builds a world unto itself, a small illusory circle apart from and isolated from the universal circle that is the Heart of Christ.

In this text Yeshua is not giving us some prescription or formula for self improvement, nor is he setting up an ideal for us to live up to, rather He is inviting us to do something that we most want to do anyway, to give our life, to be utterly, completely, passionately, and wholly consumed, wholly given, to our deepest longing in life. It is that simple, but not that easy.

Why are we here? Why do we lead a life of Faith, what is a longing that takes us into spiritual practice? The Hasidic Master, the Baal Shem Tov of 18th century Ukraine asserted, "Let us fall wholly into the hands of God, so that we do not fall into the hands of men." Without the consecrated life, without the total gift of self in love in the heart of Christ we are prey to be possessed by the culture which surrounds us.

A tragedy of our religious education can be that it does not open us to the miracle of Emmanuel, God with us, God within us. That the answers to our life of seeking are "out there" rather than at the heart of our own heart, the true spirit within us, the tabernacle, the holy of Holies of Christ's life and presence within us.

Throughout my journey my prayer has been, "Show me, Beloved, what I can give my life to completely and without reservation," as if there were a something outside of God that would bring this completion. And the response has always been, "let go, let go, let go.. and I am Here, and Now always offering Myself to you, He whispers to me, I am the One you can give your life to unreservedly. I will give you a place to rest your soul. Come to me and drink."

When we peel away everything else, and let go of all those damn little fishes we hold on to, the Big Fish is there, and has been all along, Offering Himself to us from the beginning. This is why we do the prayer of kenosis, to let go of all those little fishes, so we can empty of this hungry mind-seeking, and rest in the Heart where God waits for us eternally, "in this nakedness, (where all has been stripped away and given over to our Divine Beloved) does the soul find its true rest," as John of the Cross speaks.

The message of Yeshua in the Wisdom text of Thomas is clear. In order to fully receive the Big fish those little ones have got to be tossed back into the sea. The message of the Shema' (The Great Commandment) is clear, we must be given in entirety, no holding back. So here I am, in this year of retreat, clearing a sanctuary space so I can sink into, rest in my Deepest Longing for Communion with Christ, the Big Fish, and toss those little fish of misdirections and dead end. Since, I, like you deeply desire to be given and be utterly aflame, utterly consumed in this participation in the Fire of the Universal ShemaƂ’ that encompasses all things. This is the Big Fish, the Heart of God, who is Christ, in Whom the whole the universe and you and me have come into being.

So this year in my formal times of sitting practice of inner communion with Christ and in every moment, every breath, I want to keep coming back to searching deeply within and give myself again and again to the Presence of Adoration and to the utter Self giving of my love to the One who beckons me. I want to sink into Him and find my only and true Refuge, as He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you a place to rest your soul."

Peace and blessings to all,
Bill Ryan

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Making a Promise

Today I stood before the faith community of Sts. Peter and Paul parish. And I made a promise. It was a vow, stated before others. When vows are stated before others they take on added gravity. I have deliberately put myself on notice before others that I'm making a covenant with the Beloved Yeshua. I wanted to make this more than a private promise. Private promises can more easily be finessed or fudged. I don't want that. If I fall short, I want to face that. I also recognize that the support of my companions on the journey is welcomed and received, and needed.

When couples marry before others, they do so to make a covenant with each other, and with the Divine, but also with the community. We make covenants and take vows of spiritual practice, not for ourselves only, but for the good of all beings. All of us together are waking up together to a life of communion with the Beloved, the Life that is our life. And for Christians we recognize and find refuge in that One Life in our communion with Yeshua.

In approaching the altar I began with a chant from the Benedictine tradition, the Suscipe me, translated today by my Benedictine friends as "Receive me, O Lord, that I may live." I am saying to the Lord, Your Life is my true life, bring me into Oneness with You." I began the chant at the base of the aisle in Gregorian mode, and stopped half way to the altar, chanted again, and again a third time at the steps ascending to the chauncel area before the altar. There I knelt and responded to my rector, Kurt Neilsen , assisted by Mary, the subdeacon. I looked into their eyes and felt their warmth and their blessing. That was enough. He asked me, "What do you seek?" I replied, "I wish to be consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ." That was enough, and all else was elaboration, but necessary elaboration. And I stated my vows and commitment to a daily rule of life. The structure and weave of the daily life of vow-keeping. I handed my vows to Kurt and he placed them on the altar and crossed me in blessing and I crossed myself, receiving his blessing, promising to face the darkness and bring it to healing in Yeshua.

I shook Kurt's hand and Mary's in giving the sign of Christ's peace. As I turned I felt the warmth and blessing of those present and went to each and receive their hand in exchange of peace. After the service, as it was " blue jeans Sunday" we all went outside and weeded and cleaned up the grounds in service and work practice given to the community. This I shall do every Thurs. to help me remember what I do in silence and in solitude I do not do alone, but ever in the communion of Christ in this sacred circle. Yet I know that every sacred circle in our lives is only one manifestation of the universal circle of the Heart of Christ that encompasses all beings, all Creation.

Thank you all for your blessing and your prayerful support as I begin my hermitage journey on Wed. June. 15

Bill Ryan - June 12, 2005