Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yeshua is Coming

"Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know when the Master of the House will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockrow, or at dawn, or else He may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: 'Keep awake!" Mark 13:35-37

"Yeshua says, I am the Light shining upon all things. I am the sum of everything, for everything has come forth from me, and towards me everything unfolds. Split a piece of wood and there I am. Pick up a stone and you fill find me there." logon 7- Gospel of Thomas

These two scripture readings address the question of our posture toward Christ. Sadly in the religious education of many, the question of this posture is one of loyalty and external affiliation to the correct religious ideology and institution as proof of one's alignment on the "right" side of history when Jesus comes in the second coming or the parousia. For many this is a fear based proposition, a kind of "hedging" of bets or religious life insurance. It presents Jesus as a pathetic authority figure whose sole concern seems to be your unquestioning loyalty rather than the state of your commitment and transformation in the life of love and service. This is the state of conventional religious consciousness.

Here we see two important things. In the first reading Yeshua is the "Master of the house." The house is the self. The Master is the Life that animates the self. To see this from an esoteric and mystical understanding then is to see that we are invited to a state of spiritual attentiveness and receptivity at all times so we will be receptive and open and awakened to Christ's presence within us bursting forth. He is the bridegroom of the soul, the Fire of the Heart or true spirit.

The second reading is much more deliberately focused on the interior life. Here Yeshua's message is clear that the revelation of his true nature depends entirely on the state of our receptivity. Hence real spiritual practice is the cultivation of this receptivity, not by adding anything but an awakened attention to the Light that manifests in all things. When we open to the true essence or Light in each moment of every day life, in animate and inanimate things, we open to the Light of Yeshua's essence. They are the same. Hence the mystics have always said, our true nature is Christ. And the journey of a lifetime is one of Christosis, becoming Christ in all things.

If the praxis of this interior life of communion with Christ were the focus of religious denominations they would cease to be interested in the power and the standing that comes from being an "intermediary" and instead be a companion. They would understand that the "second coming" of Christ is this moment and the next. The true measure of life would then be our capacity for loving kindness in the world rather than the purity of our loyalty to religious institutions and our deference to their ideologies and pretensions of authority.

Many blessings,
Bill Ryan

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Being Naked

"His students asked him. When will you manifest your self to us? How long will it be before we see you as you truly are? Yeshua replied, " On the day you strip yourself naked like those little children and take your clothes off and trample them on the ground under your feet without shame, then you will be able to look upon the son of the Living One without fear." Logon 37- Gospel of Thomas


Yeshua uses the metaphor of wearing clothes and being naked to draw our attention to something quite simple but essential in the spiritual life. Persons begin the spiritual journey or a spiritual practice to answer some basic questions in life. Primary among them are "Who are we, where do we come from, where are we going?" If you answer the first question, you answer them all. Yeshua's students are saying, "show us your true nature." Yeshua responds by saying, "you will see my true nature as you uncover your own. They are the same." The Christian mystics say that Christ is our true nature, our true self. The primary paradigm of spiritual development in Eastern Christianity is that of Christosis, the transformation of our soul, our humanity from the inside out, in becoming Christ.

The process of this transformation is one of uncovering, of divestiture of the levels of false identity that we have cultivate in our life. The clothes we wear are the personas we create, the identities we mold in order to find survival and success in life. When we become identified and give our life to these self-creations we commit a life oppressing idolatry and become unable to experience our True Life, our true nature. This divestiture is not a comfortable thing. Often it happens when some support, or some identity we have created is lost or taken from us. Welcomed or not in aging, in sickness, and in death we will be divested and naked. We can throw off our clothes in freedom and joy or be stripped in fear and shame. In the Way of the Heart we learn the freedom of kenosis and releasing our burden of self.

A part of the purpose of taking an extended retreat such as this one, is to "strip' voluntarily from the attachments and the identities that have held one's life together. This is the second time in my life I have voluntarily left my professional career and identity. To leave it brings up an insecure feeling. In a previous extended retreat I had repetitive dreams of being naked in public and trying to hide. Yet here Yeshua is asking us to tread these identities under our feet, these protections from the world, without shame, without trying to hide. This is a new freedom, a new trust that the Life that we are, and the Life that holds us into being, is the Life to which we truly belong and find our home. It is total gift, we can not be undeserving, we can receive it and be glad, and Live this nakeness of our true being in joy. In this joy we recognize Yeshua and we recognize who we are, in our origin and Source, in our manifestation in this transitory life and in our end and new beginning at the end of this life. In the unveiling of the Glory that is Christ we unveil the Glory that abides also within us in our true nature. May we learn to uncover and live this Glory.
Blessings to all,
Bill Ryan