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