Friday, June 08, 2012

Bringing Forth the Mind of Christ

Bringing Forth the Mind of Christ

From Self Consciousness to Christ Consciousness
Talking about Prayer of the Heart is always audacious because we are trying to find language for a practice that makes us accessible to a Reality beyond words.  The practice itself is not a concept.  It is not a technology that produces results. You experience it by doing it.  A simple gesture or a hand expression can best express the life of consecration more so than a thousand words.  We bring our hands together in bowing adoration, we extend our hands open before us in love and self-offering. In this is the totality of our life of communion in God.

To bring forth the mind of Christ, the totality of Prayer of the Heart is expressed in the inner movement of bowing and offering. Whether we are in silence or in daily life activity, this is what we do ceaselessly in Prayer of the Heart. There is little over which we have control in life. Yet we can bow endlessly and offer ceaselessly.  This we can always do whether we feel it or not. It can be, it must be, an act of continual willingness to bow in presence and adoration and to offer in love and self-giving. To do this is to receive and to bring forth in our own consciousness, the Mind of Christ Jesus in the same way St. Paul proclaims in his letter to the Ephesians, “Let the same Mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”  In our present world, change will only happen when Christians are able to bring forth the Mind of Christ in their own life and in their humanity.  This must of necessity involve the practice of kenosis, or self-emptying, so that Christ can live fully in us, the goal of Christian life.

Christ consciousness is the human mind transformed in the unitive love of Christ.  In the Prayer of the Heart we learn to abide in the heart of Christ while our human mind and consciousness is so infused and transformed in this communion that our consciousness or soul becomes the vessel of the Mind of Christ. This is the work of a lifetime. Over time transformative grace infuses our own human mind with the Consciousness of Christ. We embark on a lifetime of transition from self-consciousness, from self-absorption, to Christ-consciousness, Christ-absorption.  Our life in the Way of the Heart is, as the mystics describe poetically and lyrically, to be thus absorbed. We lose ourselves in the abyss of Christ.  Yeshua promises if we lose ourselves in Him, we will find ourselves, our true Spirit, our true identity, our true Mind.  Thus is the nature of transformation in Prayer of the Heart. 

In recent years there has been an explosion of research and knowledge on the workings of the human mind. In this work when we talk about mind, we’re not just talking about the biological mechanisms of the mind, of the brain, and perceptual and cognitive apparatus.  When we speak of the mind in the spiritual sense, we're talking about consciousness, the totality of the extent of our awakening and awareness of ourselves and the world. We are speaking of soul. Consciousness inclines us to respond in certain ways or not respond in other ways. If we look around us it is all too apparent that human consciousness in the world is broken and afflicted by the human condition.  Yeshua and the great teachers of spiritual traditions say the way we experience the world, ourselves, and others is filtered and flawed, and results in unneeded suffering. When we have a soul, or consciousness, that is based on absorption in a separate self, suffering and evil is perpetuated. When we have a soul based on awakening to unitive love and communion with the entire universe in God, we perpetuate love and grace. Our consciousness is affected by the conditioning and influences in our society of consumerism, addiction, and pervasive self -absorption.  Those who “have” never have enough.  More is always required and demanded.  As a result so many persons in our culture draw themselves into a life of frenzy where their true priorities of the heart are forgotten.  They complain there is never enough time and that they are over-stressed with the requirements of getting all the things they need and the experiences they hunger for, and they must work excessively to pay for it all.

The Shrunken Self-Centered Soul- Source of Evil, Source of Suffering
Therefore we must look in this mind, in our consciousness, to understand the origins of spiritual suffering. We’re accustomed to looking around and proclaiming that the problem with our personal suffering is "out there," when the source of spiritual suffering is to be found in our own consciousness.  Yeshua Himself said that the source of sin, the source of spiritual suffering, begins in the mind and in our thoughts. He asks us to look in our own mind where the source of sin and cruelty in the world find their origin. In our mind is to be found the engine and motivation of endless wars and endless injustices that fuel war. Intractable injustice occurs in a world where some have too much and most don’t have enough to meet basic needs.

To be a mystic is to also be a prophet.  Those two modes of being are not disconnected.  Yeshua is the supreme mystic and prophet who confronts the world with His unitive vision and asks us to look at our self absorbed viewpoints. He calls us to leap from our private self preoccupation, as if to say, "In your separateness you have forgotten who you are. Find yourself in Me. I am the Heart of Creation.” 

In the United States two percent of the world consume seventy percent of the essential resources of the world. Yet we are a society fueled bv fears of the affluent not having enough, while too many of us genuinely go without essential needs.  We’re organized around a consciousness of desiring more, needing more, seeking more, with worry and haste that makes family life, marital life and spiritual life nearly impossible.  We fight wars over the control of resources to make possible this way of life, a way of life that is unsustainable and only causes more suffering.  Communally and individually, we injure those in the way of our compulsions and we grasp at perceived wrongs and the desire to retaliate. 

Violence therefore is a product of the mind, both personally and collectively.  We might ask, how can this be?  We are ontologically in our being already united with God, already children of God in our true spirit, the mystics have proclaimed throughout time.  So what is the problem?  Why do we suffer spiritually and morally, and why do we create suffering for others?  This is a vital question to consider. If we look closely at the condition of human consciousness, is it not a pervasive state of self-consciousness, a prison of self-absorption for nearly all?  In this instance we are speaking of the illusory self, the separate self, the mind of separateness and isolation. This is the mind that creates sin and suffering. It is the mind that creates an idolatry and worship of the self-created self. To worship and build a life devoted to this separate self is a blasphemy and desecration of our essential belonging in the universal Circle of the Divine Beloved, the "Allaha," or essential Unity we call God, the Abba from Whom all things arise.

Purification of the Heart- The Singular Life
The Gospel of Thomas says, "Many are standing at the door, but only those who are singular will enter the place of union."(Logion 75) The gift of the Abrahamic Faiths is the gift of monotheism. God is One.  There is one God and we are one in the one God. All existence proceeds from the one God.  Thomas Merton says that all evil, all sins come from a betrayal of the first commandment of Moses.  All sins in some sense are forms of idolatry in that we seek outside of God for what God alone can give. The Judaic tradition understands sin as " missing the mark."  Yeshua proclaims to us that to find completion in life seek all in God, and give all to God, our Source.  He invokes the Torah in proclaiming the great commandment of Love in the Shema', “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One." Yeshua says (paraphrase) "You shall give all of your being in love to the One God.”  He is telling us to do what we most want to do, to be given to this singular desire, our heart's desire.  What we desire most deeply within us in our own hearts is to give ourselves to the love of God in entirety. In Yeshua we find our heart's desire.

We may ask, what keeps us from being singular or undivided, from attaining what the ancients of the desert called "purity of heart"? I trained for a number of years in the Zen Buddhist tradition.  The Buddhist religion offers important wisdom teachings to the world and among them is its analysis of consciousness.  The first Noble Truth in Buddhism is the existence of spiritual suffering. And the second noble truth of the Buddha is that the sources of suffering are craving.  The historical Buddha wasn’t talking about physiological cravings; he was talking about misdirected spiritual craving or longing.  The craving outside of the Divine Oneness, that is, craving or seeking outside of God, and our oneness in God causes spiritual suffering.  This craving arises, he said, from the illusion of a separate self.

In Christian terms we would understand that illusion as the sense of alienation or that we are cut off or separated from God. The Garden of Eden story in Genesis speaks to this experience of feeling expelled or apart from God.  In Christianity we think about religion and spirituality in relational terms. Too often we project onto religion our own human relationships that are so broken themselves.  Therefore we project upon God this dysfunctional parent who we must please and appease so we can avoid getting punished and cut off and condemned. The trust and surrender to be wholly given and singular in our consecration to God escape us. We remain too often locked into the separateness and the misdirections, the addictions, which afflict our society.  Hence we are inclined to seek outside of God, what God alone can give. In the words of the Country and Western song, we are always "looking for love in all the wrong places."

The historical Buddha also said, in connection with this craving that human beings are locked into something that in Sanskrit he called "tanha."  Tanha means the seeking for private personal fulfillment.  The emphasis here is on “private personal fulfillment," the idea that somehow we can through our own devices and our own self-sufficiency be fulfilled.  Even more so we adhere to the consciousness that there is an isolated self, that can be fulfilled.  If we think about how pervasive that idea is in the world and in our own minds, it is startling. Too frequently we even use religion for a kind of private, personal fulfillment. We look solely for what comforts or consoles the ego, what will “make me happy” and give me a sense or proprietorship over God.  We may try to "cut our own deal" with God in exchange for our private consolation. This is the broken afflicted soul that Christ came to heal in us. The Way of the Heart is not about “self fulfillment;” it’s about self-transcendence, freedom from the tyranny of the small ego-self and coming home to the Heart of Christ.  Yeshua said that evil or sin begins in the mind.  So there must be a transformation of mind or consciousness. What is the nature of that transformation and how do we actualize it in our spiritual practice?  That's what we need to focus on.

The teaching of Yeshua and St. Paul and the desert monastics is that the work of life is to bring forth the Mind of Christ in our own soul.  To transform our own soul, our own consciousness, in the Mind of Christ, is a lifetime of givenness to the Heart of Christ in the consecrated ceaseless practice of inner communion with Christ.  Christ consciousness is the mind of compassion, not the mind of self-fulfillment; the mind of communion, not the mind of self-isolation or self-absorption.  The Mind of Christ is “Agape," self-offering Love, not self-seeking desire or consuming, grasping attachment.  

Awakening In Christ
The Way of the Heart therefore must come through self-emptying, self-kenosis, a paradox for our culture.  In the Gospel Yeshua promises that the relinquishment of this separate self is the way to awaken and leap into the One Self, that is Allaha, that is Elohim, that is Yahweh; the One Self from Whom all life, all existence, all Creation arise.  Yeshua the Christ is the personal point of contact, the revelation of this One Self in which "we live and move and have our being." Communion with Christ is communion with the Abba, the Allaha, with the Oneness That Is.

This awakened living out of the state of communion with Christ is the state of being in the Kingdom.  While we often think of it as an intensely personal state, it is also intensely oceanic.  When Yeshua was asked, “Where is the Kingdom?” He used an Aramaic word that means both “within” and “among", as both are true. So, it would be a mistake to say, “The Kingdom of God is only ‘within’ me.”  It would be more in harmony with the Gospel to say we are in the Kingdom and the Kingdom is in us.  So in Christ may we wake up!  Wake up!  Wake up to the Kingdom!

Actualizing the  Kenosis of Christ
Kenosis is a term from the Greek, which Paul used in Ephesians to refer to the life and spiritual development of Yeshua and therefore ourselves. And the risen Christ continues to actualize kenosis within us if we are willing.  In our release from the consciousness of a separate self we offer ourselves in totality, our life, our humanity, all of our consciousness, into the essential Unity which Yeshua knew intimately as Abba.  In the Way of the Heart we understand kenosis as ceaselss bowing and ceaseless offering. Kenosis is not self-negation.  It is self-offering and self-surrender in Love in our communion in Christ. 

There is nothing wrong with this little self that we have, but it's not who we are.  It’s a fragile little thing and we need to take care of it.  We’d all be in big trouble if we didn’t have an ego in this world.  It’s a vehicle.  It helps us get along.  God made us to have an ego.  It helps us to survive.  We need to care for it, but it must be a servant and not the master. To awaken in Christ is to uncover our true Master and our True identity.

Ego-mind, is a necessary construct, a creation of our brain we need in order to have a self in the world.  Without an ego, we have no sense of boundaries.  This boundary, however, is arbitrary and is shaped by history and circumstance.  It is inventively formed into the shape of psyche and personality but this is no eternal soul, this ego.  We are inclined spiritualize our ego and turn it into eternal soul.  It is not our true identity, it is not who we are.  Thank God. Our true spirit or heart lies hidden in the bosom of Christ within us.  Our true spirit is the Imago Dei, the fire of Divine Life, within us, waiting to flame up in us and expressed in this human life as lit candles of the Light of Christ.

Mind like Water
In this practice of endless bowing it is vital to cultivate the practice of attention.  The Zen people talk about this practice of attention and wakefulness as “mind like water.”  Water flows.  It doesn’t attach to anything.  It moves around all obstacles and it doesn’t attach.  It keeps on flowing.  That is the quality of mind; the quality of attention that we want to have in both our formal sitting practice and in our daily practice. The mind of prayer, the mind or consciousness of kenosis, we might say, is the mind of the water of spirit, the water of presence, terms that have been used in the Christian tradition.  Water of Presence is the innate quality of Divine life, which emanates from deep within us.  When we open to it, we are accessible to it.  We make ourselves accessible to it, first of all through our sitting practice of abiding in the heart and observing the mind.  In our observing the mind and the actions and reactions of the mind, we observe the thought forms which our human minds create and the organization of the ego self.  In learning to see it we find freedom to release and abide in the depths of Christ in the heart.

Why We Practice
A participant at a Prayer of the Heart retreat asked once,  “Why?  Why are we doing this practice?”  A good question.  Why are we?  Since we are already children of God, why bother with all of this?  Very important.  Those who have walked in this Way of the Heart say we do it because Christ wants to live in us.  Christ wants to be fully alive in us, and we are happiest when that happens.  And we are most alive and most human when we consecrate our lives to that transformation.

In order for that to happen, it takes a praxis, or a liberation from the transitory self-created self, in order for Christ to live in us fully.  So the real work of soul-making is the work of transformation of consciousness, realizing and receiving in our own human consciousness, the Mind of Christ.  The praxis must begin with a core commitment of a consecration of our entire will and humanity – and that is the inner work to be done. 

Therefore to do this practice is to continually release from every attachment and misdirection of our attention and will, to return to our true Home in the Heart of Christ in our own heart. This Christians know and understand as communion with Christ. In this self-transcendence and freedom of self-release we must bow to the One who is Home and who is greater than the little self.  Ceaseless bowing is the healing balm to the wound of separateness and the compulsions of the ego-mind.  Ceaseless bowing requires us to be awake in Christ's Presence. Ceaseless bowing takes us to the inner tabernacle of adoration. 

In the icon of Christ in Gethsemane His prayer posture is one of being awake while his friends sleep.  At a moment when his own human self might want to run away from the horrors and fears that await him, He is awake.  He is fully there.  He is open and trembling, and frail and fragile, just as we are.  Yet, isn’t it often in a crisis that we are most alive, most awake, most in the middle of life, most attending and accessible to what’s happening? 

In our Prayer of the Heart sitting practice of observing the mind and abiding in the heart we give our attention fully to presence. We let go of the traffic of the mind to live out of the past and to let go of the anxiety of a self-seeking future which is never here. We give ourselves to presence to make an ongoing act of bowing in Faith and adoration that God is the fullness of Presence in the eternal here and now.  Therefore liberation from the mind requires us to be able to observe at first.  That’s why it is so important.  Attention, wakefulness!  "Be awake!" Yeshua says, “Be awake!  "You know neither the day nor the hour. Be awake.  Keep your lamps trimmed so that you don’t miss the bridegroom.”  In Him we find true liberation from the unconsciousness and dormancy of the ego-mind.

The Sin of Unconsciousness
Humanity’s great sin is that we are not conscious, we are not awake to the way things really are.  We are too often reacting from the habitual and unconscious patterns that come to us from our own past.  If we consider all the horrific things that happen in the world, they are the acting out of unconscious and old patterns. Sadly we are acting out too often the past patterns of cruelty and violence.  If we look in our families and ourselves, the things that happen that are cruel, that are uncaring, they are the unconscious acting out of old patterns.  Too often we have chosen not to be awake.

To be awake is to see the ego-mind and find freedom from it.  We do this in cultivating an interior space of quiet or a state of called hesychia.  This is the state of interior silence that we create in our sitting practice.  It is the necessary base from which we bring our practice into daily life.  Without this interior stillness we are easily caught up in all of the painful actions and reactions of relationships that happen in the middle of life.  Daily silent prayer of inner communion with Christ is essential for this freedom and transformation.  Without our daily practice inner silence, the quiet dissipates and we are drawn into habitual patterns of reaction.  Things come at us and we react unconsciously rather than connecting with the reservoir of interior peace and communion with Christ in the heart. The Life of Christ within us allows us to be at peace and to respond with the intention of love and gentleness, kindness and wisdom. 

The growing space of our silent prayer practice allows us to sink into a quiet in which the busy mind goes on, either in greater or littler degrees, but we experience it subjectively as having no interior impact.  It washes over us as if it were a leaf carried by the breeze.  The traffic of the mind can be turbulent or relatively calm but it matters not to the contemplative practitioner.  We remain anchored in our practice of just “seeing” thoughts from a growing center of calm as if it were the eye of a hurricane that remains calm in the center.  Of course, when I say that, we’re all somewhere in a continuum of interior quiet.  Sometimes we’re there and sometimes we’re not there, but we can always come back.  Metanoia is always possible.  Returning as the prodigal child is always possible a million times in the course of a day to this interior space of hesychia. 

We don’t have to be identified with our pain and our reactions and our wounds and our unfinished business.  We don’t have to be captivated by the compulsions and the defenses that go with it.  In so doing, we can actually make a choice to cease from injuring the relational life between ourselves and others. That is a huge choice.  In that choice we break the cycles of habitual violence and habitual pain that occur in human consciousness in society.  It all starts with our inner bowing and releasing, and in that inner peace and space we are able to receive the Mind of Christ.

Ceaseless Bowing

When we speak of endless bowing in Prayer of the Heart, we are not just speaking of the physical posture involved in bowing, but rather the interior movement. Certainly physical bowing in the privacy of our prayer practice is desired and appropriate.  Maybe we even should do it more often in the middle of life.  More outward bowing in Christian life and practice would help us to recognize the holy Presence of Christ in ourselves, in others, and in the world around us. Perhaps as time goes on bowing can become a more appropriate expression of our interior life in Christian community. Bowing is acknowledging inwardly in reverence the truth of every situation, giving reverence and surrendering, giving homage to the One who transcends and the One who is our refuge in every situation.  It is the praxis of the first and the greatest commandment in every situation in life.  Bowing releases us from our identification with the limits of the ego-mind and the little self and engages us with our life of communion with Christ.  In this spaciousness and emptiness we are released from our involvement in the confines of the habitual patterns of the mind traffic and re-enter again and again this great spaciousness of Christ's Presence.

 Bowing is the perfect practice of monotheism, of taking refuge in the Holy One of existence in every circumstance of life.  That means bowing in our relationships, inwardly bowing to the people in our life whom we too often de-sacralize. In our routinized patterns of life we forget who we are and who they are. We forget that that Christ, Holy One, is present and alive in them and in us.  If we were to inwardly bow to our spouse, if we were to bow to our children, to our friends, how our practice of reverent love might grow towards them!

We can bow in the middle of conflict.  In the middle of conflict with our loved ones or strangers, we become the most angry and the most hurtful. At that moment bowing cuts through the self-absorbed concern and into the greater concern, which is the Love of Christ that encompasses us all.  We can connect within that spaciousness and the greater concern to not injure love.  In that moment of bowing the whole conflict, the whole interaction, can shift in you and in the person with whom you are in conflict.

The issue is not whether to be in conflict, but how to be in conflict. We can bow to the greater concern and Presence of Christ in that circumstance.  This doesn’t mean we ignore our genuine need, but so often what gets addressed and pursued as genuine need really isn’t.  Rather it’s what I “want” in order to be comfortable, and that’s different than what I truly need.  When a conflict is escalating, is precisely the moment when inwardly bowing may lead conflict to de-escalate when the other in the conflict senses respect and concern.

We bow in our Holy Leisure receiving in gratitude, receiving without grasping, the pleasures of life and leisure that come our way, the time that is given us. Sometimes we bow in our fear.  Fear is the most dangerous of all because, when we are given to fear, we contract, we defend, and sometimes we attack.  "Pre-emptive war" takes place on many, many levels in our world. We bow to the deeper refuge who is Christ in our hearts and the fear loses its power over us.

We can bow in our injuries. We need not deny our pain but we also need not hold onto and nurture the sense of injury and identify with victimization. We bow in such a way that we respect both the hurt and the need for healing. All of us have desires to retaliate when we are hurt or injured, and we may bow in such a way that we release our grasp from a desire to hurt in return.  We can also bow when we find ourselves in guilt and shame from wrongs committed and thereby release from preoccupation so that it doesn’t keep us from living fully into the present.  True contrition releases us from guilt and shame.  True contrition and conversion, true sorrow helps us awaken and open to the Life of Christ ever arising anew as the Living Water in the eternal moment.  We bow in sorrow and the freedom of contrition; we bow in the peace of forgiveness.

To bow in gratitude in our need and in our human fragility is valuable practice.  Our need is always great and our nothingness is always present with us.  In those moments when we are most aware and most in touch with our need and our emptiness are the moments when we may be most accessible to all that God wants to give us of God’s self. In nothingness we realize both our lack of expectation or entitlement, and our need. In the nothingness of our kenosis we realize that all is gift, and we are receptive and open to God's Self-Gift in Christ.

Over time our human mind becomes more and more a servant of this greater spaciousness, freedom, and Love that is the Mind of Christ. Less and less we are consumed by the ego-mind's compulsion to be a master and God unto itself.  Our human mind is really happier and its inherent insecurity healed, when it is the servant rather than the master. When we realize the real false god that we too often worship, we can then throw down the tyranny of the altars we have built to our ego’s obsession for control.

In the spaciousness of endless bowing the space for Christ's Agape to be born and to live in us becomes not only possible but inevitable.  Endless bowing leads to endless adoration and endless offering and endless consecration.  Meister Eckhart says this about the moment of our spacious receptivity, “God must act and pour himself into you the moment he finds you ready. Don’t imagine that God can be compared to an earthly carpenter who acts or doesn’t act as he wishes, who can will to do something or leave it undone according to his pleasure.  It is not that way with God.  Where and when God finds you ready, he must act and overflow into you.  Just as when the air is clear and pure, the sun must overflow into it and cannot refrain from doing that.”  (Mitchell, The Enlightened Mind, p. 114) It’s an astounding statement.  It goes against all of what many of us have been taught about the nature of God.  But what Eckhart says is the nature of God is self-giving, over-flowing love Whose nature is to give of Itself to all creatures, all beings.  When they are ready to receive there is no whim of choice.  Simply, God must give of God’s Self.  The gift of God's Self for Christians is Christ. Christ is ready always to pour into our human mind and consciousness. In my years as a spiritual director I’ve found that statement to be proven true again and again and again.

Ceaseless Offering

Ceaseless bowing and Ceaseless Offering are not separate and distinct interior movements, but together make the praxis of communion with Christ in silence and in activity. The inner work of prayer takes an ongoing effort on our part to make straight the way of the Lord.  We make our life and humanity utterly accessible to God’s life and grace by releasing from every attachment and misdirection that impedes.  In our bowing endlessly and releasing from our self-attachment to thoughts we prepare ourselves to be a vessel to receive God’s presence and Self-gift in Christ. This praxis leads to what the desert abba, Evagrius, called the state of "apatheia." (not to be confused with apathy)  Apatheia is a state of freedom from compulsion.  Evagrius Ponticus of the fourth century says in his Pratikos on Prayer, “Now this apatheia has a child, and the child is called agape.  Agape is the progeny of apatheia.  Apatheia is the very flower of Ascesis."  (Ponticus, p.14) This spaciousness, this receptivity is the condition in which the Agape of Christ arises within us.  Apatheia is one way of stating the quality of openness, which makes love possible. 

Bowing and offering go together.  We bow in adoration, in love, in reverence for the essence of life and love in Christ who is greater than our ego-self.  And we offer in love.  We bow and we offer.  Our offering is our humanity, our thoughts, our emotions, our efforts, our failings.  Most of all, the consecrated self is our offering. Our ceaseless prayer is "Into you I commend my spirit, into you I commend my life. "

We offer control.  The serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous is a wonderful prayer.  It has great, great wisdom.  Control is the thing we have the most trouble really giving up.  It’s ego's greatest obsession, and greatest compulsion. The truth is we have no control, the most difficult thing to accept because the ego-mind stakes its security on having control.  Our journey into the Heart of Christ takes us from the tyranny of the ego's compulsions for control to finding ultimate security in Christ alone. This alone will heal our fear and give us true security.

 What we can choose to do at all times is to offer ourselves in an act of consecration in Christ to the One in whom every condition, every circumstance, every wounded and broken and dimension of life is not beyond redemption and healing.  This we can always do, when we can do nothing else. In every circumstance we can "Breathe Yeshua." This offering includes especially our own broken and wounded minds and psyches.  There is not one among us who isn’t wounded and broken in some way.  No dark place in our own psyche and our own consciousness is beyond redemption. Those are the places in the most need of offering to the Light and Healing touch of Christ. They are the places we’re most ashamed of, most afraid to look at, where there is the most pain.

What holds us back too often from our offering is the judgment of unworthiness.  If your own child were to offer a cut or wound or a place that was in need of healing, would you turn away? Of course not. Such self-judgements of unworthiness hold us back from making our complete human self an offering. 

In our daily practice there are many ways we make this offering. Our silent prayer is an offering, a gift of self in each breath and invocation of the name of Yeshua.  In our devotional prayer we offer ourselves.  In our intercessory prayer, we offer the people, the loved ones, the situations in life; we offer them all to the Holy One in Christ because we know we have no control.  We fear and we worry about what will happen and what will become of them.  We worry and fear for our country and the world and the people in places of violence.  There’s nothing we can do except offer all beings and all conditions to the mercy of Christ. When I do intercessory prayer, I say hardly anything.  I simply hold that situation before the Love and Healing Mercy of Christ with this intention, “Here, I offer this to You.  I give it all to Your Greater Concern and Healing Love.” 

In our daily practice we make the offering of consecrated space, time and intention in our homes and daily lives.  In daily life we can make the offering of doing what we do with full presence (bowing) and with love (offering), whether it be eating, whether it be conversation, whether it be service, whether it be walking, whether it be washing your hands. Each act is done as presence, as adoration, and as offering in the love of Christ.  That is where the practice meets the road.

In every circumstance we know that we can’t always fix things; we can't always change them.  We can always and in every moment of life do the best we can in love and make that our offering.  We place it on the altar and find peace that it is enough, because it is enough.  That is the practice of pure Faith. This is "Breathing Yeshua" each moment of life, trusting that doing the very best we can in love is enough.  I didn’t really understand this central truth until the day arrived when had to confront my own rage and helplessness with my dying son's illness.  There was nothing I could do to stop his suffering.  There was nothing I could do to change the outcome.  But there was one thing I could do. I could do the best I could to just walk with him in those last days and be the best father I could be, and love him the best I could, and that was enough. That is "Breathing Yeshua."

That offering is “the little way” of Terese of Lieseux, it is “the little way” of Lawrence of the Resurrection, it is “the little way” of our Buddhist brother, Thich Nach Hanh.  They have all taught us that this is the wisdom of living.  The little offering of loving kindness each moment is how we release from our ego’s agenda and its bondage and return to the Mind of Christ.  In this way we awaken and find ourselves in the Heart of Christ and that find we were never outside of Christ.  We find that our own body is Christ’s body

Let me share a reading of St. Simeon of the tenth century who came into that same insight: 
(Mitchell, The Enlightened Heart, p.38)

 We awaken in Christ’s body,
As Christ awakens in our bodies,
and my poor hand is Christ.
He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand, and wonderfully
my hand becomes Christ, becomes all of Him
(for God is indivisibly whole seamless in God’s Nature)
I move my foot
and at once he appears like a flash of lightning.
Do my words seems blasphemous? --
Then open your heart to Him.
and let yourself receive
the One who is opening so
 For if we genuinely love Him,

we wake up inside Christ’s body.