Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Healing from a Divided Life

Healing from a Divided Life

“ Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is the greatest commandment.”  (Mark 12:29)

Throughout the Gospels Yeshua challenges us to be complete, to be undivided, to be wholehearted in our life of consecration to God.  The first and primary of these is his invocation of the Jewish 'Shema'. And He affirms that to be given in love to God in entirety is the whole of the law and scriptures, including the love of neighbor. Other examples include the story of the rich young man (Matt. 19:16) who comes to Him seeking the truth of salvation. He tells the young man that he cannot hold back. He must give it all to be one with God. In the teaching of God and Mammon (Matt 6:24) Yeshua tells us we must choose between our misdirected desire for wealth and security and our true desire for God. We cannot do both, we cannot lead a divided life and still enter the Kingdom of unitive love. We cannot have God and god substitutes. We cannot worship God and idols of our construction. In the story of Martha and Mary(Luke 10:38) Yeshua admonishes Martha, not because she is serving by doing manual work, but because she is creating a duality in herself and is divided in what she is doing, and therefore envious and resentful. The "better part" that Mary has chosen is her undivided devotion, a devotional love that can be undivided in both activity and stillness.

One of the most intriguing narratives of the mystical life of communion in Christ is the story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well:
John 4:6- “ It was about noon…. A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Yeshua said to her, “ Give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to him, “ How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?”.. Yeshua answered her, “ If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. The woman said to him, “Sir you have no bucket and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us the well and with his sons and flocks drank from it?’ Yeshua said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water I will give will never be thirsty. The water that I will give them will become in them a spring of water gushing up in eternal life.”

What is the point of this story? Yeshua is telling us lyrically and metaphorically, 'If you want to come to completion in me, then give yourself entirely, and stop looking around for substitutes in different sizes and shapes of "buckets."

The True Spouse and the Living Spring
Beatrice Bruteau, the contemplative writer, gives a wonderful exegesis of this encounter. (Bruteau, "Living Prayer", July-Aug. 1995) She begins by noting that in the scriptures when the scene is dramatically introduced as "high noon" and  has related  incongruities (i.e. a single woman coming to get water alone at noon, speaking with a strange man), these are a distinctive red flags that  what is coming in the narrative is not about historical record but is rather revelation of Mystery. High noon is the hour of tension when Truth is revealed. The facts of the story are stated in paradoxical fashion to set the stage for the revelation to follow. There are multi levels of meaning. A conversation about drinking water turns into a conversation about Ultimate Reality and mystical union. Buckets, wells, and springs are metaphors for the Inner life of the Divine. The Samaritan woman is "us." Like her we have undergone levels of failed or false espousal in our life. All of us have gone through the espousals of our soul or spiritual consciousness in the six levels of attachment and are seeking a liberation at last in the One who invites us Home, the One who is the Gift of God

In the course of a lifetime we espouse ourselves to what we think will bring us completion. The levels of espousal in our life are the spiritual developmental journey. Bruteau suggests this developmental process is analagous to the Eastern chakra system. Christ is both the true Spouse, the Beloved, who brings us to the final liberation, and the Font of Living Water of the “I AM” who flows freely within us poured out in eternal Self-giving Love. We can at long last give up our wandering and seeking and be Home in the life of inner Communion in Christ.

We might ask ourselves what are the false substitutes, the buckets, to which we have espoused ourselves? What must we do to be free to unite with the true Spouse? So often a seeker begins the journey asking "How can I fit a spiritual practice into my life?" As the journey progress the entirety of our life, all of our human development, physical, relational, affective, intellect, and intuition are integrated into a whole and holy offering of self in communion in Christ. This is the consecrated life. This is the real meaning of Healing or Salvation, the assimilation of our complete humanity, will and consciousness, into Christ, our True Spouse.

Our inner work then is to let Christ unite and heal our life heal of inner divisions. In doing this we must confront and free ourselves from what the Buddhist teacher, Joseph Goldstein, calls, "If Only Mind." Our mind thinks, "If only this were different, if only I had this bucket, If only I had this relationship. If only I had this role. If only these conditions were different."  Much of our life we spend in "bucket consciousness": Love is limited, God is limited, and my own devices and strategies are my refuge." The only espousal then is to the objects of desire, my god substitutes, my self-created "buckets."

By contrast our practice must take us toward Living Spring consciousness: "Love is limitless and the Source is within me. Divine Life, the Living Water of Christ, is beyond my control yet I can open and be accessible to It." Entering the practice of Christ's kenosis of self emptying and self-offering, I become an empty and receptive vessel of the Living Spring of Christ's Spirit to suffuse my humanity and pour out into the world.

To expand and deepen the life of daily practice we begin by having sacred space for our prayer practice, our space of intimate communion with the Spouse. We invoke a prayer of consecrated intention before our silent prayer and at intervals in the day. (How different our world would be if every home had this sacred space at the center!)  We return and anchor ceaselessly in our prayer word of Breathing Yeshua. If we are espousing ourselves to the Beloved, we call the Beloved by name and bring ourselves to the Beloved’s Presence. This we do in Breathing Yeshua endlessly.  And we do this in every activity of life, consecrated eating, sleeping, relating, work, all of life, in activity and rest, becomes bowing in adoration and self-offering in love. In our self-offering we learn gradually to release from self-preoccupation and to become the clear and empty vessel of the Living Water of Christ. In us He rises to offer His Life of Love into the world in kindness, service, and life of inner communion expressed and actualized in every moment.

This is the true worship of God in Spirit and Truth Yeshua foretold to the Samaritan woman. This is the Mystery of the Eucharist in Christ's gift of Self to us as the Bread of Life, and our self-offering to Christ in the transformative consecration of the elements of our humanity. In this way our life's journey in following Christ is to become Christ, the consecrated bread and wine of our humanity. In this way our life is consumated in the true espousal with Christ and we fulfill the words of the Song of Solomon: "My Beloved is mine and I am His."

"Through Christ, with Christ and In Christ..
our humanity is lifted up
and consecrated in the Beloved;
thus entering the stream of the Beloved's Life
in adoration and self giving;
we sit at the Wedding Feast of Eternal Life."
(Ryan, p.74)