Faith must no longer be an occasional act of will, but rather the very nature of one’s heart. We must come to believe again, and to know and “believe that [we] believe” (Vattimo). Belief is awareness. For this to happen we must gain in knowledge of God, the universe, and man. Mt. 5:8 tells us that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is something we all can do, see God, but first we must know the truth of things, within and without, and empty ourselves of the rest. Thus it is by understanding and a new perception of the truth that we finally have peace beyond measure within, and potentially without. “If our awareness is not reduced or distorted, there will be present in ordinary experience a sense of the infinite, the sacred, God” (Rolheiser, 23). Blake tells us the same thing in his oft quoted stanza, “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it truly is, infinite.”
As long as one is centered on material reality one will find nothing of truth and relevance in the spiritual quest. Likewise, as long as one is centered on oneself one will find nothing of true importance. However, it is true that we must know ourselves to get beyond ourselves. And when we do that we can make some progress towards the truth of God. When we find the truth of God we will find the truth of man, and then every door, and heart, shall be open to us.
Something similar could be said of our society at large. As long as we are so involved with our false notion of culture as to be blind to the greater truths we will be stuck in the same material mindset we’ve had for some time now; however, we are at a point where this can no longer be so, for we are killing both ourselves and the planet we are meant to safeguard. So much of our technology is focused on making life easier and better for us. Unfortunately, it has gone about this in just about every way it shouldn’t have. Are we happier or more fulfilled now than we were at the turn of the 20th century? The least we can now say is that we are more entertained, but we want more than to be entertained, don’t we? We do want to be healthier longer as well as more fulfilled, but these things just aren’t happening in the culture we have set up for ourselves.
Presence is not just something that we settle on or accept as a theory of some kind, rather it is, first and last, a process, something that we must undergo in this human life. Metanoia is the Greek word for a wholesale change of mind, really a change in outlook, one that is steeped in presence. For many reasons, what we need is both an individual and collective metanoia. Nothing short of that will save us now. It’s time to make a choice, one we may never get again. What’s your answer, indeed, your next move? The goals we currently chase, supposedly for the benefit of humanity, no longer accomplish such. The rat race and hedonistic quest for pleasure and entertainment are simply getting bigger and more complex, as we pretend that we are simplifying. What do we propose to do about that? First of all we must be aware that time is running out.
This change will not take place simply by the ordinary sense of changing our minds. What we need is, rather, a fundamental change in motivation, personal and collective, and that itself requires a deep and full experience of the sacred, indeed, of God himself, of Spirit, and of reality on the whole and man’s part in it. We need to overcome ourselves and our false conceptions of reality, of God, the universe, and man. As Augustine said, God is within us, but we are outside ourselves (Confessions 10.27). We need to once again find that connection within and without, with God and all mankind, and with the creation that we are currently abusing to the point where it will start to react against us. We must once again experience the presence of God, of the sacred, wherever it may appear and in whatever context.
We must come to love again, not simply be. We have lost all sense of what it means to be a being, indeed, a being within Being. And the way to cure this malady is to experience Being Itself. Nothing else will save us now; we can be sure about that. Again, we need to experience presence, for in presence there is union, in union there is love, in love there is respect, and in respect we find reverence, and from reverence is born awe and wonder, and in that there is salvation, as well as motivation. When we are in awe of the sacred, or anything, we treat things and relate to people the way it they are meant to be treated and related to. Only in that is there salvation.
In one sense presence and the salvation that comes from it is about being able to relax. That salvation is available now through the particular panentheism that I propose and the Great Law of Christ that goes with it, even as he taught; it is Christian panentheism, if one must be technical. If you don’t feel like you are saved, there’s only one person who can do something about that, yourself. And the way to do something about it is to follow the Way, the way into the hearts of God, oneself, and others. See Acts 9:2, 19:23, 22:4, and 24:14, 22. To know and love is to be saved. To be saved is to follow the Great Law of Christ.
Indeed, just as God intends to be fully present to us, we must first, or rather also, become present to ourselves, to the world and to others. If we are not fully present, then God and others will not be fully present to us because of the first fact, that of our absence from ourselves. But we must do this in a way that is not prideful. “The humblest person you know is not the person who lives the most timid life but the person who lives a life that constantly acknowledges its interconnectedness and its radical incarnate character” (Rolheiser, 118).
Everything, or nearly so, refers back to the human heart. If we want to change something in the world, how do we do it? We must change the hearts and minds of others through love and reason to get them to see our vision and cause, to help them feel the compassion or sympathy that we ourselves are feeling, that God within us is trying to get us to see. When they see that too, they have also found that piece of God within themselves, and maybe his whole being, depending on person and purpose. It has been said that one person can have a profound effect upon another; and two people, well they can work miracles.
We must turn from God without to God within others. The Great Law of Christ intends this for us. We must love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength, and all our mind, and to do that we must worship him in others, just as ultimately we worship him without. This is why Christ told us that the two commandments of the Great Law are alike. And it is not our will or mind that we try to impose on others, rather we are to lift them up according to the truth of their own love and the purity of what they already believe. We may help them complete it and show them the errors of their ways, again according to what they already believe, but we may never impose ourselves upon their hearts and minds. This type of teaching, teaching to the ability of the student, is called upaya in Sanskrit, in English it is called skillful means, and it happens through us, through the teacher, via loving-kindness. To put this another way, we are to teach to the particular persons presence, that is, to that part of them that is already present to and aware of God, and then build from that. We must lead them with a string of wonder and awe, in such a way that they are continuing in their own discovery. We are merely helping the process, helping them realize what they already truly know within themselves. By this we help others grow in both love and knowledge.
This has been my opinion, what’s yours? Agree with me, disagree with me: let me hear it. Things need to change; this is your chance to tell the universe how. And don’t forget to “subscribe” to be reminded every time I post a new article.