Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Faith in the Absence of Grace

I started the morning as I always do: coffee, prayer, internet. Walt has become the first stop, because he's a dawn patrol guy. After Walt's place I check out Gagdad Bob, and Mushroom, and then proceed to lighter fare.

I try to begin the day grounded in awareness of the spirit. All too soon the headlines, and real world events charge in like some sort of mudslide. As of late I've had little tolerance for it. My interior landscape already looks one of Heironymus Bosch's nightmares, and I don't need to throw more monsters into the mix. There was a time when I thought that the right drug, the right counsellor, the right prayer, would clean up the mess in my head. No. The mess is my head, and the mind parasites that dwell there will not suffer eviction, at least not through any means I've yet discovered. So where does that leave Spirit, religion, the prayer thing? If we were talking about a physical ailment few would hold out hope for divine intervention in the shape of a miraculous cure. And it's an all too common story, the supposed 'man of God' caught in some unholy act or other.
"AHH," someone will surely say, "The fellow probably didn't really have Holy Spirit, or he was insincere in his prayer, or he lacked True Faith, or he was just another hypocrite."

I don't buy it.

I would bet that such individuals probably have a deep faith; that they have many times prayed their knees sore trying to defeat their inner demons in the spiritual equivalent of house-to-house urban warfare. I would bet that they exhausted the last efforts of will, threw themselves on God's mercy, and got up with the same set of troubles they knelt down with. Just like the person in a wheelchair who pledges eternal faith and gratitude to God for the chance to stand and walk again.

So God ain't Santa Claus, jwm. We knew that already. What's your point here? Is it to discredit the whole business of faith?

No. I'm just trying to get a handle on it like everyone else. An anonymous poster over at One Cosmos left a poem in the comments section today. Here's an excerpt:

When the eyes of my eyes were opened/I saw wonders that can't be spoken/You took my hand when I least expected/And blessed me with your Golden Presence . . . ./ Is this why in your Heart I found mine,/And in your face I see a Treasure?/Do the tears of joy as I contemplate you/Pay tribute to your sweet embrace?. . . .

It is not my intention to mock the person who wrote this, or to doubt his sincerity. I've heard plenty of religious folks, Christian, and Buddhist, speak of this sort of spiritual euphoria. I don't think they're making it up. It's just never worked that way for me. Oh, don't get me wrong here, I've heard 'the voice'; I've had my share of transcendent experiences. Occasionally there comes a flash of insight, a glimpse into the depth. And after having been with One Cosmos everyday for the last few years I have had my eyes opened to the awareness of Truth, if not the firsthand experience of it.
I don't look to God to solve my problems for me, that's all. God ain't going to solve them. Or make them go away. God will, and has grown me deep enough to know that wrestling with my inner demons is part of my job here. And like it or not, I have to step in the ring. Unlike pro wrestling, God doesn't fix the match. Not even for himself. The thing is- I know that I don't fight alone.


julie said...

Knowing we don't fight alone makes all the difference in the cosmos.

And it's an all too common story, the supposed 'man of God' caught in some unholy act or other.

Myself, I don't think that means the person is lacking in spirit, or in faith. Who am I to cast judgment on the state of anyone else's soul? I just always hope that, whatever happens, they somehow manage to find their way closer to God.

walt said...

"People are full of unconscious wormholes, psychic envelopes, secret lives, hidden compulsions, ulterior motives, and auto-hypnotic delusions. While they may appear deep, their complexity tends to conceal their essential shallowness. For mysticism is nothing more than the art of living with one's whole being at a deeper level."
-- GB

Sounds to me like those mind parasites aren't going anywhere anytime soon. When I was younger I was purty sure I'd be able to sweep the bastards out. But ... not the case.

I am them and they are me. In some cases, a couple of really destructive ones, I caught onto their game, however, and withdrew from it. They are still there, but I saw them clearly (by looking directly at them, btw) and it had the effect of de-activating them. That is, I stopped feeding them myself, which is what they live on.

But like Bob say, there are still plenty of others hangin' round. The spiritual work is to create interior space; see OC today, right about the middle. He says it real well.

Ha-ha, Dawn Patrol. Pretty funny.

jwm said...

It was that part in the middle of GB's post today that got this whole train of thought rolling.


Anonymous said...

Hey JWM, Theophilia here - she, who penned Feather on the Breath of God.

'Demons' can be loved to death when the Soul is allowed to take matters into its hands...How so?
One very effective method is to first, giving one self permission to belive that the Inner Dweller can handle anything! After all, it is part n' parcel of God, no? Second, going for it!
How? I'm offering the following visualization - meditation.

Sitting or lying down...In your mind's eye imagine that the Inner Dweller/Soul is sitting across the room from that part of you which is not yet integrated - not at peace....Does he trust You? Not so fast, right? Just look....That kind of pain may well be coming from the preverbal stage. A stage, which words can't reach.... Project to him as much loving energy as You can possibly muster....So much compassion...Does he feel it? Can You allow his suffering to flow into You? Can You cry for him? . . . Extend your hand gently...does he pull back? Just love him.........And don't give up! Don't rush. One session may not be 'enuf. Love him! Maybe next time he will have a hint o'smile to share....Smile and ask silently if it's OK to touch him............Not so fast? Does he want cry ? Scream!!!??? (that would be a good sign. It's called "healing crisis")
He DOES want to be held....Waiting patiently for the 'uncouth' energy to release is key.

Many moons ago I did something similar, which came about spontaneously (my bloody spelling!? English is not my mother tounge). With husband in bed reading, when I became overcome with sadnes and decided to 'mother' myself for change instead of whining that I didn't feel loved by her.

Same thing...First, deeply feeling my sadness, sobbing quietly (on my side away from husband so he never knew what I was doing). Then imagining frolicking in a fragrant sun lit meadow with my lil' self...Bathing, wrapping her in white fluffy towel...laughing!


mushroom said...

Oh, man, I wish I gotten around to reading this last night. You are the real deal, John.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mushroom, not so fast with the John-name calling, eh? Obviously "theofilia" is not my real name, but for now I'm keeping mum...Yesterday, thanks to Zoltan's Durga-like email hollerings I started my own blog. I had no idea it's free of charge! Maybe at some point I will share my blogspot address...?

Just so happened I was Shakti- initiated (a long story) and guided to "Work for the Higher Power". So I obeyed and became a laying-on of hands spiritual healer. "Healer heal thyself" was our Master's motto.

Back in the day when I was still a student I was alone work-practicing on a fellow student (who was in an altered state of consciousness and flat on her back) whose body, about mid-way, began wildly, rapidly, swinging from side to side (in horizontal, a pendulum-like fashion off the table.)

We call that "unwinding". That was quite stratling, but stayed silently "holding" this energy till it exhusted itself.
That was one hell of a gruelling session. Afterwards, S. described what happened. But first.....

By then I knew a whole lot about her bio-background. Her 'frozen pain' due to her "cold and controlling mother", her pain of - at the age of 21 - loosing her father on Christmass day by killing himself. Years earlier she was hospitalized for suicidal depression. . . Therefore, I was not at all surprised when she said that during the unwinding process she relieved "banging my head against the side of the crib."

That was the release .. Release of anxiety and tension which her body still 'remembered'. Very real stuff.

Warmly, Theofilia

Robin Starfish said...

That is the most fascinating tree. Like you caught it, embarrassed, in the act of wrestling itself back into a tree from something else.

Perfect counterpoint to your post, a wordless illumination that touches me right there. I mean, I know that.

jwm said...

That tree is right near the beginning of the trail in east La Habra Heights. I call it The Haunted Tree. It's one of those peculiar landmarks that is deceptively hard to photograpgh- I mean, it's a tree. Trees stay still. Nonetheless I have a zillion shots of the damn thing, and very few are good.


xlbrl said...

That is an exceptional sermon.

Wisdon alone comes through suffering--