This weeks reading is Chapter 7 of Heart of Christianity: The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Justice. Pg 126

I hope everyone enjoyed last nights group. I hope by referring back to Tolle was helpful. I love Borg, but because he is an academic I find some of the material is abstract and by referring back to our discussions on The New Earth I was hoping to make the process of being “Born Again” less abstract and more specific to the work that we need to do on a daily basis.

Next week Borg discusses the social political transformation that Christianity asks of us. Similar to Born Again he feels that the old paradigm misinterpreted the meaning of God’s justice in the Bible. “There is a common misunderstanding of “God’s justice”. Theologically, we have often seen it’s opposite as “God’s Mercy”. “God’s Justice” is understood as God’s deserved punishment of us for our sins, “God’s Mercy” as God’s loving forgiveness of us in spite of our guilt. Seeing the opposite of justice as mercy distorts what the bible means by justice. Most often in the bible, the opposite of God’s justice is not God’s mercy, but human injustice.” That is just a tease to encourage you to read further.

I just wanted to include a couple of ACIM quotes that relate to the Born Again talk we had last night. Just another source that refers to our separation from God at birth and the need for inner transformation.

ACIM is very harsh. I think this is because it is trying to get an ego reaction from the reader. I now know that if I react to something defensively then my ego is involved and it is something I need to look closely at. ACIM is written in a way that my ego is often acting defensively, then I know I need to look at what ACIM is saying more deeply. It is written to force us to think and not just skim the surface.
“The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil’. It is powerful, active, destructive and clearly in opposition to God, because it literally denies His Fatherhood. Look at your life and see what the devil has made. But realize that this making will surely dissolve in the light of truth, because its foundation is a lie. Your creation by God is the only Foundation that cannot be shaken, because the light is in it. Your starting point is truth, and you must return to your Beginning. Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. Your Self is still in peace, even though your mind is in conflict. You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death.”

“The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey’. Do not dwell upon it, but dismiss it as accomplished. If you can accept it as your own last useless journey, you are also free to join my resurrection. Until you do so your life is indeed wasted. It merely re-enacts the separation, the loss of power, the futile attempts of the ego at reparation, and finally the crucifixion of the body. Such repetitions are endless until they are voluntarily given up. Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross’. The only message of the crucifixion is that you can overcome the cross. Until then you are free to crucify yourself as often as you choose.”

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5 Responses to This weeks reading is Chapter 7 of Heart of Christianity: The Kingdom of God: The Heart of Justice. Pg 126

  1. Rob1 says:

    These days I seem to be immersed in a process that involves a little dying everyday, so I found the chapter about being born again very interesting. I read it twice but it still didn’t really speak to my experience, which is one of grieving I think. I can’t account for these feelings. I mean I can. There are lots of explanations, but they are just that, reasons that try to explain the feelings away. Yet they don’t go away. Maybe I am going through that “dying to self” Borg talks about. Maybe I am being born again. Who knows? Right now I’m just feeling squeezed. No light at the end of the tunnel.

    In this state, I hope you might understand if I’m a little less than sympathetic to the ACIM’s idea that peace is in us just waiting to be found and that all suffering is “merely” ego resistance. Christ suffered. We suffer. Suffering is part of life. It’s not ego, it’s empathy, compassion. These are good things.

    Perhaps that is why the passion story has endured. What if it is our pain that sticks us together instead of what we normally think, our joy? Or is it that joy truly isn’t, can’t be joy unless it is in relation to its opposite?

    There’s something recalling me here in to the story of the wedding feast, so beautifully discussed by Borg previously. The rich wine, best saved for last, brought forth when everyone thought there was none, the joy of the wedding celebration is saved by Christ’s response to the empty vessels, the lack of wine, and the desire, longing even that would be caused if the stores ran out.

    I don’t know what I’m getting at really. One doesn’t want to glorify suffering, or wallow in it. (I might well be accused of that.) For some reason, I am hearing sorrow everywhere: I heard a remarkable “hurting song” this morning on my favourite radio station,, Lonesome Town, sung by Marc Jordan. Unfortunately, I can’t find that version online but here’s the original:

  2. Marta says:

    I am not sure if ACIM is saying it is ego resistance that causes suffering. Most religions believe that suffering is part of life because of our separation from God at birth. Many would say it is our ego that separates us from God, therefore it is the cause of our suffering. ACIM is saying once we peel back the many layers of our ego, learn how our ego’s work we will then reveal God, who has been within us all the time. I find as I learn more about how my ego works the more compassionate I become to myself and others. As we discussed in group last Monday when we recognize our most shameful traits as the ego it is easier to accept them for what they are and let them go, not just in ourselves but also in others. Obviously, there will always be some suffering, no matter how well one knows their ego self. For instance a death of a loved one will always cause suffering and grief.

    A few posts back I posted a quote from Aldous Huxley that I think relates to what you say about suffering. Here is part of that quote.

    “If every human being were constantly, and consciously in a proper relationship with his divine, natural and social environments there would be only so much suffering as creation makes inevitable. But most human beings are chronically in a improper relationship to God, nature and to fellow human beings. The result of these wrong relationships are manifest on the social level in wars and exploitation. Exhaustion of irreplaceable resources on a natural level, on a biological level as degenerative diseases and on a spiritual level as blindness to divine reality and complete ignorance of the reason and purpose of human existence.” – Aldous Huxley 1944.

    I have told a few people in the group about my inspiring experience while in hospital. The catalyst for that experience came from reading the transcripts from a show I had edited several years ago. The show was a discussion with Jean Vanier on his interpretation of the Gospel of John. As I was leaving for the hospital I thought that Jean Vanier’s words might be inspirational. There are twenty-five episodes, I just happened to pick episode 20, which turned out to be Jean discussing the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

    I am posting it here for everyone to read because I think it relates to what you are saying Rob about pain bringing us together.

    Here is what I read from the transcripts that so moved me.

    “That night Jesus has a talk with the disciples about what they will face once he is gone, he tells the disciples that if the powers that be persecute him they will also persecute the disciples. Then Jesus looks at them and says, “Do you really believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered. Everyone to his own place and you will leave me alone.” Jean Vanier goes onto say “There is something so painful as Jesus goes forth and says “You will leave me alone”. But then Jesus has a ray of hope, “You will leave me alone, yet I am not alone for the father is with me”. Vanier continues with “That is what we have to remember as we go into pain. There will always be those times of terrible anguish but we will never be alone. Jesus is with us. And then the very last word from Jesus is a cry of peace. “I have said all this to you that in me you will find peace. In this world of darkness you will suffer a lot but be at peace. I have overcome the world of darkness. Life is there.”

    As I read those words I knew that whatever happened to me I was not alone, I had someone to walk with me in my suffering. And that there was hope, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

    I can not remember what we discussed last Monday about Family day. I assume we are not meeting. And that our next meeting will be Monday Feb. 24th. Am I right in my assumption?

    • Rob2 says:

      For anyone who can make it, I think we will still meet to discuss Chapter 7 on Family Day. This is a particularly meaningful chapter for me. It addresses something that we haven’t really talked about in a focused way in the book group – why the struggle for social justice is such an important part of the Christian message. It’s not just about inner transformation.

      “A politically engaged spirituality affirms both spiritual transformation and political transformation. The message of Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, is about both. What we see in Jesus and the Bible answers our deepest personal longing, to be born again, and the world’s greatest need, the Kingdom of God.”

  3. Rob1 says:

    Thank you for sharing so openly Marta. The Vanier quote is lovely but the best thing is the wonderful work those words performed (if that’s the right way to put it).

    I met with someone who does spiritual counseling today and she recounted her own spiritual experience of a moment when Jesus realizes he is alone and facing death and his heart is so empty. That was a quite a surprise I must say. If things come in threes, and on Valentine’s Day too!

    It was a very interesting talk we had. I learned that the confluence of personal and practical and spiritual crisis/experience indicates a time of profound change that is naturally stressful. It was nice to have a kind of confirmation that made sense of my confused and conflicting feelings.

    I also learned, somewhat obliquely, that Jesus is associated with the heart chakra, Anahata, in Tantric traditions. It is the fourth chakra, the colour for which is green (not red as you might think, hearts and all) and is represented by a lotus flower with 12 petals and inverted triangles making a star of David.

    “Anahata is associated with the ability to make decisions outside of the realm of karma. In Manipura and below, man is bound by the laws of karma, and the fate he has in store for him. In Anahata, one is making decisions, ‘following your heart’, based upon one’s higher self, and not from the unfulfilled emotions and desires of lower nature.”

    I love that.

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

    If you are interested, read more about the heart chakra here.

  4. Marta says:

    I had a very illuminating and moving experience related to the Heart Chakra a couple of years ago at a Shatam Kaur chanting concert. It was the first and only chanting concert I have attended. I was somewhat apprehensive, afraid that it would be mostly new age types, but I told myself once I was there and already in my seat, to stop being judgmental and to try and be open to the experience. She has a beautiful voice and the music was really beautiful and when Shatam talked between chants she was very down to earth, not airy fairy or new age at all.

    Before one chant she asked us to try and connect with any pain we might be carrying within and then while chanting to try to give the pain away to God. While at the concert I found it was easy to connect to my pain of being flawed, in some way, of not measuring up. This brought all the big mistakes I had made in life to mind, all the times I had caused others pain. The pain I felt was very strong. At the time I wrote, “Then the many defenses my ego uses to stop me from feeling deep emotional pain took over. We create defenses so we will not feel pain, but then when we want to open up to the pain, so we can heal, the defenses become a hindrance. It is almost like I am dealing with a separate person who keeps getting in the way of my healing.”

    The following chant was about opening up the heart chakra, Shatam talked about breaking down the blocks we create to stop us from feeling real love and compassion. This was very illuminating for me coming right after the previous chant about pain. I realized it is not just pain that I protect myself from, but I also created defenses so I do not feel love. I was afraid to open my self up to love for the same reason I was afraid to open myself up to my pain, it forced me to experience myself at my most vulnerable and at my most vulnerable I believed I was a mistake, flawed and could never measure up.

    I can truly say I no longer hold those beliefs, although at times they will still appear and then I do try to connect to my higher self and follow my heart.

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