Yesterday we met and the master said: The storms of energies on the planet are intense now. Stay aligned with the light from above. Your friend is always on your side. You are following a divine plan. You have a job to do in these wired times. You are the light of your world. So surrender and feel what comes up. And don´t worry. You will always come up again. Feelings will not kill you!
As a thank you for all my readers I will post here my novel about the secrets of Christian Gnosis I have learned by the Master
Many of us live only a small part of what life really has to offer us. Perhaps we follow a particular survival strategy. We may accept the idea that we must be on guard because life is dangerous. We stick therefore to certain behavior even though the world consists of many other ways of thinking and acting.
We walk the world with an outdated software program and do not really understand what happens around us. This software we could have inherited from our ancestors, the society or even our former self. Some ideas are kept over centuries from generation to generation. They do not even need to be mentioned verbally. But the gestures, the voice and the frequent sightings of a mother who thinks that life is bad and unjust, can teach the children the same thing. But in reality, every moment is new and we are connected with the entire cosmos. The world we experience, however, is proof that we have chosen to experience only a small part of the whole.
This world seems to consist of separate objects that are hardly related to each other. But this is not true. There is no solid matter, as we perceive it. What the physicists have found instead are clusters of pure energy that vibrate in a specific pattern. A lot of emptiness exists in every atom cluster, which we perceive as matter. There is much less difference between vacuum and matter than we think. The vast empty spaces that exist between the Sun and the planets of our solar system endure in every atom also. This means that each stone is made of emptiness as well as our bodies.
But why do we not experience everything as vibration, like shamans do in trance or people who are taking drugs? Why do we live in a frozen world where we can´t see the relationship between things? Has God done this to us, as he has thrown Adam and Eve out of paradise? We have been taught that way for a long time. Today we do not believe in such a God anymore and rather believe in nothing. If there isn´t any vengeful God, there can´t be any loving God either. That is the unspoken assumption of many.
But there is a surprising answer to the question of why we are here, without making God responsible for it. We are here because we want to be here. We have decided to be isolated because we hoped to reach independence in that way. This world is described in Iron John as the Forbidden Forest. We are surrounded by things that could reveal the secrets of the universe to us if we could but see them with a completely open mind and innocent eyes. But since a long time, we let our minds run on auto-pilot and allowed it to tell us what the things around us mean, rather than to be silent and to allow these things to talk to us.
We distract ourselves most of the time just because we are afraid to be overtaken by the Truth and returned to the living cosmos. We know that if we would let go completely for a moment, a totally different vision of the universe would dawn on us, a vision beyond all the problems we perceive in our daily lives. Carlos and Maria Magdalena offered me a different world, by showing me how to read an old story in a new way and to progress through seven gates of experience. May the reader find his own way through these gates.
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A reader named Connie wrote to me and asked the following question:
Is there a mystic/al church? What would it look like? Does such a thing exist in your experience?
It’s a great question. I imagine anyone who truly learns about the spirituality of Christian mysticism can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be part of a neighborhood church that took contemplation and mystical prayer seriously.
I wish I could say all Christian churches are mystical. I personally believe all Christian churches should be mystical, and that they would be, if they took the Bible’s teachings on prayer, silence, and union with God seriously. But we live in an imperfect world. So as we all know, many Christian congregations have very little (or no) knowledge of contemplation at all, it is never mentioned in sermons are in classes, and sometimes churches are even hostile to this topic.
I remember an evangelical friend telling me, when I was a youth, to stay away from mysticism. “It begins in mist, ends in schism, and has “I” rather than ‘God’ at the center!” That was the warning.
Unfair? Of course. But it shows how many Christians are uncomfortable with the spirituality that is actually a part of our heritage.
What Would a Contemplative Church Look Like?
If you join or visit a Buddhist sangha (community), you will find that the heart of their community is practice — they don’t just talk about Buddhism, they live it. And the heart of their practice is meditation.
In a similar way, I believe a truly mystical or contemplative church will emphasize practice as well — and the heart of Christian practice is prayer. Prayer in many forms: from “saying prayers” to chanting the psalms to fixed-hour prayer at different times during the day, to the kinds of practices typically associated with mysticism: meditation and contemplation.
So, a truly contemplative church will emphasize prayer, meditation and contemplation. Depending on the church’s denominational affiliation, it might also emphasize other practices traditionally associated with contemplation, such as Centering Prayer, lectio divina (meditative scripture reading), working with a spiritual director, making retreats, studying the wisdom of the mystics, and putting the contemplative life “to work” by engaging in a social ministry such as feeding the homeless or supporting refugees.
A truly contemplative, mystical church will still have plenty in common with other churches: including Sunday morning worship, study of scripture, small prayer groups, opportunities for fellowship and service, and making a commitment to stewardship as a spiritual practice. And because Christian spirituality is inclusive rather than exclusive by nature, a truly mystical church would still be the kind of place where people who do not feel personally called to study or practice contemplative forms of prayer would still feel welcome and at home.
Some Churches Are More Mystical Than Others
There are certainly individual churches here and there where the clergy and/or the church leadership, are very open to contemplation and mysticism. I know of several off the top of my head: Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA; St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, NY; Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville, FL; Haw Creek Commons in Asheville, NC; The Portico in Tampa, FL; and the Church of Conscious Harmony in Austin, TX. Certainly there are others. But what is true of all these communities is that they serve a variety of people, so not every member of all these churches thinks of themselves as “mystics” or even as contemplatives.
Contemplatives, it seems have to learn how to live in a world where only a few people seem to be called (or accept the call) to live a truly contemplative life.
But if truly contemplative-friendly churches are still in the minority, how can you find a church that is open to nurturing the mystical life? Here are a few thoughts.
- Check out the Quakers. Quakerism has given us a long lineage of Christian contemplatives, from George Fox to John Woolman to Rufus Jones to, in our time, Parker J. Palmer and Richard Foster. Because Quakerism stresses silent prayer, meditation, and learning to listen to the leading of the Spirit within, it is perhaps the most “mystical-friendly” of all the Christian denominations.
- Look for churches that host Centering Prayer or Christian Meditation Groups. Sometimes even if the congregation as a whole is oblivious to mysticism, you can find people committed to the contemplative life by joining a local group dedicated to a practice like Centering Prayer of the World Community of Christian Meditation (WCCM) method of Christian Meditation. Visit the Contemplative Outreach or WCCM websites to see if there is contact information for a group near you.
- In the Catholic world, parishes that are served by Jesuit priests, Franciscans, Carmelites or some of the other religious orders can sometimes be very contemplative-friendly. It really varies from church to church. But it’s worth looking into.
Finally, I think what many people who are drawn to contemplation and mysticism do: find a Centering Prayer or similar group, and/or become affiliated with a monastery or retreat center where you can meet like-minded people, who are interested in contemplative practice and learning the wisdom of the mystics. On a more personal level, many people cultivate their desire for contemplative support by working with a spiritual director or guide. In fact, I would argue that anyone who is serious about daily prayer ought to have a spiritual guide anyways! If you are interested in learning more about one-on-one spiritual guidance, visit the website for Spiritual Director’s International.
You Can Make a Difference
But what if you just don’t have any luck finding a contemplative church, you don’t live anywhere near a monastery or retreat center, and even finding a spiritual director or centering prayer group seems to be impossible?
In this scenario, I would encourage you to pray about whether or not you could start your own group, either at your neighborhood or even in your own home.
There are some interesting resources for people who want to start or develop a contemplative church. I wrote a blog post called Nine Ways to Foster a Contemplative Church — perhaps you could share that with your pastor or other elders in your congregation, or invite a group of like-minded persons to read this with you and pray over it to see how God might be leading your church to become more contemplative. For a more in-depth resource, consider reading Contemplative Church: How Meditative Prayer and Monastic Practices Help Congregations Flourish by Peter Traben Haas. It’s a book that makes the case for why it is a good idea for the neighborhood church to become more contemplative. Once again, consider sharing it with your pastor and/or starting a group to read it together. And then see where the Spirit leads you.
You could also contact WCCM or Contemplative Outreach to see about starting a contemplative prayer group in your church.
Good luck! I hope everyone who would love to be part of a contemplative or mystical church will have the opportunity to do so: either by joining an existing congregation that is mystical-friendly or else helping to start such a community in your neighborhood.
If we are looking for happiness, we first of all have the impression of being powerless. We are often in circumstances that we understand as an expression of our powerlessness. We go to work, buy, cook, eat, clean up, prepare for the next day and spend another two hours watching TV. Our discussions are usually in the same direction. We fall asleep tired and seldom wonder if we’ve gotten closer to our happiness today. Others of us live alone and have a lot of free time. They may try to kill their boredom by hanging out in front of the computer, drinking alcohol or doing sports. Many of us are waiting for the day when happiness appears. But this day always seems to be just as far in the future as last year. Is it even in our power to find happiness or are we at the mercy of a chaotic world that pushes us around ruthlessly? The good news is that all we have to do is stop doing the wrong thing. Then happiness and peace will naturally flow into our lives as well as their external representatives friendship, prosperity, love, security. The power is already in us. However, it eludes the access of our ego. This is the voice of our limited identity that babbles incessantly in our heads. This voice complains, criticizes and sends us on an eternal search for something that it can not recognize. Therefore, when we listen to that voice, we are doomed to a fruitless search. The higher aspect of our self, on the other hand, is always loved, connected and loved. This higher self sends us joy, inspiration, enthusiasm and love. Our goal should be to listen more and more to this voice, which shows itself in an inner intuition. First, however, we must go the path of feeling to become clear enough inside to allow and understand higher energies. In short, we are crossing the bridge from powerlessness to power, where we stop resisting the things that appear in our awareness, be they external or internal appearances. When we stop judging, we will grow in power, greatness, and happiness, and the world will become smaller. The awakening of the Buddha meant nothing other than the realization that the whole universe was in his mind. This experience is not beyond our reach. It’s not that difficult to get them temporarily, as we may think. But it is difficult to stay in this bliss the whole time.