Followers may find a comment from a visitor from Alexandria, Egypt that just come in on my previous post [this morning] interesting…I carry on in peace.
Regular followers of my blog will know of my earliest experiences with Jesus Christ; graced to me before I was even aware of his name or the world around me, or Christianity and so on. I have pondered upon those following years of nightly teaching and companionship experiences and the ones that followed for many years and still do. I still do not have any comprehensive, educated understanding of what or why or how. Why me? Why was I given this? It was years before I could found a description of what my experiences of God were…because no one else I knew of, even the priests I spoke with had my experiences. It made for hard going as I tried to fit myself into the available cages of conformity. I was confirmed into the Church of England and literally experienced the receiving of the Holy Spirit, coming through my head and shooting through my entire body and out of my hands and feet in blinding blue light. I looked up and saw the Christ smiling at me, standing next to the priest. No-one else noticed a thing. I was confirmed into the Catholic Church, and as the priest anointed my forehead with the oil, I felt the familiar tingle of Sacred Presence, opened my eyes and saw the Christ smiling at me, in the inner circle with the priests. No one else felt a thing. I found myself spilling out of the rigid structural boxes of religious traditions…the rules and dictates all over the place. The priests could not answer me. I grew to know that look in their eyes when their theology let them down to answer the questions Christ had told me to ask of them. Each time I tried to slide in undercover to just satisfy my human urge to belong….Christ opened the door and set me free, bidding me to wander and listen to His call of and in my heart. These priests were wise men, Beloved of the Lord they were good men of faith…but their path was not the one Christ chose for me, though I longed for it to be.
I had an absolute unshakable knowing that all was One, that although we express things in different ways they are shades of the same wondrous tapestry and that we should be only celebrating our diversity in unity. There is but One God and we are all His children. Each of us is Beloved of God. Thus it makes no difference to me whether I am praising and praying to God in a mosque, in a church, in a field or in a prison cell. All these places are holy because a child of God carries within its heart the Sacred Presence, wherever it may go in life. The gift of the Sacred Presence lies within us where no man may harm it, steal it nor take it from us by deception and false words, deeds and actions. But-it can remain hidden within us, never fully operational if we do not activate it within ourselves of our own choice and Love. It is also visible outside of us in each living thing we see. It is in the rocks, the water, the deer of the forest, the mountain goat, the bear in its lair. The Sacred Presence, the Divine is everywhere we look, in everything we encounter, within and without…we just have to learn to open enough to recognize it. God is indeed in the last place we look…in everything right in front of our nose and every breath we take in, each gulp of air, every morsel of food, each drink of fresh clean water. Life is given by God, sustained by God…nothing exists except for its very existence within God.
The priests had a problem…what are you they said, are you Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Sufi? I am all of these and more I answer, all of these, none of these and more. I am a Child of God. Then I found the Sufi, the contemplative, the Mystics, the Hermits and I laughed…ah now I understand, now I am with those who know the ancient language. The anchorite enclosed for her life in her cell has more freedom than the worlds wildest adventurers, for there as she meets her Beloved under starlit canopies strewn with rose petals she travels on His wings of love across the world, to all destinations, sees all things, meets all people in her Beloved. Just as the shaman flies through the eagle to countries across the world, traversing physical time and space; seeing all things…so the mystic, the hermit, the contemplative travels through time and space, to the source of all things past, present and future. She dances the slow seductive dance of Sacred Presence with her Beloved and He shows her all things of which she may not speak.
The religious traditions have always had a bit of a problem with mystics, we are the “wild cards”, they are never quite sure of what we are going to come out with next…yet over time, all religions have followed their paths, so maybe a description could be “trendsetters”, the ones who travel the boundary lands first, the ones who escape from Plato’s cave and relate the sunshine and trees that lie beyond the blank wall, the majority are busy staring at. When mystics have finally given up on fitting in, they understand that each man and woman has a unique experience of God, thus no religion can express the whole of the divine mystery. There is thus no objective truth about God to which all must subscribe, since this God transcends the category of personality, predictions about His behavior and inclination is impossible. Any consequent chauvinism about others faith at the expense of other people’s is unacceptable, since no one religion has the whole truth. We see the universe as a theophany of God’s myriad Names.
This wonderful story that Rumi told expresses it well. Its named Moses and the Shepherd. He tells it to illustrate the respect we must show to other people’s conception of the divine.
One day Moses overheard a shepherd talking familiarly to God; he wanted to help God, wherever he was-to wash his clothes, pick the lice off, kiss his hands and feet at bedtime. ‘All I can say, remembering You’, the prayer concluded, ‘is ayyyy and ahhhhhh.’ Moses was horrified. Who on earth did the shepherd imagine he was talking to? The Creator of heaven and earth? It sounded like he was talking to his uncle! The shepherd repented and wandered disconsolately off into the desert but God rebuked Moses. He did not want orthodox words but burning love and humility. There were no correct ways of talking about or to God.
What seems wrong to you, is right for him
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
These mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better
Or worse than any other.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and its all right.
It’s not Me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshipers! I don’t hear the words they say.
I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality,
Not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning…
Be friends with your burning. Burn up your thinking and your forms of expression.
We are all One.
There is One God.
Let us celebrate our diversity in unity.