|“William Blake is one of the great mystics of the world; and he is by far the greatest and most profound who has spoken in English. Like Henry More and Wordsworth, he lived in a world of glory, of spirit and of vision, which, for him, was the only real world. At the age of four he saw God looking in at the window, and from that time until he welcomed the approach of death by singing songs of joy which made the rafters ring, he lived in an atmosphere of divine illumination.”Spurgeon, Caroline F. E. (1913). Mysticism in English Literature|
When he was very young, Blake began to experience spiritual visions. When he was nine he saw “a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.” These mystical visions and his spiritual inspiration remained with him for the rest of his life.
In his mid-40s Blake lived for three years in a small cottage at Felpham on the Sussex coast where he saw angels descending on a ladder from heaven to his cottage. It was also at this time that he often saw fairies and once experienced what he understood to be a fairy’s funeral.
According to Blake, most of his work as a writer and artist was done under the direct inspiration of spiritual guides. In the introduction to his book on Milton, he explains:
“I have written this poem from immediate dictation, twelve or sometimes twenty lines at a time, without pre-meditation and even against my will. The time it has taken in writing was thus rendered non-existent, and an immense poem exists which seems to be the labour of a long life, all produced without labour or study.”
Everything Blake created–his poems, his engravings, his illuminated books–were for the purpose of revealing to people the Higher Reality.
“I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes
Of Man inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity.”
The last post which I reblogged really got to me instantly and deeply, that sentence was like a sword piercing through my heart of consciousness and I intend to expand on this over the next few posts and am allowing some great thinkers from various traditions to share with us their own knowledge of the very Breath of the Eternal, which as you will see, Rabbi Waskow says offers a profound metaphor and theology of God.
The Infinite Breathes Me.
For me that single sentence encapsulates the All, of which we are a part, a part that cannot be separated from nor distinguished from the flowing amorphous wholeness of the I Am. Like wispy smoke billowing becoming once again at one with the air with which it merges, frailness and enormity merging, blending, and indistinguishable from the All. When we pray we consciously and actively choose to join with the one breath and breathe with it. We breathe through it and it breathes through us.
Breathing in… and out… aware, fully conscious of Itself, deliberate full metamorphosis with each in breath and out breath. The place where all begins and ends, the place of no beginning and no ending, where all is contained within the Infinite, the Eternal Circle, pictured in the Celtic animal and circle whose head devours its own tail in a never-ending dance of eternal being.
All concepts of my own separation that I may hold are false, incomplete-real to me only when I am unaware of the breath…the Eternal breathing…in…and out…forever holding me as you…Us…the I AM. For my beginning was within God and thus I have no ending, for that is where I continue to abide eternally. My physical is an extension of that which abides eternally within total serenity and peace, within the heart of God. I am the eternal dance, the circle with no start or finish, the Alpha, the Omega…all that is. I am the breath of the Creator, drawn in and expelled at one and the same time, in a time with no time. A time that is not of this world, nor even universe, nor existence as we perceive it. For this world, this universe, even this existence is contained within…the Breath.
And then I found this video on YouTube…
The next post explores this further from a Jewish perspective.
Normally the Church would celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation today here in the UK. But because this is also Holy Week, the date is put forward to Monday April 8th, the day after Divine Mercy Sunday, which is the Sunday after Easter Sunday.
However, I have some thoughts on the celebration of the Annunciation, which I would like to share, which I feel are also apt to our preparations leading up to Easter; which involve one of the messages of the heart of Easter; our willingness to serve, to be ready, and our willingness to be transformed, so I will post this today anyway.
As the Christian Church holds, the Annunciation is when the angel Gabriel visited Mary, and told her that she had been chosen amongst women to bear the Christ child. Now it is easy for us to think in terms of this being long in the past, we know she agreed to this, we forget just what a huge “ask” this was of her, how inconvenient, how difficult it would be for her to be pregnant and single, how hard for Joseph to come to terms with the fact that his fiancée is telling him she is pregnant….by God no less. We can only imagine what must have been going through his mind! We of course know that all turns out well, Joseph sticks by her, they have the baby and that baby is unique for the whole world.
But for me, there is another message in this account. Mary had choice. She could have said no. She said yes. She had to make a choice, to say yes to God and to be willing, not only to carry this through but also to be transformed by it herself. One of the meditation cards by the Northumbrian Community is this:
I say ‘Yes, my Lord’ in all the good times through all the bad times.
Thomas Keating In his book entitled “Invitation to Love”, the Trappist monk and founder of Contemplative Outreach, details four consents. He says that the spiritual journey is a training in consent in God’s presence and to all reality and that at each major stage of that development God asks us to make an appropriate consent. In childhood, he says, God asks us to consent to the basic goodness of our nature with all its parts. In early adolescence, God asks us to accept the full development of our being by activating our talents and creative energies. The consent asked of us in early adulthood is to accept the fact of our non-being and the diminution of self that occur through illness, old age and death. And finally, the fourth consent that is asked of us is the consent to be transformed. He further says that we do not make these consents as ends in themselves, but rather to the will of God present in all these things. We consent to God and to his will both in the enjoyment and in the surrender of his gifts.
When we see suffering in others, we react with their pain ourselves too. It is possible to lose sight of who Jesus was and what God did at these points. We are not asked to simply have faith in an unknown intangible or love a remote God however. Jesus entered our world as fully human. Clothed in a human body, growing up in a human family, experiencing physical and emotional pain he lived his life alongside us. He died a cruel and lingering death, nailed to a cross, whilst also innocent, as innocent as the children massacred in Sandy Hook. He was not guilty as charged. He said “Yes” to us before He asked us to say “Yes” to him. He said yes to incarnating, yes to living with us and experiencing all that we experience in order to really feel and know intimately what it is to be fully human. He said yes to what was intended to be an ignoble death, and said yes to following his Fathers will to the grave and beyond in his blessed resurrection. He said yes in good times and through all the bad times. I believe that with his power, he could have saved himself, said no to death. He could have chosen to justify that by being able to spend more time here on earth, teaching, healing, and sharing with us. Yet he said yes, quite simply because he was in full union with his Father in Heaven and wanted us to know him too, to draw us closer to the Father through his own example in his life, his death and his resurrection. In this sacrificial act, and subsequent resurrection we are no longer asked to worship a remote God, but to walk confidently knowing our Father loves us and all creation. We are promised that we will meet him, and that he knows every hair on our heads, as well as our cares and concerns before we have even voiced them. This being so, it indicates that our Father is intimately connected with even the smallest detail of our lives and that they matter to him. Jesus brings us a loving Father, who knows his creation and yearns for it to know him. Jesus showed us in his actions both his availability to God and his intentional vulnerability. We too are invited to do accept that invitation, the same invitation that is the Annunciation.
I say “Yes, my Lord” calls us to intimate attentiveness of being. It calls us to raise our awareness of the pending call to action, at any time, in any encounter, ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’ as the song goes. We are asked to be mindful to God, to listen carefully, to be fully engaged in our consciousness and use our faculties; not numb them with substances or situations that lower our sense of Divine Presence. Our bodies are temples for the Spirit of the Lord; temples which if attended properly may yield his presence to us. Our temple can be a welcoming and inviting place of encounter, fit to meet our Lord if we tend it mindfully. It can be a pleasing place to the Lord. Within this temple lies the secret of secrets, the place where Lover and Beloved meet, beyond time and space, in encounters that may never find adequate expression in mere words, but whose witnessing is the very food of life itself and joy as well as solace to the Soul.
Yet our covenant with our Lord is also timeless when we say “Yes”. It is ongoing and asks of us a certain way of choosing, a certain way of living. It is not just a covenant of the mind and spoken word. It is a covenant of the heart; which asks of us that we live according to the ways we were taught by Jesus when he walked among us. We are to love each other as he loved us. We are to offer the other cheek when someone offends us. We are to give what is due to Caesar as well as give to God what is due to God, and not confuse the two. We are to be the Good Samaritan. We are to honour the Ten Commandments handed down through Moses. We are to store up our treasure in heaven and not on earth. And we are to pray as he taught us. We are to share our bread and our wine in remembrance of him, to share our common possessions and not covert what others have. We are asked to forgive each other as we are forgiven by our Father in heaven. We are asked to become as children, to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves, [Matthew 10:16] because he sends us out amongst wolves. We must retain our innocence as children of God, whilst not being fools. Further, we must not worry about where our next meal will come from, or how we shall clothe ourselves, for our Father knows of our needs before we do. Apart from the Ten Commandments, these are guides of behaviour, not rules and Thomas Keating reminds us that God gave us only Ten Commandments urging us as humans not to be so willing to create more that we must tie ourselves up with in our daily spiritual practises!
I say “Yes, my Lord” in all the good times and through all the bad times. I have faith that you are leading me and I follow with all my heart and soul. Stay close by me and guide me, drawing me ever closer to your presence, that I may see you face to face once again. Amen. Below is a painting of the Annunciation as imagined by Fra Angelico, simply one of my most favourite artists ever!
Yesterday at dawn,
My friend said, How long will this unconsciousness go on?
You fill yourself with the sharp pain of love,
Rather than its fulfilment.
I said, “But I can’t get to you!
You are the whole dark night,
And I am a single candle.
My life is upside down because of you!”
The friend replied,
I am your deepest being.
Quit talking about wanting me!
I said, “Then what is this restlessness?”
Does a drop stay still in the ocean?
Move with the entirety, and with the tiniest particular.
Be the moisture in an oyster
That helps to form one pearl.
This beautiful poem brings to mind a book by John O Donohue called Eternal Echoes, The Longing to Belong, in which he makes the point that we are destined to always feel a restlessness within, which is indeed the craving within us , the direction within us that is leading us on our path. We do in human form experience the irritation that creates ‘the pearl within the shell’, and a water droplet never stays still within the ocean. This restlessness, this urge comes from our deepest place, finding expression in the space that is the tension, of our experiencing the illusion of separation within us, that agitates us to travel within to actively and consciously rejoin our Source and know that we are indeed joined at all times.
The spiritual journey can be a dry and dusty place, whilst we seek without; full of seemingly never-ending mountains, where we feel like we take two steps upwards, make progress, then lose our footing and end up sitting on our bottoms at the base of the mountain yet again. Or we may see it as a pathway through a jungle, in which we seem to be getting along quite well and then suddenly the branches gather round us like the thorns and thickets in fairy tales and we are at a dead-end, no way ahead, no way back. The labyrinth, the maze, the spiral…inner and outer…
Confusion, blindness, seem to be our best known companions yet there is also a great truth that we may find helpful to remember. We are always moving inwards towards our destination and place of origin which we have actually never left; and that destination resides within our own deepest being. We will each discover one day that we are not seeking anything, or going anywhere. Then as we relax, we become adepts of transforming matter, moving with the entirety and the tiniest particular. We simply relax into the place of no resistance to the Divine Presence and float…at complete harmony with all. In the meantime, its two steps up and down on our bottoms yet again…until we become masters at harmonising with our deepest being on all levels.
As the poem says:
I am your deepest being.
Quit talking about wanting me!
I am pleased to announce that my second book is now available to purchase in book and Kindle format. 2013 has been a busy year so far in getting these two books written, edited and up for sale. It is something I have hoped to do for quite a while. So here they are and hopefully some of you will wish to spend some pennies and support my work. Every sale makes a difference. Thankyou.
The world has a new Pope, Francis 1st who in choosing his name has chosen his path of humility, poverty and service. May we all choose to walk the same path of service to others; remaining constant in our silent prayer and quiet presence, as well as our offerings of thanks and gratitude to where they are due. Let us not lay store by things temporal, but in recognising all as created by our Heavenly Divine Creator; whose power and reason we can have little comprehension of whilst in human form, we become filled with true worth, and true service to others. Amen. Stephanie.