A Different Consciousness
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Now we are moving into the next major section of my lineage: non-dual thinkers of all religions. All the great religions at the higher or more mature levels teach a different consciousness, which we call the contemplative mind, the non-dual mind, or the mind of Christ. The levels of spiritual development begin with dualistic, exclusionary, either/or thinking and become increasingly non-dual, allowing for a deeper, broader, wiser, more inclusive and loving way of seeing. Non-dualistic thinking presumes you have first mastered dualistic clarity, but also found it insufficient for the really big issues like love, suffering, death, sexuality, God, and any notion of infinity. In short, we need both to see fully and with freedom.
Though life itself may move us to deeper levels of non-dual knowing, there are some powerful practices, images, and experiences that can serve as catalysts for unitive consciousness. We’ll explore many of these, from different traditions and teachers, in the coming weeks. For example, the foundational Christian doctrine of the Trinity, if actually encountered and meditated upon, is made to order to break down the binary system of the mind—God is three and one at the same time! The Trinity makes us patient before Mystery and humbles our dualistic minds. Even though the doctrine of the Trinity was at the very center of Christian faith, most of us did not allow it to change our consciousness. We did not let the principle of three undo our dualistic principle of two. We simply “believed” it to be the nature of God and then shelved it, as we did most doctrines. Only the mystics tended to relate to God in a Trinitarian way, and often passionately so (such as Augustine, Bonaventure, Julian of Norwich, and the Cappadocian Fathers). I am certain that the future of Christian mysticism will be strongly Trinitarian. An honest Trinitarianism actually opens up interfaith dialogue and respect, because now we can admit that God is total mystery, both transcendent and immanent, a flowing God of which Jesus is a part. God is a verb more than a noun.
If there is indeed one God of all the earth, then it is this one God who is breaking through in every age and culture. Monotheists should be the first to recognize that truth is one (Ephesians 4:4-6) and that God is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). As Rumi said, “There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Different religions use different words to describe essentially the same change of consciousness that is necessary to see things in their fullness:
- Many writers in the early Christian era called the necessary perceptual shift away from the dualistic, judging, and separate self
- Buddhists called it meditation, sitting, or practicing.
- Hesychastic Orthodoxy called it prayer of the heart.
- Sufi Islam called it ecstasy.
- Hasidic Judaism called it living from the divine spark within.
- Vedantic Hinduism spoke of it as non-dual knowing or simply breathing.
- Native religions found it in communion with nature itself or the Great Spirit through dance, ritual, and sexuality. Owen Barfield called this “original participation.”
Gateway to Silence:
God is all in all.
Adapted from Contemplative Prayer (CD, MP3 download);
The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity, disc 2 (CD, MP3 download);
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, p. 150;
The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, pp. 53-54, 150-151;
Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, p. 32