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Introducing St. Paul: Weekly Summary

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

Introducing St. Paul

Summary: Sunday, March 29-Friday, April 3, 2015

Paul tries to bring Jesus’ teaching down to a practical, ethical, pastoral level, so that it can “happen.” (Sunday)

Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road is the source of his immense inner authority and most of his themes. (Monday)

Paul is forever the critic of immature, self-serving religion and the pioneer of mature and truly life-changing religion. (Tuesday)

After transformation, God is no longer “out there”; you are in God and God is in you. (Wednesday)

Paul was in love with the Messiah of Judaism and considered himself a Jew, but he did think the religion of his time had gone down the wrong road by its legalism and ritualism. (Thursday)

The more I understand the teaching of Jesus, the more I’m convinced that he gave Paul and us the necessary wisdom for the reform of all religions: non-dual consciousness, powerlessness, nonviolence, and compassionate action. (Friday)


Practice: Beholding

Contemplative practice integrates the passing insights and momentary consciousness that come through mystical experience. Even if you haven’t had a “Damascus Road” encounter, a regular contemplative practice opens you to non-dual awareness and the necessary actions that flow from this knowing that we are all one in God and that God is in all things. For some the conversion happens instantaneously, but for most of us, it does require life-long practice.

Choose some object—rock, tree, work of art, food, creature—and settle into some time of quiet observation. Whenever judgments, labels, or critiques arise, whether positive or negative, let them go and return to simply witnessing what is before you. Take it all in: shape, texture, colors, sounds, smells, perhaps even taste. If you are distracted by something else or the seemingly random thoughts that perpetually float through your mind, come back to this object, this moment.

Gradually let your gaze soften and behold the more-than-matter-ness that is also here. Deepen your awareness of the Risen Christ’s presence within this thing and within you.

You might return to this object again and again, each time deepening your seeing to the level of pure presence, including and beyond what is visible and sensible.

Gateway to Silence:
“I live no longer, not I; but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

For Further Study:
A New Way of Seeing . . . A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul (CD and MP3 download)
St. Paul: The Misunderstood Mystic (CD and MP3 download)

Image credit: “The Conversion of St. Paul, 1600 (detail),” Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610), Cerasi Chapel, Rome, Italy.
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