Knowing Our Source and Ground

Perennial Tradition

Knowing Our Source and Ground
Thursday, August 2, 2018

David Benner, a friend and wise teacher, has been a part of several Christian traditions over the years, including fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and now contemplative Anglicanism. He reflects on universal truths across denominations and religions:

All wisdom traditions have something to say about four important matters: (1) the nature of ultimate reality, (2) the possibilities for human knowing of this ultimate human reality, (3) the nature of personhood, and (4) the goal of human existence. . . .

1. However named, God is the Ultimate Reality. Language does not serve us well to describe this Ultimate Reality since it is so profoundly supra-human and trans-personal. . . . All names for this foundation of existence point to the same reality—a reality that . . . is both transcendent and immanent, not set apart from the world of humans and things but deeply connected to everything that is. . . .

Ultimate Reality is the source, substance and sustenance of all that is. Nothing exists without it. To be removed from this vital connection would be to instantly cease to exist. We exist because we are in relation to Ultimate Reality, or, more precisely, because we exist within it. . . .

2. The mystics of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition assert that direct, immediate knowing [of Ultimate Reality] is possible. They tell us that such knowing is not based on reason or deduction, but on communion. . . . Knowing is intimate, and this intimacy is transformational. We come to resemble that which we know. . . .

3. There is a place in the depths of [the human] soul in which Ultimate Reality alone can dwell, and within which we dwell in Ultimate Reality. . . .

4. The knowing that humans seek, in every cell of our being, is to know the source and ground of our existence. This, the Perennial Wisdom Tradition teaches, is the goal and meaning of being human. Life has a direction. All of life flows from and returns to Divine Presence. . . . Union with Ultimate Reality is sharing in the divinity of Christ. It is participating in the Divine Presence. This is the fulfillment of humanity. . . .

[For Christians,] the moral of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition is, “Don’t settle for anything less than the truth of your Christ-self.” The ego-self, with which we are all much more familiar, is a small cramped place when compared with the spaciousness of our true self-in-Christ. This is the self that is not only at one within itself; it is at one with the world, and with all others who share it as their world. . . .

Awakening is the expression of that grace in which we see through our apparent separation and notice that we are already one with divine Presence and with all that is. All that is missing is awareness.

Reference:
David G. Benner, “Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (CAC: 2013), 24-28. (This issue of Oneing, a limited edition publication, is no longer available in print; however, the eBook is available from Amazon and iTunes. Explore additional issues of Oneing at store.cac.org.)

Image credit: Broken Obelisk (detail), by Barnett Newman. A permanent installation in the reflecting pool on the grounds of the Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas, United States.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Awakening the essential Self is one reason that the Center for Action and Contemplation is dedicated to reinvigorating the teaching of Christian contemplation. The consistent practice of contemplation helps to uncover our essential Self, our connected Self, our True Self. —Richard Rohr

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