Life as Participation
Week Thirty-Six Summary and Practice
Sunday, September 5—Friday, September 10, 2021
After transformation, God is not out there and we don’t look at reality. We look from reality. We’re in the middle of it now; we’re a part of it. This whole thing is a mystery of participation.
Our lives have meaning and purpose. We either help build this world up in love or tear it apart. —Ilia Delio
For Paul, love is not something we do. It is something that is done to us, and that we participate in.
Paul teaches that we are both saints and sinners on a corporate level. Our holiness lies in participating in the wholeness of the Body of Christ.
The good news of an incarnational religion, a Spirit-based morality, is that you are not motivated by any outside reward or punishment but by participating in the Mystery itself.
Religion as participation constantly recognizes that we are a part of something more than we are observing something or “believing” in something.
Finding the Life Underneath Your Life Situation
Earlier this week I shared that we only “fall into” the bigger Life and Love in which we all participate by releasing our attachment to our smaller selves. Here is a practice from Eckhart Tolle that may help us to experience this freedom to “fall.” In this passage, Tolle responds to a reader who has shared how unhappy they are with their “life”:
What you refer to as your “life” should more accurately be called your “life situation.” It is psychological time: past and future. Certain things in the past didn’t go the way you wanted them to go. You are still resisting what happened in the past, and now you are resisting what is. Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focused on the future, and this continued focus perpetuates your denial of the Now and therefore your unhappiness.
It is true that my present life situation is the result of things that happened in the past, but it is still my present situation, and being stuck in it is what makes me unhappy.
Forget about your life situation for a while and pay attention to your life.
What is the difference?
Your life situation exists in time.
Your life is now.
Your life situation is mind-stuff.
Your life is real.
Find the “narrow gate that leads to life.” It is called the Now. Narrow your life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems—most life situations are—but find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in ten minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now?
When you are full of problems, there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you can find the life underneath your life situation.
Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. See the light, shapes, colors, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be. Listen to the sounds; don’t judge them. Listen to the silence underneath the sounds. Touch something—anything—and feel and acknowledge its Being. Observe the rhythm of your breathing; feel the air flowing in and out, feel the life energy inside your body. Allow everything to be, within and without. Allow the “isness” of all things. Move deeply into the Now.
Richard again: I realize how counter-intuitive this sitting and being and noticing is for most of us, yet it is only in the “naked now” that we can participate in the fullness of life.
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (New World Library: 1999), 51–52.