Scripture: I have given them your
word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer
is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the
world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:14-16)
Peace, the Hebrew shalom, means wholeness and completeness.
Peace is not when all agree, for this is impossible. It is the ability to realise that all the various
perspectives, even if contradictory, are only partial perspectives of the whole picture. The truth is greater than the sum
of those parts. The path to paradise is really paradox and we need to make peace with the apparent conflict.
One perspective can never be the be-all and
end-all for understanding the ultimate truth and therefore should not be taken too seriously – though
it is a partial accurate view of
reality. From a higher perspective, it will realised that there were no contradictions, but rather different
perspectives of one complete truth.
(Quote based on The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine
Within You, Rabbi David Aaron, Shambala Publications, Boston, 2004,
Spirituality is about being big
enough to embrace paradox:
need to be detached, but we need to be fully here and now in the drama of
need to be self-disciplined, yet act spontaneously.
need to make our own effort, but also to realize that we do nothing.
need to differentiate good from bad, yet go beyond
· We need to think
in new spiritual ways, yet to know that all thoughts are just concepts.
· We need to
cultivate compassion and relieve suffering, but also to understand that everything is perfect just the way it
Waves on the Ocean
All of these dilemmas stem from one great dilemma. We experience
ourselves as separate bodies and personalities, but we are also indivisible parts of the Whole. Superficially
we are individual waves which rise and fall on the one great ocean of Being, which is our deeper
Following the spiritual path is an ongoing process of attempting to
resolve the great paradox of being a part of an indivisible Whole. How can this be done? The word “paradox”
itself gives us a clue, coming as it does from the Greek para dokien – “beyond thought”. The dilemma cannot be resolved by thinking about it. It is
resolved in a profound acceptance of the fact that this is the way things are. A wave doesn’t worry about
being the ocean. It just IS.
The Impersonal “I” and the
The spiritual path is the process of discovering the impersonal sense
of “I” that inhabits the personal sense of “me”. Enlightenment is a sacred marriage between the “I” and
It is living as God made flesh – both divine and
It is about being in the world, but not of
It is experiencing both com-union (with union) and com-passion (with
As the impersonal I, we experience communion with all that is in an
As the personal me, we reach out with unconditional compassion to all
the other separate beings confused and suffering in this strange world.
Consider the metaphor of life being like a movie – to be in the world
but not of it. Balance being the detached impersonal Consciousness that witnesses life and also an engaged
participant of the unfolding drama in the here and now. Like watching a movie, enter into the illusion
while retaining a tacit (unspoken, implicit, inferred, implied, unstated) understanding that you are actually
only the observer and no one is in reality living and dying – then you will be able to appreciate fully the
drama without being overcome by it.
This is similar to the state of mind the saints and sages encourage us
to adopt in relation to life. Most of us are so identified with the hero of our movie – the ego – that we
need to concentrate on practices that cultivate detachment. Yet this can lead to a cold indifference – so we
need also to enter into the tragicomedy of it all with heroic compassion in the face of life’s suffering and
a healthy sense of humor.
Engaged detachment allows one to step in and out of life as
required. When life is rich you can enjoy it without reservation, but when it becomes too painful, you can
remind yourself that the “wicked witch” is only a passing fantasy that can in reality never touch
Fundamentally, the spiritual search is not motivated by the desire to
be enlightened or merge with God. These sophisticated conceptual descriptions are much later accretions
around a more primal pressure. The root motivation for becoming a spiritual seeker is that we simply need to
feel good about life and death.
We all know that living can be a frightening, lonely, painful,
grief-stricken ordeal. In the face of this, we desperately need to feel that in some way we are essentially
safe. We need to know that our joys and suffering have real meaning. Spirituality answers these needs. It
frees us from the deep anxieties caused by believing ourelves to be isolated egos.
It connects us to an immense benevolence that
permeates creation, an unconditional compassion that beats the pulse of life, that Great Mystery that in reality
we are. Those who dare to look beyond the limits of their habitual horizons and glimpse the infinite goodness
that is God are forever reassured that all is well.
Timothy Freke, Encyclopedia of Spirituality: Information and Inspiration to Transform
Your Life (Sterling Publishing Company, New
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