Friday, January 20, 2012

Dreams, inner work, spirituality

Another fantastic post by Jean Raffa.  It's called Ruling the Inner Chamber, and she deals with dreams, inner work, and the spiritual journey.  I especially love this:

Contrary to popular belief, authentic spirituality is not just a function of how many souls we save or how well we know scriptures or how hard we pray or how many rules we keep or what we believe or how often we attend our place of worship or how much money we donate to the poor. Likewise, spiritual maturity is not limited to a particular religion or set of beliefs. Rather, it is a function of our willingness to further the unfolding of our capacity for full living, endless loving, and authentic being.

We’re supposed to discover our true selves and connect with the sacred Mystery within. We’re supposed to learn how to accept and love ourselves because that’s how we learn to accept and love others. Every religion has spawned mature spirit persons whose mystical experiences and intuitions taught them that God indwells the soul. This means that our spiritual growth is not just a function of searching for God outside ourselves but also of honoring the “kingdom” within.

Thanks Jean for continuing to be a friend on the journey!


Jean Raffa said...

Thank you, Rob. It's an honor to be featured on your wonderful blog! I appreciate it very much.


Anonymous said...

I agree to a point, but.., there must be balance-no? If you have no balance, the inner sanctum becomes your God and your idol and it is humanism in its purest form no? Thus making us all no different than those who "worship images of mortal man". The fruit of your inner spirit which has been so strongly influenced by His Spirit is what I think the goal should be. Pursue His Spirit - not ours. We in essence become tri-une beings ourselves when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us. Our flesh (humanity); our spirit; and His Spirit; yet still one. The question is, which of those dominates our character, demeanor, and actions.

I do not agree at all that a set of beliefs or religion is not important. It is the Spirit that takes up residence in us that we are to come in-tune with - not just OUR Spirit; and I know of no other religion or belief that states the Spirit of the Living God takes up residence in you as Jean states? Sure a few of the "mature" folks may come to an understanding that it is possible after going through all the hoops they have to jump through to say, reach Nirvana or whatever, but...,

The beautiful thing about the Helper that Jesus left is, that it is a free gift, just like God's grace; all we have to do is accept that; but then the hard work of pursuing the understanding of that Spirit begins; but the difference is, the Spirit takes up residence in us whether we are a babe in the faith or a "mature" spiritual believer.

I also believe that in the world today, without the acknowledgment and pursuit of the Spirit that's taken up residence in us, it is impossible to reach the point of "unfolding of our capacity for full living, endless loving, and authentic being." on our own - we need the Helper so that the corrupting forces of our nature do not destroy our own spirit. The apostle Paul repeats this over and over in a myriad of ways.

The difficult part for teachers I believe is the question of "How do we help the everyday person make that their purpose in this life?" Meaning the understanding and pursuit of His Spirit - so that it overcomes and influences our Spirit to the point that we are living, loving, replicas of His Love, Mercy, & Grace.

It's kinda late and I feel I am blabbing on a bit, but hopefully I expressed this coherently. :-)

RoboPA said...

Reading Jean's piece again, I find that she is very balanced in her approach. Notice, she doesn't say religion is not important or bad, she says authentic spirituality is "not just" a function of the activities she lists. Meaning, you can do alot of activities under the guise of religion, but if you are not connected to the deeper self, it can hamper the movement towards authentic humanness.

Religion in it's sociological construct is the term we all use for the myths/stories that we shape our lives around in the context of the Divine. She is not advocating a humanism that worships the ego. She is referring to waking up to the presence of the Divine within us, yet separate and Other than us. Most Christian mystics would agree with this.

So, I can't speak for others, but when I speak of the inner journey, I'm not talking about some form of self worship. Rather, I happen to believe that it's in the depths of ourselves that we make contact with the Divine. In reference to the original blog, dreams are the voice of the unconscious (both personal and collective unconscious), and I believe the intersection of the human and the divine happens in the space that we create by plumbing the depths of the unconscious. Ann Ulanov has some excellent writing on Finding Space...the space for the intersection to happen. It's the Spirit of God in the world that lures us and draws us deeper into the mystery...within us and within the world.

Anonymous said...

I guess., part of my concern is that we lose sight of "the Kingdom of God is at hand" because we are so focused on our inner journey that we lose sight of the things the Master asked us to do (not religion and its constructs).

RoboPA said...

Well I hear that, and understand where you're coming from, but I also have a little bit of understanding of church history. It's full of different thoughts and understandings about what Jesus' message is, some of those understandings conflict with each other. So how are we to know that we have finally arrived at the pure, unmediated message of Jesus, when history tells us that such a thing just didn't exist?

Anonymous said...

What purpose woud it serve anyone to distort Jesus' message on serving the poor and loving your neighbor, i.e., the Good Samaratin; The Matt. 25 passage here: " Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"

The common thread of His message was surrender your heart & spirit and Love His Father and surrender your life in serving/loving your neighbor. It served no church politburo to leave those or to distort passages as these. We also have the comment in the book of James about what true religion is. So..., I dunno....?

RoboPA said...

I didn't say people distorted the message, I said there were/are different interpretations on the life and message of Jesus. The libraries are full of books on the subject. If it were as clear as you're saying, wouldn't there only be one view? What you are talking about is social action as part and parcel of the Kingdom. I'm not saying I disagree, but that is ONE view of the message. There are those who believe that the Gospel is social action, and social action only (i.e. liberation theology). There are those that believe that the Gospel is solely spiritual, and serving is just a "nice by-product". There are those that believe the passages that talk about Kingdom are really referring to the life after death. There are those that believe that passages such as the Good Samaratin, Matthew 25, etc. are really indictments against Judiasm, not necessary a call to action. There are those that believe Jesus was in line with ancient wisdom teachers of his day and was teaching people to awaken to the Kingdom within. There are those that believe that the early church added much to the stories that were in circulation, such that we can't distinguish the words of Jesus from the words of the early community (and maybe our concerns are really the concerns of the early community, and they maybe should be different).

Again, I'm not saying I agree with any,all, or none of those. I'm just saying that people can make valid exegetical cases for ALL of those things, and some of them contradict each other. The missional movement, the movement OUTSIDE the 4 walls of the church, while seeming to finally have nailed the message, is a relatively new message. Of course, those that subscribe to it would say it's recovering the message that was always there, but so would Liberation Theologians, etc. I'm very leary of anyone (church, group, etc) who claims to know THE message of Jesus. I hold many doctrines with an open hand these days.

As for loving your neighbor, I'm in no way discounting that. However, some, like me, view helping people to awaken, to live fully alive to God within and in the world, as the greatest way we can love and serve the world. There is nothing wrong with giving money and providing a meal to someone, and that needs to happen. But I fully believe that we can do that for someone, we can serve in the church and out, etc and we CAN leave those activities unchanged in our core (I know this from personal experience, both past and current). I say CAN because depending on where someone is in their journey with the Divine, different things are needed at different places. So...serving someone in need may be just what someone needs to wake up themselves. But, that doesn't always happen for everyone. I happen to believe the call of God in this world is for us to wake up to the influencial love of God that is drawing us, wooing us, to awaken and grow. That is intentional, and I believe part and parcel of the inner journey that God has called us to. The goal is not to produce copies of each other, the goal is to help people find "that of God" in them.

RoboPA said...

A good resource for the topic is "Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew" by Bart Ehrman. It shows that christian history is not as monolithic and univocal as we have been told in our churches.