The Way of the Heart Part 5: Upgrading Our Operating System

The move to nondual from our usual egoic way of being requires an upgrade to a whole new operating system. The software you run on is ego – the characteristic is perception by separation and delineation. Brain studies confirm that we see in binary – the grammar of looking at the world is subject and object, predisposed to manipulate a playing field of consciousness, parallel opposites. Male/female, foreground/background, more/less, et al.

Our egoic mind will interpret the “search for True Self” as the search for the correct label when in fact it is the discovery of a Self with no definition at all.

The Egoic Operating system is very useful. But it can’t do two things:

1.)    Ask “Who am I?”

2.)    Ask “Who is God?”

These can’t be discovered by perception of differentiation; they require perception of union.

The parables are subversive nondual teaching (See Keating’s Meditations on the Parables*), stunning reversals. Politically subversive, yes, but also putting hand grenades into the mental/egoic operating system of the brain – they’re very much like Zen Koans.

If you perceive the world from separation, you’re going to see a separated universe – even if you’re an activist, trying to create a more just and fair world. If your lenses are off, your vision will be off.

Jesus is about destabilizing. The parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard is a representative hand grenade:

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

*I have to say, priest & chef Robert Farrar Capon‘s omnibus Kingdom, Grace, & Judgement has forever altered the way I see Jesus’ parables – in a beautiful way that I’m sure Cynthia would resonate with. And to see where Cynthia’s going with our operating system updgrade, I highly recommend her books The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and MindCentering Prayer and Inner Awakening,  The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, and The Wisdom Way of Knowing. To be continued..! 

In this series:
The Way of the Heart – Cynthia Bourgeault Part 1: What IS the Path of Jesus?
The Way of the Heart – Cynthia Bourgeault Part 2: See What Jesus Sees; Do What Jesus Does
The Way of the Heart Part 3: Cynthia Bourgealt’s Four Proposals – Beyond ‘The Imitation of Christ’
The Way of the Heart Part 4: Heartfulness Practice Transcends & Includes Orthodoxy
The Way of the Heart Part 5: Upgrading Our Operating System
The Way of the Heart Part 6: A Rorschach Blot for the Mind
The Way of the Heart Part 7: When 20/20 Hindsight Becomes Blindsight
The Way of the Heart Interlude: Kenosis Hymn
The Way of the Heart Part 8: Heart Surgery 

11 Responses to The Way of the Heart Part 5: Upgrading Our Operating System

  1. Carl Gregg November 30, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Thanks for your recent blog series highlighting Cynthia’s work. I am a huge fan of her books. I also appreciate you referencing Capon’s omnibus. I hadn’t heard of it previously, but his “The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection” is stunningly good.

    You’re also precisely right that our worldview/Operating System profoundly affects how we see the world. As Richard Rohr says, “We see the world, not simply as the world is, but as WE ARE.”

    I’m wondering if you are familiar with the writings of the philosopher Beatrice Bruteau. If not, I think you’d really like her. Specifically on your recent nondual emphasis, in her book “The Holy Thursday Revolution,” she says that we tragically misunderstand Jesus’ Second Greatest Commandment (and hence misread Jesus’ life and teachings overall) if fail to see that Jesus is in many ways being quite literal (albeit with a mystical spin) in his emphasis on the importance of learning to love your neighbor as yourself. She writes: “If we cannot love our neighbor as ourself, it is because we do not perceive our neighbor as ourself. We perceive the neighbor as precisely not ourself, but as a potential threat (or potential aid) to ourself…. The Holy Thursday Revolution undertakes to change our perceptions so that it will become possible for us fully to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

    The “Holy Thursday Revolution,” as I’m sure you know, is when, after washing his disciples’ feet (a profoundly nonhierarchical and unselfish act), Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). Thus, rightly understood, the way of Jesus calls us toward a life of ever-expanding concentric circles of inclusion: from only worrying about yourself and what you will eat and drink (Matthew 6:25) to a compassion for all people, friends or enemies (Matthew 5:44). Bruteau’s book challenges us to see that authentically living the way of Jesus will change both our self and our worldview such that we increasingly begin to experience ourself as deeply in connection — or, better, in communion — with all people, even all Creation. Hence, we find ourselves truly able to practice The Second Greatest Commandment to “love your neighbor AS YOURSELF.”

    If you or others are interested, I continue with a nondual understanding of Jesus Greatest Commandment to love God in the final section of this Patheos post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carlgregg/2011/10/dont-justify-your-selfishness-in-jesus-name-bonus-two-cartoons/

  2. Alan Davidson November 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I bought Capon’s book on your recommendation. thanks…

  3. Tana November 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    This is the challenge I am currently struggling with the most. The world is full of chaos and suffering from a lack of justice. I want to point at “it” and say, “That there is what is wrong, let’s fix it.” I get anxiety over it and I almost immediately feel powerless to actualize any change. My ego wants it to be very clearly defined: I am not that. That is not me. Yet I am that by virtue of being a part of this world and a part of its system. So it seems that the anxiety doesn’t come from that which is unjust and chaos-filled, but from my refusing to acknowledge my part in it, the way I contribute to it and feed it.

    This is very difficult to talk about, much less talk about without babbling.

    I guess I’ll just wrap up with this: is anything “bad”? Or is every thing ultimately God giving us what we asked for with unconditional love? We do not find ourselves in any situation that cannot be traced back to our having asked for it in some way, at some time. We are feeding ourselves our own poison. I don’t know.

  4. Megan November 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you for the Zen Koans reference. I browsed through a few of the Koans. The Sound of One Hand Clapping being my favorite and relevant to a perception of union. I pondered this one awhile, and revisted after lunch, realizing that it must involve another person. It’s amazing what becomes, if we just switch our perception. I just discovered your blog Monday, browsing over lunch (a bad habit…. or maybe not??) Thanks for such a refreshing, thought-provking blog.

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