Wheel Within a Wheel: Fellowshipping with the Trinity in the Dance of Life

A couple of weeks ago was ‘Trinity Sunday’ in the Christian liturgical calender – an artifact of public worship that many contemporary Jesus-followers don’t pay much attention to. Even among those who do mark time in this way, “Trinity Sunday” often makes communities of faith squirm – it can be difficult to celebrate what might seem to many to be an obtuse doctrine.

Even so, I am an unabashed Trinitarian geek, to the consternation of some of my fundamentalist and uber-progressive friends alike. One reason for this is the unparalleled enthusiasm and scholarly work of Baxter Kruger. Another is an excellent teaching series done by Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bougeault. Recent, Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation have been re-presenting snippets from this series in their daily emails.

These reminders – God as community, God as weakness, God as giver and receiver of boundary – have been especially core to my spiritual energy during this recently-mentioned difficult period in my life. Also, 18 months ago, I discovered that I’m half-Turkish. Yes, there’s a blog post or two in that story – stay tuned!


For now, I’ll just say that I’ve been embracing my Turkish heritage, which contains everything from Saul/Paul of Damascus, the Cappadocian Mothers and Fathers who first lucidly articulated the mystery of God-as-Trinity, as well as originating the rich history of love-drunk Sufi poets and mystics, like Rumi and the Mevlevi Order of Dervishes. What all of these diverse influences have in common is an embrace of God that is both intensely interior as well as leaving nothing out of the wider world out of sense, absence, experience and surrender. God – as experienced and understood by Paul, the Cappadocians, and the Dervishes – is God-in-motion. This makes songs from my charismatic youth about ‘riding the wheel of God’ take on new meaning.

Because it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission, I’d like to share with you this week’s reflections from the Center for Action and Contemplation on the Trinitarian revelation. If you like these, be sure to subscribe to Richard’s daily email. It’s the only “daily devotional” I have delivered to my main (eg, real) email address.

If you’re feeling adventurous, listen to Wheel of God by my friend Kevin Prosch while reading the reflections below!

Trinity (detail), by © Andre Rublev, ca. 1410

MEDITATIONS
ON THE MYSTERY OF THE TRINITY

In the name of the Holy One
In the name of the Son
In the name of the Spirit
We are made one

God for us, we call You Father
God alongside us, we call You Jesus,
God within us, we call You Holy Spirit.

You are the Eternal Mystery that enables and holds
and enlivens all things
—even us and even me.

Every name falls short of Your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who You are in what is.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. 

Amen

~ Richard Rohr

Reality is Radically Relational

One reason so many theologians are interested in the Trinity now is that we’re finding both physics (especially quantum physics) and cosmology are at a level of development where human science, our understanding of the atom and our understanding of galaxies, is affirming and confirming our use of the old Trinitarian language—but with a whole new level of appreciation. Reality is radically relational, and the power is in the relationships themselves!

No good Christians would have denied the Trinitarian Mystery, but until our generation none were prepared to see that the shape of God is the shape of the whole universe!

Great science, which we once considered an “enemy” of religion, is now helping us see that we’re standing in the middle of awesome Mystery, and the only response before that Mystery is immense humility. Astrophysicists are much more comfortable with darkness, emptiness, non-explainability (dark matter, black holes), and living with hypotheses than most Christians I know. Who could have imagined this?

The Delight of Three

Our Franciscan Saint Bonaventure, who wrote a lot about the Trinity, was influenced by a lesser-known figure called Richard of Saint Victor. Richard said, “For God to be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, God has to be two because love is always a relationship.” But his real breakthrough was saying that “For God to be supreme joy and happiness, God has to be three.” Lovers do not know full happiness until they both delight in the same thing, like new parents with the ecstasy of their first child.

When I was first becoming “known,” people wanted to get close to me and be my friend or have a special relationship with me. I asked myself how I would choose between all these friends and I realized that the people I really found joy in were not always people who loved me nearly as much aspeople who loved what I loved. That helped me understand what I think Richard of St. Victor was trying to teach. The Holy Spirit is the shared love of the Father and the Son, and shared love is always happiness and joy. The Holy Spirit is whatever the Father and the Son are excited about; Sheis that excitement—about everything in creation!

A Participatory Verb

In our attempts to explain the Trinitarian Mystery in the past we overemphasized the individual qualities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but not so much the relationships between them. That is where all the power is! That is where all the meaning is!

The Mystery of God as Trinity invites us into a dynamism, a flow, a relationship, a waterwheel of love. The Mystery says God is a verb much more than a noun. God as Trinity invites us into a participatory experience. Some of our Christian mystics went so far as to say that all of creation is being taken back into this flow of eternal life, almost as if we are a “Fourth Person” of the Eternal Flow of God or, as Jesus put it, “so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3).

Interbeing: The Weakness of God

Paul says, “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). That awesome line gives us a key into the Mystery of Trinity. I would describe human strength as self-sufficiency or autonomy. God’s weakness I would describe as Interbeing.

Human strength admires holding on. The Mystery of the Trinity is about each One letting go into the Other. Human strength admires personal independence. God’s Mystery is total mutual dependence. We like control. God loves vulnerability. We admire needing no one. The Trinity is total intercommunion with all things and all Being. We are practiced at hiding and protecting ourselves. God seems to be in some kind of total disclosure for the sake of the other.

Our strength, we think, is in asserting and protecting our boundaries. God is into dissolving boundaries between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet finding them in that very outpouring! Take the rest of your life to begin to unpackage such a total turnaround of Reality.

Boundless Boundary: A Waterwheel of Love

A Threefold God totally lets go of any boundaries for the sake of the Other, and then receives them back from Another. It is a nonstop waterwheel of Love. Each accepts that He is fully accepted by the Other, and then passes on that total acceptance. Thus “God is Love.” It’s the same spiritual journey for all of us, and it takes most of our life to accept that we are accepted—and to accept everyone else. Most can’t do this easily because internally there is so much self-accusation (self-flagellation in many cases). Most are so convinced that they are not the body of Christ, that they are unworthy, that we are not in radical union with God.

The good news is that the question of union has already been resolved once and for all. We cannot create our union with God from our side. It is objectively already given to us by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Romans 8:9—and all over the place!). Once we know we are that grounded, founded, and home free, we can also stop defending ourselves and move beyond our self-protectiveness, too.

Just As I-AM-ness, Without One Plea

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist who was a major contributor to quantum physics and nuclear fission, said the universe is “not only stranger than we think, but stranger than we can think.” Our supposed logic has to break down before we can comprehend the nature of the universe and the bare beginnings of the nature of God.

I think the doctrine of the Trinity is saying the same thing. There is something that can only be known experientially, and that is why we teach contemplative prayer and quiet. Of all the religious rituals and practices I know of, nothing will lead us to that place of nakedness and vulnerability more than forms of solitude and silence, where our ego identity falls away, where our explanations don’t mean anything, where our superiority doesn’t matter and we have to sit there in our naked “who-ness.” If God wants to get through to us, and the Trinity experience wants to come alive in us, that’s when God has the best chance. God is not only stranger than we think, but stranger than the logical mind can think. Perhaps much of the weakness of the first 2000 years of reflection on the Trinity, and many of our doctrines and dogmas, is that we’ve tried to do it with a logical mind instead of with prayer.

Prayer:
God is a circle dance of communion.

Join the dance of mutuality, love, and endless giving and receiving that is the Mystery of Trinity.

Listen to more wisdom on the Trinity from master teachers:

The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity 
with Fr. Richard Rohr 
(CDMP3)

Shape of God: Deepening the Mystery of Trinity 
with Fr. Richard Rohr and Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault
(CDDVDMP3)

Did you get this message forwarded from someone else? Wish to sign up for CAC’s email lists yourself? Subscribe to CAC email lists here.Please direct inquiries to cac@cacradicalgrace.org.

Copyright © 2012 Center for Action and Contemplation
1705 Five Points Rd SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105 (physical)
PO Box 12464, Albuquerque, NM 87195-2464 (mailing)
(505)242-9588
www.cac.org

If you liked this, you might also enjoy…

You Are the Dance (a poem)
You Are the Dance: Now on Tim Coons ‘Frailty After Party’ Album!

- and – 

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

Recommended Trinity Reading & Listening:

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

20 thoughts on “Wheel Within a Wheel: Fellowshipping with the Trinity in the Dance of Life

  1. I’m all on board. Love these thoughts Mike. The more I move in this direction, the more it also opens me toward people of other faiths. The communal impulse/urge does not stop at these concept boundaries of how we think of God, or how we practice our spiritual rituals…it just blows right past them to – “I want to be with you”. We have a weekly interspiritual group because of this impulse – I find I can’t just be with people of my narrow defined group, I have to move toward others, or I feel so excluding and therefore not free. blowing past and embracing!

  2. Hello Mike. Yes! And let’s not forget Catherine LaCugna’s contribution to the subject. In her book, God For Us, she develops the idea that “from the late fourth century on, theologians in both East and West followed a course that significantly relaxed or [...] even compromised the pre-Nicene connection between oikonomia and theologia.” Also – and maybe because it’s where the personal and internal meets the communal and external – let’s not forget that “the Christian liturgical calendar” comes in many diverse forms. Among Churces that share a common lectionary, liturgical differences exist even among parishes and congregations within the same Church. It doesn’t take much to understand the intensity of a community’s commitment / addicttion to its liturgy. Just try changing even the tiniest part.

  3. Mike,

    Terrific post. I enjoyed the tying together of many points of reference from Rohr to Church Fathers/Mothers to Sufi.

    I would like to add your URL to my website http://thecloudofunknowing.com, with your permission (your forgiveness can come later!)

    Living as an aphophaticist is a bit different, and you are doing a huge job of defining those boundaries. Keep up the good work!

    Bill

  4. Mike,

    As I see that you decidedly becoming more and more open to various strains of “mystery religions”, (sufism, for example) and their broader appeals toward transcendant experience, I find myself wondering; How do you determine if/when you have veered too far into the esoteric?

    Do you believe that every tradition or practice that promises an experiential truth to be worthy of trying?

    Do you consider it even the slightest bit possible that some experiences are not of God, or may in fact even be completely counterfeit and deceptive?

    Do you believe that all entities and beings that one might encounter through the practices of the various mystery traditions are completely trustworthy?

    I am just wondering if you navigate these various things with any concept of there being any “danger” at any point…

  5. Hello, Mike,

    My sincere sympathy and heartfelt prayers for you in your difficult time. I am puzzled by your dabbling in alternatives and blending it all into a cosmic soup. I was immersed in these alternatives before I believed in Jesus in my mid twenties. The Triune God of Israel (I’m a Trinitarian geek too) just felt different from the spirit(s) I encountered before Christ. Whenever I went back, tried to blend, I would get indigestion, it felt all wrong, icky, and perverse and unnatural! Yet, it seems to feel okay to you.

    I liked the Rohr poem. May you and I and others every day grow in the grace and knowledge of — “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; he will lead them to springs of Living Water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” Revelation 7:17 – the simultaneity of the Trinity!

  6. To truthisstrangerthanfiction…..

    My journey began when i was 6 as a 4th generation Southern Baptist, and through mainstream / not so mainstream Religions of the world – some when I was 16 years old and continued through Christian traditions Jewish, Hindu (3 Sects), Taoist, Tibetan Buddhist, American Naitive Indian, S. American and Australian shamanism, all sorts of other traditions including Sufi and Baha’i faith not to mention all the new age ‘lightworks’, body and mind work, educated as a Board Certified Clinical and Forensic hypnotherapist. I am now 61. I converted to Catholicism when I was 45 and I can tell you that the dangers of losing touch are available every where. However, as in hypnosis, you cannot be hypnotized too deeply. I have pressed the limits to satisfy my own questions such as yours. The answer is – what exactly are you choosing to surrender to? If you are choosing the Holy Trinity, your choice is well taken. If a less pure association is sought, it can be found and encountered. In the end it is the darkness of your own soul that you must face. I have chosen to beat that darkness back with the light and love of our Lord, Jesus Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I will and have taken on some pretty dark moments and creatures. In the end, again, it was the results of my choices that put me there.

    • I suppose my next question for you Bill would be, do you not think that one can choose to surrender to the Holy Trinity without “pressing the limits” of the spiritual dimension? Does Yahweh invite us to come and try to seek Him via alternate states of consciousness? Or can we simply speak to him, and have a real encounter with God, in the most mundane of life’s moments?

      I would contend with the idea that one cannot be hypnotized too deeply, but no matter. If only it were as simple as “choosing” to encounter God, or a “less pure association” during these types of experiences. The problem is that all the various types of shamanism/spiritualism listed off do not come from God in the first place. Where do they come from? Who taught the first Buddhists how to meditate, or who taught the native Americans how to have “vision quests”? The same “impure spirits” who taught Sufis and Baha’i and all that is found in the New Age. It did not come from the Father, or the Son, or the Spirit.

      God did not design us as human beings to have a relationship with Him which necessitates tinkering around between the connection between our spirits and bodies. He did not teach His children to activate their “third eye”/pineal gland, or open our chakras, become hypnotized… Nor does God ask us to ever undure some kind gauntlet of terrifying spirit/creatures or dark worlds in order to come to terms with the darkness in our own heart. (as is the concept with stuff like Ayahuasca purgning ceremony) Maybe the Lord has used those experiences to teach you things about yourself, I’m not saying He can’t do that. But after having gone on such a sojourn through all those spiritist practices, would you now propose that a person could, say, experience astral projection and then simply “choose to surrender to the Trinity” while doing it? If so, then I’d say you are still quite deceived about what is really going on in such experiences…

      • tisstf,
        one journey culminating with the Trinity does not necessarily have to be realized by a path as singular as yours to be “right”. There are many roads to the center of Rome. God does not ask, rather he allows. It is up to us to listen to his calling, find and embrace his will and allow it to become our own. I was raised in the Trinity, have found it it a variety of expressions, and I have returned to an even deeper experience of the Trinity, as my understandings have matured. I never once forsook the Trinity. I can now appreciate it with a more rich experience.

        Our blindness comes as a result of our unwillingness to face our own weaknesses.

  7. Good points Bill. I would add that choosing is just another word for differentiating. Coming to see the truth in ourselves and our relationships requires this kind of approach. But it takes more integration than differentiation to see the deeper truths. Coming to see the oneness in Life is more about evolution than choice – letting go and surrendering as opposed to holding on to our singular choices. It’s like the difference between truly loving someone and loving the idea of loving someone. It’s impossible to know you’ve done the latter until you’ve lived the former.

    • Kevin, absolutely. Your observation about integration and evolution are so true. The poignant reference of “loving the idea of loving someone” rather than truly loving them – is a great example. In search of love, I, as many of us have done, realized that had become the outcome of my 2nd marriage… We can truly be misguided by our own illusions, or needs of the Self. My point of taking on some dark creatures and moments referred to this as one of those “integrations”, as you added. Good stuff.

  8. Trinitarian Geek Speak, Enjoy

    Kallistos Ware The Orthodox Way

    In our experience of God at work within our life, while the three are always acting together, yet we know that each is acting within us in a different manner. We experience God as three-in-one, and we believe this threefold differentiation in God’s outward action reflects a threefold differentiation in the inner life. The distinction between the three persons is to be regarded as an eternal distinction existing within the nature of God himself; it does not apply merely to his exterior activity in the world.

    Why should God be a communion of three persons, neither less nor more? Here again there can be no logical proof. The threeness of God is something given or revealed to us in Scripture, in the Apostolic Tradition, and in the experience of the saints throughout the centuries. All that we can do is to verify this given fact through our own life of prayer. . . . . . Through our encounter with God in prayer, we know that the Spirit is not the same as the Son . . . .

    The first person of the Trinity, God the Father, is the “fountain” of the Godhead, the source, cause or principle of origin for the other two persons. He is the bond of unity between the three: there is one God because there is one Father. The other two persons are each defined in terms of their relationship to the Father.: the Son is “begotten” by the Father and the Spirit “proceeds” from the Father

    And we get to live inside this living kaleidoscope of God is my comment on this

  9. truthisstrangerthanfiction,

    questions like yours are designed to stir things up, not have people really think. the contentiousness in your questions invites polarity and positionality. If you have a point, please make it. rather than use bait-laden queries to draw people into your approach. it is contrary to a conversation of this nature. you obviously have your position, and godspeed to you with it. it is my sincerest desire for you to fully embrace your knowledge and beliefs. why not consider an open question rather than a pre-meditated answer couched within a question to make your point?

    • Bill,

      If one takes even a cursory glance at the life and person of Jesus, it’s very easy to see that He sparked ‘polarity’ and emboddied ‘positionality’ everywhere He went. His ministry could hardly be described as a 3-year-long open-ended “conversation”, as though He was afraid of coming across as “contentious”. Jesus bodly preached the arrival of His Kingdom. He rebuked the hypocrites. He cast out demons. He forgave people their sin…

      He was undeniably “polarizing”. So I suppose that such I cannot take such an accusation about my comments as being all that deragatory…

      I do not pretend to be unaware that the questions I am asking here are probably not very welcome in such a forum. I am not unfamiliar with the negative perspective commonly held towards anyone coming across as “absolutist” in circles where so-called “Christian mysticism” is embraced. I chose to comment here because I feel quite burdened with love for you Mike, and everyone else here. (and I’ve been intentional about not speaking in a rude or combative tone. Did I say anything to attack you Bill?)

      I actually started reading this blog several years ago, as I too was getting very excited about the whole concept of finding a more “organic” expression of church life, as I had been soured and fed up with so much of what you find in religious institutionalism. I was a big fan of Frank Viola, and Jon Zens, and plenty others, trying to figure out how to live “outside the box” so-to-speak. I also have explored plenty of “alternative approaches” to “experiencing God” and trying to find ways to embrace the “mystery” of His being…

      So Bill, when you say, “There are many roads to the center of Rome“, I completely agree that not everyone comes into a relationship with Yeshua in exactly the same prepackaged sort of way. God calls us to Himself from all kinds of backgrounds, and through all sorts of roundabout ways. However, if by such a statement you are inferring that basically all forms of “spirituality” eventually lead back to the same place, the same Jesus, then, I’m sorry, I have choice but to be “contentious” with that idea…

      I think my first comment actually already contained plenty of “open” questions, so here are some that are much more direct:

      What about the “spirituality” of someone like Aleister Crowley? Does that path lead to Jesus? What about people like Alice Bailey, Brian Jones, Benjamin Creme, David Icke, Charles Manson, Heinrich Himmler or even Madonna? What about the type of “spirituality” going on at a place like Bohemian Grove? Is that going to lead you to Jesus? What if I take a bunch of DMT and go for a stroll through Alex Grey’s “Chapel of Sacred Mirros”, do you think I’ll find anything that resembles the real Jesus there?

      The problem is, if we’re going to buy into this idea that following Jesus means avoiding “positionality” at all costs, then you are left in a place where you no longer have any basis to reject ANYTHING anymore, as being “too far”. Do you understand the ramifications of that, Bill? Mike?

      If in my quest to experience the “mystery of God” I decided to try out spirit-channeling, or unlocking my chakras through tantric sex, or heck, invoking ancient spirits through child sacrifice, then how could you voice any objection, if my personal experiences are all just as valid as everyone else’s, and all roads “lead to Rome”? How could you ever say I’d crossed a line, if you refuse to ever allow one to be drawn in the first place?

      Mike… I really do appreciate you as being a very reflective, very intelligent, very sincere guy. I resonate with so much of what you have wrestled with regarding cold, dead religion. But my question still stands, do you have any sense of where the point of “danger” might be?

      The bible says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darknes of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”

      Those ‘powers’ are real. They are “out there”, in the spiritual realm, waiting for unsuspecting spiritual “seekers” to engage them in a litany of ways; mediation, “reiki”, drugs, sorcery, witchcraft, altered states of consciousness, etc… All such practices involve some kind of tampering between the connection of body and spirit, and they are all designed to entice people through the promise of some type of mystical, spiritual experience….

      Bill, if you are going to scold me for using “bait-laden queries” when bringing up the very serious issue of encountering the demonic in the spiritual realm, my response can only be that it is because of the very serious warnings in Scripture that we understand these things, and are told to be wary of them…

      If perhaps you find it close-minded or “dogmatic” for me to mention the bible in such a way, then I would have to ask you what your own foundation for understanding “The Holy Trinity” is?? If you can make a (definitive) statement like “I never once forsook the Trinity”, then do you not derive your definition of the term “Trinity” at least partially from the Bible? And how do you yourself make such a statement without at least a measure of ‘polarity’ and ‘positionality’? (since you are contrasting yourself against those who have forsaken the “Trinity”, or never believed in the first place….?)

      • ttistf,

        I have no argument with you. I am a convert to Catholicism since 1995. I treasure my relationship with Jesus. You are right in everything you have said. Yes, we are in the throes of one of the deepest struggles with evil in the highest places. No question about it. I love the Bible and have all my life. Yes, Jesus was all about revolutionary behavior, embracing those who lived at the bottom of society’s food chain. If only we all could be so full of love. Yes, there are evil and dark places, vile beings seeking your soul, and it is a daily walk to choose that or to sacrifice yourself / myself for Jesus by turning to him in your / my weakness.

        Yes, there are dangers from opening dark doors, dabbling in dark arts for excitement, playing with psychic adventures …. Too many have unwittingly opened that door, and forgot to close it, evidenced by the growing seepage in every area of our lives.

        Yes, we should be living the revolution of Christ’s message and life. Due to a recent tranfer of priests from the Legionaries of Christ to our parish by order of our Atlantan ArchBishop, and the teaching of that doctrine via Regnum Christi leadership in the confirmation classes (with less than straightforward interpretation of the Roman Catholic Catechism), my family and I have left the parish to protect our daughter from their skewed teaching. There is no parish in ATL that is untouched by the ambitious decisions of this Archbishop.

        I have turned to my deeper internal practice of contemplative prayer, liturgy of the hours, and attendance at cathedrals in Canada where I work most of the time. My family now goes to a contemporary Non-Denominational Church with a youth program wholesome and vibrant. I go with them when I am in town.

        So, my concept and understanding of the Holy Trinity is mature and well formed, derived from the Bible and much study, plus a lifetime of Being a Christia before all else. .

        Thank you for your astute observations.

        Bill

        • This is such a great description:

          Yes, there are dangers from opening dark doors, dabbling in dark arts for excitement, playing with psychic adventures …. Too many have unwittingly opened that door, and forgot to close it, evidenced by the growing seepage in every area of our lives…

          But yet, I am still left unclear as to what all exactly would qualify under the categories “dark doors” and “dark arts” in your understanding?

          Do you recognize TM as being a dark door in itself, or as a more neutral practice that only sometimes can involve either good or evil spiritual presences?

          Do you regard something like necromancy as a means by which both God and the Deceiver would use to communicate with mankind?

          From everything I have seen thus far on your own website, your ‘conversion’ to Catholicism (in all honesty) comes across more like an upward progression. I don’t find anything which suggests you have distanced yourself from things like “Mary’s Message to the World”, a body of content delivered through automatic writing to a spirit-channeler who used meditation to try and contact the spiritual realm, and ended up meeting an entity which claims itself to be the virgin Mary…

          This is a being which has spoken about a time when humanity will begin to “shift and change its consciousness”, and has said that “The year 2012 will be a year of monumental change, which will affect all areas of your life”. Such statements are not only completely contrary to what the Bible teaches us, they are uncannily parallel to the sorts of messages being received by mediums all across the New Age spectrum. (and I say NEW AGE not because I am parroting some uninformed stereotype, but because without question the recurring, uniform concept throughout the panaplea of ‘alternative spirituality’ is the idea that mankind is striving to take the next “evolutionary step”, to enter into a new age of “consciousness”…

          The Bible tells us that Satan (the “evil in the highest places”) masquerades as an angel of light… From the very beginning, his lie was “You can be like God…” It’s the same lie being used (quite effectively) today…

          The beauty of believing in and following Jesus is that He is not some concealed, elusive God, that we would need to borrow from occult practices in order to meet with Him, or seek out ancient, well-guarded secret knowledge protected by wise monks in order to know Him. There is no ritual that must be performed in order to invite Him into our life, nor does He work out sanctification in our lives by having us simply learn to enter some kind of passive/receptive mental state…

          You don’t need those doors Bill. Sure, some of them appear to be so appealing, so centered around peace and love and all the rest. But the scripture tells us “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons… We cannot modify the methods of shamanism use them as some kind of acceptable means of trying to engage our Creator. You speak of a lifetime of “being a Christian before all else”, yet you also describe a lifetime spent plumbing the depths of “Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Hatha, etc., Baha’i, Episcopalianism, Eastern Orthodox, ISKON, Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Kabbala, Tielhard de Chardin, almost every New Age alternative practice – rebirthing, est, Raimondi Technique, etc., etc”

          So it still leaves me wondering, do you regard your current “Apophatic approach” to God as something that stands in stark contrast to all those previous experiences, or more as a culmination of them?

          • I can speak directly to TM. I was deeply involved in it for seven years. I even lived in my city’s TM center (a very large Victorian style former frat house) for a year and a half. It is a branch of Hinduism with a pseudo scientific/secular front. Before you received your mantra and were led into your first meditation session you were required to participate in a puja – a Hindu religious rite – you presented an offering of fruit and flowers before a picture of a deceased guru, incense was lit, and the meditation teacher recites in Sanskrit or some other Indian language a praise or invocation of the deceased Guru and Hindu deities. I found a translation of it in the files at the TM center. The mantra you are given is a name of a Hindu god or goddess, mine represented the goddess of learning and wisdom. In a book no longer available the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – founder of TM – stated that the practice of TM drew the attention of “higher” beings who would then assist you in your enlightenment process. He also said that meditation was the ultimate pleasing sacrifice to take care of bad karma. I was told in my follow up meeting after some days of meditation on my own, that as time passed I would achieve cosmic consciousness, then God consciousness and finally unity consciousness where I would realize I was one with everything. Perhaps in recent years some of this obviously religious stuff has been dropped.

            People would talk about meditators who had cracked up and had bad experiences during prolonged meditation retreats, sometimes with prolonged mental repercussions. TM lost a court case where it was decided that TM was religious in nature and shouldn’t receive government funding.
            Some forms of mediation seem to be relatively benign calming and focusing mental exercises – like quietly focusing on the breath – that have no connection with false gods.TM is not one of these. I sometimes do breath focus to ease myself into a nap or fall asleep at night. I think prolonged meditation sessions even of the truly secular type for a Christian would be time more fruitfully spent explicitly with the Trinity in some fashion.

          • You are making this an “either or” conversation, and I feel you are hung up on my past. It was a journey. Was. Past. In your experience, you see mine and my journey as one fraught with danger. And you are right it was, perhaps. It was not all as dark as you are making it. Mine was a common experience of many people, some of whom are completely deceived. Some have moved on, some have not. I have moved on, and am a devout catholic, practicing contemplative prayer and living (as best as one could). I do not need to defend my self with you. I am sorry this has become a tedious and tiresome conversation, which I have no interest in pursuing further, as it is contractive. If you have something constructive or positive, please put it.

  10. Another lovely quote from Bishop Kallistos Ware taken from The Orthodox Way.

    “Why believe God is three? Is it not easier to believe simply in the divine unity, as the Jews and the Mohammedans do? Certainly it is easier. The doctrine of the Trinity stands before as a challenge, as a “crux” in the literal sense: it is, in Vladimir’s Lossky’s words, “a cross for human ways of thought”, and it requires from us a radical act of metanoia – not merely a gesture of formal assent, but a true change of mind and heart.”

    • That is the paradox. One in Three. Then we would be throwing ourselves back into the strictest observance of The God of Abraham and Moses, rather than the inclusion of both New Gospel Testamentaries, and Wisdom books from the Old Testament.

      Sure, there is One God, but outside of Christianity there are many trinities – Hindus have a trinity, Buddhists have a trinity, but as far as I can tell, none have provided true salvation and redemption. No other major religious foundation has at its head one who was conceived by Holy Spirit, and gave his life in exchange for our redemption. That is what is missing from all these others – redemption, through the expiation of our sins by Jesus himself.

      Oh, there is forgiveness taught, practiced and received in all religions, but if anyone can, please let me know who else has promised true redemption?

      There are plenty of rationalizations for it, but where is the direct offering, and sacrifice that Jesus made? That is the main thing that has kept me on track. I am grateful for the grace of always knowing that.