We do our Christian history in retrospect; like white people watching The Help, we write ourselves into history and assume that we’re the good guys & on the right side of history.
Our catechism process assumes we know the right things about Jesus.
We’ve sent others to the stake because they know the wrong things about Jesus.
We think that by claiming the title ‘Christ’ that we have recognized all that we need; this is a fatal assumption, blunting the very instrument we need.
Cynthia played a ‘dirty trick’ on their parish in Aspen by asking – “If the resurrection didn’t happen, would that change what you believe?” She elicited a strong reaction from her congregation – “What are you, a Unitarian or something?”
Even so, you can be a completely orthodox Christian and recognize that Jesus’ apprentices weren’t following him because they knew Jesus was resurrected, or the Son of God – all of the theological categories contemporary orthodox Christians cite for following Jesus. They knew/believed none of that yet! It hadn’t happened yet. And yet there was still a compulsion, still an attraction.
Modern spiritual teacher A.H. Almaas distinguishes between ordinary knowledge and direct knowledge. The former comes pre-packaged from outside, via formal education, cultural conditioning, et al. “Depression is anger.” “Pedophilia is incurable.” Etc… It’s an essential cultural shorthand; you must acquire a store of ordinary knowledge. But. It’s radically limited in that it comes from the outside. Direct knowledge comes to us in the moment, from a deeper place within ourselves. Intuition is a weakened form of this. Something you know & recognize because it’s been indelibly imprinted in your being all along.
Ordinary knowledge tends to override and disenfranchise direct knowledge. Loving Jesus and a sense of calling starts people on the path to ministry; seminary tends to separate people from this immediacy, this central integrity of your call.
What happens with all education, & spiritual education in particular, is a seduction of our birthright (direct knowledge) for a mess of pottage (ordinary knowledge).
We don’t yet have an anthropology of direct knowledge. Direct knowing is a heart capacity, not a head capacity. The path is faith, as opposed to 20/20 hindsight and perception by separation. Direct knowing is not infallible; it can and should be purified and matured. But if you override it, you’ve essentially destroyed a person. Direct knowing is a living umbilical cord connecting our being to God’s. Our certainty, integrity, authenticity, and marching orders flow to the heart, and are mediated through the heart. Purification of the heart is what classic Christian spiritual training is all about.
Direct knowing is accessible only by an alert knowing of the present moment.
To be continued…to see where Cynthia’s going with this, I recommend checking out her books The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, and The Wisdom Way of Knowing.
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