Part VIII: The Eye of the Heart During the ten years or more it took for this other way of understanding to be gradually assimilated in me, I slowly awoke to the real “aha!” of the situation. The thing is, pantheism, panentheism, monotheism—all those other grand “isms’ of the Western philosophical mind—are purely functions of the operating system, the rational mind running its perception-through-differentiation program. They are based on there needing to be an inside and an outside, a subject and object, carefully delimited descriptors, and identity through differentiation. And in all those respects, the concept of a great transcendent God “out there” is totally and quintessentially a function of separation consciousness at work, of the rational level of consciousness which was the great first axial breakthrough. But that is two levels of consciousness below where we are now, and where we need to be moving much more swiftly if there is to be a future for this fragile and interconnected universe. At the pluralistic level (where most of liberal/ progressive consciousness is presently clustered), we are just beginning to put the separated bits and pieces back together under the banner of “co-exist.” At the next level, the integral, we have begun to think holographically, from the whole to the part (rather than from the part to the whole which is still paradigmatic for pluralistic consciousness.) But only at the birth of the genuine nondual does the upgrade happen; the mind sinks into the heart, and we literally perceive FROM NO SEPARATION, by matching the pattern. There is no inside and no outside, because they are no longer necessary for perception. “When you can make two become one, the inside like the outside, the higher like the lower…” says the gospel of Thomas (logion 22). When you can look at the laborers in the vineyard (Mt 20) and not immediately rank them on the grid of “more” and “less.” When you begin to see in a dynamic, intercirculating, interabiding, cosmotheandric way that preserves both particularity and unity by setting the whole scene in motion, then, like Barbara Brown Taylor, you will hear yourself saying:
At this point in my thinking, it is not enough for me to proclaim that God is responsible for all this unity. Instead, I want to proclaim that God is the unity—the very energy, the very intelligence, the very elegance and passion that makes it all go. (The Luminous Web, p. 74)In former days, this kind of seeing was often confused with a mystical experience or hyped as evidence of “enlightenment” or personal self-realization. And maybe this was indeed the case in former days, and I can pat myself on the back if I want for having glimpsed something once reserved to the saints and mystics. But then there’s my grandson Jack, whose query began this essay (see Part I: The Light Within). At four, Jack was already clearly thinking in terms of the total volume of wholeness. It’s no longer an over-the-top spiritual achievement. It’s simply the way the planet is evolving. I know that the direction and rate of acceleration nowadays leave a lot of us boomers who are still invested in the orderly transmission of institutional Christianity quaking in our boots. But you see, the light at the end of the tunnel in all this is that Jesus was THERE already, two thousand years ago. And as we open our mystical eye-of-the-heart and see, what we see is a Christianity which has essentially been waiting in the wings for two millennia for the time to arrive when it can finally become consistent its own highest cosmotheandric calling:
“As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…I in them and you in me, that they may be completely one.” (John17: 21-23)
This is last post in the series, “I Am Not a Space that God Does Not Occupy…” here on the Northeast Wisdom Home Page Blog. You may click on these links to go to “Part I: The Light Within,” “Part II: Panenthesim,” ” Part III: Panikkar,” “Part IV: Jesus Was Not a Monotheist(!?)” and “Part V: A Brief History of Consciousness,” “Part VI: A Brief History of Consciousness, continued.” and Part VII: Seeing.
May this “year of perfect vision” indeed shed some new light.
As the new decade gets underway, it feels like an appropriate moment to share one of my earlier essays, which is still to my mind one of the best things I’ve ever written. It was originally published in the 2018 anthology, how I found GOD in everyone and everywhere… Enjoy! And Happy New Year!!!
“how I found GOD in everyone and everywhere is an anthology of spiritual memoirs, edited by Claremont School of Theology faculty members Andrew M. Davis and Philip Clayton and published by Monkfish, our intrepid publishing partner here in Northeast Wisdomland! Compiled in honor of Marcus Borg, this anthology is broadly structured around the theme of Panentheism and features the usual suspects among Christian nondual teachers, including my colleagues Richard Rohr, Matthew Fox, and Ilia Delio. It’s well worth a read in its entirety.”
~ Cynthia Bourgeault, January 2020
We look forward to the conversation continuing in Comments!