Sunday 23 March 2014

Focusing on the Holy Spirit

This is slightly easier than focusing on God, because there'a an actual, active, immediate, real point of contact. No-one is going to find a ready jargon, and if you read through as many books as I have trying to find words that stick, stop when you get the feeling that the Holy Spirit is not a system of anything, but a very individual and intense relationship that touches you in your personal, historical, biological and committed places.

Once more, the Holy Spirit isn't an "out there" reaching in kind of dynamic, as I understand. Just as stitches create a woven fabric, the human condition is darted through with the presence of God, the immediacy of which is encounter with God's Holy Spirit.

These words sound very grand, but the reality is quite ordinary: everybody experiences happiness, joy, disappointment, disillusionment, despair, gratefulness, anger, hope, love and loneliness.

In any of these, take one step back, create a space and ask: I dont know what words you should use: merely ask for spiritual truth and presence.

I have learnt not to use words, but to use the breath given to my body, and not to quest too deeply, but to receive.

I have learnt to become quiet, which is not the way I used to be when I was intense about spiritual movement.

When you focus on the Holy Spirit you're going beyond mere Christianity. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of anything man-made. You're going past the boundaries of formal religion, fervent tribalism, family feuds, cultural bias, financial priorities, belief systems, even physical realities.

You're also going beyond your very own, real needs.

The place where you encounter the Holy Spirit is the place you dare to step out onto the tottering platform of your truth and feel how insecure that place is. I like what Steve Jobs said, that heaven is a good place to be but no-one wants to die to get there.

The older I get the more I realise that for me, dying is not about a fear of getting to heaven, but a badly entangled experience of emotional involvement with this planet and humans. I just don't want it to have been like this. I really want to have done more. "So much to do, so little done," said Cecil John Rhodes, the empire builder.

I ponder my six decades of living, and realise that my place in history is poised at a significant juncture. This is true for everybody. I like what one of my facebook friends says is her occupation: "activist".

I recognise that the human world is what it is because not enough people have responded to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The startling power of life that grows each blade of grass, plant and tree in your garden is the same power that maintains your body on an hourly basis.Electricity is a discovery more than an invention, yet what it does has become, so to speak, irreversible.

One's faith, in the same way, is irreversible. You can never undo what God's Holy Spirit does in your life.

But how do you focus on this? Humility, openness, respect, reciprocity and worship. How does it happen? Very individually and personallly: a matter of personal narrative opening up from the indulgent paragraph to the dispassionate epic, viewing the vista of relationship impinging on relationship as well as recognising the anguish of individual aspiration.

What's it like?

Blinding, baffling, bewildering, because the tamed, domestic world we've become used to is not directly related to the wildness of spirit. As humans, we get old, tired, sick, sad, disillusioned and we want to go. It's kind of normal although it's not what it's supposed to be. We feel our hearts filling with longing for family, friends, memories, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, homes everywhere. We believe but we aren't sure. We know on the basis of hope.

Well, my experience is different. Everyone is psychic, and I've tested this, and found it to be startlingly true. I don't particuarly want to be psychic, but if you're going to talk spirit, don't be domineering about it, because you never will be. You're a product of spirit not an engendering agent. No one walks alone. If you're a person of truth, prepare to be surprised. The more you kick against the goads because of your imagined integrity, the greater will be the fall from your horse of purpose.
The more firmly you hold your rod, the more it will writhe. Disobey paradise, and wander in the desert for a long time. Test your own story to know it for what it is.

Spiritual living is not discontinuous. This is a complicated way of saying that you are always surrounded by the holiness of spiritual company. Some people are querulous about evil spirits waiting to jump on you. Superstition is of two kinds: the better kind and the worse kind. Choose the one that excites you most and learn the difference.

As a youngster I was taught that it was a bad idea to focus on the Holy Spirit, because you had to focus on Jesus first, in a special kind of way I couldn't figure out, and then all the rest would fall into place. Today I know that you can ask whatever you want, and you will always be answered. The Holy Spirit is really about truth, not conceptual truth but living truth. You need to square up, not be in control of. You will always be humbled, never humiliated. And if you have anything to give, it will be asked of you.

If you focus on the Holy Spirit, you will soon lose concepts and gain energy. If you spend this energy dancing and singing you may lose weight, and gain nothing. If you pursue this energy determinedly, you will find ways of bringing heaven to earth, perhaps by re-inventing electricity, perhaps by bringing much-needed relief in one form or another to a corner of humankind. Perhaps by rescuing one more animal, or human.

Perhaps by reducing the stress in your body little by little to find the peace that is given to you.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Focusing on God

It's not difficult, it's actually impossible but you find people who are intent on doing this. I think it's a compulsion born of a too urgent requirement arising from slightly crazy circumstances or totally crazy parents or families. I never met my paternal grandfather, but I know he was intent on converting the Catholics to being Protestants. When you encounter zeal, take care. Sometimes a zealot claims the course is love, and then you have to duck.

The first thing to recognise is that God is not a noun. God is more like a present continuous verb, the action of which is creative being, an overwhelming, enigmatic, ontic, essential presence, in respect of which the human mind has to learn rather than command.

Humility becomes necessary when you focus on God.

Do religions matter? I think not really, at the end of the day, as much of formal religion is man-made. Respond to the part that's God-made.

I grew up in a fervent and committed Christian context, where the Bible was God, because that was how God was communicated. I learnt to fear the Bible much as a pupil in a nineteenth century school learnt to fear the strap, belt, ruler and cane because that's how God ruled, according to the teachers of God's word. That wasn't true, of course, but I had to learn the very difficult lessons in respect of truth being different to that message. I still learn.

When I focused on God, I read the theologians, mystics, mediums, prophets and poets.Some of these were helpful. But I found that the actual focus was on words. The grander they became, the less I understood. Yet every now and then, there was a current of energy and drama that entranced and motivated me to grow towards a real yet unnameable dream.

I became aware of participating in an eternal drama, representing something hardly born in my guessing consciousness.

I don't want to go into personal narrative, in respect of focusing on God; that's just that: personal narrative. What I want to declare is that if you really focus on God, things will change in your life. This focus requires a move from concept to commitment, from casual enquiry to care, from obsservation to action.

God is no gendered, ultra-human in a separate heaven: God is more like a holy Presence who will visit you if you make yourself open. I understand God's presence to be usually subtle in a one's personal life, utterly obvious in social and economic dynamics, and more often than not absent in formal religion.

We're blessed when God shows us something of divine Presence in our daily joys and domestic affections. Home cooked curry, the cat and rain on the roof are much of God's love. Humans and hobbits are closely related. 

Conversely, pogroms, ethnic cleansings and cullings end our naive innocence.

I have never managed to forget the heaps of personal belongings and photos lying in abandoned warehouses filled with empty and futile nostalgia that Schindler's List showed us.

In my heart I rail against empty and futile nostalgia. I sense this is not how God works.

God is never about separation, but rather total engagement.

The terms of such engagement might be in the table of elements, human intentionaltiy, Divine grace: pick the words and terms you want: they don't matter other than that they open your mind and awareness rather than close and limit your focus: and that's your business: to focus.

When you choose to focus, your choice is assisted, I believe. Mind is never merely yours; consciousness is not merely solitary, awareness is never limited. You're working out your salvation, perhaps in fear and trembling, because it's God working in you.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Don't tell, show

Okay, follow the logic if you will. Grand schemes come from grand agendas, like academic disciplines, scientific programmes, motivational business, anything that wants to put your mind in a spell for purposes you might want or not want.

Check the spell you want, because most of living is about living under a spell.

Your desires and your needs overlap. You put yourself in a place of power and vulnerability.

There's a scalpel of truth that knows how to cut between these.

The simplicity is that each day, I'll walk, do, breathe, think, breathe, and it will make no difference to the day that I wasa born or the day I'll die.

Then again, if I'm obedient to the sensitivity of G-d acting in m,y life, there will be a difference.

I have learnt once and for all that my mind, my awareness, my sense of self, my sense of me is an utter vulnerability, a folly, a mere wish.

Truly, I have never existed in the way that faith prompts, the way I am called, the path that the tree of life expects.

My heart is like my dog's ears: waiting for a call to movement.

There are two kinds of voices I hear:

the comforting one, the challenging one.

At last I know I can choose which one to listen to.

I have stepped out on a path between these, a jetty into the estuary, lagoon and sea into which I have committed myself.

All the stories I know about truth that arrives as affection, I recognise.

No more than that. Human affection is what they set as love.

What a huge scope is left: there is much to hear, see, sense and smell, and the the close corners that come your way are the entire secret.