My Cup Overflowing With Joy
It is truly a blessing when a person you respect reflects back to you a quality your soul longs for but which you did not recognize you had. Thus was my experience yesterday in a long conversation with a helper friend of mine. It was all unexpected, which made it all the more special.
After over an hour on the phone, she said, “Gary, I see your style of spirituality as a mystical style.” When I asked for clarification, she said, “You let yourself be touched deeply by life experiences, by the Pathwork Lectures, by other writings that resonate with you, and by people with whom you engage — your helpers, counselors, and many friends.” For me this felt both true as well as a blind spot. I did not even recognize her clarifying descriptors as being “mystical” in style, though I seemed to see it instantly once it was pointed out to me. I am filled with gratitude both for the loving mirroring as well as for the Grace it represents in realizing the truth of my mystical nature.
This event came on the heals of other graces poured into my life in the past ten days. My brother Paul is a fan of Christian Schwarz in general and of Schwarz’s book: The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality in particular. This book has helped us each understand ourselves and each other on deep spiritual levels.
This book identifies nine styles of spirituality: Sensory, Rational, Doctrinal, Scripture-driven, Sharing, Ascetic, Enthusiastic, Mystical, and Sacramental. There is a test he gives. We both took it. Paul’s top three are: 1) Rational, 2) Scripture-driven, and 3) Enthusiastic. My top three are: 1) Rational, 2) Pathwork-Lecture-driven (note, 15 years ago I would have been Scripture-driven), and 3) Mystical. My fourth was Enthusiastic, close to Paul’s #3. For Paul Mystical was #8, second from last. So Paul and I are the same in #1 and #2, (good Lutherans as we were raised) but my high Mystical style is a sharp distinction between us. How curious.
To get a deeper grasp on this Mystical style, Paul suggested I read Schwarz’s words on the Mystical Style. I did. It was indeed helpful. (Download this 1-page description from Schwarz’s book)
Another facet of blessing. In my most recent helper session a week ago my helper pointed out the strength of my rational side, how it grounds me and keeps me from being gullible. She honors my passion for Pathwork, being Pathwork-lecture-driven so to speak. That was helpful mirroring as well. The rest of this helper session was spent exploring how I open my channel to the Divine, which I see now as this mystical side, this direct knowing, direct experiencing of God, of Life. How I value that, seek that. More blessings, more gratefulness.
Still another blessing. In a recent blog entry I mentioned works by Cynthia Bourgeault on the topic of Jesus Christ. My friend Jeff thought I would be inspired by her writing. Last weekend I was at a powerful workshop titled Opening the Gates of Heaven — Embodying God led by Alison Greene-Barton and Brian O’Donnell. I’ll need to write about this powerful experience later, but it was why I was driving the 468 miles to and from Sevenoaks Pathwork Center and why I had time to listen to Cynthia’s entire book The Wisdom Jesus.
Some of the language, interpretations of the bible, and analogies didn’t work for me, but nevertheless I realized how much I resonated with what she was saying as the main points of her book. This was so helpful in my wrestling with Jesus Christ. Jeff was right.
Let me share two things that impacted me in The Wisdom Jesus. First Cynthia pointed out, again a point I’ve been aware of for two decades, that the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the gospels focus not on going to heaven when we die but rather The Kingdom of God in the here and now. She uses the Beatitudes, for example, as a sermon where Jesus lays out some pretty challenging statements — blessed are the poor in spirit, etc. I had been taught that much of these teachings, which clearly take the Ten Commandments to a much higher level, were intended to show us the way to behave, yes, but also to make us realize that we could not begin to live this righteously and therefore deserved “temporal and eternal punishment,” hence the need for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to “pay the price” for our redemption and entry into some future heaven when we die.
While Cynthia allowed that this was one interpretation, it was not the central meaning of Jesus’ teaching. It wasn’t the reason people were drawn to Jesus before his death. Rather, these lofty “commands” or ways of living were showing us how we would live once we “put on the mind of Christ,” or, in her interpretation, once we had experienced Christ consciousness from within. It was saying, “This is how life really is when you grow in consciousness from dualistic to unitive consciousness.” And of course you cannot will a growth in consciousness, but rather only allow for it to occur.
This is similar to the title of Pathwork Lecture 133 Love: Not a Commandment, But Spontaneous Soul Movement of the Inner Self. We can will acts of love, but we can not will feelings of love. Feelings of love come from our inner divine self, God within. The simple commandments: Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself, cannot be accomplished by the ego self. They occur only when we are transformed and governed from higher states of consciousness, our Higher Selves, Christ within, our Oneness with Christ within, however one wants to phrase this.
The second general blessing for me from Cynthia’s book is her noting that while bible-study can be good and bible study classes interesting, to facilitate transformation takes something else. Transformation is not a rational process of the mind helped by study, even study of scriptures. Transformation is a surrender of the mind, or rather an integration of the mind into that deep part within us which is the mind of Christ, our true Self.
Cynthia introduces the importance of meditation, specifically Centering Prayer popularized by Father Thomas Keating. She then speaks of a sacred meditative reading of scriptures in a method called lectio divina. She speaks of lectio divina classes rather than bible study classes. I like that. Finally she introduces reading scripture out loud, even chanting. All of these methods are intended to get past the rational mind to the heart. While I’ve heard of these methods, Cynthia’s pointing out their purpose was helpful at this time.
I have started to integrate Centering Prayer into my morning practice. And I can imagine not only “Pathwork Lecture Study” classes but “Pathwork lectio divina” classes. And I realize how blessed I have been having spoken the lectures out loud in my recording project — and then listening to them in my own voice. More blessings.
Well there is so much more that I may write on another time: the workshop I mentioned above, the new Tuesday Pathwork Series that Patty and I have started, my many conversations with Pat and my many friends, and so on. I am aware and feeling my gratefulness for these past ten days. Truly my cup is overflowing with joy. May you experience your cup overflowing in whatever way that happens within you. With love, Gary