Naming something gives you power over what you name, assigns a particular character to it and reflects your relationship with that which you have named. But as soon as you name anything you begin to cut back its essence. When we name God we diminish God.
Hinduism has 330 million names of god; 330 million ways of minimizing the Divine Essence. But the 330 million gods are only an expression of experiences of that which is beyond; 330 million disposable images of God until one experiences God as ‘TAT’ or THAT – God beyond all names – just Being or Essence! Buddhists experience the Essence in the breath, which is part of the universal and eternal essence. This breath is formless and nameless; it just IS. Islam forbids the creation of images of any sentient being and most especially any image of God or the Prophet Muhammad. In the Old Testament God is YHWH, a name that cannot be pronounced. A God who revealed Essence as, “I AM THAT, I AM” (Ex 3:14 – 15).
Adam and Eve had a momentary glimpse into Essence in the Garden of Eden, when they ate the forbidden fruit of knowledge and consciousness. Their eyes were opened and they realized that they were naked. They were enlightened and were able to able to experience their own Essence in the Ultimate Essence – THAT! The gods in the Garden of Eden then proceed to put on skins to cover THAT! These skins now become our reality – we define ourselves by our gender, culture, religion. We continue to put skins on everything by naming people, places, things, animals, birds, plants and different parts of creation. If we begin to learn to look beyond the skins, beyond names, we will begin to experience the Essence once again as the FORMLESS THAT! We begin to live in the realm of the Spirit.
Jesus proclaimed THAT as Spirit and Truth and not worshiped on any mountain or temple (John 4). He invited us to experience THAT in the birds of the air and the lilies of the field until we experience all of life in THAT like the vine and the branches (John 15). St. Paul will exclaim in THAT there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free, male and female! (Gal 3:28). Through the process of kenosis, the Jesus of St. Paul sheds the skins put on by the gods in the Garden of Eden, and realizes That.
Physical distance and spiritual intimacy seems like a paradox but is key to happy and growth relationships. The way to appreciate the beauty and grandeur of a mountain is to look at it from a distance. The most beautiful paintings of a sunset are those that are absorbed from a distance and in silence. The silence between the notes makes the music of our lives. To develop and experience deep intimacy we need physical distance and moments of silence – between spouses, parents and children, friends, teachers and students – and above all, with God.
Physical distance and silence helps us realize that a tree is not just a tree but a miracle; so is a mountain; every person and all of creation is an epiphany of the Divine Essence. St. Ignatius will insist on reverential distance in the spiritual life. You may kiss the places where persons you are contemplating were, but you do not touch the persons. As we mature in the spiritual life, Ignatius believes, we will realize the Divine power, presence and essence in every creature (Spiritual Exercises 39). Physical distance and silence foster spiritual intimacy.
The Middle Eastern mystic, Kahlil Gibran, writes in The Prophet, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love.” The only way we can be in a meaningful loving relationship with anyone especially those who are close to us – our family, friends and God, is by creating a sacred distance or space. Without this sacred distance love becomes a bondage. Kahlil Gibran continues, “Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.” This will help us not to suffer in times of rejection, betrayal or death of a loved one.
We depend on others but we cannot be dependent on anyone, not even God, if we want to grow in intimacy. A famous Zen master, Tozan would say, “Blue Mountain is father of White Cloud. White Cloud is son of Blue Mountain. All day long they depend on each other, without being dependent on each other. White Cloud is always White Cloud, Blue Mountain is always Blue Mountain.”
Mark your calendars for the next 4 sessions on an Eastern Approach to Hope and Healing. I believe that these sessions might help us find a better understanding and a more meaningful expression of our own personal faith.
Pass the word around and of course bring as many people who might be interested. If for some reason you cannot attend send us your peace energy.
Peace and Abundant Blessings,
PAUL COUTINHO flyer2 2015
I believe that the world can be transformed by simply desiring and praying for peace or just imagining a peaceful world. Your peace ripple will create an ocean of peace.
If you would commit yourself to just 2 minutes a day (or whenever you can) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kindly spread this message around via email, Facebook or any way you can so that we can have one million people sending out peace energy.
Peace and Abundant Blessings
Are you a Spiritual Predator or a Real Person?
A strange question but one worth pondering. A predator is one who looks for other people or things in order to use, control or harm them in some way. The worst predator is the one who does this in the name of God and religion. In the spiritual life predators are those who indulge in the material things of this world and pleasures of life to find the meaning of their lives and the source of their happiness. Others pursue honor or power. In the process these people not only hurt other people but harm themselves in a deep way.
In the Eastern tradition wealth and pleasure are not only good but necessary in order to experience the fullness of life. The key is finding the right balance or knowing what is enough. When our basic material needs are sufficiently met we can pursue the ultimate goal of our lives which is being totally immersed in intimacy with the Divine.
Similarly, pleasure is the gateway to the mystical world. At the end of our lives, we will be judged on the legitimate pleasures of life we did not enjoy (Jerusalem Talmud: Kiddushin 4:12). Pleasure is the anti-thesis of stress, jealousy, hatred, envy and all negative energy that works as a slow poison within us.
Real people are not perfect and perfect people are not real. They realize their identity in the Divine Essence and experience the interconnectedness of all life; that which affects one of us affects the rest of us. Real people do not get lost in gender, race, nationality or religion but connect with the Divine in every one of us and every part of creation. Schizophrenics, alcoholics and criminals do not exist, rather they see these as persons who suffer from the disease of schizophrenia, alcoholism and persons who commit crime. Real people slowly transition from that which is transient to that which is Eternal; from the anthropomorphic God to a Cosmic Eternal Divinity.
“Death is not extinguishing the light, it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941)
First non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913)
Shakespeare believed, “The valiant never taste of death but once” (Julius Caesar II,ii,32-37), but in fact we die many times while we are still alive to prepare for that final passing. The innocence of the child has to die in order to welcome the dawn of adventurous youth. Yet, if we hold on to our youth and adult life, we cannot experience the wisdom and freedom of old age.
We die to the myths and fairy tales of childhood to accept the dawn of philosophies and doctrines. But are we willing to risk dying to all that sustains us at the adult stage in order to welcome the wisdom of the sages? We thus return once again to the mystical and magical life of the child. The Kingdom of God belongs to little children.
We also know that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). The question is how far are we willing to go down ‘the rabbit hole’ to get rid of material, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter so that our lives will bear abundant fruit? We abandon our selfish insecure selves that want to control and direct life; rather we let our authentic Selves come alive and flow with life with the confidence and ease of “the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.”
If we have the courage to extinguish the light of our present way of relating with God and everything that sustains it, we will experience the dawn of an exhilarating relationship with the Infinite Logos – ‘Energy charged with Power,’ the Divine Breath, THAT!
Living a life of compassion without being attached to the outcome is not a method but a way of life. True compassion will help us realize the gift of purification and enlightenment in every painful situation and celebrate the rainbow in the heart through tears in the eyes. We open ourselves to become effective channels for the universe to affect the lives of people and the world; letting go of our ego and flowing with the rhythm of life.
True compassion does not mean that we feel miserable with those who are miserable. If we do, we just add to the misery in this world. It is not a resistance movement seeking justice but true compassion strives to attain peace through reconciliation.
The God that Jesus introduced us to, was the father of the prodigal son, the epitome of compassion. 113 out of 114 chapters of the Quran begin with Bi-Ism-i—Allah al-Rahman, “In the name of God-Compassion!” Al-Rahman is not an adjective or a characteristic of God but the Essence. It is also the Essence of every human being.
Living a life of true compassion enables parents to let go of the outcome of their children, teachers of their students, social workers and health care workers and anyone in a helping relationship to achieving change.
True compassion has the ability to sing, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows my sorrow” and with the same breath sing confidently, “Glory Hallelujah.”