I am co-leading a Sunday School at my church on two contemporary figures, one Catholic—Fr. Richard Rohr(The Naked Now) and one protestant—Cynthia Bourgeault, an Anglican priest, (The Wisdom Jesus)who have had enormous influence on how I write about the Life of the Spirit. They both write and speak of non-dualistic thinking, beyond the either/or preferences of our minds which are most at home judging and distinguishing and separating, which is where most of Christianity is today. “I am right and your beliefs are wrong.” “You have to believe what I believe to be saved.” We Christians are at war with one another, even as Christian influence and primacy is waning in our culture.
Apparently we see no difficulty with our enemy-combatant stances towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, because, if anything, our attitudes are getting worse. We’ve forgotten what Paul wrote about the church being the body of Christ, that Jesus was about love, that God is Love, and that love is inclusive, honoring, forgiving, kind and merciful. Herein lies the fault line in contemporary Christianity: the more we argue about what is right and hang on to our way of doing Christianity, the more we drive people from our churches and send them out hungering for peace and love somewhere else.
We are too much in our minds today and have let our hearts and souls languish for far too long. So what do we have to offer 21st C. Americans as Christians? If we follow Jesus, our lives are about prayer and an ongoing, close relationship with God, where at every turn we are in close communication with God. We have given over not just our minds to God, but also our hearts, souls and bodies. We are living in God’s love in our lives and we see life from a wholly new perspective. This is the non-dual thinking I referred to above: it embraces all that is before it, without objection, entering into the present, the presence, if you will, of God to examine what is before us. So now we see with not just our minds which would dissect and miss the essence of what we see, but with our hearts and souls and bodies.
This essence-to-essence seeing means that we are able to see the flaws in the person before us without judging and their best qualities without preferring them. We hold all that is before us, say in this sunset or that person, and we meet the Holy Spirit in the midst of this experience. And we have been moved and changed by what we have encountered. Now we have moved beyond our minds into the way God sees the creation, people and planets. This is love. In this way we participate in God’s free-flowing love in us and through us and out to everything and person me meet. This is non-dual awareness, always seeking out the essence of the other and then enjoying, participating in that essence, just as we enjoy and participate in the essence of God which is Love.