4 The Present Is the Only Thing That Has No End
Kairos and chronos
The present is the only place we really “are,” and the “truth” of the past fans out from our current point of view. And the possibilities of the future narrow down and “collapse” into the ‘done deal’ of present, which we may re-imagine, moments later.
The Nature of Time
Things get more complex. Time’s arrow does not fly backwards.
The Chime of the Moment
The chime of a moment refers to its unique quality, to the central promise and activity that is occurring and the unique creative opportunity by which it is characterized.
The Integrated Wholeness of Each ‘Present Now’
Awareness of the integrated wholeness of each ‘present now’ and its particular chime for our lives and for our culture has been largely lost to us because of our alienation from our own subjective depth and from our roots in the ecological system in which we live and on which we depend.
“Beginner’s mind” does not mean we forgot what we know.
The Contemplative Tradition in the ‘Present Now’
Quakers seek the presence of the Inner Light in their silent worship. We are invited by the contemplative traditions to seek to know this ‘all at onceness’ in our daily lives.
THE CONTEMPLATIVE TRADITION OF THE WEST
5 Contemplation: Essential to the Full Human Life
What Is Contemplation?
Plotinus – “… a direct, intimate knowing that brings with it awareness of a person’s deep belonging to the world.”
A Return to the Fullness of the Human Being
A principle of [Plotinus’] emanation is that it is not complete without a “turning back,” or conversion to the One. Without responding to the allure of the One, without awakening to the eros of the One and returning to it, a person is isolated from the totality and fullness of reality.
Participation in Emanation
With the return…we enter the fullness of living and productive power, not a state of moral perfection. …the self is made manifest as the “creative center” out of which both man and the world are generated. … In the ongoing healing of our old habits and complexes, in the reaching out to other people, and in the creation of ideas and activities that bring forth new and reformed personal and cultural patterns, the emanation is realized in a particular person in daily life.
we find the basis for Eckhart’s understanding of contemplation as a union that can be realized in the ‘ground of the soul’ in an alternative form of consciousness and in an active life pouring forth from the discovery of the ‘ground of the soul.’
Contemplation Is an Inborn Human Capacity
Carl Jung: Mysticism is the natural tendency of the deeper unconscious.
6 The Breakthrough Experience
examples of breakthrough experiences will illustrate how profoundly a person is affected and why the new story must incorporate this type of experience and the life that may develop from it.
Breakthrough into Silence and Emptiness
The very purpose of the mystical journey, Louis Dupré writes, is “to surpass consciousness and to rest in the dark source of the conscious self.”
The Great Personal Value of Breakthrough
Experiences of Bliss and Beatitude
Great Value and Worth of the Experience
Illuminations and Contemplative Knowings
Experiences of the “Aliveness” of Nature and Inanimate Objects
Luminosity and Fire from Within
Experiences of Indigenous Peoples
Meister Eckhart: The whole scattered world of lower things is gathered up to oneness when the soul climbs up to that life in which there are no opposites.
7 The Unitive Life,
Unitive Episodes and Gestures
The reader is encouraged to be open to seeing a broad congruence between Bohm’s thought about the whole being enfolded in each region and characteristics of the experiences of those who have entered into the unitive life.
Teresa of Avila’s Images of the Unitive Life
God must already be in some manner integral to the person.
Types of Unitive Experience
Unitive Episodes and Gestures
We recognize that certain actions bring the sacred realm into daily life. The unity, the ‘all at onceness,’ we are describing may be recongnized in a simple gesture or episode in someone’s life.
It once seemed impossible to understand and accept the contemplative’s claims, given Western assumptions about matter and God. But now this has changed.