Monday, July 11, 2016

Through Grace Alone, part I

Tiger Hill Temple, Suzhou

The following essays on personal inner practice are dedicated to the memory of Rohan Gupta.

One might think that in this day and age of modern technology and the miracles of the material world, we have lost God; that His Presence is a distant thing and that it's maybe even a fantasy, a superstitious idea brought forward through time from an ignorant past. Indeed, the Presence of God—the idea of it—seems somehow insufficient in the face of modern life and suffering.

Yet the Presence of God is real, and can be received at any time. I furthermore affirm to you that the Presence of Christ Jesus is not only real, but can enter us at any time and save us in that moment— in this very moment, even— through Grace alone.

Now, I know that to us this does not seem possible, but this is because we don't know what Grace is and we don't know who Christ is. He will not, you see, be who we expect Him to be and He will not appear to us as we expect Him to appear, any more than His blessed Mother Mary is who we think She is, or will come to us in the way that we expect Her to come. 

I should perhaps warn you that Their love is a sword that pierces hearts, though in a way most beautiful.

These understandings are hard won, for men and women; and there is no greater evidence than Christ's crucifixion, which stands for all time not just as a signpost not just of His Glory, Grace, and Mercy, but also as a mark in the earth that underscores how much we ourselves are meant to bear in life, in order to come to God.

We must bear everything, in short, and we must bear it for all time within ourselves, especially those things we want least to bear and which offend us the most. We must suffer; and yet we don't understand this at all. All our suffering is selfish and petty, not matter how deep we may think it is. It's only when we understand what it means to suffer not only ourselves, as we are, but also on behalf of others that we can begin to understand. And this is a great thing, a great work which God puts upon us and gifts us through Grace, that we may eventually (we are not ready yet) bear His own suffering in some small measure.

The kingdom of Heaven comes through this Grace and this Suffering; and it is born within us as Glory, through Grace and Mercy. 

I know I speak much of these things when I write, and that perhaps they seem strange or foreign- after all, of what possible or practical use are Glory, Grace and Mercy in this world of things?- yet these are precisely and absolutely the very forces we must most understand most in order to come into the kingdom of Heaven, which rises up from every root and grows from every leaf.

That root and those leaves lie within us, for God has built the foundations of Heaven in every man and woman as surely as He created the world. Christ will come within this very root and within these very leaves, if only we will let Him. 

Yet this takes a spiritual sensitivity born only of long and loving efforts, for if we came to God easily and without much work, we would not Love Him much; we fallen creatures only know how to love what we have paid for dearly. So we must submit; and this is a sublime and subtle effort that must be conducted from within, and over long years, with much prayer and many trials. These trials I speak of are inner trials. Outer trials, for all their spectacle, are quite ordinary and everyone must meet them on one way or another; but they are never voluntary in the way that the inner trials we must set ourselves will be. And it is this tasking of ourselves from within, towards what is within, wherein we must firmly plant the feet of our soul. It is a testing of who we are, what and why we are. This must be done of our own will. Then, eventually, angels may see us, and Christ may come.

This mystery is born within this present moment, and the kingdom of Heaven can be here in any instant; indeed, it often arises so, when it is least expected, and in the least things. This is why one needs to be attentive to God and to prayers, for He may Grace us with His Presence in any instant and we ought to rightly be ever-ready with prayer and thanksgiving in this moment, honoring the eternal possibility of God's Presence, 

which means His Presence NOW.

When I say that Christ can enter us and save us it does not mean what you think it means; for the way that Christ saves is not the way that man saves, or the way that man thinks He saves. Christ's saving is through Truth; and that Truth is sensed, not merely thought of. He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Light; yet that Way and Truth and Light are not what we conceive of or a thing we explain. Together they are Love; and we do not know real Love except through God, who is real Love. All other love—the idea of it, even—is a shadow of God's love. 

This is both the Buddha and the Dharma.

There is much afoot in the world today that suggests techniques whereby we can come to God; but in the end there are no spiritual technologies. The one "technology" is God; and God lies beyond technology.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

1 comment:

  1. amen.
    'There is much afoot in the world today that suggests techniques whereby we can come to God.'
    Lee, are you shifting your oft repeated claim that all this takes decades, or lifetimes of 'work'?

    And of course is not the g. work precisely a 'technique' - and precisely criticised as such in tomberg's 'mediations on the tarot'. A materialistic science that confuses life with electricity - and is ultimately concerned with longevity of existence. At least in its written presentation - for example in 'Life is Real...)
    Mme might have emphasised receiving a 'finer energy' but this is still hardly 'divine grace'.....
    As always your meditations are appreciated :)


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