Sunday, October 9, 2016

Notes from Shanghai, October 6, part II

Granada, Spain
Photograph by the author

One writes notes to oneself in the morning; one writes again in the evening. 

Between the two, a day elapses: it is a long day. An extraordinary number of events have taken place; time seems, as it so often is, dilated and extended, as if each day were a landscape composed of the elements of eternity. 

...Of course, everything actually is composed of the elements of eternity; so there you are.

There is a good gravity today that draws me deeper into Being and connects me with myself. It's the kind of Grace that I all too often take for granted; it somewhat left me alone during the period of my travels in Spain, leaving me to wonder why Grace is so clearly and physically present at some times, and not so much at others. There I was, traipsing through all kinds of beautiful (but admittedly for the most part secular) environments, and God—although He is always with me—was remarkably quiet. That is, He chose, as is so often His inclination, to withdraw His Presence. 

Perhaps this is because He wants me to have some solid ordinary flow of impressions. It’s a reasonable point. One cannot live on a steady diet of nectar.

In any event, His Grace has returned, and perhaps it was because I sat in meditation this morning and issued a quite intentional call, after a night where I woke up a number of times sensing Presence and understanding that I need to refocus. (This morning’s post, published two days ago, definitely reflects that. I am a sheep, and I am definitely lost; it is my habit to stray.) 

Yet in the end I need to turn my face back to God, who is my strength and my sustenance, who teaches me what love is because, as always, I don’t know that at all.

So this morning I sat in prayerful meditation and intoned the threefold prayer (the prayer of Glory, Grace, and Mercy) aloud, something I don’t always do. It provoked a spontaneous chanting of the sacred Aieioiuoa; followed by Tantric chanting. Of course these chants are only effective when they arrive by themselves; and then one has to follow their own internal logic, which already knows what type of vibration is necessary. 

This activity was quite helpful in focusing me better.

Somehow, oddly, I get the impression that those of us on spiritual paths think we must always try so hard to manifest positively and be good people, be nice to others, be positive, and so on, when in fact the exact opposite is necessary. I need to suffer terribly, both externally, and within myself in my own manifestation. This is how I learn humility. So when I am negative, I am combative and difficult, when bitterness and thoughts of revenge suffuse my being, it is actually extremely helpful for my inner work. It reduces me and I see what an abject creature I am; and in some senses, the more it goes on, and the more I cooperate with seeing the truth of my lower being, the more determined the spiritual parts of myself become to turn back towards God. 

Meister Eckhart did explain this in some of his sermons, that is, that the suffering we endure (and this certainly has to include suffering ourselves as we are) is always meant to help turn us back to God.

 The issue we have is that if we think we are already turned towards God, we never think we have to bother doing any turning. A peculiar kind of inner hubris infects us, in which we believe ourselves superior to others, and even above our own sin, which is of course impossible — but we do think that, don’t we?

I am grateful for all of my life, even the parts that turn away from God. If I work, I see that in fact, I am never turned towards God, even though He never gives up on me and never turns away from me.

It’s most extraordinary.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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