Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Mask of Personhood

To the Ancient Greeks, theater was a form of entertainment taken very seriously.  People would come from all across the Greek world to attend the popular theaters held in open air amphitheaters. In their glory days, some amphitheaters could hold crowds of up to 15,000 people. The theater was a place where politics, religion, the human condition, popular figures, and legends were all discussed and performed with great enthusiasm.
The origin of the dramatic arts in Greece can be found in Athens, where ancient hymns were sung in honor of their gods. These hymns were later adapted into choral processions where participants would dress up in costumes and masks.

The starting point of modern western theater is often credited to the Greeks. Highly decorated masks. These masks were constructed out of lightweight wood.  There were two holes for the eyes, large enough for the actor to see the audience but small enough so as not to allow the audience to see him.  The shape of the masks amplified the actor’s voice, making his words easier for the audience to hear.

The wooden masks were called personas, from the Latin, per, meaning “through,” and son, meaning “sound.”  

This is the origin of our words, person, personality, personification, and persona.  Our personality is a mask we wear, a mask created by our conditioning, well in place by the time we are five years old.

I appreciate so much Mooji’s use of the words Person and Isness.  In our Personhood we are projecting the egoic-mind, seeing “out there” what is first “in here.”  When we experience our Isness, we can see through the duality and relativity of our Personhood, our mask, our masquerade, and see a true reflection.

This is so well expressed in a poem by Juan Ramon Jemenez (1891-1958), I Am Not I.

I (Person) am not I. (Isness)
I (Isness) am this one
walking beside me
whom I (Person) do not
whom at times I (Person)
manage to visit,
and whom at
other times I (Person)
who remains calm
and silent while I (Person)
and forgives,
gently, when I (Person)
who walks where I (Person)
am not,
who will remain
standing when I (Person)

Let me give a PERSONAL example.

Booth my father and mother had little expression on their faces.  My father was usually stoic, and my mother seemed to have a suffering, but almost expressionless, face.
As a child, I would search their faces to see what they were thinking of me.  To this day, I need to be aware of this conditioning.  When I encounter a PERSON with an expressionless face, I usually have a negative reaction.  I have learned to be aware of this conditioning and ask for help to see through the mask to his or her Isness.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Receptivity is the Key

After all this time, it has come down to one thing for me:  receptivity.  

How often during the day, can I step back, be present, and listen for the Voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to me all through the day?

These passages are excellent reminders for me.

from A Course in Miracles,

Lesson 49, God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.

It is quite possible to listen to God's Voice all through the day without interrupting your regular activities in any way.  The part of your mind in which truth abides is in constant communication with God, whether you are aware of it or not.  It is the other part of your mind that functions in the world and obeys the world's laws.  It is this part that is constantly distracted, disorganized and highly uncertain.

The part that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain.  It is really the only part there is.  The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind.  Try today not to listen to it.  Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever.  Try to hear God's Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son.

from the Bible, Luke 6:11

Give us today our daily bread.

from A Course of Love, The Addendum,

A.11  What you are finding is receptivity.  You are coming home to the way of the heart.  What you gain by sharing with others is a situation in which you “learn” in unity through the receptivity of the heart.

A.12 Am I telling you not to question?  Not to enter discussion?  I am only telling you to receive before you seek to perceive.  I ask you not to receive as one who does not have what another has, as this is not a passing on of information that you do not possess.  I ask you merely to receive in order to learn receptivity, the way of the heart.  I ask you only to pause, to give the mind a rest, to enter a realm foreign to the mind and yet beloved to the heart.  I ask you but to give yourself a chance to let the relief of not having another task to apply your effort to fill you.  I ask you but to give yourself a chance to forget about approaching this as one more self-improvement exercise, or one more objective to accomplish.  Only in this way do you come to realize you are already accomplished.

A.13 Through receptivity, what your mind finds difficult to accept, your heart accepts with ease.  Now you are ready to question what you must.  Now you are ready to hear the answer that arises in your own heart or from the voice of the man or woman sitting next to you.  Now you are ready to hear all the voices around you without judgment, to enter discussion without an agenda to attend to, to not be so anxious to say what you are thinking that you forget to listen.  Now you are ready to let understanding come without the aggressiveness of going out to get it.

A.14 You are patient, loving, and kind.  You have entered the time of tenderness.  You begin to hear what your feelings are saying to you without the interferences and cautions of your thinking mind.  You begin to trust and as you begin to trust you begin to extend who you are.  True giving and receiving as one begins to take place.  You have entered Holy relationship.

A.48 Go forth not as complete works of art but as permeable energy, ever changing, ever creating, ever new.  Go forth with openness for revelation to happen through you and through all you encounter.  Go forth joyously on this adventure of discovery.  Be ever new, ever one, ever the beloved.

A.49 Bring your voice to this continuing dialogue.  This is all that is asked of you.  This is the gift you have been given and the gift you bring the world; your own voice, the voice of Who You Are.  This is not a voice of separation or of the separated self but a voice of union and of the One Self.  It is how union is expressed and made recognizable in form.  It is what will usher in the new and change the world.  It cannot be accomplished without you—without your ability to stand in unity and relationship as The Accomplished.
A.50 Behold brothers and sisters, You are The Accomplished.

This is my daily affirmation:

I am in the world, and not of the world.
I am a body, and I AM Spirit.
I am human, and I AM Divine.
I am form, and I AM formless.
I am a person, and I AM Isness.

I AM God's Son, complete and healed and whole,
shining in the reflection of His Love. (Who am I?)

I will be still an instant and go home. (Lesson 182)

And in that instant I will experience Isness.
And in that experience, I will be receptive, receptive to the still, small Voice for God speaking to me all through the day, telling me where to go, what to do, and what to say, to whom.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Running the Chicago Marathon, October, 1978

After reading an article by Jane Bernstein entitled, “Still Running” in The Sun, February, 2017, I was inspired to write for our Writing Class about training for the Chicago Marathon in 1978.

Still Walking

I started to run for the first time as an adult in 1977, when I was thirty-six years old.

In 1963, I graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in English.  It was also the end of a rather successful high school and college career as a football player and a track runner, running the high and low hurdles, and the s440 yard dash.

In the intervening fourteen years, I did not run a step.

Then, in the fall of 1976, I became an Assistant Professor of Education at Kalamazoo College, returning to my beloved alma mater.

My former football coach, Rolla Anderson, was Athletic Director, and he asked me if I would coach the Men and women’s Cross Country teams.  I said “No,” for one thing, because I had never even seen a Cross Country Meet.  And Rolla kept after me.  Finally, he said, “Ray, why don’t you be Ed Baker’s Assistant in coaching t rack next spring.  I said, “Yes,” and that did it.  

When I started coaching, I had forgotten how much I knew about the fundamentals of track, and I loved working with the guys, and I went to Rolla and said, “Yes.”

Furthermore, when I started coaching  track, I was 30 pounds overweight, and so I was determined to start running again.  I went to the t rack, determined to run a mile, and I was totally winded after a quarter.  But I kept at it.

Then, In January of 1978, I was reading a “Runner’s World” magazine and came across an article saying, select a marathon 6 months away, and begin training for it in this manner.
Now, I was getting serious.  I selected the Chicago Marathon in October.
I hit the streets, running 5 miles a week, then later on, 10, and months later 15 miles per week.  

In late summer, I was running s40 miles a week.

In August of 1978, my Cross Country guys were beginning training for the season, and sometimes when they hit the streets for a six-mile run, they would ask me to go along, kindly running the first two miles at eight-minute pace with me, then they would take off at their six-minute pace.
My goal for Chicago was to run 8-minute pace, so that I would run the 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 30 minutes, and qualify for Boston.

On the day of the Marathon, it was 89 degrees F, and very humid.  Along the way times were given at 5, 10, 15 miles, and so forth.  Water was available every 2 ½ miles.

This was 39 years ago, and drinking water was not emphasized as it is now, and I made a very poor decision:  I won’t stop to grab water because it will slow me down.  Duh. 

At 5 miles, I was right on the mark:  40 minutes; at 10, 1 hour, 20 minutes; at 15, 2 hours; at 20, I will never forget it, 2:41.19, only 79 seconds off pace at 20 miles!!!

Then, at 25 miles, I hit the wall.  Suddenly, I had difficulty taking the next step, I had absolutely no strength, and I had 1.2 miles to go.  I said to myself, “Look, you fucker, you are going to finish if you have to crawl.”
I did finish at 3:36, 6 minutes off pace.

I never ran another marathon, and I jogged on and off for the next several years.

And, now, I am happy to walk 30 or 40 minutes a day with Christine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

How Sarah Young was “Graciously Guided” to write, “Jesus Calling.”

Soon after posting a Blog entitled, “We Are  Now, and We  Always Have Been,  Graciously Guided,” (1/7/2017)I was guided to read Sarah Young’s Introduction to her book, “Jesus Calling.”  I was fascinated by how she was “graciously guided” all along the way to writing her book.

These are the “signposts” that led her along the way, step by step.  I have simply excerpted these passages that pointed the way for her.

I firsts experienced the peace of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.  I was living and studying at a Christian community in a tiny Alpine village in France.

A few months earlier my brother had asked me to read Francis Schaeffer’s, “Escape from Reason.”  Schaeffer’s teaching drew me to this pristine place.

One night I found myself leaving the warmth of our cozy chalet to walk alone in the snowy mountains.  Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me.  I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, “Sweet Jesus.”

The following year, back in the United States, I had another encounter with the Presence of Jesus.  Alone in my room, I felt waves of desolation wash over me.  So I began walking the streets of Atlanta aimlessly.  I glanced at some books in an outdoor stall and was drawn to “Beyond Ourselves” by Catherine Marshall.  That night as I read the book, I no longer felt alone.  That night as I read the book, I felt an overwhelming Presence of peace and love come over me.  I knew that Jesus was with me.

During the next sixteen years I lived what many people might consider an exemplary Christian life. 
I was ready to begin a new spiritual quest.  It started with delving into a devotional book, “The Secret of the Abiding Presence” by Andrew Murray.

My days started alone with God, equipped with Bible, devotional book, prayer journal, pen, and coffee.  As I waited in His Presence, God began to reveal Himself to me. 
During that same year, I began reading “God Calling,” a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.”  These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him.

The following year I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God.  I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.  Soon, messages began to flow more freely, and I bought a special notebook to record these words. 

I have continued to receive personal messages from God as I meditate on Him.  The more difficult my life circumstances, the more I need these encouraging directives from my Creator.  During the years that I have been listening to God with pen in hand, I have found themes of His Peace becoming more prominent in my writing.  

I have included Scripture references after each daily reading.  As I listened to God, Bible verses or fragments of verses often come to mind. I have interwoven these into my messages.  

These messages are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place.  Remember that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.  May He bless you with His Presence and Peace in ever-increasing measure.