What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
- John 1: 4-5
So far in the Spiritual Journey program, we have explored the Evolutionary model of consciousness, the Existential model of consciousness, the programs for happiness, the energy centers and, in today's video, some different ways we may react when our programs for happiness become frustrated.
It might be useful at this point to take a breath and wonder: why do I want to know all this?
"Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave."
- G.I. Gurdjieff, In Search of the Miraculous by P.D. Ouspensky
Through his writings and his videos, Fr. Thomas brilliantly investigates the human condition, the collection of unconscious mechanisms, programs and motivations that, through no fault of our own, have held us captive and kept us blind to our divine heritage and destiny. As we verify for ourselves — as we become increasingly aware that what has been running us is not "I," we become more and more willing to look at, question and eventually even find humorous our habitual ways of reacting — our useless suffering.
Though we may think we have to undertake some Herculean effort to know ourselves, in truth it just requires persistent, light-hearted attention. We ask God for help. We talk with friends on the journey. A powerful aid in dismantling the emotional programs is our Centering Prayer practice. By returning to the sacred symbol over and over again — learning to let go of thoughts — we strengthen our "letting-go muscle," so to speak, in daily life.
We begin to regard our stressful emotions with a friendly attitude. As Fr. Thomas says, "They are good, faithful reporters of what our secret motivation really is." As we learn to recognize these clues to the operation of the energy centers and we relax and simply feel the feelings, we have more freedom to respond or let go instead of react. We learn that, while it has seemed that our reactions to certain situations and people are inevitable, we actually have a choice. Like the gentleman at the newsstand in today's video, we can be free.
We are freeing the energy of the divine life within us, our true life in Christ.
"Meister Eckhart, the German Dominican mystic (c. 1260-c.1328), said that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. Yet our culture, both secular and Christian, seems obsessed with addition: getting rich, becoming famous, earning more brownie points with God or our boss, attaining enlightenment, achieving moral behavior. Jesus and the mystics of other traditions tell us that the spiritual path is not about getting more or getting ahead, which only panders to the ego. Authentic spirituality is much more about letting go — letting go of what we don't need …
"Life and God ask us to let go of … the passing, egoic identity we've manufactured in order to cope and survive. To be freed from self-preoccupation, we must be centered in the Real, our inherent and unbreakable identity as God's beloved. Once we're connected to our Source, we know that our isolated, seemingly inferior or superior individual self is not that big a deal. The more we cling to self-importance and ego, the more we are undoubtedly living outside of union."
- Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, December 12, 2017
- View the video excerpt "Dismantling the Emotional Programs, Part 2" This excerpt is about 28 minutes in length. You will find it and the transcript here.
- As Fr. Thomas describes, each of us may be temperamentally inclined to react to frustration of the energy centers differently; we may mechanically withdraw, capitulate, act out aggressively or become overly dependent on someone perceived to be stronger or in a position of authority. You're invited to practice self-observation, non-identification and Self-remembering as triggers and reactions occur.
- Meister Eckhart suggests that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition. How are you being called to exercise your "letting-go muscle" in your journey now?
Resources for Further Study:
- You may wish to read Chapter 24 "Spirituality in Everyday Life" from Invitation to Love (20th anniversary edition), Chapter 22 in older editions.
- The program archive may be found here.