I have loved you with an everlasting love.
- Jeremiah 31: 3
We have focused for several weeks on the energy centers, the vortices of thought, emotion and sensation adopted to compensate for a real or perceived lack of security, affection and autonomy. Our emotional programs for happiness were formed in all innocence and, indeed, with them we have managed to traverse our journey to the present.
Perhaps now we have begun to discover that this "operating system" is outdated and even counter-productive to real happiness. Yet we feel powerless when — again and again — we revert to patterns of behavior born of unconscious demands, causing harm to ourselves and our relationships. As Fr. Thomas notes, these obsolete programs, with their associated desperate thoughts, stressful emotions and chemical cascades, function as a very real addiction. It is what the Work of Inner Christianity calls "useless suffering" or "mechanical suffering."
So how do we get free? What role can we play in dismantling these emotional programs?
"These energy centers were developed by repeated acts. They can be taken down by repeated acts. There's nothing absolute or mysterious about them. They're just a habit. Since they have deep emotional overtones, it takes a little repetition, determination, and patience to keep letting go of the value system by a deliberate act every time it presents itself."
- Thomas Keating, excerpt from today's video
We have been given the gifts of Centering Prayer and the Work of Inner Christianity. In the regular practice of Centering Prayer, our will toward God in the silence starts the process of surfacing and healing the unconscious motivations and programs that have been plaguing us.
In the practice of the Work of Inner Christianity, we engage in what the Work calls "conscious suffering." When we are triggered, we change nothing. We work against expressing and justifying negativity. We feel the feelings and sensations, though we come to understand that we are not the thoughts, feelings and sensations. As Fr. Thomas says, "We don't repress the emotions. We simply release the energy that is involved in the value system that the emotions are faithfully registering."
With these practices, we follow the Way of Jesus. Faced with the familiar, human temptations, he did not run or fight. When we allow space, God shows us the edges of our trust and our old realities fade away. What has been obscured in the shadows rises and is embraced by the light.
"All religion, all esoteric teaching, is about the fact that we are born as self-developing organisms … in order, by a certain kind of work on ourselves, to reach something inherent in us (as a new being is inherent in an egg) which is called Real I … the object is to have what is called "Christ" born in us. … [T]he Kingdom of Heaven lies within you and that means the realization of Real I."
- Maurice Nicoll, "On Practical Work," February 9, 1951, Vol. 4, Commentaries
"If creation is to move forward toward its completion and transformation in God, what took place in the life of Jesus must take place in our lives as well. God evolves the universe and brings it to its completion through the cooperation of human beings. Thus, it matters what we do and how we live in relation to God, for only through our actions can we encounter God."
- Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being
- View the video excerpt "Dismantling the Emotional Programs Part 1." This excerpt is about 23 minutes in length. You will find it and the transcript here.
- Ponder the temptations that arise in your life and share insights and wonderings in your journal or Journey Group.
- In the video, we recognize that the dismantling process is served by practicing the Welcoming Prayer, which is an elegant weaving together of the Work tools of self-observation, non-identification and Self-remembering. Continue to pray the Welcoming Prayer. (Find hints here.)
Resources for Further Study:
- Feel into/sink into whatever you are feeling in your body in this moment.
- "Welcome" what you are experiencing this moment in your body as an opportunity to consent to the Divine Indwelling.
- Let Go by saying "I let go of my desire for security, affection, control and embrace this moment as it is."
You may wish to read:
The program archive may be found here.
- Chapter 24 "Spirituality in Everyday Life" from Invitation to Love (20th anniversary edition), Chapter 22 in older editions.
- more about "useless" and "conscious" suffering in Vol. 4, p. 1062 of the Commentaries, "The Idea of Payment in the Work," given at Great Amwell House, July 26, 1947.
- the book by Gerald May that Fr. Thomas refers to in this video, Addiction & Grace.