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Monday February 11 – The Human Condition 
"To know all, one must know very little.
But to know that little, one must know a great deal."
- G.I. Gurdjieff, quoting an ancient aphorism
In this, the second part of our series on the spiritual journey, we will study various models of the human condition. The human condition teaching is Fr. Thomas' seminal work in that he uses contemporary science, particularly modern psychology, and applies it to the traditional Christian spiritual path.
We begin our exploration of the human condition with the Evolutionary Model of human consciousness. We learn that the stages of the development of the human family are recapitulated in the stages of everyone's development, from infanthood on. Both the goodness and the limitations of each stage are within us, causing our lives to seem chaotic at times. It only seems that way because we are not aware of the unconscious motivations behind our behavior.

What I do, I do not understand.
For I do not do what I want,
but I do what I hate.

- Romans 7: 15
More often than not, when we are frustrated or upset, a person, event or even a thought is setting off something in our unconscious. What happens next will either be a conscious choice we make or an unconscious reaction we may end up regretting. Understanding the human condition is an important first step towards healing, transformation, and living life to our full divine-human potential.
"Self-knowledge and daily spiritual practice are necessary for those who wish to awaken."
- from "Statement of Beliefs," The Church of Conscious Harmony
Through Centering Prayer, God gently unearths the old, undigested hurts and remnants of all the levels of consciousness within us. The Work of Inner Christianity offers us a synergistic way of participating with the Divine Therapist in their healing, integration and transformation.
There are three indispensable tools in the Work:  self-observation (a steady, non-critical awareness of our thoughts, our emotions and our bodily sensations); non-identification (recognizing an inner separation from these reactions -- the observer is distinct from the observed -- "This is not I."); and self-remembering (the summoning, by whatever means, into the mind, body and heart the awareness of our real identity as Christ.) 
"The Gospel calls us forth to full responsibility for our emotional life. We tend to blame other people or situations for the turmoil we experience. In actual fact, upsetting emotions prove beyond any doubt that the problem is in us. If we do not assume responsibility for our emotional programs on the unconscious level and take measures to change them, we will be influenced by them to the end of our lives.

 "The primary goal of this teaching is practical: to provide a solid conceptual background for the practice of contemplative prayer and the spiritual journey for our time. We are called to this journey not just for our own personal growth, but also for the sake of the whole human community."
- Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love and The Mystery of Christ
A Meditation
"Dear Lord, I believe and trust in your incredible love for me that heals the wounds of a lifetime -- body, soul, and spirit -- and which calls us into a share of your divine life, even in this world. May this course we're taking fulfill your will for us at this time as we begin or renew our commitment to Centering Prayer as a new life in Christ. That [it] will help us to face what needs to be healed and also create the longings in us for deeper and deeper communion and union with yourself, dear Lord."
- Thomas Keating, from "A Blessing for this Journey" in the introductory session to this program
To Practice
View the video excerpt "The Human Condition: Evolutionary Model Part 1," paying particular attention to the stages in the evolution consciousness in the human species. (See chart below.) This excerpt is about 30 minutes in length. You will find the video segment here. A transcript can also be found on this page.
Ponder the question: How might these stages of consciousness be showing up in my life and relationships?
Self-Observe, Non-identify and Self-Remember. Share with your Journey Group or in your journal.
Evolutionary Model
1. Uroboric
Immersed in nature, food, shelter, prompt fulfillment of needs, no self-consciousness
2. Typhonic
Magical, emotional, hunting culture (clan), formation of body-self
3. Mythic Membership
Verbal, socialization, farming culture, city-state, nation/race/any over- identification with group
4. Mental Egoic
Rational personhood, full reflective self-consciousness, cooperation, industrial technological society
5. Intuitive
Sense of oneness with the cosmos, of belonging to the human family, inclination to serve rather than compete
Suggested Resources for Further Study:
  • The Introduction and Chapters 1-5, 7 in Invitation to Love (20th Anniversary Edition) and the Introduction through Chapter 6, in older editions.
  • "The Difference between Observation and Self-Observation," Commentaries, Vol. 1, p. 46.
An archive of previous emails may be found here.
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