“What’s in the Way is the Way” – Mary O’Malley
For these past six weeks, we have been illuminating Jesus’ teachings that substantiate a primary intention: to open our spiritual eyes, look past the appearances of life, and turn to the Divine Kingdom that lies within us. The inward facing path not only leads to the recognition of the peace and happiness we have sought without but makes plain the Unity of all Life. It is a process that strips away the false notion of a God, a source of good, formed or formless set apart from our very Being. (continued here from email version) While this is inherently sound spiritual reasoning, there is a risk when its application becomes directionally rigid.
When we maintain a steady insistence on looking for the invisible, metaphysical truth our binary mind can easily develop a prejudice that has us denigrating the human life, seeing the world of form and circumstances as inferior and an obstacle to our ultimate spiritual aim and realization. In other words, we exalt metaphysical over incarnation. Asserting that life beyond the body is where it’s at, this messy, dense, human experience is regarded, at best, an annoyance, and at worst a veritable barrier to spiritual awakening.
However, when we look at Jesus’ life, and how he lived it, we see no such evidence of a personal preference for how life on earth needed to be one way or another to maintain his spiritual wellbeing. With challenges of life in a body, dealing with difficult circumstances and intrapersonal and interpersonal discord, his Divine awareness, and spiritual identity remained unaffected. We cannot ignore Jesus’ unwavering equanimity in the face of life, on life’s terms, as an equal if not superior testament than any of his words to the Unitive Way. This is not to say that we exalt suffering as a prerequisite for spiritual realization, for that would be to miss Jesus caveat to “be of good cheer” despite the trials and tribulations of life (John 16:33)
The middle way, as modeled by spiritual masters such as Jesus, discerns perfection in the imperfection. And yet, this recognition is not lost to most of us who have traveled the treacherous, wondrous, confusing, agonizing, paths of loving another person. What is it about incarnation that is necessary to the full flowering of love? It seems that the most sought-after blessing, of profound love, is rarely found in the shallows of ease and comfort. Love, the pearl of great price, has such extraordinary value, much of which is derived from what it costs. You likely know this already. And yet we may hold to a notion of idealized love, where we are floating in ethereal bliss upon a cloud. It makes for a good romance novel but remains a fiction in real life/love. For even in the case of one fully realized such as Jesus there is no such bypass. Can we be sure that the conditions he faced were not instrumental in the depth of his realization? Or that his unfathomable capacity for unconditional love was wrought from the great challenges he faced?
No one is exempt in this realm of life. All must deal with the forces of gravity, the consequence of choices, the demanding price of cause and effect, the inevitable uncertainty of tomorrow, the frailty of the body, which can be hurt, sick and ultimately fails. And, perhaps the most costly of all is the risk of vulnerability that we must wager if we would realize true intimacy with another. We can affirm the spiritual reality of our Being with endless repetitions, but what will await us to face is the precarious ledge and leap into unknown depths that lead to the full bloom of human love.
Could it be seen that life here is not punitive, or a mistake, or a detriment but the very conditions which, like the caterpillar’s journey, demands an inner metamorphosis and faithful willfulness to grow the wings necessary for our emergence? Once seen, then like Jesus, we embrace the isness of life that we encounter here, knowing it holds profound purpose. Not just as a classroom, or a cosmic dorm room of no spiritual consequence. Instead, this life, here on earth, with all its painful, wondrous, treacherous conditions is seen as sacred, holy ground, where Grace and Goodness and Love bloom, even and especially through the cracks of life.
Join us Sunday as we share the final message in this series. We'll look deeply into the Passion and see what profound meaning we can take from the disturbing, and wonderous events at the conclusion of Jesus' life on earth.
Peace and blessings,