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Three articles in this issue. Eric Chaffee, writing in the context of nondual Christianity, asks, "Can we reconstruct our desires with the building blocks of original innocence?"
Ramon Sender brings us some astrological Buddhism with a shot of Christianity.
The third article is from the blog of Rob Rabbin and is about spiritual activism: "No thought, no deliberation, no planning, no fundraising: just this, a simple response from the heart, choiceless, immediate, loving, peaceful, embodied, public. Beautiful. Not against anything. Not for anything. Just sitting in authentic being, radiating authentic being. Insight and action, flower and fragrance, sitting and silence, peace and more peace."
HOW MANY VIRGIN BIRTHS?
by Eric Chaffee
The Lord himself shall give you
a sign; Behold, a virgin shall
conceive, and bear a son, and
shall call his name Immanuel
[God with us]. -Isaiah 7: 14
I will now argue that the virgin birth is not a rare and unique event. Yes, it appears to be one-of-a-kind. But it may well be an occurrence that every true son and daughter of God eventually must experience as happening to themselves. I hope to show there is scriptural basis for this adventurous position.
Are we disqualified? We may think we've squandered our virginity through worldly experience. But until we volunteer to become God's instrumentality by submitting to His penetration into our child-heart, with disregard of what our neighbors will think of us, we remain in cowardice or rebellion, living, struggling, by our own wits, ways, and means.
Yes, it takes humility to submit. Mary was invited to be the mother of the promised Messiah by an angel. She assented, discounting the cost. She dismissed the fear of what her fiance would say, or of the judgment the neighbors would render regarding her big belly, being yet unmarried. Her tryst with the divine would revolutionize the world. She did not shrink from the offer.
Again, I'm beginning to think a virgin-birthing experience is in store for all of us. Here's the basis of my thought:
How many virgins are in the Bible? Besides Mary, I can quickly count ten more. The parable of the virgins with the lamps quickly comes to mind (see Matt 25:1-13). Five were distracted and unprepared, having forgotten to bring oil for their lamps; and five were enlightened -- or at least, bearers of light, with sufficient oil to keep their lamps lit. Why did Jesus choose 'virgins' for this parable? Surely there must be a point in that choice; and perhaps the point is, that there must needs be additional virgin births to come. I ask that you allow me some elasticity of definition, as these additional virgins may not be destined to experience physiological birthing, a messy process. I will soon offer a new conception of the term, by analogy.
Agamogenesis means 'a fatherless beginning.' Intellectuals may dismiss the so-called virgin birth of Jesus as a fairy tale. But many of them will readily subscribe to the demonstrated practicality of cloning, which is surely agamogenesis, as seen in the birth of Dolly, the sheep, and similar replicated examples. (Such techniques will likely be performed on humans some day.) How odd, that the technology which is sniffed at when pertaining to God, is acceptable with those same folks, when credited to humans. Dolly illustrates the feasibility of virgins giving birth.
If we are destined to participate in a virgin birth, could it be that we must each discover our pristine nature, our original innocence? (Original sin has been all the rage since Augustine, although some would say, since Adam; but that doctrine had minimal currency until the 5th century.) And once we are ready to grasp this innocent nature, allowing the concept to displace the charge of a fallen nature, can we abide by it, be comfortable in it, let it bear fruit? Could metaphorical birthing by additional 'virtual and virtuous virgins' be just as holy and significant and necessary as Mary's virgin birth?
Here's the somewhat redacted benediction that I pronounced at the end of worship service the Sunday before Christmas, with emphasis added (and it was audible): "...The Holy Ghost shall come upon THEE, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow THEE: therefore ALSO that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (shortened from Luke 1:35).
Although Luke was reporting this verse as pertaining to Mary, I think the words above have universal application. Can YOU hear the invitation and the promise? Will you respond? The new birth is not the offspring of a quickie, not a one-time event. We are being beckoned into relationship with the divine, chosen to bring forth progeny, trusted to be faithful to our Mate. This suggests ongoing intimacy. After all, God is not a Father who abandons his children, or his mate. "You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." (-John15:16).
Too much of Christendom is stunted by preoccupation with the jump-street question: "Are you saved?" The typical formula is: admit your sins, accept Jesus as your personal savior, and you'll get into heaven -- and there'll be pie in the sky bye-and-bye, and you'll get raptured out of the chaos and suffering of the apocalypse, if it arrives during your time on Earth. For me, this is too much like buying an insurance policy. (A friend quips 'it's better to have it, and not need it, than to need it, and not have it.' The father of probabilities, Pascal, calls this a wise bet; but God is not courting us because of our astute risk-assessment skills. S/He's deeply interested and attracted to each of us.
'Who, me?' you ask. 'Why would God be interested in starting a family with me? I have nothing worthy of preservation!' Ah, but maybe God knows otherwise. He has sired us, and wants to deliver us to His good and ultimate purpose. God doesn't 'spawn' children, S/he bears them, and nurtures them, patiently, until we are ready to set aside our own distractions and desires and imaginations, and accept the divine plan.
But would it be okay even to want to be a virgin mother? Isn't that a form of over-reaching pride, or a ridiculously impossible goal? Although not directed at the preceding question, I love the image CS Lewis presents in his essay, Weight of Glory: "...Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Can we reconstruct our desires with the building blocks of original innocence? Where do we begin? For starters, I will offer a simple observation about the nature of water, surely an image of purity. A chemist would tell us that water isn't water if it contains anything other than hydrogen and oxygen in the right proportion. If water is muddy, it isn't water at all, but something else, generally said to contain "salts." But the water can be recovered through distillation. Through change-of-state, it is purified of its contaminants. The muddy salts are left behind, and the pure, clear liquid flows forth. This reagent, pure water, is known to be a universal solvent, able to wash away accumulated grime. Will we allow ourselves to be thus instructed and cleansed by something so basic and simple, through a change of heart or thought. Hidden within this illustration is a baptism which can wash us daily, rather than merely ceremonially. Today I can be a chaste virgin if I will but re-conceive of myself as a child made in God's image and likeness. The 'me' of yesterday need not persist unless I allow it. I can be fresh and clean and new today, as if awakened from a dream-state.
Someone has said most of life is simply 'showing up.' Are we ready to accept our invitation, our assignment? Is there oil (energy, eagerness) in this virgin's lamp? Have we re-conceived of ourselves as virgins with the commission of sharing our light (but not our oil) with our neighbors? The invitation is marked 'RSVP, please.' (The One who invites us is worthy of our response.)
"...the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut."
Be there! Or continue making mud pies; as you wish.
May you rediscover your eligibility to be counted among the prospective and alert virgins, chosen of God, to shine light in dark places.
"I am the light of the world" said Jesus. "You are the light of the world" said Jesus. "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."
Wishing all of you spontaneously pure,
self-refreshing, temporary illusory
pristine awareness embodiments a festive absorption into the light as we
move closest to our parent star on Perihelion, January 4, 17 hrs
An explanation of these terms, derived from a quote by Roo from Kennard
Lipman's Commentary to Longchenpa's "A Precious Ship" in
Spontaneously: Because your naturally perfect state of buddhahood is
occurring to you right now, effortlessly, despite whatever flotsam and
jetsam may be impeding your view.
Pure: We all surf, consciously or not, on the wave of the NOW, while
thoughts of the past and future continually dissolve into the primordial
purity of total presence (the supreme ordering principle that fashions
everything in this universe).
Self-refreshing: This very core of reality, pure and total presence, is
self- refreshing and primordially pure.
Temporary: Obviously our embodiment is temporary, at least in this body.
Embodiment: What we all currently are experiencing planetside as 'witness
selves in the flesh.'
Pristine: This awareness is untouched by cause and effect, good deed or bad.
It shines with the pure light of consciousness-love.
Awareness: In the center of the embodiment is the witness self, watching
the passing show.
Illusory: Even this pristine witness self, although capable of evolving
through many levels of heavens and paradises, is ultimately illusory. Total
absorption in Nirvana (Source, the Unmanifest) remains the ultimate goal.
Perihelion: The earth's orbit is slightly eccentric, so every year a moment
arrives when we are thousands of miles closer to the Sun. The date of
Perihelion varies between Jan 2-5 depending on the year (Jan 4, 15 hours
6), celebrating the Three Kings arrival in
to be determined).
Defining "Spiritual Action"
When it comes to explaining concepts, I favor metaphors over definitions, and I favor examples over metaphors. Examples are the best way to explain concepts: dont tell me; show me. What does enlightenment mean? Dont tell me the answer: show me.
I begin with this caveat because I am often asked to define spiritual activism or, as I prefer to call it, spiritual action about which I speak. I usually say that spiritual action is the embodiment of the highest expression of our common humanity love, wisdom, and peace. I say that when we enter the Silence beyond the mind, we discover our authentic nature, and this nature expresses itself in certain predictable ways: as love, wisdom, and peace. I say that spiritual action is not a choice, it is choiceless. The experience of our authentic being and its embodiment as wisdom, love, and peace are a singular, inseparable movement, dance, entity. Insight and action, flower and fragrance, wetness and water.
I have said that spiritual action, when presented with violence, presences peace; when presented with hatred; presences love; when presented with fear, presences unity.
Of course, I go on and on with metaphors and definitions because I love to talk, however futile such talk may be. So today, I want to offer a beautiful example of spiritual action, courtesy of one of my many new Australian friends: Isira Sananda.
A brief context: in the past few days, a
number of violent incidents, dubbed race riots, have
Isira acted. The media release distributed
by her organization, Living Awareness (www.isira.com), announced:
Living Awareness, centre for healing and personal growth,
today said it will hold a peace gathering at
And so it happened. On Sunday, December
18th, at , some 25 people gathered in
On this brightly prophetic day in Hyde Park, with traffic filling Elizabeth Street, and throngs of people flowing through the park toward the cafes and shops, in this city of five million people, in this country of 20 million, on this Earth with six billion some 25 people gathered to express the peace of their authentic being, to demonstrate their peacefulness, to welcome others without distinction, to meet others heart to heart, and thus meet them unified in peace, and unified in love; on this morning turning to early afternoon, under the sun and blue sky, some 25 people chose to gather in peace, to announce peace, to show peace; to sit quietly and open their hearts, to open themselves, to expand themselves and embrace all, to welcome themselves, and each other, and others not present, and the world, the Earth herself, welcoming, welcoming in love and peace, choiceless, immediate, without thought, but from the necessity to embody the highest expression of our common humanity, to testify to the truth and accuracy of my definition of the nature of authentic being: unity-in-love with all creation.
I know the world is richer and more vibrant, more alive with spirit, more open for peaceful possibilities, for our gathering, for our expression, for our choice. May we all find ways to gather for peace, to express peace, to choose peace, for this is truly the highest expression of our common humanity. May we find ourselves in each other, and delight in each other, and celebrate life with each other, in love, and joy, and peace each day, every day, from now until forever.
Id like to conclude by quoting
another of my new friends, a marvelous young sage who lives with
his parents and younger brother, Seth, in
If the world can be beloved by us, we can bring peace and hope to all the world.
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