An Honest Question of the Heart


How do contemplatives deal with their sexuality?

As I grow deeper in my prayer and interior life, I find that it also releases bursts of energies which I cannot totally just channel to my work and creative life, so this bothers me, given my Catholic upbringing; it also makes me seriously wonder and question, given my own seeking of authenticity, acceptance and forgiveness, both of self and others.

It’s interesting to note that there are few resources on the Net which directly and thoughtfully answer this question.  I find many resources on the use of sex a as an approach to living the contemplative life, but what I’m looking for is what actual contemplatives do with their own sexuality and sexual drives.

photo credits to ShambhalaSun.com

Then, I come to this

Secular” society is by its nature committed to what Pascal calls “diversion”, that is, to movement which has, before all else, the anaesthetic function of quieting our anguish. All society, without exception, tends to be in some respect “secular”. But a genuinely secular society is one which cannot be content with innocent escapes from itself. More and more it tends to need and to demand, with insatiable dependence, satisfaction in pursuits that are unjust, evil, or even criminal. Hence the growth of economically useless businesses that exist for profit and not for real production, that create artificial needs which they fill with cheap and quickly exhausted products. Hence the wars that arise when producers compete for markets and sources of raw material. Hence the nihilism, despair and destructive anarchy that follows war and then the blind rush into totalitarianism as an escape from despair.

In the sacred society, on the other hand, the person admits no dependence on anything lower than himself, or even outside himself in a spatial sense. His only Master is God. Only when God is our Master can we be free, for God is within ourselves as well as above ourselves. He rules us by liberating us from our dependence on created things outside us. We use and dominate them, so that they exist for our sakes, and not we for theirs. There is no purely sacred society except in heaven. (8)

The problem is that it is painful to face this letting go of our illusions. To face this area means facing our own inner doubts, our own fears. our own anguish. And yet- -such is necessary in order to enter into contemplation or even into true life. Merton says:

The truly sacred attitude toward life is in no sense an escape from the sense of nothingness that assails us when we are left alone with ourselves.

On the contrary, it penetrates into that darkness and that nothingness, realizing that the mercy of God has transformed our nothingness into His temple and believing that in our darkness His light has hidden itself. Hence the sacred attitude is one which does not recoil from our own inner emptiness, but rather penetrates it with awe and reverence, and with the awareness of mystery. This is a most important discovery in, the interior life.

Merton applies this to the coming to final integration. Following Dr. Arasteh he speaks of this Breakthrough in the language of Sufism and calls it “Fana”, annihilation or disintegration, a loss of self, a real spiritual death. This leads us into the traditional way of seeing contemplation as a sharing in the Paschal Mystery of Christ: His death and resurrection. The Scriptures constantly remind us of this theme. “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (Jo 12:24). “to live is Christ; to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). This dying and rising is part and parcel of our very Christian life. But it is particularly an essential part of entering into the life of contemplation. Merton says:

This change of perspective is impossible as long as we are afraid of our own nothingness, as long as we are afraid of fear, afraid of poverty, afraid of boredom – as long as we run away from ourselves. What we need is the gift of God which make us able to find in ourselves not just ourselves but Him: and then our nothingness becomes His all. This is not possible without the liberation effected by compunction and humility. It requires not talent, not mere insight, but sorrow, pouring itself out in love and trust.

It does not directly answer my question per se, but it does provide me with a deeper insight and understanding into what it means to live the contemplative life authentically.

Then, this, too —

The Fathers frequently say: “God became man in order that man might become God”. Christ became man in order to reveal to us our own true nature and to empower us to live as children of God. Contemplation is simply living out this mystery, not only in prayer, but in our whole life. Merton says:

If the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost”, this was not merely in order to reestablish us in a favorable juridical position with regard to God: it, was to elevate, change and transform us humans into God, in order that God might be revealed in Man, and that all people might become One Son of God in Christ. The New Testament texts in which this mystery is stated are unequivocal, and yet they have been to a very great extent ignored not only by the faithful but also by the theologians. The Greek and Latin Fathers never made this mistake! For them, the mystery of the hypostatic union, or the union of the divine and human nature in the One Person of the Word, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, was not only a truth of the greatest, most revolutionary and most existential actuality, but it was the central truth of all being and all history. It was the key which alone could unlock the meaning of everything else, and even the inner and spiritual significance of the human person, of his actions as an individual and in society, of the world, and of the whole cosmos.

As Merton says: “the very first step to a correct understanding of contemplation is to grasp clearly the unity of God and Man in Christ, which of course presupposes the equally crucial unity of man in himself.” (ibid. ) This, however, remains as the fundamental problem. For we are not in unity within ourselves. As a result of the fall of Adam and its effects on all humanity through all time, we find ourselves divided. We are much more aware of that “false self” which is identified with all our efforts at situating ourselves in a hierarchy of power, prestige and greatness (“like unto God” (Gen. 3:5). This “false self” is preoccupied with whatever will make us “look better” in the eyes of others and of ourselves.

Hmmm. Food for thought over the next few days and weeks.

*******

(Any thoughts or helpful links to similar resources would be most appreciated.)

Total Surrender


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I started reading this book as I was ending my Prayer and Life Workshops (PLW) and I feel very loved and guided by Spirit in my journey. If I learned the fundamentals of cultivating a rich prayer life and intimacy with God, as well as applying my interior learning to my every day life, in PLW, this book takes me further in deepening my understanding of the need for silence and prayer as the font of all acts of love and service.

Although the notes, letters, and snippets of talks in this book were originally addressed to Mother Teresa’s sisters in the Missionaries of Charity, they speak to the everyday person seeking more meaning and depth as they live out their lives in the secular world. Highly recommended!

View all my reviews.

The Power of Silence


Silence can make us nervous thinking we need to fill the void, but there is immense strength in silence.

All sounds, from a whisper to a classical symphony, arise out of silence and disappear into silence. But silence is always there beneath sound and is the space where sound can exist. We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but silence has its own weight and quality. When you listen to silence, you can perceive its intense depth and power. Taking the time to experience silence calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. Silence is the void where we can hear the many sounds that we often ignore – the voice of our intuition telling us the truth, the sound of the breeze blowing, the hum of the radiator, and the noises we make just because we are alive.

One way to experience silence is to wake up before the rest of the world has come alive. Try not to move into activity, and leave off the lights, radio, and television. Sit still and simply listen. You may hear your heartbeat or your breath, but keep your attention tuned to the silence that surrounds you. Stay this way for as long as you can, and allow the sound of silence to penetrate your body until it moves into your core. Feel the gentle, pulsing waves of silence and allow it to cleanse you. Five minutes of communing with silence can leave you feeling vibrant and connected to the universe.

At night, choose a moment after everyone around you has retired and tune in to silence. You can also experience silence throughout the day. Even in the midst of activity, moments of silence are always present. Usually we ignore or feel nervous around silence and try to fill these moments with sound. Yet silence is always there – vast, potent, and available for us to step into any time we choose.

– Shared from DailyOM

Secret Falling


Secret Falling, 1

hide and seek
ninja pirouettes
silent, tender pas de deux
smiling, quiet understandings.

*******

© Jeanette C. Patindol

September 21, 2012

photo via chicagonow.com

Secret Falling, 2

I dreamt of you again

For the fourth time since that earthquake

Eight months ago.

 

They say that when you dream of someone,
Even if you haven’t been consciously thinking about them –

They have been consciously thinking about you.

 

Have you been thinking about me?

Are they tender thoughts

Like my tender dreams, too?

 

The earth is still quaking, you know.

Nothing is as it appears.

*******

© Jeanette C. Patindol

October 25, 2012

photo via just-mygoal.blogspot.com

 

Secret Falling, 3

It’s 4am again

and my first thought is you

when my last thought was you

Morning, noon, night

Dusk, or dawn

There is you.

 

 

In the silences,

more than in the babble,

I feel you.

Yet we must speak

if only to fill up the social spaces

and we succeed at being funny

while feigning casual acquaintance

or businesslike efficiency.

 

 

So, sometimes, I wonder

which is more real –

the silences

or the social spaces?

 

 

You are so near

yet still so far.

*******

© Jeanette C. Patindol

December 22, 2012

photo via gozamos.com

Secret Falling , 4

without words

you and i

hearts racing

ninjas dancing

 

 

© Jeanette C. Patindol

January 8, 2013 tweet

#haiku-ish #thirteensyllables

Image

Relating vs. Relationship


Relating vs. Relationship

“Relationship means something complete, finished, closed.

Love is never a relationship; love is relating. It is always a river, flowing, unending. Love knows no full stop; the honeymoon begins but never ends. It is not like a novel that starts at a certain point and ends at a certain point. It is an ongoing phenomenon. Lovers end, love continues. It is a continuum. It is a verb, not a noun.

And why do we reduce the beauty of relating to relationship? Why are we in such a hurry? — because to relate is insecure, and relationship is a security, relationship has a certainty. Relating is just a meeting of two strangers, maybe just an overnight stay and in the morning we say goodbye. Who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? And we are so afraid that we want to make it certain, we want to make it predictable. We would like tomorrow to be according to our ideas; we don’t allow it freedom to have its own say. So we immediately reduce every verb to a noun.

You are in love with a woman or a man and immediately you start thinking of getting married. Make it a legal contract. Why? How does the law come into love? The law comes into love because love is not there. It is only a fantasy, and you know the fantasy will disappear. Before it disappears settle down, before it disappears do something so it becomes impossible to separate.

In a better world, with more meditative people, with a little more enlightenment spread over the earth, people will love, love immensely, but their love will remain a relating, not a relationship. And I am not saying that their love will be only momentary. There is every possibility their love may go deeper than your love, may have a higher quality of intimacy, may have something more of poetry and more of God in it. And there is every possibility their love may last longer than your so-called relationship ever lasts. But it will not be guaranteed by the law, by the court, by the policeman.

The guarantee will be inner. It will be a commitment from the heart, it will be a silent communion. If you enjoy being with somebody, you would like to enjoy it more and more. If you enjoy the intimacy, you would like to explore the intimacy more and more.

And there are a few flowers of love which bloom only after long intimacies. There are seasonal flowers too; within six weeks they are there in the sun, but within six weeks again they are gone forever. There are flowers which take years to come, and there are flowers which take many years to come. The longer it takes, the deeper it goes.

But it has to be a commitment from one heart to another heart. It has not even to be verbalized, because to verbalize it is to profane it. It has to be a silent commitment; eye to eye, heart to heart, being to being. It has to be understood, not said.

It is so ugly seeing people going to the church or the court to get married. It is so ugly, so inhuman. It simply shows they can’t trust themselves, they trust the policeman more than they trust their own inner voice. It shows they can’t trust their love, they trust the law.”

-Osho

credits to Love, Passion & a Sprinkle of Wisdom