Lessons on The Journey: The System

Lessons on The Journey: The System

This post will be most likely be the only “linear” part of “Lessons on The Journey” as all others after this will not be presented in any sort of order. In fact, you will most likely find that the path is more spiral in nature. But that’s another topic. What follows may not bring any of those “Ah Ha!” moments and I admit is very systematic (pun intended). But it is none the less crucial in helping avoid “magical thinking” later on down the road when you encounter various forms of The System. It also will help you define your “BullShit” detection when encountering the more twisted structures.

IT’s Everywhere! Eeeeekkkkk!

The reason why I wanted to start with “The System” is that it is prevalent everywhere. Those who have experienced the “Big Disconnect” from the RM and who have now entered into Detox run the risk of being side-tracked (caught up in an eddy) of system-bashing; endlessly railing against real and perceived evils of the system (using it as a pseudo scape-goat) and thus unwittingly becoming very jaded and very, VERY cynical. Getting caught up into these eddies is bound to happen from time to time. Healing doesn’t happen in these places. Which is not a good place to be.

The Good, The Bad and the Really, REALLY Ugly.

The Good is that system, organization & structure (SOS) have their purposes. I am very thankful for them when I ride/drive in a vehicle, fly on a plane, and kickback on my favorite couch in my house. SOS is very welcomed and needed for traffic lights, waste water treatment and surgery procedures.  Life itself is very organized (and also very chaotic; which will be filed under Paradox. Something we will go into some other time . . .). Everything tends to organize, either itself or it’s environment. Including us Humans. It’s natural. It’s Organic (an oft currently over-used term now-a-days, but none the less real).

The Bad is that systems have their limits. When that limit is reached, things break down. Cracks begin to appear. A larger system may have a farther distance from its core to its limit, but larger systems tend to be more complex. The more complex, the greater the break downs and cracks become fissures. When it comes to human designed systems, which are very often out of harmony with the rest of creation, the magnitude of the potential disasters when the limit is reached are far greater.

. . . and the Really, REALLY Ugly

“RESISTANCE IS (almost) FUTILE.”  In the Star Trek Universe, the Borg are the ultimate enemy to everyone. They are cyborgs; a mixture of human and technology. Parts of their bodies have been augmented or even totally replaced with computer technology, electro-mechanical devices and various artificial sensors. Theirs is a hive-mind collective, with the masses being controlled by a select leader. All individuality, all diversity and authentic relationship has been eliminated. There is only the collective and its needs to be served. This is what happens when The System morphs (or perhaps mutates is a better word) at this point. Everything becomes centered around perpetuating the system; Keeping it going. Feeding it. Serving it.  Sacrificing to it or for it. The System begins to take on an identity of its own.  This is nothing new, really. You can see examples everywhere: Corporations, Institutions, Governments are all subject to this mutation. They form their own unique collective matrix to maintain the status-quo.

Neo Visits The Shack and Realizes that He isn’t in Kansas Any More.

(ya think maybe I could mix more metaphors?)

So what is one to do? Perhaps like Neo in “The Matrix” you have begun to suspect that there is something going on but just what isn’t exactly clear. You’re tempted to take the blue pill and wake-up, believing whatever you want. After all, who can change The System?

In the story “The Shack”, one of my favorite passages reads thus:

[Jesus] “Mack, the world system is what it is. Institutions, systems, ideologies, and all the vain futile efforts of humanity that go with them are everywhere, and interaction with all of it is unavoidable. But I can give you freedom to overcome any system of power in which you find yourself, be it religious, economic, social, or political. You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems and to move freely between and among them.”

[Mack] “But so many of the people I care about seem to be both in it and of it!” Mack was thinking of his friends, church people who had expressed love to him and his family. He knew they loved Jesus, but were also sold out to religious activity and patriotism.

[Jesus] “Mack, I love them. And you wrongly judge many of them. For those who are both in it and of it, we must find ways to love and serve them, don’t you think? Remember, the people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

So the ultimate goal of The Journey is not to tilt at the windmills of the system but rather is about learning to live well loved and loving others well. That is where true freedom begins.

Lessons on The Journey: The Big Disconnect

This is the first in the series of “Lessons on the Journey” which is based on my experiences, lessons learned and battles fought in my escape from the RM (Religious Matrix). It is not a railing accusation against ekklesia, worship, fellowship or anything such as that. It is a frank and OPEN sharing of my journey. It is a tale of a spiritual maturing, one that has been defined as the transformation from Confident Arrogance to that of Thoughtfully Uncertain.

You are invited to comment in the spirit of Love, Grace and Respect. This does not necessarily mean that you have to agree. I believe that we can agree to disagree and not sacrifice relationship nor civility.

The Big Disconnect

Like leaving home for the first time, going off to a far away city that you have never been to before. Like taking an unexplored path for the first time. Like a roller coaster ride that makes you question your sanity. Like all those crazy stories and movies you’ve ever read or seen where the main character wakes up to find that the world that they had know had somehow mysteriously dissolved and they have truly, truly gone over the rainbow, through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. This and so much more was what I’ve experienced in “The Big Disconnect”, the journey away from the box of religious performance, the systematic and “organized” RM that always demands more perfromance, more doing, more sacrifice. More, more, more. All the while using GSF (Guilt, Shame & Fear), all be it most of the time subtely, to get you to do “the more”. All the while, sucking the life out of you. It substitutes Formula for Faith, Rules for Relationship and Dogma for Dynamic Spirituality.

This is where the ride begins, the descent into the rabbit hole and the crossing of the threshold in the wardrobe into that other world. Once you start, you cannot turn back. You won’t really want to, though at time you will have to battle those ghosts who want to call you back. Be ye warned.  Blue pill, Red pill. It’s your choice.

The Little Red Book

The Little Red Book. I was young when I got it, no more than ten years of age. The little red book was given to me, but I do not remember from who. I think it was a “gift” handed out out a church wedding. Within the little red book were verses pulled from scripture, all out of context and arranged in a flow that talked of sin, God’s anger and wrath at us for our sin with damnation assured to be followed by hell unless we got in on the “safe side” of God by accepting His divine “Get Out of Jail – Free” card through Jesus. Jesus who died to take our deserved place because God was royally ticked and someone had to pay and to appease.
My friend Jesus! Thank you! But this free pass was only good for one shot; you had to “keep on the sunny-side” by doing good, following the rules and supporting the program that the experts said was very important. After all, you had to keep on the stern but “good” side of this God who saw all and watched from above. At the end of the little red book was the “sinner’s prayer” and a place to sign your name, indicating that you had accepted Jesus Christ ( the free “Get Out of Jail” card). God must indeed be very powerful to read that scribbled signature in that tiny little red book from so far away.

I felt better. I felt safe. No one wants to burn so I signed the pledge. Being the typical young child, I eventually set the book aside and went and played and did my homework and tried to do what my parents and teacher asked. I wasn’t a bad kid. Oh sometimes I did stupid and selfish things like everyone does in their life. But all I wanted to do was play, have fun and be loved and accepted.

After some time had passed I found the little red book again admist the clutter of toys, books and other things a young boy collects. I would read that little red book again and become fearful that I had “lost my salvation” and that God was pissed at me again because I ad forgot about the rules and the program. I was sure that there was a very hot place awaiting for me as my “Final Destination”. After all, that’s what the Rules said, that’s what the Program ( and those who ran the Program) said. That’s what the Little Red Book said. So I would pray and repent and promise. I would go through a performance on inner spiritual gymnastics until the Religious Taskmasters of Guilt, Shame and Fear were appeased. I would be fine and do fine. I was “safe”. All at the tender age of ten.

And that Little Red Book?

It has haunted me, tormented ever since. Again and again.

Quite the burden for a ten year old, eh? Or for anyone at any age really. “Salvation” born of Guilt, Shame and Fear is not salvation. It is a cruel taskmaster that terrorizes.

Love is the true catalyst of transformation. Love is the alchemy of salvation. Love is the Light that heals and guides. Love is the only Way that can bring us out of the darkness of Guilt/Shame/Fear into the Light. Love in the heart, in the core of who we are is the way. That is where we must be led from. Not the ego-mind. The heart filled with Divine Love instructs the mind. Not a little red book of dried ink on paper with no light or love.

Oh Divine Source, fill me with Love, Light, Grace and Truth. Yeshua, let me be informed and formed by Love. May Love be my Guide, Friend and Companion. Take from me that little red book and give me relationship.

“I want to know what Love is, I want You to show me. I want to feel what Love is, I know You can show me.”

“But the Greatest of these is Love”

“Oh dear! I’m afraid his little red choo-choo has gone chugging off the tracks.”

“Look at him, he’s gone loopie!”

“Ah, another victim of ‘New Age’ influence. Tsk-tsk.”

“He’s Too Pagan.”

“He’s Too Christian!

“He’s Too Liberal.”

“He’s Too Conservative.”

Ah, and so it goes. Sad day that so many have fallen upon labels and dogma. I can understand. It’s easier to do so rather than spend the time and energy to really get to know someone, to explore their realm, to get out of my comfort zone. Because then I might really have to love them. I might really have to be vulnerable and risk being misunderstood, being labled . . . being challenged.

But all I know is God and the Mercy of God. The farther along I get in The Journey, the more of The Story I experience the more my Paradigm gets shifted. The more I see the “fingerprints of Christ” everywhere, on everyone. I mean EVERYONE. Whether they realize it or not, acknowledge it or not. I’ve begun to realize that it’s Papa’s job to do the paradigm shifting, not mine. My mission is to know, to experience Papa’s Love more and to live out that Love with all others; learning to Love others in like manner.

And so I love my conservative orthodox friends here. And I love my liberal ecclectic and unconventional friends here. I love my fellow “christian” friends here. And I love my “pagan” friends here. Papa has blessed me with all of them and has used their paradigms to free me up. To let go of the false security offered by dogma and labels. To let go the fear of opinion, of not having “right” opinion, perspective, info . . . whatever.

All I know is God and His Mercy. Papa’s Grace and Love.

And that it is for and in everyone. EVERYONE. It’s His business to bring that into transformation in each person . . . in HIS time. It’s my privilege to see and to call that out in everyone I meet. For that is the Way of Love.

And it is the Greatest.

It Don’t mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing

On New Year’s eve we watched the last Harry Potter movie; “The Deathly Hollows” parts 1 and 2. There is a lot in that story that reflect elements of the Gospel Message.  I know that there are those who would scoff at that (some of them violently) . . . but that’s their problem.

Universal themes of laying down one’s life for others, dying to oneself, being aware of the lies we tell ourselves, acknowledgement that there’s a bit of “Voldermort” in oneself.

But the greatest message I see woven subtly throughout the entire story thread is that without Love, it all doesn’t mean a thing.

I remember way back to the Disney Movie Classic “The Sword and the Stone”. Young Arthur is being mentored by Merlin. In his many adventures in learning, Arthur comes to the conclusion that the greatest “magic” (power) is Love. That it is the only true and real power.  Some of course would again scoff at connecting the word “magic” to that of the word “Love”. I can understand this.

There is perhaps no perfect descriptive for the word “Love” save that of what Paul the apostle was inspired to write in his first letter to the Corinthians. It is interesting to note that this part of his letter falls right smack-dab in the middle of the section that is dealing with gifts (“powers”) from/of the Spirit (Ruah Kodesh “Holy spirit”; Papa God’s Creative Breath of Life). Without Love, it don’t mean a thing.

And this: Without Love, it is not of God.

In the “grays” that I struggle within my life, this is what bothers me most. There are parts of “me” that have little love in them. And there are parts that have no love at all. So when crap from those parts surface, I am troubled and disturbed. Though I should not be surprized by that crap surfacing (though my ego is by the shocking fact that I’m not perfect). Papa God is not surprized either (nor is He disappointed or angry) when my crap surfaces. So why am I? Papa God accepts me. crap and all. It seems that The Divine is in the Sanitization Business. Which is a good thing as I would do a crappy job all on my own (though my ego thinks otherwise).

Note that I said “all on my own”; The process involves my participation. But I can’t do it all by myself. In one sense it is something that Papa has done completely (in Christ) and “is doing” (in Christ) but invites me to join in this process. I see echoes of this in Merton’s writings in “New Seeds of Contemplation”.

Wow! From Harry Potter to Merlin to Merton. That’s quite the Quantum leap.

But  . . . “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”.

That “swing” being Love.

Shalom, Grace and may it be that Love tackles you to the floor.

Happy New Year.

Dancing In The Room of Grace Part 5

~ A Bright Note ~

“You need not fear” the stranger’s voice came.

And with it came a bright light. I had not realized how dark it had become around me until he had spoken. The light that came with his voice drove back the darkness and the sweet breeze of fresh air blew about me . . . through me, bringing with it light and warmth to my soul. Like the smell of fresh baked bread or the cool summer breeze blowing in from across the sea was his voice to my soul. The darkness, the shadows could not withstand the light and gave way, receding and finally vanishing. I found myself again in a lush and verdant field, color-bright with flowers, magnificent trees and awe inspiring hills surrounding. And in the distance, a majestic mountain loomed so high that it seemed to touch the sky. Indeed so high it was that I could not see clearly it’s top for it disappeared into the clouds.

The intensity of it all was so much that I blinked, shaking my head.

“Breathe, breathe!” he said, laughing. “You’re not dreaming. This is real. And yes, this is still all in the Room of Grace!” he answered to the question forming in my mind. I hadn’t realized that I had been holding my breath, so mesmerized was I by the scene unfolding before me. As I began to breathe, sound flourished about me and I could begin to hear the soft strains of music, as if someone were playing some music not too far off. As I focused more intently on it my breath became more synchronous with the music. The musical notes reverberating in the air all about me, within me even. I started to get a sense of the direction of the melodic source; It was the majestic mountain. At that realization, a desire began to well-up within me to go to that mountain. Vast as it was it seemed so near. And yet I knew that it had to be far, far away. I knew not how far and I doubted if I had the fortitude for the journey. With that thought I felt again the weight of the suitcase in my hand. How could I ever make such a journey with such a ponderous weight?

“Why don’t you let me carry that?” he asked. “Now that you’ve seen the mountain, you will want to travel there. Have no fear. It seems far but it’s not too far. I will go with you and see to it that you get there. Now why don’t you hand that over? That way it won’t slow you down. I’ll take good care of it for you.”

I could not tell you why, but for some reason his word made sense and I handed him my suitcase. The release of it’s weighty burden brought a joy to me that infused me with light and energy. I began to believe that he was truly trustworthy, both with my possessions and me myself.

I had found a guide and a companion on my journey.

Dancing In The Room of Grace Part 4

“Shadows Fall”

Room? What room?!?

I wasn’t in any room that I could see. How could this be a “room”? I was outside. I mean the room I had been in was great and all that, but this just all began to seem too weird. I could not explain how I got to be outside. And how had i gotten dressed so? I didn’t remember changing clothes. And what of my familiar clothes? Where were they? And then a fear gripped me; where was my suitcase?

Panic ensued. The music began to fade and then stopped, along with the singing-without-words. The light faded into a twilight darkness, the field I was in lost it’s warmth and I became cold. I looked upon myself and found that I was once again dressed in the old tattered garb I had on before. I seemed so far from anywhere. Fear and panic throbbed so hard within me that my body began to shake. The growing silence of my surroundings became so deafening that I thought I might go mad. I felt so lost. So alone.

It was then I noticed beside me my old suitcase. My suitcase! At last, something familiar. Something tangible, sound . . . concrete. A connection. Sitting down, I pulled the suitcase up on my lap. Opening it, I carefully began to go through it’s contents. My “treasures”. I ran my hands around the contours of it’s battered surface, gingerly touching the stickers of all the places I had been, recalling with reverence the memories. Even though most of those memories contained fear and pain. At least they were something real. As real as the suitcase and the tattered clothes that I wore. The fear and panic began to subside and I grew into a comfortableness of the familiar. Into what “was real”. “I must have banged my head or something” I thought to myself. Or maybe it had been some sort of weird dream. But at least now I had awoke and was back where I belonged. Though exactly where I was , I was not quite sure.

It was then I heard His voice again;

“Oh, you are still in the Room of Grace. A dissonant note within you threw you out of sync with the reality of where you are at. This often happens when a person first begins to experience the dance. But that’s okay. You are not alone or lost, although you may feel like it. the Dance, the music, the singing-without-words continues. it goes on. In fact, it never really stops. Only your perception of it all can become obscured. We can, at any time you are ready, get ‘right back into the swing of things.’ as they say.”

“You are mad!” I yelled. “What you say is not real. This! This is real!” I shouted as I grabbed and held aloft my suitcase as evidence. Around me the grays and shadows grew in their starkness. Grasping my suitcase even tighter, I endeavored to shut out His voice. I did not want my comfortableness disturbed. What I had heard and seen before was an illusion. It was not real. It could not be real! It could not last. Iron earth and brass skies were the only reality. My tattered clothes were the reality. They were me and I was them. The beauty I had seen and heard was the illusion. Remembering it brought a strong moaning sadness that seemed as though it would smother me. It was painful. At least the sorrow and pain that I packed around with me in my suitcase was mine. It was at least familiar. It was what gave me existence. What the stranger had said and shown to me could not be real. And it was dangerous . . . scary. It made me feel afraid. Give me the shadows and the grays . . . it was where I belonged.

Again, His voice . . .

“You need not fear! You are not alone. Only believe . . .”