ENLIGHTENMENT AND ILLUMINATION

This entry was originally posted in the blog Holy Fire by Brother Bryan in August 2009.

As I say in the the subject of this blog, Enlightenment (an inner experience of the Kingdom of God or His Ecstatic Love) and Illumination are not things that can be achieved or earned by following all the rules. Don’t get me wrong, having boundaries is a necessary part of the process of healthy development of one’s sense of self. But rigidly adhering to them, and priding one’s self for doing so, won’t get you that taste of Heaven’s Banquet any more or any quicker than the person who radiates joy, acceptance, and peace. Not even quicker than someone who acts compulsively, irrationally, or impulsively, in many cases rejecting the Love and Power of God’s grace. Father Richard Rohr, OFM has spoken about what he calls “the performance principle”. In addition to refuting the importance many people place on being part of an “in group” or the “chosen religion”, what he calls “tribal religion”, he says that people come to the experience of God’s mercy and love by doing it wrong, by a “spirituality of imperfection.” Don’t misread this; he doesn’t say sin freely and be a heathen. He just honestly admits, including himself in the reality he speaks of, that this is the pattern. Of being lost then found. The parable of the prodigal son is very significant to the pattern of behavior and complacency we have towards God the Father’s hopes for us and how he welcomes us with open arms when we go astray and choose to return.What I am driving towards, is a sort of surrendured stance, a definite kind of humility. Enlightenment and Illumination are terms that most Christians don’t use freely or regularly. Gnostic Christianity does along with other esoteric based religions. God is light in addition to all other aspects we are told about. Having experiences of light or even seeing apparitions don’t make you an Enlightened person who is automatically initiated into the Kingdom of God. Such experiences may preceed a series of mystical experiences, that I can attest to. But for me or any one else, other than maybe Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and Lao-Tzu if they were here on earth today, to say “I am enlightened” and to proclaim it as an absolute state of mind that they exist in apart from others, is border line heresy and a claim made by an inflated ego. I have been influenced by German spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. He says that at the age of 29, he had an enlightening experience that changed his life. If I have heard him correctly, he never has said or written that he is in an “enlightened state” nor in a “privileged state of consciousness” that is somehow superior to the masses of ignorant people that walk the planet sleepwalking so to speak. He is grounded. He actually talks about what Jesus made clear to his those who desired to follow him, that they would have to pick up their crosses and walk the same journey as he did, maybe not to martyrdom, but to powerlessness and surrender to the Absolute Love and Will of God. Rohr and other more progressive Catholics have spoke of experiencing The Christ-Self within or the Buddha nature. In doing so, they speak of a state of Awake, Alert, Sober, Entrainment of Mind and Heart. Jesus, most radically, connected His earthly body in the experiences or encounters with God, thereby uniting the human and the divine in a way that NO OTHER SPIRITUAL TEACHER ever has. Jesus took an established pattern in nature, of life, death, and rebirth (resurrection) and turned the tables on it. In Catholic circles you hear about the Paschal Mystery, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” In defense of those who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and to those who are curious about this reality, the experience of Illumination or Enlightenment is found in the encounter and eating of the Divine Substance, not just taking place in a corporal nature, but in a light filled mystical occurrence, whether through the gift of tears, intense, deep peace, or unspeakable ecstasy and joy. These emotions are not experienced at the expense of a Christ who is crucified over and over in a cannibalistic way, but rather through the vehicle of his risen glorified body – one that serves as a promise for us in the resurrection. In my seminary training as a student of Christian gnosticism, I was told that the “Archons” or Fallen Demonic Intelligences created as the result of a cosmic tragedy (the birth of a light being who became a lesser god, than the Ineffable, Incorruptible Father-Mother) feed off of the sacrifice of the Mass and get people who consume Christ’s Body and Blood to experience “false enlightenment” so that they will remain addicted to the sacrament and ignorant, the only sin in gnostic theology. I don’t commit myself to eating and drinking from a corpse. The sacred meal is much more than that, both a thanksgiving/remembrance of the very life Christ lived in this world and the radiance of Light he brought to those in darkness or illusion (both words I chose to substitute for sin).In summary, with the exception of Roman Catholics who exclude those not of their denomination from receiving the Eucharist, even if a person whole-heartedly believes in transubstantiation and humbly wants to receive the Elements, the gift of Christ’s Real Presence is freely given, not only through the Eucharist or Holy Communion, but in fire and spirit longing to be incarnate or impregnated in everyone. Regularly giving thanks/remembrance and partaking in the foretaste of Heaven’s Banquet will bring Divine Light to you and continually transform you, to allow God to reveal Himself/Herself to you with an Intensity no human can replicate by their own doing. Illumination can happen in every experience of the Eucharist, even if you see it as a symbol of Christ’s love and mercy (God is not limited by human restrictions or metaphors or lack of metaphors). Enlightenment, or the state of grace, or the inner condition of the Kingdom of God, I must confess comes and goes. It’s like losing it then finding it again. The minute we think we have it all, it dissipates. Don’t misunderstand me, God is not a tease. But He/She gives us just what we need as much as we need it, almost careful not to spoil the surprise granted to those who seek Him/Her in this world and the next. As an ascended master who appeared to a man who now is a well known teacher of A COURSE IN MIRACLES said, “heaven is like the perfect orgasm that never stops.” I must conclude that though I believe celibacy should be a choice, not a mandate, those who offer up their sexuality in exchange for union with God in the strictest sense can still know what that feeling is like, for there is no marrying in Heaven. This is not a commentary or a chance to provoke debate about mandatory celibacy for vowed religious. I’m just saying, if we “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk” we all are in for a truly ineffable experience. Alleluia!!!

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