mystic


Very Simply: A Christian Mystic

By: Brian Robertson


francesco

Faith is the beginning of love.
Mystical knowledge of God
is the perfection of love.

 

– Evagrios of Pontus

 

It seems to me, quite clearly, that the mistaken emphasis on our eventual fate — heaven or hell — is a human construction, not a Divine mandate. It is a mistake because of obvious things such as God’s intense and almost insane love for each individual, and because, if you will, “God’s dream” that is this Universe does not include the human-based system of judgment, retribution and eternal punishment.

Even if one completely disagrees with that assessment, and my emails tell me there’s no shortage of those type of believers in the world, I think there is one point we can agree on regardless of the individual idea of the such things as heaven, hell, final judgment, etc. That point is this — such unhealthy emphasis on this kind of doctrine completely distracts us from Jesus’ message and teachings that the kingdom of God is not future, but present, that the life lived from God’s presence is essential if we are to deal with ourselves and our angers and fears as well as the hunger, pain, incarceration, loneliness, health and happiness of those around us, day to day and moment to moment as we pass through this world.

It is no wonder that the creed says, “Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate…” and, in case you haven’t thought about it, completely ignores the space of life and teachings that lie between the words “Mary” and the word “suffered.” Look again at the phrase and what it simply skips over! It ignores the power of Jesus’ life and teachings and focuses on, instead, the event of Jesus. It is from that event that we project and honor such abhorrent things as a father who sacrifices his son in order to forgive another’s shortcomings; the power of a checklist of beliefs over the actions of love; the me first and to hell with you concept of ultimate survival and more.

The quote I chose says so much of what I’m trying to say in such a concise, deep manner. Faith, most certainly, is the beginning step toward God, the ability not to cling to this or that specific belief, but, rather, to let go, to let God be God in dealing with us and with others. From that can only come Love. It is not a “a – b” progression. Love is the natural reaction to Faith, just as coming off an airplane and walking into the terminal to see your child waiting requires no intellectual affirmation. It is a natural result which is bundled into the process of returning.

It is not as if we come forward at a Billy Graham evangelical meeting at the end of the service and, BINGO, we’re there and can sit and wait somewhere till the so-called rapture arrives. In reality, we are constantly moving toward God. We are learning Love. We are learning to receive it — that we are indeed dealing with a God of unexplainable love — and then we are moving to love others. We travel in the second sentence for the remainder of our lives here, “Mystical (think experiential) knowledge of God is the perfection of love.”

May all who visit this site and read these words be aware of the journey as well as the presence of the Constant Companion.

Blessings,

Rev. Brian Robertson


Comments:

[The words used in the OT and NT for “hell” are:
Sheol – place of the dead
Gehenna – the garbage dump where corpses of dead animals are incinerated
Hades – Greek mythological place of reward
So, mention of “hell” is dependent upon the writer and the reference it is making.
QB]

 

[True enough. Many, many mythological systems had some concept of a Hell, and the varying use of the word indicates what I talked about. Add to it, however, the concept of the word of Jesus being “Be good or go to Hell” which it most certainly was not. Further, the concept of Heaven and Hell have shifted to concepts that vary widely — harps, St. Peter, etc. etc.

Jesus’ message is not, in other words, what we have seen in these beliefs. Jesus message was, quite simply, that God’s Kingdom was of earth and of now, not of later after death in some remote location.]

 

[“The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God’s will increasingly coincide: God’s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself. Then self- abandonment to God increases and God becomes our joy (cf. Ps 73 [72]:23-28).” ‘Deus Caritas Est’, the first encyclical of Pope bendict XVI.

I am convinced that many good evangelical and fundametalist Christians do in fact desire to love God, just as we mystical Christians desire to love God. Perhaps one major difference is in our approaches to that love. The “conservative” approach is to take the Bible as a step-by-step manual or law book instructing us in the dos and don’t that express God’s will for us. Out of love for God, one is supposed to try as hard as possible to literally live “by the book.” In doing so we would force ourselves to make our own wills conform to what we believe is the will of God, hoping that it increasingly becomes engrained in us so that we increasingly share in God’s will, almost habitually.

That is not the mystical way, which is more about loving God by cultivating the relationship with God’s Living Spirit in our own hearts and minds, because “God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself.” This way just isn’t about rules and regulations, but learning to listen to the voice of God as directly as possible. As Jesus taught, the surest way to understand that voice is by tuning into unconditional love, and you don’t need any books for that. Sure, we’ll make mistakes sometimes but, again, I understand the message of Jesus saying that it’s better to err on the side of listening to the heart than it is to err on the side of living by the letter of the law.

Aside from clarifying the differences, and why I prefer the latter, my point here is to acknowledge that both ways are motivated by love. I think that’s important for mystical seekers to keep in mind, because it is so easy to see be reductive and see the other way as being about nothing but fear.

In agape’,
Chuck]

 

[Nice, Chuck :)

I would have to say, and I realize I’m treading on toes here, that the key word is “unconditional.” It has been my experience over the years that in the fundamentalist or “Church of Law” approach, the love is because God has saved you from Hell. It’s a tit-for-tat kind of thing for some, an honest reaction from others.

My point remains that either the teachings of Jesus are designed to keep you from hell or they are designed to facilitate the kingdom now, not in some assumed (by certain communities) second coming at the end of history. If there is a second coming, it is when one knows by experience the Presence of God in this life, not for future gain, but immediate change and meaning. As such, the mystic knows God through experience and cannot do other than love.

I suppose if I can imagine a scenario where one stands before God and one’s “fate” is in balance, there is only one question asked — not how many times did you mess up, were you members of the “right” church, but, rather, the disarmingly simple: Did you love?

Brian]

 

[I have been a fan of yours for years. your posts and blogs have always challenged the way I thought in regards to my spiritual walk and life.
I am still of the school of thought that teaches salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection, although my reasoning may be different than the average convetional Christian. As far as the hell issue goes, that is still up in the air with me, I waver constantly on that Help me God!
Anyway, I would love it if you would go into detail in future posts about Christ’s death and resurrection and in your views what it means. I would also like to hear your meditations on the teachings of hell, heaven, the lake of fire…and other such things found in the book of revelation. I would wonder if you have any insight on such things like the rapture, “end times” prophecies that these modern Christians seem to be obsessed with. These are issues that have always intrigued me and I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on them.
God bless you always.]

 

[David:

I’d love to know what your thought is — the reasoning that might be different than the conventional Christian — and so, of course, feel free to offer it up!

As I get time this week, appreciative of your request and your extremely kind words, I’d love to offer up what seems to be my take on things. It is not, of course, the same as saying — the TRUTH — cough, cough. I just am not wired that way.

Brian]