This morning, I was studying Plotinus\’ Enneads 1.6.2. I put together these pieces.
Beauty – something, a quality seen, heard, or sensed or felt and known. We think: beautiful.
Beauty – \”…all the loveliness of the world which comes by communion in Ideal Form.\”
\”…minds that lift themselves above the realm of sense to a higher order are aware of the beauty that derives from Soul.\”
\”This, then, is how the material thing becomes beautiful – by communicating in the thought that flows from the divine.\”
Plotinus leaves the door wide open for the spiritual aspirant. Step through the door. Touch the thought that flows from the divine. This communion is more that what is found in church. Turn off the TV. Put down the drink. Stop. Listen.
Not everyone is a spiritual aspirant. But, if you hear the call:
1. answer it.
2. Reduce the world.
3. Take up a practice.
4. Balance your worldly needs with communion.
I have had a long term interest in self transcendence. Another way to express that is to become beautiful; as in communicating in the thought that flows from the divine.
Somewhere, I heard about the book \”Into the Silent Land\” by Martin Laird. It is about Christian contemplation. It is the sort of book where you can read one paragraph and then shut your eyes and let your spirit soar. \”…Our greatest need is to be silent before this great God….A spiritual practice is not a technique but something that disposes us to allow some thing to take place….God is already the ground of our being. It is a question of realizing this in our lives….why most of us spend our lives ignorant of this….\”
How blessed I am to have entered the spiritual path. I admit it seems to have reduced a family live or sexual relationship or co-habitation. This causes me to see the world differently: not as me and my family but as us.
I simply boil the beans and rice.
I go running. I am actually in training. I own tickets to Calgary and am entered in the 2014 Calgary marathon. My body is different now that before surgery last September. I am up to 10 miles. My task now is to get the weekly mileage up. I think I can. It is wonderful to jog around Seabrook and also El Lago. Now I will go do that.
It is a rose with ice on it by the door of my house on the Gulf coast. The point is not anything about an ice storm in Houston. It is about the gift of a day of solitude for me. It is about the silence at all. Ice on a rose, the scent is gone.
Monday. I woke up. Then, I snoozed until the alarm. Then, I sat in the darkness thinking about my stupid life. I felt my bleakness. Again, I don\’t love going to work and there seems no point to my life. These are my first thoughts.
I went downstairs. I began to plow through Plotinus Enneads 1.4.6. My mind was dragged out of its gutter into the realm of inspiration. I so get it that this world holds nothing for me. Yes I have creature comforts with a minimum of distraction, but these are not happiness. But turning toward the spiritual I do feel that higher sense and I feel the contentment in communion with It, Being, as the thing of my life I want.
So, the activity of spiritual study could be the only thing which keeps me alive. Life. I am depressed if I don\’t look up.
On Friday I jogged 8.5 miles in 2h07.
On Saturday, I jogged 4.1 miles plus a bunch of machine aerobics.
On Sunday I jogged 9.3 miles in 2h12.
Not bad for someone who had achilles surgery on September 24, 2013, was non-weight-bearing for 6 weeks, and dealt with more pain and difficulty walking for a few more weeks. But, exercise does bring me endorphins; which I seem to need for well being.
I have struggled with whether to keep going in running races. I fuss about the costs. I wonder what is the purpose? I wonder if I should at all since my heel spur surgery.
I have a few friends going in the Calgary Marathon 2014. I kept looking at United Airlines and just couldn\’t quite stomach $900 air fare. Suddenly on Monday night, I noticed the ticket price had gone down to $570. SOLD!
Calgary here I come!
Ever since then, I\’ve been more energized. I\’ve had a happier feeling. It will be a slow marathon for sure; and I\’ll need to train carefully. You would be amazed how my body changed after 6 weeks non-weight bearing and then another month of no running.
Last weekend I did a 7.3 mile jog. Then on Sunday I did a 5 mile jog. I could feel the stress of Saturday as I got started on Sunday.
Calgary looks pretty nice compared to where I usually hang out:
Today is in fact my birthday. I\’m old! 55!
So I went for a 5 mile jog plus 55 min of cross training. It was beautiful in Texas today:
While running, I added up the fact that I ran 7.25 miles yesterday with no bad affects on my post surgery heel; and with the fine day I was having and decided I could do a half marathon. So, I purchased two local races. I also bought some new shoes. I had lunch with a friend. I used up my Sports Authority coupons on kettlebells.
My morning spiritual experience included A Course in Miracles Text:
In you there is a vision that extends to all of them,
and covers them in gentleness and light.
The sun in you has risen and in its light you stand;
quiet, innocent, and wholly unafraid.
Reviewing my life, it occurred to me that in the realm of what I have asked for, there are many \”Request Approved\” and many \”Request Denied.\” First on the list of approved requests is sobriety. My sober life is orders of magnitude better that what a drunken life would have been. also, I have a vibrant spiritual practice, inner peace, fitness, vegetarianism, worldly renunciation and more.
I started at the beginning again today; having completed some reading to Ennead 6 already.
Plotinus seems to set up the separation between Soul and everyday worldly consciousness (I call ego): sense perception/ discursive reasoning. Saying that these two things Soul vs Perception cannot be the same things because Soul is eternal and unchanging.
I accept this and know that it is a concept which appears elsewhere, like in A Course in Miracles. The ACIM Text 25.III also notes that perception is a choice. The world we see is the one we want to see because we desire to see guilt.
In my jogging this morning, which took place in the quiet warm moistness of El Lago, I continued to think about the Soul vs ego. A big part of my spiritual seeking is my belief that ego consciousness can be transcended or healed so a person can live as Soul consciousness. It does mean renouncing the world; or changing focus and thinking. I go so far as to say that renouncing the world plus changing focus has been my study and my practice through many years and many theologies. I\’m happy with this path. I keep trying to go along it. Remember I said 2014 would be a year of record breaking inner peace? I meant this path of renunciation plus changing focus. I have that potential for 2014.
Lesson 7 is \”I see only the past.\” Meaning that I have past thoughts associated with everything I see. All meaning for me is formed from past thoughts.
Then I also read this morning from the ACIM Text 25.II.1: \”The only value that the past can hold is that you learn it gave you no rewards which you want to keep. For only thus will you be willing to relinquish it.\” This part of the Text goes so far as to remind me that every \”high\” point in my life has ended in disappointment.
Related to Plotinus, the point is also made that this world is a cheap illusion and we need to turn towards The Good instead.
I pondered my 55th birthday coming up. I pondered my ongoing struggle with running and racing. I need to let go of some things. Running gives me much meditation. Racing gives me cheap thrills. But my ego desperately wants to grasp some \”high.\” I study many spiritual authors. It seems that ascendance to Divine Providence does entail renunciation of the cheapness of life, paying attention more and more to The Beyond. I am doing that.
And then, I went for my first post surgery run in El Lago in the early morning. I have been running already several times. But I mean I went out the gate of my village and into El Lago before dawn, o\’dark o\’clock. I was bundled up since it is unheard of cold here on the Gulf coast. But I enjoyed my 26 minutes of jogging.
Saturday evening. I just finished a workout of more than an hour. I was thinking about how I might have stepped on someone\’s toes on the internet. As the big book of AA tells me, they retaliate. And we don\’t always know why.
But, on another track, I see situations like this where I am bothered as a distraction from the spiritual realm towards the world of illusion. Distractions cause me to stop looking towards spirit and start paying attention only to my emotional thoughts. Talking back is a concept from the Desert Fathers (and in particular Evagrius), early Christians who went to the desert to fight demons. I believe the demons were upsetting thoughts. The Desert Fathers used Biblical phrases to talk back to the demons.
I need to talk back to upsetting thoughts. I can use an ACIM lesson like \”these thoughts don\’t mean anything.\” If I habitually talk back, I will more easily return to the realm of the spirit and happiness.
I have habitual upsetting thoughts. I am sometimes hopelessly distracted by them:
– How I was denied God because I was denied monastic profession.
– How I am stupid because I live like an athlete even though I am slow and old.
– How my life of solitude and spiritual study must be boring and stupid and I should get a life.
– My foot hurts.
This is not a complete list of distractions. these are just the ones frequently on my mind. In a way, these are attack thoughts. Another ACIM lesson that works is to say, \”I can escape from the world I see by giving up my attack thoughts.\” I use my ACIM lessons to talk back to thoughts.
Today, 3.3 months after surgery, I jogged 6.3 miles. It was wonderful. It wasn\’t fast but it was long enough to become meditative. I got to be outside on a nice day in the Texas winter. Nothing better.
6.8.15 seems a real gem to me. It pretty much gives me a reality of One.
Where it says, \”Self-presence can hold only in the identity of associated with associating…\”; I thought that perhaps my spiritual seeking is a function which comes already from That, not a failure on my part to find God. If I allow that my seeking is That\’s Self-presence and I am That, then I can be at peace entered consciously into relation with That which I always wanted. The relationship springs automatically into reality.. I know I am not saying anything new, but the way Plotinus explains it, I had a moment of clarity.
Students of A Course in Miracles would recognize the principles of inner peace and real relationship; although the wording is quite different. This means to me that the scribe of ACIM was scribing information which is present in human consciousness and is truth; but it is not new with her. The Self of ACIM (Jesus) has always been so the information is true. The Buddha got this also. Jesus himself got this also. Christianity as it exists today is a corruption of truth.
Then, the whole second paragraph is satisfying. I have the reality explained.
\”And when we say that neither does He absorb anything nor anything absorb Him, thus again we are setting Him outside all happening….Suppose we found such a nature in ourselves; we are untouched by all that has gathered round us subjecting us to happening and chance; all that accruement was of the servile and lay exposed to chance: by this new state alone we acquire self-disposal and free act…When we become This alone, what can we say but that we are more than free, more than self-disposing? And who then could link us to chance, hazard, happening, when thus we are become veritable Life, entered into That which contains no alloy but is purely itself?\”
Valid or not, I feel I can have this stance toward daily life, as in just being Life. My life is that way. I think this is a creation of my seeking; as in my seeking produced a life with the space and time for spiritual seeking in peace. My relationship of oneness with That produces the time for seeking; and we are seeker and sought at the same time. This is the essence and reason for my being. I don\’t need emotional evidence today. I just accept and know.
2014 has the potential to be a record breaking year of peace. I have a charge number and a clear task for the year at work. I live in this one place with very little travel. I have all the workout capability I need and am not entered into any races to I don\’t worry about training. I have a good AA group. I have 650 more pages of Plotinus and a year of ACIM workbook. Beans are easy to cook in the crock pot. Rice is easy to cook on the stove. Spinach is added at the time of eating. All this peace is only good if I want The Good. Otherwise it would be terribly boring and I\’d have to go out in the world to get a life.
A year of being not doing!
In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, in Bill\’s Story, starting around page 13, I piece together a theory of living: \”…I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction…I was to sit quietly when in doubt…I must turn in all things to the Father of Light…the moment I fully accepted, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never known. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through…\”
Lesson 3: I do not understand anything I see.
24.VII: \”Perception can serve another goal…It is given me to make another choice.\”
Plotinus 6.8.14: \”…where there is true being, where things have been brought to reality by that Principle…all that reality is brought about in virtue of something emanating from the divine.\”
And then I stopped to pray silently. What I heard was: allow yourself to be both seeker and sought. It is a mistake to think you are a flawed sinner, hated by God. Any time I sit before the Father of Lights, I feel utter confidence, a great clean wind.
I feel really good today. Included in my morning workout was a one mile/ 11:44 minute Run. And now I am at work and my shoes don\’t hurt. Awesome.