Lent – Intuitive Spirituality

Day 4 of Intuitive Spirituality Experiment

If you are using some sort of book, scripture or other input to guide your meditations and spiritual reflection, then realize that your spirituality is based in a second hand source, not a direct intuitive transmission. I myself spent many years using \”lectio divina\” but that meant that my reflection was always based in what ever text I was using. Many people have a practice of using a mantra or a scriptural phrase/prayer that they continually repeat to themselves (i.e. Jesus Prayer). Thus, it is hoped that the prayer/mantra will be the predominant thought and not what ever their brain comes up with. Yet understand, this means that what is in your head is the mantra, not intuition.

I began an experiment where I dropped all written input and just listened intuitively. Here is what I discovered today:

To practice Intuitive Spirituality, you must be able to:
a) be aware of where your mind is going and be capable of bringing it back to silence.
b) be able to maintain mental silence as the predominant mode of mentality, because intuition is silent.

In order to meet these conditions and have Intuitive Spirituality be at all productive, you need to start with the standard methods for:
a) meditation
b) practice of the presence (mantra)
c) reducing anger, rage, shame, fear to the point where they don’t rule as the predominant mode of thinking.

Love is the predominant mode of existence (I got that from a dream). To have love, love must be all you have. Love is silent.

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Lent 6 – Sacred Choice

From ACIM:
+ \”…as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need do is simply ask yourself:
Is this what I would see? Do I want this?
This is your one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to how it happens, but not to why. You have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.

+ Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy.

+ …are you willing to give up the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees…\”

It is early Monday morning and I am at work. On Friday night, we had 5” of snow, so I did not do any running outside this weekend. I used the treadmill and exerbike on the back porch. Over time, I have made hundreds of index cards with quotes from ACIM on them. These are stacked up on the treadmill. As I jog there, I ponder one. Saturday and Sunday, I focused on one that pointed out the choice to either believe I am spirit or believe I am human; and which I believe is what I see in the world. I also spent time pondering the reality of God and what effect has spirituality actually had on my mentality. Like, how real is my relationship? This morning, the above quoted passages were on my plate. Again there is the choice: do I want this world or do I want what the Holy Spirit offers. All I have to do is give up everything but spirit and truth, wanting only spirit and nothing else. The truth is: God is. As we accept this truth, the world as we know it disappears.

Happiness as an inner constant reality is made of light and joy and peace. In my own thinking, happiness is found in “nothing.” It does seem somewhat scary to think of giving up all my worldly toys: money worries, what others think of me, food cravings, status cravings, running awards. But I also feel spiritual strength sort of like triumphal background accompanying music as I am guided by the Holy Spirit and take my tiny steps. My renunciation of the world and joining of Spirit, living more and more as spirit in the realm of spirit is a continuum. Daily I am led. Daily I make the choice to be spirit. The results of one day may seem imperceptible. The results of years are intangible. Yet I deeply know that my happiness has grown over the past few years and the amount of hatred has diminished.

I went to the monastery to become contemplative and live out my dream of having a great consciousness, like Merton or John of the Cross. When I look back at my monastic life, I see the stress of a continuous attempt to please others and be accepted in the hopes of being granted this one big moment of monastic profession, where I would be Jesus\’ spouse and I’d never have to worry again. Now, my life consists largely of nothingness. In this nothingness, the reality of my sacred journey is so overwhelming. It doesn’t show to the outside world, but I am doing the work of changing on behalf of everyone. No matter what you happen to be doing, I can see your sacred journey and hear the celestial triumphal music accompanying you. Seeing you as spirit is my gift to you.

Personal statistics: day 13 raw.

Running Spirit

I arrived in the city about 8 this morning. I figured I would go to the fellowship and then run. I had a car full of running clothes. As I sat outside the fellowship, the north wind gently rocked my car. I thought I might cancel my long run because of the wind.

After the meeting, I was driving to the park. My mind itemized my clothes and my Gu and water and the wind. It struck me….how completely terrified I am of the long run. Not just this long run, but all of them. It struck me that every weekend, I fidget around worrying about weather and running locations and the like. Then, the door of my inner being opened and a light shone in my mind: I am terrified to be a human being period. It was awesome to ponder the depth and to want to explore further.

I got to the park. I didn’t know if I was doing my long run or not, but I put my water on the car and the Gu in my pockets and got started. I would run a lap and then see. The course is east-west, so its only half into the wind. You wouldn’t think it was that bad: 25F, sunny, wind at 20-30 mph.

My mind was still thinking about fear, and the totally of my life’s fear. I was exploring inward. That is the beauty of a long run on a flat dirt path that loops for 2.7 miles. There is plenty of time to think. I returned to my one single question: who is it that gets me out of bed in the morning since I am terrified of the world? I see people all around me, eating and watching TV and perhaps not getting out of bed. Here I am, not only out of bed but a marathoner doing a long run on a bitterly windy day.

I turn the corner and head into the wind for the second half of the loop. The wind, has switched from an embrace at my back to sharply probing gusts at my face. I am dressed perfectly except for my head. I have to pull the nylon up over my face. I feel the wind’s fingers trying to reach in and challenge the fear. I am a little whiney about it. I survive the first lap. I look in my car to see if the other face mask is in there. It is not, but I decide on another lap.

The second lap, the wind doesn’t seem to be bothering me. The third lap, I notice that there are 3 or 4 other runners doing the same as me, long runs. At that moment, a peace descends on me. The thought of us 3 or 4 runners patiently doing our long distance running in this little park seems utterly quiet and holy. The park is sandwiched between the Missouri River and a RR track and a busy road. The busy people in the cars are quickly scurrying to their next event. At least three of them get speeding tickets today. But there in anonymity are these 3 or 4 runners; together experiencing the secret and mystical world of long distance.

This picture is a microcosm of my life. I really am not going anywhere with my life. I do the daily deal in a circle; and what I am contemplating is all that really matters. The thing that gets me out of bed is greater than me. It is my truth: love, peace, vision, intention, joy, innocence. In other words: Christ or spirit. I am a spirit. I have not lost the point of being alive: learning to be spirit rather than human.

After 4 laps, I figure I’ve been out there 2 hours without any major problems, might as well do 6. After 6 laps, I decide I’d hate to waste coming this far, might as well do one more. After 7, I decide to do a short lap to cap the run at 21 miles. Then….I get in the car and drive home. Simple as that.

Value

I voluntarily got up at 4 today….long silence as you give me that look ….ok, I didn\’t know what I wanted to do today, but if I get up early, it leaves my options open.

I sat down first for spiritual study and meditation. Wow, I discovered some strong feelings and gave these to my Higher Power. At 6 I lifted weights and at 6:30 bundled up for a 2 hour run.

It was 15F (maybe about -10C), a 20+mph north wind, and just an inkling in the south eastern horizon that the sun would come up today. I live on the south end of town. I decided to run north through town and around a loop in the fields north of town, then back. After about 15 minutes, I have the front of my jacket and three layers of fleece half unzipped as I am warm enough and I want to let out the moisture.

On Sunday in a small town, hardly anyone is up. Four old ladies in a Prius stop to ask me where they can get breakfast. Clearly they are not from here and we have no quaint diners. I send them to the grocery store which has a breakfast of sorts in their deli.

After about 40 minutes, I get to the top of the hill at the very north of town and get blasted directly by the wind. I snap up my hood and turn west on a dirt road through the fields. The sunrise is quite spectacular. I pass an elderly horse in a barren field; he has no windbreak.

Just before starting this run, I heard an interview on NPR with M. T. Anderson who wrote \”The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.\” It sounds like a creative book. I just started reading Barak Obama\’s book \”The Audacity of Hope\” last night. Mr. Obama seems to have thought deeply and identified the principles of our culture. I start to wonder about my own life, \”The Astonishing and Audacious Life of Spirit Flower.\” Is it astonishing? Do I have values? I’m about to turn 50 years old. What do I stand for? So many things that I’ve tried have gone by the wayside. What has endured the test of time and can stand as my life’s foundation? As I remember some of my childhood images, I come up with the following opening line for my biography: \”Spirit Flower\’s life was defined by long distance running and spirituality.\” That is, running and spirituality make me a full spectrum contemplative; and contemplation is my principle value.

A value is a principle or a quality considered worthwhile (akin to purpose). My value to others, or humanity in general, relates to whether others consider me to have worth in usefulness. Within my own heart, I must consider my life to have worthwhile qualities. Not everyone needs this; but I would kill myself without it. If my efforts at living result in others considering me valuable; that is secondary. I struggle with this issue a lot because I compare myself to others who do have fancy titles and identifiable purposes.

My life is defined by long distance running and spirituality. These are indispensable and have been my modus operandi since early teens. Other than running and praying, I spend my time earning money at my job, and worrying about my running and praying plans. I have as few social entanglements as possible. My life as a spiritual seeker and athlete appears incredibly selfish. Yet, I pursue it with an irrepressible type of conviction which seems to come from my soul; and there are people who value me. Therefore, I must assume that I have values and I am valuable, despite appearances. My value is not tangible; but it can be known.

I have value and purpose. How do I know? These can be seen if you consider me a living icon. An icon is an enduring symbol. A religious icon is an enduring symbol of the Gospel and the life of Jesus Christ. I am an icon for how to be spiritual and be an athlete; as a way of life. These are opposite ends of the scale, but they provide a life of thoughtful contemplation beyond the solely material way of life. They both aim at higher consciousness and human transformation. These intangibles are my personal concerns.

People see me and say they admire my spirituality. People come up and ask about running, or my other health practices. I am available to be seen in the world and I am connected metaphysically to all mankind. There are Japanese contemplative monks that run ultra-marathons. There are ultra-marathoners who discover God in the process of a 100 mile race. I am a contemplative in the world who trains as an athlete. Spirituality is approached as training and running is approached as contemplation. Every mile run or weight lifted is a meditation. Every meditation is building spiritual endurance and strength. Every time I go out in the world, someone observes something about one or the other of these practices; hence, I am an icon. People are always enriched in some way; perhaps astonishment, perhaps audacious hope, but their soul will put it into action for them.

I wouldn\’t have it any other way

Today I pursued one of my dreams: I ran north in a snow storm into a 20 mph north wind, at 19 degrees F. After coming home, I lifted weights and did abdominals. I am up to 2 pounds on my right tricep. I removed 20 pounds from my bar bell and lifted a mere 10 pounds (plus the bar). Only an athlete would keep lifting these puny weights knowing that in a few days, I\’ll move on up. I have the spirit of an athlete and I wouldn\’t have it any other way. It is this spirit which gets up early enough every day to study spiritual materials and meditate with Jesus.

I honor my soul. When I receive an intuition, I honor it. Because I habitually follow my innermost intuition, my soul opens more and more. I delve deeper into Its secrets and Its love. My soul\’s deepest yearnings can be realized now; not the next life. There are days when I know I am no longer seeking God; I seem to have found The Connection. My soul demands commitment and honesty, purity and desire for It alone. I love my inner most being; The Connection. I live in conscious contact with God; and I wouldn\’t have it any other way.

As I ran into the north wind, I sought inside for Who I Am. The Great Spirit Wind blows from the inside. I am One with It when I want to be; whenever I am willing to set my puny self aside and run into The Wind. I became the Wind; and I wouldn\’t have it any other way.

Still runn\’n…runn\’n against the wind…(Bob Seeger)

Life as an Athlete

What a privilege it is to be a runner; and to have the spirit of an athlete.

This morning I got up at 4:30 and did an hours worth of spiritual work. Then I jumped in the car and drove 45 miles to the park in the city and was running by 6:30. It was warm, 59F, with a 20 to 40 mile an hour south wind. I ran 6 laps, 16.2 miles, 2:47 time. Then, I changed clothes in the car and went to a 10 o\’clock fellowship meeting. At 11 o\’clock, coming out of the meeting, it was 33F with a north wind. By the time I got home, 45 miles north, it was 25F. Maybe we will get freezing rain or snow later. The low over night is supposed to be 10F. Brrrrr!

After the meeting, someone asked me what I think about while running for 3 hours. I do think. It is a little unusual to spend 3 hours thinking; as opposed to relating or watching TV. Today, I thought a lot about what races I want to go in next year. I thought about the other people and their dogs. I thought about the integrity of the athlete. You see, having the heart of an athlete extends past the actual running training into all of life. In particular, I do my spiritual work as if I was a world class spiritual athlete. In fact, I think the spirituality is more important than the running. I assume that when I get to the end of my life, it will be an experience greater than finishing an ultra-marathon. [The last ultra I finished, I cried out, \”Alleluia\” as I saw the finish.] So I train for this spiritual event, my death, as hard as I train for real marathons. To me it is all the same thing. The question of \”Why?\” always comes up during my long runs. The answer is that if you want the experience of finishing a marathon, you have to do the training.

Do I train fanatically about spirituality the same as running? Well in some ways, yes. Being intense and passionate is what is interesting to me. Many people think I am crazy: after all God is free right? I think you get out of something what you put into it. I am studying a particular spiritual tradition that has a 690 page text book. You cannot possibly have any idea what that tradition is about unless you read the text, and perhaps spend several years reading it several times. If I want what that spiritual tradition offers, I also have to do the work.

Tiger Woods is a great golfer because he practices. Payton Manning spent four years in college, instead of three, in order to take snaps (the more snaps the better chance he would have). I spend time (a couple of hours) every day on my conscious contact with God; and abdominals and running.

I\’m passionate today. I feel great! Thanks for listening to my soap box.