St. Paul or Saul of Tarsus to his Jewish friends, was, I reckon, a bit of a psychologist. Also a mystic, the guy would have a weird time trying to adapt to modern takes on religious thought and practice if he were around today. During the past week I had someone on facebook suggest that I get back into ‘accountable relationships’ within the Christian fold and let folk ‘speak into’ my life. Perhaps well-meaning, perhaps a reflex reaction to my unusual take on spirituality. Anyway, it didn’t take long for me to pass on the pious proposal; not due to some wild claim of perfection, but rather Paul’s radical take on psycho-spiritual health. I’d better explain.
‘Reckon yourselves dead unto sin and alive unto to God’ are some of the most therapeutic words that our mystic thinker may have uttered. Their profundity all hinges around the wee word reckon, an ancient accountancy term that implies taking the facts of cold numbers into consideration. To reckon is to rest upon that which is beyond dispute. So dear old Paul seems to infer that we’re dead folk walking. No longer living in a state of fear-fueled dysfunction towards Divine Love, but presently at One with it. The old wiring of our paranoid ego is to be reckoned as gone, because in Ultimate Reality it is. The mystic Paul saw past the transitory nature of our psycho-spiritual perceptions of separation from Source.
The human spirit has never been on a prodigal journey of excess and happiness hunting. No, it’s always been a spark from the Divine Fire, albeit one buried under the rantings and flailing arms of ego. It’s our psyche-soul that has believed the lie of God disapproval, arming itself with all manner of weapons in its first-strike policies of attack. Paul is claiming that the old controlling ways of ego are now dead and buried. We no longer have to engage with ego’s dysfunction or ‘sin’, to use a heavily rigged religious word. No, there is, and indeed, always has been an alternative way to live, viz, to be alive unto or within God.
Now what does this mean in practice. Well for a start the guilt of ego spin is no longer to be entertained. Bad news for certain strands of evangelicalism. The old thought patterns of never being good enough can be dispensed with forever. They were never true in the first place. No longer do we have to obtain brownie points with the Divine, or perhaps more importantly, others in our space-time sojourn. For, we have finally woken up to the facts of the matter – we are alive unto God. In other words, we can’t disengage from God. We live and move and have our very being in Divine Love. Can a fish escape from its ocean home – not likely. All we are asked to do is reckon on being as close to Divine Love as is possible, for in reality we are. Paul suggests that this radical new way of seeing oneself, others and Divine Source, is the key to joy and authentic freedom – freedom from the confused, threatening world of ego.
So back to my Job’s comforter. Well, of course there is nothing wrong with hanging out with other folk of faith, those with a spiritual take on life. None at all. But is it essential? I believe not. Let’s look at my friend’s two main spiritual directions for my wellbeing.
1) Accountable relationships
Well, I have to be honest, I’ve had my fill of so-called accountable religious relationships over the years. Those who have read my wee tale of Irish pilgrimage, The Prodigal Prophet will understand why. That being said, I reckon such relationships are not in line with what Paul has declared. For, if we reckon ourselves dead to the dysfunction of ego, why do we need others to watch our back and be the Lone-Rangers of our soul. If the new life that Paul so confidently declares is real then why are Christians so hung up on being hijacked once more by the old ways; so hung up as to have pseudo-guardians cover them within religious communities. No either this new birth or awakening is real or a myth that should be confined to religious history. I tend to plump for the former.
2) Folk who speak into our lives.
Lots of folk speak into my life, everyone I converse with on a daily basis, especially my good lady Zan, who keeps me firmly earthed in all matters marital. Of course my recent adviser wasn’t referring to that kind of input. Rather I suspect that he meant a counselor who could speak words of correction and advice to me, one who knows the Mind of God regarding me more than I do. Again, I’ve experienced this in the past. Usually it eventually turned out that such a wise caring counselor was just as screwed up as I was, perhaps even more so. One of the folk who fulfilled this role in my life wondered at a time how my marriage survived the traumas that Zan and I had passed through. A number of year’s later the same counselor had an extra-marital affair with the headmistress of his Christian school and resigned from all counseling ministry. No, there has to be a better way and there is.
Once ego, lets go of its Linus-blanket control, we are once again able to hear the Voice of Wisdom within. Unfettered by prejudice and skewed vision, the musings of Spirit are always close to hand. Sometimes a gut feeling, sometimes a precise though or insight, Divine Love within knows how to maintain us in the flow of Life like no other. Of course, when we suggest such a thing, our concerned religious advisers will quickly recoil, accusing us of spiritual arrogance and delusory self-importance. Not so. We have only taken or reckoned the mystic Paul at his word. And that of course is sacrosanct in Christian circles. Enough said.
Happy listening to all and remember to take the pseudo-spiritual words of others with a large pinch of salt. Especially mine. If the words of wisdom from a caring other don’t ring true in your spirit-gut, smile sweetly and move on.