*Brian Wilcox. 'Malva Flower'. Flickr
Today, I sat with a new acquaintance a first time. We share a like spiritual path, but presently are not on the same path, not in a surface way; yet, we share the same path in the more subtle way. Amazing it is how fellowship arises between and among some, for the connection is more subtle, not arising from the surface details of this or that tradition. Persons living from the heart, not the personality with its emotions and thoughts, connect easily for they are living ~ maybe, better said, being lived by ~ in communion with the Truth living, primordial, and universal. That boundless cannot be other than spacious and welcoming. So, we can often sense this spacious welcome around a being on the path of awakening, which can be rightly called, also, the path of the open heart. We, likewise, know that often we meet with persons and we cannot sense that embrace, for the heart is not welcoming in fearless love ~ by fearless, I do not mean one is beyond fear, only that fear can be present, yet the heart remains open and even to the fear.
We shared for about an hour. What I felt, afterward reflecting on the sharing, was of being refreshed. This was made possible, again, by the subtle sharing from Wisdom and, likewise, a mutual provision some call a safe space. Often, in such contexts one can feel a thinning of the atmosphere, as the veil of ego melts in the sharing heart-with-heart. The ego is still present, for "I" as person is simply part of the human make-up, yet it slowly takes a back seat, so to speak, to the Wisdom energy arising in mutual connection. One can sense, also, at times, a slowing arising intimacy. This energy-of-intimacy will be called different names by different traditions, in my upbringing it was called the Holy Spirit. Some Buddhists refer to this as Wisdom. We cannot rightly name it, for it is too subtle, too nonconceptual. This is before, so beyond, either personal or impersonal. So, we learn to appreciate this arising, without needing a definitive name or means of describing it. I have called it energy, but I am not saying it is simply energy as we usually mean energy; yet, if someone called this the Holy Spirit, I would not think it the same as what most mean by the Holy Spirit either. Thankfully, some wisdom paths teach us to keep going until we have nothing absolute to say and, then, we welcome the joy of not-saying.
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Later, after the morning sharing with this acquaintance, I came upon some Christian scriptures about refreshing through sharing. One of these is found in a small letter attributed to the early Christian apostle Paul, and coming from Paul and his companion Timothy, to a Philemon, a friend. The letter is slyly designed as an encouragement for Philemon to release his Christian slave, so Christian brother, Onesimus. Paul has already, in the greeting, addressed Philemon as "dearly beloved and companion in [spiritual] work." He appeals to the character of Philemon, seeking to inspire the freedom of Onesimus. Here is one of the statements of commendation:
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the spirit of the saints [i.e., all Christians] are refreshed by you, brother.
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We may rarely or with few others, maybe even only one other, experience this refreshing connection. Why? One reason is this arises when the two or more are prepared through an intentional path of connecting with the Subtle and daily, for this Grace spontaneously to arise. And, here, I do not mean Grace in a religious sense as dispensed by a God separate from those who are sharing. The Subtle Itself is Grace; we could say, this arising is Grace for is graceful. So, this is not religious, but neither is it nonreligious: It is, and prior to any such duality.
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I myself, in many years of experience as a Christian professor, chaplain, and pastor, rarely sensed a deep, refreshing connection with another in the Christian communion ~ not in the subtle sense I am writing of today. I enjoyed many edifying sharings, but generally at a more surface aspect than this we refer to today. Again, why? There is no one answer. One, however, is most conventional Christianity ~ and, here, I speak of in the nation where I live ~ simply does not encourage this depth of daily living in Grace. Persons in the churches are, generally, not well-educated in a deep, non-egoic, inclusive spirituality; they are trained in institutional religion, sentimental devotionalism, rote ritualism, and dogmatic beliefism ~ even now many Christians find it a compliment to be identified as a believer and to swallow whole whatever the so-and-so leader says is true. I am not saying this conventional way is wrong or bad, yet, if we do not train persons to swim in the depths, they will only float about on the surfaces. I cannot speak here for other traditions, as I have not the experience in any other to speak with any authority on the matter. I can say, our world needs persons less institutionalized, more begraced to Grace others compassionately and free of religious or political dogma. We need more persons who question what leadership says is true, persons who can listen and, then, think for themselves, rather than being gullible to whomever speaks what tickles their ears and confirms their prior prejudices. Yet, this is difficult to see happen for the many, when the fewer in leadership continue to play the ego territory games of power, prestige, and money. If our leadership cannot open the heart to be heart-with-heart with others, but are wielding their institutional games-as-usual, spinning the wheel of status-quo, then, possibly we can anticipate that a time will arise when such will have become its own demise, for the heart longs for more, for depth, a love deep and within the undercurrents of surface life, and the essence-we-are cannot remain silent. Simply, we long for deep connection, and any array of surface compromises cannot tarnish this pristine longing for spacious and deep embrace.
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Hence, one of our motivations to engage a spiritual path is to open again and again to this mystery of Subtleness arising, so that we can love and be loved from something deeper than the ego, the sense of self. And we learn that we cannot control this spontaneous arising, we can only prepare so that this arising is more likely, not less likely. So, being drawn close to Grace, in pure openness to Life, again and again, we become more graceful, more refreshing for others and more able to imbibe of the ever-living-renewing energies that arise in mutual sharing. This, to me, is the eternal Life mystics and sages, including Jesus, referred to, a Depth here, now, not later, natural to our experience, for arising from the truth of who we are as being-together, not from the sense of the separate egos we think ourselves to be. The fellowship we seek is before and deeper than anything we can think ourselves to be or not be, and only the heart we are can say "Yes" to this timeless visitation of Grace.
*Brian Wilcox. 'welcoming sky'. Flickr
*(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019