Needing and Acknowledging God's Power (2/18/18)
Steps 1 and 2
--excerpt from Chapter 1: Powerlessness, pg. 6--

All Mature Spirituality Is About Letting Go

As many teachers of the Twelve Steps have said, the first Step is probably the hardest, the most denied, and the most avoided. So the whole process never takes off! No one likes to die to who they think they are. Their "false self" is all they have, as Trappist monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton writes in New Seeds of Contemplation. Letting go is not in anybody's program for happiness, and yet all mature spirituality, in one sense or another, is about letting go and unlearning. You can take that as an absolute. As German mystic-philosopher Meister Eckhart said, the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition.

What the ego hates more than anything else in the world is to change – even when the present situation is not working or is horrible. Instead, we do more and more of what does not work, as many others have rightly said about addicts, and, I would say, about all of us. The reason we do anything one more time is because the last time it did not really satisfy us deeply. As English poet W.H. Auden put it in "Apropos of Many Things": "we would rather be ruined then changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our Illusions die."

Trusting God Enough To Be Seen (2/25/18)
Steps 3 and 4
--excerpt from Chapter 4: A Good Lamp, pg. 34-35--

Let's draw this together with another marvelous quote from Jesus, who seems to have preceded modern depth psychology and Step 4 by two thousand years. He says, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never noticed the plank in your own? How dare you say to your sister ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a log in your own? Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brothers or sisters eye" (Matthew 7:4-5).

Step 4 is about seeing your own log first, so you can stop blaming, accusing, and denying, and thus displacing the problem. It is about seeing truthfully and fully. Note that Jesus does not just praise good moral behavior and criticize immoral behavior, as you might expect from a lesser teacher, but instead He talks about something caught in the eye. He knows that if you see rightly, the actions and behavior will eventually take care of themselves. The game is over once we see clearly because evil succeeds only by disguising itself as good, necessary, or helpful. No one consciously does evil. The very fact that anyone can do stupid, cruel, or destructive things shows that they are at that moment unconscious and unaware. Think about that: Evil proceeds from a lack of consciousness.

Jesus also says shortly before, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is disease, your whole body will be darkness. And if the lamp within you is, in fact, darkness, what darkness that will be” (Matthew 6:22-23). Step 4 is about creating a good and trustworthy lamp inside of us that reflects and reveals what is really there, knowing that “anything exposed to the light will itself become light” (Ephesians 5:14). Somehow goodness is transferred by radiance, reflection, and resonance with another goodness, more than by any act of self-achievement. We do not pull ourselves up; we are pulled.

God does not directly destroy evil, the way our heroic and dualistic minds would like to imagine. God is much wiser, waste nothing, and includes everything. The god of the Bible is best known for transmuting and transforming are very evils into our own more perfect good. God uses our sins in our own favor! God brings us - through failure - from unconsciousness to ever-deeper consciousness and conscience. How could that not be good news for just about everybody?

Preparing Ourselves for God's Freedom (3/4/18)
Steps 5 and 6
--excerpt from Chapter 5: Accountability IS Sustainability,
pg. 41-42--

Yahweh's "punishment" comes precisely by loving and forgiving [the Israelites] and keeping [God's] side of the covenant forever, which reduces them to "shame, silence, and confusion" (Ezekiel 16:63). (This morphed into the medieval notion of purgatory, by the way!)

I always felt Paul was making the very same point when he quoted Proverbs to say that you should give food and drink to those who are enemies, and "heap red hot coals on their head" (Romans 12:20). He is leading up to "resist evil and conquer it with good," which is the next line (12:21). Have you ever experienced the embarrassed and red-faced look of shame and self-recognition on the face of anyone who has been loved gratuitously after they have clearly done wrong? This is the way that God seduces us all into the economy of grace - by loving us in spite of ourselves in the very places where we cannot or will not or dare not love ourselves.

God resists our evil and conquerors it with good, or how could God ask the same of us?! Think about that. God shocks and stuns us into love. God does not love us if we change, God loves us so that we can change. Only love affects true inner transformation, not duress, guilt, shunning, or social pressure. Love is not love unless it is totally free. Grace is not grace unless it is totally free. You would think Christian people would know that by now, but it is still a secret of the soul.
The usual and expected ego pattern is this:


This is totally recalibrated by Ezekiel, after experiencing the perfection of Yahweh's love for Israel, which is always the purifying touchstone. For him the pattern is radically changed and becomes instead:

sin-->unconditional love-->transformation-->repentance-->

- with our now "embarrassed and humiliated face" being our ongoing punishment and conversion! Grace is always a punishment for us.

Declaring Our Worthiness Before God (3/11/18)
Steps 7 and 8
--excerpt from Chapter 7: Why Do We Need To Ask?,
pg. 62-63--

The longer I live the more I believe that truth is not an abstraction or an idea that can be put into formulas or mere words. Our real truth has to do with how we situate ourselves in this world. Josef Pieper, a German Catholic philosopher, said many years ago that “the natural habitat for truth is in interpersonal relationships,” whereas we have made truth an idea on paper.

There are ways of living and relating that are honest and sustainable and fair, and there are utterly dishonest ways of living and relating to life. This is our real, de facto, and operative “truth,” no matter whose theories or theologies we believe. Our life situation and our style of relating to others is “the truth” that we actually take with us to the grave. It is who we are, more than our theories about this or that. Jesus says as much in his parable of the two sons. (See Matthew 21:28-32.)

Prayers of intercession or petition are one way of situating your life with total honesty and structural truth. It is no accident that both the early Franciscans and many Buddhist monks were official mendicants or beggars. Frances and Buddha did not want us to lose the central message, which is now almost entirely lost in our self-made, can-do, and climbing culture. What has been lost is honest relationship with the Earth and with one another, and a basic humility too. How you do life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe. We are all and forever beggars before God and the universe.

Following the Good Way, Not the Right Way (3/18/18)
Steps 9 and 10
--Excerpt from Chapter 10: Is This Overkill?, pg. 85-87

Consciousness is as hard to describe as soul is hard to describe. Maybe because they are the same thing?

Consciousness is aware of my feelings so it cannot be purely and simply my feelings themselves. Who or what is the awareness? Most people do not get that because they are rather totally identified with their own thoughts, feelings, and compulsive patterns of perception. You see why so many of our mystics and saints emphasized detachment so much. Without it, people could not move to the soul level. Meister Eckhart said detachment was the whole deal, and the early Franciscans seemed to talk about nothing else, though they called it “poverty”.

We do not live in a culture that much appreciates detachment or such poverty. We are consumers by training and habit, which is exactly why we have such problems with addiction to begin with! For properly detach persons (read “nonaddicted”), deeper consciousness comes rather naturally. They discover their own soul-which is their deepest self-and yet has access to a Larger Knowing beyond themselves. This is one description of our mysterious and multifaceted soul. We would have done better to help people awaken in this soul rather than trying to save it (often unawakened!) for the next world.

If “obeyed”, yes, obeyed, consciousness will become a very wise teacher of soul wisdom and will teach us from deep within (Jeremiah 31:33, and Romans 2:15, both call it “the law written on our hearts”). Some call it the “Inner Witness” and this witness is what Christians have called the Holy Spirit, which has hovered over creation since the Big Bang (Genesis 1:2), that is, the first moment when God began to materialize.

Fourteen-and-a-half billion years after the Big Bang, or the cosmic incarnation, when humanity was ready for conscious encounter, this same Spirit hovers over a single Jewish girl, Mary, to effect and reveal what we Christians would call the human incarnation in Jesus (Luke 1:35). Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann calls it “the scandal of the particular”. Just as it has been equally hard for us to believe in our own Spirit-filled Incarnation as children of God (see Romans 5:5, 8:9-10), it has been hard for many to believe that Jesus could be God's “child” too. Jesus is not an exclusive son of God, however, but the inclusive Son of God, revealing what is always true everywhere and all the time.

Committing to Follow God, Regardless (3/25/18)
Steps 11 and 12
--excerpt from Chapter 12: What Comes Around Must Go Around, pg. 116-117