NOTE: For those of my readers who are opposed to, or find any kinds of ramblings about the christian faith somewhat annoying, please stop reading now. I don't profess to be a complete fundamentalist when it comes to christianity but every now and again, I have to muse on stuff that butts up against my faith in significant ways. This blog post is one of "those".
Some online friends and I are currently discussing a book called "The Mandala of Being" by Richard Moss.
The book is definitively a "New Age" self improvement book and to all intents and purposes would be immediately considered "Heresy" by most scholars and lay persons of the Christian faith.
Why would I do this? Read this book? Given that my faith is a stubborn attribute of my nature and I refuse, point blank, to renounce the divinity of Christ or subjugate him to the realm of "mystic teacher", I am probably playing with "The Devil Incarnate" from a traditionalist christian perspective.
That is sad! You see... most westerners, who have little time or understanding - or even knowledge - of the Triune God, will immediately renounce Christianity on the basis that we preach "Freedom" but in fact jump on followers for exploring "a new age book" (or any kind of "new age" book); one that aims to help people be better and whole, enveloped in Love, no less.
Christianity is supposed to be about Love...such love that defies logic! Impossible Love. Love of infinite and immeasurable proportions. Mostly, we limit this love by our feeble attempts at describing obedience and our brandishment of our dogma. So much of my faith wallows in the halls of fear and guilt - when we are supposed to be consistently within that joyous space of contentment that Moss describes as the Now but for which for "us" as christians, is buried in the nature of Christ Himself.
Richard Moss is somewhat scathing of the traditional expressions of the christian faith. It is as it as always been for christians... we're "nut cases"; "stupid creatures" who have no wisdom or logic to be believing in such a capricious and over-bearing god who demands we obey and has the audacity to call it 'freedom'.
The book attempts to describe a way of centering the Self into a place of timeless joy, presence and wholeness that has no bearing on time, place, imagination, history, story, emotional response or reaction. It is a place of Being and a sense of the Now, that precludes all judgments and imaginations. It is a no_Thing place of centered calm and illuminating Peace.
I have expressed myself, vociferously, in my small group (and I congratulate them on being so gentle and tolerant of my emphatic statements. It is after all, a "story" I am telling that I refuse to negate) - that for Christians, this material in the Mandala of Being, expressed so rapturously by Richard Moss is a GIVEN when we centre ourselves IN CHRIST.
Christ is the NOW.
Well! He is supposed to be! When christians are asked by God in Scripture to bury ourselves "in Christ" we are in effect, being asked to come back to the 'Centre of our Being', that place in the Now, unattached to the past, the present, the future, others and even our selves.
"There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ" (Rms 8:1)
It is language that lets all of us down. This incredibly difficult material that I am reading and working through with my friends, both intrigues and frustrates me. Moss does his best to bring clarity to the material but it is so elusive. His yogic practise of centering the attention on ones breathing just doesn't do it for me (probably just as well), nor do I find many of his other exercises engaging and centering for me personally. His mandala concept is kinda cool, all I can see is a cross of course and you know where that will lead if I bang on about that stuff just too much ;)
However, I will say that I have had many, many occasions of being utterly lost inside prayer. When my focus is on God or elevated within some sort of spiritual process of discovery which is directed at the Divine as I understand that to be, that is my experience of the kind of elusive centeredness Moss tries to describe. I don't find any "no-Thingness" about this experience for me though, rather - the place I experience is FULL. There is a full-blown sense of being in the company of someone else, other than myself, who is much, much larger than the sum of all time's parts. There is a sense of being complete, of being safe, centered definitely - but not as Moss describes it - alone and yet merged into everything at once etc!
If ONLY it was easy for others to see what I see! But that is a value judgment of others that I am asked by the world, to not make. I am to keep quiet about God because God is an overwhelming responsibility that makes little logical sense to anyone who refuses to or cannot know him. My shockingly perverse attempts to find language that will have meaning to those who don't understand are too fraught with overtones of fundamentalist christian dogma.
Love cannot be seen if your art forms for describing it are too cryptic.
Still. For me there is the fundamental flaw of Self-Aggrandizement in this book. Mankind, since the days of Babel, has aspired to establish the divinity of Mankind. Richard Moss compounds this aspect of mankind's craving to be godlike by reiterating the ancient pagan and new age belief in our superiority and ability to be Masters of our own Making. We all, supposedly, have the power to find our own peace and our own joy and our own sense of centerdness. I disagree!
Be that as it may, if I place myself outside of my faith system for a moment and try to view this from the perspective of one who cannot or does not know God, I can see how wonderful this promise of Moss' can be. To lose fear and to love - in spite of ourselves - is not only challenging it is elusive. We're all caught up in spectral disorders of fear, hope, nostalgia, me, you, competitiveness and self aggrandizement. Richard Moss is offering non-christians a kind of new "wonder-drug" of zen calm; a place of perfect non-anything where there is sympatico contentment with the Self. The Self becomes the spring-board for Superior-to-everything-else equanmity. It's very cool. Very edifying for the ego to be in that kind of space. There is supposed to be humility here - it is a "no-Thing" place we recall! My cynic slip is showing now! ;)
Maybe its impossible for me to imagine this material outside of the lens of my faith system? Christians will rail against such philosophies of course. There is not much that can be done about it except understand that we as the church have really let God down in the way we communicate Christ as the Now of our being.
more fool us I suppose.
Note 2: Those who are Christians and read my blog please note - that I may muse more on the Mandala of Being as I plough through it (it's really heavy going), and that I may, in fact, find useful pieces of information within it that I will want to talk about here - not necessarily from within the context of my faith system. So ...no feeling smug about this piece of preachiness here, please, dear brother or sister in the faith! *smirk* thanks.