Tag Archives: Love
We have a primarily Caucasian middle-class perspective at NRCC. This greatly influences our perception of what it means to follow Jesus. Many of us were taught that if we followed “the rules” and did enough of the “right things” it would make Jesus happy. Similarly, Jesus would be unhappy if we did the wrong things or did not do “enough” of the right things. This created a great disparity in association between those who were “in” [the good graces of Jesus] and those who were “out” (i.e. those needing to be redeemed).
While this seems like a natural progression of thought, it starts to contradict the teaching of Jesus on loving our neighbor. In fact, in the story of the good Samaritan, Jesus defines our neighbors as those currently in the “out” group. It also poses challenges to the traditional model of someone in the “in” group helping someone in the “out” group. I propose that we adopt a community model of loving and helping each other. Continue reading
“False-Self.” We use that term a lot at NRCC. It has to do with making the negative effects of framing the ego as the self. Self, it turns out, is too expansive a reality to be contained in the thoughts we think, the feelings we have, the personalities we were born with. Building our lives on this foundation, doesn’t bear up over a lifetime.
And yet, as we’re talking about the journey into the life Jesus lived, we realize an important stop on the journey, is to position our ego-self strongly. That, it turns out, helps afford us the mettle to launch out into the wild frontier of the oneness-self, the true-self, the Divine-image self. Continue reading
Theoretical physicists are imagining all kinds of wild mathematical formulations to explain the most fundamental nature of reality. When they do, they turn around and test their equations with super-colliders, and it turns out… they’re right! How wild is that? In this world they’re revealing to us, the map of common sense doesn’t explain reality as it is.
The teachings of Jesus, the saints, and sages do the same. They give us descriptions of reality as it is, that make no common sense. When Jesus tells us to love our enemies, and walk away from the “getting-a-win” way of relating to them, it makes us vulnerable, unsafe, and it goes against every survival instinct we have… so we tend to ignore Jesus.
But maybe it’s our common sense that is skewed, not the ancient wisdom. Continue reading
We continue talking about why it’s so difficult for us to hear and heed the teaching of Jesus on power dynamics. Our instincts run so counter to his teaching!
Today we do a thought experiment together, and see how our ability to use our imagination is profoundly different when we are dealing with a friend and with a rival. For the teachings of Jesus to make sense, it will require we grow in our ability to extend the same moral imagination to rivals that we do to our friends. Continue reading
The idea of seeing ourselves as part of a whole rather than separate individuals has many implications if we would follow Jesus’ teaching about loving our neighbors and our enemies.
If we Westerners would love our enemies, the Muslim states come to mind. If we see them as a “them,” and us as an “us,” well it’s pretty hard not to see a loss for us as a victory for them, and visa versa. However, if we see them as part of a whole, of which we are a part, it become clear pretty quickly, that serving Muslim interests serves Western interests. Have a listen, I’ll show you how.
The same is true between the upper and lower classes, between friends and family members in conflict, neighbors, churches, and so forth. When we see the whole of which we are part, it changes how our instincts inform our actions.
And it makes it possible for us to grasp the teachings of Jesus about loving self, neighbor, and enemy. Continue reading
We ignore the teachings of Jesus, Paul, and saints and sages from several religious traditions. Consequently, we are rooted in a worldview of separateness. We do not see ourselves as one with God, or one with other human beings. Our instincts and experience insist that you are you, and I am me.
But the same is true of our emerging view of the universe. Our instincts and experience tell us that matter is matter and energy is energy. But Einstein’s theory of relativity, and subsequent experimental verification tell us that it is only our descriptions that make things different. In fact the essence of the universe is a oneness.
Jesus’ and Paul’s teachings do the same. They tell us we are oneness. However, we tend to listen to the common sense of our instinct and experience. As such, we live in worlds of competition and pecking orders.
And these become so normative, we don’t even see them as the abuse of power. They just seem like the way of the world. We wish it could be better, but this is the world we live in.
Jesus didn’t think so. Continue reading
Today, we conclude our lesson on “The Clutch of Death” with these remarks on how the beliefs, sensibilities, and expectations of our families-of-origin can act as the greatest block to our soul’s freedom.
In Luke 14, several paragraphs after Jesus introduced the idea of the death clutch, he talked about how the love of “our people,” often wraps us in a set of belief and behaviors that condemn us to keep chasing the attachments and agendas that suffocate true life.
Few things inform our unconscious instincts as deeply as the primal relationships from which we come. “The Way Things Are,” usually comes to us in the voice of father, mother, or some other person of visceral importance in our lives.
To be truly free, we must come to a place where we see these beliefs for the beliefs they are. We may continue to hold them, or we may decide to set them aside. However, we can do neither, until we see our beliefs as beliefs. What we believe, we can decide to un-believe. But as long as we can’t see them, they remain powerfully deterministic programs running in the background of our lives. Continue reading
Jesus gave two central commands on which to build the spiritual life. Love the Divine, pursue the Divine, prioritize the Divine with all your heart, and second, love people with the same passion you love yourself. In this lesson, we think together about what this means, and how we can do it. Since Jesus made it so central to the spiritual life, there’s a lot riding on us getting it right. Have a listen. Continue reading
After last week’s digression to reinforce the importance of making for ourselves a healthy spiritual community, today we resume looking at the practicality of this ancient spiritual spiritual practice, confession.
The themes of this lesson are very personal for me. The bulk of last week’s digression-lesson was a personal story, and this week is too. It was embarrassing 15 years ago, now it is one of my most cherished memories. Continue reading
This digression will expand what I said last week, and I’ll spend the lion’s share of our time telling you a story from my own life. It’s a story of love for people, and how without it, we cannot give our gifts to one another, and consequently, we fall short of our destinies. Continue reading