Note about the timing of this post.
This post was originally created in draft form back in 2015 and I never got around to making the last needed edits to publish it in a timely manner. I’m currently visiting Koinonia and just happened to rediscover the draft when I was working on my last post about my visit here. So I had new inspiration to finally finish this up.
This actually more about my own spiritual story than just reflecting on the scripture. One of the reasons I delayed was the in-depth nature of the sharing and my normal tendency (before I published my book) to not “blow my own horn” about spiritual matters. Now that I’ve shared in my book’s About the Author chapter and on this site about my awakening to ubiquitous unconditional Love (Bliss), there is no further need to delay.
Luke 14:25-33 – English Standard Version (ESV)
The Cost of Discipleship
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
My original notes from which I spoke:
For me, every moment is a precious opportunity to explore who and what I am.
Today’s reading reminds me of what I know about a spiritual seekers relationship to his or her guru in the east. I also think of the vows a monastic takes when they enter their order. Both require total commitment and devotion to do exactly what you are told by your superior, even if everyone you know will, and has, said that you are crazy! The seeker surrenders their life to the guru, to speed the journey to enlightenment. Jesus evidently knew that the prophetic phase of his life would be short, so there would be no time for waffling, if he was going to enable all 12 of his disciples realize enlightenment before he was through.
Because that’s what it meant to be a disciple of Christ, because unless and until they had reached that level of consciousness, they would not be able to understand the most profound meanings of Jesus’s teachings. Until they had reached those higher states of being and until they had realized that they are one with Christ just as Christ is one with the Father, they would not be able to perform acts of healing in his name.
I’ve been seeking enlightenment for decades now, mainly through meditation and a mindful, contemplative lifestyle. I recently renounced my status as a middle class computer programmer. I even renounced my middle class financial responsibility as the father of two girls, who are still in college. So I know something about what Jesus was talking about in this passage. Two out of three of my sisters were very upset with me when I decided to retire from my career to seek a life that was more consistent with my primary goals and desire for right livelihood. They felt that I was shirking my responsibility to my daughters, because I’d no longer have a place for them to come home to, nor was I planning on earning money to help them with their educations. At one point, when I admitted that I’d been counting the months until I could afford to quit my job, one of my sisters said she was afraid my daughters would think I’d wished that they had never been born! Lucky for me my daughters knew better than that, so her fear was unfounded. So you can start to see how this scripture kind of touches a chord with me! I did not hate one minute of raising my girls, but I did dislike the work that I was required to do to afford the child support payments required of me by law.
This morning I’d like to share a part of my spiritual journey that I did not have time to include in the 20 minute version of the story that I shared back when my internship started. I’ll also share some of what I’ve been experiencing lately, which ties in quite nicely to my interpretation of today’s scripture.
There are two reasons to teach: to impart your understanding to others with the hope that it will be helpful in their own lives, and to “teach what you want to learn.” Because when you teach something, you learn it better. This morning I’m sharing as much to benefit my own spiritual process as for any vain notion that what I share will make much of a difference in your lives, but I hope you find it interesting, at least.
Back in 2012, I was already preparing my transition and starting to look for intentional communities. I was still in my job and I’d just broken up with my girlfriend. I decided that given the fact that I was probably going to have to leave my stomping ground in NH to find an intentional community that I liked, that it would not make sense for me to get involved in another primary intimate relationship. So I decided to start an “experiment in celibacy.” For the first time in my adult life, I was neither in a primary relationship nor was I looking for a new one! Releasing that process and part of my life preceded something of an awakening. Within a few weeks, I started to experience all of God’s creation as radiantly beautiful. It lasted about three months, during which I did not talk to anyone about the experience. Since then the beauty of all experience has come and gone, usually after periods of extended meditation practice such as a weekend or day long silent retreat, the experience would return for anywhere from a day to a few days in length. I did not mind when the beauty faded, really, because I knew it was still there I just was not currently experiencing it!
Some of you already know that I’ve been reading this book, titled “I am that” which is a record of actual conversations between spiritual seekers and a fully realized, enlightened guru in India who died in the 1980’s. He realized enlightenment after only 3 years of following the advice of his guru! The core of his advice to seekers is the same as his guru gave to him, and is radically simple: explore the fact of your own awareness, your own experience of “I am.” Do this in every minute possible, until your true spiritual reality opens for you.
I’ve been following this advice as best I can since I got the book back in March. Then about three weeks ago, the experience of radiant beauty of all returned, this time for good. At least it has been with me since then, with only short lapses.
The exploration of “I am” had started to get sweeter. When I got my schedule of assignments, I started to anticipate with some joy the ease of doing the practice during some of the repetitive work here at the farm.
Then one morning while I was meditating, with the beauty of the wall I was facing shining forth in all it’s glory, I realized that when I was done with my silent practice, which was particularly sweet that morning, I could go right on doing the working version of the “I am.” Continuous practice, how sweet. I thought, every moment is a precious opportunity to explore who and what I am. That thought, just hearing my mind think that very sentence, triggered some kind of further awakening. A warm all embracing Love was revealed. For a few minutes, I was Love. The feeling was powerful and I was overcome with both joy and sadness and started crying audibly and forcefully. A couple of weeks later, that feeling of being Love started to occur during the day. Stronger in the mornings, fading somewhat in the afternoons, it seems to be the new state of my being, for much of the time.
So if you ever get serious about realizing the mind of Christ in your life, there is quite literally, no time like the present. If you dedicate each present moment to seeking the perfect Love of God, the very decision to gladly hold that intention, with no attachments in this world or even to the success of your exploration, that earnest intention will energize your practice from that very first moment. For me, settling into my practice with a more joyful and earnest mindset, was the trigger to realizing a profoundly new state of being.
Thus when Jesus informed potential followers that they must hate their very lives to follow him, he was screening out all but the few that were ready commit their full dedication to their new spiritual master. It seems to have worked, because we read in acts how the disciples were able to perform miracles in Christ’s name and carry on his teachings. I believe that they all reached enlightenment in the course of those three short years, just Nisargadatta did in the three years that followed him meeting his guru, by faithfully and diligently following their master’s advice.
Every moment is a precious opportunity to explore who and what I am.
As I post this to my blog, I must report that the feeling of “being love” has subsided for the most part. I lasted about 2 1/2 months, during which it was experienced for some part of each day. Evidently when I started to plan my return home from Koinonia, the logistics and uncertainty around that (I had no car so I had to hire space in a moving truck and take public transportation) were distracting from my practice of “I am.” I’ve had glimpses of that experience a few times since I’ve been back in the Upper Valley, but nothing as solid as when I was at Koinonia. No matter, I know the practices that seemed to facilitate progress and the situation that was most beneficial. The memory of the experience will continue to serve as additional motivation to practice, quite earnestly!