Why Pain (3)

Oct 22, 2017


Why Pain (3)

How do we respond to seemingly

Random acts of terror:

Makes us wonder:

If this pain is present,

Is there a loving God? (3)

John of the Cross, (1542-1591) who lived at the same time as Teresa of Avila and was her friend though 25 years younger, spoke powerfully of this union of the material world with the spiritual. In his Prologue to The Ascent of Mount Carmel he expressed:

A deeper enlightenment and wider experience than mine is necessary to explain the dark night through which a soul journeys toward that divine light of perfect union with God that is achieved, insofar as possible in this life, through love. The darknesses and trials, spiritual and temporal, that fortunate souls ordinarily undergo on their way to the high state of perfection are so numerous and profound that human science cannot understand them adequately. Nor does experience of them equip us to explain them. [1]

This powerful introduction to the concept of the Dark Night of the Soul, where we find ourselves seemingly lost in the wilderness of sorrow and pain, is part of the process of learning to be non-judgmental. James Finley expresses it like this:

In the “dark night of the soul,” we are weaned away from the ego’s finite ideas and feelings about God. We come to know that no idea about God is God. We are also weaned from our ideas about our self as being a finite, separate self apart from God.

            Not everyone experiences this kind of union in this life. But in some lives God does not wait until death to begin the consummation through a dark night of the soul. In this non-dual state, although I am not God, I am not other than God. Although I am not you, I am not other than you either. Although I am not the earth, I am not other than the earth either. All things are unexplainably, invincibly one in endless diversity.

            The awakening of this state on earth does not mean you are holier than others. Rather, you awaken to how unexplainably holy EVERBODY is. The mystic – that is, the person who is ripe with this love consciousness that’s born in the night – is not more holy but is granted a greater realization of the infinite holiness of the simplest of things. [2]

Buried in this seemingly impossible description is the essence of non-dual thinking; or totally non-judgmental thinking. We are both God and not-God at the same time. I am you and not-you at the same time. I am the earth and not-earth at the same time. This is not judging what we are. This is just knowing what we are: I am me, but I am all the universe at the same time.

This is what Jesus meant when in his last discourse and prayer: They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16). This is also why Jesus is so hard to understand in so much of what he speaks, for he speaks as one that sees the absolute holiness of everything, that all are in God and in the material world at the same time.

This is seeing through the eyes of God. Unless we see like this, it is extremely difficult to understand how God is love, pure love and nothing but love, and yet see the pain and suffering that seems so prevalent in our world.

Seeing as God sees requires effort and patience with ourselves as we teach ourselves to learn how to live in a non-judgmental way, or the non-dual approach to life. Probably the only way to move in this fashion is to practice in small chunks every day, letting ourselves dwell in the peace of God and nothing else. One of the best approaches is centering prayer as originally taught by Thomas Keating, but now practiced by many.

We will look at how we can move ourselves to see through the eyes of God that this world of pain and suffering as well as joys and happiness is all part of God and the ongoing blossoming of God being made manifest in our world. We will examine that if we and the universe are truly one, we have to see that the chaotic universe is both chaotic and absolute love (The Cosmic Christ) at the same time.


Oh holy One, I curl up in the comfort of Your love in our world that seems so chaotic. I have been blessed over the years with visions of beauty and love, and have come to see that these visions, both physical and mental, have been visions of Your Love and Glory made manifest. The beauty of Your world on earth and the heavens have moved me to tears of joy, and granted me glorious sights and sounds of the heavens that signifies Your Kingdom of God on earth, that glorious universe that lives in me and in our midst, as You promised. I am grateful for all that You have given me in this world, all the joys and love of all that have been in my life at all times. I know that You will hold me close, as You have always done, both now and for eternity, as You have promised to do.

[1] John of the Cross, The Collected works of St. John of the Cross, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (Institute of Carmelite Studies Publications: 1991), 114-115

[2] Adopted from James Finley, Intimacy: The Divine Ambush, discs 1 and 6, (Center for Action and Contemplation), CD, MP3 download, from Richard Rohr’s Meditation, Oct. 13, 2017


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