Archive for December 5th, 2009

I read from the Dhammapada, Verses 222 and 227:

One, who controls his anger when aroused, is like a clever driver who controls a fast going carriage; the others are like those who merely hold the reins.

This is a thing of old, Atula, not only of today; they blame him who remains silent, they blame him who talks much, they blame him who speaks in moderation; none in the world is left unblamed.

The teaching is crystal clear and echoed in the sacred texts of the Abrahamic religions: Let it go!

People will always find a flaw in you. They waste precious time and, when we do the same, we are, as they, living a dark spiritual blindness. Gaining control takes vigilance and discipline.

In the first months or even years, a spiritual discipline comes relatively easily and that’s because we’re skimming the surface. In realizing his own true nature, Jesus first left the company of others to travel into the desert where he was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights. He emerged the Christ. His teaching invites us to do the same thing, and the verses of the Dhammapada capture precisely the central principle.

There’s no way around it. We must pass through the veil of our rages and illusions, and face our daemons head on, empowered by the Truth of what is real in us.

Anger and tempestuous reaction to events are a learned reflex  and the result of habitually triggered neural pathways conditioned by some harsh experience or fear of such experience. Thought moves faster than limbic chemistry.

Hard as it may be at times, we can head it off at the pass! What it requires is becoming exquisitely attuned to the early signs of the rising emotional tide and interrupting the reflex thought cycle with a potent counter-punch; perhaps a short phrase or image that connotes the very opposite experience.

In time, we can lay down new pathways. It’s been estimated to be doable in 21 days of consistent practice.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Russian Orthodoxy was a nursery for remarkable and controversial mystical practices. One sect, later declared heretical by the Russian Orthodox Church, is known as the “Name Worshippers”.

Their adherents, with early prominent members also making significant contributions to the mathematics of infinity and set theory, held to a discipline of continuously repeating aloud, or inwardly, the name of Jesus. This has connections to the Hesychast tradition and the “Prayer of the Heart” of the Philokalia: ” Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

The Western manifestation of such a practice is the Rosary, albeit the prayers recited are greater in number and the process more involved. Hesychasm was bound to run afoul of the Orthodox Church.

Many mystical movements and the mystics themselves have historically been punished or censored in one fashion or another. Meister Eckhart, and extraordinary mystical preacher, was misunderstood and found himself in trouble with the Church. The list is fairly lengthy and includes teachers and adepts among us today.

The rejection is, however, understandable, as the mystic speaks a transcendent language that goes underneath and beyond canonical interpretations, formalisms, and dogma. They speak from a direct lived experience of the scared. Their language is consequentially more often richly metaphorical and visual, sensual, and appears to cut through the many distinctions and debates of exotericism.

There is great value in Hesychasm fro us today in the practice of continuous repetition of simple mantra. It is also a matter of spiritual taste whether this approach will bear fruit for you, but I, for one, find it remarkable in its effects.

Having practiced the “Prayer of the Heart” for many years, I find myself reciting it automatically as a centering prayer, and especially in times of great trouble or stress. In undergoing medical procedures, I catch myself reciting it, or, more correctly, I find it being recited within me.

Some object to the prayer as it appears to place emphasis on one’s identity as a sinner. It’s important to discriminate between the Eastern Orthodox and western meanings of “sin.” In the west, sin is all about mistakes for which one needs to seek forgiveness and attached to which there is a piper to pay. The attributions of sin are more judgmental, and punitive in character.

Here, again the East excels in seeing farther and in more nuanced ways. Sin, for Orthodoxy, is illness. It is recognition that one is in need of re-balancing, healing, and the restoration of a wholesome spirit by the Grace of the Beloved.

How wonderful is that?

It doesn’t surprise me that the Russian mystics of the Name Worshippers would also be tied to the mathematics of the Infinite. The two speak to each other in intimate ways. In these instances, their math was an outer sign of an inner spiritual grace.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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