May 11, 2013
63 of 65
I attended a gathering of Charismatic Catholics* at which the speaker was a former Four Square Gospel minister who had converted to Catholicism. He told of the miraculous healings he had done among the “born again” crowd, including once raising a young man from the dead.
He became Catholic when he married his second wife after he had lost his first to cancer. I learned that several months after this talk his second wife also died of cancer. On the surface, this seems a form of duality – the miracle worker who cannot save his owned loved ones – the cobbler’s children who have no shoes. However, we live in a physical world, a world of mortality. Even the young man who was raised from the dead will one day return there, just like Lazarus 2000 years ago.
This gentleman told us that the greatest healer in our world is the Catholic Eucharist. That is actually a logical conclusion arising from the belief that through transubstantiation the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ. The physical and the divine are merged, so there is no longer a duality, only a perfect unity.
I feel confident that all of the Charismatics present were completely confident in that belief. I did not get the feeling, though, that many of them would be considered mystics. They knew the formerly physical bread and wine can merge with and become divine, but most of them would not believe themselves to have also merged and become divine. Rather, there would always be a separation between us mere mortals and the Godhead, the Christ, the divine. Thus, transubstantiation eroded the concept of duality only to a point. The person receiving communion still remained separate from the consecrated host.
A mass was celebrated after the gentleman had given his talk. We were advised to pay attention to the whole process of communion, and to consider what healing we would want for ourselves or our families as we actually received the sacrament. As I walked toward the altar, I thought, “I’m healthy now. My whole family seems healthy. I feel fortunate.” I did not know that within the next year I would lose both my parents and my brother would be fighting the disease that would take his life. I have looked back on that time and considered the duality between my perceptions and what we call reality.
I serve as a Eucharistic Minister – or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, as it now called – and I bring communion to homebound Catholics. I never ask the recipient’s feeling about his or her unity with the host. I simply hope that I am able to bring with me some sense of healing and of comm-unity.
For the past year or so, I have met each week with a few people in Idaho Springs to discuss the ideas in a book called The Way of Mastery. It is supposedly a channeled set of teachings from Jeshua (known to many of us as Jesus) – much like A Course in Miracles. Whether or not that is the case, the book certainly causes one to think, and there is much wisdom to be gleaned from those who meet to discuss it.
Jeshua tells us that as individuals we are like tiny waves on a vast ocean. We seem separate and unique, but we are always part of something much larger. This is what the historical Jesus is supposed to have meant when he said, “The Father and I are One.”
These friends do not find it difficult to accept that they are a part of that which is divine. However, they also believe that there is a part of their being known as “ego” which perpetuates the falsehood that we are separate beings. The ego seems to keep us in the field of dualism, so we learn that the ego must be overcome.
But wait! If we must overcome something – anything – to attain unity, we implicitly recognize there is something separate from the unified state. Again, that leads to duality.
Another part of the teaching is that all events are neutral. It is only our human judgment that makes us say that anything is either good or bad. Still, as intelligent, insightful humans, my friends recognize that the world contains dark and light, male and female, hard and soft – in short, the Yin and the Yang. Are those concepts only another product of our human judgment, or do they indicate an absence of unity?
Of course, none of the issues mentioned here are novel. They have been around at least since 1970, and maybe longer. In 1970, while taking a course in Chinese Philosophy, I wrote a term paper on the introduction of Buddhism from India to China. Having just celebrated my 22nd birthday, I was able to resolve these matters simply in passing. I wrote:
[T]he implication is that the spiritual world and the physical world are, in actuality, two intellectually distinguished phases of a single whole world. Further, one can intellectually distinguish innumerable parts making up either of these phases. However, to view the world in such a manner would be fallacious in the sense that viewing a pile of wires, transistors and other components and calling it a computer would give a false picture. Obviously, the whole in either case is vastly different from its components.
…All things may be seen to have contradictory components when viewed singly; while seeing all things as part of a greater whole eliminates any possibility of contradiction.
To achieve this all-encompassing view one must become enlightened; for it is through enlightenment that the discriminating, self-centered mind …moves down its own path of non-distinction and non-discrimination.
I received an A minus for that paper, and next to the language quoted above, Professor Visvader wrote, “This is misleading.”
More than 40 years later, I find that my knowledge and beliefs are less certain than they were. Is my analogy of the wires and computers that much different than Jeshua’s of the waves and the ocean? Is the concept of overcoming the ego that much different than my statement that one must become enlightened? I’m afraid I don’t know the answers.
Of course, as I prattle on and on, I recall Lao Tsu’s admonition that “He who speaks does not know, and he who knows does not speak.” I have always believed that Professor Visvader knew how to attain unity in this dualistic world, and that is why he said nothing but “this is misleading.”
I learned from a chi kung teacher to begin my exercise by reciting, “I am in the Universe. The Universe is in my body. The Universe and I are joined together.” That is a little different from saying “the Universe and I are one”; but I believe he meant we are one.
I further believe that he used the term “Universe” to mean what others might call “God” or “the Divine.” Considering then, the Catholic sacrament of communion, after swallowing the host, the recipient could literally say, “I am clearly in the physical Universe, and the body and blood of Christ are now inside my body, so I am One with something Divine.” The sacrament would become a mystical experience.
A t’ai chi instructor once told me that I was destined to “die as a beginner.” Oh, to be 22 again.
I still don’t know, but I will now stop speaking.
Q. How many Charismatic Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Any one of them could do it. They all have their hands in the air, anyway.