My friends: Well, here we are at the end of the calendar year, which has always been the beginning when we seek God as we move through our lives each day. Each day is a lifetime of discovery and wonder. Tomorrow is the day we commemorated when God became one of us (Philippians 2:5-12), transforming time itself with the birth of the Christ Principle. Christmas reminds us that the darkness of hatred and sin is not the center of our lives, of my life in particular, but that light overcomes the darkness. It makes all things new once again, proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and Messiah (John 20:30-31) and the only way, the only truth, and the only life we need to worry about.
The Christ Principle
I wanted to announce my newest book (number 65) based on my Lectio Divina meditations each day. Father Cassian, O.C.S.O., and Brother Michael, O.C.S.O. always encouraged us to listen to the Holy Spirit with “the ear of the heart.” (Prologue from St. Benedict’s Rule) I made a mistake with the Holy Spirit saying, “Lord, I come to do your will. Be it done unto me according to Your Word.” What I got back with such a flush of ideas and linkages to all of my past experiences with Christ that I can’t write them down fast enough. The joy that comes from having in me the mind of Christ Jesus is indescribable yet permeates my body, my heart, and my very core. This is my Christmas gift from Christ, one that he bids me share with you or anyone else. Like Christmas, the joy that comes from the Christ Principle is based on God’s nature, not human concepts. I am only see through the kingdom of Heaven in the next life through a glass with blurry images, as St. Paul says. That is why I like the cup (me) image in silence and solitude before the window, yearning to be on the other side with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s gift to me is with me as I wobble down the path of my life until I reach my destination. As the Psalmist says (23), I fear no evil, for you are at my side to give me comfort. The peace of Christ is not the absence of conflict or discomfort with what life throws at us each day; it is the presence of Love itself. My only response this Christmas day is, Praise be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology I offer you the opportunity to access my blog site and read about The Christ Principle. https:thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org Again, peace be with you.
One of my most interesting Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5) has been the idea of pure energy. I have had another Lectio product that suggested that there is one reality with three distinct universes (physical, mental, and spiritual)). Remind you of something? The one overarching connection with all three universes is matter. There is physical ENERGY (the power of a hypernova, for example), mental ENERGY (the power of the human mind to even know that there is physical energy –science and philosophy), and the spiritual ENERGY (the pure energy of God, described by Israelites in the Old Testament, and made flesh by Jesus Christ in the New Testament). My Lectio describes this as the Christ Principle, from which anything flows in any direction of time.
This blog is an excerpt from my newest book entitled, The Christ Principle: A Lay Cistercian reflects on six paradigm shifts that help to clarify how all reality fits together.https://amzn.to/38t4VCU What follows is my book description, followed by some text from the book itself.
BOOK DESCRIPTION ON BACK COVER
For the most part, I have traveled this way for 80+ years, probably better than some but not as good as others. My life has been a joyful experience, not that there were no hiccups or some minor detours along the way. Just as I have done with my home, I have accumulated lots of “stuff,” most of which I must throw away or give to the poor. Almost all of the things I cherish are not things at all but experiences from the past, the future challenges, my relationship with family and friends, plus those situations I will pack in my bag on the journey Forever.
I would imagine I will have to give an accounting of my stewardship by standing in the presence of pure Being and seeing how I measured up. Naturally, no one measures up to God, who is not measurable by humans’ means, except Jesus. By God assuming a Human nature, He gave us a human measurement we should try. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36. Because God loved us so much that he gave His only Son, He asks us to do the same for those around us. Philippians 2:5 has been my center. When I get to Heaven and stand before He who has no beginning nor end, I will ask, “How’d I do? How close did I come?” These six paradigm shifts are my answer to “How does it all fit together?” Did I get it right? I’ll find out shortly. Trying is almost as important as achieving. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org
EXCERPT FROM BOOK
THE COMPONENTS OF PURE ENERGY
I. PURE ENERGY: FROM SINGULARITY TO COMPLEXITY
Pure energy is a being, a Divine Nature, for lack of a better term. The movement within this Being is from singularity to complexity (One God having three distinct persons, for example). This singularity has three different persons (revealed by Jesus the Christ), pure knowledge, pure Love, and pure service. There is no movement in this Trinity of Persons, and it overshadows all that is. There is no time frame within this pure energy because it just is, unlike humans, who must live in a succession of moments. Whatever this singularity creates (not the black hole singularity) leaves its D.N.A. on its product (the angels and the physical universe). Any movement within the physical universe is based on time, which has a beginning and an end. Within these parameters, physical energy and mental energy (the power to reason and choose what we have reasoned), matter, energy, time, space is subject to the influence of this pure energy, much like our D.N.A. contains the building blocks of who we are and how we will be. It is the first paradigm shift, from invisible (pure energy) to visible (matter, time, energy, space, and all life).
These pure energy laws are only one law with three dimensions, i.e., knowledge, Love, and service. The laws of this pure energy (the physical and mental universe and spiritual universe) are paradigms about knowledge, Love, and service. Paradigm shifts happen when these paradigms have moved so much that they “bubble over” into a new paradigm shift in the fullness of time. (See the concepts of Teilhard de Chardin as he describes the movement of all reality from Alpha to Omega.) http://www.teilharddechardin.org/index.php/biography
Movement in the physical, mental, and spiritual universes comes from each universe’s evolution (don’t freak out at the term) to reflect its source’s pure energy. The natural law is the foundation of the physical, mental, and spiritual universe.
The point: Anything God touches with pure energy receives His D.N.A. With the first paradigm, pure energy connects us with a Word (John 1:1). The physical universe has a beginning and an end and naturally begins its march from simplicity to complexity. Can you, as an individual, stop time from its relentless growth to its end? No! With all its sophisticated technology, can humanity stop time from moving even one second? No! Can Christ stop time from moving even one second? Yes! How can this be? By showing us how to live in the spiritual universe, which has no beginning and no end. Death has no more hold over us, St. Paul says. For those who have Faith (God’s energy) and belief (Be it done to me according to your Word), we inherit the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for us since before the beginning of time.
II. PURE ENERGY THAT HAS NO BEGINNING AND END MAKES ALL THINGS NEW.
Pure energy, pure thought, pure Love, and pure service exist as One Being with three distinct dimensions (or persons). This interaction has no boundaries, as does matter, time, space, and physical energy. This pure energy created all physical and mental reality with a Word, but it continues to make everything new.
III. PURE ENERGY: FROM RESONANCE TO DISSONANCE These two concepts are all about reality aligning up in a condition of equilibrium and natural default. I use this concept of how all reality fits together to identify some of my research trends on paradigm shifts. Resonance means everything is as it should be, the way it was intended according to its nature and grace. Dissonance means discord, misalignment, being off-balance, not hitting the mark, and sin. I can discern resonance in the cosmic sense (the physical universe), how humans are endowed with reason, and the ability to choose what they reason (the mental universe). This spiritual universe holds reality together. Let me share a Lectio Divina experience I had some time ago about resonance. (Philippians, 2:5). I have been intrigued by one reality’s subject, each with various components, such as simplicity to complexity, nothingness creating somethingness, and resonance to dissonance. I call this the Rule of Threes.
IV. DEEP DIVE INTO RESONANCE AND DISSONANCE AND WHY IT MATTERS TO THE PARADIGM SHIFTS
What follows comes from a blog I wrote some months ago about how all things fit with the Christ Principle. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org
My latest Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) has taken me to a place that I would never have thought possible, linking Christ as the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Old and New Testaments. As I sat in silence and solitude, the way my thinking progressed, waiting for Christ to visit me as I sat on my park bench in the dead of winter, was in terms of resonance or dissonance. To ensure that I don’t fly with false colors, let me say from the outset that my opinions come from beyond the edge of space and time (Holy Spirit) and reflect only my thoughts, not those of any Lay Cistercian group of Cistercian (Trappist) writings. These are my thoughts. Take them for what they are.
Once God (pure energy) touches something, I mean it is present to it, several things happen. This presence is so powerful that it creates something for its nothingness. Paradoxically, the nothingness of God, the sign of contradiction, makes its imprint, its D.N.A., on everything.
For Behold! I make all things new.
As I always do, I begin with the hope of contemplation on Philippians 2:5. “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” While waiting for Christ to visit me on a park bench in the dead of winter, I thought about why Christ had to become one of us (human nature). The notion of the Messiah coming to rescue his people loses its true meaning on me, and I suspect anyone who is not Jewish. I am living in 2020, far removed from the prickly problems facing the Church’s transition from Twelve Tribes to Twelve Apostles. I place my faith in the reality of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, a “sine qua non” of belief (I love to use that phrase). If the resurrection did not happen, then, as St. Paul writes, Christ is not God but, like many devout Jewish believers think, just one more in a line of false messiahs. Belief is a position or something spiritual and does not depend on the believer to be true. There is a struggle between what is true and what I think is right. My belief does not make something real, but what is right makes me believe through the pure energy of God (Faith). How can some people believe in one God and others believe in one God but with three distinct persons, one of whom is Jesus the Messiah? Are these poles symptomatic of something more significant going on in reality?
V. PURE ENERGY IS NOT MEASURABLE WITH ANY YARDSTICKS THAT HUMANS USE.
If, as I have come to believe, there are three separate, distinct universes, all making up one reality, how we approach these three levels of reality is essential. The scientific approach to reality is that everything has the exact measurements and assumptions about what is real. If you use this approach to looking at what is, it is correct. If you do not admit to the premises, it falls short of any explanation. Let’s examine the concept that God has no beginning nor end and created all that has a beginning and an end. How could you verify that this is true? The purpose of the third paradigm shift was to make known what could not be reasoned to by the human mind. This third paradigm shift needed pure energy to lift up human nature from being only an animal nature forever.
VI. PURE ENERGY: THE PARADOX OF ALL THAT IS: THE COSMIC STRUGGLE OF SEEMING OPPOSITES
Are these two seemingly opposite positions part of some larger design, more cosmic, more sophisticated than we could have imagined? It is getting far afield of Lectio Divina, not so?
There is a concept out there called the theory of everything, popularized by a book and a movie of the same name, about the late, great Steven Hawking and his quest to find one view of the physical universe. My criticism of this approach, although admirable, is that it assumes a reality that is only one of three universes (the physical universe and not the mental or spiritual universes). I have been developing a theory of reality for the past thirty years. I am not a trained scientist, nor do I aspire to be. I try to think about a unified theory of all that is and have come up with the notion of three separate universes, each distinct yet all one. The characteristics and measurements for each universe are entirely different. The spiritual universe is directly opposite from physical and mental universes in one of them.
Here is when I use the Rule of Threes to examine reality.
THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE: In my model, the physical universe is all we can see or reason with our human languages’ aid. All physical matter, space, time, every star, and the black hole, all exploding hypernovas, all live anywhere in the universe; humans, animals, plants, and even mosquitoes are part of this observable universe. The problem with this universe has always been why we humans know about it, but it does not know about us? There must be a purpose and reason why we find ourselves on this rocky platform of gases. Humans are part of this universe and all other life forms because it forms our existing base. Why do we not find lifeforms on other planets, anywhere?
THE MENTAL UNIVERSE: This universe answers the questions about the Physical Universe. Only humans live in this universe. It is the universe of reason. Why do only humans have the ability to build languages, discover relationships, and seek to find the meaning of all that is? You don’t ask your pet dog what time it is, although it will tell you when they are hungry. Without the Mental Universe, no one would ask why it is, how it is, what it is, and so what? The two attributes that separate us from the animals are: you can reason for a reason, and, based on that reasoning, you can make choices free from nature or any other ideology. There must be a reason we find ourselves on this rock, the only persons we know of, anywhere. There must be a reason humans developed from other life forms to reason and select what is right for them. The theory of everything just looks at the physical universe using the mental universe to find meaning. The problem is that this is incomplete, something is missing, something like 1 + 1 =, and there is no answer. I am not playing the game that says all science is lacking in perspective. Tell me, which person would you want to perform ear surgery on, a priest or a board-certified E.N.T. physician? Science is the only discipline that can move us forward to even more incredible discoveries about reality.
For me, this led to a third universe, one which we could not have either reasoned to or chosen without someone giving us the code.
THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE: We discover so much about physical reality through the sciences and literature. If left only to science and logic, humans would never have access to a consciousness level that does not fit the physical and mental universe paradigm. We don’t do well with invisible relationships. The problem with invisibility is you can’t see it. This universe has to do with solving the equation of what is real. Reality is not just what we can see but what we cannot see. Not all religious traditions can transform you into what you were designed to be. You have reason and why there is an earth to give you time to discover the code of eternity. You can freely choose whatever you find out and place it at the center of your life. It is the energy source that will propel you to the next reality, one for which we need to begin preparing in this lifetime. Again, the energy with no beginning or ending pops up to propel us to see reality as the opposite of what the world says is real. It does not make sense, and it should not. Christ told us that we must lose our lives to gain them. This explains why it makes sense for a question that seems to have no answer. Think about it. The nothingness of pure energy, the Christ Principle, the sign of contradiction, is the answer to how all reality makes sense. Once again, I am only speaking of the macro level of how things fit together. Science seeks to make all things new through knowledge, scientific inquiry, asking why something is and how it works. The spiritual universe aims to make individuals (including scientists) new to love others and prepare to live Forever with pure energy.
It is interesting to note the interdependence of the three universes. The physical universe exists, the platform for where we find ourselves today. All matter, all time, all energy has a beginning and an end, including us. This paradigm we humans wake up to is the reality of where we are and who we are. As we look around us, we notice that we are not like the other animals we have as pets or eat as food (pork and beef). We have something they don’t have self-awareness. Where does that come from all of a sudden? Did it randomly happen by chance, or is it part of a larger dynamic, the language we are not familiar with? The mental universe allows us to look at the physical world and ask why, how, when, where something is. Far from being anti-spiritual, the physical and mental universes exist for us to wonder about all this and seek a conclusion. I like to think of it as being in dissonance or without purpose, even though we might know the purpose of the physical and mental universe. Now comes the seeming paradox, the spiritual universe, the solution to the equation of life, the resonance to the cosmos’ dissidence. Reason and free choice allow each individual to choose to live in this universe or not. The options are clear: you are the center of reality, or God is the center. Every time you choose yourself as the center of existence, there is dissonance; there is resonance every time you choose God as your center. That is how nature is. This concept is so alien to the human way of thinking that God had to tell us how to be authentically human, and he did it in stages.
Three Stages of Reality
Stage one is the creation of the physical universe. All living things live here, including humans. This stage uses natural law (what would happen if humans did not intervene). This significant cosmic intervention is going from nothing (pure energy) to what we can observe and know about the universe present to where we are today.
Stage two is the creation of the mental universe. Pure energy fashioned Adam from the earth, and Eve came from Adam’s rib. Only humans here. Humans can reason and have the freedom to choose what they consider to be real, but with consequences to each choice. Our choices define us. Adam and Eve had a chance to choose God but chose themselves instead. It was a poor choice and issued in the time of dissonance with God until the rime of resonance with Christ. All reality was thrown into chaos by this choice. Humans would never regain resonance with God by themselves, even with all their sacrifices and prayers. All humans born of the flesh are subject to nature’s laws, but their destiny is to live with God Forever as adopted sons and daughters. That would not happen unless God rescued us from the grip of death and took on the nature that, Philippians 2:5-12 tells us, is akin to being a slave. This YES from the Blessed Mother was not only a nice-sounding gesture meant to enlighten the pious. Still, the nexus between the physical and mental universes and the addition of the spiritual universe ushered in this third paradigm shift. In terms of cosmic evolution, reality has changed. It looked the same, smelled the same, and no one even noticed that the beginnings of cosmic resonance were now falling into place.
Stage three is the creation of the spiritual universe. Only humans live in this universe. This universe uses reason and free choice, as does the physical and mental universes but with a difference. Humans must use their reason to choose God as their center and not themselves. The purpose of this universe is to bring all things together as one, once more, to restore a relationship with God and create resonance in time and space once more. Those who choose this way must continue to struggle against the flesh’s effects (physical and mental universes) each day.
Let’s look at these three universes of reality. Each one is quite different, each one with its purpose. Each one has measurements that may vastly stretch the mind of those trying to cram all reality into just one universe, the physical one. Rather than thinking something is wrong with science or that spirituality is a bunch of personal opinions that cannot possibly be true, all three universes fit nicely together. Science continues to explain how the physical universe is, why it is, and how. Science is limited because the spiritual universe turns logic upside down. God’s playground is the opposite of what the world, physical and mental universes, think. Only the Messiah of God has the code to unlock the consequences of that Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Read Romans 5. The Messiah would be one to open the gates of Heaven to give us a chance, like the chance He gave to Adam and Eve, to enter the spiritual universe. He would be a sign of contradiction to the gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews. Everything this person says would not make sense to those who have the world’s mind, thinking that they are God. Everything he says would make complete sense to those filled with the Spirit of Truth at Baptism and use that grace to make actual what cannot be seen and hear what cannot be heard. None of this is a secret or the complete knowledge to be kept pure from other forms of thinking (Gnostics). It is to be catholic, open to all who accept the gift of faith into their hearts, thus becoming adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Jesus is the great teacher of how to live our lives to resonate with all reality. To do that, we must die to ourselves to rise to a new life in Christ. Again, none of this makes sense to the world (physical and mental universes) unless Christ is indeed the Messiah, the one St. John the Baptist asked: “are you the one, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)
Once again, sounding like a never-ending story, we face two choices that have consequences for being resonant or dissonant. These are cosmic choices as well as personal ones. Remember, you have reason for a reason and the ability to choose what you reason. The Messiah in my thinking would not be someone to free me from the power of the Romans or Arabs or whomever, but rather free me from the tyranny of becoming my God, the consequences of which are dissonance with the rest of reality.
It is one reason why, as a Lay Cistercian, I focus on reading Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict as one of my Cistercian practices each day.
Making the resurrection real each day is now my goal. My mindset now is trying to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus each day. I use the practices and charisms of Cistercian spirituality to provide structure and accountability.
I began my thinking by realizing that science, the study of the physical phenomenon with the languages of mathematics, chemistry, physics, research, and wonder, doesn’t fit with the spiritual universe. I am not implying that scientific inquiry into our physical and mental universe is somehow flawed or evil. I am stating that reality contains more than we can see and measure with the instruments we use to look at what is real. I am at the point in my thinking that when you burn away all of the dross of truth about reality, what remains, however improbable, is what it is, even if it does not make sense to the world.
Each of us is marked at Baptism with the sign of contradiction, the cross, a paradox to the world, which doesn’t make sense. We carry that tattoo on our hearts throughout our whole lifetime. We use the Church Universal and particular to help us as an anchor in storm and sail times in times of challenge and everyday living. We have not been left orphans each age, subject to Satan’s seduction without hope of any help. We have Christ, Son of God, Savior as our brother and the Father, who has said that we are adopted sons and daughters and will inherit the kingdom. The real Messiah is one to lead us to the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not a city but our destiny, the purpose for which all reality is. My wishing will not make the Messiah real, but the real Messiah will allow me the energy to make the resurrection real in my heart.
VII. PURE ENERGY: FROM THE POWER OF NOTHINGNESS TO THE FORMATION OF SOMETHINGNESS THAT HAS A BEGINNING AND AN END, GOD LEAVES THE IMPRINT OF HIS DNA
Of course, you are probably thinking; this is just your opinion. Of course, it is; who else’s opinion would it be? Maybe that is not the right question to ask. I prefer to use my reasoning, with the assistance of being in the presence of the Holy Spirit, to go places no one wants to go, i.e., in that darkened room inside me where I alone can ponder the great questions that have haunted humans since time immemorial. Here are my six questions. These six questions and the search for reasonable answers are why I wrote this book. They are also the core of what it means to use the Art of Contemplative Practice.
Later in this reflection, you will read a more detailed explanation of each question. For now, know that my answer to question number four, “How does it all fit together?” is the answer I have based on six paradigm shifts.
In the cosmic sense of having everything in the physical universe begin with pure energy, the problem is we don’t have a human experience of what or who pure energy is. Pure energy, or 100% of God’s nature, is so beyond the capability or our capacity to grasp it that the nothingness of God is greater than that which He created (the physical universe). Humans don’t have a language to explain a divine nature’s complexity, so we say it is a Mystery of Faith.
POINTS OF IMPORTANCE
“During his second, as during his first, period in Paris the university was torn by dissensions of different kinds, and in 1272 there was a sort of “general strike” among the faculties, in the midst of which St Thomas was recalled to Italy and appointed regent of the study-house at Naples. It was to prove the last scene of his labors. On the feast of St Nicholas the following year, he was celebrating Mass when he received a revelation which so affected him that he wrote and dictated no more, leaving his great work, the Summa Theologiae, unfinished. To Brother Reginald’s expostulations, he replied, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things revealed to me.”
In his Gospel 1:1, St. John speaks as a poet when he describes what is nearly undefinable, which existed before there was a beginning and an end to everything. The Word denotes reason, and the free choice enabled the physical and mental universes to prepare us to do what we need to get to Heaven to be with the Father. How eloquent and profound are these words about how reality began, written by God through St. John. (John 1:1)
“1 In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was at the beginning with God. 3 All things came to be through him, and without him, nothing came to be. What came to be 4through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; 5 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (www.usccb.com)
VIII. PURE ENERGY: THE ENDURING POWER OF LOVE. There is nothing more upsetting to one who measures reality only in the physical universe with the mental universe’s measurements than applying the analogy of the complex interaction between gases and atoms in nuclear fusion (that powers the Sun) to what happens when authentic Love (100% pure knowledge. 100% pure love and 100% pure service interact. It produces a power we can’t even bring into our limited frame of existence, much less measure it. But the ironic thing is, it can be measured each day.
Do you remember the grasshopper’s story in the television series Kung Fu? These paradigm shifts make no sense to those who seem blind to those who look at reality only with their minds. They would be correct if there were only one theory of everything with only one set of measurements. What if there are three separate universes interconnected with the pure energy of Love, so great that it is living, a Supreme Being that does not live in space or time? How can you see that, being a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit? My response: how is it you cannot?
Now what? Remember, in the spiritual universe, one that is incorruptible, there is no limit to how deep you can probe.