+ The People Who Sat in Darkness +
"The people which sat in darkness, saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent; for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This great light, a prophesy regarding both the person Jesus and the message and method that he embodied. What was/is the message? The kingdom of Heaven. By what means do we enter what is so close, at hand? Repentance. But this poor word has been oft abused by many a well meaning soul, and we know all too well how it has been abusive from the mouths of scribes and pharisees. Repentance is Meta noia, meaning to "change"and "mind/ thinking", or rather to change the way one thinks. This might be considered a "buddhist" concept but it is fully within the tradition of "christian" mysticism. Mystically ,it would be having the eyes to see, or the ears to hear. Akin to "awakening", becoming conscious. That is the first of many steps to enter the Basileia tou Theou, the Kingdom of Heaven. This is where we begin to think "God's" thoughts and see with the eyes that "God" sees. This is where we will live and dwell and have our "being". It is the Way (He Hodos) the feminine/receiving path that we are called to follow.
Why is it that we must "awaken"? We awaken to make the best use of the light. Whereas we stumbled, we can now discern the way with surer steps. Many have been called, and the misguided use of "born-again" concepts has put the gospel into the shadows. We are born again to a renewed mind, a renewed world-view. We are not converts to a church, we are the church. We are not converts to be Christians , but are called to be like Christ. I personally have witnessed zealous Christians practically, for all intents and purposes, coercing "converts" to have an experience. This is not faith, because it is devoid of edification. Edification informs the mind. "Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Who knew there was so much emphasis on the mind within the Way? In other words, this repentance, or mind change , is meant to be a continuing discipline. In zen-Buddhism the concept is called "beginner's mind." It is very much affirmed in following Jesus. Jesus, that champion of the child. Isn't it also metaphor? "They brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it , they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."
You must be as a child...
So, we have Jesus preaching repentance, but also stating that one must be as a child to receive the Kingdom. What then is it? We must change our minds to child-like ways of thinking. What then is the mind of a "child?" First, we would probably think of innocence, but I suspect that's only one possible aspect. Perhaps a child's mind is free of the ranking and rating we constantly have as mind-chatter. That chattering mind is called "monkey mind" in some traditions. What is good, what is bad. Who is good, who is bad? Remember when Jesus challenged it when someone called him good? Judgment. A world that is absolutely black and white. In the many layered gospel we can take the admonition to not judge, lest we be judged, as not only a way to steer clear of hypocrisy but also as a way to clear the mind. A judging mind is a dualistic mind. It is the dualistic mind that drives the pharisee and the world as we know it. We know that our mind, or rather our eye, should be single.
Who among them was greater?
Do we grasp the metaphor? Rather than the world's mind, we should let this mind be in us. Jesus took a child and set it in the midst of the disciples. (MK 9.33-37). Why was that? Because they were debating rank, caught up in a dualistic mind frame. Who amongst them was greater? If there's someone greater then it must follow that someone is made less. This "thinking" is about maintaining an illusion. Take on the singular mind of Christ and illusion gets swept away. This is the practice that informs our obedience to the sermon on the mount. This is the practice that we can be "christ" to those in need. This is our practice that allows us daily to receive bread and be forgiving, as we are forgiving. Let this mind be in us. Repenting, renewing, and transforming. The world has its illusions and its snares. Increasingly we transcend. Thoughts come and go, clinging to them is not metanoia. So, let's claim our childhood, the kingdom is within.
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