Saturday, May 3, 2008

Awakening from Paranoia to Metanoia: Part One

A Course in Miracles teaches that we are always doing one of two things: We either project Fear, or we extend Love.

Fear and Love represent two very different states of being, or levels of our consciousness. We project fear from our egos - from the sense of individuality, separateness and "anxious apartness" we feel and project to the world outside when we attach to the restless stream of undisciplined thoughts that can continuously course of their own volition through our minds - from this false, egoic sense of 'self' that we mistake as being our identity, that we take as being who we are. Love, on the other hand, is a different, deeper state of consciousness, a psychic state of quiet and stillness of mind in which the restless stream of thought stops moving, if only for a moment. All then seems and feels to be "well with the world."

Fear is a learned, habitual way of thinking into which we are conditioned or trained, if you like, by our interactions with others, our culture and the perceived, sensory 'world'. Love is our natural state of being - like the love a child and a mother, a mother and a child. It is Providence, provided from within, but which is grown "out of" as we are conditioned by parents, educators, our culture and our own sense perceptions of a world which is "out there" and not "within".

All wisdom traditions and religions speak to this dual aspect of humanity. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8) ; and, as such, a double-minded person is liable to act or react in any manner depending upon the state of being which is manifested within. From the state of Fear, or paranoia - a state in which one is separated in thought from clear consciousness (from the Greek, 'para' meaning 'with', and 'nous', the 'mind') - one projects Fear. From the state of Love, or metanoia - a state in which one is above ordinary, restless thought and thus beyond any separation in consciousness ( from the Greek, 'meta' meaning 'above', and 'nous', the 'mind') one extends Love.

Religious experience (from the Latin, 're' meaning 'again', and 'ligare', 'to tie' or 'unite'), transcendence of 'self' and spiritual experience, or spiritual awakening, all speak of the shift from the state of habitual, conditioned consciousness to the state of natural, unconditioned, unitive consciousness 'beyond' the mentations of the mind. Spiritual awakening is, thus, the journey or restoration from paranoia to metanoia.

The study of Yoga, which means religion in the East, is the practice of disciplining the thought- waves of the mind, according to the Hindu yogi master and expositor, Patanjali - the practice of going to that state of being 'above' thought. Commentators have said that this is the full teaching of Yoga, and the rest of Patanjali's 200-odd aphorisms are explanations of this one central truth. In Bhuddist terms, this is the exposition of the dharma.

"Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. . . . Purify your hearts, you double-minded," James, the brother of Jesus, taught (James 4:8). In his epistle, James clearly intended that in purifying one's heart, one had to take courage - from the Latin cour - which means the "heart". Spiritual awakening is this journey from the restless, fearful thought-waves of the undisciplined, self-absorbed mind, from paranoia and the projection of Fear, to the still, disciplined abiding in the heart, above thought - to metanoia and the extension of Love. All wisdom traditions speak of this journey from egoic paranoia to selfless metanoia.

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