From Where Do We Live?

Today’s post is by Tilden Edwards

From where do we live? We can answer this question in many ways. I suggest here three primary “places” inside us from which we can live that may help us to recognize and choose our spiritual heart in the many different situations of our lives. I think they are consonant with what we find in the heart of scripture and contemplative tradition.

This is the conditioned personality dimension of our nature. It is a gift of God that, along with our bodily senses, allows us to function in the world as a discrete being. However, when we identify with this dimension of self as our ultimate identity, then we can become dominated by its often fearful, control- seeking drives that skew our view of the world and give us a sense of self that is more separate than it really is from God and nature. Then our freedom for realizing our larger Self-in-God and the on-target loving and creative actions that flow from it are limited. When our ego identity takes on ultimate importance, we filter what we hear, see and do through its narrow self-centeredness.

The mind draws what we hear, see and do through the filter of the mind’s concepts and images. This filter functions by sorting what we encounter into separate categories, such as light and dark, heaven and earth, particles and waves, true and false. Our rational, imaginative, remembering mind is a great gift of God, including its capacity to recognize and resist our ego’s ways of skewing reality. However, if the mind is the ultimate place from which we live, if we believe its insights bring us fully into the truth, then we have overstepped its capacity. We are in danger of confusing our mind’s conditioned views with ultimate reality itself. Our concepts and images then become idols that shrink the great mystery of divine reality to what those concepts contain, rather than being valuable symbols that point to deep reality beyond the capacity of words and images to fully grasp.

When we most deeply live from a third place in us, our spiritual heart, then we more easily avoid the pitfalls of ego narrowness and rational idolatry, while at the same time respecting the gifted place of ego activity, rational thought and imagination in our lives. Our spiritual heart includes our capacity to freely will and to feel in relation to divine Presence. It also includes our capacity to know deep reality more holistically, intuitively, directly than our categorizing thinking minds. In our spiritual heart we are immediately present to what is, just as it is, in the space before our thinking mind begins labeling, interpreting, and judging things.

Our spiritual heart is a sanctuary through which we most directly realize radiant divine Love as the heart of reality. Our deepest personal identity, our core being in the image of God, is a unique shaping of that creative Love, however hidden by illusion and the misuse of human freedom.

Contemplative practices can help us remember and embrace our deepest identity and freedom in God’s image. They can leave us more available to God’s grace and to an awareness of mutual indwelling and co-responsibility for life. One vital contemplative practice through all that happens in the day is to simply lean back again and again behind our ego self-image, into our receptive, spacious spiritual heart and open whatever is happening in the moment to God, open to the Radiant Love that is the guiding depth of all that is.

This text is excerpted from a longer article that is available as part of the course material in our online course with Tilden Edwards: Living from the Spiritual Heart. We are offering this course during this season of Lent, it begins Sunday and registration is open now! Click here to register.

February 02, 2018 by Tilden Edwards
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