Lectionary resources for worship, faith formation, and service
By: Bruce Sanguin
This post was originally featured on http://brucesanguin.com
The Kingdom of G_d was Jesus’ core message. In progressive Christian circles it is widely interpreted,thanks to modern scholarship and the brilliance of John Dominic Crossan as a subversive political metaphor. Caesar’s Kingdom, his domination system, peace through violence is replaced by peace through justice, embodied in Jesus. I agree with this and I have written about it myself.
My only concern is that it becomes too easy to turn the KG into our favourite political ideology. There are political implications, absolutely, of orienting from this realm. But the KG is primarily a way of seeing and experiencing reality. It is actual. Not a metaphor. When we see reality clearly we stand a far greater chance of acting in congruence with this vision.
The KG is always, already present. But we can only experience it, phenomenologically, in a deep state of relaxation. That is, when we feel safe and secure. When we feel this, we naturally trust. Trust is the precondition of surrender. And surrender is the key that opens the door to the KG. This is the G_d Cycle.
My experience is that this feeling of deep and profound safety is rare in our culture. Our adrenal systems are on high alert, stoked by caffeine and numbed by alcohol, and various other addictions. We live in a condition of personal, historical, and cultural trauma. This is the Matrix, which is a condition of the wounded feminine, which has been traumatized by the failed masculine of patriarchy. The feminine has been degraded, denigrated, and traumatized for literally thousands of years by the domination system of patriarchy. This trauma gets passed down generation after generation. It is insidious, the air we breathe. We end up literally not knowing that we live in the Matrix. To say we are “wired” captures it very aptly. This gets at the technological dimension of contemporary life, which tips over into and reflects a dehumanization. This technopoly not only contributes to the overtaxing of our cortisol system, it is a reflection of the state of the world soul.
We are not relaxed enough to see and experience what Jesus called the Kingdom of God. When Jesus taught that the pure of heart are blessed because only the pure of heart can see G_d he meant this, I believe, on all levels—purity at physical, emotional, mental levels. When we purify at these levels, a natural spiritual vision comes on line. This is why every serious spiritual path is marked by purgation—being released from, and participating in the release of all influences that make us impure. It requires strong medicine. Church, which has been co-opted by the Matrix, has stopped delivering on the potential to truly transcend this world (be in the world but not of it). The medicine has been watered down, in my opinion.
Impurity manifests as any habit, substance, or way of being that prevents the G_d Cycle from being realized in our lives.
Physical impurity is caused today by eating processed foods, too much sugar, fat, and salt, overconsumption of alcohol, caffeine, and recreational drugs. These substances are often introduced as a strategy for making us feel safe. They fill the void temporarily. Thereby we teach our bodies that we need these substances, and our bodies naturally call for them in desperation. This creates anxiety, and the cycle continues.
Mental impurity is caused by our own mental activity. Our thoughts and beliefs mostly operate outside of our conscious control. What we often don’t realize is that negative thought processes (such as cynicism, pessimism, excessive doubt, critical judgement of self and others, sarcasm are energetic systems that actually create a condition of darkness within us, which we then project on to the world, and then see only darkness – not realizing that much of the darkness is self-generated. When our minds are in control they are in service to trauma and keep us in a karmic loop. We cannot enter the cycle of relaxation, trust, surrender. In fact, the explicit mandate of all our mental activity is to keep us from this cycle.
Emotional impurity is caused by unintegrated trauma, from an early age, war experiences, etc. Early trauma, which is always a failure of love, gives rise to our personalities as elaborate compensation systems. The compensation system usually breaks down in situations of deep intimacy, when the stakes are high enough and we’re being invited to a condition of trusting the other. This invitation, in all its various forms, is profoundly, but unconsciously threatening to the personality system. It brings us shame, rage, desperation, loneliness – all the feelings we did not know what to do with and there was no space for in our earliest years. To open to love later in life is inevitably to be triggered by those earlier failures of love. This is why so few marriages are thriving. We either make a deep, courageous commitment to becoming conscious – which is the gift of intimacy – or we unconsciously recapitulate all the trauma. In the vernacular this becomes a shit-show. Again, without integrating this emotional trauma the G_d Cycle of relaxation, trust, surrender, is not possible.
All these systems need to be cleansed in order to “enter the KG” as Jesus put it. Ever noticed how Jesus associated entering the KG with releasing? Attachment to wealth, one’s own family, even your own life? This is because all of these easily become sources of addiction, what we use to keep us from the “narrow path” of purifying our lives. If money, family, and your own life are dedicated to the perpetuation of the Matrix, what Jesus called “this world” to distinguish it from the True World or G_d’s world, then they need to be purged from our lives before we can enter the KG.
What is the KG like? My experience is that it is characterized by clear-seeing (clairvoyance). You see through the Matrix. You see all the suffering. You see the source of the suffering. When Jesus said “my Kingdom is not of this world”, it’s truly not. We are called to be fully “in” this world, but not “of” it.
It is characterized by deep compassion. You feel all the suffering caused by the refusal to walk the path of the pure-hearted. You feel all the trauma. Your heart expands to hold it all, but it’s all held in a love that is Ultimate.
It is eternal. You feel that this condition of Love is the true Matrix, it is the Mother that births universes. It is the womb from which all emerges. It holds all, including evil, suffering, and violence. It is always, already present waiting for us to enter at any moment.
It is joyful. You see and feel all the beauty. There is nothing more beautiful than witnessing a courageous soul release their fear and return to a condition of trust. Nothing.
It is strengthening. You feel your inner warrior rise up. You are initiated into the order of the pure hearted, and it is your mission to defend this order, both within yourself and in the world. The warrior sees clearly the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, dark and light, and he wields his/sword in defence of the KG. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
It is, as Jesus said, “very near”. It is as close, in truth, as the present moment. It is Presence. The challenge is that only the pure of heart can be present. We mostly live in time because of the above trauma. We live in and out of the past. Or we are ruminating about the future. But it’s all here. Right now. As close as our breath. As a pure breath, without distraction.