Friday, January 23, 2009

Whole-hearted acceptance -- variations on a theme

I've been reflecting some more on the quote from Jean Pierre de Caussade that I referred to in a previous post. Here it is again:

"The Treasure is everywhere. It is offered to us at every moment and wherever we find ourselves. All creatures, friends or enemies, pour it out abundantly, and it courses through every fiber of our body and soul until it reaches the very core of our being. If we open our mouths they will be filled. God's activity runs through the entire universe. . . . We could not choose to become good in a better, more miraculous, and yet easier way than by the simple use of the means offered us by God; the whole-hearted acceptance of everything that comes to us at every moment of our lives." ~ Jean Pierre de Caussade

I am conscious of the fact that truly understanding the writings of the mystics is not possible, as they are writing from the core of their experiences -- experiences that I have not shared. It is not just theory with them. They are trying to reflect in their words something of their actual lived experiences. Therefore, a merely intellectual approach to their writings will always fall short. So I try to listen to these writings as I would listen to a psychotherapy client. That is, I try to get an empathic understanding of the other's experience. Empathy is the process of trying to understand another by imagining yourself into their experience, by feeling yourself into their story.

I said in the previous post that I do not know what the Treasure is that Caussade talks about. That's true. After writing that, I thought some more about this. I tried to put myself in the position of someone who could accept "everything that comes to us at every moment of our lives" whole-heartedly. It was then that I got that rush that feels like insight. I had the thought, "I know what the Treasure is!" It occurred to me that the key is when Caussade says "God's activity runs through the entire universe." Perhaps the Treasure that is offered to the one who can open his or her heart to every moment is the awareness and the experience of the presence of God in each moment. The felt sense that God is active in each and every moment of our lives, waiting, as it were, for us to take notice. I don't know if that's true, but I have to admit that when I consider that thought, I feel something like resonance or excitement that has for me a convincing power.

Here are some others who say something similar to Caussade:

"When one does the next and most necessary thing without fuss and with conviction, one always does what is meaningful and intended by fate." ~ C.G. Jung

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi

"My formula for greatness in man is amor fati: that a man should wish to have nothing altered, either in the future, the past, or for all eternity. Not only must he endure necessity, and on no account conceal it--all idealism is falsehood in the face of necessity--but he must love it. . . . " ~ Nietzsche

"Don't demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them to. Accept events as they actually happen. That way peace is possible." ~ Epictetus

"[The] Christian worldview compressed . . . into a sentence: the world is perfect, and the human opportunity is to see that and conform to that fact."
~ Huston Smith

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