Daily Riches: The Problem With Noble Pursuits (Mark Thomas Shaw)

“The radical moment in many a contemplative’s journey is when they enter the cave. Often there’s some crisis that precipitates it. For Francis of Assisi, it was being disowned by his father and choosing to sever ties with his community. For a friend of mine, it was a divorce. For another, a death in the family. The world as we know it, or rather, the story we’ve been living, somehow shatters. In the cave, we move into a deeply interior space, examining everything: our belief systems, our conditioning, our very identity, even the very notion of a self. If this is accompanied by a contemplative practice, eventually there is a buoyancy and lightness, a spaciousness surrounding these heavy questions. The problem with noble pursuits or living a better story isn’t the pursuit itself, but the self and the baggage it almost always takes with it. We can embark on a journey with the best of intentions, but the untransformed self will bring its addictions, insecurities, and immature programs for happiness along with it, still convinced it is living a noble path. First we need to be stripped of the implicit notion that we are the hero to see with the clear sight of love, to understand what has to change within us, and which has nothing to do with egoic self-deception. . . . If the ego is untransformed the new noble pursuit just becomes the ego’s new stomping ground. There’s a purification needed, a death, an acknowledgement of the false self at work, it takes the ongoing daily work of making space to become channels of divine love, without attachment to outcomes. Contemplation provides a means of not only becoming aware of the story, but taking time every day to slough it off altogether, and rest in the divine presence, which is before, behind, and beyond all story.” Mark Thomas Shaw

“This is what the Lord says:
‘Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.’”
Jeremiah 6:18 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you picking up the pieces of the story you’ve been living? . . . reinventing yourself? . . . beginning a new challenge?
  • Are you simply bringing along your “untransformed self”–with all its same addictions, insecurities and “programs for happiness” that you depended on before?
  • A purified you might simply “rest in the divine presence” in a new way–without “attachment to outcomes.” What would that mean for you?

Abba, I want to live without unhealthy attachments.

For More: “Contemplative Light” by Mark Thomas Shaw

Shaw, Mark Thomas. “What Story Are You Living In?” https://us15.campaign-archive.com/?e=ae076a4940&u=14c1793e7a220272e67633fd9&id=d29991cf24

Daily Riches: Practicing Attentiveness to the Divine Presence Within (Thomas Keating and Gerald May) *

“Contemplative prayer begins to make us aware of the divine presence within us, the source of true happiness. As soon as we begin to taste the peace that comes from the regular practice of contemplative prayer, it relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds,’ of aversions and desires that were based on emotional programs for happiness that might have worked for children, but that are, in fact, killing us.” Thomas Keating

“In one sense, quiet prayer is really nothing other than the practice of faithful attentiveness. I am not speaking here of meditation that in­volves guided imagery or scriptural reflections, but of a more contemplative practice in which one just sits still and stays awake with God. This kind of meditation is extremely difficult, especially in the midst of battles with addiction, because it gives us nothing special to do, no fancy ways to entertain our­selves or to escape from the simple truth of the moment. Attentive meditation can be a true ascetic practice. It is like fasting for the mind. One only sits there, inclined toward God, noticing the thoughts and sensations that come and go, adding nothing to them, subtracting nothing from them. The mind is allowed to be what it is, but it is seen. When properly practiced and truly graced, this kind of meditation—to the extent that we can bear it—can be very powerful in exposing and vaporizing mind tricks.” Gerald May

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you. …
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus in John 14:20-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you identify “emotional programs for happiness” in place in your life that are “killing” you instead?
  • Do you believe the words of Jesus that as God’s child, God dwells in you? How often are you aware of this “divine presence within” you? Can you simply be “faithfully attentive” to it?
  • The regular practice of contemplative prayer “relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds’…” and gives us peace. The world’s demands are relentless, so it is any wonder that this relativizing work must also be “regular” or relentless?
  • Is your practice of contemplative prayer helping you find peace, and expose and vaporize “mind tricks?”

Abba, help me to recognize and reject my emotional programs for happiness, as I regularly spend time in your presence and you lovingly put the world’s demands and desires into perspective for me. Help me to grow in my awareness of your divine presence in me, and find my happiness there.

__________

For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

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“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” (Marie Antionette) , and thus “Men more often require to be reminded than informed.” (Samuel Johnson) The purpose of Daily Riches is to return again and again to a list of critical concepts at the core of the spiritual life. “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you [may] already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.” (2 Peter 1:12)  I appreciate your interest! When you find this helpful, please share! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Practice of Contemplative Prayer (Thomas Keating)

“Contemplative prayer begins to make us aware of the divine presence within us, the source of true happiness. As soon as we begin to taste the peace that comes from the regular practice of contemplative prayer, it relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds,’ of aversions and desires that were based on emotional programs for happiness that might have worked for children, but that are, in fact, killing us.” Thomas Keating

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you. …
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus in John 14:20-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you identify “emotional programs for happiness” in place in your life that are “killing” you instead?
  • Do you believe the words of Jesus that as God’s child, God dwells in you? How often are you aware of this “divine presence within” you?
  • The regular practice of contemplative prayer “relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds’…” and gives us peace. The world’s demands are relentless, so it is any wonder that this relativizing work must also be “regular” or relentless?
  • Are you finding peace and “true happiness” in regular contemplative prayer?

Abba, help me to recognize and reject my emotional programs for happiness, as I regularly spend time in your presence and you lovingly put the world’s demands and desires into perspective for me. Help me to grow in my awareness of your divine presence in me, and find my happiness there.

__________

For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in less than 400 words. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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