Thursday, December 28, 2006

Power, Freedom, and Grace

I picked up the book "Power, Freedom, and Grace" by Deepak Chopra recently to read as part of my spiritual triathlon readings and meditations. It seemed the "right book" to meditate upon when I read these words in the first chapter:

There is a reason why you were drawn to this book. Perhaps your soul is extending an invitation to you--an invitation to get in touch with the deepest part of yourself.

Reading this small volume has indeed been enlightening. There are several sections which have brought back experiences I needed to remember and write down. For example, here is one of the quotes I encountered.

...the real you--that you that we call pure consciousness, the field of intelligence, the inner self, the soul, the spirit, the infinite consciousness, the Being within you...If you get in touch with this presence, if you really become intimate with it because it's your own inner self, then you will know experientially, without anybody telling you, that this presence was there before you were born, and it will be there after you die.

Before I joined the Church I had concluded that there was some part of my essence which had always existed and I couldn't imagine that it would ever cease to exist. That is why the teachings on the premortal existence of spirits resonated so much. Sometimes I wonder if LDS who are taught this from an early age have an advantage or a disadvantage. It could be a disadvantage if it keeps one from gaining the experiential knowledge of one's own soul of which Chopra speaks. On the other hand, the teaching could encourage the search for a more intimate knowledge of the inner self.

Slowly, by spending time in silence, you notice that the scenery comes and goes, but the seer is always there. You realize that you are not the scenery; you are the seer, the witness of the scenery. As you shift your
identity from the scenery to the seer, everything starts to slowly awaken. You glimpse the soul, and you begin to experience more expansive states of consciousness...

I experienced this one time in the temple. I had arrived and finished the session early in the morning. I sat in the celestial room for quite a while, until the next session came through and left. And still I sat as time began to have no meaning. Two more sessions came and went, and I observed, detatched. People seemed to enter the room, move about, and exit hundreds of times. Then there would be a space of rest and contemplation. I seemed to see temple work being done over a period of many years, in many different places around the world. My being seemed to be above it all and disconnected from time and space.

In my conversion, one of the great appeals of Mormonism was the mystical experience of a living prophet, and the promise that each member could receive personal revelation. Years of experience in the Church have taught me that these manifestations must remain personal. Following commandments and the performance of good works are emphasized in talks, lessons and publications. It's not that we don't believe in personal encounters with Deity, rather, they are inappropriate to discuss publicly. Unfortunately, I have allowed the mystical to be relegated to the background of my spiritual life.

I do believe that the praxis of religion is important to the development of the soul, and I don't intend to deemphasize this aspect. But perhaps there is a reason I am being drawn back to the transcendental facet of religion. Perhaps my soul is extending an invitation to get in touch with the deepest part of myself.

1 comment:

jana said...

I loved your comments about silence. I think that's why I _so_ enjoy Quaker silent worship. Like this morning it was just heavenly to sit and contemplate. I find that I hunger and thirst for the silence.