The Heart of Christian Mysticism
Over Easter this year I was lucky enough to go to the Christ Consciousness Conference at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. There were many interesting talks but Philip Roderick, the founder of the Quiet Garden Movement and Contemplative Fire, particularly touched me. During his talk, he said in a very relaxed way that he had a deep intuition that the events of Jesus’ life had cosmic significance for the evolution of humanity.
I liked his tone. He was not asking us to believe or worship anything. He was just sharing an intuitive truth for himself and inviting people to contemplate it too. I also liked his comment because it reflected my own sense. Brought up in an atheistic home in central London filled with scepticism about religion, as a teenager I too had the same feeling about Jesus. Something happened in Palestine two thousand years ago that was a cosmic shift for the whole of humanity.
But what exactly does that mean?
Many mystics have explored the cosmic meaning of the Gospel story and they tend always towards the same conclusion, which will probably not surprise you at all. In a mysterious way that we do not fully understand, the events of Jesus’ life channelled a cosmic energy into the whole of humanity, blessing us with the potential to be more loving, compassionate and conscious.
This, for many, is the heart of mystic Christianity. The Gospel story is not just about Jesus but suggests the extraordinary idea that Love is an active cosmic agent transforming and manifesting in everything including everyone of us. Isn’t this one of the most profound and precious aspects of spirituality? Surely everyone who has ever given or received healing or been touched by the sheer beauty of existence knows about this Love.
From this perspective the real message of the crucifixion is not about suffering and sacrifice, but is about a Love that is fully earthed into the physicality of our lives. In the Gospel story we can see that this is not a disembodied concept, but is fully incarnate in flesh and blood. This is a crucial, isn’t it? Our spiritual purpose is not to escape away into the bliss fields and heaven, but to bring Love fully down into all people and Earth, creating a harmonious and beautiful human society.
Some readers will be familiar with the symbol of a rose at the centre of a cross, representing how love, the rose, is incarnate into matter, the cross. This powerful spiritual idea that Love must incarnate fully into humanity is also reflected in the Bodhisattva vows of Mahayana Buddhism in which monks and nuns affirm that they will not seek awakening and liberation purely for themselves, but will strive until all sentient beings have achieved the bliss of Nirvana, until Love is universally present.
This great mystic vision, we might feel, is all very well for monks and nuns but as we go about the daily rhythm of our normal lives — pay the rent, clean the house, help with homework — it might seem a bit beyond us.
But there is another crucial spiritual insight that we need to hold in our awareness and in our hearts, which is that the cosmic incarnation of Love is at the core of all of us. Â It is the very essence of our soul’s journey.
Suppose that I ask you, Why do souls incarnate at all? Why is your soul on this journey of incarnation?
You might reply in a very personal way about how you, as a soul, are developing love, compassion and consciousness. Or you might expand your perspective and reply: My soul, like all souls, is part of the cosmic breath incarnating Love into form.
The rose on the cross and Jesus on the cross symbolically teach us that every soul is an agent of Love incarnating into matter. There are also many other spiritual paths that convey the same truth. Over and over again in esoteric and pagan traditions we find teachings about angels, gods and goddesses who fall from heaven but rise again. In some of the ancient mystery schools these great myths were acted out in sacred theatre and ritual, and in all of them the core message was that your soul is the same as these angels and gods. We are all fallen angels and deities, bringing Love into incarnation and manifestation.
And here and now on a practical level, cleaning the kitchen, supporting our family and friends, what can we take from all of this that is practically useful and inspiring?
For me there are at least two crucial elements. The first is that we need to trust that Love is not just something out there, some ideal that we will realise in the future, but that it is already fully within us, part of our very fabric as human beings, souls with bodies. Sometimes I visualise this as being like characters in a Christmas pantomime. There we are on the stage looking for Love — and the audience is shouting: It’s inside you!
The second thing that is crucial for me — perhaps for you too — is for us to remember that our own personal struggle to grow and transform is never isolated. We are part of a cosmic process bringing Love into manifestation and often the easiest way to cooperate is just to relax, stop fighting, drop resistance and yield to it. This is not always easy I know — we can be obstinate creatures — but what a relief it is when we just surrender to Love.