True nature is the Great Reset

by | Jun 22, 2021

The apocalyptic drama that began with the ‘fall’ has come full circle, ready for the grand denouement. The revelation contrasts the luminous new human against the decaying systems of “old Adam”.

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash 

“By the tragic gap I mean the gap between the hard realities around us and what we know is possible — not because we wish it were so, but because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.”
Parker J. Palmer

T he ninth-century Buddhist sage Lin Chi is credited with the koan: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” The violence is designed to shock the listener out of their normal complacencies. If the Buddha is separate from us then we are deferring to a mental construct of what it means to be awakened. Better to trust one’s own direct experience. A similar pattern is found in Christian mysticism, when the collapse of distance between self and God results in the loss of our images and concepts of the divine.

This can be experienced as an abandonment characteristic of the Dark Night (of the Soul), because God has drawn so close that we can no longer experience God as an external object separate to us.

Linear language is not as good at portraying union with the divine. We can’t pair things off into groups of opposites to depict a dynamic. A koan is a kind of cosmic riddle that throws off that linear yoke in favour of direct revelation of our Buddha-nature. In Christianity, our true nature is “hidden in Christ”. We are all “sons” of God, but that statement needs to be unpacked first. It was Alan Watt who pointed out that in the original Greek, Jesus called himself, in John 10:36, “a son of God”, not “the son of God”. The indefinite article makes quite the difference.

The expression “son of” is also used to denote “the nature of” or provenance. Jesus was also “a son of Nazereth”, and Mary “a daughter of Magdala”. In any case, Genesis lays it all out from the, ahem, beginning. We are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s the original blessing that predated the ‘fall’ of self-awareness.

Christ expluses money changers from the temple

By Caravaggio. 

Global shocks to the system

Lin Chi was reputedly a strict Zen master and didn’t mind whacking his students to pull their attention back from the discursive mind. The bracing coolness of Nirvana is literally the extinguishing of desire and delusion. It’s a form of death, hastened by Lin Chi’s killer blows to our false dichotomies.

There’s actually some debate in modern Buddhist circles about the appropriateness of such physical contact from a teacher, even if it’s designed to deliver a shock to habitual patterning. Where do you draw the line between the ‘anything goes’ of the guru-student relationship and physical abuse? It’s not an idle question because we are all being shocked into the true nature of things in the world at the moment.

How much is too much?

Our very humanness is being pathologised by outer systems defining reality, and our natural cadences overrun by unnatural algorithms. The cold objectifying glare of artificial intelligence can disguise the artifice at play; a sleight of hand that disappears the flesh-and-blood power of the incarnate will.

Indwelling God, Buddha-nature

The apocalyptic drama that began with the ‘fall’ has come full circle, ready for the grand denouement. The revelation contrasts the luminous new human against the decaying systems of “old Adam”. At one level, at stake is the age-old question of whether human nature is fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, because unless we feel worthy of our inheritance we will reject fulfillment of the Holy promise. Yet this is ultimately misleading. For John of the Cross, whose poem christened the Dark Night of the Soul: “The centre of the soul is God.”

In other words, the desire to do and be good – loving, kind, generous, selfless – is a seed planted inside us by God. The desire to seek God is put there by God! This changes everything, and like anything divinely inspired, turns this world upside-down. As the Franciscan father and author Richard Rohr writes in Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality: “It is not that if I am moral, then I will be loved by God, rather I must first come to experience God’s love, and then I will – almost naturally – be moral.”

This is so radical because it destroys the worthy/unworthy paradigm: it opens the field to brand new experience, because it frees us from moral codes that assume the worst about human nature. Are we good or bad? Are we light or dark?

Ironically, it is only those who are willing to abide deeply in the “tragic gap” of our split psyche who can bring our humanness and our divinity into singularity because the false self has been disarmed.

From there, the choice is already made.

Like Jesus, we can whip the money lenders from the temple with a righteous indignation, because master and servant are now in right order. To make the distinction between the “sin” (Greek: harmatia) and the sinner is to liberate the bonded will from the false powers; to free new man, finally, from the cage of old Adam. All the old dualities are inverted in divine logic. In its place, an emerging model of servant leadership will reset our world on the foundation of our true nature, once again undivided in love. As within, so without. As above, so below.

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