March 25, 2018

Father Keating continues to discuss the Evolutionary and Existential psychological models he has explained in the last sessions.  He further develops how the Evolutionary model relates to our spiritual journey in that although the Evolutionary model (Uroboric, Typhonic, Mythic Membership and Mental Egoic) illustrates the stages of human development, humans realize through personal experience that it is not as straight forward as perceived in the model.   Instead, there is a sense of something missing, a sense of just not quite ever feeling at "home".   

He says "The reason why we feel incomplete, afraid, terror stricken, in need of immortality symbols of property and possessions to shore up our fragile self-identity, is precisely because we feel that something is missing in our lives that we have no way of obtaining.  And that which we are lacking is the sense of oneness with the Ultimate Mystery of the universe, with reality, with God."

The Garden of Eden, or intimacy with God, is not a place, separate from us, but deep within us; it is a "state of soul, a state of mind, a state of consciousness."  The human predicament occurs because we all, from babyhood to puberty, do not realize we are one with the universe and instead perceive ourselves as "an individual psyche in the face of a potentially hostile universe."

Our need for security is huge.  Experiences occur in our early years that result in uncertainty about our assurance of safety and security.  We develop coping mechanisms to preserve a feeling of security which eventually results in inhibiting our emotional and spiritual growth. Using Ken Keyes' language, we create "energy centers" to protect ourselves and these centers develop "into a whole constellation of attitudes, motivations, responses and commentaries on life."  The security center is the first and Father Keating uses the motto "more and better" to show what we do to protect it.

"Esteem, honor, vanity" is the next energy center and if wounded, we experience "emotional frustration" and respond with our own particular "commentary" which helps to increase and support the emotional frustration we experience  Keating compares it to a wheel gathering momentum resulting in an "emotional binge."   He notes "One experiences oneself as kind of stirring the pot of human misery, even though you know it's killing you, you just can't stop"

The third energy center is for "power and control" and we use our reasoning ability to support our desire to control other people and events. Group think is a natural tendency of the human animal and when stuck in "energy centers" we may go along with our "groups" rather than listening to what is honest and what "serves the common good."  Authority needs to be used in the "service of the people it leads . . . and their personal growth and to bring them . . . out of this swamp of dependency on self-centered motivation into the freedom and responsibility and accountability of full personhood and full acceptance of one's place in the mystical Body of Christ, as a living cell responsible for all the other cells, proportionate to the gifts and charisms that God distributes throughout the body of Christ."

Keating shares "The false self system is thoroughly in place when we arrive at the age of reason and so is our group identification."  By now we have ideas of what will make us happy and these ideas are based on the desires of the false self system.  

The amazing thing that happens is God takes human form, through Jesus, and experiences all of what we experience as humans.  Jesus is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit for prayer and solitude and "to experience the human condition in its raw nakedness."  Jesus' temptations are 1). Make these stones into bread.  In other words, "put your security in your power rather than in God." and 2). throw yourself off the temple and you'll be worshiped, but Jesus rejects this and again, refuses to "rely on himself rather than on God."  Finally 3). Jesus dismisses Satan when he offers him the whole world if he will worship him.

Jesus gives us a new model to follow when we are in our "interior desert" and we will know the reward that comes from resisting temptations.  "So anybody who is resisting or trying to dismantle the false self system, manifested in these emotional programs for happiness, is in the desert, and is in union with Christ; or, rather, Christ is in union with them, in virtue of the solidarity of the human family and his taking it totally to himself in his Incarnation."  (**This is really cool to remember when one is struggling to change aspects of the false self system and it seems like others don't really want you to change.  You are one in Christ!)

What is the answer for our desire for happiness?  The Beatitudes simply mean "Oh, how happy you would be if . . ." and Jesus outlines what is true happiness.  To be "poor in spirit" is to "forget about security, to be free of it, to put your trust in God."  "Blessed are those who mourn" is to accept our losses and let new life emerge for us.  "Blessed are the meek" is to let go of the desire for power over people, places and things and "Blessed are the peacemakers" and those who "hunger and thirst for justice" is the Mental Egoic level of consciousness, which shows that one has freed oneself enough to reach this level of emotional well being. 

The Retreat Directors suggest that the retreatants spend some time with the Beatitudes.  They also suggest "reading Chapters 18 and 19 in Invitation to Love (20th Anniversary Edition), Chapters 17 and 18 in earlier editions" for further study.