Session Fifteen of the Spiritual Journey retreat focuses on the question, “Where are you?” as Father Keating continues to look at psychological models to help us understand our unconscious motivations to enable us to free ourselves from them.
Keating returns to the model of Mythic Membership and notes that in this evolutionary stage, people connect most with the groups to which they belong; this can be family groups, national, ethnic or religious groups for example. As long as people use these groups to determine their values and perceptions, they are unable to free themselves from personal responsibility which is a “characteristic of the Mental Egoic stage.” Keating states that the Mental Egoic stage is the evolutionary model that we are called to in our current time, yet the earlier stages continue to break through in us depending upon what is happening in our lives. When stressed, in crisis or when the unexpected occurs, these are gifts to help us notice our response and what evolutionary stage we respond out of.
The Gospel calls us to inner freedom, an inner freedom represented in the Mental Egoic stage of evolution because “Freedom is the name of the game in the Gospel—inner freedom, not permissiveness or license, but the freedom that can take responsibility for our emotions, our actions, our decisions, and our response to Christ.”
Keating goes on to explain that as adults, we can continue to grow until reaching the Mental Egoic stage, in which we take personal responsibility for our thoughts, actions, beliefs etc. and using this, we become better attuned to the sufferings of others and how we can be of help. As we continue to grow in the spiritual journey, we get closer to the Intuitive stage in which we realize we are all in unity with others and begin to act through these beliefs, “It’s solidarity with other people, especially those in their need, that is the beginning of the movement into the Intuitive level which perceives the deeper synthesis that is present in superficial structures; and can synthesize and draw insights beyond the usual level of rational thinking and doing.”
Keating reiterates that Centering Prayer can lead us into contemplative life “which . . . offers us the possibility of perhaps inconceivable and unimaginable freedom and growth, union and unity with the Ultimate Reality or the Ultimate Mystery, whom in the Christian tradition we call God.”
Session Sixteen of the Spiritual Journey retreat focuses on the question “Who are you?” and Father Keating relates the treatises of Tielhard de Chardin who wrote that the human race is ready to move to its next level of evolution beyond the biological of “grow and multiply.” This makes the “new thrust or focus of evolution on the human being and its capacity for wholeness . . .”
Father Keating notes, “That puts a great human focus on the main issue or obstacle to moving on in evolution to this focus on higher states of consciousness and the capacity to see God in everything, to respond to every situation according to God’s will rather than our inclinations or our particular cultural inclinations.”
The next part of this session is too difficult for me to summarize so I am just going to copy it for you. Here it is:
“We really see ourselves then as a macrocosm in which all the major expressions of God’s creation are somehow united in a single consciousness which itself then is capable of enormous growth beyond anything that we can imagine. And so, as Jesus prayed, “that they maybe one even as we are one” suggests a oneness and unity that is almost infinite or can’t be beat, to put it that way. The question: What is a human being? Or, more specifically “Who are you?” begins to emerge into prominent light and each one of these realities requires our consent to open to the next possibility. Here’s one example of how theology is enriched by science. If we now know that the human species has a oneness that transcends all differences and that we really are everybody else as well as ourselves and that when we greet someone we’re really greeting ourselves on one level. Besides that; everybody has the divine presence in them and is saturated with God. We know as Teilhard says every sub-atomic particle is Christ and we’re trillions of them. Our very bodies are just saturated with Christ all the time and manifesting in all the organs in more specific ways. All reality can be subjected to quantum physics, and so on. Is God manifesting or close to us or relating to us in everything that happens and in everything that we meet? And to live in that world is a very different situation from one of competition and of goals that are really based on infantile programs for happiness such as the three first energy levels of security, power/control and affection and esteem.”
Keating concludes noting that God is trying to take us to a new place, one in which we relate to God on a whole new level. God is asking us to accept ourselves as love and to be one with God.
Resources for this week: You may wish to read the Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 in Invitation to Love (20th Anniversary Edition) and the Introduction through Chapter 6, in older editions.