ashland.news
May 26, 2024

Inner Peace: The Vertical Axis (Part Two)

Image by OpenClipart Vectors from Pixabay
April 13, 2023

On making oneself ‘accident-prone’ to the ‘accident’ of Grace

By Edward Hirsch

What does it take for the life stream to “awaken” to the Vertical Axis and all that it implies (see Part One), even in the sense of “I get it” and full availability? Even short of any full Awakening and Transformation, what does it take? Does it take “hitting bottom,” a major loss, a near-death experience, a major kundalini opening, some mystical transport, or psychedelic impact? Who can say? Essentially, nothing is needed outside of what is given and present in any ordinary moment.

There is a sense in which one can make oneself available, “accident-prone,” so to speak, meaning the “accident” of Grace that cannot be accounted for. But in another sense, nothing can be accounted for, and that is part of the sense of the Sacred Mystery, beyond a mere concept or doctrine.

When you make yourself available, whatever might have “conspired” to bring you to that point, you are available. You do not control how it’s going to be, and you don’t want to be calling the shots. This is part of the surrender, the letting go and letting be (“letting go and letting God,” in one approach). You are not there to design or control how it goes or what feelings will come up in the process. “You” get out of the way, with all “your” hopes, fears, and desires.

What we can call “Grace” cannot be controlled, is not the sort of “thing” that could be controlled. It is, as it were, at right angles to everything you know, not in the sense of being in opposition. And yet It is, in a sense, an Other, in fact, “the” Other. It calls for complete surrender, and yet it is completely Familiar in the sense of being one’s True Nature.

We can take up a Practice of Presence that can serve that end, as well as a simple breathing practice for conducting the Downward Flow of Grace, not to control it but to provide a natural, accessible channel in the midst of life that is not dependent on some peak experience or Grace Event. It is certainly not meant to be a substitute for the Work of Spirit, but in some sense, a preparation, a vehicle, so that the whole five-bodied human being can more effectively serve as an instrument for Spirit or Presence.

We understand that “the map is not the territory,” and that no system can substitute for “the Thing Itself.” Truth cannot be reduced to a formula, a recipe, a system. Nor can life. And we wouldn’t even want it that way. And yet, there have always been maps, pointers, practices, and guides. There is Grace, and there is also what is called “Cosmic Law,” not in opposition to Grace but as Its expression, just as there is freedom and there is natural and cosmic law in life. It is not as if all knowledge simply falls away in the Presence of Sacred Mystery. It is inherently part of the Mystery, which transcends and includes it.

The universe, and consciousness itself, has an inherent order to it and is not merely the capricious product of some artistic, creative genius. That is where mathematics and numbers come in. But it is also not as simple as the ordinary mind might want to think. So, all the various spiritual practices can be considered a preparation, but they are not merely training wheels. Yet, as it is said, “Don’t be a Buddhist, be a Buddha; don’t just be a Christian, be a Christ.” So too, don’t just be a practitioner of Presence, be Presence.

Edward Hirsch, M.A., teaches about the “Practice of Presence” at OLLI and offers free weekly Zoom meetings in the teachings and practices of Presence from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays on a drop-in basis (us02web.zoom.us/j/84805886301).

Send 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Richard Carey (rcarey009@gmail.com).

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