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Maximus the Confessor 2

In his talks to the novices on Christian Mysticism, (found in ‘An Introduction to Christian Mysticism’ edited by Patrick O’Connell) Thomas Merton sharing the writings of Maximus the Confessor emphasised that we are led to spiritual contemplation, which is a gift proceeding from love. Spiritual contemplation is not only the crown of the active life and the beginning of the contemplative life, but it also is necessary to complete the moral purification effected by the active life. This is both a transformation and a deepening, and it leads to a meaningful sense that leads us to experience the heart of things – Maximus uses the term ‘the logoi of things’.  So, what might this mean?

Merton describes St. Maximus as the great doctor of theoria physike. He says:

‘The love of Christ hides itself mysteriously in the inner logoi of created things . . . totally and with all His plenitude . . . in all that is varied lies hidden He who is One and eternally identical; in all composite things, He who is simple and without parts; in those which have a beginning, He who has no beginning; in all the visible, [is] He who is invisible’.

Thomas Merton teaching the novices

There is then something – the essence of God’s love in every created thing. The term theoria physike is then about the reception of the mysterious, silent revelation of God in His cosmos and in the way everything works as well as in our own lives. This as I understand it, is then about the very reality of things. According to Maximus we are made to know God – it is natural and we need to be restored to this ‘natural’ contemplation of the cosmos. It is demanded as Merton explains to the novices by the cosmos itself and by history.

‘Theoria physike is a most important part of [our] cooperation in the spiritualization and restoration of the cosmos. It is by theoria that [we help] Christ to redeem the logoi of things and restore them in Himself.’

This theoria is inseparable from love and from a truly spiritual conduct of life. We have to see not only the inner meaning of things but then regulate our entire life and use of time and of created beings:

‘…according to the mysterious norms hidden in things by the Creator, or rather uttered by the Creator Himself in the bosom of His creation. The vision of theoria physike is essentially sophianic.’

Merton describes how it is possible to unite the hidden wisdom of God in created things with wisdom within ourselves and so we can become a mirror of the divine glory and life a life of divine truth. This is:

‘a sophianic, contemplative orientation of … life. No longer are we reduced to a purely negative attitude toward the world around us, toward history, toward the judgements of God. The world is no longer seen as merely material, hence as an obstacle that has to be grudgingly put up with. It is spiritual through and through. But grace has to work in and through us to enable us to carry out this real transformation.’

If we can awaken to this then everything becomes transfigured.

St Maximus the Confessor and ‘theoria physike’

One of the subjects that Thomas Merton spoke about in his lectures to the novices at the Abbey of Gethsemani was the legacy left by Maximus the Confessor – a theologian, Christian monk and scholar. Maximus was born in AD 580 in the Byzantine Empire and there are different accounts of his early life, but he arrived in North Africa as a monk in 630 and from which time many of his writings are dated, and his reputation had developed. Maximus opposed monothelitism a theological doctrine, first proposed in 622 and endorsed by the Emperor Heraclius, that argued that Jesus Christ, though having two natures (divine and human), had only one will. As a result of opposing this, Maximus was arrested in Rome with two of his disciples and sent to Constantinople. At his first trial in 655, Maximus was first of all accused of treason, then. accusations turned to theological matters, in which Maximus denied that any Emperor had the right to encroach on the rights of priesthood and define dogma. Maximus was exiled to what is now the Turkish Bulgarian border where further attempts followed to break his resolve.

When they failed, Maximus was tried again in Constantinople, tortured, had his tongue and his right hand – the instruments with which he had defended Orthodoxy (or to his judges proclaimed heresy) – cut off, and exiled to Lazica, now western Georgia where he died, over eighty years old, on 13 August 662. He died abandoned, except for his two disciples. Within twenty years the teaching for which he had given his life – the doctrine that Christ had two wills, a divine will and a human will – was vindicated at the sixth Ecumenical Council, convened at Constantinople in 680, though no mention was made there of the great confessor of Orthodoxy, St Maximus.

Maximus’ uppermost concern was for the life of prayer and engagement with God; it has been written that he was able to draw disparate things together in a profound and compelling way, and whilst many of his ideas can be traced back to early Christianity and indeed even earlier sources, with links to Evagrius and Neoplatonism, his thinking feels surprisingly relevant and important not just for the twentieth century when Merton was teaching but also for the twenty-first century.

St Maximus the Confessor

Merton emphasises the contribution by Maximus to ‘the great mystical tradition’. Maximus saw that this ‘is not separated from the dogmatic and moral tradition but forms one whole with it. Without mysticism there is no real theology, and without theology there is no real mysticism.’

Merton spoke to the novices about Maximus’ teachings on contemplation and on the cosmos using the term ‘theoria physike’. Merton explains this as ‘a contemplation according to nature (physis). It is also a contemplation of God in and through nature, in and through things He has created, in history … It is wisdom in all its forms, the gnosis that apprehends the wisdom and glory of God, especially His wisdom as Creator and Redeemer’. It is in the spirit of Scripture and not in the letter; in the logoi of created things, not in their materiality; in our own inmost spirit and true self, rather than in our ego; in the inner meaning of history and not in its externals (in other words the history of salvation, and the victory of Christ); and in the inner sense of the divine judgements and mercies (not in superstitious and pseudo-apocalyptic interpretations of events).

The super ego and religious groups 3

Peter Ball and John Smyth were both obsessed with masturbation and linked this to the beatings they inflicted on the young men that they groomed and influenced, and here Sigmund Freud is still helpful where he sees masturbation and a beating fantasy connected in what he calls an ‘event’. The link with an actual experience or experiences of having been beaten as a child is not so clear – for example people who have fantasies about being beaten or beating others convincingly report memories of having been beaten in childhood, at home or at school. However there are others in whom no such memories exist or emerge during therapy, but who do speak about terrifying and exciting expectations of being beaten. Individuals from both groups can keep such fantasies and experiences from childhood long into adult life.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Beating and watching others being beaten are also especially associated with slavery and serfdom, and it is worth noting that both Stephen Neill and John Smyth beat young men whilst Neill was in Kenya and Smyth in Zimbabwe and South Africa – this adds a further dreadful dimension to their abuse linked to colonialism.

Why bother to dress all this up with apparent theological justifications by for example abusers quoting bits of bible verses here and there before administering beatings. At one level this is a form of defence by such perpetrators – a rationalisation or reasoning that in some way explains their sadism as an act of Christian charity. There is a narcissistic and omnipotent identification with the punishing god – Jesus had to die for our sins so as to bring us back into relationship with God, so the person has to be beaten to be brought back into ‘right relationship with god’ as judged by the abuser (or with the abuser who seems to be god).

The penal substitution theory of the atonement can be then used to justify punishments, whereby like Jesus the person is punished to satisfy God’s wrath, or jealousy,  and sense of justice or revenge. This theory of the atonement is a development of the Reformation (favoured by the evangelicals) and has a different emphasis than the Catholic satisfaction theory in that God is not satisfied with a debt of justice being paid by Jesus, but that God is satisfied with punishing Jesus in the place of humankind. As Stephen D. Morrison explains Jesus is punished (penal) in the place of sinners (substitution) so meeting the retributive requirements of God’s justice. In other words, Jesus died for legal satisfaction and a bloody sacrifice needs to take place.

It’s not difficult to see how the power and persistence of powerful, internalised figures contribute to projections onto the punishing God. The real inner work is to develop faith in the loving and merciful God who can provide deep healing to past traumas and deprivations. A God who is not fickle and moving into violent and vengeful actions, but who remains a compassionate and forgiving Presence. The real outer work is for religious groups to collectively believe and trust in this vision and react accordingly.

 

 

The super ego and some religious groups 2

Reading about the punishment beatings given both by Peter Ball and by John Smyth, apparently justified by theological teachings from the bible and seen as integral to their particular interpretation of Christianity, has led me to have another look at Sigmund Freud’s paper on ‘A Child is Being Beaten’. It was written in 1919, but contains some thought-provoking ideas about this disturbing sado-masochistic phenomena.

Both these men, and there are others, had a passionate investment in beating – some like Peter Ball also wanted to be beaten. It’s seen by Freud and indeed by more recent commentators such as Leonard Shengold as a sexual perversion often employed to deal with repressed homosexual longings that may paradoxically include a desire for tenderness. Whilst sado-masochism is an essential part of human nature, it is not usually overtly enacted, in other words we may have the fantasies but they remain as such. Freud asks the important questions: ‘why do we want to hurt others and why do we want to hurt ourselves?’ ‘How do such wishes become subject to a compulsion to repeat?’ ‘How do they get sexualised?’ Sexual excitement in wishing, actually watching or actually causing the suffering of others is a puzzle. For many it seems especially disconcerting in religious settings, but, sadly, that is where obediance and punishment are preached about whilst the sexual side is hugely repressed and denied.

In everyone’s early psychic development there are aggressive and sexual impulses (both of course human traits and both largely disapproved of by Christians). Despite the evidence all around us, it is still hard to easily accept the destructive and aggressive inherent part of human nature. It is much easier to emphasise the invariably present environmental contribution – poor parenting, social forces and for some religious groups, bad supernatural forces – reasons that can explain away the behaviour. The tendency to see evil as coming from without rather from our destructive nature is quite understandable. Christians are often especially reluctant to look into the darker corners of the mind, but it might be helpful and could certainly help understand how this sort of practice gets established in certain religious groups and links with the punishing god.

The beating is essentially a way to transiently overcome the usually strong associated feelings of disgust, anxiety and disapproval connected to sexuality. Certainly, what Shengold calls ‘soul murder’ ‘abuse and neglect in childhood at the hands of diabolical parental figures’ usually lead to what he calls ‘traumatic intensities of feelings’ – the degree of these depends on our inborn and developed vulnerabilities and weaknesses. In turn these often lead to a compulsion to repeat traumatic situations that are full of sadomasochistic impulses. In other words, we invariably find ourselves back in the same sort of relationship or situation that is similar to original traumas.

Dr Leonard Shengold (1925-2020)

One idea is that we do this in order to try to achieve a ‘better’ outcome – so the past can be resolved. However presumably the repetition also leads to more repetition for its own sake. Therapeutic work would be to give up the sadistic replacements we seek in the outside world and appreciate that they belong with the internalised sadistic parental figures. Some religious groups collectively project these onto the punishing god who needs to be placated by our sacrifice, as he was placated by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

 

The super ego and some religious groups

Reading the ghastly account of John Smyth’s treatment of young men first in the UK and then in Zimbabwe in the name of Jesus (see Bleeding for Jesus) has led me to think about how powerfully the superego can become over-emphasised and perverse in certain religious contexts.

‘Sin’ is generally seen as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law, but in certain cults and religious groups ‘the divine law’ is determined by the leader who is often narcissistic and mentally ill – Peter Ball is a good example of this and Bishop Stephen Neill. Similarly, John Smyth who asked his victims to write a list of their sins and administered the number of beatings according to what he saw as the severity of the behaviour. Masturbation being a prime candidate. These leaders are dominated by their own sadistic urges, often linked to repressed sexual needs and this is cloaked in theological justification both as a defence, and as a so-called reputable way to achieve a form of relief and satisfaction.

The superego seen as the ethical part of the personality can be over cultivated by critical parenting and added to by critical religious teachings – leading then to a strong overdetermined sense of guilt. The sense of guilt has endless gradations, but roughly can be conscious, preconscious and unconscious – using Freudian terminology. The origin of the superego lies in the child’s ambivalence and fear connected to loss of parental love and approval which is why such deviant leaders use grooming about punishment and reward so successfully.

The psychiatrist who saw Thomas Merton, Gregory Zilboorg, (and who rather unprofessionally and indeed unethically colluded with Abbot James Fox about Merton’s personality and who caused Merton much upset and soul searching) wrote a book called Psychoanalysis and Religion. Although dated, published in 1962, he sees a conscious sense of guilt as normal and an unconscious sense as neurotic or indeed psychotic. He also quotes Thomas Aquinas on the sacrament of penance where penance is performed with the hope of forgiveness.

However where ‘sin’, as defined by some religious leaders, becomes part of a training, a reprogramming and grooming then a deeper sense of guilt develops – not only about the so-called ‘sin’ in itself, but also the more powerful letting down the leader and his love and approval.

Zilboorg writes about: ‘an unconscious sense of guilt whose characteristic is a well-nigh insatiable desire for more and more punishment … which in its severer form has become known as masochism’. In other words, the conscious sadism of the leader who is the perpetrator of the punishment becomes over time mirrored in the inner world of the recipient.

On the superego Zilboorg, whose picture is below, writes:

‘It is the epitome of aggression and hatred … [and] cannot be quieted; it can only be pacified with direct or indirect “payment in kind”. Whilst using the language of conscience the superego is not conscience because it does not know forgiveness.’

Here is the root of the punishing god who demands more and more pain and sacrifices.

Making peace with ourselves and with God 4

If faith is a dynamic journey and not a static resting post then we are invited to know ourselves in our search to know God. Fowler’s next stage he sees as typically belonging to early adulthood up to late thirties, and he termed this ‘Individuative-Reflective Faith’. It is characterized by the difficulties of the person struggling with their own feelings and beliefs, and so there is space for greater nuance that will include angst and struggle as the individual takes personal responsibility for their beliefs or feelings.  Religious or spiritual beliefs can take on greater complexity and shades, and there is a greater sense of open-mindedness, which can at the same time expose the individual to potential conflicts as different beliefs or traditions collide.

The Stage 5 – ‘Conjunctive’ Faith in mid-Life Crisis continues into uncertainty where paradox and mystery linked to transcendence are acknowledged. Opening to this allows the person to move from inherited conventions and where a sort of resolution results from accepting different perspectives and the experience of ‘truth’ that cannot be reduced to a simple statement of faith.

Later adulthood at Stage 6 – ‘Universalizing’ Faith (or ‘Enlightenment’) is a stage that very few achieve where the person is characterized by seeing all people as worthy or compassion and deep understanding. Here, the kingdom of God is within you and there is no sense of being hemmed in by one tradition or another rather an openness to that of God within all beings. Fowler sees Thomas Merton as someone who reached this stage …

The process of Fowler’s stages is interesting as it moves us from a basic trust and mutuality out into the need for certainty and security, and then gradually allowing for our life experiences to transform and open us into new thinking. The growing and aging of our faith is about an increasing vulnerability and a return to something we once knew though unselfconsciously: innocence/experience/innocence to use William Blake’s sequence.

In his foreword to my book ‘The Only Mind Worth Having, Thomas Merton and the child mind’ Rowan Williams wrote about this breakthrough to a new mind.

‘When we were children we did not know we possessed it; now we must drop everything in order to find it. … The true mind of the child is found in an emptying out of the self that collects nice experiences.  The child mind is simply the mind that inhabits where and who and what it is, that lives in the world without the shadows of craving and fear and self-objectifying.’

Merton as one of the great spiritual guides of our age ‘gradually clarifies his understanding of this journey towards the present moment of inhabiting the place where life is happening.  Merton does this through his contemplative discipline, but also through his imaginative writing, especially his poems, and in his courageous exploration of other religious frameworks such as Buddhism.’  Merton invites us to that home … that is the simple present actuality where God lives and acts…  where we are and “know the place for the first time.”

Making peace with ourselves and with God 3

James Fowler’s useful stages of faith work as a spiral as we develop and change and gain from experience of life. Fowler calls Stage 2 ‘Mythic-Literal Faith’ and dates it around the chronological ages of 7-12 where there is a belief in justice and fairness in religious matters, it includes a sense of reciprocity where doing or being good leads to a good result, and doing or being bad will lead to bad things. God may be seen as a real figure – classically an old man with a long white beard living in the clouds.   And religious metaphors are often taken literally which can lead to disappointment. Religious thinking is concrete and lacking nuance and subtleties.

From the chronological ages 12 up to adulthood is Stage 3 – ‘Synthetic-Conventional’ Faith where the person is identified with a religious institution, belief system, or authority, and the growth of a personal religious or spiritual identity. It has been pointed out that conflicts with this identity and developing belief system are seen as a threat and so ignored or challenged.  From here on the person is able to let go of the particular physical image of God so able to perceive the divine as an abstract or formless manifestation.

The chronological ages Fowler gives are mere pointers, but it does seem as if those needing the certainty and literal readings of the bible – where things are so split into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ have decided to stay within this apparent ‘safety’ and choose to ignore anything that might threaten this (both in the world and within the inner world). This seems like a false being at peace with ourselves and God as it forces so much to be kept at bay, and the ensuing conflict will eventually lead to emotional distress. It’s a de-valuing of the God-given self and the complexity of feelings and life experiences through submission to an imposed belief system.

There’s an interesting piece of research found online by Christopher Lloyd – ‘Contending with Spiritual Reductionism: Demons, Shame, and Dividualising Experiences Among

Evangelical Christians with Mental Distress’ published this year 2021. Following an earlier study, he interviews eight evangelical Christians to gain their experience of the handling of mental ill health in their church communities. Perhaps none of the findings are surprising but nonetheless the ignorance about why mental illness arises and how best to treat it are still strange given it is 2021. The research took place in the UK and found that these church communities equated suffering with demonic or spiritual involvement – what the author calls spiritual reductionism, alongside the wider cultural expectation of healing. This meant that the church ‘often inappropriately used prayer to expel demons or to insist on prayer alone as the route to healing.’ If healing or deliverance from mental distress didn’t happen then the person’s lack of faith was questioned which led to feelings of guilt and shame and a questioning of their own faith. As one participant remarked, “A question that some people have asked is, ‘How’s your walk with Jesus going?’ They think that it correlates.”

Yet it is clear that the false peace that comes from denial, projection or repression is very different from the peace and acceptance of oneself that can come from integrating the shadow and holding the tension of opposing and sometimes difficult feelings.

Making peace with ourselves and with God 2

Making peace with ourselves and with God requires a belief and trust in a loving God but too often one can get caught up in the punishing god instead. The punishing god is an extension of the fear of parental rejection and punishment, and becomes consolidated into a critical superego. This superego means that we can then continue to punish ourselves, but may prefer to think instead that God is doing it to us because we are ‘bad’ or ‘sinful’ or others have told us that we are. Freud realised so many problems are caused by a critical superego … and this prevents any making peace with ourselves and with God.

I like James Fowler’s work on the six stages of faith – not that faith is necessarily a progression – more a spiral – but he well illustrates the development of trust and belief, and where one can get stuck. In the stage of infancy and what he calls undifferentiated faith (stage 0), he explains how trust develops from a loving and consistent relationship with the mothering person. As babies (if lucky) we develop trust in the caregiver and the environment which leads to trust in the self and in the larger world. If there is lack or neglect then our experiences of distrust and infantile despair can become strongly present. Our first pre-images of God have their origins here: ‘composed from our first experiences of mutuality’.

The first main stage (stage 1) he calls ‘intuitive-projective faith’ which is based on our development as we attain language. He quotes interesting research that despite our secularization, religious symbols and language are so widely present in our society that virtually no child reaches school age without having constructed – with or without religious instruction – an image or images of God. As children we can be powerfully and permanently influenced by the stories and examples we are exposed to, and these will include images and feelings of terror and destructiveness – there’s also a certain degree of concrete thinking – in other words trying to work out how things are and eventually what is real and what is not. There is also the internalization of ‘the taboos and prohibitions that surround and make mysteriously attractive things sexual and religious plus a fear of death especially the death of a parent. As Fowler writes: ‘The useful realism of both fairy tales and many biblical narratives – provides indirect yet effective ways for children to externalize their inner anxieties and to find ordering images and stories by which to shape their lives.’

The critical superego or the inner critic can become very well established at this point in childhood and it’s not far fetched to see how this stage encapsulates the use of the projection of their shadow by the most judgemental religious people in the quest for projection. Everything that is present in the shadow and that has to be disowned – usually to do with sex – can then be projected out onto those who can then be seen as ‘sinful’. It’s such basic psychology but accompanied by a terror of self-knowledge and a need for certainty and the absolute authority of the bible in the midst of a fear of death.

Making peace with ourselves and with God

Perhaps it takes a life-time to make peace with all the different parts of ourselves – especially the parts one is embarrassed by or ashamed about – or the way that one is held back by fear. Certainly, adolescence is full of these sorts of conflicts. Sometimes it can turn into neurosis where one part of the mind is in conflict with another part. There’s a desperate need growing up – to be like everyone else – to fit in and look or sound or speak the same.

Reading the book ‘Undivided’ by Vicky Beeching she writes: ‘Diversity can be tricky; the very things that make us stunningly unique can also be the things we hide in the closet because they cause us to feel different from the crowd.’ Her story is about moving from ‘fitting in’ to the Christian conservative evangelical world to being shunned and treated as an outsider because ‘my orientation did not match theirs’. Beeching finally came out as gay in her late 20s and the churches that sang her faith songs turned against her. Her book recounts the horror and cruelty (dressed up as theological conviction) of much evangelical teaching and is dedicated to the memory of a 14-year-old UK girl Lizzie Lowe who committed suicide as she felt that her attraction to other girls and women would not be acceptable in her church.

Vicky Beeching was brought up to believe that the bible was literally true – word for word. Picture book versions of the stories of Noah and the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Egyptian plagues and the sacrifice of Isaac all contributed to the idea of being good and placating a punishing deity. Many worship songs were about battles and fights alongside those of love and forgiveness – how confusing … and the whole set-up male with the leadership entirely men – the dynamic of headship (men) and submission (women). Knowing that she was gay since childhood, Vicky Beeching learnt to shut down her thoughts and feelings as she had been told and indeed then believed that they were ‘off-limits and wrong.’ At 16 she went to ‘be prayed for’ and ‘be set free’ – most people reading the horrific account of this experience would see this as a form of spiritual and emotional abuse – it left her shattered ‘I came away feeling more ashamed and broken’ and panicking that her feelings for women ‘was the sinister work of demons’.

Despite studying theology at Oxford (including secretly reading about the possibility of being gay and a Christian) and then a highly successful career as a worship song leader on the largely US evangelical circuit of mega churches, Vicky Beeching dared not admit to anyone that she was lesbian – and so what was repressed inevitably returned leaving her seriously ill and emotionally terribly damaged. The accounts of her listening to the poisonous attacks on LGBTQ+ people by evangelicals and then performing for these same audiences knowing that if her secret came out, she would be instantly rejected and worse, was of course unsustainable and she had a nervous breakdown. Returning to the UK for medical treatment and therapy it became clear that she had to be true to herself and live authentically.

Coming out as gay and becoming for a while equality spokesperson for LGBTQ+ in the church elicited violent and deeply unpleasant responses in the evangelical world, which led to further debilitating illnesses. And according to her website the damage from the past continues …

Teachings from Being Ram Dass 4

The greatest and the most subtle teaching Ram Dass writes, is what helps us move from ‘the thinking mind to the spiritual heart, from discursive thought to simple awareness, from the multiplicity of experience to the ground of being, from the ego to the soul’.

He combines his spiritual work with what he learnt in his training to become a psychotherapist.

‘Psychology shows me the layers of emotions and motives, self-imaging, and relationships. I look intuitively at how the mind has fastened on the person’s situation, where they are clinging. Of course, I know the limits of psychology. Psychedelics first showed me that. My yoga training also shows me planes of consciousness… I use my bag of therapist tricks to help people work with their mind stuff. I look at the attachment, the place where they are holding on or wanting to be a certain way. That can be like Vipassana [body/mind concentration or mindfulness to see what insight can be gained] or going back to Freudian fixations. I see where a person is in their inner journey.

I go into my soul to mirror their soul, to help them free up their attachments and come into the heart … I look behind the eyes, behind the thoughts flickering between us. I tune into Maharaj-ji and say what comes into my mind. As both of us become aware of the karma of the situation or how they are holding onto a particular point of view, a moment of letting go can happen.’

Ram Dass uses the phrase ‘in-seeing’ from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke – when your awareness merges into Awareness. Ram Dass: ‘Then you are inside everything as well as outside, because it’s all One. That’s why it’s called the Universe. This is the mystical root.’

His teaching centres on being in the present moment – where there is nothing else.

‘If I am fully in the moment, my own death or someone else’s is just another moment. The spiritual journey is less about our timeline from birth to death than from separation to oneness. Rather than a small being soon to be extinguished, I am simply a spark of infinite awareness.’

Ram Dass sees Maharaj-ji as his internal guide and his external guru – one foot in this relative reality, the other in the formless One. A being who intersects ‘our time-bound, linear reality at a kind of metaphysical perpendicular. His eternal present is another dimension coinciding with our past, present and future. Ram Dass imagines that each of us will commune with our guides after death

‘in intimate delight… no real separation. We are together in the ground of being, the unthought “I” in the spiritual heart, the loving awareness of the soul. In that place between death and birth, we are no-bodies, but souls intuiting directly … we simply are … barely any difference between lover and beloved … pure presence’

Those of us who have Christ as our inner guide might see that as being in Christ consciousness – hid with Christ in God. Maharaj-ji spoke also of Christ: ‘Christ died for the truth … He never died, he never died. He lives in the hearts of everyone as the Atman’ – God within me.