I don’t know if I can take you on this journey with me. Things are moving so fast. Let me see if I can sum up what I’ve learned, what I’ve come to believe, in the past week or so. The change in my thinking has been breathtakingly fast because these ideas are not really new to me; they have just been presented in a way that makes a great deal of sense, and in a way that makes sense of what I have long felt and suspected and been confused about.
This is going to be oversimplified. If you want to know more you should read two books. The first is Cynthia Bourgeault’s (boor-ZHO) The Wisdom Jesus, which says this: The Good News that Jesus brought, that he preached and demonstrated with his life, death, and resurrection, was a call to a shift in consciousness. Change your way of thinking, not by effort but by progressive realization of the way things are, by paying attention to both the teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the promptings that speak to the eternal soul that is within you. “Repent” doesn’t mean feel sorry for your sins. It actually means “change your consciousness.” This is what all Jesus’ talk about the Kingdom of Heaven was about. He spoke in parables because it was really hard to describe things from a level of consciousness that was not shared by his audience. But it is right here in front of us if we can see it, that is, we are able to come to this level of thinking and perception. It is within the grasp of every human being. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And this was his primary message to humanity. “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven” and everything else will come naturally, you will know what to do, how to behave, the meaning of everything. (“All these things shall be added to you.”)
What does it mean to change your consciousness? All of human history and psychology, along with centuries of spiritual teachings of all kinds, and the examples of many saints, mystics, and spiritually advanced humans–not least Jesus himself–shows that there are different levels of human consciousness. If that statement sounds New Age to you, that is because New Agers have been quicker to latch onto a truth than most folks who identify themselves as either religious or rational. But Christians have a term for what we’re after: it’s “Putting on the Mind of Christ,” which happens to be the title of the other book I’ve just read, by Jim Marion.
I will not go into what Christ-consciousness is except that it’s not about trying to be good and I am not there yet. But, thanks to a simplified but highly instructive and revealing spiritual map that Marion lays out, I have been able to locate myself, and understand my entire spiritual journey to date, in terms of a progression through levels of consciousness. Think of it as the dramatic shifts in awareness, understanding, and preoccupations that we observe in childhood development. And then consider the possibility that we are not meant to just arrive at adulthood and stay in a certain mindset but such shifts are meant to continue throughout our lives. (And beyond, into other lives, but never mind that right now.)
Once you have read the map of consciousness levels it is hard not to see everybody else in those terms–individuals, politics, religion, social groups–as well as yourself.
Two nights ago I was sitting in the bathtub and remembering that my last major shift in consciousness began in a series of bathtub conversations with myself that happened almost 25 years ago. I knew exactly where that placed me on the Marion map (if you’re curious, it was my entry into the Psychic level). Twenty-five years have passed, during which changes continued to happen but in a gradual way. But now it seemed another tectonic shift, or Tub Transition, was about to happen. And so, for better or for worse, I said, “Bring it on.”
One of the most important skills I have developed at this so-called Psychic level has been to pay attention to, and interpret, my own dreams as well as the dreams of others. So it is not surprising that my dreams have kicked up. (I go for long periods without remembering any dreams and then, suddenly, it’s fast-action cinema.) The St. Ia dream of last weekend was just the beginning. Since then I’ve acquired a guardian to go along with the guide, encountered Mom and Dad and put them in their place, been given demonstrations of danger and darkness and how and how not to deal with it, and forgiven myself for old mistakes in a way that I can love them. All in brief dream scenes. This seems like preparation for a fast ride.
It is a challenge to write the spiritual journey as travel journal rather than guidebook–that is, while it’s happening rather than after the fact, looking back with wisdom and clarity; as descriptive rather than prescriptive. But some of you have said you are interested so I will try to keep up with the reports.