How fast times change! It was sometime in the mid-1960’s, “in Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district,” that the Trappist monk Thomas Merton had a vision which was as revolutionary to him as it was to the Christian faith of his time.
“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
This is the revelation of the reality of the soul, the light that shines in the core of our being. The ancient Indian sages were well aware of it and called it the hridayam, the heart-cave, our real identity. Here, in the innermost core of each being, lies the Source of all-embracing wisdom and love, forever free of all darkness and pain. When consciousness descends into that depth of the heart, it reveals that we are not separate from each other, but emanations of the one and same loving awareness, shining in us like the sun. We differ only in appearance as this same light inhabits separate bodies.
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts… the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed …I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”
This is what can be seen in a moment of the true clarity of the open heart. It is an inner reality that has enormous transformative potential when we consciously cultivate it to heal and nurture us and the world. Today, only a half-century later, we have the inner technology available to us to do just that. We can tap into the Source of the Heart like into a nuclear furnace and use its infinite power of love to lift the veils that have hidden from us the truth of our existence:
“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God… which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness… is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, His name written in us… It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.”
It is not new, this awareness of the inner light; mystics around the world have spoken of it. We just have not known that we can use its liberating force in very practical ways. But times change. Now we do have the ‘program;’ the practice of self-liberation is in the palm of our hand.
- It lies in the decision to cultivate the discipline of unconditional love in surrender to the heart, again and again, until that becomes our normal way of being.
- It is the refusal to participate in judgment, fear and hate in our minds.
- It is the resolve to die to our habits of confusion and darkness to be reborn in the bliss of the inner light.
This is how we cross the threshold of the gate of heaven that is everywhere in order to live in the kingdom of God. Then Christmas will have regained its deep meaning in us and the message of the rabbi from Bethlehem will have come to fruition.
Happy HoliDays and much love,