There was this one time I was crucified by Love…

The first time it happened I felt like I had been crucified by joy and love.  I had this sense of this cross beam, not so much behind my shoulders as going straight through them.  This was mounted on a similar post, which went through me.  It was overwhelming but not painful, clearly a thing that was not physical.

I felt lifted in the air on this thing, even as I retained the physical sensation of sitting in my seat.  My breath came fast.  I imagine if you could have monitored my brain, you would have seen all the pleasure-centers lit up; all the neurotransmitter which transmit euphoria and peace were working overtime.  I mostly had absolutely no idea who I am.

And the second time, I was so keenly aware of Jesus, living in me.  And God, everywhere, just Everywhere, around me.  And Jesus within me, reached upward, and God reached downward, and the Holy Spirit somehow bridged the space between them, and the three were one with me at ground zero.  I was, again, mostly lost, in the best way possibly.

During my college years, I had a fairly limited set of experiences into morally and legaly questionable practices.  These two experiences blew all of those away.

I have been wrestling with what to say about my recent mystical experiences.  I don’t want to brag or give somebody else reason to feeling inadequate.  That is part of the reason I want to say so firmly this wasn’t me, I didn’t earn these experiences or deserve them.   Wise and holy people allude to these sorts of experiences but seem to avoid very specific discussions of them.

In the end, I decided I wanted to share.

I think that in truth a part of my motivation to meditate is related to seeking after these experiences.  Despite some folks being tight lipped, you hear about them from others.  And it sounded pretty awesome.  And my experiences were pretty awesome.    I am thankful for them.  I decided to share partially because I wanted, on the one hand to just throw this out there, in case you are waiting, wanting them, or just curious:

Yeah, this stuff happens.

But the other reason I wanted to share these experiences is to share the idea that  these things bring with them their own set of challenges/  Possibilities/ difficulties/  Pains in the ass.

Though I was eager to meditate after they happened, I didn’t find the sessions afterword very fruitful.  I was, I think, doing it for the wrong reasons.  Though I did my best to remind myself that these experiences were not the point, I didn’t do a very good job of listening to myself on this.  In some way, I was seeking after a repeat performance because the pleasure was quite pleasurable, and the sense of going beyond myself was so refreshing, and frankly, because it made me feel special.

I am growing to suspect that this experience– getting past all those surface things– there is growth in that.  There is growth in the act of getting past these sorts of distractions.  It is, I think, one more place where I can practice calm acceptance, learning to open my hands to whatever comes my way, resisting the urge to close my hands, once they are filled with things I want to hold on to.

As we engage in our meditative practice today, maybe you and I can agree to work on this.  Maybe both of us can come at contemplation of something we do just to do it, not for any extrinsic benefits.  And when they come up?  Well, we can take them for what they are and enjoy them while they last.

Please feel free to drop a comment below and share some thoughts.  I would love to hear from you.





#5 Would a Rose, By Any Other Name…

Names are no small thing in the bible.  There are many figures who are given a new name when they perform a great deed.  Angels go to the parents of  John and Jesus and tell mom and dad the names the kids will have.  The evil spirits cast out of people frequently make a big deal out of knowing their own name, and they often place importance on the fact that they know Jesus’ name.  The book of Revelation tells us that we have a secret and true name carved into a stone that is waiting for us.

There are things in the bible that don’t feel very relevant to us today.  So  we might try and pay lip service to the idea that names are just arbitrary and meaningless.  We could claim that they are just a random series of sounds assigned to us birth.  But our life experiences don’t bear this out.

So many  groups that wants to create a community will assign its members new names.  From summer camps to street gangs, from college fraternities to online communities, we give each other new names.  We go to restaurants or coffee shapes, and when we interact with people we will never see again, we find it important to make sure that they spell our names correctly.  Kids that are just reaching their adult years often find it necessary to re-name themselves, requesting that others call them by some new name, a process not unlike ancient tribal people, who would endow those entering adulthood with a new name, often earned through some sort-of vision quest.

When you engage in meditation today, perhaps you would like to choose a word, today.  People use mantras as a way to focus.  Repeating the word silently is a strategy to get past the distractions which our minds will throw at us.  Some people like to use words with a specific meaning they won’t to focus on: “Love”  or “Jesus” or “Yahweh.”  

Contemplative John Main suggests the word “maranatha.”  Before I researched this word, I kind of liked it.  It is almost as long as each of the breaths I take.  When I choose a shorter word, I find that distractions creep in, between repetitions.  And when I looked the word, discovering it is one that Jesus himself said, an invitation for God to come and a declaration that God has already arrived, I liked it even more.

There is no magical meaning to these sounds.  They are just words.  But even without magic, words and names are powerful things.  Choose a mantra today, and let go.