Friday April 19, 2013 9:15 a.m.

The Future, Hope, The prayer & the pray-er of No Experience

The purpose of deconstruction of Memory in the dark night of spirit is to allow us to become radically open to the future.


We are encumbered by old assumptions,burdened by memories that limit our horizons, and, therefore, unfree to see God coming to us from the future.

Memory is definitely a double-edged sword. While it is one of the major ingredients in creating and maintaining egoic identity it also traps us in that identity and frame. It makes us dependent upon the past to anticipate and frame the future. We are always dragging our assumptions about what ought to be into a new moment. We begin to experience events in front of us to the degree that they remind us of things in the past. The future is really held ransom to the past by the function of memory.

John of the Cross – the function of the dislocation of memory is to break down dependence on the past as a mechanism of sustaining identity so we are free.


On a very fundamental level our selfhood – who we are – is threatened. 9 While I
have attempted to describe this experience, it has many different faces and is a
frightening and seriously destabilizing, liminal experience, leaving a person
undone, silenced. How long this turmoil in the memory will last depends on the
extent to which one’s past encumbers God’s approach.

If you are caught up in the former configurations as the core of your identity, the process Fitzgerald describes will go on a long time, particularly if there is a lot of resistance.

So much that fills our memory blocks this coming of God in love toward us.
For John of the Cross the human person is seen as an infi nite capacity for God. 10
As long as one is preoccupied with fi lling the great caverns of the mind, heart,
memory and imagination with human knowledge, loves, memories and dreams
that seem to promise complete satisfaction, or at least more than they can ever
deliver, the person is unable to feel or even imagine the vast hollowness one is.

I remember Rafe saying, “I feel this growing vastness within me.”

We try to fill the emptiness with content. In the beginnings of our journey, we sort of need to do that. The full onslaught of infinite power and intensity can drive us nuts. You need to build a good strong egoic container that can handle this. But eventually we begin to become able to abide in that emptiness That is one of the great gifts of maturing contemplative practice. But it may not feel like a gift when it first hits.

Fitzgerald –

Only when one becomes aware of the illusory and limiting character of this fullness
in the face of the breakdown of what/whom we have staked our lives on, the
limitations of our life project and relationships, the irruption of our unclaimed
memories, and the shattering of our dreams and meanings, can the depths of hunger
and thirst that exist in the human person, the infinite capacity, really be experienced.

That is paradoxical language.

Therefore, only when the great cavern of the memory is enfeebled by
its obsession with the past – past pleasure and past pain – debilitated by its unforgettable
suffering over losses and evil inflicted, limited by its inability to come to
terms with a complex world, constricted by its need to organize images or to
understand and unsay inherited constructs, can the great void of yearning for God
really be admitted.

Only when we have run out of everything in our bag of tricks can we really begin. Fitzgerald gives acknowledgement and context to a process that happens to nearly every maturing contemplative. But when it starts we feel so betrayed. So the helping professions rush in to help us put the ego back together on the egoic level.

There is a holy graduation into plainly being ready to stand in the middle of that infinite hunger and yearning and experience it as the direct nature of the divine yearning for you.

It is amazing how many people have a deep history of fear. How do we move beyond that into this relaxing into this whole openness into the infinite?

The model I would be gently bringing back is that it is not a first and a next. There is a simultaneity. You don’t have to have it all fixed before you can move to this spiritual birth. We often simply need to be taught how to open to and recognize the power of identity that comes to us from above. That creates a calm and a poise from which we can go back to work with our unfinished agendas and wounds. We can often heal the old wounds of our small self by depending on this help that comes in on the vertical dimension.

For at least 100 years now we have been working culturally through the frame of thinking of human beings as weak, wounded, and in some sense fragile. This has been the legacy of 100 years of psychology that has offered us roles as weak and vulnerable and in some sense helpless and mechanical beings. This anthropology of the human being grew effortlessly out of the doctrine of original sin – before it was we who screwed up, but then it became something or someone has screwed me up. We fail to see how much we have been brainwashed by the behavioural sciences that talk about us as weak and victimized and tell us that because something in the past has wreaked us we can’t move on until somehow we do something that will allow the past to release us.

We need to reclaim the strength of human beings.

Neurosis is a mark of the incredible tenacity of the human being. Our will to live is like crab grass. It is that body of strength that is just there because each one of us is a direct trajectory of the divine desire to be in form.

The Eastern Orthodox never lost the model of theosis or the divinization of the human person.

There is an extent to which we have bought in culturally to a picture of the human being that is far below what a human being is actually capable of. We need to learn to call on those profound vertical sources of strength.

A lot of what dragged the liberal church down the drain is that it drew on the psychological model to the degree that some of the ancient teachings of Jesus were just thrown out.

When you sell short the imagery of theosis you only get angry touchy people. Somebody gets mad because you call the Holy Spirit “she” and somebody gets mad because you call God “he”. And all you get is touchy brittle people and a sickness at the heart of the church.

While nearly everybody is trying to label the deformations of our false self, healing actually comes at the hands of someone who sees our light and shows us how to live out of its possibilities. The wounds lose their force. They don’t ever go away. You can still see the scar, but they no longer define the being. That is healing.

Bill Plotkin – Nature and the Human Soul: Soul-centric development: there is a natural and harmonious progression through life but there is also at times an artificial prolongation of certain stages. In the right progression you have been initiated into adulthood; you have plied your vocation, achieved mastery and then you hit a period in the 60’s where the proper function is giving back. When you move from there  you turn into the wise elder who can give fully time and attention.

In the lack of having achieved full mastery, you get in the ’60’s which sees virtue in “pasture and play time” which is followed by the next stage – failure – “Oh Dad’s failing now.” The seniors’ communities springing up everywhere are designed to serve and mask the the transition from pasture and play time to failure.

There is an energetic mismatch in humanity unless we are progressing harmoniously and with dignity through these stages. There is something disgusting about where the emphasis gets placed.

The extreme difficulty for people in our culture is that in most of our major transitions we are blocked. Four and two-year-olds are given entitlement training.

We raise human beings who are not capable of flowing easily with the journey.

The spiral is a good model – you keep circling back to the same old stuff but with some vertical progress.

Constance Fitzgerald quotes John Haught:

A metaphysics of the future is rooted in the intuition, expressed primordially in the
biblical experience, … that the abode of ultimate reality is not limited to the causal
past nor to a fi xed and timeless present “up above.” Rather it is to be found most
characteristically in the constantly arriving and renewing future. We need a vision
of reality that makes sense of the most obvious aspects of life’s evolution, in particular
the fact that it brings about new forms of being ….[This] alternative view
of reality….is a metaphysics that gives priority to the future rather than to the past
or the present …. and is rooted deeply in the experience that people have of
something that to them is overwhelming and incontestably real, namely, what
might be called metaphorically the “power of the future.”

What he calls the power of the future is more the power of the “imaginal” the wider picture which when it downloads into time is what he is calling the future. When you get that you will understand more fully what prophecy is. From a slightly higher perspective, time becomes space and the picture is all there. What is being lived as a time sequence is an experience of space from a deeper persepctive.

One of the conditions of this earth plane is that it is bound by linear causality. The Cloud of Unknowing says God never gives us two moments at the same time, so we can never say, “You gave me two moments it is not my fault I chose this one.”

We are bound in sequence. But this plane of manifestation is nested in another one that is not bound by sequence and time. It is possible from stillness and heart perception to begin to perceive the wider picture on the vertical axis. The laws of another realm are downloading into this realm. The next manifestation of what is already full any way. It is easy for a contemplative heart to begin to sense this when you are not stuck in your narrative. You receive brilliant intimations of what is coming, beginning to walk in that energetic field. The thing that blocks our ability to open to that passage is our pre-occupation with the past.


we have the mistaken notion that we are completely open to the reality around us,
whereas we necessarily trim back any new impressions to the images we already carry
within ourselves and which provide us with something secure to hold onto…..

Given that the memory of his abuse kept metastasizing itself into his anticipated future, he realized
he could not permit his communist interrogator to defi ne the boundary of his
expectations forever.

Hollowing out of our reliance on memory which allows us to be more radically open to the future.

This dynamic of being able to yield unconditionally to God’s future is what
John of the Cross calls hope


This deconstruction of memory both takes place under the sign of hope and as an expression of hope.

Hope is not pie in the sky when I die. Buddhists rightly rap Christians for being a people who hope that Santa Claus will bring them a candy cane. This configuration of hope projects our expectations onto the outcome of some future event and confers on it the power to make us happy or unhappy. The Buddhists say, as long as you are doing this, you are in the future which is an illusory construct.

The Eastern traditions rightly make the point that future and past are constructs of a mind able to transport itself back or forward on a linear axis, but neither actually exists. There is no such thing as the future.  The problem with so much Christian theology and rhetoric is that it plays out in realms that don’t exist, rather than causing people to invest in the imaginal coming into the present.

We borrow trouble or calming from the future.

The only part of us that can access the future is the ego. Nothing real can happen unless we are here now. And much of the time we are not here in the present. Christians use the future to bail out of a deepening of being in the now.

Hope is not based on pie in the sky when you die.

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights. (Habbakuk 3:17-19)

What kind of hope is this? It is a kind of energy that infuses you, that buoys you up.

This is not an experience in the mind. It is an unbearable lightness of being. In the biblical definitions of hope we are not looking for some particular outcome or circumstance.

The hope is there even “thought the fig tree does not blossom”. That kind of indomitable hope is not depedent upon outcomes.

What the tradition refers to as hope is the direct experience of the downloading of zoe into the being, which satisfies you by removing the need for external filling. You are able to float on the water regardless of outcomes. Outcomes no longer have the energy to affect you because you experience the feeding of your being regardless of outcomes.

The experience of this hope is tenaciously sensation based. There is a way people use faith to talk themselves into something, but this is not talking yourself into anything.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

We are talking about materiality here. Something enters – it is that infusion of zoe. Hope is not an outcome. Hope is a zone of miraculous quiet abundance. What needs to be there is there. You are free from external dependence on things to allow you to be well, because you are drawing directly on the stream.

Often hope captures us completely unawares. You are clueless why, when you ought to be panicking, you are not. It is one of the places where grace really does precede practice. You realize there is another layer of sustenance that somehow really is intimate with you. It is your egoic fussing that blocks your free and easy access to that channel.

When you gain access to the realm of hope then you are able to do the practice more fluidly.

Letting go, or consent, builds trust not as an intellectual proposition. When we get hold of trust only in our mind we hold it out as an option that exists but we don’t actually trust.

Visceral trust is close to hope. That experience is activated in the body.

As you let go over and over in Centering Prayer that repeated practice of letting go of objects of attention and attachment allows the movement in of willingness and trust and with it that sense of capacity to do so.

Only when trust moves beyond the threshold where it can be destroyed by betrayal is it really trust. As long as you are conferring on outside circumstances or people the capacity to betray you will always be captive to circumstance. This is not freedom.

Relaxing into the infinite allows you to say “Betrayal bring it on.”

The trust is actually there as your birthright. You don’t have to start from the top down.

Life screwed me up too badly. When I discovered I could build trust drop by drop by releasing and releasing I could get to that point where it just didn’t matter.

Human beings will do what they do. I had betrayed as many people as had betrayed me. Don’ t let that betrayal destroy the open vessel in which you know you are ok not matter what happens.