The White Robed Monks of St. Benedict

Foundation Document: Being Christ-like: Self-Emptying

Rather he emptied himself....becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Phillippians 2:7-8

Index of Topic Headings

Story Telling
The Jesus Story
Types of Stories
Adult Discursive Mind
The Redemption
The Trinity
Christ-like Attitude:
Just Watch the Lilies
Being Selfless
The Narrative Gospels
Q: The Lost Gospel
The Christ Myth
Invitation of Q
* 19.
The Jesus People
The Cynic
The Self-emptying
of Jesus
Original Sin


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The Beatitudes
Love Thy Enemies
Be Without Judgment
We identify ourselves
by our actions
Listening for the Meaning
A Follower of Jesus
Our Father
Just Ask
All is Known
Have No Fear
Jesus as Judge
Amassing Wealth
Have No Worry
The Kingdom

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The Human Condition

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Please, let me tell you a story....

Story Telling

Most of our fairy tales begin with the phrase: "Once upon a time..." All stories are fairy tales of one sort or another. A story is "an account of incidents or events" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary). We appreciate the power of stories when we realize that much of our life is a story or the result of a story. A question might be: whose story creates my life? Something happened..once upon a time. That event is the "In the beginning..." After that beginning, which is itself a story, we enter a whole new realm of myth and fantasy or field of dreams and illusions. At best, a story is hearsay evidence.

Whatever we say about ourselves or another is a story about our self or the other. The same is so about something or some event. The story is a story. The story is true only in the sense that it is a story. The story itself is not true. The story is not the person, the thing, or the event. Any two people who have been part of the same experience may relate two entirely different stories. Each family member has his or her own story about "the family." Stories in and of themselves are neither right nor wrong, true nor false, good nor bad – as long as we remember that the story is just a story as a rose is just a rose. And we remember who wrote the story – of the story – of the story, and so on.

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We might agree or disagree with the content of a story. The story of Jesus; the story of Christ; the story of Jesus Christ; the story of Jesus, son of Mary and Joseph; the story of Jesus, the Light of the World – each story weaves a different tale. By telling a story, we make or give meaning to our experience.

Our experience is our experience. One's story about one's experience is just one's story about one's experience. There may be a shared agreement that the story relates the truth or a truth. There also may also be disagreement. And the story remains just a story. The story remains meaningless in itself until someone hears the story – i.e. experiences the story. The person hearing sound bytes or reading graphic symbols gives meaning to the bytes or symbols. That person may then tell another story about his or her experience. This second story of one' experience of the first story may be similar to or different from another's experience hearing the same story. It cannot be "the same" because my story is my story and your story is your story. Each of us has our own story. Who wrote this story?

Story telling is just what we do in our own process of giving meaning to our life and life itself. Giving meaning is part of our human condition. As we know without mediation of intellect, life – like the rose – is just life as the rose is just a rose. Life is just life without any inherent meaning itself. It is what it is because it is. What we individually choose to make life and our experience of life is our own story, our own allusion, our own creation. We are the source. We create the story. Confusion enters when we confuse our story of our experience with the experience itself. So much for allusions.

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From confusion we beget conflict. Conflict enters our experience when we kid ourselves by believing or deluding ourselves that our story or the story is the truth (and you better believe it – or else!). We fight wars, kill each other and cause each other to suffer because of our attachments to our beliefs about our stories. We don't have to look too far for examples.

We can take a look at the political spectrum and its conflicting stories about the state of the world or state or family. For instance, Protestant and Catholic Ireland's conflict, the political right and left's conflict, and the conflict between the Middle East and the West serve as general examples. We can listen to clerics condemning someone to eternal hellfire because that person goes against a generally accepted story line – Christian, Islamic, Jewish. We feel our own alienation when we believe ourselves better than or worse than someone else. Beliefs are true – as beliefs. As with stories, the belief is not the reality. Beliefs are just beliefs. Beliefs are part of the human condition. They are just our self-created maps of reality that we use to navigate in and through reality. The map is not the territory – to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan. Our delusions control us, direct us, when we surrender our power to the belief, when we choose to forget or not remember that we source the belief. We create the belief.

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Deluding ourselves with our allusions – simply believing our stories to be the truth – we create a web of false perceptions. We create illusions. Illusions, false perceptions, are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong in themselves. Illusions are just illusions. The illusion is not the perceived, as the story is not the experience and the belief is not the believed. Illusions are just that – false perceptions. All illusions, as is the case with allusions and delusions, are false. Illusions, allusions, delusions we create, we source them.

As with delusions and allusion, we cause ourselves pain and suffering when we become attached to our perceptions and make them true or The Truth. We forget that we source our perceptions. We choose to forget that our perceptions do not source us. How we choose to perceive reality is our choice. Stories, beliefs, and perceptions are the proverbial beginning of the ten thousand things, as a Taoist would phrase the human condition.

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The Jesus Story

What has this reflection on delusions, allusions, and illusions have to do with Jesus of Nazareth, or for that matter, Sidharrtha of Sakaya, also known as the historical Buddha? Whatever we know of Jesus is a story – and as the case with Socrates and Buddha. These historical figures wrote nothing down. The story of Jesus is not even his own story, his autobiography. Many people have written many stories about Jesus. Some of these stories we have labeled the "narrative gospels." None of them are true in that no story, by inherent definition, can be true. The story of Jesus is the story of Jesus. Jesus the historical figure is Jesus the historical figure.
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As with all stories, some people agree, some disagree, and some just don't care one way or the other about the Jesus story. Some hope the story is true; others, false. For some, the mere existence of the story is a firm enough foundation to kill a few hundred (thousand, million) people. Such is the human condition that we maintain and perpetuate. Sometimes someone comes along and offers us insights. These insights might free us – save us – from our own selves, our own self-sabotaging, self-destructive tendencies. We act upon these tendencies as our own (unconscious) effort to maintain our perceived universal Law of Entropy: All ordered things tend toward disorder.

Saving insights tend to tell the same story. To save ourselves from our selves, we must first empty ourselves from our self. Only when we empty ourselves of our human conditioning can we be free of that conditioning and be free. We can be free of our hate, of our anger, of our need to be right (and make others wrong), of our need to be wrong (and made others right). We can free ourselves from our propensity to short change ourselves, to self-sabotage ourselves. We free ourselves from our fears to succeed or to fail (really one in the same). We free ourselves of our anxiety, depression, and worry. We become free of our insecurities and power trips. We free ourselves of our need to love others and ourselves conditionally.

Once free, we can be as little children and again enter the kingdom of heaven, which is within – so the story goes. We have freed ourselves to love ourselves and others unconditionally. We accept our own human imperfections, foibles, inconsistencies and errors in judgment just as they are: human imperfections, inconsistencies, and errors. We become more compassionate with ourselves and others. We are able to surrender and let ourselves and others be just as they are, being sons and daughters of God, being happy children, trusting ourselves, trusting God.

We are no longer victims, being victimized either by our own thoughts, feelings, or emotions or by people, places, things or events. We no longer need or want to be rescued or to rescue ourselves or others from our own created hells of indecision, alienation, conflict, and delusion. We no longer need to persecute ourselves or others for dehumanizing us by rescuing us from our self-created quagmires – which each of us must resolve for our own selves if we are to know freedom. We have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

We are wise. We have attained spiritual wisdom. We have freed ourselves from servitude or dependence on the wisdom of speech (1 Corinthians 1:17). We accept without thought our way as God's foolish instruments. We experience a secret and mysterious power, which is the power of Christ living in (us) as the ground of a totally new life and a new being.
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Types of Stories

When we begin speaking about Jesus, we first recall the different stories that the historian, theologian, and cleric tell. The historian's stories tend to lead the one to some judgment. The theologian's stories tend to lead one to some dogma. The cleric tends to lead one to follow some pronouncement.2
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The purpose of this paper is to make neither a historical judgment, theological dogma, nor clerical pronouncement. Its purpose is to tell a story of Jesus based upon our human conditioning. This paper creates another allusion to assist the reader to make sense out of a seemingly contradictory human existence of illusions, delusions, and allusions. Thus we meet the human condition – we tell stories, create myths, images and feelings that we base upon a limited number of truths and symbols.3
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Adult Discursive Mind

Jesus, as his story tellers have written, said that unless we have the mind of a child we cannot enter the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:15) From our personal experience, we know that "analytical thinking and imagination are precisely the things which prevent us from attaining enlightenment.4 If we are to know our own self, much less Jesus, we must first surrender our discursive adult mind. As we empty ourselves of our discursive mind, we realize that the coming of (Jesus) to us (is) from within. As we empty, we become more familiar and comfortable with existential silence,5 the profound silence which we are aware of at the depth of our being. (Ref. Addendum #3)

If Christian, we soon recognize that perhaps we had been deluding ourselves. Perhaps we had been making discursive allusions – telling intellectual stories, creating the dogmas of the Trinity and Redemption to satisfy our own need. We recognize that perhaps we had been spectators of redemption and the trinity.
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The Redemption

We projected our own inherent need to be free, to be saved from the human condition. Rather than taking personal responsibility in the first place for our own salvation, we created the story of the redemption. We used the historical Jesus as our foundation. We used the historical Jesus as the symbol for our own individual self. We created the myth of redemption. The myth of the redemption we created as the first step on the Christian path of our own individual and species wide self-realization. We created a Christ who emptied himself to become human. We created him as the source of our need to empty ourselves of who we think we are in order to become who we are.
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The Trinity

As with the redemption, so too with the Trinity. We can readily appreciate Freud's projection of an Ego, Id, and Super Ego reflecting so-called Great Trinity: Me, Myself, and I. We can equally recognize the trinity to be that which many religions allude to: In the beginning there was the One; the one generated the Two; the Two cannot exist without the Third, the relationship between the One and the Two. The Christian Trinity we have created alludes to the Father betting the Son with the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Two, the Love between the Father and the Son. Ego, Id, and Super Ego. Me, Myself, and I. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one.

As we empty ourselves, we are better able to live out the Redemption story we have created. As we awaken Jesus within us, Jesus awakens within us. He offers himself for our redemption and the redemption of the world once again.
6 We become less and less who we think we are, becoming more and more who we are.
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Christ-like Attitude: Just Watch the Lilies

As we continue through this discussion, we might keep in mind St. Ambrose's well-known dictum and gloss on 1 Corinthians 12:13, which St. Thomas Aquinas endorsed: All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, is from the Holy Spirit.7 What we are doing in this discussion is just taking a Zen-like attitude. This is the same attitude Jesus asked his disciples to take when he told them simply "to consider the lilies how they grow" (Matthew 6:28). This attitude is the attitude of direct pointing, the hall mark of Zen.8 By considering the lilies how they grow, we readily realize that to become aware of our own inner self is to become aware of the Ultimate Self, which is God. This Augustinian notion is a fair paraphrase of Exodus 3:4 I am Who am or St. Thomas Aquinas' Ipsum esse subsistens. God is in us, as in all things. He exists in us not as our essence – even though he is in that as well as the creator of our essence – but as the immediate cause of our being.9 God is simply that which does not change. (Malachi 3:6)
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Being Selfless

How do we come to realization of God, our self? In the answer to this question, Catholicism is one with Zen in extolling the selfless life. By selfless we do not mean that we deny in any way our created ego. We refer to selfless in the sense of an attitude that we engender within our unconditional surrender to God, the Ultimate Self.10 We accept our self-created ego for just what it is – our self-created ego.

Without being bound up in analytical thinking or reflecting on Jesus or his qualities, we become like little children. We let the life of Jesus rise up in our hearts and divinize our whole personality.
11 We realize that "until we become one with God, we cannot be one with ourselves."12 Our inner desires, hopes, fears, and emotions we create to inflate our conscious ego. As we yield more and more to our true self, the truest self of all, we awaken: I live, not I, but Christ lives in me. (Gallatians 2:20)13
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For Jesus, God, to live in us, we must empty ourselves of who we discursively think we are. That is, we must deny ourselves. (Mark 8:34) Not until we lose our conscious ego "can we wholly (be) in union with God." What is equally true is that if we empty ourselves "by a calculated personal effort, even for the highest motives, this could be a subtler form of unregenerate human nature having its own way."14 In the same regard, an "obsession with doctrinal formulas, juridical order and ritual exactitude has often (invited) people to forget that the heart of Catholicism is a living experience of unity in Christ which far transcends all (discursive, adult) conceptual formulations."15

Accordingly, we realize as did The Desert Fathers, that "now is the judgment of the world." Those of us who do not experience the reality behind the idea remain in illusion. Those of us who do experience the reality behind the idea simply live our (Zen-like) ordinary life.16

We remain in delusion, likewise, if we recognize eschatologogy (the study of "last things") as something realizable in a future. We empty. We recognize that everything is occurring this very moment now. We acknowledge that there is no time – our past-present-future. Time is but our creation, resulting from our measurement of the movement of the stars (sidereal), sun (solar), moon (lunar), and the galaxy (galactic), if not the universe (universal) itself. We awaken from our delusion, emptying ourselves of our social conditioning as "beings in time."17

As we empty ourselves, we attain wisdom. As Meister Eckhardt, we can assert without a moment's hesitation: "The eye wherein I see God is the same eye wherein God sees me." Only when we have surrendered our attachment to our self (ego: my thought-feeling construct/matrix of me) can God act. When God acts purely in Himself without the obstacle of my ego, when I am free of myself and my conditioning, do I at last recover my 'true self.'18 We answer Christ's prayer: "Father, may they be one, as you and I are one, that they may be in us." (John 17:21))

Hence do we experience what the early fathers of the Church meant when they spoke of "the divinization of the human race through Christ." We experience directly what Augustine reflected upon: God became human so that each human might become God.
19 Once done, we have become like little children and enter the kingdom of heaven – from which we realize we had never left.
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The Narrative Gospels

For the first two thousand years of Christianity we have used the narrative gospels as a source for gathering information about Jesus. In the closing decades of the 20th Century we have appreciate from bible study (archeology, and so forth) that the narrative gospels weave allusions. The gospels are only telling a story. The story of Jesus is a simple recounting of a series of myths about what and who Jesus is or was. The story is true in that it is truly a story. The content of the story is fable, legend, and fantasy. The story is a product of folk lore and religio-socio-political realities of that era. Hence, the narrative gospels "are documents of intellectual labor normal for people in the process of experiential group formation."20 e recognize that the narrative gospels are not "records of historical events that generated Christianity."21
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Q: The Lost Gospel

If the gospels are allusions, what do we have left? Underlying the narrative gospels is a common thread of information. This common thread biblical scholars have labeled "Q."(German: quel, source.) Before the evangelists wrote the narrative gospels the Jesus Movement existed. The Jesus People comprised the Jesus Movement. These people were at the beginning of Christianity. They did not know of the dramatic events portrayed in the narrative gospels. Nor did they mistake Jesus nor did they misunderstand their mission to found a church.22 They existed before the socio-cultural-religious myth of Jesus the Christ. Q recounts what Jesus is first said to have preached.
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The Christ Myth

The Christ myth first emerged in northern Syria and the Pauline churches. The narrative gospels are "a further development of the Jesus tradition." They are "a reserved acknowledgment and cautious appropriation of the Christ myth." The myth makers made martyrology the underlying logic of the Christ. The Jesus people needed some justification to explain their origin. Hence, they emerged a myth of origin. Once in place, "the myth of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the Christ was then further embellished as a symbol of a personal transformation and spiritual presence."23
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Invitation of Q

Q removes the Christ myth and mystery. Q invites us (Christians) to join the human race. Because of Q, as with other religious traditions, we have now positioned ourselves to acknowledge the myth of our own origins. Therefore, we can deepen our own spirituality in the light of Q.

Q invites us to accept ourselves with our myths. Q invites us to share in the responsibility for creating and maintaining the myths as well as the consequent human pain and suffering over the centuries to Christian and non-Christian alike. As we acknowledge the gospels as the myths they are, "others might find it possible to talk with us about it."
24 We then might be in a better position to share the Christian message. We, too, have then emptied ourselves of our religious illusions, delusions, and allusions.
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The Jesus People

Who were the first followers of Jesus? What did the Jesus People know? They knew the historical Jesus. They had no idea, nor did they even imagine the dramatic events the narrative gospels relate. These events include "the baptism of Jesus, his conflict with the Jewish authorities and their plot to kill him, Jesus's instructions to his disciples, his transfiguration, his march to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his trial and crucifixion as king of the Jews, and finally his resurrection from the dead and the stories of an empty tomb." These tales all appeared after the Roman-Jewish war.25

The Jesus People lived in multi-cultural Galilee. They tended to "tweak the authority of any cultural tradition that presumed to set the standard for others." They encouraged each other to live simply. They started the Jesus movement as a home grown variety of Cynicism (below) in the rough and ready circumstance of Galilee before the war.26
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Jesus, The Cynic

The Jesus of the Jesus People was more of a Cynic-teacher of the times than a "Christ or savior or messiah with a program for the reformation of second-temple Jewish society and religion."27 The Cynic Jesus pointed out the disparities the current social system sustained. He refused to let that system put him in his place.28 Jesus practiced as did his fellow Cynics: "begging, voluntary poverty, severance of family ties, fearless and carefree attitudes, and troublesome public behavior."29

As such, Jesus became an agentless agent, a self-emptying and thereby a self-fulfilling agent.30 He emptied himself his divinity and became human, being obedient (L. ob through + audiens listening). Listening through his discursive adult self, he could then hear God. He listened to God, being obedient, even unto the death on the cross. (Philippians 2:8) He died unto himself. He arose from his dead human form. He awakened as God. A perfect metaphor for self-awakening.
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The Self-Emptying of Jesus

Because Jesus emptied himself, being an agentless agent, living an ordinary life, he realized a "cosmic celebration of Thanksgiving that forms the heart of the Christian message. Thus, the Christian belief that in a spiral of thanksgiving, a spiral of joy – within the one and individual Godhead – the Father gives Himself – empties Himself – to the Son. The Son gives himself in thanksgiving to the Father. The Gift of Love eternally exchanging between Father and Son is itself personal and divine – the Holy Spirit of Thanksgiving."31

Jesus does not become an object of meditation. Jesus is an activity, a doing. He is not an object. As the Kingdom of Heaven is within, Jesus is within as "The Way, The Truth, and The Life." (John 14:6) Jesus is the way to do something. Hence as we follow Jesus' self-emptying example, his way, we generate the Christ. Hence Jesus Christ continually offers himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit.32 Finally, "I live, not I, but Christ lives within me." (Galatians 2:20)

Stated in another way, by giving us his love, God gives us the Holy Spirit. Thus are we able to love Him with the love He loves himself. "The Son who, in us, loves the Father, in the Spirit." As Zen would describe this relationship of love: one mirror reflecting another with no shadow between them
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Original Sin

How do we accomplish this: I live, not now I, but Christ lives in me? Be without desire (which the historical Buddha taught), be without judgment (which the historical Jesus taught). Echoing St. John of the Cross, to be all, we ought not desire to be anything. To know all, we ought not desire to know anything. To find joy in all, we ought not desire joy in anything.34

"Not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:43) Only when we empty ourselves of ourselves – surrender ourselves by surrendering to God – and allow God to take over completely will the true self and the conscious ego – the 'I' and the me – act as one. Suddenly, we are no longer particularly anxious about having our own way about things. As a result, we may experience true pleasure for the first time in our life.35

We become aware for the first time our personal tragedy. The tragedy? It is the tragedy that we in our consciousness have totally alienated ourselves from the immanent ground of our identity – that "existential silence" noted earlier. We originally had allowed ourselves to become lost in our discursive, often childish, non childlike mind. We heal the resulting alienation through self-emptying. Once healed we realize what we had only previously imagined and not experienced directly. We can finally recognize our original sin,36 forgetting who we are and getting lost in who we think we are and behaving accordingly. We experience our error. We accept unconditionally we source our error. We created it. We can dis-create it. We let it go. We are free.

What is Jesus's way – not according to the evangelists of the narrative gospels, but to the people who knew him directly, the Jesus People? What was the very first myth matrix before other stories needed to be created? We turn now to The Gospel of Q:

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from The Lost Gospel: The Book of Christian Origins,
Burton L. Mack. San Francisco: Harper, 1993; pp 73-80.

(Headings added. ed.) "How fortunate are the poor; they have God's kingdom. How fortunate the hungry; they will be fed. How fortunate are those who are crying; they will laugh."
Return to Index "I am telling you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer your other cheek as well. If anyone grabs your coat, let (that person) have your shirt as well. Give to anyone who asks, and if someone takes away your belongings, do not ask to have them back.
As you want people to treat you, do the same to them.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even tax collectors love those who love them, do they not? And if you embrace only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Doesn't everybody do that? If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even wrongdoers lend to their kind because they expect to be repaid.
Instead love your enemies, do good, and lend without expecting anything in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of God.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good; he sends rain on the just and unjust."

Return to Index "Be merciful as your Father is merciful.
Don't judge and you won't be judged.
For the standard you use (for judging) will be the standard used against you."

"Can the blind lead the blind? Won't they both fall into a pit?
A student is not better than his teacher. It is enough for a student to be like his teacher."

"How can you look for the splinter in your brother's eye and not notice the stick in your own eye? How can you say to you brother,'Let me remove the splinter in your eye,' when you do not see the stick in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the stick from your own eye, and then you can see to remove the splinter that is in your brother's eye."

Return to Index "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit; a rotten tree does not bear good fruit. Are fig trees gathered from thorns, or grapes from thistles? Every tree is known by its fruit. The good man produces good things from his store of goods and treasures; and the evil man evil things. For the mouth speaks from a full heart."
Return to Index "Why do you call me,'Master, master," and do what I say? Everyone who hears my words and does them is like a man who builds a house on rock. The rain fell, a torrent broke against the house, and it did not fall, for it had a rock foundation.

"But everyone who hears my words and does not do them is like a man who built a house on sand. The rain came, the torrent broke against it, and it collapsed. The ruin of that house was great."

Return to Index When someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go," Jesus answered, "Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head."

When another said, "Let me first go and bury my father," Jesus said, "Leave he dead to bury their dead."

Yet another said, "I will follow you, sir, but first let me say good-bye to my family." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

He said, "The harvest is abundant, but hue workers are few; beg therefore the master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest."

"Go. Look, I send you out as lambs among wolves."

"Do not carry money, or bag, or sandals, or staff; and do not greet anyone on the road."

"Whatever house you enter, say,'Peace be to this house!' And if a child of peace is there, your greeting will be received (literally, your peace will rest upon him). But if not, let your peace return to you."

"And stay in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house."

"And if you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Pay attention to the sick and say to them, 'God's kingdom has come near to you.'"

"But if you enter a town and they do not receive you, as you leave, shake the dust from your feet and say,'Nevertheless, be sure of this, the realm of God has come to you.'"

Return to Index When you pray, say. "Father, may your name be holy. May your rule take place. Give us each day our daily bread. Pardon our debts, for we ourselves pardon everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to trial (literally, into a trying situation)."
Return to Index "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened."

"What father of yours, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? Therefore, if you are not good, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the father above give good things to those who ask him!"

Return to Index "Nothing is hidden what will not be made known, or secret that will not come to light. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. And what you hear as a whisper, proclaim on the housetops."
Return to Index "Don't be afraid of those who can kill the body, but can't kill the soul. Can't you buy five sparrows for two cents? Not one of them will fall to the ground without God knowing about it. Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."
Return to Index Someone from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But he said to him, "Sir, who made me your judge or lawyer?"
Return to Index He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced in abundance, and he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' " Then he said, 'I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods stored up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, "Foolish man! This very night you will have to give back your soul, and the things you produced, whose will they be? That is what happens to the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich in the sight of God."
Return to Index "I am telling you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Think of the ravens. They do not plant, harvest, or store grain in barns, and God feeds them. Aren't you worth more than the birds? Which one of you can add a single day to your life by worrying?"

"And why do you worry about clothing? Think of the way lilies grow. They do not work or spin. But even Solomon in all his splendor was not as magnificent. If God puts beautiful clothes on the grass that is in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into a furnace, won't he put clothes on you, faint hearts?"

"So don't worry, thinking, 'What will we eat,' or 'What will we drink,' or 'What will we wear?' For everybody in the whole world does that, and your father knows that you need these things. Instead, make sure of his rule over you, and all these things will be yours as well."

"Sell your possessions and give to charity (alms). Store up treasure for yourselves in a heavenly account, where moths and rust do not consume, and where thieves cannot break in a steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be."

Return to Index He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard which a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."

He also said, "The kingdom of God is like yeast which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour until it leavened the whole mass."

Return to Index "Everyone who glorifies himself will be humiliated, and the one who humbles himself will be praised."
Return to Index "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. At the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Please come, for everything is nor ready.' But they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I've bought a farm, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' And another said, 'I've just bought five pair of oxen and I need to check them out. Please excuse me.' And another said, 'I've just married a woman and so I can't come.' The servant came and reported this to his master. Then the owner in anger said to his servant,'Go out quickly to the streets of the town and bring in as many people as you find.' And the servant went out into the streets and brought together everybody he could find. That way the house was filled with guests."

"Whosoever does not hate his father and mother will not be able to learn from me. Whoever does not hate his son and daughter cannot belong to my school. Whoever does not accept his cross (literally, bear up under condemnation) and so become my follower, cannot be one of my students. Whoever tries to protect his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life on account of my will preserve it."

"Salt is good; but if salt loses its taste, how can it be restored? It is not good for either the land or the manure pile. People just throw it out."

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Love one's enemies? Lend without expecting interest? Don't judge? Say "Peace" to whomever you meet? Pray that God's will be done? Don't be afraid of killers? Don't worry about life? Sell your possessions? To live such a life, one cannot be full of oneself. One must surrender and let go and let be, listening to God's own message. By so listening, following Jesus' way, we are being who we actually are rather than who we think we are. We are being obedient (L. ob, through; audiens, listening), listening through our own self-created ego delusions, allusions, and illusions. Hence, we can be human beings being human, bring present to Self and others, being compassionate. We no longer feel driven for power, status, and prestige to mask our self-alienation. We can be human beings being human, rather than human beings being doctors, lawyers, or priests – caught in our role, that thought of who we might think we are.
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The Human Condition

The dynamic of emptying and thereby transcending our ego conditioning "accurately defines the transformation of the Christian consciousness in Christ. We empty " all the contents of our ego consciousness to become a void in which the light of God manifests as the infinite reality of His being and love.37 Our ego-self is now "no longer the principle of our deepest action."

The principle of our deepest action is now Christ living within us. (Gal 2:19-20, Thomas 8:547)
38 We empty our self of our ego identity just as Jesus emptied himself of his "ego identity" as Son of God to become a human being. As Jesus further emptied himself of his human ego-identity and became again Son of God, we each regain our identity as a child of God and heir of heaven in the life of grace. The utter self-emptying of Christ and the self emptying which makes (us) one with Christ in his a very Zen-like sense as far as psychology and experienced are concerned.39
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As we continue in our own personal kenosis or self-emptying, we experience the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is not a static state of transcendence, but a dynamic moment between our phenomenal world so-called and Heaven so-called without attaching ourselves to either by desire, judgment, or (active) will power.40 We readily are in the world and not of it. We experience Christ's peace, which He gives us, not as the world gives. (John 14:27)
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And his Church? It too must continually empty itself of its own dogmatic delusions, historical illusions, and clerical allusions. Hence the Church will exemplify Jesus Christ as he is rather than as how the Church would have him be. The quintessence of the Christian message will again become manifest. The Church will be the forefront in "setting up a new and unexpected relationship of charity and human service to all people on earth."41 A Hollywood ending? It is up to each of us personally to realize in our own personal life compassion so that a new and unexpected relationship of charity and human service is the norm.

Peace and Joy!

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  1. Merton, Thomas. "Introduction" in The Golden Age of Zen: The Classic work on the Foundation of Zen Philosophy. John C. H. Wu. New York: Doubleday, 1996; p. 18.
  2. Burton L. Mack. The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1993; p. 249.
  3. Mack, p. 257.
  4. William Johnston. The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism. New York: Harper and Row, 1970; p. 192.
  5. Johnston, p. 155.
  6. Johnston, p.>
  7. Dom Aelred Graham, OSB. Zen Catholicism: A Suggestion. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Ward; 1963; p. 10.
  8. Graham, p. 19.
  9. Graham, p. 29.
  10. Graham, p. 296.
  11. Johnston, p. 152.
  12. Graham, p. 17.
  13. Graham, p. 53.
  14. Graham, p. 64.
  15. Thomas Merton OCSO. Zen Bird of Appetite. New York: New Dimensions, 1968; p. 39.
  16. Merton, p. 138.
  17. Merton, p. 134.
  18. Merton, p. 10.
  19. Johnston, p. 155.
  20. Mack, p. 247.
  21. Mack, p. 247.
  22. Mack, p. 245.
  23. Mack, p. 246.
  24. Mack, p. 257.
  25. Mack, p. 247.
  26. Mack, p. 120.
  27. Mack, p. 245.
  28. Mack, p. 116.
  29. Mack, p. 115.
  30. Masao Abe. "God's Total Kenosis and Truly Redemptive Love" in Divine Emptiness and Historical Fullness: A Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation with Masao Abe. Valley Forge: Trinity Press, 1995; p. 255.
  31. David Steindl-Rast OSB Cam. A Listening Heart: The Art of Contemplative Living. New York: Crossroad, 1983; p. 94.
  32. Johnston, p. 154.
  33. Merton, p. 57.
  34. Graham, p. 147.
  35. Graham, p. 61.
  36. Merton, p. 12.
  37. Merton, p. 36.
  38. Merton, p. 86.
  39. Merton,p. 8.
  40. Abe, p. 253.
  41. Joseph J. Spae CICM. Buddhist-Christian Empathy. Chicago: The Chicago Institute of Theology and Culture, 1980, p. 35.
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Addendum 1:

Christ Story, Buddha Story, Our Story

Your story, my story, their story
Is just another unfolding in history.
Without wholeness as aim, Life is oft lame.
Tragedy always same, painful, not tame.

    Christ story. Buddha Story,
    Unparalleled mystery in history
    Beyond ritual, and doctrine hoary
    To overcome the void or vain glory.

    Religion beyond allusion, delusion, illusion
    With truth and imagination in creation
    Beyond paradigms: resurrection, annihilation
    Incarnation, or re-incarnation; a new vision.

        Be child-like without desire and judgment?
        Filled with life, love and fun innocent?
        Spirituality of freedom and commitment?
        Or, become self-centered and dependent?

        In a world irresponsible and confusing
        Without order and no new meaning
        Old wineskins bursting without linking
        Ritual of life and happiness unending.

            Christ story. Buddha story, our story.
            Is truly another awesome mystery.
            With happiness as aim, Love is its name.
            Eternity always same, Not is the game.

Fr. Ariosto Coelho e-mail: Return to Index

Addendum 2:

from National Review, December 31, 1995 "Question & Answer, " by Richard Lederer, p. 38

These student bloopers are all genuine, authentic, and unretouched. (None, of course, was written by your children – or any youngster in your school district.)

It is truly astonishing what happens to Bible stories when they are retold by young scholars around the world.

In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals came out on to in pears. Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals. Samson was a strong man who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.

Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterward, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments. The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. The Fifth Commandment is humor thy father and mother. The Seventh Commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Jusua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol. The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Josua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

When Mary heard that she was the Mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta. When the three wise guys from the East Side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption. St. John, the Blacksmith, dumped water on his head.

Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you. He also explained, "Man doth not live by swear alone." It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tomb stone off the entrance.

The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels. The epistles were the wives of the apostles. One of the opossums was St. Matthew, who was by profession a taximan.

St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage. A Christian should have only one wife. This is called monotony.

(Offered as an addendum by a member of Review Team. She found this article more than relevant in the context of this document.)

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Addendum #3

On Existential Silence

"Silence is the total manifestation of our whole personality,
in which we have digested the three flavors
of optimism, pessimism and mysticism.
They never come up, because they are all digested.
They become just energy for us.

This silence is quite different from silence
in terms of human eyes.
According to human eyes,
there is a vague disconsolate pain or pensiveness
in the depths of our life that we cannot wipe out.

(According to open eyes,)
silence is exactly the total manifestation
of our whole personality.

Whole personality means our individual personality
is manifested with the whole universe.
All other beings are the contents of our personality.
So when we manifest our whole personality
it is not just our individual personality;
but simultaneously through this personality
we can feel the whole universe.
That is why we can feel
magnanimity, tolerance, and compassion."

Returning to Silence: Zen Practice in Daily Life.
Dainin Katagiri; Shambala, 1988.

(A reviewer offered this piece in response to "existential silence," in Adult Mind/Discursive Mind.)

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