I would like to develop my thoughts about coming into full conscious living. In the opening of his book Awareness (1990), Anthony de Mello says, “Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence.” Today I’m aware of similar calls, from eminent writers such as the late Thomas Berry, Eckhart Tolle, Richard Rohr, Christopher Bache, Anne Baring and Ken Wilber. Diverse voices all calling for an ‘awakening’ of human consciousness.
Some 2000 years ago Jesus said something similar, “It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive.“ John 5:25 (MSG). This is the heart of his message. I believe the coming alive-ness he speaks about is a) an awakening to the fullness of the kingdom of God – i.e. enjoying the rule and reign of a totally empathic, unconditionally loving, graciously merciful God. And b) awakening to a God who since the formation of creation desires a covenant relationship with humankind.
Jesus came to show us the reality of this amazing kingdom, and to demonstrate covenant love. ‘Seeing’ this, is to come alive. Once seen I believe we cannot remain passive – such love demands a response.
Yet I find a paradox in Jesus’ kingdom message – he talks about things in riddles and parables so some might ‘see’ and others not (Matt13:13-16)! Also what he says seems to be the very antithesis of everything humans have ever known, right up to modern day democracy in the West. I wonder why this is. Could it be because we humans, although created ‘very good’ and with all the potential for glorious living, nevertheless live unconsciously under the dominance of another kingdom, whose aims manifest as naked self-interest, greed, unsustainable free-market, economic growth, world domination, and a claim that there is no God, (to name but a few)? Is it because of this unconsciousness that many of us slip into conformity to its noisy, mad pace, the hectic striving to meet deadlines, to fulfil orders, and chase profit, to answer endless emails and tweets, etc? This kind of madness, to which I and many of us have now become addicted, creates an ever spinning tread-wheel which is very hard to jump from, and I believe often maintains this state of numbness, a kind of ‘sleep-walking’ existence.
I want to wake up – to ‘come alive’ as Jesus says. But this ‘Jesus-kingdom’ is hard to realise. I notice Jesus tells us we have to seek it, and seek it above all else (Matt 6:33). He also challenges us with other paradoxes, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ (John 3:3) and ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt 18:3).
To engage with this kingdom and this covenant love not only requires me to be fully awake, it also demands I develop a whole new skill-set. I believe slowing down, becoming still, allowing myself to merge with the silence for at least 20 minutes every day, helps me stay awake, reminds me of God’s glorious kingdom, and touches me with a covenant love the likes of which leaves me speechless!!
Quote: Irenaeus “The Glory of God is a human being who is fully alive!”