What's up fellow Bums? Been busy w/ work, life, and practice, but I did promise a few months back based on another thread that I would interview a Christian Monk that I am friends with, in regards to Christianity being a legit Path into Enlightenment, Tao, Union w/ God, The Supreme State, Mu, whatever you want to call it.
As far as I go, I have had various experiences practicing Christianity, various forms of Buddhism, Nonduality, Zen, Koans, Vedic Techniques, Kundalini Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and am basically a Universalist for the most part, so I am not here to impart any bias one way or another.
While he wished to remain anonymous because he is from a very strict and popular Monastery, he does mention some interesting things that many of his fellow "brothers" may not have agreed with. Hence the anonymity.
Is Christianity basically working on Enlightenment, Absolute Truth, Tao, Supreme, State, etc? Basically what all the Other Eastern paths are teaching/working on?
"Yes. If you look at Anapanasati as practiced in some parts of Buddhism, the point of the practice is to strengthen/realize Awareness itself, as well as what lies at the bottom of the breath(that's a little hint for you by the way since I know you're also working on this). That Awareness is the key to unlock the rest of the doors. When The Ego is detached from, you remain as Awareness, and then can merge with the Source of Awareness which is what everyone is working on, the Source being the same as what everyone is calling it by different names."
How does the Christian access Awareness and Detachment from Ego?
"There are a number of ways, but I will cover two of the most important. The first is the ritual of Baptism, which simply activates Grace. Once Grace comes over you, it is a direct experience and a living presence that indwells you from the top of your head and instantly gives you The Timeless Now, Transcendence, Detachment, Destroys the Ego, activated divine Love, and all that's left is you as Awareness devoid of everything else. Then just surrender and let go and you as Awareness will merge with the Source. There is then no more you to be found anywhere, but are also United with everything and everywhere at the same time.
As far as the first part above goes, there may still remain some fragments/pieces of ego left over that continue to stir up. With that, we do the Jesus Prayer focused on the Heart area where the access to the Source is. By doing the Jesus Prayer on this specific area, several things are accomplished. The ego is not only busy with the prayer, but also awareness learns pure concentration while ignoring all other subconscious arisings. Eventually, Awareness realizes the Source of thought and enters into it. The place is a few inches to right of the Heart. With Awareness resting at the Source of thought, eventually the whole Ego/Subconscious mechanism is pulled at the root and only Spontaneous Union and Grace remain."
Do many Monks reach these states that you speak of?
"Of course not. As with all institutions, there are members at various levels of growth and realization. There are also various ego games, traps, arguments, politics, and some who never reach perfection. However, with many elders deep in various levels of the perfected state, they tend to oversee selflessly the rest of the flock, and many times their own infused energies of higher states are enough to get the beginners started on their own path."
So there is such a thing as Infusing others with various activations that help them along?
"Yes of course. When you are in close proximity with an Elder who is far on the stage of perfection, their own Awareness is so expanded, it literally has an effect on your own. That's what Halo's are in all the Spiritual paintings, not just in Christianity but also in Hindu-Vedic depictions and also those of Buddha himself. The Halo is just the inner Awareness that is you, prior to ego and body. It eventually expands beyond the head and many times you can see it on the elders."
Are all those other Paths legit as well? Why did you choose Christianity instead of other paths?
"There are many Universal similarities in all the paths. Detachment, Awareness, the Source, Discipline, Wisdom, Knowledge, and an Absolute Truth that can be experienced which is the prior underlying reality of all of reality.
I tried various paths as a young man and college student and ended up staying with Christianity because the direct experiences and Grace came really fast for me. It took about a year of seriously getting into it that I started to experience ego death, the Now, Transcending all things (body, ideas, thoughts, self). Everything happened really fast through Grace. Some of the other paths I tried, I was getting experiences but they were at a snails pace. All that to say, I am not trying to discredit any of the other paths."
Some people say Christianity is just a go-to-Church feel good about yourself singy songy wishy washy type of Religion where the majority of followers don't get any huge internal breakthrough's.
"That happens with many paths. They eventually get watered down and become a facade of their former selves. Aren't various forms of hot-room Yoga's the hottest(pun intended) pop-forms of exercise in America these days? That's just one example.
The actual Yoga (meaning Union, or to Unite with the Source) is a very advanced system of remaining Aware of the Body and Mind in the midst of various poses, all leading back to strengthening Awareness. One of the benefits of Yoga is that you may come across physical attributes that are tied to the workings of the Ego such as various physical knots or childhood traumas that can be released during certain stretches. Just as well, the channel that the Ego uses to take it's place as a veil over Awareness can also be opened during Yoga practice.
So in essence, many of the Christian Monasteries, or even lay hermits, are genuinely working on inner planes through various degrees, techniques, practices, and Grace...all of which eventually lead to Tao, Source, God, Supreme, Absolute whatever you want to name the Nameless direct experience.
Christianity has also become a watered down fast food western version of preaching, singing, and one hour a week of service. To really have breakthroughs, requires lengthy time spent in practice, detachment, prayer, meditation, etc. When Jesus went into the Desert for 40 days, that is something every Christian should do. 40 days in any retreat or wilderness will bring out the worst of the ego, the perfect opportunity to see that it isn't you and detach from it as Awareness."
Did Christ exist and are his teachings real?
"When Buddha said not to take his word for it and to see if what he says is true through direct experience, the same thing applies to the teachings of Christ. We put his teachings into practice and eventually start experiencing fascinating states directly for ourselves. You yourself are the experiment, the laboratory for testing to see what happens. When you start to experience the same things Christ taught, that tends to solidify his existence. Also, many Monks adore the Gospel of Thomas. If you read that Gospel, many of the sayings there are very Nondual sounding and tends to link back to everything else in the East. He speaks about alot about Oneness that is experiential"
What about faith? I had a fellow argue with me that Christians have to use Faith and that since Faith is of the Ego, it's dealing with illusions of the mind
"You only use faith for a little while, say agreeing to trust in, or have faith that this path may possibly take me where I want to go. Once you do experience the things you were looking for within and without, then there's no need for Faith because at that point there's no other choice then to directly live from direct experience of the Absolute.
A person who tries any other path, you can say technically, is also using a form of Faith in it. If a person looks into Zen, and all of it makes logical, reasonable, and intuitive sense, well then they take the leap of faith(again technically speaking) and jump in head first.
Scientists also have Faith in the Scientific method. However it's dated and based on physicality as a rule that has its own sets of rules and limits. One of those rules being that an experiment has to be replicated/repeatable. However, some experiments, by their very nature, can never be repeated. In that case they are tossed aside as anomalies, however those anomalies can also be legitimate things.
Take for example this very moment right now. If there was a room full of scientists, they would clearly be able to observe and agree on this present moment, would agree it exists, would be able to record it, examine it, and pull up tons of data on it. However, once this moment is gone, that's it!!!! They can't ever reexamine it again or recreate it. So according to their own rules of the scientific method, reality itself is a anomaly. But I digress"
What about Christ saying he's the only way?
"Look at the context with which he's saying that. He's talking to a bunch of jews stuck in judaism, a path that does not lead to Enlightenment. Jewish Mysticism does start to touch on some of the subjects we have already discusses, but I'm talking about the normal Judaism of the day. Jesus is telling them to leave their dead ways and that his example and teachings are the only way to find what they are trying to find. It's basically a command in the heat of the moment.
If you look at what his Way is, it's a combination of ego death, enlightenment, Grace, Love, empathy, compassion, Tao, Absolute, Supreme, etc. So anyone who is working towards that goal is already following his path.
One of the factors of Christianity that is interesting that is not found that much in many other paths is that of Ego-Death through Grace by the Holy Spirit entering the top of the head and opening all the channels and illuminating Awareness, while detaching all else. I believe I've come across something similar in my studies of Kashmir Shaivism. Also some people claim that Kundalini is the Holy Spirit, however I'm not to sure about that as Kundalini tends to be from the perenium and up the spine to the crown, whereas the Holy Spirit enters the head and goes down tot he feet. I would have to brush up on my studies however by researching the word Grace and it's existence in all the other paths
On many occasions here during various services, you can feel the Spirit moving around the grounds and rooms of the Monastery. It enters you when you least expect it and slays or burns off any remaining ego fragments and fills you with divine transcendent Love & Bliss as a replacement. "
So the Christian Path is a legit path towards Enlightenment?
"Why yes of course. I understand you intend to share this discussion with a few brothers and sisters that are Buddhists and of various other paths. If they are already deep in their practice and making headway, then good for them, as it is exactly what Christ was all about.
The one thing I feel is necessary to say is that Eastern Christian practice as done in the Eastern Orthodox monasteries is a complete system from beginning to end. I say that, because I found early on that in many other paths, you can merge with the Source, however there still remain ego fragments and the whole of the subconscious stirring up constantly and causing troubles for the rest of one's life. In our school, through the Jesus prayer, all of that is eventually snuffed out and there is a completion stage of perfection where even the body is transformed and filled with light flowing through all the opened channels.
So there's a start and there's and end and can all be done in this lifetime. Of course the rest of life remains as a practice of making available to others the energies and Union that is within you by going out to the world and sharing the Light"
Anyway, I have a lot more to the interview, but these main q&a's were the most interesting. As far as I go, all my interest in enlightenment, health, channels, tai chi, light body, ego death, and so forth he covered for me.
Some things he mentioned, I have experienced through Christianity, while other things he mentioned to have been experiencing, I came across them after battles with koans, vipassanna, nondual inquiry, zazen, etc.....
just wanted to put that out there cause I personally see it as a legit path equal to that of the others. But there were some folks on here adamant that it's all bull. I think the perspective of my Monk friend who has been in the depths for a good two decades know and also comes from a similar background of having studied and tried various paths, gives us a cool internal perspective.
Enjoy!!!! (sorry for spelling as everything is transcribed and quickly typed from a telephone recording!!!!)