Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Devotional reading 090311

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I took 6 medical injections in preparing for my trip to Africa on Monday, and my immune system reacted “well” against those incoming “viruses” from flu and yellow fever shots. I felt symptoms of flu like body ache, fever and sore throat (Loretta had running nose too). They were not as severe as regular flu but uncomfortable. As a result, I need to take sick leave and stay home to rest for two days. We both recovered well this morning. Praise the Lord!!

Silence unbinds a person from ordinary perceptions and attitudes and offers a fresh look at life and reality, r. By giving us in the West a new perspective on the ideas we have inherited, it can bring us a vision of the world and humanity as more than just materialistic. Silence can open a door on a new dimension of reality. It is like finding a trap door or a secret passage, giving a way out of our usual, ego-dominated existence. Sleep often has somewhat the same effect. Sleep can separate us from the world of space and time in two different ways. Sleep can provide a dreamless rest which releases tension and recharges life and this in itself is a tremendous gift, bringing courage and energy to start on a new day. Then there is the sleep which leads one into dreaming and so into an existence which is experienced as outside of space and time.

Here the rules of our ordinary existence do not apply. The dreamer can be two different people at the same time, expanding or contracting time to fit the circumstances of the dream, merging one place into another or changing locations as if space were no problem. Logic and rationality no longer apply. And yet there is so much meaning in this strange movement of images that it can even show us the very meaning of our lives.

In sleep one automatically goes from outer physical sensations to a peaceful state. What happens in sleep seems so easy and natural that the person who has trouble sleeping is even considered sick. Yet one can also go from the outer physical world to the peaceful, quiet state while awake, by consciously deciding enter into it in meditation. There are much the same physiological effects in both sleep and the meditative state, as well as almost the same sense of a person’s losing life in order to gain it. Then there is the flood of images that in well-up in the same way in the psyche whenever one becomes completely still, whether in sleep or through a conscious, directed movement into the inner realm in meditation. Mystics of every tradition speak of the images that flood in upon one during silence, and in sleep much the same thing happens at least four to seven times a night in dreams.

Whether a person is willing to look at dreams at all depends upon whether one can see any meaning in them or not. In meditation one also has a choice—to pay attention to the images that arise within and see where they lead, or to dismiss them as meaningless, or as a dangerous distraction, and then return to utter and undisturbed stillness. In the latter case, one steps into a state which no words or images seem to describe.

Are the images of sleep and meditation a snare and a delusion, or do they lead us further and further into meaning? This is one basic question which faces the individual who learns to be silent, and the answer will determine the kind of religious practice that person takes up and follows. It is my suggestion that few things are much more important for the development of our religious matter how extraordinary it becomes—than knowing the images that arise within us and meditating upon them.

Many bible characters saw divine visions, and believed in dreams as some means through which God spoke to mankind. To them, those images or messages were as audible and visible like the way physical seeing and hearing. They anticipated that God would speak to them, just as Prophet Habakkuk described his “mystical” experience in the first verse of chapter two, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Habakkuk looked with anticipation what God would say to him and how he would converse with Him in silence. I believe many Christians would think Habakkuk to be extreme if not cultic by expecting God to speak to him directly. But he is not alone. New Testament characters like Apostle Paul saw vision and heard angels several times (Acts 9:4-7; 22:7-9; 18:9-11; 22:17; 23:11 and 27:23), and the entire book of Revelation was what Apostle John heard and saw. We believe those images and records from John to be true revelation from God. And they were revealed to John through his meditation in silence.

Meditation and spiritual dreams were like lost arts in Christian spiritual exercises. We read books that are records of other people’s meditative journals, but not hearing from the primary source - God Himself. If theology is prayer language, commentaries and other spiritual books are definitely language of meditation and silence. If we don’t have time to rest or still, in no way we can communicate with God and experience His cleansing power from inside out. We need some good sleep to recharge our body. And we need some good silence to recharge our souls, so that we can become blessings to the world around us. So, enjoy your day of conversation with God in wherever you are now…

With Love in Him,

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