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If the subject of the deep world, the spiritual world, seems too abstract to be believable, then you need to know that you too are having an inner experience. Religion has too easily concluded that your resistance to the deep place is due to unbelief and this allows it to segregate the human race into us and them. You might already believe this segregation. Please don’t.
I used to do this too. In fact I often invalidated the deep inner experience of those who didn’t share or define that inner experience exactly as I did. I feel horrible about that. If your inner experience is presently one of push back rather than a helpless free fall, then I want you to know that you are in good company. It’s not that you don’t believe, its that you believe in an alternate system and probably for good cause. Either way, this inner experience is known as faith and we all share it in common.
Until we know the descent and the true self that emerges from it, we are quite likely to fear it. From our birth we grow up knowing and developing our surface self and we prepare it for the surface world. We begin in a binary world that informs us that certain things are hot or cold, light or dark, good or bad, wrong or right. We are given equations, systems, formulas, strategies and rituals that all make the surface world give up its goods. Linear and dualistic thinking separate everything in this world into tidy little categories that give us a measure of control and comfort in a very insecure environment.
The surface self tells us we want a healthy relationship, and it provides a formula for dating, or meeting someone, but the moment we fall in love, we immediately turn loose of the surface and let ourselves go deep. You see, the old spinster and the misogynist are both stuck on the surface, they distrust the turbulence and ambiguity of falling in love. It requires too much self denial, too much trust. Because of this push back, the surface self will avoid all relationships or it may settle for a relationship, but it will never admit that what it really desires most is love, and in the end it is only left with anger.
The surface self tells us that the big promotion, or fame, or recognition that we obtained is truly satisfying. Yet when we look over our lives we realize that one success never did fully satisfy us and we enrolled in more pursuits that set the bars higher and higher. More effort, more output, more clinging, grasping, and clawing, all because the surface self has convinced us that the next success is the one that will complete us. It never does because we thought we wanted success, but what we really wanted was validation or approval and what we end up with is dissatisfaction.
If we want to buy a car we need the surface self. If we want to enjoy the drive we need to access the deep self. If you want sex, you’ll have to ascend, if you want intimacy, you’ll have to descend. If we want power and control we need the surface self, if we want peace and well-being we need to access the deep self. If we want to impress others we must leverage the surface, if we really want friendship or love we must let go and fall deep. The process for getting what we think we want is the opposite for getting what we really want.
The surface has everything we think we want. It’s a world that Buddhism calls illusion and Christianity says is fading away (1 Corinthians 7:31). Everything we truly want is in the deep world. It is actually the lasting world. Remember our love for each other transcends our life spans, thus making love the more durable reality. Love, approval, acceptance, validation, humility, and peace dwell permanently in the deep, and all of our manipulations, strategies, gimmicks and games cannot and will not ever access them. They can’t, it’s like trying to put logic on a scale, it’s a different form of reality.
Now you may say, Keven I do know what true love is, I have experienced peace and acceptance. Of course you have, because you have been deep before and you long to go back, just like I do. Every vacation we have ever planned was our effort to find the deep again. Every thing we have ever gone after or from which we have turned away has been because we are seeking the deep. The tears of joy, the tenderness of a pet or a loved one or even that song or poem that deeply moved us were all our longings for home. These mean so much to us because for a brief moment we bump into proximity, we entered the sacred space of the eternal moment. We got there by letting go of ourself or getting over our surface self. Then as soon as we got there, our surface self pulled us out and set us back in order and process and distraction.
The deep life is the one that learns the path of descent. It is the life that connects to true meaning, and learns to quiet the ever gaming surface self. The deep life is a spiritual life that discovers what is really worth our time and effort. The deep life is not afraid of the surface life and doesn’t avoid it, but tempers it and reforms it so that it no longer has the power to push back against the deep. The deep life knows sorrow, rejection and suffering because usually these are the initiators of descent, but it quickly learns that true sorrow is to live like a spinster and skim over and miss true love.
So what are we do do?
Well, this is where I may disappoint you. You see, I’m not going to give you a task or list of things to do. I’m not going to prescribe a book, or a church or a ritual. If I did, I would be no different than any religion. Instead, I’m going to give you a simple pattern of living and then you can find the best means for you to practice it. You see all religions and rituals can help get you on the way, but none can take you the whole distance. This is why the Apostle Paul says: to keep the faith that you have between yourself and God (Romans 14:22).
The gap is closed by Kenosis. Kenosis is a Greek word that means self-emptying. It’s the opposite of clinging or push back. It’s a humble willing acceptance. It’s what a mother or father does for their children. It’s what a true friend does for another. It is the pattern that God him/herself has provided in everything we see. “…though he was in the form of God (Jesus), did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7). This is revolutionary! God emptied himself. Descended. One power begets another version of itself.
Science tells us that all energy never diminishes but only reorganizes into something new. The kale smoothie that is in my belly had to die so it could produce new life. A parent sacrifices him/herself so the child can thrive. One self-empties for the sake of another. One descent provides the ascent of the other. We all go to work and give of ourselves so that others in the world can benefit and we benefit from their expense. Self emptying is the cruciform pattern and no-one misses it, animals do it, stars do it, and faith does it, we just don’t call it by the same name. One energy begets another version of itself.
Everything we have ever truly wanted has come by self emptying. Everything we think we want comes by clinging. We each have either a closed fist or an open hand.
Self-emptying or kenosis will change your life by allowing to you to actually see,feel and experience it. Is your marriage struggling? Self-empty. Are you lonely, bored or distracted? Self-empty. Is your career plateauing? Self-Empty. Watch your anger problem vaporize by self-emptying. If you discover this pattern and find a means to practice it, you will find depth,meaning and purpose. You will begin to live the deep life. You will live as a deeply spiritual person, and once you trust this pattern, you will want to go deeper and that is when the New World emerges, in fact, an infinite community is awaiting your arrival.