Laurence Freeman in Jesus, the Teacher Within stresses that “The essential work of a spiritual teacher is just this: not to tell us what to do but to help us see who we are.” That is the mission of our spiritual teacher, the historical Jesus. He points us to going beyond, beyond the consciousness we are daily aware of to the one, in which this ordinary one is embedded. Fr Laurence continues: “It is a field of consciousness similar to and indivisible from the Consciousness that is the God of cosmic and biblical revelation alike: the one great ‘I AM’.” This is initially a difficult thought – different levels of consciousness. C. G. Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist of the 20thcentury, said: “The assumption that the human psyche possesses layers that lie below consciousness is not likely to arouse serious opposition. But that there could just as well be layers lying above consciousness seems to be a surmise that borders on high treason against human nature.” Yet now, in the 21stcentury, neuroscientists accept on the basis of their brain research that there are indeed distinct ways of tuning into reality. There is a right brain and a left brain way of perceiving our reality and moreover a way of going beyond both. My daughter Shanida states in her book ‘The Blissful Brain’: “Our brain contains ‘hard-wiring’ that allows us to experience both higher states of consciousness and an all-pervading unity that can be equated to God.” Albert Einstein too was very aware of these different potential ways of knowing, left-brain rationality and right brain intuition: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Our pre-occupation with the rational mind blinds us to the intuitive mind and causes many of the problems in our world, as Iain McGilchrist illustrates beautifully in his book The Master and his Emissary.
Our emotional and psychological conditioning can make us behave like automatons reacting purely out of habit and reflex; totally unaware of what drives us; hence we could be called to be ‘asleep’, ‘drunk’. Only when we are aware of our conditioned psychological framework, it will no longer prevent us from going beyond the ordinary material reality to the spiritual aspect of our being. This is the first level of self-knowledge. This is the level of the ‘ego’, which we need to understand, accept and integrate and then transcend. But this understanding and the subsequent one of who we truly are is not something we need to or even can achieve on our own. We only need to be open to the call of our intuitive way of knowing, the way of communication with the indwelling Christ. Fr Laurence inJesus, the Teacher Within uses the example of Mary Magdalene. In St John’s resurrection account we see that her overwhelming emotional state of grief and loss prevents her from recognizing Jesus in his true reality.But then she is called lovingly by name by Jesus, appealing to her true essence and their true relationship. This helps her to perceive his true essence and she calls him ‘rabbuni’, teacher.
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