Tuesday, July 26, 2005

putting experiences into perspective

The concept of dying is an under explored theme. Various Bible passages show it as the only way forward. Galatians 2:20 and I Peter 4:1 spring to mind. In the Bible, of course, it's an identification with Messiah, so we can fully partake of His life. Death is the only way forward to resurrection life.

Here's something about dying from a rather unexpected source. It's from the manifesto of a website called Killing the Buddha, a "religion magazine for people made anxious by churches, people embarrassed to be caught in the "spirituality" section of a bookstore, people both hostile and drawn to talk of God." ... which I find an intriguing description. Here's the quote:

The idea of "killing the Buddha" comes from a famous Zen line, the context of which is easy to imagine: After years on his cushion, a monk has what he believes is a breakthrough: a glimpse of nirvana, the Buddha mind, the big pay-off. Reporting the experience to his master, however, he is informed that what has happened is par for the course, nothing special, maybe even damaging to his pursuit. And then the master gives the student dismaying advice: If you meet the Buddha, he says, kill him.

Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way. ...more

Is it possible that we may, at times, need to die to our own experience with God? Can our experiences, however blissful and revelational, get in the way of truly knowing Him? I believe it can.

Rick Joyner, in his vision described in The Final Quest, describes having been to the top of a mountain where he and others had an intensely glorified experience, so much so that their armour shown with that glory. On the way down, he saw some of his fellows, also illuminated with God's glory, setting off to attack the enemy. He saw something moving in the darkness behind them but he couldn't see what it was. Wisdom, who was standing with him, gave him a dingy looking robe, named the mantle of humility. It completely covered his armour, and hid the glory so that it no longer shone from him. Now, he looked like a plane ordinary person. However, he could now see what his fellows who had foolishly set off for the attack, couldn't: a whole regiment of demons set to attack them from behind. Moreover, he couldn't warn them, because they, not wearing the mantle of humility, wouldn't recognise the authority of one who wasn't letting the glory shine unhindered. However, the angels and others who did have on humility, did.

That's almost as good as dying. You forfeit the privilege of letting on you're any the better for your face to fact encounter with God. You're the same old bloke we've always known, with no pretensions -- or even fewer pretensions than before. In other words, easier to live with.

I once knew someone, whom I have no doubt was very close to God. When he lead worship, there was an atmosphere of God's glory about the place. However, there was one point of doctrine -- I won't go into it here -- he absolutely wouldn't listen to correction on. He felt he was sufficiently close to God to hear His voice personally, if He had anything to say. Therefore, he didn't need to listen to anyone else. Later, he went way off, left his wife (who never saw much of him anyway because he was off praying) and started living with his assistant.

Would he have benefited from "killing the Buddha", as in the Zen parable? It was tragic to see it happen, but a valuable lesson.

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