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(word processor parameters: LM = 0, RM = 80, Page = 62, Tabs every 8 spaces) BCKWTH02.ASC **************************************************************** * * * This article was published in BETTER WORLD magazine * * (formerly Meditation), Vol. I, No. 1, December, 1991, * * pages 60-65. It is copyrighted material, and all * * rights are reserved by the author. Permission * * however, is hereby given by the author for elec- * * tronic reproduction and distribution of this article * * provided that no additions or changes are made * * to the file and this notice is retained. Please * * contact the author at the address given below for * * permission to reprint, or for further information * * on the material contained herein. * * * **************************************************************** <> <> by William J. Beckwith, M.Div. Erwin Rousselle, a Chinese specialist, once took a course in Eastern spirituality with a Taoist Master. At the end of the course, the Master gave special presents to each of his students in order to help them continue their spiritual growth. The oriental students each received a carefully selected Chinese book. Rousselle, however, was presented with a copy of the Bible. In this way, the Master expressed silently his opinion that "Western" Scripture was better suited to nurture the Western psyche.<1> Rousselle's teacher was right. Authentic spirituality is not absent from Christianity, only buried under years of forgetfulness, neglect, and the willful determination to follow the "way of the world". The Church, in all of its denominational manifestations, has failed miserably to pass on the diversity of spiritual experiences that have historically been at the core of its tradition. Recently that has begun to change. Dominican priest Fr. Matthew Fox has almost single-handedly brought about a new reforma- tion in Western Christianity by advocating a "Creation Spirituality." The thread of creation spirituality runs throughout the Christian mystical tradition. It is especially apparent in the writings of the medieval Rhineland mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Hildegaard of Bingen and Teresa of Avila. It can also be seen in the openness of St. Francis of Assisi to the goodness of the natural world. Fox believes that the contemporary emphasis on guilt, sin, and the need for personal redemption in the Christian church stems from dualistic, patriarchal beliefs of the Dark Ages. This "Fall/Atonement/Redemption" theology replaced the older biblical tradition of our divine call as co-workers with God. As the title of one of his best-selling books, <><2> indi- cates, Fox is more concerned with the positive aspects of life and our ongoing work of Creation. The message of creation spirituality is a return to a living Christian faith. Rather than the three-fold emphasis on personal salvation, it speaks of that bring us collectively closer to God. Fox, following traditional Catholic categories, calls them the , the , the , and the . The paths themselves are fascinating. What is even more fascinating is that their number, four, has a recurrent and universal significance for human spiritual diversity. For the modern Hindu, God is worshipped primarily through the four .<3> is the way of selfless action. is the way of loving devotion to the Supreme Person- ality of the Godhead. is the way of disciplined concentration and meditation. is the way of wisdom and oneness with God. In the Sufi mysticism of Islam, there are four principal orders.<4> The worship God through music, dance and poetry. The emphasize the induction of altered states of consciousness to produce religious ecstasy. The teach methods that allow "direct perception of Reality" in ordinary events of life. The , or "Masters of the Design," are the least mystical of the four, tracing their origin to the teachings of Mohammed and a rather austere pietism. Even in the older traditions of shamanism, four stands out as an important number. The four cardinal directions lead to the paths of the South (physical mastery and purification), the West (darkness, death and fear), the North (self-knowledge and empower- ment), and the East (rebirth and the attainment of higher unitive knowledge). This four-fold division is not only found in the mystic traditions. The contemporary Western counterpart of the shaman---the psychiatrist or psychologist---has also divided people into four basic types based on "personality." In fact, the idea that there are types, categories, or temperaments among people is a very old idea going back at least twenty-five hundred years to the Greek philosopher Hippocrates and his phlegmatic, melancholic, choleric and sanguine temperaments. One of the most influential personality theories of modern times is that of Carl G. Jung. In his book, <5>, he suggested that there were innate predispositions in people toward various personality traits. If a person were raised under ideal conditions, fully accepting these tendencies and allowing them to develop completely, discrete personality types would be seen. Jung, the son of a Lutheran Christian minister, was fas- cinated by the psychology of religious experience. His studies included both Western and Eastern mystical traditions. Indeed, he thought that Western Christianity had much to learn from an open dialogue with other faiths. Jung codified his observations about personality differences and outlined a basic framework into which they fit. After much observation, he decided that there were two basic attitudes toward life, and four basic components to personality. The two attitudes are very basic. It is from Jung's work that we get the terms "extravert" and "introvert." The extravert (E) is conventionally pictured as a boisterous, outgoing people- person. The introvert (I) is stereotyped as the shy, quiet bookworm. In Jungian theory, these terms do not have the same meaning that popular thought gives them. For Jung, this attitudinal preference determines where we invest our energy: the outer world of people, action and things, or the inner world of thoughts, ideas and concepts. Extraverts gain energy through interaction with the world around them. Isolation and solitude can make them feel anxious and drained. Introverts, on the other hand, gain energy by retreating to the privacy of their inner world. Being in a crowd, or over-stimulation of their senses, can leave them feeling jangled and tired. In spirituality, the attitudes of extraversion and intro- version primarily affect whether we will seek God beyond ourselves or within ourselves. The Divine can be found in both ways, but our preference for the external or internal "worlds" will direct which search will seem most natural to us. In Western cultures, approximately seventy to seventy-five percent of people are extraverts. Studies of Oriental cultures have shown that a similar majority favor introversion. The centering on God Beyond or God Within is one of the major differences between Western and Eastern religious practice. and . Rouselle's Taoist teacher was indeed correct. Ironically, sometimes the most powerful spiritual experiences come when the extravert-introvert attitude is over-ridden. In today's Christian church, this can be seen in two ways. First, there is the explosive growth of the Charismatic movement. Here, pre- dominately extraverted people experience the interior reality of God through the "baptism" and gifts of the Holy Spirit---God Within. Second, the development of the House Church movement has allowed introverts as well as extraverts to come in contact with a God Beyond external to themselves in a more intimate way than formal Sunday worship. Extraversion and introversion point us toward an experience with the Divine. That experience may come through many paths. Which path we travel will depend on the four functional aspects of Jungian personality theory. Crucial for Jung was the way in which we discern the world around us and gather information about it. In his theory, this is called the , and is a key to understanding basic human differences and interpersonal conflict. The two modes of perceiving are termed Sensing (S), and INtuition. (N is used to indicate INtuition in Jungian personality typology because I is already used for Introversion.) Although all of us take in information about the world around us in both ways, we choose one of them early in life as our primary mode of perception. In other words, we decide whether to place the greatest trust in sense data or our hunches. Sensing people prefer to rely upon information as it comes in through their five senses---sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. They perceive things in as realistic and factual a way as possible. Hunches or "feelings" are suspect. Cold, hard facts that can be demonstrated or documented, and practical experience, are of primary importance. Intuitives, on the other hand, are more interested in seeing connections and possibilities that link or integrate facts. People who prefer intuitive perception are always alert for patterns. They see the world around them holistically and imaginatively. What has worked or prove true in the past is never as interesting as what the future may hold. After information is gathered through perception, decisions must be made about that information. This is the role of the . Jung, through observation, determined that people made decisions based on either Thinking logic (T), or Feeling values (F). As with the perceiving functions, all of us are called upon to use both judging functions in life. During early childhood, however, we choose whether we will give primary trust to objective logic or subjective values. Thinkers make decisions about the world and people in it by examining available data, then coming to an impersonal conclusion based on general rules or guidelines. The T approach to life is analytical. They tend to stress the greatest good for the greatest number rather than individual needs. Those who prefer Feeling judgement, in contrast, will choose to ignore facts, logic and precedent if these get in the way of important personal values or commitments. F's are always more concerned with the one individual who will be harmed or hurt by a decision than with the multitude. They are the champions of the minority. The Jungian functions of Sensing or Intuition, and Thinking or Feeling combine to form four "core personality types" that research, type theory and pastoral experience have shown to be important. They also relate directly to the four paths of creation spirituality. The Sensing-Feeling (SF) person tends to focus on provable facts, but makes decisions about them according to personal values. They are very concerned with people and their immediate problems. SF's are the volunteers and helpers of the world. Individual decisions are based on specific exceptions to the rule. Creation spirituality's is the path of Nature and Blessing. In the Christian tradition, it is seen in the God of Genesis who looks at the material universe at the culmination of creation and proclaims: "It is good.!" This insight is important for the person with an SF preference. In the final analysis, God's good will prevail. They can honestly see the suffering of the present moment and work to overcome it without losing hope. The Sensing-Thinking (ST) person also likes to focus on facts but handles them in an objective, impersonal way. Concrete details and previous experiences are important guidelines for present and future actions. Events have a cause-and-effect relationship; if something is wrong, there is a definite reason for the problem and a definite solution. This combination of preferences makes ST's consistent and rule-oriented. The is the path of Abandoning and Being Abandoned. It recognizes honestly and openly that while Creation was originally good, it is now fractured and broken. Why? For the ST, that question has an obvious answer. The "rules" laid out by God were not, and are not, followed by humanity. We do not "love God and love our neighbor as ourself." If everyone simply obeyed the rules and did their duty, the world would be a perfect place. (It is somewhat of an oversimplification, but ST's tend to focus on sin and the problem of evil, while SF's prefer to concentrate on forgiveness and the problem of suffering.) The Intuitive-Feeling (NF) person values relationships and people. Unlike the SF, who wants immediate, personal involvement, the NF individual focuses on future possibilities for people. Communication is important to this personality type, and is one of their main strengths. The NF is a visionary leader pointing others persuasively and enthusiastically forward. The is the Path of Unity amidst Diversity. Here, we experience our ultimate connection with each other and with the transcendent Godhead. Humanity, created in the Image of the Creator God, is creative as well. Nothing could better describe the thinking of the NF. They are the poets and artists who paint their visions in words as well as colors and shapes. Connection and communication with God and people is at the heart of their being. The Intuitive-Thinking (NT) person, like the NF, also looks to the future. Here, however, the emphasis is on planning and organization. The strength of the NT is the ability to logically and carefully assess a situation and implement a practical strategy for change. In fact, NT's almost change. They are the reformers and transformers of society. The fourth path of Creation Spirituality, the , is the path of the Prophet. By this, I mean "prophet" in the sense of one who speaks for God. This is not a FOREteller of the future, but rather a FORTH-teller of what will happen if humanity does not actively join as co-workers with God and each other to change the brokenness of Creation. This is the role of the NT change-agent. The vision of this personality type sees the way to the future clearly as well as the consequences of following another way. As mentioned above, they reform as well as transform; for them, change is a divine mandate. Then which of the four paths is best? . Each individual is gifted by God with, among other things, a unique personality. Western society still is infected by hier- archical thinking which sees a need to "progress" from one path to another. This leads to valuing one path as "higher" or "better" than the others. I prefer the image of the wheel that comes from our oldest spiritual traditions. No path on the wheel is "higher," they simply lead in different directions. All paths inevitably meet in the Center in the presence of the Spirit. FOUR STYLES OF MEDITATION Jungian personality types do not limit us in our approach to God, nor do they force us to choose only one path among the many. The four core function types do, however, strongly affect the direc- tion of our spiritual growth. Each type perceives and makes spiritual decisions in a distinctive way. This is the basis of spiritual direction in both eastern and western religious traditions. A wise teacher chooses the method of spiritual discipline which will most benefit each individual student. . Spiritual growth often comes most powerfully when our everyday habits and preferences are overridden. The four examples below are Christian meditations that build on the chief gifts of the four Jungian core types. Don't be surprised if the method that seems least attractive to you at first yields the greatest results. THE SENSING-FEELING PATH This approach to meditation is adapted from the traditional teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. To start, choose one of the questions or statements spoken by Jesus in the gospels such as, "Come, follow me", "Do you love me?", "Who do you say that I am?", or "Feed my sheep." Begin your meditation by simply reading that short phrase to yourself. Now, imagine that the risen Lord is speaking these words directly to you. Hear the words over and over in your mind, and let their meaning for your life at present sink in. As you meditate, focus your thoughts on solutions rather than problems. Keep God's love firmly fixed in your mind, assuring you that you can make a difference. Continue to repeat the phrase you have selected, allowing a response to form inside of you. Ask God to give you the strength and the will to live those words in your thoughts and deeds. What will you say? What will you do? Allow God's power to tug at your heart and mind and lead you to an answer. Do not let preconceived notions direct you; listen for the answer that comes unexpectedly. THE SENSING-THINKING PATH A method that many ST people find particularly powerful is attributed to St. John Climacus. Begin by choosing a favorite prayer, a psalm, or a short section from one of the speeches of Jesus recorded in the gospels. As a demonstration, consider Psalm 23. First, recite the psalm out loud from start to finish, paying careful attention to every word. If you are interrupted or distracted at any point in your recitation, start over again from the beginning. If you find that your mind is wandering from the words, force yourself back to your task and begin again. Continue in this slow, careful fashion until you have said the psalm once with total attention. After that first, successful, recitation, go back and repeat the psalm again. This time, pay close attention to the literal meaning of each word that you are saying. Focus on the psalm line by line. What does it mean that the Lord is my shepherd? What is it that I will not want today? How does God's authority ---the divine "rod and staff"---"comfort" me? Proceed in a slow, careful fashion through the entire psalm. You may find that it takes several days to meditate on even a short passage in this way. It may even take weeks, once you become experienced in this form of meditation. In any event, you will discover a renewed richness in your devotional life that leads you in a better appreciation of exactly what "familiar" portions of the Bible are saying. THE INTUITING-FEELING PATH This meditation method for NF's focuses on relationships and the possibilities that they present. It comes from the writings of Saint Teresa of Avila. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and imagine that Jesus is standing in front of you. Try to build up as detailed a picture of him as you can. Imagine the color of his hair and skin, the kind of clothes that he wears---even try to see the color of his eyes. As you concentrate on this mental image, allow yourself to become aware that Jesus is also looking at you. (Most people can conjure up a mental image in this way. If you are unable to visualize, then allow yourself to feel the loving presence of Jesus or hear his voice speaking to you softly and gently.) Imagine that Jesus is looking at you with complete love and acceptance. He knows your failures and your shortcomings and he wants your life to be transformed---but he loves and accepts you as you are right this minute. You do not have to do anything in order to win his love. You already have it. Continue watching Jesus watch you for fifteen minutes. Try this meditation daily and build up gradually to thirty minutes over the course of six weeks. This meditation is a form of what is called "Inner Healing." It is often incorporated into a worship service, but is valuable for private devotions as well. THE INTUITING-THINKING PATH This method for NT's is based on ideas in the writings of St. Augustine. Imagine that you are sitting on top of a mountain overlooking a large city. It is sunset and lights are beginning to come on in the houses below. Points of light spring up here and there until the whole city is glowing. After a while, you hear footsteps behind you. Intuitively, you know that they are the footsteps of a holy man who lives on the mountain. He is a hermit who has devoted his life to prayer and meditation. The hermit comes up next to you as you continue to look at the beautiful lights of the city and speaks to you gently. He says, "If you go down to the city tonight, you will discover a message from God." Then he turns around and walks quietly away. Inwardly, you feel certain that the holy man has spoken the truth. You get up slowly and begin to walk toward the lights. As you come to the city, you choose a street and start to walk among the shining houses. You feel safe and tranquil. As you walk, you notice a misty patch of fog forming ahead of you. The fog begins to glow softly and gently and you sense that something is taking shape within it. As you look into the glowing mist, you begin to make out a vague form. The image in the mist becomes sharper and clearer, a dark image that stands in stark contrast to the peace and perfection of the shining city. You realize that you have stopped walking. Your quest is at an end. You have found God's message. Allow yourself to gaze at the image in the mist. Think about what it means to you. How may it be changed for the better? Stay for a while in silent contemplation of the message, then allow it to fade back into the fog. As it fades away, let yourself return to full awareness. >, (Parakletos Publishing, 1987) dealt with active listening and caring communication. He is completing a new book on Western spirituality and Jungian psychology.> Notes <1> Hans Schaer, <>, Translated by R.F.C. Hull. (New York: Pantheon, 1950), p. 127. <2> Matthew Fox, <>. (Santa Fe: Bear & Company, 1983). <3> The best source for information on the ways of yoga is probably A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, <>. (Los Angeles: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1968, 1972, 1981). <4> For an excellent discussion of Sufi traditions, see Indries Shah, <>. (New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1970). <5> C.G. Jung, <>. (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1923).


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