Radical Transformation

So much of our trouble comes from thinking we are the focal point of reality, that the world revolves around us, and that we can pass judgment on everything that touches us. Because of this egocentric thinking, everything in the world becomes an object that exists for our personal benefit. We even turn God into an object, another tool in our arsenal of weapons of destruction and survival. But I am not just another individual object in a world of objects. I am, as the mystics of all faiths came to see, a “no-thing.” Not “nothing” but “no-thing.” That means, I’m more than my body, and reality is more than my consciousness. When I become aware of my true reality, that is my “no-thingness,” I suddenly have room for “some-thing” else…namely God. This kind of transformation of reality changes everything. We see goodness and unity. We see as God sees. We are no longer chained to our unruly emotions, no longer prisoners of our exalted feelings, opinions and judgments. We have room for the other. The great 12th century Sufi philosopher and mystic Ibn ‘Arabi said, “The hero is he who smashes idols, and the idol of every man is his ego.” I think Francis would agree.

St. Francis of Assisi believed in the absolute reality of God. Moreover, he believed that while God transcended the material world in which we live, God manifests Divine Presence in this world and in doing so has sanctified the world and made it real because it has been charged with the reality of God. The modern person, even those who claim to believe in God, are far too “non-religious” (or secularized) to believe the way Francis did. We either deny or find it hard to accept transcendence.

For most of my life, I harbored strong doubts that human existence had any meaning whatsoever. I saw none. I saw nothing but random chaos. I regarded anything sacred as a threat to freedom and an insult to the intellect. I equated transcendence with magic, something only the gullible or needy could fall for. St. Francis was far beyond my understanding. I thought his was an ancient and medieval faith that has all but disappeared. But, by the grace of God, Poverty’s little Brother showed me a richer way.


2 Responses to “Radical Transformation”

  1. 1 aliceny December 27, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Thank you, Gerry. Your words are a blessing. I think that we need to be constantly reminded of our place in the grand scheme of things. Our egos can be so damaging to our lives and our thinking if we do not rein them in and place them in their proper perspective. By not understanding this truism, we are blind to the reality of God and His place in our lives.

  2. 2 Jerry December 28, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I think the world is every more ready for the kind of radical transformation you’ve experienced. Pope Francis embracing that disfigured man and his many other acts are to me like a match struck to dry tinder. The positive response by so many to his “walking the talk” to me demonstrates that readiness.

    We can all pray that this transformation moves faster and faster until the vast majority of people have embraced it.

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