MONDAY OF LENT WEEK 4 

 

 
 
Gospel Jn 4: 43-54. So you will not believe without signs and portents...
 
The still point of the turning world. Where is it and what turns around it?
 
Good, ordinary people like you and me are a bit baffled by the idea that there is something ‘beyond good and evil’. When a Sufi master says: ’good and evil are in the realm of dualities, there is only Oneness’; or when Jesus says that God is ‘like the sun shining on good and bad alike and is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked’, what do we feel? Maybe that it’s a misprint – it’s not what they really meant. Or we conclude it’s a profound truth not to be understood yet in this life.
 
What about someone who devotes their life to caring for refugees and the homeless and someone who blows up a disco where young people are having an evening out? No difference between them? What kind of society would it be if there were no laws, policeman and prisons? Hopefully good laws, decent policemen and humane prisons, but we need to discriminate between evil and altruism. So, let’s put this mystical wisdom to one side and let dervishes and theologians think about it. We’ll get on with the real world.
 
The still point of the turning world.
 
The turning world is in constant flux. We try to keep balance but everything is shifting and even what is considered good today is cast as evil tomorrow. In politics we take sides, pro or against Trump, Brexit or Remain. Without wise people or at least wise leaders, the shifting duality of good and evil becomes a rigid and bitter polarisation. To entertain us out of this, the media give us a prince and an actress talking about their personal feelings and the world takes sides for or against them. Morality becomes entertainment. Complexity becomes conspiracy.
 
Jesus did not deny that there are bad people and he said what he thought about them. The Sufi Master did not deny good and evil but said they are dualities lower than Oneness. To move from thinking about this Oneness to experiencing it, we require not entertainment or conspiracy but contemplative practice. The dualistic mind needs to be trained and stilled before we begin to know what Oneness means.  As we come to know the still point around which our mind and feelings turn, we undergo a change in attitude towards good and evil and the myriad dualities.
 
Discovering the still point is the essential task of life for good ordinary people like you and me, now. It’s not meant to be postponed until the next life or until we have more time to read and meditate. Otherwise, wouldn’t Jesus and the Sufi Master have said, ‘don’t worry about all this stuff yet’?
 
We assume that the world turns around our ego. That is why dualities are misunderstood, harden and produce violence. Oneness is the higher truth. We are destined and designed to experience it now. The ‘kingdom is close at hand’. We will still confront good and evil; but we will be empowered by Oneness to forgive each other, to use compassion rather than violence. Then we understand why the still point is love, absolutely, simply loving towards both sides.

Laurence Freeman
Lenten Reflections 2021
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