Fra Johannes af korsets "Levende kærlighedsflamme":

torsdag, marts 10, 2011

Fra Gerald G. Mays "Addiction & Grace"

Jeg har før udtrykt beundring for psykiateren Gerald G. Mays evne til at formulere sig omkring kontemplativ spiritualitet. Se Refleksioner over Gerald G. Mays "Will and Spirit". Nu har jeg lige læst Mays "Addiction & Grace" (1988), og glæden ved at læse hans indsigter her er lige så stor.

Den "addiction" som May skriver om, er ikke bare fysisk afhængighed på stoffer eller alkohol, men også de forbundetheder (attachments) som alle mennesker bygger op over tid; for eksempel: mad, anerkendelse, hobbies, penge osv. May ser også vores selvopfattelse (self image) som en slags forbundethed som vi har bygget op, og som forhindrer vores hjemrejse til det som Thomas Keating nok ville kalde vores sande selv.  Her er nogle udpluk fra bogens kapitel "Spirit: The Theological Nature of Addiction":
When we were infants, we had a very different sense of self than we do now as adults. Then, before we had words, images, or concepts that we could label as "me," we had a simple sense of being, a diffuse, undifferentiated awareness in which nothing separated us from what we perceived. * * *
But throughout our life since infancy, our brain cells have been delveloping countless patterns and sequences that more clearly separate, define, and secure our sense of self.  * * * Thus our self-images, whatever we feel is "me" at a given time, are in fact cellular representations of self.
By the time we become adults, we have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these self-representation systems. Some of them function when we experience ourselves at work, others when we are at play, still others as parents, spouses, and all the other roles and circumstances within which we may pause to notice. Beneath the variety of self-representation systems, we sense something more constant, a vague awareness of "me-ness."  * * *
For the most part, however, we pay no attention to the underlying constancy. Instead, we act on the basis of our varied self-representation systems, changing from one to another in accord with our roles and situations.  * * *
If we look at the makeup of our self-representation systems, it is obvious that they are intimately associated with our addictions.  * * *
* * *
Even more surprising and reassuring is the frequency with which our self-representations disappear from awareness entirely. * * * Our interior experience at such times is one of self-forgetfulness or self-transcendence. For a moment, we are relieved of bondage to who we think we are, and we can simply be. Usually these moments are very brief, because the systems of our brain start to experience withdrawal and quickly reestablish their normal conditioned patterns. * * *
* * *
We find ourselves becoming a bit anxious if we try to look too closely at our interior constancy, precisely because it is so indefinable. We are apt to want to call it our true self, the "real me." But to call it "me" never seems quite right, for it fits into no particular neurological associations, except perhaps some memory, similarly vague and indefinable, of "home." We cannot hook it to this or that; we cannot give it an adequate name, we cannot control it. We can avoid awareness of it, but it never bows to our will. Therefore, though it haunts us beautifully and calls us sweetly, we do fear it.
 If we are given the grace to spend some time with this mysterious constancy, just gently letting it be what is is, we may find a strange confidence, even security, growing out of it. Here is something solid, some foundation of self that is invulnerable to any other experience, unaffected by anything else that might happen to us. It has something to do with just being aware and alive, for we notice it when we notice our own attention. In fact, we notice it most precisely when our attention has been temporarily captured by an attachment and then returns to some central position of pure awareness. In the return we feel a sense of security; for whenever our attention goes away and then returns, the presence at the center is still there, unaffected, unchanged, and somehow free.
As nearly as I can tell, our core is what Hebrew and Christian spiritualities have called heart. It is the aspect of oneself that is not only one's center but also where one can be in closest, most directly feeling contact with the presence of God. And it is meant to be the center of our will, the nucleus of all choice and action. Further, it is where we realize our essential unity with one another, with all God's creation. Yet this heart sense does not want to be pinned down even with contemplative concepts. The heart does not seem to be quite oneself nor quite God. In the same way that it refuses to associate with any of our conditioned images of self, it does not fit any of our images of God. Thus it remains continually frustrating, and we always find ourselves deeply unknowing in the face of it.