Sunday, 30 May 2010

In Search of Spiritual Knowing

This article was posted in Reform - a United Reformed Church Publication - in the June 2010 edition

We are part of a universe which expanded from ‘nothing’ some 13.7 billion years ago. The 4.6 billion year evolutionary story of life on earth climaxed with our varied societies and their belief systems. Science sees all this as the by-product of an endless series of challenges and chances. Yet, humans appear to be the only species on earth that has evolved enough to sense our separation from ‘all that is’, with the language to express the fear, love, curiosity and joy this engenders. Religion evolved as a by- product of our need to make sense of this alienation.

We are increasingly discovering that there could be a way to get back to the “knowing” that our ancestors perhaps innately experienced – that they and ‘All that is’ are One. At the personal level my recent faith journey has caused me to move beyond the old religious paradigm (requiring hierarchy and control, orthodoxy and orthopraxis) to discover the space where insight and feeling can awaken heart and mind. Many are again seeking a more mystical path to a spiritual ‘knowing’.

More and more I see God in all things – not as a static, distant, theist Being, accessed through religious structures, but as the ever present and engaged Reality that is ‘becoming’ in the Universe’s unfolding. This God has been constantly walking with us on the evolutionary path to human life and being as it is on earth today. The story, as observed by science, does not preclude the possibility of a deep timeless connectedness (‘God’) in which all life and being subsists, which has long been the truth experience of mystics. The Universe is a glorious evolutionary ‘difference engine’ – always creating the wonderful, the bizarre and the awesome. No human, leaf, sunset or snowflake is the same! Evolution is the unifying ‘great story’, if complemented by the theology of a God present in its unfolding.

God’s creative process of evolution exposes all creatures to a painful food chain. Societies develop by warfare and evil empires. On the other hand, evolution moves forward through the ‘still small voice’ of God’s prophets of justice and the wisdom of God’s messengers – Jesus included. ‘Prayer’ can be influential when it brings people together in significant numbers to challenge injustice and the systems that drive it. Whatever our understanding of God, each human life matters in the unfolding story. Increasingly I want to own a sixth sense of intuition as part of what prayer is. The ‘Universe’ or ‘God’ or ‘collective human concern’ speaks and challenges in this spiritual dimension. This is the place of prayer where our ‘thought’ and the ‘Universal thought’ align.

The experience of saints and mystics, of every faith and culture, is that God’s call to play our part in the story is usually subtle and ambiguous. My own experience is that that the ‘Divine’ is found in both the ‘still small voice’ heard from our ‘heart space’, and in the depth of feeling and awareness that can come to us in meditation. It is from the stillness that ‘intuition for change’ can emerge of great power and depth. I believe that God’s creativity creates by offering us true freedom; we are called but never coerced. Where we do engage freely, the possibilities are immense.

For us to truly pray, we need to become aware that conversation with God is possible within the ‘holiness’ of a deeply purposeful life. This insight has inspired great human beings to plunge the depths of life – implying real communication with God. Such conversation also means experiencing challenges of loving – and allows the possibility of change in God. ‘God’s Will’ is not a given, but a part of the conversation. So, prayer is that two-way mutual cry of tenderness that characterises our way of being human in relationship and in our being: loving the ‘All’.

Prayer is also about mutuality – a coming together just for the joy of it; when we are enraptured by creation, when we pause long enough to still our minds and desires. The long-term future of this earth calls us to know that we all are one – while remaining unique and different. My prayer is that all will come to know more and more of the ‘Life, Love and Being’ that launched evolution. That Life still longs for all to awaken and know this Reality in the depth of every human life. When God’s ‘Love is all around’ in creation, people are constantly able to surprise us with joy and hope! So, let us pray!

Copyright - John Hetherington

June 2010

To subscribe to Reform email:
Or browse to:

A prose poem of awakening humanity

Ascent - an awakening.

Knowing nothing
of right and wrongdoing
Self awakens.

A human being stands tall
on an ancient shore
for the first time.

See, she is coming too.
She also knows Self.
We are
Two in One, Us.

Flesh and blood, evolving,
copying ourselves
into infinite difference.

We were our cousins once,
Subtle in difference,
enjoying the tree canopy.
Knowers in a gentler way.

We will become even more
Through our tomorrows.

Older than eternity
Inhabiting feeling
Their senses reach out.
Thought gathers.

Sand, sea and infinite sky
are nominated.

Alone still,
their beingness cries
in ecstasy

Seeing, touching, smelling.
Sensate explorers!
Form is formed within.
Love is shared.

Thought follows thought
In a crescendo of insight
This is that.
For, in this beginning was the Word.

Now is old.
Yet, there was a before.
A prior union
of creating from love.
Yes, we remember!

Ah the dancing fields.
Infinite energy
Timeless time.
Every thing from no thing.

Re-live the act of becoming.
Awaken to glory and gift.
I AM all for you.

That was OUR
Infinite choreography
Infolding into fire.

Let there be light.
Let life evolve.
Let being become.
For this is what I AM.

Light, Life and Being at play.

This is your meaning
and purpose.
Infinite eyes
Infinite imagination
Infinite love

ONE emergent
In each individuated being.
Touched by grace
Loved always, never judged.

Evolving into infinite difference
Thinking, choosing, free at last!
Partnering divinity,
co-creators of an infinite future.

Living on worlds beyond number.
Beings in infinite form.
Love my infinite gift.
Ah, we remember!

In this is joy.
In this is the eternal
ecstasy of being.

Let me never forget.
I know now
And I understand.
And that is everything.

John Hetherington
May 2010

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there."

"Life in all it's fullness"

What the mystics across the faiths have discovered is that there is a "field" where all duality fades away. Where I-Thou becomes One. A place of integration and infinite possibility.

It is a place where each of us has the potential to 'become' a contributor to the One. A place where the Christ can be content with dying because Life can never die. For, "where Love is" there is Life.

The shared space where Life and creative silence dance, is also where other dualities spin into oneness - the "singing field" of all that is.

It is the "field" where religions lose their boundaries, and human beings rise above themselves to touch raw spirit - spreading wisdom and practices - that can open an ever widening circle of love.

There is always choice in a freely offering Universe, where countless life forms and intelligences are evolving. Yet it seems that even iindividual choice is somehow framed by the Unity of Yes and No.

The insight that comes from all this is mystical and fluid. It crosses religious and spiritual categories. it seems to get to the heart of everything - Love.

Love is the force, the Way, that permeates all that is, beyond all other natural forces known to science. And we human beings are often suddenly torn to shreds and recreated when Love comes raging through human hearts.

There are many loves that make up Love, the heart of God's Beingness. Indeed ancient and modern societies know of many loves: powerful Eros, gentle agape, compassion, depths of friendship and many more shades of love.

For without question the Universe is a 'love present', a gift, a grace, and indeed another, less tamed, force to it's cousins, gravity and light - and all the fundamental energies of the cosmos.

As I write this I see in mind and heart what is going on in creation. A vast cosmic symphony: of energy becoming manifest through life evolving, and love becoming, and mind emerging, to be given a "god like" freedom to become and become and become.

It literally blows the mind when for a moment we see that Whole, that divinity of which we are but part. And Yes, we are God, becoming! Love, Life, Everything!

Why all this? I have no clear idea, but it seems these intuitions and sensed experiences are a foundation for what comes next - to discover life's purpose.

Again, there is 'non-duality', no right and wrong, just the 'field' of Being, Becoming through it's creatures, it's dancing energy and above all it's Heart of Love. And I think that is it.

And I thank the Universe for it's gift of life and love and sentient being.

We are embodied life, set free to be all we can be, to live life to the uttermost, to love wastefully. That is the heart of every faith and spiritual practice - and when we "see" this and are "enlightened", then we understand to the very depth of our being that 'All that is', is Love manifest.

But, after that we are on our own, though never really alone - living and loving and being all we can be - as co-creators in the divine life. The oft hidden secret of the faiths and spiritual paths is that we are divinity living itself and loving herself and being himself. 'No-thing' becoming 'Every-thing'.

Human beings have evolved on this small planet in a Universe of infinite Becoming, Being and Loving.
Human beings are just one example of God's exploring, caught up in some inkling of understanding and appreciation of what IS.

All that is written above is just, to you the reader, to get "back to where you started and know the place for the first time". (TS Elliot).

For we are on our own, autonomous and free to choose. No right and wrong, no condemning, no fear, no last judgement. Just explorers in the sea of possibilities. Scary!

No help unless sought by opening to stillness - by practices to open heart and mind, or by sharing with our fellow travellers; looking for pointers from the wisdom traditions and faiths and myriads of spiritual paths.

The world is changing fast and not necessarily for the better, but it is entering a possible period of unity (or at least slowly moving in that direction) where like God, unity in diversity is how things are and will become.

We are each free autonomous human beings - dancing with divinity - often mindless - but hopefully more and more "aware" of 'what is' - as mapped out in the opening section of this blog. There is no question that if we see things this way it is awesome, both for our better understanding and to help frame the loving choices.

Human beings cannot avoid choices, indeed in one sense that is what God's universe exists for. We are in one sense free, to simply choose to follow our hearts and be as loving and compassionate as we can be to the circles of love that would be hurt by our choices.

Or, we can weigh those consequences and hurts in the balance and make a judgement, not that one is wrong or right, but whether or not the choices and impacts will be more loving on a wider basis. It is not about right or wrong but about Love and intuiting the optimum balance from our choices.

In the end, it seems to me, that the test is the extent that Love and Life and Being are optimised and others are set free to have new and greater experiences, even through pain.

To sum up:

This Universe is a gift of Love from emergent divinity, presence.

Our path is to connect as fully as we can into that Presence, where Love takes hold of us.

Our path is to grow in compassion and love in all its forms.

For, in a way we are "Gods" - the eyes and ears and mouth of the Source, in his, her, it's, Being and Becoming.

We are free autonomous beings on a journey of exploration into Life, lived in all it's fullness.

And for that we should always be thankful.

John Hetherington

Copyright 2010