Bojan Gorjanc on March 18th, 2009
A large Perpendicular style Gothic window
Stained glass window

I just finished reading a translation of Willigis Jäger’s book Die Welle ist das Meer (published in English under the title Mysticism for Modern Times: Conversations with Willigis Jager), and would like to share with you some of his thoughts.

Let’s begin with this one: Religions resemble a cathedral with stained glass windows. All the colors and structures are illuminated by one light. Those who experience this light, experience the light that illuminates all the colors and structures.

Religions are models by which we attempt to define our position in the universe, in order not to get hopelessly lost in infinity. They are like maps that should guide us and accompany us in life. But they are not the landscape itself. To be sure, we as human beings need images and concepts in order to communicate with each other and verbalize the experience. They have appeared with our own taking on form. It is within them that we live and communicate with each other. Here lies the meaning of religions for us humans. But they should lead us into the experience behind all pictures and concepts.

The spiritual ways have different methods to guide us to religious experience. In order to arrive at a deeper experience there are practice methods with characteristic and basic structures: unification of consciousness and emptying of consciousness.

On the way of unification of consciousness one works with a focus of concentration: the breath, a sound, movement. The practitioner becomes one with the focus. When this truly becomes possible, the consciousness opens up to a new dimension. The practice continues in movement, and then the individual steps are the object of focusing.

The second basic form consists of emptying the consciousness, a non-reacting of the consciousness. The consciousness is wide-awake but does not attach itself to anything. The practitioner lets everything that arises pass by. He or she is like a mirror that reflects everything but does not identify himself with anything.

These two forms of practice bring about a “de-automation” of consciousness. They work against its basic tendency to busy itself with ever-new contents and lead to a transpersonal domain of consciousness. There is then a realizing or experiencing which knows no realizer and does not need one. The goal is to realize this non-duality.

The universe is a sublime game. There is no beginning and no end, there are no separations or divisions. Duality is a self-generating process that comes out of unity into being. It is life itself, which structures and forms itself ever anew, like the ocean that continually casts waves on the shore. We return again and again to duality and the ego-identity.

Time and again we run into the fundamental problem of Western thinking: the dualism in philosophy, theology and natural science. It is the fear of coming too close to the divine. The postulate that everything graspable must be ontologically different is the reason for the mistrust of mysticism in the West. But even in contemporary science all matter dissolves today into energy and further into an ungraspable background. Non-duality has become a basic insight of many astrophysicists. Many of them looked for their corroboration in Eastern mysticism.

Enlightenment is nothing other than experiencing that there is no separation. So enlightenment means nothing other than realization of reality. Attention to the moment, that is the Way. The Way is the goal. Our life is the true religion. What we call God wants to be lived and not worshipped. Presence in this moment is the way and the goal. Attention to the present moment leads to experience and leads from the experience back into the everyday.

(Source: Willigis Jaeger – How Zen Has Changed My Christian Self-Understanding)

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