Monday, February 15, 2010

"the pattern that connects"

"What is the pattern that connects?" What connects the crab nebula in the sky with genes of a crawfish on earth or the genes in our bodies? The spiritual tradition proposes that the Cosmic Christ is "the pattern that connects." The ancient hymn of the letter to the Colossians states:
He is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible. . . . Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity (Col. 1:15-17; emphasis mine).
Does it matter that our spiritual tradition has a name for the Cosmic Christ and a grounding in a particular historical person who incarnates that Christlikeness? How would a scientist respond to this naming of "the pattern that connects"? The Cosmic Christ, seen as "the pattern that connects," affirms the scientific quest for such a pattern. It offers hope by insisting on the interconnectivity of all things and on the power of the human mind and spirit to experience personally this common glue among things.

The Cosmic Christ personalizes and localizes the experience of the "pattern that connects" in a manner that is utterly nontrivial. It grounds this interconnectivity in the cosmic experience of the joy and suffering of the historical Jesus [or even Thomas A. Anderson for that matter! d.b.]: the Colossians hymn ends with a statement about the price this human, Jesus, had to pay for incarnating the Cosmic Christ. The crucial connection is made between our moral behavior and our knowledge and love of the universe. Not even scientists are exempt from acting out the wisdom of the universe. "God wanted all maturity to be found in him and all things to be reconciled through him, and for him everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his death on the cross" (Col. 1:19-20). Irony and paradox are also celebrated in this passage--peace comes from violent injustice in the crucifixion of an innocent man. The cosmic pain that the cross represents is named. Our sacrifices are cosmic in size; our suffering is cosmic in scope; and the peace too is cosmic in its promise. The paradox is that this "pattern that connects" also disconnects. Continuity and discontinuity accompany one another. A violent wrenching--even on divinity's part in lettering Jesus die an ignominious death--produces cosmic peace. A death--any death--is always a disconnection. Yet this particularly ignominious and cosmic death on a cross, violent in its disconnection of humanity and divinity, of justice and injustice, of light and darkness, does in the last analysis, connect. It connects heaven and earth, past and future, divinity and humanity, all of creation: "everything in heaven and everything on earth."

The cosmic peace coming by way of the cross instructs us in a second way of mindfulness: emptying. This kenosis, or "emptying," is also connected to mindfulness and to the entrance of the Cosmic Christ into our psyches. "Only those who have dared to let go can dare to re-enter" warns Meister Eckhart (ME, 67). The Cosmic Christ hymn of Philippians also celebrates this way to mindfulness. Emptying precedes filing. "His state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a salve, and became as humans are; and being as all humans are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross: (Phil. 2:6-8). Paradoxically, out of this emptying, fullness occurs. "But God raised him on high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on the earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the creator" (Phil. 2:9-11). Again the pattern connects divinity and earthiness; emptiness and fullness; suffering and accomplishment. It connects all creatures in the entire universe.

To believe in this "pattern that connects" is to start connecting once again. For all belief is about practice, not just theory. Belief is not belief if it is not launched into praxis. The practice of making and seeking connections, and of seeking even "the pattern that connects," can now begin in earnest. This enterprise will require those "new wineskins" or "new paradigms" that a living cosmology represented by the Cosmic Christ ushers in. These wineskins will offer themselves as vessels for the Spirit rising afresh among the young in all institutions of church and society; making new connections between world religions; reconnecting our lifestyles to our capacities for creativity, imagination, play, suffering, sexuality, knowledge, and wisdom itself. Embracing the Cosmic Christ will demand a paradigm shift, and it will empower us for that shift:
A shift from:

from anthropocentrism

from Newton
to Enistein

from parts-mentality

from rationalism
from obedience as a prime moral virtue
to creativity as a prime moral virtue

from personal salvation
to communal healing, i.e., compassion as salvation
from theism (God outside us)
to panentheism (God in us and us in God)

from fall-redemption
to creation-centered
from the ascetic
to the aesthetic.
. . . The historical person of Jesus offers a "pattern that connects" substantially different from the anima mundi ("soul of the world") tradition of Platonism, which lacks all concern and therfore connection with the anawim, the little and forgotten ones, the oppressed victims of social injustice. The Cosmic Christ liberates all persons and thus, like Moses of old, leads a new exodus from the bondage and pessimistic news of a Newtonian, mechannistic universe so ripe with competition, winners and losers, dualisms, anthropocentrism, and the bordeom that comes when our exciting universe is pictured as a machine bereft of mystery and mysticim. The Cosmic Christ is local and historical, indeed intimate to human history. The Cosmic Christ might be living next door or even inside one's deepest and truest self. The reign of God may well be among us after all(133-135). ~Matthew Fox The Coming of the Cosmic Christ