On Resonant Spiritual Language

It is important – because it is helpful – that we find a spiritual language which resonates for us. For example, the first time I read Wendell Berry I knew I had found one of my teachers not so much because of what he said but because of the clear, gentle and authentic way in which he said it. I have always fallen for voices, by which I mean modes of articulation. Emily Dickinson, Thoreau, Thomas McGrath . . .

Sacred texts (A Course in Miracles, the gospels, the Bhagavad Gita, etc.) and those who shed light on them must speak to us at the deepest levels, reaching through layers of ego and thought to touch what is eternal, to what is connected to everything else. Why else bother?

I have often said – and will probably keep saying until I lay this body down – that I accepted Tara Singh as my teacher after about two sentences of Nothing Real Can Be Threatened. Have you ever had that experience? All the other teachers I’d read – Wapnick, Renard, Williamson – receded. It was as if I were all at once flooded with the love and wisdom of this one man.

When I was introduced to A Course in Miracles, its impact made all else secondary forever. An involuntary action within me introduced a new order, brought my heart to gladness, and provided the space to discover whether it was possible to apply:

Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists.

(Nothing Real Can Be Threatened, introductory paragraph).

I did not read beyond that for several minutes – simply stood in quiet amazement that such a voice existed. In a way, my practice of the course did not begin in earnest until Tara Singh’s voice lent this new intensity and clarity. That is what good teachers do – they deepen our resolve and commitment by introducing us to what is already sacred within us.

I use the word resonates – in this post and others – deliberately. It comes from the Latin root “resonare,” which means to make a prolonged harmonious sound. What resonates is what lingers, what finds a welcome space within us. In a sense, writing that resonates is not new but deeply familiar – hence its capacity for meaningful echo. Tara Singh is not really showing me anything new but rather reminding me of what I already know but – through denial and projection – forgotten I know. And he is doing it by witnessing in a clear and forthright way to his own experience, his own learning.

Resonant spiritual language is that language which reminds that we do not become Christ, we already are Christ.

The correlative in A Course in Miracles is the miracle itself which “must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear” (T-2.IV.5:3), thus allowing for an enhanced communication experience between self and spirit. And later in the material we are reminded that the course reaches us through the symbolism of Jesus because “his words have reached you in language you can love and understand” (M-23.7:1).

So other scriptures, teachers and belief systems are possible. What matters is finding the one that speaks to us, in order that we might begin to learn in the accelerated way that comes naturally to those who are on their “right” path, accompanied by their “right” teacher.

I put “right” in quotes here to emphasize that “right” in this case is relative. What works for me may not work for you and in some instances cannot possibly work for you. I have friends who are deeply committed to their Buddhist practice. I wouldn’t dream of insisting that they switch to ACIM, or stock their shelves with books by Tara Singh and Ken Wapnick. The best measure of a teacher or scripture is not whether it is right or wrong, but whether it is helpful.

Of course, this is a deeply personal process. There are students out there – perhaps you are one – who finds Gary Renard to be resonant in this way. Or David Hoffmeister. Or Susan Dugan. Could be someone outside the ACIM community like Mooji or Fred Davis. Resonance is akin to a favorite color. Nobody else can choose it for us. And often, we can’t explain it ourselves. But it always presents a clear choice: follow or don’t follow, step into the flow or back from the flow. There are no half-measures in the space of resonance because we don’t want them. We are ready to leap. We are ready to test the experience of letting go.

So I am suggesting then that one way to know our path and our guide is through the lens of language. Words are intimate and powerful, capable of taking us right to the gates of Heaven, right to the essence of the ineffable. “Jesus” is a word. “Christ” is a word. The word is not the thing. Our goal is to find the holy text and the teacher whose use of words comes closest – echoes most intimately – resonates – with our own sense of the One Thing folding and unfolding, the What Is.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • janine January 7, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Dear Sean,
    Thank you very much for using the beautiful metaphor of resonance. More than 5 years ago I was very lucky to meet my root teacher Tulku Lobsang Rinpoche, a beautiful Tibetan-Buddhist master. The first time I really met him was as if everything around me became completely still and silent including myself. For an instant “I ” was not there anymore, only light and space. Thank God for the wonderful teachers who are so transparent that we can see who we truly are just by looking into their eyes. My experience is that they do not come alone but with an army of Angels and life starts to roll…. The way you described ‘resonance’ in your post was a wonderful description of just all that.
    THX! and much love
    janine

    • Sean Reagan January 8, 2014, 5:43 pm

      It is a wonderful feeling to meet one’s teacher – in words, in body, in song, whatever. The clarity is instantaneous! And even though it wanders off, some essence remains and guides us along. It is my experience as well that in those moments “life starts to roll” or, perhaps, we become aware of its natural flowing and rolling because we are no longer so resistant . . . Thanks for being here, janine . . .

  • Anil January 8, 2014, 7:00 am

    And then a certain point may come, as it might have come for me, where no words resonate anymore, just the contact with a deep feeling that gets triggered by the most innocuous of phrases by the most random person.

    Twice it happened to me, early this morning, two strangers at two different times, one was the lovely person checking me out of my hotel, at the end of a 12 hour shift, in the early hours of the morning, and the other a 50year old man calling to say Bye to his mum from the airport lounge.

    Both times I dissolved into tears! into that nameless space! and even now as I write it! the initial mini droplets form behind my eyes.

    The first time, at the hotel, I thought, ” dear God, is this the sign you are sending me that only this exists, this nameless formless place where I can rest ?”

    And now the teardrop trickles down my cheek and runs down the side of my nose.

    What is this mystery we live ? Where are we ? And who are we ?……

    • Sean Reagan January 8, 2014, 5:46 pm

      Yes . . . David Bohm is most clear on this point for me: we seek – and reach – an experience that is outside language altogether and then somehow – because we love our brothers and sisters and cannot help but long to share – we come back and try to put the inexpressible into these poor vessels of language . . . It is not enough and yet what else can we give? As you have done here – sharing so deeply and beautifully – it is a gift to struggle in language to leave little lights of gratitude and direction. I think that is one way God works through us, each word a little light – a pin prick – saying “this way . . . . ”

      Thank you, Anil.

  • Cheryl January 8, 2014, 8:51 am

    How beautiful, Anil. My heart just opens to hold your words and feel the spaciousness of your gratitude.

    Perhaps this is grace….

    Thank you for sharing with us here.

  • mary January 9, 2014, 7:26 am

    DEAREST SEAN

    your words resonate with me and have since the first time i read your them. Your words have taste and feel. you are amazing . thank you

    mary

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