More from Marge
All this great stuff is central, adjunct or tangental
to the wednesday night talks
for those of you visiting at a distance imagining what these talks are about
- I hope you are having fun!
Two plane tickets and a modest honorarium would get a four day retreat near you!
Marge Abbott - November, 2006
THE NATURE OF PERFECTION
Our holy city, the new Jerusalem, is coming down from heaven. Her light will shine throughout the whole earth, even as a jasper-stone, clear as crystal, which brings freedom and liberty and perfect redemption to her whole seed. This is that woman and image of the eternal God that God has owned, does own, and will own for evermore."1
Now I was come up in spirit through the flaming sword into the paradise of God. All things were new, and all the creation gave another smell unto me than before, beyond what words can utter. I knew nothing but pureness, and innocency, and righteousness, being renewed into the image of God by Christ Jesus, so that I saw I was come up to the state of Adam which he was in before he fell. The creation was opened to me, and it was showed me how all things had their names given them according to their nature and virtue. . . . And the Lord showed me that such as were faithful to him in the power and light of Christ, should come up into that state in which Adam was before he fell, in which the admirable works of the creation, and the virtues thereof, may be known, through the openings of that divine Word of wisdom and power by which they were made.
Jesus summarized his teachings by saying, "Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5:47) Jesus' words are like a spotlight in the face, like a siren to the ear. We'd like to turn away, but we can't. Holiness haunts us. Deep within, beneath public posturing and conventional behavior we hear perfection's call as the voice of God.
. . .simple joy, moral goodness, radiant hope -- such manifestations of perfect love, alas, have been bypassed. But much has been lost, purity of heart doesn't sell on today's religious market. . . . Do you hunger for holiness, for righteousness, for justice? Jesus said you are blessed if you do, and that your hunger will be filled. Through conversion crisis, spiritual discipline, artistic creativity, moral conduct, and moments of ecstasy, the Holy Spirit of God knocks at the door of your heart. Let the Spirit enter. Open the door. Open the door!2
What was the Quaker message? In a sense it was a call to a certain kind of perfection, a New Testament ethic, the love of enemies, rejoicing through suffering, a profound unwillingness to use threat even for supposedly good purposes, a passion for veracity even in minute particulars of language, a sense of the "Lord's power" that "rises over all" but still remains profoundly mysterious -- an uncertain visitation of grace, not under human control to be turned on and off at will, but also responsive to human need. (Friends Journal, 10/1/79)
WALPOLA RAHULA, What the Buddha Taught
When wisdom is developed and cultivated according to the Fourth Nobel Truth, it sees the secret of life, the reality of things as they are, all the forces which feverishly produce the continuity of samsara in illusion become calm and incapable of producing any more karma-formations, because there is no more illusion, no more 'thirst' for continuity. It is like a mental disease which is cured when the cause or the secret of the malady is discovered and seen by the patient. In almost all religions the summum bonum can be obtained only after death. But Nirvana can be realized in this very life; it is not necessary to wait till you die to 'attain' it.
He who has realized the Truth, Nirvana, is the happiest being in the world. He is free from all 'complexes' and obsessions, the worries and troubles that torment others. His mental health is perfect. He does not repent the past, nor does he brood over the future. He lives fully in the present. Therefore he appreciates and enjoys things in the purest sense without self-projections. He is joyful, exultant, enjoying the pure life, his faculties pleased, free from anxiety, serene and peaceful. As he is free from selfish desire, hatred, ignorance, conceit, pride, and all such 'defilements', he is pure and gentle, full of universal love, compassion, kindness, sympathy, understanding and tolerance. His service to others is of the purest, for he has no thought of self. (pp. 42,43)
He in whom this pure and holy birth occurs in all its fullness, finds that death and sin are crucified and removed from him, and his heart becomes united and obedient to truth. He is no longer able to obey any suggestions or temptations toward evil, but is freed from sin and the transgression of the law of God, and in that respect perfect. Yet there is still room for spiritual growth, and some possibility of sinning remains if the mind is not diligently and watchfully applied to heeding the Lord. (Romans 6.14; 8.13; 6.2, 18; and I John 3.6)
ROBERT BARCLAY (paraphrase)
Barclay's vision sees people transformed in Christ and freed of sin. Perfection starts with the "pure and holy birth," the spiritual state of obedience to God, in which death and sin are crucified. As best I can understand, Barclay means by this that once a person has experienced this spiritual rebirth that all one's actions are naturally taken with the guidance of the Inward Christ and thus that person no longer will sin. Barclay declares that those who know this new birth may become God's people and "come to share in the very being of God." None-the-less, even as each person turns to Christ and comes to live more fully guided by the Inward Teacher, he or she continually finds more understanding opening up within and perpetual room for daily growth in the spirit.
Thus perfection is both a state of knowing the fullness of the Light Within and a process of coming to live as fully as possible following in the footsteps of Jesus. It encompasses an inward state and outward actions. It does not mean a person can do no wrong, but it does mean we can be faithful to what we know.
BHAGAVAD GITA (Conclusion, verses 50-63)
Hear from me, in brief, O Son of Kunti, how, having attained perfection, he attains to the Brahman, that supreme consummation of wisdom. Endowed with a pure understanding, firmly restraining oneself, turning away from sound and other objects of sense and casting aside attraction and aversion. Dwelling in solitude, eating but little, controlling speech, body and mind, and ever engaged in meditation and concentration and taking refuge in dispassion. And casting aside self-sense, force, arrogance, desire, anger, possession, egoless and tranquil in mind, he becomes worthy of becoming one with Brahman. Having become one with Brahman, and being tranquil in spirit, he neither grieves nor desires. Regarding all beings as alike he attains supreme devotion to Me....The Lord abides in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, causing them to turn round by His power as if they were mounted on a machine. Flee unto Him for shelter with all thy being, O Bharata. By His grace shalt thou obtain supreme peace and eternal abode. Thus has wisdom more secret than all secrets, been declared to thee by Me. Having reflected on it fully do as thou chosest.
1 JOHN 2:3-6
Now by this we may be sure that we know [Jesus Christ], if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, "I have come to know him," but does not obey his commandments is a liar and in such a person the truth does not exist, but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, "I abide in him," ought to walk just as he walked. (1 John 2:3-6)
HEBREWS 10:14-18, (JEREMIAH 31:33-34):
For by a single offering God has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts . . . And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor . . . for they shall all know me." and adds: "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."
ROMANS (6.14) – "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace." (8.12-14) – "So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh–for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." (6.1,2) – "What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?" (6.17,18) – But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have becomes slaves of righteousness." I John 3.6 — "No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him."
You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another
HEBREWS 5:12-14, 6:1-3
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, still being an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God...
I pray that, according to the riches of all glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through God's Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God.