I’m teaching a course using cosmologist, Brian Swimme’s, Powers of the Universe videos. The course is called Powers of the the Universe and the Path of the Christ. The second power is allurement. In the day language of cosmological lingo, this is essentially gravity. Stuff, from atoms to alligators, is drawn together. Rocks feel the pull of Earth. At the human level, this power of attraction is also felt as love. Attraction leads to communion, which leads to increased complexity, which eventuates in conscious self-awareness. As Swimme points out, it didn’t have to be this way. Atoms could have remained independent units that remained that way for eternity. But we’re involved in a universe that is hard-wired for attract, interact, commune, and complexify.
What’s great about this is that to evolve you don’t really need to do much of anything, except reawaken to whatever it is that is deeply alluring.Choreographer, Martha Graham, put it this way:
““There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
In other words, find what you love (discovered in the “urges that motivate you” and let these draw you into your future. Easy to say, but it’s not as easy as you might think. By the time most of us get to adulthood, we’re twisted out of shape—by emotional trauma, cultural propaganda about “the good life”, and a society focused almost exclusively on an economic goals. Add to this Christianity’s suspicion of any form of desire, and you can see why following your bliss is a nice slogan, but getting there is another story. It’s why so few of us actually do it.
It doesn’t help that Christianity has pretty much painted a picture of Jesus as a killjoy—despite the fact that his detractors accused him of being a drunkard and a glutton. Everything seems to be about crucifying the self with its desires. Follow Jesus to the cross, not to what lights you up. But what if the self that needs to be crucified is the contracted self and its desires? In a contracted state it’s not a great idea to follow your bliss because you’ll end up addicted to some substance or process. The addiction serves to protect us and distract us from having to look at what caused us to contract in the first place—whether it’s emotional or social. So, yeah, there’s a need for discernment when it comes to the power of allurement. The fearful, anxiety-ridden self does need to follow Jesus to the cross, or to the river to be baptized and born again—there to die (or I prefer, contextualized by the divine or expansive self).
And the fastest way I know of being reborn is to fall in love with life—could be your dog, a tree, the ocean, your lover, Christ, the Buddha, or your guru. It doesn’t really matter. Just allow yourself to be in a state of pure adoration, which when you think about it is practice of pushing allurement to the max. This is the devotional path whereby you allow yourself to be gobsmacked by the mystery, the beauty, and the radiance of an other. My experience is that when we are taken by adoration, a presence arises from within the other that’s as close to what we mean by G_d as we’ll ever get to. The theological sense I make of this from within my tradition is that the Christ is the alluring centre, the Heart of the divine, dispersed throughout all of creation. The Christ is the power of sacred allurement evoking a “blessed unrest” to be involved in the perfection of completion of love. This is why if you love anything or anybody with wild abandon, with adoration, you lose your (contracted) self, but gain your soul. To practice adoration or devotion is to discover the natural joy (and deep relief) of being in service to that which is evoking our adoration. (That is, service is not the drudgery it’s sometimes made out to be, but rather the deepest expression of freedom we can know).
In the course I’m teaching, the conversation turned to the experience that seemed to be common of people showing up at church and weeping for the first few months. I’ve seen this a lot. Personally, my interpretation is that a grief arises in sacred space because it’s a kind of homecoming. The grief is for how hard it has been to live without surrendering to love. In this place, a promise is reignited. This, we say to ourselves, is why I showed up for the adventure in the first place. In Christian language, we feel the presence of Christ drawing us to lose ourselves in devotion—pure yearning to be transformed by the love and into the love that is alluring us.
So, today’s practice is to track and trust what is deeply alluring. Listen primarily to your body, because your dissociated (contracted) thoughts are conditioned to keep us living what somebody else thinks we should desire. Even if it’s the buzz of those first few drinks that attracts you, trust the feeling of confidence, unity, and connection that it provides, but be suspicious of the delivery mechanism. Engage in a fearless inquiry about what’s stopping you from feeling that buzz without the booze. Fall in love today.