A Missing Piece in Contemplative Meditation
Transmission — Part I
“A time comes when the heart demands personal experience.” -Kamlesh Patel
Perhaps the least familiar component of Integral Christian Network WeSpace groups is Transmission. As practitioners, many of us probably have some kind of personal meditative practice. However, we have found this to be necessary but not quite sufficient. What are we missing that we can reintegrate and include in our spiritual practice? A key one is transmission, the third part of our WeSpace practice. Do you remember the three parts of our contemplative time in our WeSpace groups I wrote about last time? Here they are again:
A. Silence within us
“Let’s set our intention on going within and entering the highest states of consciousness available to us.”
B. Silence among us
“Let’s set our intention on silently connecting with the spiritual energy fields among us right now”
C. Transmitting between us
“Let’s set our intention to openness to spoken devotional prayer and sending, healing, awakening, spiritual energy to each person here.”
Many of us are probably familiar with “Silence within us.” This is basically and beautifully what we do in contemplative meditation such as Centering Prayer. In “Silence among us” we move into quietly becoming aware of the presence of others in our group, both those present in their physical bodies, and those non-physical entities, such as God, Jesus, and the saints who are personally with us — but in their energetic, spiritual body forms. This is what we think of more traditionally as “prayer” but perhaps in a more evolved form.
We will talk more about both of these at some later time, but this week we take what may be the most unfamiliar one — “Transmitting between us.” Contemplative spiritual transmission is an important dynamic in a WeSpace group. So, just what is this “transmission?”
In most every religious tradition we find transmission-based rituals. Originally, most religions carried some kind of spiritual transmission from founder to followers, from mature followers to new followers. The spiritual energy field of the transmitter precipitates a new level of consciousness in the religious believers.
Eastern guru traditions
The Eastern guru traditions include the transmission of higher yogic transmission from a teacher of significant depth, known in the yogic literature as pranahuti.
In Yoga Vasishta, it is said, “By means of sight, by means of word, by means of touch, the one who can infuse Divinity in the disciple and enlighten him is indeed the real guru.” In many yogic stories, we hear of situations in which a guru merely glances at a disciple and thereby awakens them.
In Islam, baraka is a flow of blessings and grace from God to those that are closest to God, such as saints and prophets. Saints as the source of baraka, can transmit it to ordinary men simply through their presence.
In Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, saints from previous times are guides for those who came after through a spiritual (Uwaysi) connection. It is common for a sheikh to gently touch the chest of a student in order to infuse their heart with spiritual energy.
Transmission in Christianity
If I told you that this “transmission” is the same energy that Jesus called “holy spirit” you might think I’ve gone off the deep end. However, I like the deep end. For those who have read my most recent book, you know that I believe that the Old and New Testament accounts of the transmission of the spirit of God are all about waking up to expanded states of spiritual consciousness. The word for spirit (pnuema) refers to the divine spirit, human spirit, breath, and life-force —all at the same time. Today, the concept and word “consciousness,” which did not come into use until the 17th century, best describes what “pneuma” meant in the New Testament. Spirit in the New Testament usually refers to expanded states of consciousness beyond the ordinary. I often refer to it as “spirit-breath-consciousness.” Also, in the original Greek of the New Testament, “holy” and “spirit” are not capitalized.
And usually the phrase is not preceded by a “the.” I follow that practice to emphasize that holy spirit is considered both human and divine in the Bible. In the New Testament transmission is called by various names: baptized in holy spirit, received the holy spirit, holy spirit was poured forth, filled with spirit, poured out upon, falling upon, coming upon, and clothed with. It is clear, at that point in time, the early Christians thought of holy spirit as something “out there” that comes “in here.”
Jesus breathed on his friends
We encounter transmission early on in the Gospel of John. John the Baptist said that he baptized in water, but Jesus is the one who baptizes in holy spirit. (John 1:33) Jesus is described as doing this very thing after the resurrection when he appears in a locked room full of his disciples. He “breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive holy spirit’” (John 20:22). When Jesus breathed, they woke up!
The Early Church
At Pentecost Jesus passed on to his followers the awakened spirit-breath-consciousness that God initially transmitted to him at his water baptism. This expanded consciousness was so overwhelming that others could see the visible, dramatic, outward results of the disciples looking drunk, rousingly praising God, and speaking unintelligible words (Acts 2:33).
Peter and John
Peter and John went to Samaria to transmit holy spirit to the newly baptized Christians there (Acts 8:14 – 24). A man named Simon, an occult practitioner, was so impressed with what happened when these Christians moved into elevated spiritual consciousness that he offered Peter and John money to buy this power. He was severely chastised for this and today we get the word “simony” from his name, meaning making money out of selling sacred things. Interestingly, one can find any number of offerings of supposed elevated consciousness transmission for payment on the Internet today. In our network, we never charge for anything even as we welcome financial support from those who want to help expand this evolving network.
Paul and Ananias
After his dramatic change from persecuting followers of Jesus to becoming a follower, Paul was sent to Ananias who laid his hands on Paul and said, “Jesus who appeared to you has sent me so you may regain you sight and be filled with holy spirit” (Acts 9:17).
In this painting of Paul in a cave in Ephesus used by the early Christians in the 2nd century we, perhaps, see Paul passing on the transmission he had experienced much earlier. He said to the dozen disciples he found in Ephesus, “Did you receive holy spirit when you became believers?” They said that they had not even heard of holy spirit. After Paul brought them up to date, he laid his hands on them and awakened spirit-breath of higher consciousness was transmitted or “came upon them” in the words of Acts 19:6.
The mystics of Christianity
Bernard McGinn, Catholic scholar of spirituality, defines Christian mysticism as: “That part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of a direct and transformative presence of God.”
Mystics are people who often have vivid experiences of subtle awakened and causal transcendent consciousness that allows them to sense God’s presence and spiritual information fields in life-changing ways. There have been many famous mystics throughout Christian history, including Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), Joan of Arc (1412–1431), William Wordsworth (1770–1850), and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) to name just a few. While some have gained notoriety, many more have held similar experiences. Anyone can be a mystic!
So what about mystics and transmission in Christianity today? Does this still happen? How do people experience it? Next week find out!