Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nottingham and Krishnamurti: The Fractured Human Psyche

One of the most insightful and informed ministers active today is the Reverend Theodore (Ted) Nottingham of Indianapolis' Northwood Christian Church. In a video that directly addresses the human condition, Rev. Nottingham examines the duality and multiplicity of the human psyche in view of the world's great wisdom traditions.

"If you've had a bad dream," Nottingham explains, "if a thought goes through your head in the shower, your state changes. We are very fragile in that way. We are fractured. We are multiple. We are legion."

"The whole purpose of true teachings," he notes, "is to reunite us so that we can bring together the core of our true self, rise up out of that brokenness and enter the nobility of truly being creatures of free will, creatures in the image of their Creator. One of the blinders for us," he explains, "is that we have a strange psychological way of not seeing these contradictions."

"This is the condition of the human being," Nottingham observes. "This is everybody. It is a condition that many teachers have called 'asleep,' because we are so unaware, (because) our attention is so diverted and fragmented and there is nobody home to be present to our reality."

"There has to be a step back," he notes. "The mystics call it 'detachment,' a position of conscious presence that is not dragged around by what is going on, that does not have the rug pulled out from under it at any moment, and that is dependable both for God and for ourselves."

The ability to detach from outward phenomena is possible, Nottingham notes, but it "has to be created," through practice in mindfulness. "We don't come with that," he warns, "and life conspires to keep us from that place of centering. All the spiritual disciplines return to this. Meditation, prayer, all of these methods and habits and ways of life offered to us by the teachings lead us into a centeredness within, in a place of inner quiet, an inner sanctuary that is sealed off from the outside."

"In the world," Nottingham notes, "we are in exile. Spiritual beings lost in a world of materialism, disconnected from our source, no longer dependent as we should be on that which is greater than we are, thinking that we are independent, (we are) cut off."
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Jiddu Krishnamurti
Another great spiritual teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, made the same observations and voiced the same warnings regarding the many split off 'selves' that can exist within the human psyche.
"We are many and not one," Krishamurti observes. "The one does not come into being till the many cease. The clamorous many are at war with each other day and night, and this war is the pain of life. We destroy one, but another rises in its place; and this seemingly endless process is our life. We try to impose the one on the many but the one soon becomes the many."
"Our problem," he observes, " is not how to hear the one voice but to understand the composition, the make-up, of the many which we are are." Yet, this is exceedingly difficult, he notes (as so many other teachers have), because the parts - each with its myriad of desires - cannot undertand the whole. Thus, like Nottingham, he concludes that it is in understanding desire itself, and detaching from one's desires, that one comes to wholeness.
 "The voice of the many is the voice of the one," Krishnamurti writes, "and the one voice assumes authority; but it is still the chattering of a voice. We are voices of the many, and we try to catch the still voice of the one. The one is the many if the many are silent to hear the voice of the one. . . .
"To be aware of the whole, the conflict of the many, there must be an understanding of desire," he notes. "There is only one activity of desire; though there are varying and conflicting demands and pursuits, they are all the outcome of desire."
"Desire may not be sublimated or suppressed," Krishnamurti cryptically observes, "it must be understood without him who understands. If the entity who understands is there," he warns, "then it is still the entity of desire."

Complete detachment from desire through the experiential realization of one's wholeness, or centeredness, without any fractures, seems to be what is required. To see one's desire with one's very being, devoid of the raucous narrations of the many smaller 'selves' we each possess, is the way that leads us out of the mind trap we have created. For, "(t)o understand without the experiencer is to be free of the one and the many," Krishnamurti notes.
"In the awareness of this whole process," he writes, "there is a silence which is not of the experiencer. In this silence only does understanding come into being."
[Krishnamurti: Commentaries on Living: First Series," pp. 37-38.]


"The mystics," Nottingham notes, "tell us that you must be emptied, so that you may be filled . Meaning that it is possible, by eliminating the many false 'selves' of the psyche, for us to become "transparent to the divine," as the great 20th-century Christian mystic Karlfried Graf von Durckneim put it.

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