How Webb Can Light the Spark of Our Souls, continued

Cynicism and acedia, as we saw yesterday, are dangerous misdirections of our first chakras.  What is the medicine for cynicism, sourness, uncaring and acedia? 

Cultural uncaring: shoppers pass by a homeless man trying to weather a cold Tokyo night. Photo by ilirjan rrumbullaku on Flickr

Another way to pose the question might be this: Do the four paths of creation spirituality name the human soul becoming lit up?  (Remembering that Rumi reminds us that it is hard to ignite the human soul.) 

Can Webb contribute to soul work therefore and light the sparks of our souls?  Does it light the spark of our inner work such as the Via Positiva and Via Negativa?

Inner work is about Gratitude.  Can meditating on the original galaxies and stars of the universe awaken gratitude?  (hint: we would not be here nor would earth be here without them.)

Inner work is about Awe.  Do Webb’s pictures bespeak Awe?

Inner work is about Reverence.  Can reverence and respect for our existence follow from Webb’s revelations?

Inner work is about biophilia (love of life and evolution’s journey into life) and setting necrophilia aside (love of death). 

Inner work is about Eros (not Thanatos).

Webb Telescope Finds the oldest galaxy ever observed in the early Universe. Images from NASA, ESA; video by EXOPLANET.

Inner work is about Wisdom (which includes Eros and embraces knowledge but is bigger than knowledge alone).

Inner work marries the divine feminine and sacred masculine and recognizes authentic power as transformation and craft and power-with, not power as control or domination or power-over).

Inner work is about Silence including the silence that Awe brings.

Inner work is about Emptying (including emptying our minds about how we used to think about the age, size and journey of the universe and how we got here).

Inner work is about tasting Nothingness.

Inner work undergoes the Dark Night of the Soul and society and our species.

Inner work is about Black Holes, both physical and psychical.

Outer work born of inner work is about Creativity.

Outer work is about Birthing.  Birthing ways of survival, participating in the birthing of the universe otherwise known as ‘evolution’ and contributing to it.

Father Sky is busy birthing and Mother Earth is busy birthing and humanity can be also, even birthing the Webb Telescope and so much more.

This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” speckled with glittering stars is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals for the first time previously invisible areas of star birth. Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI. Video by thebhp.

Birthing a better version of human where co-operation, not competition is the norm.

Outer work means Birthing Compassion and Justice.

Outer work is about why we are here.

and where here is

and that the cosmos birthed us

and that we can praise. 

Only good people praise—evil people do not praise (Eckhart).

Outer work includes celebration therefore.  (back to via positiva)

Outer work includes passion for justice—eco, racial, economic, social, gender, gender preference, etc.

Outer work means caring about future generations—of humans surely –but of all children of Mother Earth.

Outer work is passing on the goodness of being.

“The first and primary meaning of salvation is this: To preserve things in the good.”  (Aquinas)

See Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 196-199.  

Also see Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times, pp. 45-52.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: U.S. President Joe Biden previews the first full-color image from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the highest-resolution image of the infrared universe in history, Monday, July 11, 2022, in the White House. On screen are NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Thomas Zurbuchen, top, Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Nancy Levenson, and NASA James Webb Space Telescope Program Director Greg Robinson, bottom. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Queries for Contemplation

Do you think that Webb Telescope can assist us in recognizing our good origins and amazing 13.8 billion year journey and in preserving the good?

Recommended Reading

Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Time

While Matthew Fox recognizes that Meister Eckhart has influenced thinkers throughout history, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.
“Matthew Fox is perhaps the greatest writer on Meister Eckhart that has ever existed. (He) has successfully bridged a gap between Eckhart as a shamanistic personality and Eckhart as a post-modern mentor to the Inter-faith movement, to reveal just how cosmic Eckhart really is, and how remarkably relevant to today’s religious crisis! ” — Steven Herrmann, Author of Spiritual Democracy: The Wisdom of Early American Visionaries for the Journey Forward

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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14 thoughts on “How Webb Can Light the Spark of Our Souls, continued”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, I enjoyed your meditation today. Our Queries for Contemplation are more than you even list under that title, for you raise many other questions as well. For instance you ask: “Do the four paths of creation spirituality name the human soul becoming lit up?” Yes, in ways similar to Rumi: a creation spirituality mystic himself! And then you ask: “Can Webb contribute to soul work therefore and light the sparks of our souls? Yes, again! “And does it light the spark of our inner work such as the Via Positiva and Via Negativa?” Creation Spirituality by its very nature calls us to deep inner work as we walk on all four paths. But now, in light of the Webb Telescope it seems we have been opened to the awe and wonder of the Via Positiva–and yet deep work on the Via Negativa because of the place of silence, darkness, aloneness–and of letting go of old beliefs in terms of the cosmology we hold–some people do hold to the Biblical cosmology where heaven is “up there.” The heavenS are up there but not HeaveN–Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is within us and among us (Luke 17). Then you list a litany of what inner work is about and what “outer work” is about. And finally you ask: “Do you think that Webb Telescope can assist us in recognizing our good origins and amazing 13.8 billion year journey and in preserving the good?” Yes, I believe the Webb Telescope can assist us in recognizing our goodly origins. We sure have come aa long way from the Garden of Eden…

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      A long way from the Garden of Eden, Richard, but mainly along technological lines. There remains only a thin veneer of civility within and among earth’s peoples’s. Like the ozone layer, it’s thinness is easily and dangerously given to rupture, is overall adverse to the planet, and a threat to all life everywhere on it. Light years further away, I’d say, from being anywhere near Paradise regained. To a large extent, such is a mockery to same, the divine commission, and the quality of human stewardship of the planet. That’s the other side of the story. There’s room for both Creation Spirituality’s perspective and Fall-Redemption views, as both are biblically sound and theologically consistent — for all but dualistic thinkers. Says here, one without the other is only half the story, like salt without pepper, peanut butter sans jelly.

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    Images from Webb are indeed awe-producing, but more even more potentially awe-producing is the information and context gleaned from Webb, and its predecessors…… To look up on a dark, clear night, the sky saturated with starlight bisected by the broad swath of the Milky Way – truly amazing. Too bad so many on earth are denied this experience by the increasing encroachment of light pollution, blotting out the night sky. We’re fortunate with the advancement of things like Hubble and Webb to have such a window into the universe, but how rare now, unlike past generations, to have unobstructed visual access to the night sky..

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    Linda Mary Montano

    Had an experience of being “ silenced theologically “ in a prayer group recently and your name MATTHEW FOX came to me with such applause and appreciation for you for enduring …that buoyed me through.

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    For me, the short answer to today’s DM question is yes, but in a limited way. It would be a resounding “yes” in stoking the existent flame (spark) of those already fired up and spiritually awakened. It’s satisfying to witness Matthew’s boyish excitement and enthusiasm over same, and in that of his readers. It’s the choir reveling in its own musical praise of creation in a celebratory way, preaching same to one an other. In reality, it’s a long-shot “maybe” for those who only see magnifications of stars and galaxies previously viewed with less refined lenses and technology. It’s doubtful they’ll give the pics a second thought. If science and technology were our salvation along spiritual lines, it would have happened long before now, as we have oodles of their discoveries and inventions, especially in the last 200 years. One more gadget, however magnificent, won’t make a significant impact on the whole, though a few sparks may be ignited, and we must pray for them not to extinguish. And for those, a majority, the question is, will said sparks indeed fan to a flame? As hard as it is to spark (ignite) a fire, especially a spiritual fire, it’s even harder to fan to an appreciable flame, to tend, and keep it burning fervently. One only review the parable of the sower (the 4 soils) in Matthew 13, where Jesus indicates that seed life ‘sparked’ in all 4 of those soils, but it only thrived in one of them— the soft, moist, and deep God-friendly one. The other 3, whose conditions were not conducive (unfit) to life and growth, withered and died. That soil is his (generous) take on human hearts, only fractionally receptive to divine life ‘sparking’ in them. Those aren’t my words. And that seed, mind you, is the Word of God, not a piece of technology, no matter it’s brilliance. Technology proliferates, improves and advances, it seems, in inverse proportion to human receptivity to divine truth, spiritual sight, and unitive consciousness. It makes folk more individualistic and independent, separates them from nature and the cosmos, and ever more reliant on countless gadgets and widgets — not on each other and God. It hinders more than helps develop community. Just ask the Amish.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Joe, I have read your discussions ad nauseum on how you don’t think the Webb Telescope is really that helpful for us “spiritually.” And you say, when speaking of the Parable of the Sower: “Those aren’t my words. And that seed, mind you, is the Word of God, not a piece of technology, no matter it’s brilliance.” Do you really think that all that can be known about God and creation can be found in the “word of God”? What about Jesus words in the gospel of John 16: 12-13, where he says: “I have many other things I would have told you but you cannot bear them now. However when the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all truth.” Wouldn’t this be considered part of “All truth.” And the Psalms say: “The heavens declare the gory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech or language, where their voice is not heard (Ps. 19:1-3). Then you say: “Technology proliferates, improves and advances, it seems, in inverse proportion to human receptivity to divine truth, spiritual sight, and unitive consciousness.” Are you positive that it is “inverse”? Didn’t you just read “the word of God” in the Psalms? I don’t understand why you are so negative to this? You say: “It makes folk more individualistic and independent, separates them from nature and the cosmos, and ever more reliant on countless gadgets and widgets — not on each other and God. It hinders more than helps develop community. Just ask the Amish.” I don’t need to ask the Amish. They have isolated themselves from the world, I think there “salt” has lost its savor, and they have buried their lamps under a bushel…

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    Jeanette Metler

    “Recognize the original good, and preserve this,” these are the words that grab hold of me, within today’s DM. To recognize this inherent, original goodness… is to look to see that beauty, which is often hidden beneath distressing disguises. This is the first step in preserving this original goodness and beauty… which is both the inner and the outer work of our Soul.

    In this recognizing… this act of really seeing… we must also be willing to be seen… without pretense… both the via negativa and the via positiva… through the eyes of compassion and unconditional love… accepting both, without judgement criticisim, or condemnation… for there is beauty and goodness to be seen in both. There is a natural kenosis… an emptying and a letting go… that unfolds, evolves and emerges through this deep inner soul work.

    As one continues to be in relationship with one’s own soul/self in this way… this then leads to relating to others… with this same manner of really seeing the other. One’s outer relationships then enter into the via creativa… that heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit, sacred union of communion… that creative movement of conscious love… that not only recognizes the original blessing of goodness within the other and the beauty of this… but that also nurtures and empowers the other to begin to really see this within themselves… in both the via negativa and the via positiva… via the creative pathway of conscious love.

    This then moves both self and the other into the via transformativa… that movement of wholeness and oneness… which is a fuller measure of conscious love… lived together. This is the inner and outer work of the soul, which we are to recognize and preserve.

    I think of Jesus’s words, “Father, I pray that they may love one another, as you love all…”

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      Good point, Jeannette, to focus on the good, promote it and state what we’re for more than against. At the same time, something is to be said about soberly blight’s the good, and to deal with it head on so as to free the good from its contrary fetters. One can point out to me all they want about the beauties of their weed choked garden, the health of their body otherwise afflicted by disease, or the good side of their error-riddled soul. But in each case, unless one attends forthrightly and with dispatch to that which detracts from, nay blights, the whole, they’re in denial of the big picture, whistling in and at the dark, instead of responsibly taking it in hand.

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        Jeanette Metler

        Joe, I guess you missed the word “and” in my reference to the via negativa and the via positiva. My comment actually refers how to respond to both. This way is indeed, the deep shadow work of a light worker. As I recall, the dark, the light… it’s all the same to God. Whom am I to judge otherwise, when I am encouraged to gaze upon this dark… the via negativa… and the light… the via positiva… accepting both with the eyes of compassion, responding with unconditional love and mercy.
        Within this shadow work, the light worker often experiences the pain and the fear of both one’s darkness and light… due to either attempting to deny or reject one or the other. Wholeness involves the kenosis of emptying both the pain and the fear attached to both.

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    Matthew, in the eternal evolution of our souls, like the mystics have experienced, we’re still exploring and deepening our inner spiritual dimensions of Divine Love~Wisdom/ Diverse Loving Oneness that leads to transformation and compassionate Being~Becoming and Loving creative action with others, Mother Earth, with-in our spiritual multidimensions, and with-in our evolving co-Creation~multiverse Cosmos… our Beloved Cosmic Christ Consciousness….

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    In contrast to the beautiful images coming to us from the Webb Telescope, we also have competing images from the TV, Internet and distracting pop ups of Greed oriented sales bombarding our visual cortex and dipping subcortically into our emotional brain, confusing us and disrupting our blance in both thoughts and feelings.

    Aldous Huxsley years ago wrote Heaven and Hell and talked about how all visual images dip into the the deepest parts of our minds.

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    I have been receiving your e-mails for years but suddenly something clicked. The statement about “Social and Environmental Activists, Mystic Explorers, Justice Makers, Cosmic Thinkers, Earth Keepers” Resonated so strongly.. I checked all the boxes..
    Also the strong reaction to the regressive supreme court decisions…
    Today an article about a poet and potter..!! Both of which have been a substantial part of my life.
    Today’s article made me think of an Isaac Azimov quote from 1980.
    “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

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    Thanks Matthew for helping us light our souls! Maybe the Webb telescope is properly named as is reveals the big web of life that holds our little web of life together on earth. It is really amazing to contemplate the glory and miracle of the big reality or isness of it all! Awe and gratitude flows!

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