How Concepts Assist Our Spiritual Journey’s Deepening, ii

Adam Bucko and I are continuing our dialog in our book, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation on the topic of spiritual experience and the assistance that concepts offer to expanding and deepening spiritual experiences.  Specifically, we are talking here about the four paths of creation spirituality.

Weaving above, below, in and out: the four paths wind through our lives. CloudPusher.

Matthew Fox says:

The goal of social justice and the via transformativa is that the whole community can live life fully. It’s about the celebration of life. If you’ve left that out of your path because you’re so married to being a warrior twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, then first of all you’re going to run out of steam and burn out; but also you’re not going to taste what it is you’re really trying to bring about, which is the justice that allows the celebration of life to come alive (the via positiva).

So there is a danger that any one of these paths can be an end in itself. That’s one of the great values of the four paths–to remind us that we move in and out, in and out. That’s how they feed one another, and that’s literally how one stays young, because one is staying spiritually alive.

Adam Bucko responds:

I agree, the Four Paths are extremely useful here.  They really deal with all of life and all of what we are and are capable of as human beings.  If you don’t have the whole picture, it’s easy to just take one of those paths and practice it, thinking that it’s the whole path.  And it’s not.

The four paths of Creation Spirituality, VP-VN-VC-VT,i n Individual Nexus, by engineer Bernard Amadei. Published with permission of the artist.

I think that the beauty of the Four Paths is that they really reconcile different schools of spirituality that perhaps traditionally have not always agreed with each other.  They reconcile things like action and contemplation, and contemplation and creativity, creativity and social justice. 

Fox: You apply them to your work with young street people, don’t you?

Bucko: For our first few meetings with homeless youth, we focus on two questions: “What breaks your heart?” and “What makes you truly alive?” We spend about one week on each question.

Fox: Your two questions sound like you are asking about the role of the via negativa and the via positiva respectfully in each of their lives. 

Bucko: The goal is not to answer these questions. The goal is to be present to them with all that we are.

Adapted from Charles Burack, ed., Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, pp. 198f.  

And Adam Bucko and Matthew Fox, Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation, pp. 20-25, 93.

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

Banner Image: Rainbow spiral. The spiral is an ancient symbol representing birth/death, creativity/destruction, tension/release. Photo by Reid Zura on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Ask yourself the two questions Adam Bucko poses to street youth: What breaks your heart?  And What makes you truly alive?  Live with both the questions and answers for a while.

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7 thoughts on “How Concepts Assist Our Spiritual Journey’s Deepening, ii”

  1. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Stay with the questions… live along into the answers! This is sound wisdom for the souls journey. Today’s DM is reminiscent of what is called The Flowering Tree Ceremony. This ceremony is put into practice once a month. One goes out into nature and connects with a sacred tree. One then sits in each of the four directions with one’s back leaning against the tree and then asks a question in each of the directions. The questions asked are… Who Am I… Where Did I Come From… Why Am I Here… and Where Am I Going. In the present moment, then for the rest of the month, one continues to live along into the answers.

    One could easily apply the four pathways of Creation Spirituality or the Four Noble Truths, or any other four questions that speak to one’s spiritual path or life situation one may be dealing with, to this Flowering Tree Ceremony, making it their own. You’d be surprised how nature itself often participates with you in this ceremony, offering the blessings of intuited insights, guidance and revelations!

  2. Avatar

    A large part of the contemplative spirit on our spiritual journeys seems to be being truly open to the silence of the Sacred Process of the Eternal Present Moment within and among us… This mysterious spiritual discipline is not easily achieved because our ego surface mind easily distracts us with various conditioned stimuli of feelings, thoughts, sensations, imaginations… especially related to the past or future. This spiritual present moment awareness, also called ‘mindfulness,’ involves being able to observe and let go of all these mental and emotional distractions before we can arrive at deeper levels of our true nature of our True Heart Self~Eternal Sacred Soul always Present within~among us as part of God’s Loving Diverse Oneness in our ongoing co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution in our sacred multidimensional-multiverse Cosmos… It’s the spiritual process of integrating our human and Divine natures or evolving our consciousness of realizing our Oneness of Cosmic Consciousness in our daily compassionate lives with one another and sacred Mother Nature/Earth….

  3. Avatar

    Bucko’s diagram of the four fold path reminds me of Jung’s complex diagram/equation ‘for realizing God’. It includes a four fold path of dynamic movement to wholeness. The equation charts the four orienting functions of human consciousness, including the Shadow, which I think might be comparable to the Via Negativa.

  4. Avatar

    What breaks my heart–and always has–is injustice, my own experience of it in several situations, but also injustice to others beyond myself and my loved ones. What brings me alive is the possibility of making a difference, even a small one, and at least planting the seeds of love, compassion, and forgiveness to those who might help—but without any expectation of a particular outcome, just a hope. Keeping the faith and trying to be a “love radiator” (as the Rev. Dr. Jaqui Lewis puts it) to all is a constant work in progress. I don’t have a problem sorting any particular path because they all play a part, and as I have said before, positive action must be based on meditation and contemplative practices to provide a firm foundation.

  5. Avatar

    My problem is relating all this to what is going on so unjustly all over this beautiful damaged world.
    How do we reconcile this spiritual way of living with all this negativity surrounding us?

    1. Richard E Reich

      Maura, Thank you for your comment today. You ask: “My problem is relating all this to what is going on so unjustly all over this beautiful damaged world. How do we reconcile this spiritual way of living with all this negativity surrounding us?” That is the big question. What is most important? Social Justice or the Contemplative life. Matthew’s answer to your question is what he calls the path of the “mystic-prophet”–and he is a living example of this. He speaks out against all sorts of injustice, and yet affirms the lives and teachings of the mystics who teacher us of the deep things of the inner life.

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