by Michael Maciel
Having mastered some physical skills in my youth, I tend to understand “grace” within the context of training, the way practice leads to “breakthrough,” where we connect with a higher level of proficiency, not because of our own efforts, but by tapping into a pre-existing potential. One reaches up, and the other reaches down. No amount of trying can circumvent the reaching down, nor can we create the potential we aspire to. It’s already there—”We love because God first loved us.”
In this sense, we are a “new creation” every time we reach up to God, no matter how weakly, and God responds, much like the way it’s depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with God and Adam. We cannot renew ourselves, but we cannot be renewed unless we reach up. That’s the mystery of effort/non-effort.
I say that nothing is finite except our perception. The physical world only seems separate from the Infinite, when in fact it is itself boundless and fathomless. There is a point where (in the same way that the difference between matter and energy dissolves) where the two become one. But as in the science of physics, such realities can only be described mathematically—”God’s first thoughts were in numbers.” They cannot be understood in the same way we understand the visible world.
Our concepts of scale prevent us from seeing the infinite. “There is no great and no small to the Mind that maketh all,” said Emerson. It’s our perception that keeps us in chains, and it’s our concepts that are chained to our perceptions. It’s only when we “die” to our perceptions, to “lose your life for my sake,” as Jesus said, that the scales fall from our eyes, both the “scales” of judgement and the “scales” of our reptilian mind, the mind that desperately clings to a continuity of identity.
This is the man on the cross, the serpent raised in the wilderness, the death of the self and the realization of the Self, the final barrier, the veil of the Holy of Holies, where at the last moment the initiate says, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” It is not until one has given all that the All reveals Itself. The reaching up and the reaching down, the attunement or atonement—God becoming Man, and Man becoming God, not in quantity but in quality.
It is our innate divinity that rises from the tomb of our forgetting. God is remembered in man, not inserted there. What makes us human and not merely bio-machines is always born of the Holy Spirit, since the very beginning before heaven and Earth were formed. The melding of mind and body is the Redemption, whether we do it on our knees or in the dance studio or on a race course. The spirit is the same. The process is the same, regardless of place and time.