Demonising fear and forgiving love.

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Love loves because love loves, transcending the constricted understanding of the binary mind.  Love forgives because love forgives, leaping over the narrow judgments of the dualistic mind.  In a fundamentalist environment, love is reduced to love of ‘us’ opposed to ‘them,’ a constriction which divides the mind between an ethnic ‘us’ and a demonised ‘them.’  In the case of orthodox fundamentalism, the Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic worlds are all demonised, including their wisdoms, such as Advaita Vedanta and Shaivism, all three Buddhist vehicles, Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, and Islamic Sufism.  All fundamentalism is fear demonising the ‘other’ that it does not know or understand.  Moreover, fear always demonises love, which it is afraid to embrace.  Fear dreads loss of control, change and most fundamentally of all, death.  Fear of death includes fear of regenerative death, death which overcomes death by death, because regenerative death puts to death all self-obsessed confusion between the uncreated ‘I AM’ and the created me, all confusion that underlies safe separation between uncreated grace and created nature.  Self-centred religion opposes God’s God-centred glorification of God, which is the radiant heart of Holy Orthodoxy, because Holy Trinity cannot be permitted to expose the self-centred roots of fear, including every kind of fundamentalist or ethnic fear.  Fear’s unconscious shadow is pride, pride that demonises all that it cannot control, including love.  Pride is in terror of all that it perceives to be an existential threat, all that appears to persecute its self-established order, its well-disguised reign of terror.  All love’s cures of fear and pride are demonised by these reigns of terror dressed up as religion, terror that becomes terrorism in cases of religious and political extremism.

Wisdom addresses the hidden pride at the heart of fear with love, love that loves because love loves, love that forgives being demonised rather than demonise demonisation in return.  Such love is costly because when fear demonises love, love is crucified.  The wisdom of the Cross is the wisdom of unselfish love, which puts a loving arm round fear, but when fear crucifies love, there is utter excruciation, piercing, purifying, long-suffering pain that opens self-centred love to God’s own God-centred love of God, but also to God’s own unselfish love of each and all.  Orthodox tradition calls this the wisdom of purification, because it is unselfish love that purifies the heart.  The tradition also speaks of Illumination, illumination that enlightens the heart with unselfish love so that glorification may glorify the heart with God’s own unselfish glorification of God in God, Holy Trinity.  When love is demonised by fear, love loves, because love is what love does.  When love is crucified by terrified pride, love forgives because forgiveness is what love does, transcending all that the dualistic mind can grasp.  When Saint Silouan the Athonite was wrestling with pride, he was addressed by the prophetic word, ‘Keep they mind in hell and despair not.’  He was not told to condemn the humble heart to hell.  He was not told to condemn the mind of Christ to hell.  It was the proud mind, the divisive, judging, demonising mind that he condemned to hell, the very mind that plunged him into the hell of pride, the mind that confuses us with God and separates us from God.  This wisdom of the Cross spoke to his heart of love, love that puts whole-hearted trust in Christ’s saving Name, love that united him with Christ’s death, resurrection, ascension and glorification.  He despaired not, because he trusted Christ to save him through his Holy Name.

When Honen and Shinran despaired of the divisive mind and condemned it to hell, they recognised that it was separating them from true enlightenment, so put their whole-hearted trust in the Buddha Amida’s vow to save them.  When Saint Sophrony the Hesychast received Saint Silouan’s wisdom in the Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mount Athos, he condemned the mind of pride to hell but did not despair, because he put his whole-hearted trust in Christ’s Name to save him.  If Honen and Shinran were to encounter Saint Silouan and Saint Sophrony in realms of glory, self-condemnation of the divisive mind of pride and whole-hearted trust in the saving Name might spring forth as healing light ever to unite them.  All four of them knew that the demonising mind-set is cured by its self-condemnation and by hallowing God’s saving Name.  Wisdom unveils a Christian Kingdom of glory but also a Pure Land, which is the language of Japanese Jodo Buddhism, through the holy mystery of the saving Name.  Worlds differ and languages differ but the wisdom of the Name is glorified without differences degenerating into divisions.   Fear resists this wisdom and demonises it wherever it finds it.  Fundamentalism closes its heart to the wisdom of unselfish love, which it accuses of demonic delusion.  So what can wisdom do?  What does love do?  Demonised by fear, they are crucified by pride, but they forgive because love just loves, without trace of self-interest.  Of course, thoughts conditioned by pride inevitably arise, but they are released with the same spontaneous grace as they arose.  Wisdoms differ, but meet upstream where glory dawns.  Pride arises but dissolves because confusion is consumed.  Differences arise but divisions do not harden because the divisive, demonising mind is condemned to the hell it spawns.  This encircling wisdom of glory is humorous and ironic but Saint Denys the Areopagite and Saint Gregory Palamas were right to say it is infallible.

Love loves because love loves, not because sneaky egoism is cultivating love to inflate its possessive pride.  Love forgives because love forgives, not because narcissism is laying claim to love as a means to expand self-centred control.  Demonising fundamentalism cannot possibly understand any of this because fear as fear is never ready to love.  So love embraces the wisdom of the Cross and waits.  Love suffers in the early hours and prays.  There are no rational answers because all questions lead beyond the antinomies of reason.  Glory holds steady when wisdom stands steadfast.  Fear cannot transcend fear without becoming love, in which case fear is no longer fear.  Since fear is arising, there is no way in which wisdom and love can force the issue.  Different wisdoms address pride in different ways.  But wisdom is not constricted by these differences.  Wisdom does not despair because love has many ways of overcoming fear and wisdom has many ways of outwitting pride.  Amida Buddha is the coming Buddha of love for many Buddhists but Christians naturally prefer to call the future advent of the Logos of eschatological love by the Name of Christ.  Fear is determined the twain shall never meet, whereas love remains open to whatever love is actually doing, without getting entangled in syncretism, which like relativism and nihilism, cancel themselves out whatever they do.  Wisdom cuts through the entanglements of fear whilst love leaps over mountains of sterile pride.  Demonising projections continue to arise but release when wisdom severs the confusion that produces them.  Demonising excruciation still happens but liberates when love radiates glory from the heart of the Cross.  There are no slick answers to these questions of fear and love but wisdom frees demonising fear from fear so that it transmutes into dumb-struck awe and love beholds self-love die into unselfish, forgiving love.