“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a grown up, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection; then I shall see face-to-face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”
Saul of Tarsus, who became known as Saint Paul after his conversion, wrote those descriptive words in his first letter to the Church at Corinth. It was Saint Paul’s map of the Territory that prevailed three decades after Jesus’ life and death, beating out the maps that others were creating, especially the map that emerged around Jesus’ brother, James the Just.
Saul’s map of the Territory changed so much through his conversion experience that he was born again, as it were. A huge shift took place in his consciousness, and with that in his behavior. He put childish ways behind him.
It all happened, as the story goes, in a moment of time.
Let me give you another practical, relevant, and timely example from the world of science of how perceptions, of how maps evolve. The story below really heightened my awareness of my responsibility for my own body. Maybe it will for you, too.
The decades old scientific map, which you and I are even yet taught, that our genes are fixed and static and that each of us is determined to live out our lives as dictated by our genes, that old map is evolving. My former business partner believed that he had inherited his mother’s genes for long life and so he consciously lived robustly and carelessly until it all caught up with him at the age of 59 on a Monday morning in 2007. He should have followed the new research and continued to evolve, but he made his choices, thus proving the fact that the old map of static genetic determination was insufficient.
"The new model, however, portrays a more fluid, dynamic genome that responds quickly, even instantly, to all that we experience, including how you think, feel, speak, and act. Every day brings new evidence that the mind-body connection reaches right down to the activities of our genes. How this activity changes in response to our life experiences is referred to as “epigenetics.” Regardless of the nature of the genes we inherit from our parents, dynamic change at this level allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate. Theories of evolution and genetics have long taught that genetic mutation is entirely random. However, genetics has been gradually stepping into a new era of “self-directed biological transformation,” a mouthful perhaps, but with great significance in each word:
· Self-Directed: Voluntary activity in your thoughts, feelings, habits, and desires. This is the realm of personal choice
· Biological: Effects at every level of the mind-body system, including reactions by your genetic material
· Transformation: Major shifts in cellular activity leading to physiological changes
This means that control is being given back to each person; we are no longer seen as puppets of our DNA. The human genome is set to be the stage for future evolution that we ourselves direct, making choice an integral part of genetics. This is in stark contrast to the “biology as destiny” view where genes override choice. Unless decisions, lifestyle, environment, and personal preferences are included, a full picture of the mysteries of our DNA cannot be attained.
This is a perfect example of how the map isn’t the territory. The wiring of your brain is ever changing, depending on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and habits."
The map you have right now, the one that you are using to navigate through your life, is a map that can be expanded and made to be more useful. As you have grown there have been transformative moments that have broken through into your life. Those moments woke you up and your map was enlarged. Such is a normal part of being a conscious human being.
The Kin-dom of God is near at hand. In fact, it is here all the time if we but wake up to it. Life changing events are happening all around us and within us – and they are happening all the time. Wake up to the Kin-dom and realize your interconnectedness with everything that is, even the tiny, tiny genes that give form to your life. Wake up and realize that how you live impacts the genes that give form to my life, to your children’s lives, your neighbor’s… everyone’s.
What have been your great moments of awakening? Recall them now as the gifts of enlightenment they were from a loving God… and share the story again with someone. Meister Eckhart, the Dominican preacher from around 1300, simply called them “breakthroughs.” We share all sorts of dumb stories with each other. Be bold and share a breakthrough story with someone you care about. It will evoke wonder in them, and that would be good. It would be good for your genes, too!
Michael Dowd, in his book Thank GOD for EVOLUTION, defines God as “The Whole of Reality.” That is his map of the Territory.
The quote from Corinthians comes from Chapter 13, verses 11 and 12, which comes just before this: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi have written in their book Super Brain about how the map of the Territory has changed in the science of genetics. The quote above comes from their recent blog post.
Meister Eckhart was a great preacher and mystic. His message has been re-vitalized by Matthew Fox who has written about Eckhart's Creation Spirituality. More on that in a future blog post.
Andy Atwood's Blog on an Evolutionary Faith and the "Kin-dom of God."
What would today's God-talk sound like if it no longer was based on ideas and beliefs that were created during times long, long ago when everyone still thought the earth was flat?
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