#46 Living into a New Consciousness
Personal Transformation and a New Creation:
The Spiritual Revolution of Beatrice Bruteau
Helene O’Sullivan, MM, has done a précis of this insightful book, edited by Ilia Delio, and we share here a few excerpts from Chapter 5.
THE ECSTASY OF AGAPE By Kerrie Hide
Deep in our heart we are filled with ecstatic longing for oneness with the Absolute. We yearn to know the Ground of Being, to experience meaningful wholeness, and to encounter love in our life. Beatrice responds to these stirrings by immersing us in the fecundity of divine Love. Beatrice uses the Greek Agape so she may distinguish the personal nature of the absolute fullness of the sharing of divine Love. She highlights that Agape is not a response. Nor is it a divine attribute. God is Agape. God cannot be God without being Agape.
God-Agape is personal, intimate, self-disclosing and self-giving. God- Agape is the bountiful Love-energy that is existence. Endless, without origin, without source, Agape arises from emptiness, from nothing. It is unconditional, loving because Love loves. Agape is intimate creative union that seeks the fullness of love. It is the fire of Love-energy that is at the core of evolution that Teilhard urges us to harness. Agape is who we are.
Arising from the depth of Agape’s passion for uniting, ecstasy is the release of Love-energy. In mystical theology ekstasis is associated with Paul’s experience: “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Ecstasy denotes passion, intoxification, extreme joy, sexual pleasure. It encapsulates the enflaming experience of mystical union, of being drawn beyond oneself, floating in the endless expanse of Love’s boundlessness.
Enstasy denotes pure transcendence, the exquisite inner tranquility of being grounded and remaining within one-self. It is primordial oneness, the energy-less energy of the shimmering stillness of pure silence. It is nada, nothing, the absolute. Enstasy marks the singularity, the point in mathematics where all representation breaks down into infinity. And like ecstasy that is most inward when it burgeons out, enstasy marks the pressure point that inflates and pours forth as radiant ecstasy. Enstasy-ecstasy flows as one reality
Beatrice likens this flow to quantum fluctuations oscillating between physical nothingness and something-ness, appearance and annihilation. God is enstatic and ecstatic. Though God is enstatic as formless Agape, God does not remain in enstasy, transcendently within God’s self; God empties out, taking the form of a servant (the cosmos), pouring forth love, enabling the formless to take form in the finite.
In this chapter, after seeing how Beatrice envisages Agape as divine ecstasy, we explore how God creates the world in the ecstasy of Agape and the world’s ecstasy realizes God. We focus on the three essential Icons that Beatrice develops:
- Trinity; 2. Incarnation; 3. Universe as God-Bearer (Theotokos).
- Icon of the Trinity
Beatrice develops a philosophy of Being, resonant with Orthodox theology and the evolutionary view of Teilhard, that: “What comes first in the world for our thought is not ‘being’ but ‘the union which produces this being.’”
For Beatrice, to be a person is to be “an act of loving,” a process, a flow of Agape. Beatrice affirms “If God is love, then God must be a ‘quest for union,’ for oneness. The love-relations must be intrinsic to the oneness, must be total self-givings that are mutual indwellings, drawing all into a vital, a living oneness.” In order for love to flow there must be a minimum of three persons, so that the Self-giving is total, mutual indwelling as one and many. The persons remain within themselves in enstasy, yet simultaneously express their differentiated identity giving themselves ecstatically, creating an encircling dance of one in another.
Beatrice explores how the interrelating of Trinitarian Agape is “I-I” – subject to subject. The Three persons become one “I.” This “I” is the luminous light revealed on Mt. Sinai, the fire of the “I AM” that enflames the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), Pure Presence, Absolute Being. Each Lover loves totally. Each is both Lover and Beloved. Each is both one and many. The whole Trinity is an exchange of creative union, one in another in communion. Each says to the other: “May you be.” This same encircling dance of Love, Beloved, Lover exchanging Agape naturally overflows into creation. Agape incarnates, becomes flesh through speaking the Word into creation, and God’s ecstasy creates the world.
God’s Ecstasy Creates the World
- Icon of Incarnation
The second icon of incarnation reveals the Christic nature of ecstasy. Incarnation is an organic expression of the Trinity’s endless self-sharing. Creation holds an innate desire to unite and form new levels of “creative union.” Drawing on her extensive scientific background, Beatrice demonstrates how creation continues to be incarnational in self-creating as the embryonic energy of space-time evolves.
She enhances a sense of wonder at the original creative unifying moment when chaos, space and light inflate and produce the energy that contains the foundation of matter. Fundamental principles of the universe emerge with the inherent capacity to fertilize and create more fecundity. Stars, planets, and expanding galaxies form as randomness reconfigures into intricate patterns that en-hance the potential of life. In enstatic “inflation,” atoms unite and form molecules. Molecules unite and form cells. The union of cells creates organisms, with the same pattern of creative union occurring at each level of organization. Risk and “unknowability” are intrinsic because they radiate from self-abandoning love. Instability, randomness and chaos create the potential for the expansion of being. Through variation and natural selection, sameness and difference continually expand in Agape’s ecstasy. Agape unfurls as evolution.
As the universe story unfolds, more conscious beings form from the creative union of less complex and less conscious elements. Plant and animal species evolve, with each new species preparing the foundations for self-reflective consciousness to develop in human beings. In the evolution of consciousness we are on the threshold of having a renewed sense of the incarnational nature of the cosmos in realizing God. With the creative freedom of Spirit that flows in human beings through oneness in the Word, humankind has a crucial evolutionary role in enabling the world’s ecstasy to realize God.
The World’s Ecstasy Realizes God
- Icon of the Universe as God-Bearer (Theotokos)
Plunging into the depth of evolving conscious-ness and activating our human energies heightens awareness of the universe as Theotokos. The fertility of communion in “I am” necessarily extends to creation, releasing an “ecological” consciousness informed by the heartbeat of creation.
Aware that we are one living being, one “I am” in Christ, we can say with creation: “I am the earth. I am the sea. I am the air we breathe.” Consciousness becomes what Beatrice identifies as “Holistic,” a capacity to see from within the wholeness of organic being and to desire the “one thing necessary” - the fullness of life for all in all (Luke 10:42). David Bohm’s sense of holographic presence that we are wholes, within wholes, within wholes, becomes our reality. Realization of this and responsiveness to it is crucial for our future evolving. Beatrice stresses that “spiritual life does not end with union with the Absolute. Rather, it is where it begins.” Union with the Absolute is the originating principle, not where we end. Realizing that we are incarnating transcendent energy centers activates communion consciousness.
In Communion Consciousness
Communion consciousness provides a way to move forward in advancing the complexifi-cation of religious consciousness in what Ilia Delio identifies as the task of the second axial period which is to form a consciousness of relatedness that is global, transcultural, and integral. Beatrice suggests that this global consciousness will occur when we unite in heart-centered consciousness. Then humanity will become a new creation.
We do know that we are one. We are inter-connected and participate in the consciousness of creation and are becoming sensitized to the consciousness of earth, of all living things, of galaxies and of the entire transcendental cosmic awareness. We realize we are integral to the process of conscious evolution.
Our conscious choices will affect our future irrevocably. I highlight three fundamental movements, emerging from the three Icons Beatrice illuminates.
First, contemplative prayer is essential to the evolutionary process. As Teilhard foresaw, it is only when we “harness for God the energies of love” that we will discover the fire of love’s evolving. Our role at present is to go within and stabilize in our heart and in the one Heart. The conscious pouring out of one person strengthens the whole. All are held and affected by the compassionate pouring out of love. In contemplation we meet in our shared poverty and vulnerability in the one Heart of God in center to center oneness. Mindful participation in the evolutionary desire for harmony and wholeness enhances hope in an evolved future.
Second, we are at the threshold of a new participatory love-knowledge. We are being summoned together to see from oneness and to see from abundance rather than seeing from constraint and scarcity. From this fullness of being truly loved, we can then love others in center-to-center oneness. The ability to see wholeness, to seek what unites, becomes the human norm.
Third, the whole universe is God’s ecstasy. We are all one dynamic extravagant glorious single living Being. The whole universe is imprinted with the same desire to share being, to unite creatively and form new ways of being to bring Love’s reality to conscious expression. As we behold the abundance of Agape’s enstasy-ecstasy still unfurling in creation and enabling creation to speak through our consciousness, we can see that a new abundance is emerging. Beatrice lived the abundance!