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Dave Brisbin

Release and Catch

Carl Jung said that the first half of life is dedicated to forming a healthy ego; second half is going inward and letting go of it. We spend our first half looking for meaning, purpose, identity through accomplishment and acquisition—outward performances that mean less and less over time. We enter our second half when we realize that true meaning comes from a completely different direction. Jesus said that kingdom, his shorthand for second half spirituality, will never be found out there somewhere. It’s already within us.

Authentic spirituality isn’t acquired. It’s relinquished.

All the meaning and purpose we can stand is already within us, along with our true identities. It’s like ground water, deep and inexhaustible, always there, but not at the surface. You dig your well through layers of accrued illusions and patterns of thought and behavior. When Jesus says no one can follow him who doesn’t give up all they have; when he tells of men who find treasure in a field or at the market and run off to sell all they own to buy it, he is saying the same. Until we become willing to relinquish all we have gathered and count as our egoic identity, we’ll never find who we are not, so we can begin to know who we really are.

It’s an inside-out gospel that’s easy to miss because we want to miss it. Most churches are more concerned with finding power in God that will vanquish enemies, fix circumstances, right wrongs, armor against vulnerability, create prosperity… Jesus’ descent, letting go, powerlessness, vulnerability, invisibility of servanthood is not attractive.

Fifty years ago, Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message, meaning that the means we use to communicate affects us more than the content itself. Jesus poured his message into the medium of a personal experience of perfect oneness—truth that would make us free once all illusion of separation was removed. The effect of that experience was recorded in the gospels, which we read and claim is true.

But ink on paper is not truth, it’s a different medium. It becomes true once poured back into its original medium—the experience of our own lives.


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