[Part 7 got too long. I had to split it up. 7b will post at Noon today.]
How do we see, hear or touch something that is not physically tangible? How can we feel a God who is SPIRIT? Do we think our way to Him? Is it merely willpower, desire or passion that we need? Are we supposed to be cautiously guessing what is and is not "revelation"? Or is there another way? Is it possible that KNOWING HIM could be much more simple than all of that?
The Western Mind is very conceptual. Our skilled workers eventually learn their own trades completely, inside and out, but when we approach something new, we typically begin with theory. (This is especially true for we who are college eggheads & city folks.) My entire complaint about the traditional theologies on soul vs. spirit is that such theories have typically failed to move us from the lecture to the lab. (Sometimes I suspect institutional authorities designed it that way on purpose, to keep experiential spirituality at bay; but that is a whole separate issue.)
Now, a word of caution, for some of you - PLEASE do not get involved with something just because it feels 'experiential'. My loyalty will always stand with a lower form of christianity over any teachings that fail to exalt Jesus Christ! So do not be deceived. My appreciation for Zen Buddhists (post #6) is merely that, unlike traditional western thinking, their goal is to focus past their own selves to perceive and discover that which is. But according to the New Testament, nothingness is precisely what they have, and all that unbelievers have, within.
But we have the Lord. It is therefore both ironic and tragic that Christians, who believe that Jesus Christ actually lives within our persons, have so typically worked from superstition and blind faith, instead of acclimating to spiritual discovery of something that is actual. It didn't help when faith became "belief", either. Faith <pistis> is confidence, which means staying strong in what you already know, despite all else. I do not always feel Him. But I remember and I KNOW that I have felt Him. In between those experiences, I keep the faith. And THAT is "faith".
In all actuality, two things feed confidence: knowledge and experience. So, having truly been born from the spirit, christian believers need to focus past our own very soulish selves and find God in our spirits. He is the ultimate that which is. And He is SPIRIT. So while I'm not recommending chanting, robes or monastic excursion, it is probably true that the disciplines of Brother Lawrence and mystics like him are exercises we need to adapt more effectively into our own individual (and corporate!) devotional lives.
So - back to this final question - how do we find Him, in spirit? How do we touch Him, in spirit? With all my heart, dear believers, I believe you probably already know. At least, I bet you know in part, even if you know not fully. And even if you haven't been speaking about it with much actuality or precision.
To be concluded (for real this time) at noon, today...