Commentary & Conclusion

Christian Mediations on the Tarot: The Soul’s Choice
Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely…

Note the correlation and, at the same time, the contrasts that can be drawn between each side of the arrangement of images:

Ace of Swords vs. Ace of Batons

Ace of Coins vs. Ace of Chalices

The Winged Devil vs. Angelic Temperance

Upside-Down Men Falling from The Tower
vs. The Upside-Down Hanged Man

Two Dogs Howling at The Moon vs. Two Children Playing under The Sun

The Rat Race around The Wheel vs. The Four Sacred Animals
at Rest around
the Feminine Figure in The World
(a figure appearing at once serene and active).

Note also that the images that make up the two (oval) “mandalas” are symmetrical — the one on the left suggesting a world of superficial appearances that can quite seamlessly overlay and obscure the richer and more profound Reality on the right.  Living in ignorance of the transcendental (or “vertical”) dimension of our lives, our world seems out of joint, our lives absurd, and all our efforts ultimately in vain.  The good news, however, is that the kingdom of heaven is within us, among usat hand

The choice is ours…

Towards a Contemplative Model of
Christian Faith & Spiritual Formation…

  • We are of two minds:  1) The Empirical/Dualistic Mind, on the one hand, and 2) Transcendental/Nondual Awareness, on the other.
  • Within the confines of the empirical/dualistic mind, a conventional, egoic identity develops through which we experience life in alienation from God (SEPARATION/SIN/DEATH).
  • Transcending the confines of our conventional, egoic identity, however, we “put on Christ” and are reconciled to God in transcendental/nondual awareness (UNION/LOVE/LIFE).

While the empirical/dualistic/egoic mind rules our lives, we live in alienation from the true meaning and purpose of our existence. This is traditionally associated with “the fall of man” which is attributed to our first parents (cf. Romans 5:12; I Corinthians 15:22).  The mind of fallen humanity is referred to in the Christian scriptures as “the carnal mind” or “the mind of the flesh” (cf. Romans 8:5-7).

By virtue of this empirically oriented, egocentric mind, we represent the world “horizontally”— slicing and dicing it into spatiotemporal pieces that appear to relate to one another causally/deterministically. This seems to give us (as “separate selves”) some measure of knowledge and control over our environment— so far, so good —but approaching the world exclusively in this way (SEPARATION), we live our lives in bondage to sin (and in fear of death) as we endeavor to evade our inevitable destruction (or somehow anesthetize ourselves to it) rather than facing it lucidly and soberly.  As such, we live in ignorance of our truth and being in Christ (UNION/atOnement), the experiential knowledge of which constitutes the true meaning and purpose of our existence and which, alone, can liberate us from the bondage of sin and death as we, by grace, discover what it means to be reconciled to God, to one another, and to the rest of creation (cf. II Corinthians 5:16-19).

In other words, having “eaten of the tree of [dualistic] knowledge”, we can indeed understand (to some extent) the “horizontal” (empirical) relationships that come to bear on our lives in time and space (“the cause IN appearances“, as Kant puts it), but so doing, we tend to become more and more oblivious to “the cause OF appearances” which can only be apprehended “vertically” (i.e. spiritually—cf. I Corinthians 2:14).  Moreover, our transcendental/nondual “ground” (the mind of Christ–aka the Divine intelligence or Logos) is not (in principle) accessible to our empirically oriented, dualistic understanding. Nevertheless, from another point of view, these two conceptually distinct aspects of life— the “horizontal” (empirical) and the “vertical” (transcendental) —together constitute an integral whole that is, Christ-like, both human and Divine. By recognizing and honoring both aspects of our lives, we can trace our natural history and genealogy empirically (“that which is born of the flesh is flesh”) while at the same time realizing our intimate relationship to God transcendentally (“that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”).  But living in ignorance of the vertical aspect of our lives— as we said above —our world seems out of joint, our lives absurd, and all our efforts ultimately in vain.  To repeat, the good news is that the kingdom of heaven is within us, among usat hand:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

“His disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? It will not come while people watch for it; they will not say: Look, here it is, or: Look, there it is; but the kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and men do not see it” (Gospel of Thomas 113).

Whosoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely…
Be still and know…

Conclusion . . .

As such— Dear Unknown Friends in the stillness of Divine presence, as we continue to meditate on this arrangement of images, let us take up our cross (Le Pendu); let us open our hearts to the abundant life of the Spirit (The Aces of Chalices and Batons); let us become like little children (Le Soleil); and let us enter into the kingdom NOW (Le Monde).

“The Now is no mere nodal point between the past and the future. It is the seat and region of the Divine Presence itself…. The Now contains all that is needed for the absolute satisfaction of our deepest cravings…. In the Now we are at home at last” (Thomas Kelly, “A Testament of Devotion”).

–> Acknowledgements

[ Index | Next | Previous | Download PDF ]