The first of two well attended conferences entitled ‘Christians Awakening to a New Age’ was held in 1991. Exposure to teaching from other faiths and learning to meditate had caused people to re-examine their Christian beliefs. Many experienced a great relief in finding others who were similarly expanding their understanding of Christianity and CANA was formed. Later, the name was changed to ‘Christians Awakening to New Awareness’.
In subsequent years of conferences, retreats and sharing, groups were held around the country, and our numbers grew. In 1999 a group of members created a study paper entitled Exploring Ways Forward for Christians in the Twenty-First Century. Later we published a book, A New Framework for Christian Belief. These have been followed by a number of study papers and a further book, Awakening to a New Awareness: stories of contemporary Christians.
We do not have a mission statement, but further information on our Areas of Interest are detailed below.
Areas of Interest
- Global Shift. We are in a new era, with many different aspects and understandings. A global shift in human consciousness is spoken of around the world. On an esoteric level, new energies are understood to be entering the field of humanity, bringing paradigm shifts in understanding the reality in which we exist. We hope a new harmony is approaching and there may emerge a universal spirituality that goes beyond religious divisions and enhances peaceful co-existence.
- Personal Transformation. This is a radical movement from self-centredness towards a more compassionate and holistic awareness. It involves a lifetime commitment to inner growth. The teachings and example of Jesus are an inspration for this journey.
- Rethinking Christian Practice. The deepest mystical experience of humanity is of oneness with the divine. This is a journey of transformation and soul development. Practices to help us on the journey include meditation, mindfulness and contemplative prayer as a means to rise above the ego-centred, dualistic self to the place of Christ Consciousness or non-dual consciousness.
- Rethinking God and Jesus – God is seen as the one presence in which we live and move and have our being, the compassionate consciousness that sustains us and in which we are all one. Perceptions of Jesus as a Wisdom teacher of transformational love are re-emerging, a man who attained the divine potential for all humanity and blazed a path for us to follow.
- Rethinking the Bible – Literalist understandings of the Bible are challenged. Other gospels, particularly Thomas, give new insights into the Wisdom tradition within Christianity – or was it the original Christianity? The Charter for Compassion states, “We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate.” [http://www.charterforcompassion.org] This calls for radical revisioning of any interpretations of scripture that are tribal, patriarchal, misogynistic and anthropomorphic and overly anthropocentric, helping us to move from our roots to our future.
- Rethinking Theology. Writers and theologians, pushing forward the edges of Christian understanding, are giving us new insights into the traditional faith. Doctrines of atonement and sacrifice are interpreted in fresh ways that chime with our understanding of the universe today, not 500 years ago. Mining of the deep seams of Celtic, Esoteric and Mystical Christianity is bringing new riches to the surface, helping us to move on from fixed doctrine to fullness of life. This helps to build a bridge from the old to the new.
- Rethinking Church and Community. Much more involvement of the laity in ministry is a move already happening. This is bringing fresh impetus – more use of silence and creative times of worship. New thinkers are bringing in fresh expressions of traditional prayers, hymns and liturgy and different ways of being ‘church.’
- Wholeness and Healing. Reinterpretation of the original meaning of salvation shows the link with healing and wholeness, not for some future glory, but for life in all its fullness now. This is the way of being modelled by Jesus, a healer. Healing potential is there for us all, accessing the divine healing energy that is a part of this reality in which we exist.
- Opening to Love. Although it is often hard to perceive, we hold that humanity is evolving towards a more compassionate and caring global society. CANA encourages the path of transformational love and opening of the heart centre at all levels of connection with life. This is the ‘kingdom of heaven’ of which Jesus spoke.
- Science and Spirituality. There are signs that science and spirituality are converging around the areas of consciousness and oneness. The idea that consciousness is the ground of being from which all material reality emerges is gaining ground as a theory that gives huge insights into religious and spiritual experiences.
- Planetary Consciousness. We recognise that we are part of the biosphere of the earth with all the spiritual, environmental and biochemical implications implied. This needs considering in any new formulation of Christianity. We are part of this interconnected, sacred web of life, and have a responsibility towards it.
- Continuity of Consciousness. We recognise the importance of the inner life, the understanding of the nature of the soul journey and the continuity of consciousness as the soul moves to other realms of existence at the end of life.
- Community Building. The outward expressions of this transformational, inner journey contribute to the global shift towards a more compassionate world. We hope to create networks and links that will contribute to community building at many levels and help to promote the new consciousness that is emerging.
Living Christ Consciousness
On 6 December 2013, at a residential core group meeting hosted by David and Celia Storey, the discussion focussed on the group’s priorities. There was a clear sense of a strong impulse to live Christ Consciousness. That is, to do the contemplative practices that affect consciousness, but not to rest there. The Christ impulse has always been about living in the world from a place of renewed consciousness (being in the world, but not of the world). The image of Christ as both God and Man – spirit and matter – exemplifies this. Jesus called his disciples to do greater things than he did. We understand this to mean he calls each one of us to be a Christ.