Good Questions

Questions: You say that evolution is environmentally driven. Wouldn’t learning more about our spiritual nature be considered an evolution in understanding? Are you trying to say that the human race is not moving toward a more spiritually enlightened state?

Response: When we think of spiritual issues, we have to think in terms of two realms: The spiritual and the biological or material. The spiritual is the unseen, first-cause and the material is the visible vehicle that carries it. The spiritual realm is not subject to the material environment. If the spiritual is to continue to express through material form, however, then the material form must be in sync with the environment. If, due to significant environmental changes, a material form goes extinct, the spiritual realm continues unaffected and will express as a different form suited to the new environment. Scientists tell us that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct. Yet this energy we know as life persists as strong as ever.

When science says that life evolves, they are referring to the biological forms that life takes. This is because science is dominated by materialistic thinking. It is assumed that life is generated by the physical forms that express it. Unfortunately, many in the spiritual community have done the same thing. The state of humanity is associated with environmental values which include the state of the physical body and the current state of social conditions. At a certain level, we accept that life cannot die and the source of all peace and harmony must be found at the spiritual level. Because disease, aging, death and discord are still mingled in the human experience, we mistakenly interpret these conditions as evidence of spiritual immaturity. In defining the core and condition of man, we take our eye off the soul (the changeless) and focus on the body and social environment (the ever-changing). We place the soul in an evolutionary framework that simply does not apply.

Is the desire to learn more about our spiritual nature evidence of an evolving soul? Not necessarily. The accumulation of facts, even spiritual facts, has nothing whatsoever to do with the state of the soul. It’s the difference between looking at a beautiful photograph of a mountain and actually experiencing the mountain. One can accumulate a library of books full of mountain photography, but this is not the same as actually experiencing mountains. We can argue that an interest in collecting mountain photography is a sign that the collector is moving toward a mountain experience, but this is not necessarily true. In addition, a person who does not have even a single photograph of a mountain can have a mountain experience. Photos are not required.

In our quest for spiritual understanding, we naturally pick up books and look to teachers to guide us on our way. While these prove to be inspirational and helpful in many ways, these sources of information serve to shape our opinion of our spiritual state. Drawing inspiration from another is not the same as a direct experience of one’s own soul. Yet we’re not aware of this distinction. We actually mistake inspiration for a spiritual experience. Because of this, inspiration becomes a kind of drug that we inject first thing in the morning and hope it gets us through the day. We probably require several injections to keep us positively upbeat. The whole notion of soul evolution is tied to the belief that we must acquire so much spiritual information that we stay spiritually high forever.

As seen in this paraphrase, Jesus debunked this false notion: You say four months to harvest, but I’m telling you to lift your spiritual eyes and see the fields ready for harvest now. The “four months to harvest” is tied to the false belief of soul evolution which, in turn, is tied directly to the evolutionary process we see at work in the material domain. In this regard, the spiritual and the material realms are absolutely unrelated. The material, not the spiritual, is subject to evolution.

Is the human race evolving toward a more spiritually enlightened state? No. If anything, the human race is moving away from its true source of enlightenment. An individual does not discover his or her soul in a community of like-minded believers. The individual must go alone to actually experience the inner fountain of the soul. This is how we are designed. I have pointed out that our faculty of imagination has an intuitive side that opens directly to the soul and a visualizing side that opens to the world of externals. Collectively, we have closed the intuitive side and relied only on the visualizing side. We visualize images given to us by the get-rich-quick prophets posing as spiritual teachers (who are usually the only ones who get rich), while ignoring that gnawing question of the value of gaining the world at the expense of losing sight of the soul. As long as we follow the pied pipers of materialism — those who assure us we’ll find our missing core in the accumulation of things — we will never be free of the feeling that something essential to our being is missing.

The senses-based self-image – the mask, the personality – is a herding animal. It needs to be surrounded by a group from which it may draw its strength and identity. In contrast, the soul is self-existent, self-sustaining, drawing its strength and identity directly from the creative life force we call God. It does not matter that the bulk of humanity is engaged in an endless splashing through the shallows of popular culture (especially spiritual popular culture) chasing that eternally elusive brass ring of spiritual enlightenment.

Every individual has direct access to their fully developed soul. The soul is what we seek. Find this and all else is added.

Are We Here To Learn?

Earth is a school and we are here to learn.

Of all the arguments I’ve heard attempting to counter the notion that our soul is now complete, this is by far the most common. As a recovering soul evolutionist, I understand the argument. I believed for years that our struggles — from accidents to serious illnesses — came with a lesson we needed to learn and advance our soul’s evolutionary process.

I think most rational people agree that we can learn from our mistakes. But suppose someone blindfolds you and sends you into a field full of pits, bogs, fences, fires, spikes, and other hazardous obstacles. After experiencing a series of unpleasant encounters, they lift your blindfold and ask what you learned from all this hardship. Fire burns, spikes hurt, pits are frightening, and bogs cause tremendous struggle. Okay. So they blindfold you again and send you back into the field to apply your new understanding. Does this knowledge keep you from repeating the same, pain-inflicting mistakes? No. You will continue to repeat them until you take off the blindfold.

What is this blindfold? Simply stated, it’s the belief that some day in the future we will be more spiritually complete than we are right now. If we lift this blindfold, we walk through the field unharmed. The knowledge we gain while blindfolded has no value to those who reject the belief that spiritual fulfillment is a hope of the future.

Another consideration that raises doubts about the schoolhouse theory is the question so often posed: What about the Hitlers of the world? Are we to imagine they chose such destructive, hateful, and harmful paths because their soul’s had certain lessons to learn, and this learning required millions of victims? And what of these millions of victims, each with family, a circle of friends, dreams, interests, curiosities, a love of beautiful music, and a list of favorite foods? Did their souls require the terror, the torture, the loss of homeland, dignity, family, and freedom because they could only advance under such horrific conditions? Certainly there are stories of unbelievable heroism, perseverance, and endurance that emerge from these dark periods of the human experience. But are such horrors required so their soul they may take a further step? I think not.

We can, of course, sidestep these questions by saying we can never really know what another soul needs to advance. We can keep our schoolhouse open with a shrug of acceptance that there are simply spiritual mysteries we can never resolve. In other words, there are many ways to justify wearing the blindfold.

In examining near-death research, it would be easy to conclude that the body itself is the blindfold. Many experiencers report that, momentarily free of the body, their ability to see and hear far exceeds normal ranges of sight and sound detected by our physical senses. Likewise, we could easily surmise that the brain, as a transmitter of consciousness, imposes major restrictions on our ability to know.

It’s important to understand, however, that taking on a body does not mean we lose our intuitive ability to “live with the privilege of immeasurable mind,” as Emerson put it. It only means that we have the additional possibility of succumbing to a falsely perceived world fabricated by the senses. In such a world, the soul is reduced to a conceptualization that, like all things appearing in the realm of the senses, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The soul is assigned a potential flowering culmination when in truth it is and has always been in full blossom.

So the blindfold is not actually the body, but a collectively agreed upon version of reality constructed from senses-based facts. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, pointed out that “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The focus here is on that ever-changing river of circumstance and the endless gathering of new facts that produce universities and drive all aspects of our developing technology.

Heraclitus does not take into account that the man, wherever he is standing, can only be in one place at a time. He can only be here, never there. Intellectually, he can learn more facts and he can acquire more things, but at the soul level he can never be more than he is right now. Why? Because he can never step from this now moment. The blindfold is not an inability to know this freeing truth. The blindfold is his fixation on using this ever-changing river of material appearances as his basis for reality.

When we think of evolution, we tend to think of it as occurring over time and moving toward a goal. The fossil record provides the best support for this view. But is it true? The energy we know as life does not struggle to be something more than it is right now. Each of the many forms life takes, on the other hand, engage in perpetual adaptation to their ever-changing environment. The point we often miss is that this process completes within each moment. Evolution has no goal. If a change in the environment requires a response, the response is made. It’s like putting on a coat when you go outside because there are icicles hanging from the roof. You adapt. The purpose of every facet of the natural world is to bring itself, at full capacity, to this now moment. There never has been and never can be one moment when this purpose is not fully realized.

I am convinced that the greatest cause for misunderstanding Jesus, both in his day and ours, is that he was speaking of a kingdom of God that is presently spread over the earth but men do not see it. Then as now, they wait for the kingdom to come. The birds of the air and the lilies of the field are not waiting for a coming kingdom. They are not storing up knowledge so they may live a better life in the future. They apply their full being to the present. This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ seek first the kingdom and all else will be added. Come into the conscious awareness of your spiritual wholeness and live your success within each moment of the day.

There is but one lesson to learn: Your soul and its spiritual environment is now complete. Quietly dwell in this understanding and carry it through your day. Jesus did not suggest that the lessons we learn from problems in life will help brighten our light. He simply said, let your light shine. This light rises from your very core, from the center to the circumference of your being. Become willing to remove your blindfold of preconceived notions about your spiritual inadequacies, and surrender to the radiance of this healing, balancing light that is your soul.

[Watch Spiritual Adaptation on YouTube]

Spiritual Adaptation

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It is common to associate our ongoing spiritual interest with a quest, a journey, or an evolutionary process of development. We think of ourselves as being at one place in understanding and we’re slowly moving to another. This perspective is strengthened by observing our typical method of learning. Acquiring knowledge on any subject involves the acquisition of information we do not currently have. The more information we gather, the more informed we obviously become.

When we think of someone we consider a spiritual giant, Jesus, for example, we assume he applied the same information-gathering process to his own spiritual development. The people of his day were certainly baffled. “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” (John 7:15). Today, still applying the evolutionary model, we speculate that during the so-called missing years – that 18-year gap between ages of 12 and 30 – he may have retired to the desert to study with the Essenes, or traveled to India to study with Hindu mystics. Some speculate that he was a very old soul. Still others hold that he was sent by God, that his great wisdom is explained by his unique spiritual pedigree.

Let’s look at this with fresh eyes. All of creation is constantly tuning itself to its present environment. Any living form that does not do this successfully goes extinct. What we are calling a progression – moving from a lesser to a greater, more complex state – is really a perpetual adaptation to the present. This is a very different process that suggests all the pertinent forces of this universe are active and fully engaged now.

This is how we must think of the spiritual dimension and our relationship to it. We, like all of nature, are designed to interface with this omnipresent reality we call God. We won’t eventually evolve to this capacity, we have it now. To think something so essential to our spiritual well-being is somehow withheld, or that we have to earn it through lifetimes of searching is spiritually illogical. Who would withhold information critical to the well-being of their own children? If we as parents would not do this, why would we think it’s happening to us?

Man has the greatest capacity for creative expression. That natural hurdles would be thrown in front of us to hinder us is ludicrous. We are blinded by our own ignorance.

 

Our Spiritual Core

Audio: Our Spiritual Core

YouTube: Friends, we had a technical issue with the video this morning, so I’m running one I did earlier: The Undamaged Soul

Today’s talk is in audio format only. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Question: “What, in your way of thinking, is the difference between the term “Soul” and Unity’s use of the “Christ within?”

Answer: “The soul is eternal, unaffected by our ever-changing beliefs, moods, and the perpetually shifting sands of daily thinking. The soul is the spiritual core that we associate with the Christ, that image and likeness of God that is already complete, no evolution required. It is that deeper essence that survives when there is no more need for a hat and boots.” Excerpt from The Complete Soul.

From this, you can see that I consider the soul and the Christ as two separate terms that refer to the same thing. The public’s general understanding of these terms is that they are different. If you Google ‘soul definition’ and ‘Christ definition’ here’s what you come up with: soulthe spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. Christthe title, also treated as a name, given to Jesus of Nazareth. Though Unity treats the Christ as our spiritual core, the term has such historical and religious significance many may find it a barrier rather than a help to advancing their spiritual understanding.

It is important that each person find his or her own direct experience with God. Nothing cuts quicker through the maze of terminology and dogmatic formulas than a genuine spiritual awakening. This is the beauty of Moses’ face-to-face with the Lord. “Tell them I Am sent you,” Moses was told. This is not a name but an eternal state of being, universally shared by all. It’s a confusing response only as long as we are trying to place God in time and space, or worse, inside someone’s skin.

You have a spiritual core that responds to any name you are comfortable giving it. Tennyson described it as “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” The location of your spiritual core is fixed. The name you choose is yours to decide.

Natural Supply

(Chapter 9 of The Complete Soul)

Our prodigal awareness, forever trolling the reef-laden shallows of the material domain, never quite forgets that our real home has no shores. We sit in the safety of the harbor with our books, our teachers and our sacred scriptures. We visit the beach, gaze in reverence and wonder into that mist-shrouded horizon that stirs in us a strange mix of mystery and primordial familiarity. With our values, our house and our affairs orderly and firmly established in harbor life, we think a certain way, the starting point always from these surrounding beaches. We contemplate and read about the sea and we seek to reconcile the fact that we are so deeply moved by this boundless vista, this restless living thing that stirs before us.

Then, at some unexpected moment, a profound revelation breaks into our awareness. Our house may indeed stand in the harbor, our ship, safely moored at the pier, but our true home is the open sea. This incessant longing that keeps bringing us back to the wonder we behold from this beach, to the feel of cool waves washing over our feet, is that completed part of us that never has and never shall leave the unconditional freedom of this eternal sea. To know this truth and to value it above all is to put our heart in the Truth that makes us free. – JDB

As we’ve seen, one of the restrictions we encounter with a body is its care and maintenance. Yet when Matthew included Jesus’ discourse on the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, he did so in a way that suggests a condition where the body is supplied by something transcending the usual sweat-of-the-brow approach to meeting our material needs. He may have been hinting at this with Nicodemus when he pointed out the need to be born anew, to dislodge focus on the body-centered self-image and move the awareness back to its rightful place … the soul. Might this have been why he also said, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.[1] Is he not calling attention to our true being as spiritual rather than biological?

Extended Dependence as Infants

Of all living creatures, we humans take the prize when it comes to extended dependence in infancy. Unless we were fortunate enough to be born to parents who did not confuse our soul with our body (this would be a cultural rarity), we have much to learn, not in the way of soul education, but in bodily disassociation. While in the womb, we took no thought of hunger, warmth, and security. The instant we emerged from this all-sustaining incubator, any absence of these accustomed comforts suddenly became a factor. We were, for the first time, introduced to the reality of lack. In addition, people took the place of the womb in providing our physical comforts and essentials.

It was during this critical phase of infancy that our life of service to the needs of the body began. The culture into which we were born inadvertently lured us into the hope that we could draw permanent sustenance and satisfaction from the material world. In the eyes of some, competition for resources began a cognitive arms race, as one evolutionary biologist describes it.[2] We experienced the nakedness of lack and decided we would do most anything to avoid it. Possession-based esteem issues were born (without this or that thing, I’m not good enough). These were our formative years, our conformative years, our fall, that transitioning period when the self-awareness shifted from the natural, inwardly oriented soul that took on a body, to a body-centered self-image that started carrying the abstract notion of having a soul.

This fundamental shift in identity, this separation of the self-awareness from the soul, becomes for us the “… way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way to [spiritual] death.[3]

The day, the very minute that our physical body entered this worldly harbor, was marked, recorded, and certified as the beginning of our existence. Programmed to associate who and what we are at the body level, the birthday clock began ticking, and our body-centered self, exposed and beholden to the restrictions of Newtonian law, kicked in. Suddenly we had our father’s eyes or our mother’s hair, and a physical brain treated as a blank tablet to be socialized and filled with the information that would enable us to cope with our strange new reality. We became the star pupil or the dumb kid in the class, the athlete or the nerd, the homecoming queen or the plain Jane. We were evaluated, not on the order of the once-familiar eternal scale of the soul, but on a culturally calibrated scale, subject to time and space, genetics, social performance, I.Q., age, looks, rich or poor, popularity and by all else that transpires between the book ends of the birth and death of our physical body. Perhaps our parents and educators determined that our natural talents and interests had no monetary potential and discouraged their development. You and I have stepped into a world that largely ignores the warning of Emerson:

“Don’t be deceived by dimples and curls. I tell you that babe is a thousand years old.”

Our world trades in the currency of dimples and curls, and is largely asleep to the soul. The materialists tell us that God is nothing more than a primordial need, a naturally selected configuration of neurons, evolved in the brain as a genetic response to our need to invent meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. The thousand-year-old babe is thrown out with the bathwater the moment the umbilical cord is severed and we are laid to suckle at our mother’s breast.

With the intuitive portal all but closed, the self-awareness merges with the ego and takes on the unintended role as the ruling force in the tiny universe that is the self-image and its accompanying galaxy of consciousness. Consciously cut off from the soul, the self-image measures its strength, worth, and relevance by the type and quality of external positions and possessions it acquires. This false sense of identity engages the visualizing aspect of the imagination and all other faculties in a life-long quest to draw fulfillment from external sources. The cognitive arms race is game on in earnest.

Law of Attraction/Positive Thinking

Those who discover the correlation between their consciousness and their life’s conditions may be drawn to a class of teachings that shift the focus from hard labor to positive mental attitudes as a means of acquiring the things they desire. This affirmative approach based on the law of attraction advocates developing and attracting conditions of healing and prosperity through the practice of positive mental attitudes and the power of positive thinking. This approach is good as far as it goes.

From the Gospel of Matthew, we get the sense that Jesus warned against the practice of laying up earthly treasures where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal,[4] regardless of the method of acquisition employed. Jesus bluntly distinguishes between God and mammon,[5] leaving little doubt that the worship of one meant the denial of the other. And yet, as I’ve already pointed out, one of the most beautiful passages of scripture also comes from Matthew’s account, with Jesus clearly stating that a genuine understanding of our spiritual heritage naturally translates into a life free of fear and material want; a condition already enjoyed by the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”[6]

We may declare our main interest is in spiritual matters, but we would probably be most honest admitting our motive in seeking first the kingdom is simply a means to the greater end of having all these things. We are still shackled with the problem of the soul engaged in the human experience from within a physical body whose needs provide much of the incentive that drives our quest for spiritual understanding. We sit up and take notice when a man like Jesus suggests the triumph of spirit over matter. The quest for spiritual understanding can easily take a back seat to finding that elusive key to a restriction-free physical body and material environment.

The context of this saying clearly indicates that the “kingdom” is of far greater value than any material benefits it might generate. In addition, gaining an understanding of it does not seem to involve a patient process of consciousness building that will one day bring our evolving soul into alignment with a universe of material abundance. We are led to believe that it is our understanding and trust in the present and accessible spiritual domain, awaiting our recognition that fulfills our material requirements; a state that brings to mind that carefree harmony between soul and body that we enjoyed in the womb.

Not God or Mammon

The appeal of practical Christianity is the hope that the system Jesus taught will make us masters of our bodies and material environment. How to heal the body, generate prosperity, get a better job, or find our soul mate are the things we’re hoping to achieve through a deeper understanding of this kingdom. Though these represent practical solutions to the problems of the human experience, our focus only on what we deem practical may also keep us from asking and seeking answers to some deeper, much larger questions.

In some ways, the notion of spiritual progress becomes a set of blinders focused only on how adept we are at material demonstration. Rather than commit to actually entering this higher sphere, we often treat it as a means of drawing from a basket the goods we desire and solutions to the problems that confront us in this earthly endeavor. The point we may miss in our quest for things is that, from our soul’s point of view, it has never been a question of God or mammon. God is one presence, one power expressing at all levels. Our needs are met at each level. Are we settling for just the visible aspect of available support, or do we seek an understanding of that unseen Source that sustains the soul? I do not think Jesus is urging his listener away from fulfilling their material needs. I believe he is coaxing them toward an understanding of the fuller spectrum.

Because Jesus makes an issue of the worship of God and mammon, some have concluded that he was advocating material deprivation. The keyword here is worship. To worship is to venerate something as an idol. Whether we are idolizing a stone statue, a religious relic, or a pile of money there is a difference between seeing an object as a source of power, and seeing it as a symbol or a reminder of that deeper reality that is the source of all power. The trap many fall into with the practice of tithing, for example, is that they designate a percentage of their income as God’s. The real power of tithing kicks in when we look beyond percentages and realize that 100% of all that we receive and give is God’s.

Veneration of the symbol, seeing it as the object of fulfillment, is worshiping mammon. The symbol is an expression, an effect of the deeper reality. When our priority is to experience and understand at this level, then its material counterpart sheds its status as mammon. Who would consider a peaceful walk in the woods, with all the natural beauty that we see, hear, touch, and smell as mammon? Yet the material aspect of the natural world is the visible counterpart of an underlying, supporting reality we do not see. The issue is not the material realm as the cause of our problems, but our belief that material things can deliver what only the soul can give.

Take No Thought

Jesus’ statement that we take no thought, or refrain from being anxious concerning what we shall eat, drink, or wear[7] suggests a method of manifestation that does not require our physical blood, sweat, and tears. It does not tap our subconscious storehouse of information, or engage in the kind of extensive intellectual analysis that normally accompanies our attention to meeting the body’s needs. Given its natural means of expression, the soul projects directly from its own self-sustaining existence those ideas necessary to form the consciousness that inspires the kind of physical action that translates into the various aspects of our material environment. In other words, Jesus is suggesting a manifestation process that bypasses altogether all the wants and needs of the self-image we have created. Rather than the self-image — with its fears, inadequacies, and limitations calling the consciousness-building shots — it is from the soul that our flow of instruction comes.

The self-image has hijacked this otherwise very natural flow that we see in play everywhere in nature. Plants and animals do not have the intellectual capacity or the imagination that allows them to establish a self-image capable of interfering with the manifestation process. The soul of the simplest seed is complete. From this soul, a totally fulfilling manifestation process occurs. Why would we, of far greater creative capacity, think of ourselves as being any less equipped than even the least of these?

From this understanding, it is clear that Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about when he urged his listeners to seek first the kingdom and all else would be added. The problem that our self-image encounters with this instruction is that it has subconscious files filled with information on what it believes the “kingdom” is supposed to look like. When it gets no satisfactory results running to these files, it continues its pursuit to understand by checking the files of others. Perhaps if Jesus had not used the term “kingdom” and instead said the answers we seek are encoded in our soul, many might have been saved much grief searching for something in their own memory banks that already exists within their being.

As we begin to reopen the intuitive aspect of the imagination, our soul’s light gradually reaches the visioning aspect. New and spontaneous imagery is generated, possibly as mental pictures, but more likely as a deep and secure inner knowing that something transcending our normal thinking is beginning to emerge. This knowing will often come in flashes of insight at unexpected times throughout the day. We recognize the spiritual authenticity of this rising light as a stark contrast to any notion of spiritual illumination our self-image has conjured up thus far.

Our real adventure of contemplation, exploration and discovery on this earth truly begins with the conscious recovery of a soul-based perspective. To use another bit of wisdom attributed to Jesus, though we are missing one of our one hundred sheep, we still own them all.[8] The missing one is the understanding that our soul is now whole. This is but a perceptual problem, a forgetting that we are here in this earthly harbor by choice and we are still fully supplied and supported within the womb of God.

The practice of meditation, which we will explore in the following chapter, has but one purpose. This purpose is to open the intuitive portal of the imagination, to get a firm grasp on our true home at sea, to stir in us the courage to cast off the lines that bind us to this shore, and set sail for the open water

.

[1] Matthew 23:9

[2] Roeder, Mark. 2013. Unnatural Selection: Why The Greeks Will Inherit the Earth. HarperCollins.

[3] Proverbs 14:12

[4] Matthew 6:19

[5] Matthew 6:24

[6] Matthew 6:31-33

[7] Matthew 6:31

[8] Matthew 18:12

The Whispering Soul

YouTube: The Whispering Soul

Audio: The Whispering Soul

From a teaching point of view, it’s a lot easier to talk about the soul than instruct someone on how to actually experience it. Yet, it is the experience that transforms belief into knowing, a vital component to our spiritual understanding.

The pioneers of New Thought referred to the silence as a state of inner communion with the spiritual source of one’s being. This communion is an intuitive experience that comes through stilling the anxious busyness of the intellectual mind and bringing the attention to the original, unadulterated spring of life welling up as one’s being. I have compared this stream of incessant thought to encountering a river to be crossed. While most seem to be stopped at the bank, it is possible, and essential, that we wade into this river and cross to the other side. This is not an actual span involving distance, but a state of inner stillness that is achieved through releasing mental distractions.

Two phrases I find helpful are peace, be still and I am. Peace, be still encourages a mental and emotional letting go of distracting images. I am is a statement of alignment with pure being, the “river bank” toward which you are moving. The Old Testament refers to it as “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).  In this episode, Elijah found the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a still small voice. Though we are forced to speak of this inner connection in metaphors, it is a homecoming that every person instantly recognizes as their natural state of being. It may at first be fleeting, but we recognize its simplicity and natural warmth as the very womb of our being.

Our experience at this level is the recovery of a familiar place we have never left. Though we have been engrossed in the winds, the earthquakes, and the fires of external religions, programs of self-improvement, and perpetual efforts to acquire that missing thing that promises to be the fulfilling element that brings our peace, our search ends only when we learn to listen to the still small voice of the whispering soul.