My Own Journey

[Excerpt from The Complete Soul]

“One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as the whole great body. The constituent elements of water are exactly the same, and they are combined in precisely the same ratio or perfect relation to each other, whether we consider one drop, a pail full, a barrel full, or the entire ocean out of which the lesser quantities are taken; each is complete in itself; they differ only in quantity or degree. Each contains the whole; and yet no one would make the mistake of supposing from this statement that each drop is the entire ocean.” —Emilie Cady

I was sixteen when I first read Cady’s analogy. On that day, a light came on that has never gone off. She helped me understand that my spiritual essence, like water taken from the ocean, could be the same as the water in the ocean itself. I understood that I was not the whole of God, but I was beginning to make that all-important connection of oneness between God and myself.

Jesus, on the other hand, posed a different challenge. I understood how he, with a perfectly clear conscience, could shock his listeners with the highly charged claim that if they had known him, they had known the Father. I grasped how he could be in the Father and the Father in him, but the Father was greater. If the water in the pail could speak of the ocean, could it not make the same statement? I could believe Jesus himself when he said the works he did, others could do as well, and even greater works.

The issue I had was not in the claims Jesus made for himself and others. My growing discomfort was with those claims others made about him. I understood the logic of using Jesus as our primary example, our Wayshower, a clear illustration of what we can and must become. In him, we had a trustworthy standard of morality, sound spiritual logic by which we could measure and be measured. What would this very old, highly evolved soul have to say about our handling of that difficult neighbor, or that church dispute, or that beggar on the street? What would he think, say, and do if he were in our place? More importantly, what should I think, say, and do to become more like this worker of miracles who healed the sick, fed the multitudes, forgave his enemies, walked on water, calmed angry seas, and transformed his own dead flesh into shining immortality?

Where did this view of our Wayshower come from? Was Jesus really all of these things, or could this super-human portrayal simply represent a composite of old world Christian evangelicals and over-zealous modern metaphysicians? Wherever it came from, I was beginning to realize that this larger-than-life status assigned to him was completely inaccessible. If we are to believe testimony from the Gospels themselves, the most enthusiastic response to Jesus and his teachings came from the common people. Is it not possible that this Wayshower had a more down to earth understanding of our spiritual objectives?

I had no reason to doubt my spiritual teacher’s portrayal of Jesus as the prime example for the rest of us still struggling to master the tyrannical desires of body and mind. I could accept in theory that my essence was the same as his, that every spiritual lesson learned, every obstacle overcome added more drops to my pail. Still, Jesus and I remained light-years apart. He was not merely in another league; he was in a league of his own.

At times, I seemed to be making spiritual progress. Other times, I felt as if mine was a leaking pail, a broken cistern, as Jeremiah put it, that could hold no water. Overall, I moved forward with the faith that, despite this vast gulf between where I was and where I needed to be, I was making a net gain. My evolving soul, though advancing at a glacial pace, was indeed edging forward. Even with that little voice from somewhere in the back seat of my mind constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” I continued plodding away knowing that this sense of urgency would one day be satisfied. If God was in no hurry, why should I be?

Yet this little voice would not be silenced. It did not grow quieter but louder, asking other questions that a mere further mustering of more patience would not appease. I seemed to find significant challenges to the evolving soul model from Jesus himself. In one very short parable he explained that the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure hidden in a field. A man happened by, discovered the treasure, covered it again, and in his joy sold everything he owned to buy that field. The man’s ability to purchase it did not hinge on a preordained time-line that evolving souls must follow. The speed by which he acquired that field depended only on his willingness to let go of his present possessions.

In my first book, A Practical Guide to Meditation and Prayer, I related this parable to my own spiritual awakening:

One of the turning points in my spiritual career came during a time of deep frustration. I remember waking up one morning feeling spiritually empty (as I had for some time), so I picked up a book by Charles Fillmore and began to read. Beautiful as the words on those pages were, their effect was mocking and antagonizing instead of uplifting. I wanted to be what those words described but it seemed the harder I tried the emptier I felt inside. In a moment of anger, I threw the book down and said to God, “If You want me to learn all this stuff, then You’re going to have to show me, because I’m tired of trying to do it all myself!”

There was no reply. All day I felt mad at God for giving me a vision that seemed impossible to reach. That night I was getting ready for bed and a strange thing happened. I was sitting on the edge of the bed when something in my mind suddenly opened and I could perceive a grand scheme. Everything was beautiful and in its proper place. Deep waves of love and the feeling of total acceptance rushed through me. I felt a level of contentment with myself and my surroundings that I have never felt. I could see the infinite nature of all things, animate and inanimate and it was wondrous. A knowing came to me that said, “Do not be concerned about your life, for there is a plan for you.” I felt this message was not to me alone but to all who could receive it. In tears and total release I whispered, “Let it be that others can see what I am seeing now.”

With such an incredibly high experience and the numerous aftershocks that followed, it was inconceivable that I would ever leave the beauty of this absolute love and step again into the shallow domain of illusion and half-truths generated by the senses. Yet the world called and the dazzle of illumination grew dim. This was the disappointment of waking from a satisfying dream to a hot, humid night, the lonely chirp of a cricket the stark reminder of my attachment to mundane existence.

The experience left me with the impractical knowledge that the thing everyone is looking for in churches, careers, relationships, money, power, books, sex, drugs, food, sports, movies, and countless other places, I had found in those few spiritually lucid moments. My restless self had briefly settled in peaceful repose on its eternal foundation.

In the years that followed, however, I often felt that revelation was more a curse than a blessing. It set me apart, instilled a kind of aloneness that made me question if I really belonged on this planet. I’d stumbled on the hidden treasure, but I did not want to lay it back in the ground, cover it, or go and sell all other possessions to buy the field. I wanted to lift it from the earth and hold it forever, a response that I am sure would be normal to anyone. I was the near-death experiencer who did not want to return to the body but was told, “It’s not your time. You have to go back.” The kingdom I had briefly experienced was not of this world. I had peered through a hole in the fence of a gated community I could not enter. Having seen this great wealth and beauty, returning to the plain streets of my world was enormously frustrating.

These few moments of lifting the veil and experiencing a profoundly beautiful cosmic awareness ultimately set me on the path to ministry. My message, fueled only by my experience of God, would center on God as a living presence whose existence I could not deny. Never in my young life had I felt so complete or so supported by the everlasting arms of love that sustained my very existence, all without condition or price. I had no major healing to talk about, no rags-to-riches story I could hold out to the world as proof of my life-altering revelation. Despite this handicap, I could not deny the permanent impact this elusive treasure had on me. I knew my highest service would be that of telling others they too had their own inner field, their own hidden treasure. I took the formal steps of entering the Unity ministry to become a champion of those who, like me, had been called from that far country of life-at-the-surface and were making their way back to their true spiritual home.

For much of my ministerial career, I maintained the evolving soul model as the most workable and practical. I wandered in and out of the awareness of absolute love, sometimes feeling very much at home in God, and other times out again on yet another hopeful venture into some new far country. Why not just stay home? Why repeat this prodigal eating of husks when I knew the advantages of staying home? Why, like Paul, do I “… not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate?”
The best answer seemed to be the partially filled pail theory, the notion of the evolving soul. Though I was beginning to regard this idea with increasing skepticism, my pail was obviously not full. Mine was an immature soul, an adolescent doing what adolescents do. I was leaving home in high moments of strength and self-assurance, and returning when that strength waned, and fear and insecurity drove me into repentant humility. I could envision a day of coming home and staying home, but apparently I was not spiritually mature enough to settle into my true, God-given estate. I was an evolving though impatient soul not yet seasoned with the sweet stability of maturity.

Still, I could not forget the sheer completeness I had felt in those fleeting moments of absolute knowing. There was no question that the water in my pail was drawn from that cosmic ocean we call God. I could not shake the growing suspicion that my pail was already full.

Then, a slight shift in my understanding of the hidden treasure occurred to me. My wife and I were relaxing at a friend’s cabin in Colorado when it suddenly dawned on me that the treasure was not a partially filled pail, a potential to be developed, but one whose current value exceeded all else the man owned. I realized that this parable was a metaphor depicting the soul (hidden treasure) whose full value is already established.

I had thought of myself as having repeatedly left this field because I was spiritually immature. But the man did not leave for this reason. Quite the opposite, he left because he was mature enough to recognize the value of the treasure. Like me, he had found what he was looking for. He had stopped trying to acquire more things and was divesting himself of everything that was of lesser value than this treasure. I realized this was exactly what I was doing. My eye had become single, my choice between God and mammon clear. I wasn’t leaving the field, as I supposed, for the adolescent purpose of squandering or acquiring something more. Like the man, I left to unburden myself of things of lesser value, that I may buy that field. In my own way, I was moving my self-awareness from a pail-centered self-image to its true ocean-water foundation, the soul.

The revelation did not stop there. I began to realize that if you draw one pail of water from the ocean today and another in a year from now, the age of the water in each pail is still the same. Likewise, one soul, regardless of when or how many times it has incarnated, is no more advanced than another. As with the water in the pail, the clock we think is ticking in regard to the soul is relative only to time spent in a body. The soul, like water, neither ages nor matures.

What I had gradually begun to suspect was now blossoming into a full-blown realization: The premise of an evolving soul, as logical as it seemed at one point in my understanding, was wrong. I could now see the soul is complete, has always been complete, and years devoted to further spiritual study would make it no more complete. The spiritual problem that confronts us is not the result of soul immaturity. The problem lies in what we mean when we speak the pronoun I. Thus far, we have associated it almost exclusively with the pail, the self-image. The I must be understood as a reference to the water, the soul.

My pail, I began to realize, is indeed full, my soul eternally complete. As an individualized projection of God, created in the image and after the likeness of God, it cannot be otherwise. My essence, my foundation of being is as equal in composition to God as the composition of the water in the pail is equal to that of the ocean. As Jesus put it, the harvest (soul completion) is not four months, four lifetimes, or four-hundred lifetimes away. This field is already ripe for harvest. Everything is in place right now. The truth that sets us free is present, accessible, and will never be more so than it is at this moment.

I was beginning to see that from the instant I stumbled upon my own treasure, I had been undergoing a major shift in values. I was not aware of it at the time, but I had begun selling those possessions that were preventing me from embracing the truth of my soul. Though I am still sorting through inconsistencies in self-perceptions and beliefs about the world, I have come to accept that we are not here to convince the world we are something other than that which we are at our sincerest, most authentic level. If we express qualities the world deems great, it is not because we have labored hard to manufacture these. We express them because we are simply doing what comes most natural. We made the choice to be here, to give expression to our soul, to give it a face, a voice, and a way to interact in the world that is ours and ours alone.

This is why, in this book, I am placing emphasis on experiencing the soul rather than knowing God. It’s not that knowing God is unimportant, but I choose to follow Jesus’ premise that if you have known me [the soul], you have known the Father [the soul’s source]. Studying a single pail of ocean water is not nearly as intimidating as studying the entire ocean. Yet following this analogy, understanding of the composition of the water in the pail is equivalent to understanding the composition of the water in the entire ocean. When you experience your soul, you experience God.

The Prospering Principle of Love

YouTube: The Prospering Principle of Love

Audio: The Prospering Principle of Love

A theme familiar to those attracted to Unity’s approach to spirituality is that of prosperity. If we continue with the principle that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not, then we see that our highest good and prosperity are actually one and the same.  How do we understand our highest good? Is it that which enables us to continue living unchallenged in our comfort zone, or, is it that which is nudging us out?

The embryo of the chick develops naturally and comfortably within its shell. But the day comes when the shell – once a solution – becomes a problem. When we find ourselves in this predicament, we usually pray for some alteration in the shell. We need more room. The chick, uncertain of what lay on the other side but sure that life has become a bit too cramped, instinctively begins pecking at the shell.

This is a clear example of the prospering principle of love. The chick not only has the instinct to start pecking, it also has an egg tooth to aid in the escape. Love urges the chick into a freer environment while dissolving the old, now confining world within the shell. Within moments of hatching, a life-sustaining environment becomes a useless pile of debris.

The shell we humans deal with is the universe of ideas that make up our current consciousness. These may have worked for us at one time, but now we are beginning to feel cramped. Our life is not working so well. Affirming the prospering principle of love is at work in us now is a willingness to acknowledge our desire for greater freedom is God calling us to move into a broader experience. We’ve reached the limit of a shell and it’s time to let it go. In silence, we listen, we learn, and then we start pecking.

 

 

More on Imagination

[Note: the following is a response to some questions posed in the previous post. JDB]

Do I have to imagine a thing before I can desire and create it, or must I see something before I can desire it?

Observe your own imaginative process. You can be hungry before you know what you want for dinner. You desire something to eat, but you’re not sure what sounds good until you give it some thought. But this is only a very surface example.

In one of my books I referred to the connection between the term desire and the Latin phrase, de sidere, meaning of the stars. The spiritual root of all desire is absolute freedom, likened to the experience of gazing into that heavenly, star-filled expanse.

Examine every one of your desires and you can trace it back to the need to be free of some limiting condition. Freedom is a universal desire shared by every living thing. The reason we experience the desire for greater freedom is because the soul is already free, and we’ve done something in our thinking to restrict it.

This universal desire for freedom is imparted into our awareness through the intuitive aspect of the imagination. Because we are so tuned into outer noise, this natural impulse is like a still small voice. We have to retrain ourselves to specifically tune into it. This is where the meditative process comes in. In meditation we commune at the intuitive level with this natural impulse. The visualizing (intellectual) aspect of the imagination begins to clothe intuitive impulses with images (ideas) that we can then act upon. These ideas become the basis of affirmative prayer, which is really the natural formation of imagery that rises from this intuitively inspired process. Meditation is the inlet and prayer is the outlet of our unique connection between heaven (spiritual, unseen) and earth (material, the seen), so to speak.

I believe this is the process Jesus was referring to in his, seek first the kingdom and all else will be added, statement. Finding the kingdom is experiencing the soul in its pristine state of absolute freedom.

I think from what you wrote, an animal must see (or sense) something before it desires. But a human being can imagine something that does not yet exist, if I am reading you right.

The animal responds only to the moment, but we humans have the ability to dwell on tomorrow or yesterday, or imagine countless scenarios that may never happen. The animal does not have the ability to imprison itself in dysfunctional loops of thought and emotion. We do. The imagination is a faculty that sets us apart. But due to a lack of spiritual understanding, we have abused it. We’ve been using it to prop up and strengthen the self-image rather than to express the natural impulses of the soul.

We love and admire our animals for their ability to accept us unconditionally. But this is not a quality they developed. They do not possess the imagination that is capable of placing conditions on our relationship with them. We do have this faculty, and it is vital to our happiness and peace of mind that we learn to use it properly. If we were suddenly stripped of this faculty of imagination, then we too would love unconditionally. But we might also become stricken with an insatiable need to chase cars, kill rodents, and put our noses in places that would likely get us into trouble. We don’t want to eliminate this faculty, we want to point it in the right direction.

I recall reading sometime in the past that we are unable to imagine (visualize) something that we have never seen. This may be true of the color red, for example, to a blind person. But must a sensory impression be in one’s memory before he can imagine it in some current relationship?

If we were unable to imagine something we have never seen, then there would never have been a first man in space, exploration of the ocean depths, airplanes, cars, cell phones, iron ships that float on the sea, etc. In its spiritual usage, the visualizing aspect of the imagination is not a function of memory. It draws from our intuitive connection with God.

Let’s flash back to the Christmas story, the virgin birth in particular. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Mary is the intuitive function of the imagination open to the soul (the Christ). Joseph, the intellect, does not participate in bringing forth this child, but he does participate in raising it. The soul (the Christ) is not born from the memory or any intellectual activity. It is a projection of the self-existent, omnipresence of God.

To be made flesh, the soul requires a transforming mechanism. This mechanism is the imagination-equipped human being. In a spiritual context, the Christmas story is not about the birth of a man 2,000 years ago. It’s about you and me, and how we are designed as this transforming mechanism.

Shifting metaphors, the so-called “fall of man” happens because we turn our attention away from the soul and place it on the self-image. The self-image is indeed a product of the memory and an abuse of the original purpose of the imagination. The self-image is derived from ideas gleaned through the senses and stored in the subconscious mind. We keep trying to fix this broken replica of the soul, but we cannot. We try to squeeze it back into the garden, but the gate is guarded by flaming swords that do not let it enter. This is the bombardment of thought that keeps us from achieving inner stillness.

The virgin birth is the soul entering our awareness through the intuitive aspect of the imagination. We realize that the soul never left the garden and, in fact, is the garden.

This is undoubtedly much more than you asked for, and it’s not nearly as complicated as I fear I’m making it sound. So, all further questions are welcome.

Excerpt from Native Soul

Uniquely Human
The evolution of the visioning, personalizing aspect of the imagination has placed the human family in a unique position in nature. Unlike the plant and animal kingdoms, there appears to be no natural limits to the effects we can produce through the creative application of our imagination. Its usage is a subject that warrants careful consideration.

Thomas Troward, English author and lecturer who had a significant impact on the early development of mental science, made the profoundly simple observation that the human being is the only creature capable of producing ideas that do not occur spontaneously in nature. Place a lump of iron in water, he noted, and the iron sinks, an effect governed by natural law, or, as Troward called it, generic law. Fabricate that same iron into the hull of a ship and the iron will float. The iron hull, like countless other examples we could name, is a product of the human imagination, a unique combination of universal energy and personal imagery.

Though plants and animals display varying levels of intelligence and personality, they are restricted by a natural barrier in their creative ability. Troward attributed this to the animal’s inability to express anything more than generic law. Think of generic law as the expression of the Creative Life Force without any elaboration of human imagination. The lump of iron, governed by generic law, sinks in water. Introduce the influence of human imagination and the iron is able to float. Nature as a whole is an example of generic law in expression.

People often ask whether or not animals have souls. Using Troward’s model, the answer would be yes, but it is a generic soul, an archetypal set of parameters that limit the expression of intelligence and, therefore, the creative capacity of a given species. The key limiting element in the generic soul of all living things (though it is present in nearly all species in limited degrees) is the visualizing aspect of imagination.

For survival and reproductive purposes, animals depend on a pre-programmed set of responses we know as instinct. Yes, there are cases where chimpanzees fish termites from their mounds with sticks and certain birds break open ostrich eggs by bombarding them with stones. These, however, can hardly be thought of as anything more than examples of intelligence still bridled by a rudimentary imagination.

If you own a dog, you know it as an intelligent animal with a unique personality. Personable and intelligent as your dog may be, however, you can safely assume it will never be credited with a medical breakthrough, never send other dogs to Mars or develop a faster, more efficient Internet. The intelligence level of the brightest dog on the planet (yours no doubt) is primitive in comparison to that of even a below-average human. This may seem unflattering to those who insist on elevating their dogs to near-human status, but experts in canine behavior know the key to successful interaction between dog and human is to get the human to start thinking like a dog. The dog, they know, can never think like the human. The dog simply does not possess the imaginative capacity of the human.

The Generic Cap
This concept of a generic soul can explain why, in contrast to the sometimes chaotic experience we see at the human level, the natural world exists in such balance and harmony. Nature has no choice. It is a material representation of the Creative Life Force capped by a generic imagination. Plants and animals get creative when it comes to snaring food, reproducing and even shelter-building. But if you observe a herd of 100,000 wildebeests, you see that each one leads a very similar life. Their choices of food, habitat and behavior are nearly identical throughout the herd. Roll back the clock a million years and you are likely to see the same basic wildebeest behavior.

By contrast, visit any town of 100,000 people and you will see countless economic, cultural, political, religious and lifestyle distinctions. The evolution of the faculty of imagination, the ability to combine universal energy with personal imagery, has lifted the human species beyond the creative restrictions of basic instinct. The Lascaux cave paintings in southern France, dating back 16,000 years, clearly illustrate the emerging artistic tendency in our race. In Utah, I visited a site containing ancient rock art of a scene depicting a shaman assisting in hunting success. This scene contains all the elements you find in a modern vision board and illustrates that people have long understood the role and importance of the visualizing aspect of imagination.

Our modern cultures have invented an entirely new world full of houses with beautifully landscaped yards, glistening high-rise cities, bustling shopping malls, countless educational opportunities, grocery stores with foods from around the world, sophisticated transportation systems, instant global communications, trade and manufacturing that has literally altered the landscape of the planet. Roll back the clock a million years and, unlike the wildebeest, you will see a humanity that scarcely resembles the modern version.

Like animals, we, too, have a generic soul, but our turbocharged faculty of imagination has allowed us to take giant creative leaps far beyond the circumscribed boundaries that inhibit the creativity of other species. Your dog loves you unconditionally, and you would like to think it is because he lives on a higher level of awareness. In truth, he is forgiving because he simply cannot read anything into the fact that you forgot to feed him yesterday. He takes the food you give him today as if you are the most wonderful, thoughtful provider on earth. He cannot curse you for the discomfort you may have caused, nor can he attribute your forgetfulness to one of your unresolved childhood issues. He wags his tail in loving gratitude that he is finally eating again. He is hardwired to love and trust you, his pack leader, and he cannot engage in behavior that is inconsistent with his generic soul.

It may seem that animal vitality and the ability to be fully present can be attributed to the animal having attained a superior level of awareness. This ability, however, is better explained as the animal’s inability to conceive of the abstract concepts of future or past. Nearly all their faculties are programmed to address their present needs. They function from a model of success that is limited to the threefold aim of filling their bellies, finding shelter and reproducing offspring. Animals may be content with this basic agenda, but the spiritually awakening human, who has no apparent inventive restrictions, is not.

From Simplicity to Complexity
Your life feels incomplete when you project from the perception that you are separated from your spiritual foundation, your soul. Your soul is a concentration of life, love, power and intelligence inherent in the Creative Life Force. Your faculty of imagination allows you to personalize these elements to produce all the various aspects of your life. You do this by first establishing centers of thought that become states of consciousness, and these, in turn, serve as centers from which specific things and conditions evolve.

It may seem an oversimplification to say that our life, as it is expressed, is derived from varying combinations of four fundamental elements. Consider that, from a computer standpoint, each letter in our English alphabet is created from binary code. Letters are a unique combination of two digits, 0 and 1, put together in a string of eight. For example, you see the capital letter “L,” but the computer sees 01001100. You see the word love (in lower case), and the computer sees 1101100010011110111011001100101. When you consider the range of ideas that are communicated by varying combinations of these two digits, you see how complexity can grow out of simplicity. Depending on the human imagination to which they are subjected, two digits can convey everything from the obscene to the divine. Complicating the code by adding a third or fourth digit would not change the nature of ideas individuals wish to convey. Two digits are sufficient to convey any idea that can be put into language.

From this perspective, you can see that asking God to give you something that will make you feel more complete is asking the impossible. All of God’s attributes, like a spiritual binary code, are present and are being perpetually imparted to every person and to every living thing. Your feeling of incompleteness is based on the illusion that your soul is undeveloped, separate from its source or lacking crucial information. As you awaken to your unity with the Infinite, you begin to under-stand that your very existence is an activity of the Creative Life Force, and that your desire for a fuller, more expanded life is nothing less than the inner stirring of your soul. When you start with the awareness that all creative forces are concentrated within you and are therefore available for your use, you begin to apprehend and project from your wholeness into your external affairs and you begin to get what you want from life.

Follow Me

Question: When Jesus said,“Follow me” what do you think he meant?

Historically speaking, we cannot presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus. Unlike Paul, who left a number of letters from his own hand, we have no direct writings from Jesus. We have the works of four evangelists who painted word pictures based entirely on hearsay. As these writers were not historians, they employed Jesus as a literary tool to advocate a religious position that Jesus himself may not have endorsed. Of course, short of finding an original diary or other writings from him, we can only speculate on what he may or may not have approved.

Who is this me we are encouraged to follow? In most cases, it is not a man and his teachings but a composite narrative hammered out by a religious sect. That so many Christian sects have risen from a single man illustrates the complexity of the problem. In the religious arena, we’re not being offered the choice to follow the discovery of the man, but an interpretation of the man — what he said, why he said it, and what it is supposed to mean to us. Differing views of a given orthodoxy are simply dismissed as irrelevant and misleading.

An insightful proverb reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). This statement points to a way that doesn’t work, but it also implies there is a way not so obvious to the average person, but its end is the way to life. This way is an understanding that places the individual in harmony with universal laws of expression, a way that has always been followed by nature. When I hear Jesus say, follow me, I hear him saying, place yourself, as I am doing, in harmony with the universal laws of expression. His relevance to his followers, after all, rests on their ability to implement the insights he offers. The way, the truth, and the life that he offered is not a gift of the man Jesus. The gift is in what the man discovered. The birds of the air and the lilies of the field have always partaken of this gift. I can imagine Jesus saying, they are doing it, I am doing it, and you may do it as well.

Do what? Look beyond the way that seems right to a man, the way the world is following, and find the way that is right. Is there such a way? Yes, but this way follows an inside-out pathway that runs counter to the outside-in buildup of the self-image we are conditioned to follow. We are trained to think it is necessary to complete ourselves through career, position, marriage, credentials, and other various accomplishments.

When we arrive on this earth, the world immediately treats us as an empty vessel to be filled from the outside-in. The very process of our birth, however, illustrates a flow from the invisible to the visible. The body is but the biological vehicle of the soul. And what is the soul? Is it a blank slate that requires interaction with the material realm to advance its stature? No. The soul is a focal point, the transitional mechanism designed to bring the invisible into the visible.

When I speak of God as the Creative Life Force, I’m saying the soul is the creative component of this term. The soul serves as the basis of all that is seen. John made the distinction between God and the Word through which all things are made. God is the universal, the soul is the Word, the universal transitioning into the personal.

Jesus’ admonition to “follow me” is a way of saying, put yourself in the position where you are having the same direct experience with God that I am having. Identify yourself, not as the senses-based self-image, but as the soul you are. If Jesus is to mean anything to us, then he has to represent a level of experience that is accessible to all.

This, of course, is in keeping with the notion of omnipresence, that there is literally no place where God is not. Jesus demonstrated the spiritual status of every person. It’s important to understand that he was not unusual in this regard. What set him apart was that he was grounded in this spiritual aspect. When he said I and me, he spoke from the soul. If you have seen me (the soul), you have seen the Father; there’s no place where God leaves off and I begin. And what is true of me is true of all.

He undoubtedly arrived at this conclusion by turning his attention to the inner spring of the soul and asking, Who am I? The understanding he gleaned was the assurance that you are the son of the living God. But he would have understood the universal nature of the soul, that every person who made this inner inquiry would get the same answer. I think Jesus was saying, Do not follow me, the flesh and blood man, but follow me in your focus on the soul and asking this same question: Who am I? You too will experience your own revelation of oneness with God, the spiritual source of your being.

I believe the temptations of Jesus symbolize the struggle of his own inner inquiry. Considering that no one but Jesus would have been witness to this episode, the gospel version is likely a metaphorical account of the distractions he encountered and overcame, a subject he certainly would have discussed with those in his inner circle. “Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’”(Matt. 19:27).

His baptism by John represents the initial revelation, though this too is likely dramatized. The temptations that follow represent a permanent shift from a life based on the values of the self-image — Paul’s natural man — to a life based on the values of the spiritual man, the soul. This shift is key to his departure from the values that drive standard human thinking. The portrayal of forgoing worldly power and riches was presented in a more easily digested literary form that later served as the basis of the accounts found in Matthew and Luke. In reality, the tempter is the drive to pursue those things that empower and build up the self-image. We encounter this devil each time we try to silence the busy mind and move into a direct experience with God.

Again, we cannot presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus. We can realize that the greatest objective in our pursuit of spiritual understanding is not to understand his mind, but our own. I feel certain that he would as quickly steer our attention away from himself as the good teacher, and turn it to our own inner connection with God. “Why do you call me good? None is good, save one, that is God.

Had we never heard of the man Jesus, we would still be expressions of the Infinite, and the longing to know our spiritual source would continue to stir in our heart. It is in our response to this stirring that we find in ourselves that very ideal exemplified in Jesus.

Love Yourself Through Fear

 

Youtube: Love Yourself Through Fear

Audio: Love Yourself Through Fear

Question: “I know I need to make some changes in my life, but I’m afraid to make them. How can love help me to overcome fear?”

One misunderstanding we have about love is that it is a power we call upon or we employ as we might employ an air freshener. Here, we’re treating love as one of the four fundamentals of our being: life, love, power, and intelligence. As such, love is not a power we employ but an aspect of our being we express. What’s the difference? We don’t try to muster enough love to power our way through obstacles. Instead, we allow love to do its perfect work through us.

We start from the premise that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not. You may argue, “I’m in an unhealthy relationship that I know is not for my highest good, but I’m afraid to do anything about it. Why would love draw to me an unhealthy relationship?”

Love is not drawing the unhealthy relationship. Love imparts the wisdom to recognize you are in an unhealthy relationship. Love is stirring the discomfort you feel. Love is alerting you to the fact that you are trying to stuff yourself into a container (relationship, circumstance, etc.) that is far too small. Each time you make decisions that perpetuate this confining situation, love alerts you. If you ignore the signals, then love patiently re-sends them.

Think of it this way: Love expresses a strength, fear protects a weakness. Am I responding to inner strength, or am I protecting a weakness? You already know the answer. If you make different choices, then know that love will support these choices. You were not given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love. Your discomfort is your soul asserting itself, assuring you that life can be more than your fear allows. Accept the gift that love inspires in you and watch how it dissolves the chains of fear that have kept you in bondage.

The Art of Conflict

Click for YouTube: The Art of Conflict

Click for Audio: The Art of Conflict

Question: “You brought up personal conflict with others. Do you have a solution to offer that accommodates distance and difference?”

On one occasion, a lawyer approached Jesus and, as a test, asked him to name the greatest commandment. According to Matthew, Jesus responded in this way: “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

In light of our treatment of love in this series, this is a brilliant response. To love the “Lord your God” is to embrace the truth that love is drawing to you that which is for your highest good and dissolving that which is not. To “love your neighbor as yourself” is to acknowledge this same truth for others.

The Gospels depict Jesus in perpetual conflict with the religious professionals of his day. Because he threatened their ideological narrative, the lawyers of spiritual law were doing everything in their power to destroy his credibility. Jesus had enemies. It’s also pretty obvious that he held them accountable for using their scriptural skills to keep people in spiritual darkness.

The lesson here is that we do not have to like a person to love them. If you hold resentment toward another, then that resentment binds you. The answer is to release them in love. As you think of this person, you see love drawing to them that which is for their highest good and dissolving that which is not. It’s not your job to determine what needs to happen to them. Your highest good involves pulling your negative emotion out of the situation and letting love do its perfect work. The more you want to see them pay for what they did, the more of an emotional burden you heap upon yourself. They may indeed deserve all the payback you envision. The question is, do you deserve it?  Knowing that love is doing its perfect work offers a way out from beneath this stifling burden.