Giving Way to Natural Law

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 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

Today it seems a growing number of people prefer to describe their interest in the Divine as a spiritual rather than a religious quest. The implication is that a fresh look at spiritual issues requires casting off dogmatic formulas of faith passed on from one generation to the next.

Some of Jesus’ contemporaries apparently thought he advocated abandoning the many formulas of Jewish orthodoxy. He corrected them when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). He was calling attention to the deeper meaning, the natural law from which the ritual is born. Regardless of the presence or absence of religious trappings, every practical spiritual system must have at its core an understanding that is rooted in natural law.

Jeremiah strikes at the heart of the issue with his two sins dialogue. Of course he isn’t talking about water and cisterns. The “spring of living water” is the indwelling presence of God. The broken cistern is the self-image that we have “dug” or adopted as our identity. A cistern must be filled from outside sources such as rain or water that is hauled in. Jeremiah’s “two sins” indicate a breach in natural law, a turning away from our true inner source of life, love, power, and intelligence and looking to external sources such as people, places, and things as our means of fulfillment. This cracked cistern of the self-image can never be filled, never satisfied.

The source of our being carries the true fulfillment we seek. As we open our heart to this inner infilling, we find the satisfaction we seek. The spring of living water, the spiritual fulfillment we seek, has always been with us, a natural law that expresses from the inside out.

 

The Love Enigma

A crowning moment in my spiritual career consisted of several minutes of a breakthrough into an experience that I can only describe as absolute, unconditional love. I not only felt completely loved and embraced by God, I also felt so lifted that I could truly love this world and everyone in it, without reservation. My sole desire in those few minutes was to share with all the experience I was having.

It felt as if this high would never leave. But it did begin to fade, leaving me with a deep sense of abandonment. Why was it so difficult to remain in this state of absolute freedom and compassion? It was as natural and as easy as breathing. Yet I could not seem to climb back into that high place no matter how hard I tried.

In our spiritual studies, we often hear that we are to love our neighbor. From my momentary vantage point of unconditional love, I totally understand what this means. When you experience complete inner freedom, radiating love that encompasses all with no strings attached is a natural and effortless response. Trying to love because we are supposed to, however, is a very different matter.

When we try to love, we are coming from a manufactured aspect of our self-image. We think of love as a limited commodity that we have, and it’s a tremendous effort to give it to certain kinds of people and their behavior. The result is that we pretend to love because that’s what we’re supposed to do. This pretense is often accompanied with resentment. It’s a conditional love that expects something in return. If we love them, they’ll change. If we love them, we’ll change. If we love them enough, they’ll go away and leave us in peace.

Unconditional love does not look for such rewards, for it is itself the reward. It does not look for positive responses or reactions from others for these are not the requirements of spiritual freedom. The soul is absolutely free, but each of us has encased ourselves in a body-based self-image that must have things just so to remain at peace. When we try to love from this place, we are, in effect, attempting to use love as a way of protecting a weakness, a chink in the armor of the relatively fragile self-image. In reality, the soul has no weaknesses. Nothing and no one can threaten it because the soul is eternal and indestructible.

We have been convinced that our soul has incarnated in this body to learn lessons. While I once endorsed this belief, I have come to realize that this is an absolutely false premise. There is but one lesson to learn: You and I are not the self-image we are trying to advance and protect. We are the soul. Loving our neighbor is not a mandate that we are to practice and eventually learn. Loving our neighbor is a prophesy. It is the thing we do without effort or condition when we understand that we are not this body-based self-image that we are propping up. We are the soul, the spiritual bedrock that lies beneath the ever-shifting sands of the self-image.

Love is not a thing we do. It is what we are. This is why I have reached the understanding that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not. Our highest good is the experience of the soul. That which is not for our highest good is any belief that we are something less than the soul. Illuminating breakthroughs show us the difference. To think we have to earn the right, that we have to learn a slew of lessons before we can graduate into a direct experience of the soul is one of the primary false beliefs that love is now dissolving.

We’ve shifted our core identity from our soul to our body, but this does not mean we have to spend a lifetime (or many lifetimes) in a body to rectify this error. The belief that we are here to learn means that we are here because we have to be. The understanding that we are a soul that is complete and free now puts us in a mindset that allows love to do its perfect work. It is only from this place that we can truly love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re here by choice. We’re here because we want to be. Love draws to us the understanding of our completeness and dissolves the false notion that we have much work to do.

The self-image tries to love. The soul is love. When Jesus pointed out that laying down one’s life for another was the greatest example of love in action, I believe he was referring to the act of letting go of the self-image and all of its many problems, and letting the light of the soul shine forth. We are not givers of the love we have. We are love itself.