The Value of Letting Go

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No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved” (Matthew 9:16-17).

In these two parables, Jesus furnishes us with a graphic illustration of a very important, freeing dynamic: the action of letting go. It is one thing to retain information for present and future use. It would be cumbersome if we had to relearn to drive our car every time we slipped into the driver’s seat. However, if we dredged up the memory of a past auto accident every time we took the wheel, our paranoia may hinder our present driving performance.

If you carry old wounds into a new day, you prevent yourself from seeing and experiencing the potential for new avenues of creative opportunity. Jesus said to let the dead bury the dead and let the challenges of this day be the ones we give our full attention. How much of our creative energy is drained away replaying old hurts and dredging up old things we should or should not have done?

The full action of God is present in each new moment. Created in the image and after the likeness of God, each one of us is intended to bring the full force of our creative energy to bear on the things we have to do each day. We say we do not have enough time or energy to do what we would really like to do? How does God attend the minutest detail of this vast universe? By being fully present in each new moment.

Fortunately, you and I do not have the responsibility of running the universe. All we are expected to do is live our lives successfully. We can learn from God by being fully present in this now moment, by giving our attention to the tasks at hand, and to let go of the problems of the past we can do nothing about. New wine, new wineskins is a thought worth holding each time we are tempted to pick up the old.

 

Do We Choose Our Parents?

I once had a conversation with a woman who attributed much of her childhood trauma to a pair of obviously dysfunctional parents. After recounting a litany of well-rehearsed abuses, she added, “Why would I choose parents like this?” With an air of resignation she added, “I guess my soul needed this, Right?”

There was a time when I would have answered her question with an affirmative nod. I now meet such statements with a smile knowing that she, and others like her, are simply parroting an assumption that has become popular in many spiritual circles, especially those of an alternative nature.

Why, with no way of really proving this to be true, would the concept of choosing our parents appeal to so many? Probably because it follows the logic that we are spiritual beings, that our parents gave birth to our body, not to our soul. This certainly invites some interesting and spiritually productive new ways of thinking of our earthly tenure.

Let’s assume that we, not our parents, were responsible for our earthly debut. From a strictly logistical, non-emotional point of view, the choice to experience earth as a human being obviously requires a body, which also requires a set of parents. Do we choose specific individuals— warts and all—to provide this service?

If we assume that our ability to choose extends to this level, the issue is complicated with the introduction of practices like in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here, a sperm and egg can be extracted from donors, fertilized in a laboratory culture, and placed in the female body of an unrelated third party. If you happen to be the offspring of such a procedure, did you choose the donors, the third-party host, or the laboratory where the formation of your body actually started? While most of us entered through conventional doors, science has provided this interesting patch of weeds to add for our consideration.

Sticking with conventional doors, let’s focus on parents. What problems would choosing our parents solve? From my observation, people who find this concept most appealing are those who’ve had a difficult childhood. The idea of choice allows them to move from a lifetime of thinking of themselves as a victim to the much stronger, empowering position of having been the choice-maker. I’m empowered if I see myself as one having come to help others. Or, I chose them because I knew my soul had something important to learn from their dysfunctional behavior.

Both are reasonable arguments that most of us have applied to certain relationships. Who hasn’t played the role of attempted rescuer? And who hasn’t had the experience of escaping a completely dysfunctional relationship with the sworn declaration that you would never again be deceived by another wolf in sheep’s clothing?

What’s reasonable from one perspective may not be so from another. From the soul’s point of view, both arguments are problematic, primarily because they’re made from a body-based point of view. A commonly reported element of near-death research, for example, is that a person’s feeling of “coming home” supersedes even the strongest of family ties. We speak of a mother’s love for her children as the strongest in the human experience. Yet we have mothers who report their NDE confessing they would rather continue their body-free journey than return to their earthly children. This doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. Nearly all recount this experience with the remorse of admitting they even had such feelings. What these reluctant admissions tell us is that the experience they had was so vast, so beautiful that everything on earth, including these strongest bonds of love, paled in comparison. Perhaps it’s the sentiment Isaiah was attempting to capture in these verses:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

In other words, I assume this lofty vision that I believe we gain with the loss of the body is one we also possessed before we took on the body. It’s the soul’s natural mode of seeing and being. We would have viewed all souls, even those struggling with a body-related crisis (the genesis of every crisis) as having little to do with the eternal experience of the soul. With a body, we think like people. Without a body, we think like God.

So, how would God think if God were making the decision to incarnate? Laying aside the whole Jesus narrative for the moment, I’ll be bold and say, The thoughts of God would be the same as those of our boundless, eternal soul. Would we see our incarnation as a mission to fix people and save the world? Would we see it as our soul’s purpose to learn something of value from people who need fixing?

At the soul level, people are not broken. They are spiritually asleep. All so-called spiritual problems stem from having lost conscious contact with the soul. This contact is not re-established through either correcting or exposing ourselves to dysfunctional human behavior. It is established only through a concerted effort to know the truth of our being. We make this effort to the degree that we awaken to ourselves, not as the senses-based, body-oriented self-image we have believed we are, but as the eternal soul that we actually are. Most human beings will not make this shift while occupying a body. The belief that humanity is on the verge of doing so is job security to those who make their living as the self-proclaimed saviours of the human race.

How do we go forward with this issue of parental choice? Let’s say your parents, now dead, were indeed the culprit. They left you with all this damage, but you can’t tell them what you think so you’re left with the task of somehow resolving the whole thing within yourself. Becoming the choice-maker helps, but it doesn’t remove the scars. You may even find yourself duplicating the very dysfunctions you despise. What can you do?

Imagine the offending parent or parents standing before you now, free of their bodies and all the body-oriented dysfunction that defined your relationship with them. They no longer see themselves or you in the way you remember. They now see from the lofty context of the completely unfettered soul. You can see in their eyes that they deeply and sincerely apologize for the pain and suffering they may have caused. They admit that they were in a foolish, self-centered struggle for survival, with much to protect and much to hide. You were in a relationship with them when they believed cheating, stealing, lying, predation, manipulation, and creating false pretenses were necessary for survival and social acceptance. They admit that the self-image they perpetuated was the short-sighted product of a consciousness void of understanding of who and what they were at the deepest level. If they had known then what they know now, everything would have been very different.

Is this an exercise of letting irresponsible parents off the hook? No. It’s a way of saying, if you insist on holding the belief that you choose your parents, then these are the parents you might consider choosing.

Finding Balance

Imagine two sponges immersed in the ocean. One says, “I am a sponge immersed in the ocean.” The other says, “I am the ocean expressing through this sponge.” Which one is right? It depends on where you place the “I“. If you place it on the sponge, as in, “I am a sponge…” you become the proverbial human being seeking a spiritual experience. If you place it on the ocean, as in, “I am the ocean…” you are the spiritual being having a human experience.

The sponge, a mortal that is subject to the elements of its environment, spends its life protecting and seeking to enhance its mortality. Its religion promises security against environmental forces that may prove destructive to its existence. Its education centers the success of its life as a sponge. It looks for the day when all sponges will cease competing for limited resources and the world of have and have-nots is a thing of the past.

The ocean, immortal and indestructible, shares none of these concerns. It sees its experience through the sponge as a unique opportunity to know life at the material plane, and it never loses sight of its true nature. It doesn’t have to express through the sponge, but it thrills at the opportunity.

Are you the sponge or are you the ocean? Do you identify yourself as your body and your circumstances, with your primary objective of achieving the status of a care-free sponge? Or, do you see yourself as the immortal soul expressing through this body and circumstances? Are you striving to become something more than you are, or are you living from the awareness of the unlimited being you have always been and you will always be? There isn’t a single issue in your life that is unaffected by your answer to these questions.

The ocean represents the soul. The sponge represents one of the countless life-forms through which the soul expresses. Does this mean that we have no individual identity, that in truth there are no sponges, no starfish, no coral, no seahorses? Does this mean that I, as a human being with a unique personality, appearance, and fingerprint, do not really exist? We ask again: Am I these things that define my physical presence, or do I have these things? Am I my body, or do I have a body? If I acknowledge that I have a body, then I ask, Who and what is this “I” that has this body? The answer? I am the ocean. I am not parceled out in the diversity through which I express. I am the unity of life behind all diversity.

We speak of the ideal of oneness while clinging to diversity. There is diversity in expression, but there is only a single source behind it all. We call this source the soul. John called it the Word, that creative mechanism that enables the universal to express as the personal, the undifferentiated to express as the particular, the very life that is the light of all. It is the single ocean that supports the diversity of life forms.

The highest objective of meditation is not to simply lower blood pressure and produce a relaxed sponge. Nor do we merely seek answers that will satisfy the questions of the confused sponge. The objective is to peer past the needs of the sponge and re-establish our identity as the ocean.

We do not deny our body, its material needs and circumstances. But by focusing only on fixing these, we deny the soul. We seek to squeeze unity out of short-sighted attempts to honor diversity. Diversity, as an object of worship, is a false god. We experience genuine oneness by consciously connecting with the soul in its native environment. This return to the soul does not answer the questions of the sponge; it eliminates them.

As you go through your day, think of yourself, not as a sponge seeking to make its way though the ocean, but as the ocean expressing through the sponge of your body and circumstances. You quickly notice that every problem you have is sponge related. How does the ocean view this sponge-related problem? Does it get upset? Is it fearful? Does it believe some needed element is missing? Is it confused by the actions of another sponge? No. By virtue of its indestructible nature, it holds an entirely different view. It is not drawn down into the clashes that often erupt in the realm of diversity.

To see from this perspective, you cannot be a sponge attempting to act as or think like the ocean. You must let go of your identity as a sponge and actually move into your experience as the ocean. You are not what you think. You are so much more. Try making this shift in self-perception and see for yourself how differently you look at this thing you call your life.

The Quest for Enlightenment

I once believed that spiritual enlightenment was a state of mind one accomplished at the end of a very long journey. My understanding, however, has changed. Enlightenment is not about achieving a level of development that transcends the soul’s present condition. Enlightenment is experiencing this journey from the awareness of the soul’s completeness. There is no place on earth we can go to get more of who and what we already are. No amount of study will increase the force or constitution of the soul. No achievement can bring us closer to the omnipresence of God than we are already.

The standard model of the quest for spiritual understanding is based on a negative: I am currently something less than I will be in the future. To be spiritually enlightened is to understand that I am already everything that I will ever be. This doesn’t mean that the limited self-image I have adopted is adequate just as it is. The self-image will never be adequate. Nor does it mean that I am finished aspiring, dreaming and achieving. It means that I recognize myself now as something much more than this body-based facade that I call me. The spiritual inadequacy I feel is not remedied by the consumption of more spiritual information. The remedy is removing the blinders of the self-image that block the truth of who and what I am at the soul level.

The concept of soul development is a spiritually debilitating myth. Instead of embracing what I am, this concept directs my focus on what I am not. If I live with the hope of one day becoming something more than I am right now, I do not allow myself to consider the truth of my fundamental nature. It sounds arrogant to say I am complete, for the myth of soul development says that only a rare handful of humans have attained spiritual enlightenment. How can I claim that I am even close to having what they had?

The problem is that we do not know what they had. We only assume we know. We lay upon them our manufactured template of enlightened master with the negative assumption that whatever they had was obviously something more than we have. If this were true, why would these enlightened souls bother to tell any who would listen that the things they were doing, others could do as well, and greater things? Why would they circumvent the religious elites, the blind guides who loved their positions of authority and the wealth it generated from keeping people as spiritually confused as were they themselves? Why would genuine teachers of the soul devote their lives to opening the spiritual eyes of others if those others were restrained by laws of evolution that ensured their spiritual blindness? Of what value is a spiritual teaching that promises fulfillment in a future state that cannot possibly exist outside this now moment?

The soul is not a thing to be developed. It is now complete. Being unaware of this truth does not make it less true. Spiritual enlightenment occurs with the first glimmer of understanding that it is true. The morning sun does not peek over the horizon to tease us with the promise of light and warmth. It does not place the condition of its appearance on years of study and discipline. It does not withhold itself from those who retreat into the shadows of ignorance and superstition, or believe they must acquire something more to be worthy of its gifts. The sun appears in its fullness and freely gives itself to all who will partake of its radiant being. We can believe in the long shadows we cast while looking away from the sun, or we can turn our face to this perfectly placed star and partake of its life-affirming gifts.

Though we don’t always live from the truth we know, this momentary lapse cannot pull us back over that threshold of understanding we’ve crossed. We can never return to our former conviction that we are something less today than we will be tomorrow. We are bound by the truth that omnipresence can never be something more, that we can never be closer to God than we are right now.

Because of the conditions we place on the notion of spiritual enlightenment, it is probably best to purge such terms from our vocabulary. It stirs emotional distance between where we think we are and where we think we should be. The hard work of eliminating this perceived gap is misplaced effort. In meditation, we close our eyes and search for something foreign, something we believe the great masters could see but we cannot, at least not yet. We do not see it because it does not exist. We are chasing the phantom of false perception. What we intuitively long for, what we deeply seek to experience, is found with our eyes open or closed. It can be known in quiet and busy moments. We can experience it in the peaceful rush of the surf, or in the noise of the busy city. It is not possible to be separated from the presence of God.

We will never find what we hope to become. We can only find what we are already. And what we are already exists fully and completely in this moment. It cannot be anything less or anyplace else. This now moment in which we exist is the holy ground of the Eternal. It is here and here alone that our quest for enlightenment ends.

Where is Your Heart?

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Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

An important key to understanding the kingdom that Jesus spoke of is that it is spiritual in nature, not material. The material is the effect of an underlying spiritual cause. “ … what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Heb. 11:3).

To “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” is an instruction to build a consciousness of God as your invisible, ever-abundant source of all good, knowing this consciousness draws to us a material counterpart in the form of conditions and things.

When you pray for healing, for example, seek to envision the reality of your present spiritual wholeness. Affirm that your wholeness is your reality, that it is now interacting with the atoms and cells of your physical body in ways that demonstrate wholeness. If you feel stuck in your life, quietly open your mind to the borderless reality of spirit within you, that inner energy that is even now building and sustaining worlds that have not entered your mind. Focus on putting your being in motion in new directions. Open the floodgates of new inspiration. Don’t struggle toward a new external condition. Affirm a new inner condition by seeing and feeling where you want to go emotionally.

Scriptures like this one have caused people to denounce the material realm as an interference to their spiritual life. This scripture does not denounce materiality, it simply puts it in perspective. According to the gospels Jesus manifested loaves and fishes and initiated many physical healings. He was a master of the material domain because his heart was in the all-encompassing reality of his unfailing spiritual resource.

Spiritual Mastery

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Gems of Truth: Spiritual Wisdom from the Words of Jesus

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).

As we look for gems of Truth found in the words attributed to Jesus, we come across this intriguing incident. It’s intriguing because it challenges the highly popularized law of attraction. According to advocates of this law, the man or his parents must have done something to attract this condition of blindness. Jesus, however, puts this notion aside and initiates a new cause.

We too can get caught in this trap of self-blame for unwanted conditions. Far from being the spiritual master we hope to one day become, we struggle with the consequences of the “sin” of negative thinking and low visioning. The question, “Who sinned?” does not resolve the issue, it only places blame.

Here’s a suggestion: Rather than chiding yourself for failing to be a spiritual master, try practicing some spiritual mastery in your present situation. Take the truth you know and apply it to the condition that is bothering you. In your highest moments, what do you affirm about God? What do you affirm about yourself? God is absolute good. You are an expression of God. Appearances are passing. The deeper reality of God is now shining forth.

A spiritual master is one who spiritually masters the moment. What happened in the past is not happening in the present. The present is your opportunity to display the works of God. Pull your attention from the appearance and center it in the truth. Bring all your studies to bear on the situation at hand. It does not matter where the situation came from, it only matters what you do with it now.

 

 

 

Prayer and Manifestation

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

Spiritual teachers of all time have made a distinction between the realms of spirit and matter. The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (11:3). Eastern tradition states that God is complete unity, while the realm of matter operates under the law of maya (illusion), the principle of relativity and duality. Likewise, Thomas Troward made the distinction between differentiated and undifferentiated spirit.

There is agreement that spirit and matter are one substance (energy) expressing at different levels and, therefore, operating under a different set of laws. We see a similar analogy with water, which can express as gas (humidity), liquid (rain), and ice (hail), three different expressions of a single substance, each subject to different laws.

When we speak of the illusion of time and how the now moment is the only reality, we should take care to understand that we’re speaking of the realm of spirit, not matter. The material realm is subject to time and space. You can instantly imagine yourself being in a distant location, for example, but to get your body to that location, you must travel through time and space. I don’t believe Jesus was suggesting that if you want to be in a distant location, you simply close your eyes and believe you are there. When you open your eyes, you will be there. Your mind is obviously not subject to time and space, but your body is.

Thomas Troward dealt extensively with this subject throughout his many writings. In my book, Native Soul, I included a summary of what I believe to be a practical application of the principle Jesus was referring to. I hope you find this a useful reminder.

Step 1: Form a clear picture of your desire with the understanding that, by so doing, you create a prototype that is impressed upon the creative life force.

Step 2: Understand that you are working with spiritual law. With calm expectation of a corresponding result, know that all necessary conditions are coming about in proper order.

Step 3: Enter your daily routine with the assurance that conditions are either present already or will soon present themselves. If you do not see evidence at once, know that the spiritual prototype (your desire) is already in existence.

Step 4: Wait until some circumstance pointing in the desired direction begins to show itself. It may be small, but it is the type and not the magnitude of the circumstance that is important. This is the first sprouting of the seed.

Step 5: Do whatever the circumstance seems to require. This action leads to the further unfolding of other circumstances in the same direction. By addressing each one as it appears, you move step by step toward the accomplishment of your desire.