The Bedrock of Individuality

YouTube: The Bedrock of Individuality

Jesus advised us to love our neighbor as ourselves. We often focus on the first half of this statement yet engage in a rather abusive relationship with our self. I’ve said many times, however, that you can only love your neighbor to the extent that you love your self.

Self love is not the same thing as self-centered egotism. In her book, Lessons In Truth, Emilie Cady draws a very clear distinction between individuality (the spiritual dimension within everyone) and personality (the spiritually disconnected ego). The love we experience—both given and received—is really a welling up of a deeper dimension of our spiritual nature, that deeper foundation of individuality. Love is not a quantity of beautiful emotion that we possess and give out or withhold at will. Love is an integral component of our being, like the color blue is an integral component of white light. The expression of love must include the embracing of one’s Self, not in an egotistical way, but in a way that recognizes our role as a channel through which love is expressed as an aspect of our wholeness.       

Our individuality, our true Self, is that which the Bible refers to as the image and likeness of God. It’s that part that rises up from the Eternal. Many of us have fallen out of touch with this deeper dimension and have lived and thought of ourselves only in terms of the personality level. It’s very important that we reconnect with this foundational aspect of our being, for from it all the good that we seek flows. The true Self is our source of contentment, of power, of peace and of joy. If we are not centered in our spiritual nature, we try to get what we feel we lack from others and our relationships run the risk of becoming needy and manipulative.

To be in integrity with your Self is to express the qualities of God in all the things you do, including your relationships. When you love from this Self, you will have no trouble loving your neighbor.   

The Door of Imagination

The Door of Imagination

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20

At first glance, this passage appears to be a reference to Jesus as the Son of man, whose followers should be prepared to give up even the creature comforts of home for the sake of advancing the message of the kingdom. The New Testament usage of the Son of man is usually a reference to Jesus. However, in the Old Testament, the term simply referred to a human being, as in this familiar Psalm:

“What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor” (Psalms 8:4-5).

If Jesus used this term, it is more likely that he used it in the way his listeners would have understood it. The New Testament, after all, did not exist in his day.

What do we make of this passage? Unlike animals that are governed by instinct, the human faculty of imagination allows us to move beyond the restriction of mere instinct. For example, even before a robin egg hatches, we know the type of nest it will build. The same is true with the den of the fox. To say the human being has nowhere to lay his head is a way of pointing out that the faculty of human imagination has given us the ability to move beyond mere instinct to a level of creativity that is unprecedented in nature. The Psalmist points this out:

Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea” (Psalms 8:6-8).

It is my belief that the message of Jesus was to remind his followers of their divine inheritance, to turn the power of our imagination away from self-defeating imagery, and focus instead on the possibilities that await our God-awakened awareness. His message, it seems, was a revival of the great truth expressed through the prophet Jeremiah:

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

The Way of the Wayshower

For all the good that formal religion does in the world, there is one element common to them all that takes a significant toll on the potential quality of the individual’s spiritual life. Nearly all depict their founders in a way that forever transcends the capabilities of their followers. Though Jesus shares the insight that “he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do” (John 14:12), few of us are ready to call in the press as we walk across a lake.

In the case of both mainstream and alternative Christianity, the focus of our spiritual aspiration has been directed to the personality and assumed accomplishments of Jesus rather than on what he taught. The more secular biblical scholars, those who are not trying to prove the merits of Christian dogma, understand there is a vast difference between the Jesus of history and Jesus the Christian icon. Unity author and minister, Eric Butterworth, accurately made the distinction between the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus. The religion about Jesus depicts him as a unique species, eternally placing the works he did out of our reach. The religion of Jesus presents us with a whole new set of possibilities that I like to think are more in line with his intentions as a teacher. We call him our wayshower, but did he intend that we follow his footsteps on his path, or was he showing us how to find our own?

There are indications that he tried to direct attention away from his own personality. When a man addressed him as “good teacher” he asked, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). Of course, we can draw countless examples and engage in endless debate on who and what Jesus was and what he intended to teach. Ultimately, each person is left to decide what he or she will do with this matter. For me, his role as wayshower was to point to my path, not draw attention to his.

I realize many will consider such a statement arrogant, perhaps even blasphemous. But I reached the point in my life where the relevance of a teacher of any sort has to be measured, not so much by their own accomplishments, but by the potential they tap in their students. If a teaching does not in some way empower the one who studies it, of what value is it? I have to agree with Meister Eckhart when he wrote:

“We may well all rejoice over this, that Christ our brother has through his own power gone up above all the choirs of angels and sits at the right hand of the Father. This authority has said well, but really I am not much concerned about this. How would it help me if I had a brother who was a rich man, if I still remained poor? How would it help me if I had a brother who was a wise man, if I still remain a fool?”   

The life I live, the earth and the universe I inhabit are mine. Am I to stand here as a bewildered product of evolution or as the unique cutting edge of a cosmically creative process that only I can fulfill? Am I to follow the millions who are turning the path of another into an ever-deepening rut, or am I to blaze my own path? Though I have long ago abandoned the religion about Jesus, I continue to mine the gems of truth, that mystical thread that I find scattered throughout his teachings. I do not find among this treasure the admonition to compare my path to his. I find instead the urging, even the obligation to love the lord my God with all my heart, mind, and soul. The fruit of his direction, I have discovered, takes me from standing in awe of my brother’s wealth and wisdom to tapping into my own.   

The finger of a true wayshower never points to themselves. It points to that very spot in front of us where our next step will likely land. “Are you here to follow a path,” they ask, “or are you here to blaze a trail?” They are not asking if we are ready to walk on water, raise the dead or feed the hungry through a miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes. They ask only if we have come to that place in our quest for truth where we accept that an unborn facet of the universe stands at the door of our being and knocks. Are we prepared to open that door? 

Recover Your Wholeness

YouTube: Recover Your Wholeness

“What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?” Luke 15:8 

I’m sure we can all relate to this woman’s situation. Who hasn’t used an item, laid it down and then forgotten where you put it? You know it can’t just vanish into thin air, so you search with the full knowledge that it’s there someplace, and you’ll find it. Now think of an item that you may not have used for some time, maybe an old kitchen utensil, but you need it now. You can’t remember if you still have it because you might have sold it in that last yard sale. With this looming uncertainty, your commitment to finding it is not so strong.

I use the above passage in The Complete Soul to illustrate the tone of our spiritual quest. Much of our spiritual literature assumes that we are undeveloped, that our soul is in an evolving state and may even require additional lifetimes to reach a desired level of enlightenment. If the woman applied this logic to her lost coin, she probably would not have found it. She knows, however, that she has ten coins but has misplaced one. Her relentless quest to recover it brings success.   

If we think of our soul as fully developed and we have simply lost sight of this truth, we will approach our spiritual quest with much higher expectation. To affirm that we are expressions of God yet assume we are spiritually undeveloped is a contradiction. We are not evolving to an ideal spiritual state. The soul is that ideal state. Evolution applies to the process of adapting to environmental and factual changes. The spiritual realm exists in a perpetual state of wholeness.

To recover is to regain possession of something. The woman recovered the coin she already owned. You and I are recovering conscious possession of our spiritual wholeness. We’re not developing our spirituality. We’re not having to earn it. We’re opening our mind and heart to the truth of our spiritual wholeness. Yes, there is a bit of house cleaning to be done, but we do this knowing that the thing we seek is ours already.

Your Divine Source

YouTube: Your Divine Source

[Note: we had a video glitch on this program. We’re audio only]

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 

Though Jesus never explains in detail what he means by the term, heavenly Father, it’s clear that he thinks of it as the source of our being, and that he includes not only himself, but all people as expressions of this one Source: “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).

Heavenly implies a limitless presence that is common to and accessible to all, yet is greater than any one part. I’ve used the solar panel to illustrate our relationship to this universal Source. There is one sun that provides the energy to countless panels. Think of the sun as the heavenly Father and each panel as a person. The sun does not dictate to the panel how its energy must be used. Each simply receives the freely given energy supplied by the sun, without condition.

Think of this also. The panel does not look to the sky for its energy. The all immersive energy of the sun permeates each panel where it is placed. And so it is with our heavenly Source. The birds and all wildlife naturally operate from the universal energy of the heavenly Father, each converting this energy into the fulfillment of their specific needs.

All living things are transmitting centers, converting the universal energy that is God to the unique expressions that we see. I think this is what Emerson was referring to when he wrote, “Every man is the inlet and may become the outlet of all there is in God.”

As we open ourselves to our heavenly Source, we are inspired with new ideas, new enthusiasm and new vision that comes to us as naturally as sunlight. Spend time consciously basking in this presence, knowing that you are being filled with the life, love, power and intelligence that will bubble forth through you as the fulfillment of the life you know is possible.

Renewal of Your Mind

YouTube: Renewal of Your Mind

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

What does it mean to be conformed to this world? How does one go about renewing the mind? And finally, what practical reason do we have for even considering such questions?

Many people carry the feeling that there must be more to life than they are experiencing. Regardless of what they achieve or how many things they accumulate, the feeling persists. Some describe it as a sense of hollowness at their very core.

Paul was writing to those who were beginning to understand that the thing they are seeking is not material, but spiritual. This change of understanding represents a shift in one’s worldview. It does not suggest that we turn our backs on the material side of life, but that we learn to keep it in the proper perspective. The only way to really learn this is to commit to a deeper experience of your spiritual core.

Anyone who has tried to quiet the mind and find inner stillness knows how quickly our thoughts take off in countless directions. With practice, however, we can gradually begin to succeed. With each success, our commitment deepens, as we see the value in experiencing the inner peace we are finding. This is the key. You will not pursue this practice just because someone says you should. You pursue it as you learn the value of doing so. As that gnawing feeling that something is missing begins to diminish, you come to your quiet times with joy and renewed expectation.

To say that we are spiritual beings inhabiting a physical body is not intended to undermine our material side. The problem lies in the fact that we have conformed to this world – the body and its endless concerns – by giving it the bulk of our attention. As we gradually bring our focus to our spiritual side, we begin to find a natural balance between soul and body, a welcome transformation produced by the renewal of our mind.