Omnipresent Healing Light

YouTube: Omnipresent Healing Light

[Notice: We will be opening the Church for services on June 7.]

When you go outside on a sunny day, you can look around and see countless plants and many animals going about their business. You see grass, trees, bushes and flowers. You’ll likely see or hear birds and insects visiting flowers or just buzzing through the air. All of these life forms depend on a single source of energy – sunlight.

When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing how one source of energy can power so many expressions of life. It’s no wonder that many ancient cultures worshipped the sun as a god. We’re told that one of the jobs of the ancient Egyptian priest was to keep the sun moving across the sky. From what we know today, their job was pretty secure. And the occasional solar eclipse could actually be used as a warning that the people weren’t keeping up with their religious duties. If they wanted the sun to return, they’d better replenish the coffers.  

Our earth orbits the sun in what science calls the Goldilocks Zone. We’re in a position where it’s not too hot, not too cold, not too near, not too far – but just the right distance from our star. Because of this, we can’t say the sun’s life-giving energy is omnipresent. To be omnipresent is to be everywhere present, equally, at the same time.

Maybe you have a solar-powered toy sitting in your window. By day it does it’s little dance, but at night it stops. Sunlight is always hitting half the earth, while the other half is in darkness.

When we think of the omnipresence of God, we can use sunlight as an illustration, but with the understanding that sunlight waxes and wanes, while the presence of God never fluctuates. Many people have been trained to believe that the action and attitude of God can change in response to human behavior. But I think Jesus was trying to make clear that this wasn’t the case.

  • “… for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Human behavior doesn’t affect the sun. One person can demonstrate hurtful behavior while another is loving. Unlike the cartoons we’ve seen, the sun shines the same for them both. Likewise, God is no more present for the loving person than for the one who’s displaying hurtful behavior. Both types of behavior will likely spark a completely different set of consequences, but neither will alter the behavior of God. Again, many have been trained to think that God behaves like a human being – favorably toward the righteous and unfavorably toward the unrighteous. If we’re open to rethinking our understanding of God in a way put forth by Jesus, the parable of the prodigal son can help us put that myth to rest.

The sun and God are similar in that they’re both unaffected by human behavior. As the sun fuels all the many life-forms we see, so God is incorporated as the life, love, power, and intelligence of every living creature.

When we say, “wherever I am, God is,” we’re saying that wherever I am in understanding, wherever I am in physical health, wherever I am in my level of prosperity demonstration – God is there. The full power of God is active and present in me, and in all that concerns me, right now. I’m not required to do anything to win God’s favor. I’m already the focus of God expressing uniquely as me.

This is a very important concept to grasp, as people are too often thinking they’re not deserving because they haven’t lived up to God’s expectations. Maybe they haven’t prayed enough, or they haven’t studied the Bible or been to church since Christmas or Easter. Turning to God for help may seem hypocritical. You might just assume God has better things to do than help someone who has paid little or no attention to spiritual matters.

Well, maybe you could benefit from delving into spiritual studies. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to see what happens in church between the birth and death of Jesus. But will God punish or reward you because you do or don’t do these things?

Imagine you’ve worked hard to plant a garden. Everything begins to sprout and it looks as if you’re going to have a great garden. You decide to take a little trip. You have your irrigation water set to automatic, so everything will get all the water it needs while you’re gone. But when you get home, you discover that something happened to your watering system, and the sun burned up your garden. All your hard work has gone to waste. You could shake your fist at the sun and curse it for hours if you want. But even if you do, you’ll notice that the sun doesn’t treat you any differently than your neighbor, who has been praising the sun for all the good it does.  

You can change how you relate to the sun – you can bless it or curse it – but the sun doesn’t change how it relates to you. You can plant your garden in the shade or refuse to give it water. But nothing you think, say or do, or neglect to think, say or do, will change the sun’s behavior.

We should have this same attitude toward God. I think it was Meister Eckhart who said, “I never thank God for loving me. He can’t help Himself.” Eckhart recognized the changeless nature of God. He wanted to remind his congregation that the hardships we encounter in life are not punishments from God.

God is fully active in each new moment. In God there is no past or future. There is only this now moment. If you think you sinned badly enough to offend God, then you’re the one living in the past. Your garden wasn’t scorched because you’ve sinned, and this is God’s way of saying a little repentance is in order. Your garden burned up because of a mechanical failure.

I know some spiritual teachers who insist that every calamity we experience comes about as the result of something we do wrong in our thinking. This is really nothing more than a spruced-up version of the old sin and punishment system that many of us have left behind. It’s an answer to the book of Job that raises the question: Why do the righteous suffer? The book itself doesn’t answer the question, so people have been trying to fill in that blank with their own understanding, their own spiritual logic. They insist that we experience calamity because of our sins, or because we’ve engaged in some negative thinking.

A man blind from birth was brought to Jesus with the question: Who sinned, this man or his parents? (John 9:2). Jesus took the spiritual high road by saying it didn’t matter who sinned, that this was an opportunity to demonstrate the omnipresent healing light of God. The man was healed of blindness because someone recognized the changeless power of God and called it forth.

James referred to God as,

  • “… the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

It’s just another way of saying the changeless power of God is present now and is acting on your behalf – bestowing every good and perfect gift, as James says. We have not and cannot diminish it in any way. We can turn our attention to the question of who sinned. We can put ourselves in a dark cellar of guilt, or fear, or any of the countless negative visualizations we can imagine. But it doesn’t matter who sinned. It only matters that we are fully immersed in the omnipresent healing light of God. Like the prodigal son, we can come to ourselves – come to our spiritual senses at any moment and take the first step toward our spiritual homecoming.

And what is that first step? It’s the realization that I am in God and God is in me, and that which is in me is greater than that which is in the world. This is not true because I say it’s true. It’s just true. Just as the full power of the sun shines in all its glory on the other side of that closed cellar door, so the full power of God shines in all its glory on the other side of that mental door that we’ve momentarily pulled shut.

It’s very important to remember that the healing power of God is bias toward the establishment of wholeness. This may not seem true when we’re dealing with a healing challenge. But this is where we have to push past appearances, even when these appearances are causing pain.

It’s the nature of the Creative Life Force to expand, to express the life, love, power, and intelligence that it is. You and I, and all living things are channels through which this power expresses. It would be counter-productive for God to punish us for locking ourselves in some cellar. In the same way the sunlight will flood and dry out the dank cellar if the door is thrown open, so God floods us with refreshing, healing energy when we throw open the door of guilt and fear.

If you have a healing need – and this can include a healing of mind, body, finances, relationships, and any other area that may now be affected – begin this moment to throw open the door of spiritual ignorance by declaring your absolute freedom from all past mistakes. You’re not being punished. You’re not being tested. You’re not having to work out some kind of karmic debt. Lay all these kinds of thoughts aside.

Just as the sun offers its empowering energy to the dandelion, the beetle, the rabbit, and even the house fly – so God offers each one of us the healing, balancing, and prospering energy that can lift us to new heights, that shines light on our path, that establishes peace where there was chaos, and strength where there was weakness and fear.

A good practice is to sit quietly, with eyes closed, and envision the presence of God as healing light, permeating every aspect of your being. Let yourself totally relax in this light, just knowing it’s doing its perfect healing work in you and in every area of your life. Feel the peace of this quiet activity, knowing that divine intelligence is smoothing out the rough spots, bringing light to the unknown, making straight the crooked places. As you go through your day, bring this picture back often, reminding yourself that you are permanently immersed in the omnipresent, healing light of God.

How we think of God, how we think of ourselves and how we think of our relationship with God influences the way we live our lives – maybe more than we realize. It’s good to have reminders that God is always present and working for your highest good. It’s true that things don’t always work out as we hope, or as we think they should. Things can happen that, for the moment, don’t seem to be for our highest good or for the highest good of anyone involved. We may be tempted to fall back on our old beliefs that God is behaving like the vindictive old man in the sky, that harsh taskmaster that’s doing something to get our attention.

The simple observation of how the sun is giving its energy to all living forms – freely, and without condition – is a good reminder of the truth of God. It’s a living affirmation. Jesus pointed to the birds of the air, the lilies of the field and even the grass as reminders that God takes care of the simplest expressions of life. He also reminded us that if we ask for bread, God won’t give a stone. And we won’t get a serpent when we ask for a fish. What did he mean by this? For me, this is another fiber of the mystical thread, the reminder that God is the willing and able source of our good.

We’ll have setbacks because things happen that don’t always make a lot of sense. We try to put them in some kind of spiritual context, as if the universe has a message for us and we need to pay attention. In nature, violent storms are seasonal in certain parts of the country, and they can do a lot of damage. I grew up in the Midwest, where tornados are a part of life. But these aren’t sparked by bad human behavior. They would occur even if there were no people around. One of the biggest storms in our solar system is happening on Jupiter. As far as we know, there’s nobody up there doing bad things to cause that.

But there always seems to be someone who tries to make that connection. Certainly, the Bible is full of examples of bad things happening to people because they did something wrong. They get struck down by plagues, natural disasters, or some enemy as punishment from God because they strayed away from their religious values.

But again, there’s an interesting passage in Luke, which I’ve modified slightly, where Jesus seems to refute this idea:

  • There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No… Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo’am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No…” (Luke 13:1-5)

The point is, we need to make sure that we’re letting go of all thought that God is punishing us when things go wrong. Sometimes it just takes a little time to get everything back in a balanced perspective.

The fact that we have a physical body means that we’re subject to environmental conditions that can become harsh. Earth is a living planet with ever-changing weather patterns, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, blizzards and the occasional tsunami. And of course we can’t forget the meteor impacts that can easily dwarf the destructive force of multiple nuclear bombs. Meteor Crater in Arizona was created by an iron meteor that was only 150 feet wide. The one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was about 6 miles wide. At the physical level, there are plenty of things that can happen to us.  

And through all time, certain people have believed that God was behind these things as attention-getting wakeup calls. This is where science shines a better light. It helps demystify naturally occurring events and remove any unwarranted sense of personal responsibility that we may heap on ourselves. We might be asking for trouble if we put a house at the foot of a volcano, in tornado alley or in the known path of hurricanes. But any harm or damage we suffer is not personal. It’s just a simple fact that when we get in the way of nature’s powerful forces, we usually lose.

You and I are eternal beings. Our bodies have gone through much, and they’ll probably go through a few more things. But we will never be separate from God. Our life, our unfolding experience will never end. We want to grasp this larger context and remind ourselves often that we’re just passing through, that this thing we call our life is like one chapter of a very grand book. Success and failure is not measured by how well we manage to dodge catastrophe. It’s measured by how well and how free we live our life.

I believe that every one of us is here by choice. If this is true, then I don’t think any of us chose to come here to cower in fear. It is in God that we live and move and have our being. This is, as Jesus said, another in the many rooms of our Father’s house. Earth is not our final home. It’s a spot that’s not too hot, not too cold, not too near and not too far. It’s a Goldilocks Zone, just right for these bodies we currently inhabit. It’s a great day to affirm the omnipresent, healing light of God is shining through each one of us at this very moment.

Thank you for watching, friends and know that you are in God and God is in you. So I’ll leave you once again with our prayer for protection.    

Let’s Talk Prayer

YouTube Video: Let’s Talk Prayer

Meditation/Meditation Exercises

As most of you know, prayer has played a vital role both in Unity’s founding and in our ongoing presentation of spiritual principles. In our ongoing examination of what I’m calling the mystical thread, I’d like to turn our attention today to a few passages that give us a pretty good indication of how Jesus understood prayer.

Preserved in the Gospel accounts are some pretty extraordinary claims Jesus made concerning the subject of prayer. He says through prayer, we can move mountains. While we don’t necessarily want to take this statement literally, we do want to pay attention to the fact that his understanding of prayer involved principles that could make a positive difference in the daily life of the people he spoke to and, of course to you and me.   

An important characteristic of the mystical thread is that it consists of principles that the average person can put into practice. So, we always want to look beyond the religious embellishments imposed by the early writers and seek to draw out the spiritual principle that Jesus was conveying to his listener. If he says that through prayer, we can cast a mountain into the sea, then we know he was telling his audience something they could actually do. We know he wasn’t talking about mountains per se. He was saying that prayer, as he taught it, was an effective tool for dealing with life’s challenges.

He was very transparent about the secret of his demonstrations. He acknowledges as his source of power the limitless spiritual resource he calls his Father. He stakes no exclusive claim on this source, but encourages his listeners to know their Father as well. He said, “Pray to your Father who is in secret.” He also said, and I’ll paraphrase here, “If you believe what I say about going directly to your own spiritual source, you will do the same kinds of things I do, and even greater things” (John 14:12).

This would be like Rembrandt’s first teacher, Jacob van Swanenburgh, saying, “If you adopt the basic methods of painting that I’m teaching you, you will do the works that I do and even greater works, because I’m giving you the principles employed by the masters.” All the world knows Rembrandt today, but relatively few have ever heard of his first teacher.

As I’ve pointed out, the Gospel writers intentionally portrayed Jesus as a larger-than-life figure, one that was set apart from the rest of us. Unless we understand the evangelical mission of these authors, this depiction can present a confusing obstacle, as it places Jesus in a class all by himself. The modern metaphysician has done the same thing, but in a slightly different way. Jesus is presented as a soul so advanced that we have little hope of expressing at that level.

The German theologian, Meister Eckhart, made it pretty clear that he didn’t find these types of characterizations of Jesus as helpful:

  • “Now one authority says “God became man, and through that, all the human race has been ennobled and honored. We may 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 remained a fool?’”

Eckhart, a country priest who spoke weekly to a congregation of average people, was a master at discerning the mystical thread and presenting it in a way that people could actually use. The Church authorities were devoted to maintaining great distance between Jesus and the everyday man and woman, so they condemned Eckhart as a heretic.

It’s an old story – church authority verses mystical insight. We have to take care, even in our New Thought depiction of Jesus as Wayshower, that we don’t continue to repeat this same mistake. Whether we brand him as Eckhart’s one who has gone up above all the choirs of Angels to sit at the right hand of the Father, or we see him as one who is so spiritually advanced that it would take the average person many lifetimes to come close to his level of enlightenment, the chances are good that we’re putting him, and the true value of his teachings, beyond our reach, an example we can never hope to achieve.

On one occasion, Matthew even gives the impression that Jesus spoke in parables to intentionally confuse the intellectual elites, the religious professionals (Matthew 13:3). But why would he do this? What teacher would intentionally confuse those who stood to benefit from the message they’ve devoted their lives to passing on?

Every spiritual teacher knows that the principles they teach must be intuitively rather than intellectually grasped. The use of the parable was intended to convey a deeper truth. Matthew actually makes this point a little later in the same chapter when he paraphrases a passage from Psalms:

  • “All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.’”  (Psalms 78:2-4)

Yes, we study and even memorize spiritual concepts. But these are like an unplanted seed that we carry about in the pouch of our mind. They bear little or no fruit in our life. Spiritual principles do not become a living part of our consciousness until we know their truth at the intuitive level. Again, this is like the yeast incorporated into the flour and water. It was for this reason that Emilie Cady advised her readers with this statement:

  • “If you want to make rapid progress in growth toward spiritual understanding, stop reading many books. They only give someone’s opinion about Truth, or a sort of history of the author’s experience in seeking Truth. What you want is revelation of Truth in your own soul, and that will never come through the reading of many books.”

She’s saying, the time comes when we have to stop reading the cookbook and actually start making the bread.

Though a given principle that Jesus was trying to impart may not have been immediately grasped by his audience, we should assume that he knew it was within their ability to understand. I think he made it clear that anyone who was willing to put aside their preconceived notions, to become as the child who so easily embraces possibilities that might confound the adult, could grasp and put into practice the ideas he taught.

In other words, I think it’s safe to assume that he was giving instruction as one human being to another, imparting information that could be utilized by the average listener. In my thinking, any teaching attributed to Jesus carries value only to the extent that he was addressing human problems with remedies that could be implemented by people like you and me.

His message was extraordinary in the sense that he spoke of a great power that is accessible to all, and yet, even today, it’s almost completely missed by the vast majority of people. The reason that it’s missed is because it isn’t understood. It isn’t understood because it cannot be empirically observed or embodied in language or formulas that can be passed from one mind to another.

In our culture, this is how we’ve been trained to learn. We’ve constructed entire religions around a conceptualized kingdom of God. We’ve mistaken the edifice for the house not made by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1).  We’ve translated this religion into fabulous brick and mortar cathedrals, and mega churches that some claim run a mile wide but only an inch deep. I frankly don’t think Jesus envisioned this kind of development as his legacy.  

He said if you believe that you receive what you ask for in prayer, including moving mountains, it’ll happen. As I already said, the mountain-moving he’s talking about is any situation that looks bigger than we think we can handle. And I’m sure we’ve all experienced mountains that didn’t seem to budge, no matter how hard or how earnestly we prayed. We may have felt that our faith was insufficient. From my own experience as a minister, I’m sure that Jesus understood that the people he was talking to encountered the same problem. I also feel certain that he wasn’t simply hyping his message by making impossible statements with the hope of impressing his following and maybe increasing his numbers. He was sharing spiritual principles he knew would help make people’s lives better. And these are the principles that make up what I’m calling the mystical thread.

If we look at some of the other references Jesus made to prayer, we can find vital clues that bolster our understanding of the principles he taught. I think one of the most important bits of instruction he gave was to go alone to our room – and I think of this as our own inner space – shut the door – that is, turn away from all external concerns – and pray to the Father who is in secret. When it comes to establishing a productive prayer life, this is by far one of the most important practices. He’s talking about setting aside a time when our entire focus is not so much on resolving our life’s issues through prayer, as it is on getting to know God through direct communion. It makes perfect sense that we should first build an awareness of God as a living and very accessible presence. As this relationship grows, all else falls in place.

As Eric Butterworth suggested, we make the shift from praying to God to praying from a consciousness of God. With our growing awareness of God, we begin to see that it’s no longer just a limited set of apparent facts that are on the table. We’re acknowledging that infinite intelligence is working through us to bring about the best and highest solution. I may not know how to cast that mountain into the sea, but I’m bringing myself into alignment with a higher wisdom that does. I’m in alignment with Jesus’ understanding by acknowledging that it’s not me, but the Father within me that’s doing the work. Knowing this Father, this inner source of my very being, is a powerful first step to successful prayer. It’s the very bedrock upon which I build my own personal house of prayer.  

Another idea worth including is the notion of learning to lift our eyes – our inner visioning sense, the mind’s eye, the imagination – to see the completion of the answer we seek (John 4:35). I touched on this subject last week. It involves taking our attention off appearances and moving into an acceptance of the solution, even before that solution becomes apparent in our experience.

How do we do this? How do we believe we’ve received an answer we don’t actually have? This principle is illustrated in the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. He lifted up his eyes – that is, he took his attention away from the problem – and he gave thanks that God always responds. He then began passing out the bread and the fish. He’s acting as if the problem is solved before it actually is.

Whether or not we take this story literally, we can employ the principle. We take our attention off the problem and we give thanks that the proper solution is now coming forth. How do we take our attention off the problem? One way is to begin asking how we would feel if our situation were successfully resolved. We might even jot down the list of responses that come to us. We then give heartfelt thanks that our resolution has occurred.

To some, this might seem like a form of self-delusion. And the truth is, most of the imagery that floats across the screen of our mind never materializes. Why would this be any different?

It’s different because we’re making the concerted effort to back this imagery with the power of faith. Remember the writer of Hebrews tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We may be visualizing the worst-case scenario and pouring our faith in that. We may be rehashing all the known facts about our situation, wondering how we’re going to resolve them, and asking God to intervene while frantically looking for quicker answers. We’re exercising our faith, not in the solution, but in the perpetuation of the problem.

This is reminiscent of Jesus’ parable of the farmer who sowed wheat, but an enemy snuck in at night and sowed weeds. He ordered his workers to not pull the weeds until they were fully mature. That way they could tell the weeds from the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). In other words, the farmer was telling his workers to let go, to stop trying to resolve the problem by constantly mulling over all the known facts. By doing this, they would end up causing more damage.

How do we know that we’ve crossed that threshold of believing we’ve received? We know by how we feel. We’re at peace with our situation. Isn’t the experience of peace of mind the essence of what we’re trying to achieve with the resolution of any problem? The farmer that was telling the workers not to pull the weeds was really saying, “Be at peace about this. You’ll know what to do when the time comes. Don’t let this situation rob you of your present peace of mind.”    

There are many ways we can approach prayer using the teachings of Jesus as our basis. But let’s focus today on the three principles that I’ve already touched on.

1. We first establish conscious union with God as our source of power. I’m basing this on a saying of Jesus: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). Establishing a conscious union with God, is an intuitive, experiential exercise. As Paul wrote,

  • “… that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” (Acts 17:27-28).

To feel after God is to seek to know God as a living presence that is working in and through us right now.

2. The second principle is this: We take our attention off the problem and turn it to the solution. I’m basing this principle on another saying from Jesus:

  • “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are now ready for harvest” (John 4:35).

The action of lifting up our eyes, taking our attention away from the problem, is an exercise of our executive faculty of imagination. Charles Fillmore wrote: “With our imagination we lay hold of ideas and clothe them with substance.” I’ll talk more about this in a moment.

3. Here’s our third principle: We treat our faith in the outworking of the problem as evidence that our solution is now coming forth, in the right way and at the right time. I’m drawing this principle from a well-known saying of Jesus:

  • “If you have faith and never doubt, you will … say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and it will be done. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:21-22).

Believing we have received involves the two faculties of imagination and faith, which Fillmore ties together in this statement: Faith is “the perceiving power of the mind linked with the power to shape substance.” The perceiving power of the mind is the imagination. The power to shape substance is faith.

The thing we want to do now is explore ways we can implement these principles in an actual situation. Whether we’re talking about a healing need, a prosperity challenge, or some type of a disruption or conflict in a relationship, the application is the same.

The first principle of spending time alone with God is something we do well to develop as daily habit. My own best time for doing this is early in the morning, before the rest of the world begins to stir. There’s no right time for this, but I think it’s helpful to set a fairly regular schedule. I published two chapters on meditation from my book, The Complete Soul, on the church’s website, and I’ve included the link in the description area below. I think it’s important that we make this our practice, that we find ways that work best for us. Jesus said to go into your room and pray to your Father. I think he’s saying that we are to make this our experience, that we find our own way. With regular times alone with God, we’ll begin to feel the quiet surge of power that assures us we’re not alone. The more pronounced this gets, the more success we’ll have with the next two principles.

It isn’t easy to take your attention off a problem and try to see a solution unfolding. But think of this: It’s actually harder to stay focused on the problem. It’s harder on you. It’s harder on your creativity. It’s harder on your ability to be optimistic. Yes, it’s easy to worry, easy to visualize the very worst possible outcome of a situation. But look at the toll it takes. So, you have to make the decision that you’re going to use the power of your imagination in a positive and deliberate way. You’re not going to pretend that your problem doesn’t exist. And, you’re not going to stop looking for positive action you can take to resolve it. But you’re going to make a concerted effort to lift the eye of your imagination to the fields ready for harvest – the successful outcome of your situation. Interrupt your negative movie and begin seeing it play out into a happy ending. You’re not trying to force a change; you’re seeing the change unfold in your own mind. You’re now ready to move into the third principle of believing this change is real, and it’s yours now.

Whatever form your mountain has taken, think of Jesus’ call to have faith and never doubt. You’re moving past this challenge. You’re declaring it cast into the sea. Here you employ denials – the releasing of negative pictures, thoughts and feelings – and you’re affirming the greater good you’ve committed to seeing unfold, is doing so right now. If you find your faith wavering, bring yourself back on track. This is your life. It’s your mind. It’s your world, and you want your experience of each day to be the very best it can be.    

Shades of Consciousness

YouTube: Shades of Consciousness

In our quest for an understanding of the mystical thread that I am proposing as the essence of Jesus’ teaching, I would like to turn our attention today to the role of consciousness  

What do we mean by consciousness, and why should we factor it in to our understanding of the spiritual quest? How does consciousness relate to the mystical thread? And, maybe the most important question in the context of this series is, how did Jesus handle the subject?

There are a couple of ways that we look at consciousness. First, we understand it as the state of awareness. If we’re aware of the bird flying over our head, we’re conscious of the bird. In our metaphysical studies, we also think of consciousness as the framework of beliefs that define our perception of the world. These beliefs may or may not be based on what is true, but they create a kind of lens that has a major influence on the way we see ourselves in the world.

As an example, we might say the ancient sailor had a consciousness – a framework of beliefs – built on the idea that the world was flat. We know today that our planet is round, but we can imagine the ancients went to great lengths to make sure they didn’t fall off the edge.

This shows us that it’s not the reality of a situation that poses the problem. It’s the false perception of reality. And this false perception exists only in consciousness – in the belief system of the individual, or, as in this case, a significant portion of the population.

Early metaphysicians referred to this false collective belief as race consciousness. But regardless of how many people hold a false perception, it doesn’t make it true. Every person on the planet could have believed the earth was flat, but it was never flat.

When Paul wrote of seeing through a glass darkly, he was suggesting that, concerning spiritual matters, we’re seeing through a lens of ideas that are fogged by inconsistencies concerning the true nature of God, of ourselves, of our relationship to God. In this series, I’m proposing that Jesus’ primary focus was to bring clarity to our understanding of God, as the source of our being.

It’s important to understand that when we talk about raising consciousness, we’re talking about the process of adopting ideas that align with what’s true at the deepest level. The mystic insists that these true ideas come, not from intellectual study, but as an intuitive, internal impulse. God, as a living presence, is actively expressing as the soul of every individual.

But someone will say, “If this is true, then why doesn’t every person have direct knowledge of God?” It’s because we’re raised in a culture that relies more on the senses than on intuitive perception. We’ve established standards of reality based solely on material facts. And Jesus himself cautioned us to not just by appearances. Our material-based science has produced phenomenal technology, that, frankly, encourages us to judge by appearances. It’s difficult to turn within when our eyes and ears are glued to a cell phone.

The common belief is that only a certain type of person – a saint or someone who has cast off all interest in the world – can know God. Since the early days, the church has made Jesus into a larger-than-life, iconic figure that stands apart from the rest of humankind. But careful observation, and a willingness to take a fresh look at Jesus, reveals that he understood that the composition of an individual’s consciousness is the thing that prevents him or her from knowing and experiencing God firsthand. When he spoke of the house built on sand and the house built on rock, he’s using the house as a metaphor for consciousness – the place we live, the place from which we view the world.

Then he spoke of the need to be born again, or the need to become as open-minded as a child, or to lay aside old wineskins that can’t handle the new wine of direct inspiration. He’s talking about the need to be open minded, the need to let go of preconceived ideas so a new understanding of present spiritual realities can emerge. He’s talking about changing consciousness.   

In his parable of the sower, Jesus identifies three types or conditions of consciousness that block our direct experience with God. He then names a fourth level that is spiritually productive. A little later, the disciples press him for an interpretation of the parable, which he gives.  

  • “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:1-23)

When Jesus says, “Whoever has ears, let him hear,” he’s talking about a different kind of hearing. Everyone to whom he is speaking obviously has ears. He’s talking about intuitive listening, being impressed from within, or listening for the still small voice of God.

So, of the seed that falls along the path and gets snatched up by the birds, he says:  

  • When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

This is the person who doesn’t get the spiritual message at all.

He goes on to the next point:

  • The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

This one gets it, but only at the conceptual level. It doesn’t have practical value in their life, so they don’t rely on spiritual principle to help them weather the challenges.

Of the next level he says,

  • The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

This one is similar to the previous instance, but he’s referring to the person who’s focused more on using spiritual principles to build up the self-image. This is the positive thinker who is trying to improve their life by holding the right attitudes, affirming wealth, health and success, but never really connecting with their own spiritual core. Their true motive is not greater spiritual understanding but the fortification of the self-image through acquisition at the material level.

And of the final condition he says this:

  • But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

This is the person who understands themselves as a spiritual being, who truly grasps that they are clothed in a body and having this human experience. Because they understand themselves to be an expression of something much greater than their own history and personality, they tend to see the possibilities of greater good unfolding through all of life’s happenings.

The “word” is the message about the kingdom. But more precisely, it is the message from the kingdom, being impressed on our consciousness from within. Everyone feels it as the desire for greater freedom. But each person interprets this expansive desire according to the makeup of our consciousness. Some ignore it. Some acknowledge it but think it has no significance to daily life. Some interpret it as the need to amass wealth. And a few see it God expressing through them in a unique, spiritually, mentally and materially prospering way.

In an earlier lesson, I pointed out that the term, kingdom of God is a reference to a deeper reality, the creative life force that is centered within each individual. Evelyn Underhill describes it as a “… plane of perception for which human speech has few equivalents.” Paul was referring to this plane when he wrote,

  • “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit.”

He’s making a distinction between intellectual learning and intuitive knowing.

On our spiritual quest, the most influential beliefs revolve around the image we carry of ourselves. Even the slightest bit of spiritual illumination has an impact on the makeup of our consciousness. We begin to catch glimpses of the truth that the thing we desire most is a greater infilling of the Spirit. As this happens, life begins to make more sense. The challenges we have become opportunities to open our minds and hearts to the bigger picture, to look beyond appearances and to know that some greater good is unfolding that we may not otherwise see.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he said we may drink the water the world gives, but we’ll thirst again. This water is the belief that things and accomplishments can give us the fulfillment we desire. The water the Spirit gives is truly thirst quenching. We discover that the emptiness we’ve tried to fill through external means is filled only as we open ourselves to this inner fountain of living water. This doesn’t seem possible because we’ve associated the feeling of lack with things we don’t have. We haven’t associated it with the living energy of Spirit. What we’ve lacked here is a conscious connection with this indwelling Presence.

Once we make the connection to our spiritual source, we see this energy as a great treasure that is buried in the field of our consciousness. We gradually sell everything we own – that is, we begin shifting our values from a pursuit of things to the pursuit of a deeper experience with the soul and our oneness with God. We’re willing to let go of the old wineskins.

When Jesus spoke of the house built on sand and the house built on rock, he was talking about consciousness. A consciousness built on sand is one that believes our primary quest in life is to find fulfillment through material means. The consciousness built on the rock of the indwelling Spirit is grounded on the deeper, unchanging reality – the bedrock of our being. We understand that fulfillment is found in experiencing conscious union with the source of our being.

The coming kingdom is not a thing that’ll be seen by the masses. It’s an individual experience, a quiet awakening, a gradual opening of our spiritual eyes. Only we see what is revealed to us. The book of Revelation puts it this way:

  • “To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17)

We don’t want to think of this statement in futuristic terms. The revelation of this hidden manna begins as a subjective experience, known only to us, an awareness of the inner presence as a living fountain of energy, which we know as the very source of our being. As the awareness of this presence deepens, it works through our consciousness in ways that influence our entire belief system. It’s that quarter teaspoon of yeast that doubles the size of water mixed with four cups of flour and a bit of salt. It’s that tiny seed that grows into a great shrub or tree.

But it cannot be contained in the old wineskin of a body-centered consciousness, which is the source of so much of our normal thinking. Jesus points out that we must become as a child, a fresh mind, a new wineskin that has the elasticity to expand with the living wine of Truth.

This expansion applies to consciousness. We begin to understand that we’re something more than the body-centered self-image that’s been the focus of so much of our social identity. We come to see that our true being is spiritual, unlimited, an expression of a living reality that has no beginning and no end. And yet we’ve spent much of our lives consumed with beginnings and endings – from birth to death, through youth, to middle age and on into the so-called golden years. We’ve followed the clock. We’ve run on a timeline that’s been laid out before us, each beginning and each ending carefully mapped and memorized, passed through so many generations that to even question it seems borderline heretical. The wineskins are stretched to their limit.

Let’s move a little deeper here. There’s a very influential school of thought that insists we’re the product of our thinking. It’s that third condition of consciousness that Jesus referred to in his parable of the sower, the belief that you can change your life by changing your thinking. This seems plausible only because we have come to believe that we are the self-image our thinking has created. But as Emma Curtis Hopkins, one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the 19th century, pointed out:  

  • “… it is primarily what we most see, and not what we most think, that constitutes our presence, power and history.”

The seeing she is referring to is with the eye of the imagination.

  • “This fleet, subtle sense is our incorporeal eye. It is the one faculty of our immortal soul which we continually make use of.”

She continues,

  • “The exaltation or lifting up of this sense toward that vast, vast countenance ever shining toward us as the sun in his strength, is our way of return to the Source whence we sprang forth.”

When Jesus said to “lift up your eyes,” he was speaking of this inner visional sense, turning it toward that “vast, vast countenance ever shining toward us as the sun in his strength.”

The stream of our thinking has changed many times through our life, but that Source from which we spring has never changed. Isaiah referred to this spiritual essence as the word … that goes forth from the Lord’s mouth, and he made it clear that this bedrock of our being is the real guide we will eventually acknowledge.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11) 

The “word … that goes forth from my mouth,” is the creative life force that infuses our consciousness, like rain and snow infuse the earth, not to return, but to go forth to express “… on the earth of our daily life as it is in heaven.” Here the earth symbolizes consciousness, that transitional medium between the visible and invisible realms. The rain and snow is the “word that goes forth from my mouth.” It is in our quiet moments of receptivity that we receive this living word which, as John would later acknowledge, is the starting point of our true being:

  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)

The thoughts that are prompted by this spiritual infilling are higher than the thoughts that swirl through our minds. In both cases, however, thoughts are effects, not causes. We think from the ideas that dominate our consciousness. We are not the product of our thinking. Our thinking is the product of our consciousness. And our consciousness is either a house built on the ever-shifting sands of appearance, or a house built on the changeless bedrock of Spirit.

Jesus pointed to the need to lift our eyes, to take our attention off this physical garment and all of its trappings and go deeper. We’re seeking that aspect of ourselves that is born of the Spirit.

We should understand that we’re not to just suddenly withdraw our attention from the body. We practice letting go of the body and our affairs in our times of meditation. As the light of Spirit begins to dawn on us, any changes that we make are done easily and naturally. We should never try to force thinking or behavior that we presume is spiritual. To do this is to attempt to force preconceived states that will only lead to stress. We’re attempting to put new wine into old wineskins. Emilie Cady referred to people who strive for spiritual attainment as taking on a strained look. Jesus referred to it as attempting to take the kingdom by force. We free ourselves of the grasping mind and assume instead a level of receptivity that allows Spirit to reveal itself on its own terms. This revelatory process is natural and requires no more knowledge than you or I have right now.

I’ve found that a very helpful attitude is one that assumes the soul is already fully developed. The soul is a light shining in the darkness, and the darkness does not stop it. It’s not a light that you make shine. We’re not trying to achieve spiritual enlightenment. We’re seeking to simply let this light shine in its own natural way.  

The practice of meditation is the practice of developing a sensitivity to the subtle energy that powers your being. The more sensitive you become, the more pronounced this energy becomes. At first, we’re aware of it only in our quiet times. Then we become aware of it in the full activities of the day. It gently emerges as our source of guidance, an influence on our thinking, that bit of yeast that expands through our entire consciousness. This is the good soil Jesus is talking about. The crop it produces is the manifestation of this quiet influence, the new conditions that emerge based on insights that come to the spiritually sensitive. It influences our thinking, our interests, and our choices.

This is how the kingdom comes. We all experience many shades of consciousness, all of which have some influence on our experience. As we become willing to let go of the old wineskins, the  preconceived ideas concerning our spiritual development, we let the darkened glass of consciousness become a clear lens that lets the light of Truth shine into every facet of our life.

Thank you for again for your ongoing support of this ministry. It means a lot to all of us at Independent Unity. It’s exciting to see that we’re making new friends online every week, and it’s really a treat to read or hear your good words of encouragement. Once again, I want to leave you with this blessing. Be safe, be aware, and most of all, be at peace.


The Great Expectation

YouTube: The Great Expectation

 Link to The Gospel of Thomas: https://www.gospels.net/thomas/

The Gospel Source Q: https://sacred-texts.com/journals/oc/gsq.htm

Hello friends. Welcome again to Independent Unity’s virtual church service, broadcast from our home to yours.

When will the kingdom come? In the Christian context, this question been asked for two thousand years, despite the fact that Jesus answered it.

“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “the kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or “There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is within you (or, in the midst of you).” Luke 17:20-21

To understand the meaning of Jesus’ response is to understand the nature of the mystical thread, the teaching centered around the experience of oneness with God. Because this message is intuitively discerned, it has become buried in mainstream Christian theology.

Today I would like to take a look at how this might have happened. We’re going to imagine how that first Gospel writer may have produced his revolutionary work. I think by doing this type of exercise, we can get a better understanding of the Gospel vehicle that carries the message of Jesus.

Discerning the Mystical Thread

YouTube: Discerning the Mystical Thread

Last week we looked at The Hidden Jesus. I suggested that throughout the Gospel accounts, there’s an Orthodox, larger-than-life presentation of Jesus and then there’s the man behind it. In thinking about the man, I’m talking about the thought processes that set him apart, that made his teachings unique. We don’t really know who that person was. We like to think we know. But all we really know is what’s been passed down to us through tradition, which has become the mainstream Christian thought. There’s a stream of ideas that run through his teachings that strongly suggest he didn’t make himself the central focus, as both the mainstream and New Thought Christian communities do today. His focus was on his listener’s oneness with God – the kingdom of God within the individual. I like to call this stream of ideas, the mystical thread. To recognize this thread of ideas, we have to be willing to lay aside much of what we think we know. …

The Hidden Jesus

YouTube: The Hidden Jesus

Hello friends, and welcome again to Independent Unity’s virtual church from home. I trust all of you are doing well, that this is a productive and possibly introspective time.

Last week, people from around the world celebrated Easter, based on the traditional understanding of Jesus that’s been passed down for two thousand years. It’s a story we’ve heard so many times that it would be easy to assume this orthodox view is the only way to think of Jesus. But considering how Jesus rebelled against the orthodoxy of his own day, we have to wonder if he would give his stamp of approval to the way that he’s currently portrayed.

For those of us who have taken the liberty to examine the sayings of Jesus from outside this traditional box, we move from the so-called Passion of Christ to the passion of Jesus—a passion to bring to his people a message of truth that he believed would break the chains of dogmatic religion, and truly set his followers free. Today, I want to explore a different type of resurrection. I want to roll away the stone of orthodoxy and shed new light on The Hidden Jesus that has been entombed in two-thousand years of dogmatic religion ….   

The Easter Transformation

YouTube: The Easter Transformation

Reading Material: Meditation/Meditation Exercises

[Excerpt from The Easter Transformation] If I were to put the Easter message into a single line, I would say something like this: Let go of the lesser so that the greater spiritual potential in you may come forth. Become willing to allow the lesser—the body-based identity or ego, the man of the flesh—to die and to let the light of your true, spiritual identity come forth, to define you, to define your interests, to define your purpose on this planet.

This is what the crucifixion and the tomb represent. It’s the process of transformation, that period when the man Jesus was put to death and entombed. But this is no more the end of the story than when the seed is dropped into the ground and covered. What looks like death, is a letting go, a surrendering to the process of transforming from one condition to another.

In Unity we advocate the practice of meditation. Meditation is really the application of the principle embodied in Easter. We close our eyes and relax our body. We turn our attention away from the demands of the body and our external circumstances. This is a kind of symbolic death. We die to our more surface-oriented self and turn our attention to a more subtle, quiet center of our being. Though we’re talking about something very natural here, it is not easy to describe what we’re actually seeking in this time of quiet. With practice, we begin to experience a spiritual quickening that brings the awareness of our unity with something greater than our normal thinking. Like the seed, we do not grasp for this something greater. We surrender, we let go, we trust that the divine intelligence of God is doing its perfect work in us, opening our mind and heart to the larger, spiritual context.

We’re undergoing a symbolic crucifixion and death. But there’s nothing negative about it—no more than when the seed is dropped into the ground.

Paul wrote of the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest. This mystery, he said, is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26, 27). But when he refers to Christ, he’s not talking about the man Jesus. He’s talking that divine self that Jesus discovered and referred to as the kingdom of God that dwells at the heart of every person. In the same way the seed’s transformation into a full-blown plant remains a mystery, so this Christ, this divine self that abides in every one of us, knows how to do its perfect work through our consciousness. It knows how to break through this limited seed identity, this body-based self-image with all its fears and limitations. It knows how to bring into the light of our awareness the potential to live our life from that image and likeness of God that we are.

To resurrect means to restore to life. If we think of the process of resurrection as a miracle, something that belongs to the realm of the supernatural, then we’re missing the point. To restore to life means to consciously reclaim a living energy that has never been absent. To raise it from the dead means to bring it out of the tomb of our own indifference and let it come forth into the daylight of our normal thinking. Though it has been hidden for ages, so to speak, this living energy of our Christ potential is present and fully capable of doing its transformative work.

In one sense, it is a miracle that a seed, possibly dormant for many years, can spring to life, expand as a full-blown plant, and produce enough seed for many generations to come. But there’s nothing supernatural about this. It is so natural, in fact, that we take it in stride. We see the living plants all around us resurrecting from their winter sleep. The living force that displays as this natural resurrection is just as involved in each one of us. This understanding transforms Easter from a religious holiday to a personal event.

I would encourage each of you—especially in this time of self-isolation—to fully engage in your own Easter experience, to spend time in quiet introspection of this transforming, living energy, this Christ in you that is so often hidden in the busyness of daily life.

What is God Up To?

YouTube: What is God Up To?

Friends,
I totally apologize for sending yet another notice that our Sunday service is posted, but it is now. The problem was that Youtube flagged us on two copyright issues, with the last one being the Peace Song, which I had to remove. We haven’t had copyright issues in the past because we’ve only published my talks, so we’re learning as we go. My sincerest apologies for this inconvenience, but I think we have it right this time.
Blessings,
Rev. Doug 

What Is God Up To?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve heard several interpretations of the role God is playing with this virus pandemic. Some have said this is the fulfillment of a prophesy, that the day of reckoning has come. Others are saying that God is doing this as a way of getting us to count our blessings. Still others suggest that this is God’s way of forcing us to lay aside our petty differences and unite in a new age of unity.   

Though nearly unnoticed amidst this week’s pandemic pandemonium, the Pope issued a statement that all major religions are different paths to the same God. The statement, of course, sparked a firestorm among certain Protestants who declare the only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. I too disagree with the Pope, but for different reasons.

I believe there is but one ultimate reality that can only be known through direct experience. I do not think of any religion as a path leading to God, but more as a particular sect’s prescribed way to think of God. Most western religions would have us believe that God exists separate from the individual.  It has been my observation that such religious indoctrination can become a formidable obstacle to a first-hand experience with God.

To get to the moon, our scientists had to align their thinking and technology with laws that permit space travel. They failed many times before finding the path. The way that succeeded was the one that best complied with the laws of physics. In this sense, there are not many different paths to the moon. There is but one, and every country that wishes to visit must stay reasonably true to this path. We might think of the body of science that got us to the moon as a religion. How many can there be, and can they all be right? Can they all take us to our desired destination?

Most people depend on religion to shape their understanding of God. You are approaching spiritual maturity when your understanding of God shapes your religion.