The Road Never Traveled

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“Each man must sooner or later learn to stand alone with his God; nothing else avails. Nothing else will ever make you master of your own destiny. There is in your own indwelling Lord all the life and health, all the strength and peace and joy, all the wisdom and support that you can ever need or desire. No one can give to you as can this indwelling Father. He is the spring of all joy and comfort and power” (Emilie Cady).

If I were to state the single most important message that I gleaned from Unity, it would be the thought that is embodied in the above paragraph. I shared a similar idea in an inspirational message I posted on Facebook:

“Many take the road widely traveled. A few take the road less traveled. Only you can take the road never traveled.”

Jesus said it in a slightly different way.

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

You and I have our own unique connection with God. Cultivating an awareness with this connection will take us down a path that is unique to us. If we feel something is missing, we are likely in a situation that is out of sync with that son of man part of us that does not lay its head in the examples or the trails blazed by others. Our single-most important work is to know ourselves at the soul level and to bring our divine originality into expression.

Cady explains that, while there is a place for books and teachers, our ultimate guide is our own indwelling Lord, that divine fountain of life that is our soul. Some seek to be different as a kind of fashion statement of their spiritual independence. This never lasts. We are seeking to connect with that which we are at the spiritually authentic level, that aspect that requires no manipulating control of how we express. The dandelion does not emulate the rose, even as the rose draws the most positive attention.

When Jesus said he came to bear witness to the truth, he was speaking for you and me as well. We were born to bear witness to the truth, to take the road never traveled, the way of expression that is unique to our being.


Safe Spaces and the Soul You Seek

Question: In your book, The Complete Soul, you draw a contrast between the self-image and the soul. I’m not sure I understand the difference. Can you help?

My first response to this question was to compile things I have written about the self-image and present it as a summary. Lots of words give us a helpful definition of the ideas we’re trying to convey through them, but they always fall short of conveying the experience they are intended to describe. If you want to gain understanding of your self-image through experience, simply follow that knot in the pit of your stomach. Here you find that part of you that is scrambling to protect and sustain a world built around the person you think you are supposed to be. Your self-image is the wizard of Wizard of Oz fame, the one hidden behind the curtain busy pulling the levers, twisting the knobs and pushing the buttons required to give the appearance of reality to a world that cannot exist on its own.

Because we have spent a lifetime developing our self-image, we accept it as our true identity. We pray for its comfort, peace, health, success and prosperity without even giving a thought as to why it experiences the kind of lack that sustains that abdominal knot. We have defined our soul from the perspective of the self-image, attributing the inadequacies we feel to the false notion that it, the soul, is spiritually incomplete. In our thinking, we have subjected the soul to time and space. We believe it will attain completeness in another time and in some other place. The self-image, not the soul, is subject to time and space. It changes over time and it feels better, at least momentarily, adding things to its stature that it does not currently have.

I have come to believe that 99.9% of our spiritual studies are done from the perspective of trying to improve the self-image. I believe Emilie Cady understood this as well, which is why she cautioned against continuing reading many books on the subject of spiritual development. As most of you know, Jesus’ parable of the buried treasure is among my favorites on this subject because it depicts the treasure (the soul) as complete. At the point of discovery, the man ceases his studies on treasure hunting and begins taking appropriate action toward treasure recovery, a shift that occurred the instant the man experienced the treasure.

We are so fully engaged in treasure hunting that we have become unwilling to even consider the truth that we currently stand in the field that contains the very treasure that we long for. We cannot experience it with our noses buried in books. We can sharpen our expertise on treasure hunting. We can increase our spiritual vocabulary and give others the impression we know all about the spiritual quest. But this is not what we truly seek. I will never find the I that I hope to become. I can only find the I that I am.

Most seem to be baffled by the notion that their soul is complete now. From the perspective of the self-image, the evidence against this idea is overwhelming. I don’t feel complete. I struggle. I need more understanding. My thoughts are not consistently positive. I don’t have enough. I have not connected with my soul mate. I do not love my neighbor as I should. I look the other way when I see the beggar on the corner. I experience anger and I am still judgmental. I obviously have a long way to go.

The thing is, you will never perfect your self-image to the point where it meets these false standards of completion. These standards are not based on actual exposure to the soul. They are based on the pop culture that has grown up within the so-called spiritual community. Better known as race consciousness, this culture is driven by the shallow trends of appearance, belief and supposition rather than by direct exposure to the changeless reality of the soul. Under the guise of the spiritual quest, we are attempting to build a safe space for the self-image. We believe we will reach our nirvana when we cushion the self-image with enough material goods and spiritual self-esteem to protect against the threat of change—a false hope that can never be fulfilled.

Everyone must find for themselves that narrow gate that opens to the soul. The wide gate to the self-image is easy to spot and pass through. Just follow the crowd. Learn the language of the popular culture. Look the part. Build the proper library. Do the cruise. Don the designer yoga tights and assume the correct posture. When you do all these things and still find that the knot in the pit of your stomach persists, then perhaps you will break away and discover the true treasure, the soul you seek, has been present and calling to you all along.

Further Questions

Thank you for your answer. Your response brings up other questions I have listed below. I appreciate your engagement in advance.

1. Do you believe there was a time when science was more objective than it is now?

Today’s science is dominated by the belief that life/consciousness arose/rises from matter. The science of neurology, for example, holds that the entirety of the human experience revolves around the brain. When the brain dies, that’s it. There is no soul, no consciousness, no trace of the once living entity we called Bill. Bill lives on only in the memory of others. Those who believe that Bill is a soul that continues his experience without a body are seeking to draw comfort from an impossible delusion. In the cases of so-called near-death experiences, the brain is obviously not entirely dead. Though our very sophisticated machines fail to detect brain activity, the brain is still alive. Our machines will get better. This is the only explanation for those who claim memories while flat-lined. When the brain is dead, you’re dead … period.

A number of years ago I posted on Amazon the following review on Jill Bolte Taylor’s best-selling book, My Stroke of Genius. Because I believe the review still provides a credible summary of this subject, I include it in its entirety.

Remarkably Unremarkable (2 stars)
Jill Bolte Taylor’s account into her own experience with stroke is remarkable in terms of her recovery. For those who have been touched by the experience of stroke, there is much in the way of inspiration and example as to the level of courage and attitude required to make a comeback from such a potentially debilitating experience.

What is unremarkable about the book is that Taylor uses the experience to attempt to confirm the scientific bias of her discipline: namely, that consciousness is a function of the brain. Though this unproven theory goes unquestioned among the majority of the scientific community, a single instance of a brain-dead individual demonstrating both awareness and memory topples this house of cards. Nothing of the research into the Near-Death Experience is mentioned in Taylor’s account. This field of study is completely ignored. To the average reader, the classical, materialistically-based rendition of reality remains unchallenged.
For example, Taylor attributes inner peace to a location in the right hemisphere of the brain: “Based upon my experience with losing my left mind, I wholeheartedly believe that the feeling of deep inner peace is neurological circuitry located in our right brain. This circuitry is constantly running and always available for us to hook into.”

Without actually saying it, she suggests that the condition the Buddhist describes as Nirvana is little more than the switching on of a specific area of the right brain’s neurological circuitry. That certain centers of the brain are switched on and even changed through practices such as meditation (a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity) is well known. As cardiologist Dr. Pim Van Lommel points out in his book, Consciousness Beyond Life, “A conscious experience can be the result of brain activity, but a brain activity can also be the result of consciousness.” For a brain scientist to conclude that the experience of higher states of awareness are found in physical locations of the brain simply indicates this scientist’s materialistic predisposition and her obvious unfamiliarity with the mystical traditions of the world.

The brain indeed is a marvelous instrument, but it does not come close to equaling the marvels of the consciousness that uses this three pound marvel to interface with the material world. Perhaps if Taylor’s stroke had been accompanied by an NDE, it would have changed her in a way that would actually add to our understanding of the brain/consciousness interaction. As it stands, her presentation simply supports the hypothesized treatment of consciousness as a mere byproduct of the brain, an unproven and increasingly challenged assumption that is still championed by many in her field.

I would recommend Taylor’s book only on the basis of reaching a better understanding of the needs of a stroke victim. Her running commentary on what constitutes the human being and her frequent ventures into spiritual subjects create an inconsistent patchwork of ideas that I found quite distracting–thus two rather than five stars.

If we contrast the terms, objective and subjective, we have to conclude that there has never been a time when science was more objective than it is now. Objectivity, as we define it, is a disposition that is undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena. In contrast, we consider subjectivity as taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias. Objectivity is intellectually driven (senses oriented) while subjectivity is intuitively based. Today’s science does not buy Emilie Cady’s presumption that the intellect must take a back seat to intuition.

We have to remember that modern science was born out of a level of religious control and suppression that any free-thinker today, myself included, would also reject. That Church officials would not even look through Galileo’s telescope speaks volumes. One easily gets the impression from many in the scientific community that each new materially-confirming discovery drives another stake into the heart of the opiate of religious superstition, and with smug satisfaction.

Ironically, the shoe has now shifted to the other foot. Top officials of today’s science refuse to look through the “telescope” (research) of fellow scientists who are now exploring the “hard problem” of consciousness. If it can be proven that the existence of consciousness is not dependent on the brain, the most sacred shrines and scriptures of material science are as threatened as those of the once dominating Church. We are more civilized today, however, because it is only careers and not people who are burned at the stake.

When you listen to a scientific materialist defend his or her stand, you do not witness one whose argument is undistorted by emotion or personal bias. With their bias based entirely on observable phenomena, the consideration of a thing like consciousness–completely subjective though universally experienced–is simply dismissed. Which is why Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers named the study of consciousness the hard problem. The question, What is Consciousness? is among the 100 that orthodox science cannot answer. The oddity here is that without consciousness, science itself would not exist.

2. Is science ever compatible with seeking truth spiritually?

When the scientific process is applied to questions of a spiritual nature then yes, the discipline of science can enhance our spiritual understanding. This is in fact happening in the field of near-death research and in that branch of physics that approach reality from the nondualistic basis. Deepak Chopra is one of New Thought’s best known spokespersons for this approach, though there are many others. Science cannot use its materially-based tools of measurement to explore spiritual anomalies. Those who place their faith in these tools, which are extremely useful in solving the riddles of material phenomena, will not likely make the needed transition that could bring science and spirituality together. Revolutions, however, are never started by the status quo which is why any new era in scientific thinking will emerge, as they always have, from the shadows of unorthodoxy.

3. Can you point to evidence that your own conclusions are more objective than that of science?

No, I cannot, because my conclusions are not objective. They are subjective. I totally understand science’s rejection of subjective “evidence”. All religion, New Thought and old, is driven subjectively. The result is that some very wild claims are made, and rightfully dismissed by science. Faith is entirely subjective. If there was objective proof to substantiate our beliefs, we would not need faith. But faith is often blinded by emotion (as is science), which leaves the believer declaring, I don’t care where the evidence/data points, I believe this or that regardless. Cult leaders thrive on this type of blind acceptance. But then so do universities.

It’s not all about objectivity (intellect/science) and it’s not all about subjectivity (intuition/spirituality). There must be a blending of the two. Yet if the premise of nonduality is correct, that consciousness, not matter, is the basis of reality, then Cady’s assertion that intellect and intuition travel together, with intuition taking the lead, is correct.

I hope this answers your questions.