The Jesus Factor

[excerpt from The Complete Soul] 

My views of Jesus have changed over the years. I no longer tie his relevance to whether or not he was the miracle worker, the savior who died for my sins, or even the Wayshower who represents all that I might one day become. Through various periods I have seen him through the eyes of the traditional Christian, and I have felt remorse for his death on the cross for my sins. I have also seen him through the eyes of the metaphysical Christian, known the assurance of embracing him as Fillmore’s type-man, the extraordinary example of the person I may someday become.

Despite such a wide range of experience, I made no significant progress in spiritual understanding until I followed the simple instruction of Jesus himself: to go into my inner room and pray to the Father who is in secret.[1] Drawing near the very fountainhead of my being has yielded the most productive spiritual insights. Why take the word of another when it is possible to know and experience God firsthand?

The Jesus I have come to know through my own study and meditative experience is a man who fully discovered and spoke from his soul, a fact that profoundly distinguishes him from the average person. I’m not suggesting he was different in spiritual capacity. He was different in focus and in self-understanding. We have made him into something beyond the reach of the common people he addressed, and I do not believe he would have approved. “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”[2] He demonstrated what it is to be a divinely awakened human and pointed out that the things this revelation enabled him to see and do, others could see and do as well.[3]

My change of attitude has not minimized or diminished in the least the role of Jesus as an extraordinary example of spiritual genius. The insights I now glean from many of his sayings have elevated the way I think of others and myself. These insights have caused me to consider why he seemed to have such faith in the spiritual capacity of the common person.

I have concluded that the completeness he found in himself, he also saw in others. He understood how people were blinding themselves to this inner kingdom, and he set himself to the task of encouraging them to open their spiritual eyes. I think of Jesus as one who gave voice to his soul, a voice that we intuitively recognize as it stirs our hidden depths, giving us the eyes to see and the ears to hear the message of a kindred spirit describing a spiritual geography we ourselves presently inhabit. He did not speak of one day reaching a pool of wholeness, but of today taking up our bed of appearance-inspired thinking and walking. He claimed no monopoly on Truth. The revelation of Truth, by his voice or by any voice that speaks it, is a revelation of what is true now and what has always been true of all people for all time.

The words and acts attributed to Jesus are grains of evidence, fossilized remnants if you will, that bear the characteristics of his original, inwardly oriented message. He spoke the language of the soul, the language spoken by mystics through the ages who have transcended religious boundaries. Jesus, and all mystics, have been grossly misunderstood by religious professionals.

“The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”[4]

Because the spiritual dimension defies description, those who come to know it cannot find the language to describe the subjective nature of their experience. They have resorted to parable, metaphor, allegory, and simile. Jesus likens this heavenly kingdom to a grain of mustard seed, leaven, treasure hidden in a field, a net thrown into the sea, a householder who brings out his treasure, and so on. These remnants from Jesus’ life are couched and preserved in a matrix of religious trappings that, in all likelihood, share a closer alliance to the teachings and intentions of the early church than to Jesus. Adding to this confusion, the New Testament presents a diversity of views of who Jesus was and what he represented. None of the New Testament writers wrote with the intention of having their work compiled into a single document. Luke, acknowledging a variety of versions of the story of Jesus, took it upon himself to set the record straight:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.”[5]

Ignoring the independent views of each author, the traditional Christian community has drawn from this diversity of sources to create the single composite of the Jesus that has become familiar to most today. There were other views in ancient times. For example, the Gnostic Christian writings, discovered in a cave in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945, represent a very different view of Jesus. Though this fringe community embraced a theology foreign to the Christian traditionalist, I am in full agreement with their belief that you must first know yourself at the spiritual level before you can understand a man like Jesus. In The Gospel of Thomas, we find this intriguing observation:

Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”[6]

That aspect of Christian tradition that considers the individual born in sin and in need of salvation does not place a high premium on self-knowledge. Excluding emphasis on knowing one’s self has led to a level of spiritual poverty unnoticed by those who measure spiritual success by denominational standards rather than by the presence of personal enlightenment. Embracing the view of Jesus transmitted by authority through the centuries requires no degree of self-knowledge. It requires only a profession of faith in the validity of the transmission.

We will not be able to prove definitively who Jesus was or know how he thought of himself. What we can do through an examination of the historical record is observe the centuries-long struggle to hammer out a singular view of Jesus from a multitude of interpretations and know from this that we are not actually seeing the man. We can take from this collective homogenizing effort the cue that allows us to venture beyond the realm of enshrined opinion, beyond the Jesus forced into the service of the professional theologian, and discover the Jesus who strikes that sympathetic chord of our soul.

Our quest for spiritual authenticity provides the heat that separates the slag of orthodoxy and tradition from the precious metal of truth, as relevant today as it was in the day of Jesus. We are left with the task of discerning between the voices of authority and that live wire of Truth that electrifies and enlightens the mystic. “My sheep hear my voice …”[7] is, for me, a kind of knowing wink to those who recognize this language of the soul.

The pure voice of Jesus that I hear rising through the theological mix of the Gospels, the New Testament as a whole and views shared by the unorthodox, is a voice that resonates with my very core. I do not find a Jesus compelling me to follow him on his path, but one that points out that I have my own. I hear him telling me that for this I was born, for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth of my being, to walk the path that is mine alone and no one else’s.

In the same way New Thought has challenged the traditional views held about Jesus, it is appropriate that we question and challenge views considered integral to New Thought logic today. I assume that Jesus encouraged his listeners to do little more than follow him in shedding the dogmatic beliefs of religious orthodoxy. I believe he encouraged people to discover for themselves the truth of their spiritual nature, which provides the strongest, most profound catalyst for change at the fundamental level of one’s being.

[1] Matthew 6:6

[2] Mark 10:18

[3] John 14:12

[4] 1 Corinthians 2:14

[5] Luke 1:1-4

[6] The Gospel of Thomas, #3

[7] John 10:27

The Fillmorian Influence

[Note: I have little doubt that few of you who may take the time to read this post in its entirety will care much about it. It is chapter 2 of my book, The Complete Soul. Why do I say this? If you were not drawn into the Unity movement through the teachings of its co-founder, Charles Fillmore, you’ll probably find it confusing. If you were drawn into Unity through the Fillmorian teachings, you’ll probably find it borderline sacrilegious. It wasn’t intended to be either. With all due respect to Mr. Fillmore, I intended to address what I believe is a significant misunderstanding of the nature of the soul.

It’s a long piece, so take it in small bits. JDB]

Chapter 2

The Fillmorian Influence

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”[1]

Though my first exposure to Unity was through the writings of Emilie Cady, I would discover later that she wrote as a representative of the Unity Movement, co-founded by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Prior to this discovery, I had no knowledge of Unity as an organization.

Cady’s book, Lessons in Truth, first appeared as a series of articles in Unity. This series was the Fillmore’s response to a Unity subscriber’s request to “…have one of your clearest writers, one who understands the principles, and the uninformed mind of a student, write an explanation of this grand Truth in very simple form and in simple, clear words.” As a regular contributor to a number of Unity publications, the Fillmores selected Cady for the task. In my opinion, her work still represents the gold standard of presentations of Unity’s core teachings.

In the meantime, Fillmore continued developing his own writing skills, and deepening his understanding of spiritual principles. In much the same way science has been on a quest for the theory of everything (a single theory linking all aspects of the material universe), so Fillmore was in search of a spiritual key for resolving the full range of human problems. Having explored many of the world’s religious and occult teachings, he narrowed his search to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. There he found his theory of everything, his universal key that, in his view, held the promise of ending all human suffering. This key was his concept of regeneration, which he defined as:

“A change in which abundant spiritual life, even eternal life, is incorporated into the body. The transformation that takes place through bringing all the forces of mind and body to the support of the Christ ideal. The unification of Spirit, soul, and body in spiritual oneness.”[2]

Once it solidified in his own thinking, this concept provided the logic that inspired Fillmore’s elaborate vision of humankind’s ultimate goal, a snapshot of which we find in the opening paragraph of his book, The Twelve Powers of Man:

“Jesus prophesied the advent of a race of men who would sit with Him on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This book explains the meaning of this mystical reference, what and where the twelve thrones are, and what attainments are necessary by man before he can follow Jesus in this phase of his regeneration. Regeneration follows generation in the development of man. Generation sustains and perpetuates the human; regeneration unfolds and glorifies the divine.”[3]

The scriptural support for this lofty vision comes from the King James Version (KJV) of the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus and his disciples are in conversation, with the disciples expressing their concern of having given up everything to follow Jesus. What rewards await them?

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.[4]

Given the fact that he makes this text and the concept of regeneration the central theme of his teaching, his theory of everything, scholars today would find Fillmore’s interpretation of the above scripture problematic. In the entire Bible, there are but two occurrences of the word, regeneration (Matthew 19:28, Titus 3:5). As we’ve seen, the Matthew reference appears only in the KJV.[5] Modern translations drop regeneration from Matthew, favoring instead phrases like “in the new world[6] and “at the renewal of all things.[7]

That the followers of the Jesus movement would have seen this passage as a mystical reference to body and soul regeneration is doubtful. Every aspect of the Bible is, of course, fair game for metaphysical interpretation, but Matthew’s passage obviously points to the literal second coming, the ushering in of the new age,[8] and the rewards for those who have sacrificed everything for their faith.

“And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”[9]

As one trained in the foundation principles of Unity, I attribute my early understanding of the soul as an evolving entity to Charles Fillmore. Though Cady certainly implied it, she was far less energetic in her discourse on the particulars of the subject. We will see in the remainder of this chapter that Fillmore presented Jesus as the sole example of the highly evolved, spiritually unified, completely regenerated human being. Based on my respect for Fillmorian authority, this is the view I endorsed before I had the confidence to draw my own conclusions. Presenting the reasons why I have now come to a different understanding of the soul and of Jesus and his role is the subject of this chapter and the one that follows.

From the writers of the New Testament to now, all generations of Christian leaders have utilized the words and actions of Jesus to lend authority and credibility to the advancement of their organizational causes and personal agendas. There was much tension between Paul and his appeal to embrace the Gentiles, and those who sought to limit passing the message of Jesus exclusively to the Jewish community. Using Jesus and his messianic credentials as their authority, each side accused the other of preaching a false gospel.

Some years ago, a couple asked me to perform a wedding in a well-known chapel in the foothills near Denver. When the Evangelical Christian owners of the chapel learned that I was a Unity minister, they barred me from performing the ceremony. They said Unity was “theologically impure” and, therefore, non-Christian.

It was attitudes like these that I believe motivated Fillmore to go to extreme lengths to not only prove Unity was theologically pure, but to show it was the purest and truest representation of the Christian message. “We believe all the doctrines of Christianity spiritually interpreted[10] He applied his interpretation of Jesus, a mighty, larger-than-life, fully regenerated type-man, very much alive and standing at the head of the Unity movement, as the primary means of advancing his system of thought. He insisted that long established ideas about Jesus did not go far enough, that Jesus was all they said and so much more. He was the ultimate Wayshower of the human race, the great example of what the fully regenerated human being was to look like.

This portrayal, like those of his more traditional counterparts, set an idealized standard of spiritual and physical accomplishment that, in my observation, has driven some, including Fillmore himself, to obsess over unrealistic expectations of the body. In an article written in 1920 he wrote,

“The Spirit showed me several years ago that I must quit having my picture taken; that I must quit looking into the mirror and seeing myself as a murky imagination had formed me. I had within me the concept of a fine looking young man, but when I looked into the glass, or when I had my picture taken, he did not appear. And other people did not see him and they began to impress me with error both within and without.”[11]

Though the legends persist that Fillmore, through vigorous affirmative prayer work, did manage to regain some of his youthful appearance, an outside observer saw him at age 84 as a “white-haired man” bearing the same failing physical and mental characteristics typical of that age. According to Myrtle, he became reluctant to appear in public “until he has completed his demonstration of healing his leg,”[12] the result of a childhood injury that plagued him his entire life. Showing any signs of age or illness would have run counter to his declaration that the human being was capable of living in the body forever. Asked if he expected to live forever in his body, Fillmore responded in this way:

“This question is often asked by Unity readers. Some of them seem to think that I am either a fanatic or a joker if I take myself seriously in the hope that I shall with Jesus attain eternal life in the body. But the fact is that I am very serious about the matter.”[13]

Though he did not succeed, there is no doubt that he was committed to the idea. The force with which he advanced his ideal influenced many Unity followers to adopt this type-man he saw in Jesus as the Holy Grail of spiritual attainment. One woman I knew, steeped in Fillmore’s denial of old age, was adamant about not speaking her age, believing that acknowledging it would make it so. I am certain that any stranger meeting her at any point in her life would have been able to guess her age based on her bodily appearance. To many who knew her, including myself, this all seemed an overly dramatic game.

I support much of what Charles Fillmore taught and I encourage all to read the full body of his works. But I have never been able to accept his ideas on the potential for physical immortality, or that Jesus pioneered and advocated eternal life in the physical body. My sense is that Fillmore’s life-long struggle with his own physical condition is the thing that made soul and body regeneration his personal focus.

Soul Evolution and Reincarnation

This glorified portrayal of Jesus, put forward as our ultimate example of spiritual achievement, has forced us to accept that the soul of the average person, far from hitting this extraordinarily high mark, must be evolving toward the perfection of Christ Consciousness. Fillmore taught that all people could eventually reach this level, making it necessary to include the concepts of soul evolution and reincarnation as bridging mechanisms needed to carry out this lofty achievement.

He was not alone in adopting soul evolution as the means of facilitating the individual’s march toward spiritual perfection, but Fillmore was especially emphatic in tying soul development directly to the condition of the physical body. He saw the body as “the highest-formed manifestation of creative Mind, and that it is capable of unlimited expression of that Mind.” As we have seen, this unlimited expression would ultimately translate into physical immortality.

“When man realizes that there is but one body-idea and that the conditions in his body express the character of his thought, he has the key to bodily perfection and immortality in the flesh.”[14]

The body, according to Fillmore, projects the condition of the soul. The degeneration of the body, through aging and death, indicates the soul has not yet evolved to full alignment with the Christ ideal that rests in the mind of God.

“If you believe in old age and bodily decrepitude and decay, you will find that all the little cells throughout your organism are carrying in their depths just such pictures, as the clear waters of the lake reflect the trees and the clouds.”[15]

The body, then, is a kind of barometer that reflects the state of the soul. The aging process and any separation of spirit, soul, and body brought on by physical death are due to a “transgression of the divine law.[16] According to this view, the soul contains many ideas that are not in alignment with what is true of Spirit. Because Fillmore believed the “soul makes the body,” the body displays, in the form of disease and death, the untruths held at the soul level. The remedy is to regenerate the soul, bringing its sum of ideas up to the standard of the I Am, the support of the Christ ideal. In the meantime, the soul is in a constant state of evolving from a mortal to an immortal condition, which the body follows.

As I’ve pointed out, this evolution of soul and body takes place through multiple incarnations. This belief, perhaps inadvertently, elevates reincarnation to the status of an evolutionary requirement or, as Fillmore calls it:

“… a merciful provision of our loving Father to the end that all may have opportunity to attain immortality through regeneration, as did Jesus.”[17]

In other words, Fillmore does not present reincarnation as a choice-based option, but instead makes it an evolutionary inevitability, a required link in his chain of logic. In addition to merciful, we are compelled to accept reincarnation as a necessary provision of our soul’s continued progress, and we are forced to measure this progress by the present condition of our physical body.

I believe it is an unnecessary burden to think the body and its present condition represent the condition of the soul. According to this association, if the body is expressing disease and limitation of any kind, it is because a similar condition exists in the soul. This problem is the result of considering the terms soul and consciousness as having the same meaning. We’ll take an in-depth, alternative look at the terms, soul, consciousness, and self-image in Chapter 4.

The health of our body, or the lack thereof, does indeed have a direct relation to the instabilities and stresses brought on by our consciousness. This is very different from suggesting the soul is flawed and these flaws are out-picturing in the body. The beliefs generated by the self-image act as a kind of weather system containing clouds that mask the sunlight of the soul. The soul’s radiance is perpetual, but the self-image produces a cloud cover of fear and stress that has a negative impact on our mental and physical well-being. We know that a person can display a perfectly healthy body and remain spiritually asleep. Likewise, one can be spiritually awake and still be afflicted with a physical malady or handicap.

Jesus and Soul Evolution

We can trace the association of soul evolution and reincarnation far back into the history of Eastern religions. The idea of the soul being reborn in another body as a further chance to attain higher consciousness, or to work out one’s karma, is a central tenet. Fillmore put a Christianized spin on this process by declaring Jesus the only person who had ever lifted his physical body to this fully regenerated condition. Through “conscious union with Jesus in the regeneration,” he wrote, each person could “transform his body and make it perpetually healthy, therefore immortal, and that he can attain eternal life in this way and in no other way.[18] Jesus “was the ‘first-fruits’ of those who are coming out of the mortal into the immortal.” According to the logic of these statements, one not only had to be Christian to gain eternal life, he or she had to be a metaphysical Christian.

This view of reincarnation explains why, with the exception of the ascended Jesus, we see no fully regenerated humans roaming planet earth.

“He [Jesus] was the type man, the Way-Shower, and, through following His example and taking on His character as a spiritual-minded man, we shall come into the same consciousness.”[19]

To Fillmore, physical death, which he described as the “terror of humanity,” represents a complete breakdown in adherence to the law of regeneration.

At the point of physical death, Fillmore envisioned the soul entering a kind of sleep in which neither learning nor advancement of any kind can occur. It is with the next physical incarnation that the soul resumes its evolutionary journey from where it left off in the previous incarnation.

“As death has no power to help anyone, the condition of the Adam man is not bettered by dying. Therefore, when people are re-embodied they ‘come forth . . . unto the resurrection of damnation,’ in other words, condemnation or correction. Everyone begins where he left off.”[20]

This assertion clearly runs counter to the findings of researchers in the field of near-death studies, research that was unavailable in Fillmore’s time. Far from slipping into sleep or a coma, the majority of near-death experiencers report that they feel more alive than ever. A substantial number report tapping a universal wisdom and love beyond anything they can describe. They often see through the shallow interests and cares of their worldly pursuits. It is common for those devoted to chasing materialistic ends to lift their standards and aim for higher purposes. Atheists return believing in God. Religious believers have their minds opened far beyond the dogmatic parameters of their training. Virtually none of them “begins where he left off,” even when their episodes last but a few minutes. As researchers have discovered, the near-death experience often changes people to their core, and in moments. This is a sharp contrast to the view expressed by Fillmore:

“Awakening cannot be associated with dying. The idea that man awakens to spiritual or any kind of consciousness immediately after “death,” whether in heaven, hell, purgatory, or elsewhere, is opposed to Truth. His awakening must take place here, during the time of “life,” at least while he is partially awake and before he sinks into that deeper sleep or coma that we call death.”[21]

Viewing physical death as he did, can we wonder that Fillmore failed to see any kind of spiritual value associated with the loss of the body? The evidence is now overwhelming that so-called death is neither a deeper sleep nor a coma, but a state of enhanced lucidity. In this state, the individual is more alive and alert, their ability to see, hear, and know more acute than at any time while in the body. In light of what we are learning from this research, the argument can and should be made that overcoming death has less to do with physical immortality and more to do with the revelation that there is, in fact, no death. “Death,” as one NDEr concluded, “is a really nasty lie.”

Carl Jung Testimony

There are some who pass off near-death research as merely anecdotal and, therefore, inconsequential and unreliable. The experiencer, they might say, is predisposed to a certain kind of imagery due to their beliefs. This may be true to some extent, but we cannot ignore the fact that there are common elements found in the overwhelming majority of cases from all cultures and demographics. Nor can we ignore the testimony of individuals we consider highly credible, especially when they gave it prior to the popularization of near-death studies.

One notable case is that of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. After having a heart attack accompanied by an NDE, he wrote:

“I would never have imagined that any such experience was possible. It was not a product of imagination. The visions and experiences were utterly real; there was nothing subjective about them; they all had a quality of absolute objectivity.”[22]

So real was this experience that Jung, like many before and after him, was quite reluctant to return to the confines of his physical body.

“In reality, a good three weeks were still to pass before I could truly make up my mind to live again. I could not eat because all food repelled me. The view of city and mountains from my sickbed seemed to me like a painted curtain with black holes in it, or a tattered sheet of newspaper full of photographs that meant nothing. Disappointed, I thought: “Now I must return to ‘the box system’ again.” For it seemed to me as if behind the horizon of the cosmos a three-dimensional world had been artificially built up, in which each person sat by himself in a little box. And now I should have to convince myself all over again that this was important! Life and the whole world struck me as a prison, and it bothered me beyond measure that I should again be finding all that quite in order. I had been so glad to shed it all, and now it had come about that I—along with everyone else—would again be hung up in a box by a thread.”[23]

Jung did not discount the value of the awakening he experienced during his near-death episode. Nor did he pass off the insight it provided as subjective fantasy. He treated it as a real experience that had a profound impact on his thinking. His case is important, not only for the name recognition, but also for the fact that he was a highly trained and respected observer of mental processes. Is it likely that Jung would have jeopardized his professional legacy speculating on these visions and experiences had he considered them anything but utterly real?

The Choice to Reincarnate

As I’ve mentioned, I like to think of reincarnation as a choice rather than as an evolutionary requirement. Seen this way, we can think of our earthly incarnation as something far more than Fillmore’s resurrection of damnation. With choice as the prime factor, we can logically conclude that we will incarnate on earth as long as something here holds our interest. When events or circumstances make it unattractive—a natural global catastrophe for example—it is quite conceivable that we simply refrain from taking up a body until conditions become more to our liking. It is also reasonable to consider that we may incarnate at a particular time to advance a cause, or to help rebuild a waning human population brought on by war or natural disaster.

Around seventy thousand years ago, Toba, a super volcano in Indonesia, exploded into one of earth’s largest eruptions. This environmental disaster triggered severe climate change and may have reduced the human population to as few as 3,000 to 10,000.[24] Is it unreasonable to assume that, given the choice, many fewer individuals would incarnate in such a compromised environment? On the other hand, some, like first responders, might relish the chance to rush in and help the human species recover.

Without going too far afield here, can we discount the possibility of multiple, biospheric environments existing throughout the universe? New studies estimate that our Milky Way galaxy alone contains 100 billion planets. If this is true and one environment does not appeal to our interests or fill a need we feel compelled to address, is it out of the range of possibility that we may simply choose another?

Charles Fillmore placed the soul in an evolving continuum from which the only escape was full regeneration of soul and body. His conclusion that only one person, Jesus, had successfully run this evolutionary gauntlet casts a dim light on the average individual’s chances of a full awakening in this lifetime. That he believed absolutely in this model is shown in his advocating that an extraordinary spiritual revolution was underway:

“Everywhere true metaphysicians are preparing themselves to be members in the great colony that Jesus is to set up, by working to eliminate from their mind all selfish ideas, along with all other discordant vibrations that produce inharmony among members of the same group.”[25]

I have little doubt that he envisioned Unity Village as the beginning of this great colony of true metaphysicians. In my earlier years, I would have gladly counted myself a willing and expectant resident of this great colony. I have since concluded that the image of Jesus put forward by Charles Fillmore is the product of his own speculation. The Jesus every author presents, and I include myself, is the Jesus that would exist if our specific lines of logic were correct. I’ll present my view of him in the following chapter.

The sheer ambiguity of historical facts have made Jesus fair game for a wide range of interpretations advanced as Truth. We wind up with a blend of emotionally charged imagery mixed with a line of spiritual logic that careful scrutiny or new research will likely expose as having little or no basis in historical or scientific fact.

[1] Matthew 21:23

[2] Fillmore, Charles. The Revealing Word. Unity Books

[3] Twelve Powers of Man. Charles Fillmore. Unity Books

[4] Matthew 19:28 KJV

[5] King James Version was published in 1612

[6] Revised Standard Version. 1946-1957

[7] New Revised Standard Version. 1989

[8] Mark 10:30, Luke 18:30

[9] Matthew 19:29

[10] #31, Unity’s Statement of Faith

[11]  Quotation taken from, The Spiritual Journey of Charles Fillmore. Neal Vahle. Templeton Foundation Press. 2008

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Fillmore, Charles. Christian Healing. Unity Books

[15] Fillmore, Charles. Talks on Truth. Unity Books

[16] #21, Unity’s Statement of Faith

[17] # 22, ibid

[18] #19, ibid

[19] Fillmore, Charles. Twelve Powers of Man. Unity Books

[20] Fillmore, Charles. Keep a True Lent. Unity Books

[21] Fillmore, Charles. Mysteries of Genesis. Unity Books

[22] Jung, Carl, Aniela Jaffé. 1965. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Vintage, a division of Random House

[23] ibid

[24]  According to the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations sharply decreased to 3,000–10,000 surviving individuals. The theory is supported by genetic evidence suggesting that today’s humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 and 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago. (Wikipedia: Genetic Bottleneck Theory).

[25] Fillmore, Charles. Prosperity. Unity Books

Goldfish and Trout

[Excerpt from forthcoming revision of Native Soul.]

Some, having come to realize that their consciousness is structured around misleading senses-based information, con­clude that the surface identity they show the world, the personality, represents a barrier between where they are in their current spiritual understanding and where they need to be. Because the majority of our perceived restrictions do indeed have their origins at this surface level, we’ve come to regard the personality and the soul almost as polar oppo­sites. The soul is good and in need of development while the personality is a thing to be overcome, perhaps even discarded.

In her classic work What Are You? author Imelda Octavia Shanklin explains why living strictly from the personal level is so unsatisfying:

When you identify yourself solely with the personal you are not satisfied. There is a lack for which you cannot account, but which is very real to you. If you should voice your feeling you perhaps would say, “I want something. I do not know what it is that I want, but when I receive what I want I shall be satisfied.” Knowing the personal, only, you have but superficial knowledge of yourself. Beneath the surface the rich deeps of life summon you with overmastering appeal. Not knowing how to respond, you have a sense of confusion and restless­ness.

The personality does indeed become a restricting factor when we see it as the defining essence of our being. A goldfish raised in a small fishbowl, for example, is perfectly content with its limited envi­ronment, for it knows nothing different. Place a wild trout in that same glass bowl and it will jump out. The trout knows a world beyond that glass boundary and it will not adapt to this confinement.

Our soul is the wild trout that we’re attempting to stuff in the fishbowl of personality. In our quest for finding satisfaction within the artificial confines of this bowl, we adorn it with a pretty ceramic castle, colored pebbles and some plastic greenery. This works for a time, but soon the frustration returns. So we buy a prettier castle, adorn our bowl with designer pebbles and decorate it with living greenery. It’s perfect—if you happen to be a goldfish.

Though we wander far into the distractions of maintaining the surface self-image, we never forget who we are at the soul level. The soul constantly asserts itself as an intuitive whisper of discontent, a still small voice[1] that never fully endorses the artificial trappings of the fishbowl.

Our cultural training suggests this dissatisfaction is a personality or character issue, so we engage in a determined effort for self-improvement. Improving the personality, however, isn’t the answer, as the personality is not the problem. The personality an effect. It simply echoes our own self-definition. The problem is that we carry the self-image of a goldfish when we’re really a trout. We’re trying to stuff our soul into a fishbowl personality that just doesn’t fit.

As we turn our attention to the gentle radiance of the soul, we return to the figurative wild stream, the most fitting personality of our natural being.

[1] 1 Kings 19:12

The Quest for Enlightenment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth You Seek

“What we are trying to grasp with our head (intellect), the heart has always known. The spiritual pop culture worships the quest. It thrills in filling its bookshelves, accumulating credentials and traveling through all the wide gates of the world in search of the fulfillment that can only be found at the quiet center of every individual.”

Question: Could you elaborate on this part of your previous post? I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.

Response: If you declare yourself on a spiritual quest today, you will be on a spiritual quest tomorrow. You will still be on this quest a year or ten years from now. This means you are not finding what you seek. Because you are not finding what you seek, keeping the quest going becomes your objective.

The truth is that God is centered in you. To experience God, you must make a conscious connection with this divine center. At this moment of awareness, your quest ends because you now know the location of that which you seek. You are the man who finds the treasure hidden in the field. His quest for wealth is over. Knowing this, he is entirely devoted to letting go of that which is of less value than the treasure he found.

The trap that many fall into is that they tie the spiritual quest to unity/oneness among people. Because global unity becomes the benchmark of success for so-called spiritual movements, we consider the success of such movements as a sign that collective spiritual progress is being made. This deception turns the individual away from their inner connection to God and places their hope in the growth and success of the external movement. They then take their cues from the movement, which can only promise a perpetual quest and a dissatisfying spiritual void that never can and never will be satisfied.

The world changes but Truth does not. All valid spiritual disciplines teach that the individual’s connection with God is internally accessible. The spiritual movement, the book, or that particular teacher that reminded you of this truth is not the one that will make it real to you. They were but the catalyst that reminded you what you already know at the deepest level of your being.

Have enough faith in yourself to uncover this buried treasure, to declare an end to your quest for Truth, and dare to live the life your soul longs to express.

 

Life’s Single Lesson

YouTube: Life’s Single Lesson

Audio: Life’s Single Lesson

“You say the earth is a school and we’ve come here to learn

If we don’t get it now then we’ll have to return

Another lifetime – O how many more?

But what if we came because we’re already free

We want to share our light so that others can see

They have a purpose – a cause to live for”

(I Can’t Hide – JDB)

 

I think it’s fair to say that most who have embraced the spiritual alternative to the mainstream concepts of heaven and hell are comfortable with the notion that earth is a school and we’ve come to learn. The lessons we’re here to learn are not necessarily directed toward enhancing the intellect, but in advancing the soul. I think it’s a good idea to question this premise.

If you own a cat or a dog, would you say the same is true of them? Do you assume they have much to learn in terms of soul advancement? Don’t we respond to our pets because of the unconditional love and devotion they give to us? We may not like that they threaten the UPS man, chase cars, intentionally knock trinkets off the mantel, or shred the couch as part of their routine workout, but we see in them an irresistible purity that would be difficult to improve upon. Would it even cross our mind that they have come to earth to correct some soul deficit? We’re more likely to think they’ve come to help us with ours.

From a spiritual perspective, I suggest there is but a single lesson to learn: I am a soul who has taken on this body as the interfacing vehicle that allows me to experience the material plane. So-called spiritual learning is simply soul recollection –the act of reawakening to what I am at the deepest level. The lessons to learn have less to do with soul development and more to do with conducting life successfully through this temporary physical interface of the body. I believe we are here because we want to be, not because our perceived undeveloped soul needs more schooling.

Focus on this single truth: My soul is complete, and I have taken on a body to experience this earthly plane. Don’t get lost in why you may have made this choice. Focus only on the truth that you are a soul that is already complete, already free. As you get a solid understanding of this, you begin directing your body and your environment to conform to your reason for coming.

 

Excerpt from Native Soul

Uniquely Human
The evolution of the visioning, personalizing aspect of the imagination has placed the human family in a unique position in nature. Unlike the plant and animal kingdoms, there appears to be no natural limits to the effects we can produce through the creative application of our imagination. Its usage is a subject that warrants careful consideration.

Thomas Troward, English author and lecturer who had a significant impact on the early development of mental science, made the profoundly simple observation that the human being is the only creature capable of producing ideas that do not occur spontaneously in nature. Place a lump of iron in water, he noted, and the iron sinks, an effect governed by natural law, or, as Troward called it, generic law. Fabricate that same iron into the hull of a ship and the iron will float. The iron hull, like countless other examples we could name, is a product of the human imagination, a unique combination of universal energy and personal imagery.

Though plants and animals display varying levels of intelligence and personality, they are restricted by a natural barrier in their creative ability. Troward attributed this to the animal’s inability to express anything more than generic law. Think of generic law as the expression of the Creative Life Force without any elaboration of human imagination. The lump of iron, governed by generic law, sinks in water. Introduce the influence of human imagination and the iron is able to float. Nature as a whole is an example of generic law in expression.

People often ask whether or not animals have souls. Using Troward’s model, the answer would be yes, but it is a generic soul, an archetypal set of parameters that limit the expression of intelligence and, therefore, the creative capacity of a given species. The key limiting element in the generic soul of all living things (though it is present in nearly all species in limited degrees) is the visualizing aspect of imagination.

For survival and reproductive purposes, animals depend on a pre-programmed set of responses we know as instinct. Yes, there are cases where chimpanzees fish termites from their mounds with sticks and certain birds break open ostrich eggs by bombarding them with stones. These, however, can hardly be thought of as anything more than examples of intelligence still bridled by a rudimentary imagination.

If you own a dog, you know it as an intelligent animal with a unique personality. Personable and intelligent as your dog may be, however, you can safely assume it will never be credited with a medical breakthrough, never send other dogs to Mars or develop a faster, more efficient Internet. The intelligence level of the brightest dog on the planet (yours no doubt) is primitive in comparison to that of even a below-average human. This may seem unflattering to those who insist on elevating their dogs to near-human status, but experts in canine behavior know the key to successful interaction between dog and human is to get the human to start thinking like a dog. The dog, they know, can never think like the human. The dog simply does not possess the imaginative capacity of the human.

The Generic Cap
This concept of a generic soul can explain why, in contrast to the sometimes chaotic experience we see at the human level, the natural world exists in such balance and harmony. Nature has no choice. It is a material representation of the Creative Life Force capped by a generic imagination. Plants and animals get creative when it comes to snaring food, reproducing and even shelter-building. But if you observe a herd of 100,000 wildebeests, you see that each one leads a very similar life. Their choices of food, habitat and behavior are nearly identical throughout the herd. Roll back the clock a million years and you are likely to see the same basic wildebeest behavior.

By contrast, visit any town of 100,000 people and you will see countless economic, cultural, political, religious and lifestyle distinctions. The evolution of the faculty of imagination, the ability to combine universal energy with personal imagery, has lifted the human species beyond the creative restrictions of basic instinct. The Lascaux cave paintings in southern France, dating back 16,000 years, clearly illustrate the emerging artistic tendency in our race. In Utah, I visited a site containing ancient rock art of a scene depicting a shaman assisting in hunting success. This scene contains all the elements you find in a modern vision board and illustrates that people have long understood the role and importance of the visualizing aspect of imagination.

Our modern cultures have invented an entirely new world full of houses with beautifully landscaped yards, glistening high-rise cities, bustling shopping malls, countless educational opportunities, grocery stores with foods from around the world, sophisticated transportation systems, instant global communications, trade and manufacturing that has literally altered the landscape of the planet. Roll back the clock a million years and, unlike the wildebeest, you will see a humanity that scarcely resembles the modern version.

Like animals, we, too, have a generic soul, but our turbocharged faculty of imagination has allowed us to take giant creative leaps far beyond the circumscribed boundaries that inhibit the creativity of other species. Your dog loves you unconditionally, and you would like to think it is because he lives on a higher level of awareness. In truth, he is forgiving because he simply cannot read anything into the fact that you forgot to feed him yesterday. He takes the food you give him today as if you are the most wonderful, thoughtful provider on earth. He cannot curse you for the discomfort you may have caused, nor can he attribute your forgetfulness to one of your unresolved childhood issues. He wags his tail in loving gratitude that he is finally eating again. He is hardwired to love and trust you, his pack leader, and he cannot engage in behavior that is inconsistent with his generic soul.

It may seem that animal vitality and the ability to be fully present can be attributed to the animal having attained a superior level of awareness. This ability, however, is better explained as the animal’s inability to conceive of the abstract concepts of future or past. Nearly all their faculties are programmed to address their present needs. They function from a model of success that is limited to the threefold aim of filling their bellies, finding shelter and reproducing offspring. Animals may be content with this basic agenda, but the spiritually awakening human, who has no apparent inventive restrictions, is not.

From Simplicity to Complexity
Your life feels incomplete when you project from the perception that you are separated from your spiritual foundation, your soul. Your soul is a concentration of life, love, power and intelligence inherent in the Creative Life Force. Your faculty of imagination allows you to personalize these elements to produce all the various aspects of your life. You do this by first establishing centers of thought that become states of consciousness, and these, in turn, serve as centers from which specific things and conditions evolve.

It may seem an oversimplification to say that our life, as it is expressed, is derived from varying combinations of four fundamental elements. Consider that, from a computer standpoint, each letter in our English alphabet is created from binary code. Letters are a unique combination of two digits, 0 and 1, put together in a string of eight. For example, you see the capital letter “L,” but the computer sees 01001100. You see the word love (in lower case), and the computer sees 1101100010011110111011001100101. When you consider the range of ideas that are communicated by varying combinations of these two digits, you see how complexity can grow out of simplicity. Depending on the human imagination to which they are subjected, two digits can convey everything from the obscene to the divine. Complicating the code by adding a third or fourth digit would not change the nature of ideas individuals wish to convey. Two digits are sufficient to convey any idea that can be put into language.

From this perspective, you can see that asking God to give you something that will make you feel more complete is asking the impossible. All of God’s attributes, like a spiritual binary code, are present and are being perpetually imparted to every person and to every living thing. Your feeling of incompleteness is based on the illusion that your soul is undeveloped, separate from its source or lacking crucial information. As you awaken to your unity with the Infinite, you begin to under-stand that your very existence is an activity of the Creative Life Force, and that your desire for a fuller, more expanded life is nothing less than the inner stirring of your soul. When you start with the awareness that all creative forces are concentrated within you and are therefore available for your use, you begin to apprehend and project from your wholeness into your external affairs and you begin to get what you want from life.