Seeing Through the Fog

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It is often when your world is shrouded in fog that you gain your clearest vision.

We all have moments of doubt, times when the road ahead seems shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. Perhaps we are on a path that felt right when we started on it, but now seems unclear and confusing. Our original inspiration has evaporated, and we are in a quandary as to what to do. Or, we may have experienced major changes in our conditions that have left us baffled. People or things that served as anchors are no longer present and we feel adrift in a sea of apprehension.

In such times, it is good to remind ourselves that the inspiration that brought us to this ever-changing life rose from our depths. Our circumstances are simply the temporal clothing of the presence of God expressing through us. I always draw comfort from a verse given by Emma Curtis Hopkins:

He who hath led me to this way,

still on the way will show.

He who hath taught me of this way,

still more will make me know.

We naturally seek stability and predictability in our circumstances, for we feel safe when we achieve it. However, it is when our trust shifts from God to circumstantial stability that we begin to move away from that creative live-wire of faith that brought the seeming external stability in the first place. Drawn by the power of the sea, we built a magnificent sand castle on the beach. We admired and identified with it for a time, only to have it washed away by the restless tide of change. But the sea and its eternal inspiration remains. It is this living, ever moving ebb and flow that never leaves us that is as quick now to inspire and guide as ever.

We live in a world of change and absolute stability. Focused on that which changes, we gain and we lose. With God as our anchor, we lose only to gain. In our moments of uncertainty, we open our hearts to the assuring truth that God is with us, that new ways of being in this life are now unfolding for us, that the apparent end we are witnessing is only a new and fresh beginning to something at least as beautiful as we once had.

 

 

Your Intuitive Connection

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“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Today is Mother’s Day. As we acknowledge with appreciation the role our mothers played in bringing us into this world, we also do well to turn our thoughts to the spiritual aspects of this celebration. Unfortunately, not everyone has had a good relationship with their mother, but we all have a mothering, or intuitive connection with God. This connection is experienced at the feminine, or feeling level rather than the masculine or intellectual level. Of course, we are not referring to gender here, but functions of our consciousness. So much of our spiritual quest is focused on developing the intellect, but it is our intuitive connection that truly brings us into the awareness of God as our source.

Jesus’ imagery of the vine and branch is very helpful here. Think of your soul as a branch growing out of the vine of God. When a branch is severed from the vine, it withers and dies. Connected, it thrives and bears fruit. We cannot literally sever ourselves from God, but we can become so distracted with negative appearances that all our attention is turned away from our spiritual source. We may feel we are withering, spiritually empty, as if God is an abstraction and of little practical value to our situation. This is the intellect operating without the benefit of our intuitive connection.

While many think of intuitive communication as a hunch or a feeling to turn right rather than left, we need to be aware that the universal impartation of God is simply the absolute peace of knowing all is well. The moment we are touched by this knowing, the specifics of what we should do flow a lot easier. It is as if we know the hand of God has led us to this place and the hand of God will continue to lead us. We are consciously connected to the vine, to the understanding that our way is now being cleared even if we do not see clearly how things will work out. We are empowered with the intuitive knowledge that things are falling into place as they should.

Abide consciously in the vine. Find that place in yourself where you know you are the branch and you are now bearing the desired fruit of success in your life.

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.

The Changeless Soul

[Note: the following is my response to a question raised yesterday on this blog.]

You say the soul does not change. What then, is the purpose served by the changing self image? Say one begins believing themself to be a lowly worm of the dust. Through a series of experiences (both good and bad) and helpful teachers their self image changes and they come to accept they are essentially good, indeed, a child of God, made in God’s image and likeness. Correspondingly, their countenance changes, their whole persona changes and they exude a positive, loving, helpful spirit.

There are many advantages to improving the self-image. In our interactions with the world, a buoyant, effervescent self-image will obviously open doors that a dreary, self-loathing attitude will not. A flashlight with fresh batteries is preferred over one with very low batteries. The light produced by the first is more useful than the dim, yellow circle of light put out by the weaker batteries.

One who believes him or herself to be a lowly worm of the dust will feel undeserving. What, after all, does a worm have to offer the world? The light of their self-image will be dim and yellow and only others with the same dim, yellow light will find them attractive. Misery loves company, as we say.

On the other hand, the self-image that is built upon the belief that its owner is a child of God made in God’s image and likeness, enjoys a level of confidence that will brighten the room when they enter. Their batteries are new, fresh and cast a strong white light of confidence. Without saying a word about their spiritual beliefs, this person will be most attractive to others. As misery loves company, so does self-confidence. This person will get the jobs, get the promotions and generally find their path through life much easier.

So we think of the self-image as a flashlight with varying levels of battery power. One suffering from a very low self-image can indeed have their batteries recharged. They too can learn, through a positive lifting of self-esteem, that the job, the promotion and the easier path of life may be theirs as well. The entire multi-billion-dollar industry of self-improvement is based on this fact. And it is a good thing. Or at least it is until something higher begins knocking at one’s inner door.

If we compare a bright flashlight to a dim one, it is not difficult to see which is better and actually more useful. But let’s make another comparison. Let’s compare the sun to the brightest flashlight. The sun is so brilliant that even the strongest beam from the best flashlight pales in its radiance. And the batteries of the sun are never depleted. The earth moves in relation to the sun and we have day and night, winter and summer, but the sun itself does not change. The sun and its light are far superior to the best of flashlights.

The self-image is the flashlight. The sun is the soul. A bright flashlight is preferred over a dim one, but the sun is preferable to both. It is an entirely different thing. If I were born and raised in a room lighted only by the flashlight, my preference would be to have the best batteries I could afford. If someone told me about this abstract notion of sunlight, I would do my best to imagine it. It would be something like the greatest flashlight in the world.

If the day came, however, when someone would show me a door leading into the sunlight, and I stepped out into it, the experience would be so overwhelmingly powerful I would have to go back into the darkness. My eyes could not stand that much light. From that day forward, a strange thing would happen. My brightest flashlight would not seem so bright. Why? Because I moved from holding a concept of the sun to having an actual experience with it.

When Jesus referred to the seed that is dropped into the soil and dies before it can become the fruit-bearing plant, he was stating what must happen to the self-image. The self-image is the world of flashlights, which is good until we experience the soul. Then we understand that the self-image, no matter how bright it is, is still a bushel that covers the radiance of the soul. We do not willingly die to it if we still value our world of flashlights. But the moment that even a slim shaft of sunlight breaks into our awareness, our values instantly shift. I realize I have been making my light, but there is a greater light that is self-existent, self-sustaining. Yes I can brighten my world with my flashlight, but the flood of sunlight that streams in when I throw open my windows and doors changes my world. It changes my world because it changes me. I move from a self-creation to a divine expression that is not dim one day and bright the next.

Why do we study, scouring our books for truth and greater wisdom? Is it not because we intuitively know there is something better than the best we have yet experienced? Is not our quest for enlightenment the quest for greater peace and freedom? That which we seek is not found in even the brightest self-image. It is found only in the soul.

Those gifted to see auras attest to some auras being dark and of a low, repelling vibration. Other auras are light, pleasing, and vibrate at a higher frequency. As one’s self image improves, it stands to reason that the attending aura likewise improves, becoming lighter. If the aura is connected with, and shows the ‘state’ of the soul (as some clairvoyants claim,), it would seem that the soul can, and DOES change in correspondence to the changing self image. If it changes it is, logically speaking, not complete. Your thoughts, and thanks.

I do not have the gift for seeing auras, but like most people, I have the ability to discern a light countenance from a dark one. Same thing though less refined. In addition, most of us read more about a person than what they say in words. We see things in their body language, in the inflection of their tone, in the glance of an eye or many other signals. Sometimes we will not buy what they are trying to sell even when it sounds wonderful. Other times we trust them for no apparent reason.

Yes, a brighter self-image produces a brighter countenance. But let’s return to our dark room for a moment. Does the fact that our blinds are drawn have anything to do with the sun shining outside? If we decide to open the blinds and let the sunlight stream in, are we making the sun do something it was not doing moments earlier? Does the sun change because we open the blinds? No.

In this case, the blind is like the self-image. Some people keep their blinds drawn, some crack them open a bit and others open them all the way. The fully enlightened individual leaves the room altogether and goes outside.

The soul, like the sun, is complete. It is our level of experience with the sun that changes. The time comes when I see greater value in the sun than I see in maintaining and fortifying the self-image. In that day I can truthfully say, If you have seen me, you have seen the sun.

The Highest is the Nearest

Can you talk about your interest in near-death research and explain why you think it is important to our spiritual understanding?

Throughout my life, there have been a few things that have captured my attention in a way that should not and cannot be ignored. Near-death research is one of these. I’ve been asked if I am obsessed with death and dying because it offers a way out of this often confusing and restrictive earthly experience. My answer is, no. My interest is in living. In countless ways, those who report an NDE reveal much about the nature of the soul. In all their diverse ways, they report the experience of absolute love, incredible beauty and, perhaps most important of all, the feeling of having come home. People who describe their discovery of a spiritual teaching with which they resonate often say that something in the teaching triggers the feeling of having come home. This is how I felt when I discovered Unity, and I have heard countless others express this feeling of homecoming as well.

All of this reveals that our spiritual home is not a place but an internal shift in focus and experience. The NDE forces a shift away from the body and the self-image that has grown up around it. The experiencer quickly sees that the homecoming is really a conscious return to the soul or whatever they choose to call it. When we discover a teaching that reveals this truth, we have that similar experience. Ideas that are true of the soul cause our awareness to resonate, if ever so slightly, with the warmth and familiarity of our real home. The near-death experiencer, in perhaps the majority of cases, is told they must return to their body and earthly life, for their work is not yet done. Many are baffled by this. They return to their body and spend a great deal of their life looking for the work they are supposed to do. Likewise, the one who discovers a spiritual teaching that stirs them to the depths feels like this discovery is leading to some thing, a great work of some sort perhaps.

The work to be done is not drawn from the world of appearances. The work is in aligning our consciousness with the soul. This is not accomplished through doing things, even selfless things, for others. It is accomplished through direct exposure to the soul. This is what Jesus was referring to quoting Psalms, “And they shall all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to me” (John 6:45).

The soul is our home, but our prodigal awareness has wandered far away. We have  heard and learned from the Father the instant we experienced that feeling of coming home. The NDEr is dipped directly into this home and then pulled back out. In contrast, the one who discovers the soul-stirring, strangely familiar teaching has heard and learned from a distance, so to speak. Neither have the consciousness, the framework of soul-centered ideas, to support the perpetual experience of the soul. In both cases, our so-called spiritual journey, our work, is the alignment of our consciousness with what is true of the soul. We are the man who discovers the treasure buried in the field who goes about the work of selling all he has to buy that field. Thus far we have navigated through life from the basis of a senses-based self-image. Now we are shifting from the self-image as a center of gravity to our correct home, the soul. This alignment is not an other-worldly process. It is the process of living in this world with the understanding that we are not of it.

You use the illustration of the sponge immersed in water that literally permeates its being. How could the sponge be so immersed in something and still not recognize it as that which it is seeking?

This sponge is a graduate of Sponge University. It has earned a degree in sponge physiology. It attends the First Church of Spongification. To maintain its physical elasticity, it practices Sponge Yoga. It takes pride in its size and appearance, often taking on a hole-ier-than-thou attitude. It identifies with pictures of itself from the time it was but a spore to now. It totally identifies with its history as a sponge. It studies with great fascination those fossilized spongy imprints of its ancestors, interpreted as the beginning of life by the greatest spongologists on the planet. In other words, it is not simply immersed in ocean water; it is immersed in everything sponge.

The enlightened sponge that floats by saying, “You are not a sponge. You are the water you seek” is viewed with great suspicion, socially relegated to a life of cleaning the dishes and maybe even the toilet bowl. There is so much evidence to support the belief in the sponge-centered universe. After all, everyone can see the sponge. It takes a major shift in perception, abnormal to sponge culture, to see and experience the water. The experience of water is an intuitive one. Living in the world of sponge-facts is strictly intellectual. Though it is omnipresent, the water cannot be intellectually grasped because it cannot be seen, weighed or measured. A cubic foot of water floating within water, after all, weighs nothing. By all standards of measurement, in fact, it does not exist. To the sponge-centered intellect, something that weighs nothing and cannot be discerned using the most acute techniques of sponge observation, cannot possibly exist and be available to the average sponge. This is why the First Church of Spongification goes to great lengths to make the experience of sponge heaven other-worldly. If the water were truly spread out before them, surely everyone would see it.

In yesterday’s post you said, “When we engage the practice of denial and affirmation, we deny (release) what is not true of the soul and affirm what is.” How do we know what is true of the soul and what is not?

Jesus said we have to enter by the narrow gate. There is only one way to know what is true of the soul and that is through direct experience. The research shows that those who have an NDE and those who have a true mystical awakening are permanently impacted by the experience. You may read about God and the soul and engage in studies that offer much insight into the spiritual reality of the individual. You may even earn certificates that show the world you are an expert in this field of study. If you have not had an actual experience with your soul, however, you have a head full of spiritual information that amounts to little more than sounding brass and clanging cymbals. You are, as one teacher put it, over-read and underdone. 

I have never considered my ordination my badge of spiritual authority. Becoming ordained was the effect of the profound spiritual awakening I experienced in my early twenties. In quality, it was amazingly similar to the beauty of absolute, unconditional love and limitlessness expressed by those who have had a near-death experience, another of the several reasons I am drawn to this research. A new benchmark of reality had been established in me. I entered the Unity ministry because I believed it would support this revelation, but it does not, at least not in the way I had hoped. People that make up a church community are the same people that make up every other community. They are drawn by certain ideas compatible with their preferred worldview, but most still carry the kind of baggage that can erupt into petty conflict so prevalent in the world. After going through one particularly difficult church conflict, I made this announcement to my congregation: “I think we’ve just proven that Unity people can fight as well as any Baptist.

Ministry has taught me to teach that we are not to look for our spiritual support system outside of ourselves. We must be firmly grounded in the soul and then use the outer platform, whether it be ministry or some other profession, as our medium of expression. We do not enter the profession for what it can give us. We enter for what we can give through it. And this is why I love ministry and its outlets such as a pulpit, books, music and this blog. Ministry is the canvas upon which I paint, through the spoken, sung and written word, the authentic revelation of my soul. It is my outlet for that inlet of inspiration that bubbles from the silence of Being.

The term nonduality is apparently becoming a more important part of your vocabulary. Do you see yourself as a member or representative of this community?

I prefer to see myself as one who has reached many of the same conclusions held by those who have adopted the consciousness-based understanding of reality. I came to the concept of nonduality through the back door. It is only within the last few months that I discovered this rather loose-knit group of people who consider themselves nondualists. To my knowledge, they have published no statement of faith. It is a diverse community. Many draw their views from the Eastern tradition, which is very interesting but quite foreign to me. Though it may offer some valuable insight, I am not compelled to learn and parrot that vocabulary or tradition. What I need comes in its own way. To make the point of steeping one’s self in religious study of any type often becomes an intellectual distraction away from the actual experience of the soul.

The mystical maxim that the highest is the nearest is absolutely correct. That which has brought me to this point is an obvious demonstration that it knows what it is doing. That it will carry me on, I have no doubt. At this point, my guidance is to steer clear of representing any spiritually-centered collective. The only brand I choose to adopt at this time is the one provided by my soul.