The Awakening

Question: You say the soul does not evolve, but I’m not sure I understand what this means. Are you saying we just stay the same all the time, that we don’t learn anything? Do we just stay like we are and get along the best we can?

Response: A good way to address this question is to recall the tale of the so-called ugly duckling. This is a powerful story that has helped millions of children realize that self-understanding is much more important than fitting in. In the era of social media — fake friends and hollow likes — our kids need this more than ever. But we adults can also take the lessons of this story to another level.

This little swan had come to believe he was a duck so he tried desperately and unsuccessfully to fit into the duck culture. At the lowest point in his life he experienced a revelation. Seeing a flock of wild swans, he threw himself at them with the thought that it was better to be killed by them than to continue living his miserable existence. To his surprise, they did not kill him, they welcomed him. Better still, he saw his reflection in the pond and realized he was one of them!

Many on the spiritual path see this path as a process of becoming something more than they are now. They are driven by the belief that we are to evolve from a spiritually unenlightened state to an enlightened state. This is seen as a soul process, even to the point of assuming there are both young and old souls. The belief is that every challenge we face provides some kind of lesson that, if learned, brings us closer to that desired state of soul maturity. From the spiritual point of view, however, this is a false assumption. The little swan did not need to evolve from a duck to a swan. He was a swan all along. The only change that occurred in him was his self-perception. Did he require all the hard lessons he encountered to become a swan? No. He could never be anything else. But he could, laboring under the curse of a mistaken identity, live a very miserable existence trying to fit in by attempting to force himself to become something he thought he was supposed to be.

From childhood, we’re exposed to a wide array of cultural influences that insist we become something other than we are now. Being rather social creatures, we want to fit in and we’ll often gladly develop the persona that allows us to do so. Yes, we can do it, often at great cost to our well-being. We cannot escape that gnawing feeling that something essential to our being is missing. We’re Emerson’s traveler who believes that in Naples he will find what his mundane existence lacks, only to discover that he awakens in Naples as the same sad self he hoped to leave behind. Regardless of where one goes or what one achieves, playing the role of even the successful duck will forever leave a hollow feeling in the heart of the swan.

We seek to advance our spiritual status by exposing ourselves to the works of the masters. This would be fine if we did not think of ourselves as the duck reading of the benefits of becoming a swan. Many of us began our so-called spiritual education from the premise that we were sinners from birth, that our hope of salvation lay in becoming something other than our natural sinful nature. Some of us put this off when we discovered New Thought and were reminded that we are made in the image and after the likeness of God. So why don’t we feel the freeing power of this truth? We will, we’re told. We just need a few more lifetimes to mature. Yes, we can even declare that we are now on a spiritual rather than a religious path while still walking and quacking our way to that elusive ideal of perfect swanhood.

Because you feel separate from God does not mean you are. Nor does it mean you are a spiritual failure. The little swan’s true identity was never in jeopardy. His months of dreaming of being a successful duck did not mean he had to invest that same amount of time regaining the truth that was his birthright. Placing your soul on an evolutionary time-line may seem to address the why of why it feels as if you are here and the fulfillment you seek is somewhere else. But why not start at the end, even if you don’t feel it?

You and I are spiritually complete now. Our quest for spiritual fulfillment may take us to the far corners of the earth but the day comes when we catch a glimpse of our true essence in the rippling surface of this very pond that is our life. Like the little swan, we do not evolve into something more than we are already. We awaken to that something we are right now.

Love and Understanding

Advent Series, Part 2 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week and bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am.  See and feel your soul radiating love. This beautiful energy of love works for the highest good of all concerned, sometimes attracting and sometimes repelling or dissolving, depending on how the highest good is to manifest. Whether love attracts or dissolves is not a decision you make, but one you trust love to sort out as it flows in and through every aspect of your being and your life. Love lifts your vision in a way that imparts the understanding to see and know what needs to be done. Affirm:

I am guided by the understanding that love imparts.

Love is my essence. Love is my being.

Love is the balancing action in all my relationships and all conditions in my life.

See your body immersed in love. See every aspect of your life, especially those areas that are troubled, completely engulfed in the love that radiates as your soul. See love doing its perfect work and become willing to do your part in that work when the understanding dictates. Loving your neighbor may result in strengthening your relationship or dissolving it. This is a much better alternative than trying to force yourself to love them because you think you are supposed to. You may not always be able to muster the kind word or take that right action that will bring agreement with another. Still, you can know that invoking love will fit all the pieces together, will tie up the loose ends, and move all concerned to their best and highest good. Love reveals that this is true even when your good intentions at diplomacy fail miserably, or fear drives your own actions. The love that expresses as your soul is greater than all human frailty. Your unloving thoughts and actions or the unloving thoughts and actions of another do nothing to alter love itself. Love does not depend on how loving or unloving you are.

Let all of this go and simply see your entire being immersed in love. Experience love’s healing warmth. Let it melt away your stress and your struggle to be loved. You are more than loved. You are love itself.

 

 

 

 

Life and Enthusiasm

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Advent Series, Part 1 of 4

In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus, therefore, is on the meditative process. Choose a regular time and a place where you will not be disturbed (allow 30 minutes to an hour). Relax your mind and body. Bring your awareness to the area of the solar plexus (abdominal region) and focus your attention with this simple statement: I Am. Slowly repeat these words, letting go of all stress-inducing distractions. After a time, begin speaking quietly the affirmations that follow. Allow yourself to envision and experience the action suggested by each line before you move on to the next:

My soul radiates the pure, unrestricted energy of life.

There are no blockages. There are no restrictions.

I am filled with boundless life and unbridled enthusiasm.

The pure radiance of my soul shines in its fullness now.

In perfect peace, I let this pure energy rise.

As you relax with your awareness at your center, see the radiating energy of your soul as the energizing life that permeates all aspects of your being. It is natural to visualize life as the light that animates and heals every cell of your body and brings a sparkle of enthusiasm to your eye. You need not direct the energy of life, for life knows how to express itself. We see it animating countless forms at a variety of levels everywhere in the world. Life never stagnates. It is only our mundane focus of attention that becomes dull and lifeless. Acknowledge the free reign of life as it radiates its natural expansive movement through and as your being.

Don’t try to pump up your enthusiasm and strive to be the life of the party. Doing this will expend your energy by directing it to that bottomless pit of your unenthusiastic self-image.

Any forced positive attitude you generate will be short-lived and costly. A forced expression of enthusiasm is a performance you’ll have to continually maintain. Those who do this might be entertaining, but they can also be quite wearisome. You don’t have to instruct fire to be hot and you don’t have to inform life that it needs to express as enthusiasm. This is what it does naturally.

Natural enthusiasm manifests as genuine interest in whatever you happen to be doing, from creating a piece of art to taking out the trash. Enthusiasm is as unconditional as the energy of life itself. You need no particular reason to be enthusiastic. It is life’s gift to you. As you affirm life in your meditative experience, quiet enthusiasm will naturally grow.

 

 

 

Consider The Lilies

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“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).

God is an all-sustaining presence that great spiritual teachers of all ages have recognized as a providing source of support and guidance. Jesus was, no doubt, familiar with the writer of Deuteronomy’s comforting image of God: “The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

We often feel alone, cut off from any source of support and supply. This happens, of course, because we become focused completely on the outer aspects of life and we start thinking that our good comes only from external channels.

This attitude actually contributes to much of our struggle for a more prosperous experience. The belief that our good comes to us from the outside in has us looking here and there for what first must be discovered within our own being.

If you are faced with a need right now, the first step toward opening yourself to a more attractive, prospering state is to become a magnet of good. You do this by affirming something like this:

God is my dwelling place, my perfect support. Today, I draw to myself all that I need to live a full and prosperous life.

Get the feeling that you are loved and supported, that your life is, on all fronts, working in an easy and orderly manner, that God as your source is now drawing to you everything you need to live a full and satisfying life. Just as the lily is clothed from the inside out, so are you. Take time often to remember this, and to know that God is your everlasting source of absolute good.

 

The Cain and Abel Dynamic

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In closing this series on meditation and prayer I thought it would be good to discuss a common challenge that you will likely encounter when attempting to make positive changes in your life. In my book, Meditation and Prayer, I refer to this as the Cain and Abel dynamic and I describe it in this way:

In reading the story, you know that Cain was a tiller of the soil—a farmer. Abel was a shepherd. The farmer must stay in one place, planting his crops in defined areas, making his location at any given time predictable. Cain represents that tendency in us to seek out the familiar, set up predictable routines, and hope nothing comes around to disturb our world. A shepherd, on the other hand, must constantly be on the move, changing the location of his flock so his sheep will not overgraze the land. Abel represents that part of us that is on the move growing, indefinable, changing.

These two characters represent two aspects of our consciousness. One seeks the comfort of familiarity while the other seeks the expansive mental attitude that invites growth. You may be praying for a condition to change, for example, so you don’t have to. You want some unusual circumstance to go away so you can get back to living your life as usual.

When you pray for change you will, in all likelihood, be presented with an opportunity to change. This opportunity could come in the form of a challenge that forces you to broaden your understanding of yourself and your life. It may be unexpected and seem like an undesirable development that you want to pray away.

Be mindful of such opportunities. See if you are hanging on to old ways of thinking that you need to let go. Every challenge has something of value if you are open to it. The value may be as simple as letting go of a negative emotion and proving to yourself that you do have a choice about how you feel. Your Cain may attempt to slay your Abel but growth is inevitable. Think growth and let go.

 

 

The Prayer That Prospers

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One of Unity’s fundamental teachings is that God is the source of our supply. We may think of God as owning a great warehouse full of goods and when orders are put in, they’re fulfilled and sent out. There are times, of course, when the order is slow and we think our request is on back order or that our credit has been compromised.

Jesus said that God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. God does not actually give us things. God gives us ideas and inspiration. We have the wonderful ability to open our minds to the very essence of God, to be filled with the life, love, power and intelligence that bring about all we see and all we do not see. We have a beautiful faculty of imagination that enables us to envision specific things and conditions that are appealing to us. We can tap into the energy of zeal that enables us to do the things necessary to bring about the life we envision. We have the ability to love what we do and create blessings that touch the lives of others.

The prayer that prospers is the one that sees clearly a desired objective, that releases the negative doubts and fears that stand in our way, that stimulates the faith to hold fast and to move forward when we are called to act in ways that further our heart-felt aspirations.

George Eliot made the great observation that God “could not make Antonio Stradivarius’s violins without Antonio.” God cannot make the world you know is possible without you to bring it forth. Think of yourself as the translator of the unseen to the visible. The life you desire is not a thing that is either given or withheld but a thing you agree to help produce.

The prayer that prospers is one that affirms that which you desire is yours now and your acceptance of this truth opens the mental and emotional doors through which your good may come. Do not be discouraged if the manifestation seems slow. Hold fast to your desire, be willing to work and live with the peace of knowing your good is coming forth now!

The Prayer of Guidance

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Spiritual guidance is obviously a very important aspect of meditation and prayer. It is also a very misunderstood subject that requires some rethinking in our approach to the subject.

We often think of spiritual guidance as a means of navigating from where we are to a place we want to be. Quite often that “place” involves the acquisition of a material object, a position, a relationship or a new lifestyle. What is often missed in this process is the state of being we hope to achieve with our acquisition. Our thinking is that the attainment of a thing will make us feel better about ourselves.

What is keeping you from feeling better about yourself now? What is keeping you from feeling complete in this very place you stand in your life today? The answer is simple. Only your belief that you are incomplete, that you need something added to become happy or that you need to be in some other place keeps you at a distance from the very thing you seek.

The prayer for guidance involves the release of all groping for answers outside yourself, a letting go of all sense of inadequacy that can only be addressed by adding something new to yourself or your life. Spiritual guidance leads you first to your point of strength, that inner center of light and peace that pines away for nothing more than a deeper revelation of this divine connection.

What are the dreams and goals of a spiritually fulfilled being? To be sure, they are different from the dreams and goals of a spiritually unfulfilled being. When you find yourself in need of guidance, start with the idea that your first need is to open yourself to your own wholeness. Let go of the self that fears or feels inadequate. Find your inner point of strength and know that you are being guided now to act, not out of fear and weakness, but out of the power, love and intelligence of Spirit.

All spiritual guidance leads to the holy ground of the place you now stand. The fulfillment you seek is present. Seek this first and you will know what to do next.