The Spiritual Principle of Nonresistance

YouTube: The Spiritual Principle of Nonresistance

Do not resist one who is evil.” (Matthew 5:39)

This week I was asked if I could share some thoughts on the spiritual principle of nonresistance.

My understanding of nonresistance is that it does not mean we are to refrain from taking needed action. It means we do not react at the level of the problem. We approach our challenge from a place of strength rather than from a place of fear.

Whether it comes in the form of a person or a situation, most of us will react to a negative development with resistance. We feel threatened and we want to protect our perceived vulnerabilities, so we take the problem at face value and react accordingly.  

One of the most important pieces we will leave out of our reaction is the strength that is available to us from our own center of power. The experience of fear is like the red oil light coming on in our car. The light is telling us that it is time to add some oil. Fear is telling us it is time to replenish our strength.  

Scripture reminds us that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love (2 Timothy 1:7). Should we attack the problem by blasting it with an artillery of affirmations of power? Not according to Jesus. Such an approach might be considered the weaponization of spiritual principles. We treat the problem as a power greater than ourselves.

It has been rightfully said that we do not affirm something to make it true. We affirm it because it is true. Once we get past our initial jitters, our first job is to establish our thinking in what is true.

One way of doing this is to consider the worst-case scenario. Once we work this out in our mind and heart, we seek to move to our center of power and view the situation from this place of strength. In the beginning, we will most likely waver between strength and our old reaction of fear. We take a deep breath, bring ourselves back, and hold fast knowing this too shall pass. 

The Jewish Mystic

YouTube: The Jewish Mystic

I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).

In her classic work, Mysticism, Evelyn Underhill summarizes the mystical way as, “… the art of establishing a conscious relation with the Absolute.” Jesus referred to the Absolute as the Father, no doubt as an endearing indication of the all-providing nature of our spiritual Source. The relationship of oneness with God is the foundational principle recognized by the mystics of each of the world’s major religions. Commenting on this universal theme, one website includes the following statement: 

“ … despite vast separations in time, place, language, and culture, [the testimonies of these mystics] are strikingly similar—so much so that many scholars have come to view their teachings as constituting a single perennial philosophy which, like some irrepressible flower, keeps blooming again and again in the human psyche” (Center for Sacred Sciences).

Jesus was a Jewish mystic. He was so aware of his oneness with God that it became his sole mission in life to teach others the value of knowing their oneness with the Father. “For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

The challenge we face when reading our Gospels, is that they were written by Christian evangelists who incorporated the teachings of a Jewish mystic into their accounts. Truth, to the evangelist, refers to the validity of the Jesus narrative that had evolved over the forty years after his death. Truth, to the mystic, is the art of establishing a conscious relation with the Absolute.

According to the Jesus Seminar, in 1694, Hermann Samuel Reimarus, a professor of oriental languages in Hamburg, Germany, was convinced by a close study of the New Testament gospels, “… that what the authors of the gospels said about Jesus could be distinguished from what Jesus himself said” (The Five Gospels: Introduction). Reimarus is credited for being the first to begin a quest for the actual Jesus of history.

To use a metaphor of Jesus, making this distinction requires most of us to break out a new wineskin. That is, we must be willing to take a new look at the story the evangelical Christian has passed down through the ages. This story has us looking to the future for a Second Coming. I have come to believe that if we truly grasp the heart of the spiritual genius of this Jewish mystic, the first coming will suffice.

Peace and Freedom

YouTube: Peace and Freedom

When we pray for anything—a health challenge, a prosperity issue, or a difficulty in relationships—it is important to remind ourselves what we are actually praying for. In nearly every case, we can reduce our need to peace of mind and freedom from fear. We certainly want to resolve the issue that confronts us, whatever that may be. And one of the most effective ways of doing this is to realize that peace of mind and freedom from fear are always accessible. We can, in fact, experience both in this very moment.

We all recall this courage-inspiring statement from Jesus:

“Whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” (Mark 11:23).

While it is perfectly reasonable to assume that our mountain is the apparent challenge we face, a little consideration can prove otherwise. For example, what are we feeling as we think of our challenge? Most of us would acknowledge that we harbor a sense of uneasiness that may rise to the level of fear. Let’s shift our focus from the external challenge and think of our mountain as the uneasiness we’re experiencing. Now is it possible to say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea? In other words, are we able to let go of the emotional power we are giving to this situation and achieve some level of peace and freedom?

Yes, we can do this. It will likely require a concerted effort of sitting still, with the express intention of reaching the point where we do not doubt in our heart that we have released, or cast into the sea, the negative energy of fear and doubt. During this prayer exercise, we take our attention away from the outer condition and focus only on our internal experience. We know our affirmative prayer is fulfilled the moment we achieve peace of mind and freedom from fear.

I think that Jesus used the image of a mountain to illustrate that problem solving through prayer follows the same principle, regardless of the size of the challenge.  Start with your own energy and believe that what you say will come to pass. And it will be done for you.

Stirring The Pot

YouTube: Stirring The Pot

Chemicalization: Mix vinegar and baking soda and you’ll witness a bubbling agitation that results in a new compound: carbon dioxide.

“This is a good illustration of what takes place sometimes in the minds and bodies of people. Suppose a man has lived in wrong thought and molded his body [and life conditions] by wrong thought for years, until, as you might say, he has become solidified in that wrong belief. You introduce the Truth to him by strong denials and affirmations as has been taught. The very newness of it (and because it is Truth) creates in the first few days new hope, new joy, and health.

“After a little time, a sort of mental ferment or agitation takes place. One is apt to feel very nervous and seared way down in the depts of himself. If he has ever been sick, he will begin to feel the old diseases; if he has been morally bad, the old desires and habits take possession of him with new force; if he has been holding denials and affirmations about business affairs until they looked hopeful, all at once they collapse and seem darker and more hopeless than ever. All the new beliefs that lifted him into a new world for a few days seem failures, and he seems on the very verge of breaking up generally.

“What has happened? … There has been a clash between the old condition—which was based on falsehood, fear, and wrong ways of thinking—and the new thought or Truth entering you. … Do not be frightened. … Something higher and better always results.

“Should you find yourself in this state of internal aggravation, you need only affirm: There is nothing to fear, absolutely nothing to fear. Perfect love reigns and all is good. Peace be still, and so on, and very soon the brighter conditions will appear, and you will find yourself on a much higher plane than you have ever been before.”

IU #Shorts: This Now Moment

YouTube: IU #Shorts: This Now Moment

IU #Shorts is a new feature we’re offering. These are sixty second excerpts from talks that serve as reminders and also as short snippets you can share with others.

If you like this feature and are subscribed only to this blog, I would encourage you to subscribe directly to our Independent Unity YouTube channel. Subscriptions are free. Be sure to click the notification bell when you subscribe. This will help boost our YouTube subscriptions (we are aiming for the 1,000 mark) and it will assure that you will be notified when a new video is posted. In the future, I will not be announcing these YouTube shorts through this blog.

Thanks for being part of our online community!

Rev. Doug

The Ultimate Destination

YouTube: The Ultimate Destination: Understanding the Goal of Spiritual Guidance

When we think of the goal of spiritual guidance, we may see it in terms of getting help making our way to some desired outcome. It is this, of course, but it is something more. We’re probably all familiar with Lao Tzu’s saying that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” As profoundly simple as this statement is, it illustrates a point we so often miss. We can only take one step at a time because we can only be in one place at a time. Where is this place? It is in the here and now. The most profound spiritual guidance is that which brings us to this now moment.  

When we decide to travel to a place, we may consider the journey as little more than a series of disposable moments, something we have to do to get where we want to go. The destination is the important part. Yet in every one of those moments it takes to get there, the full power of the universe is active. Omnipresence means there is not more of God in our destination than there is in each moment of our journey.

My grandfather was a fox hunter. He always had a half dozen or so Walker fox hounds. The fox hunting community consisted of men, their wives,  and, of course, the hounds. At a big hunt, there might be 200 or more dogs. The point of the hunt was the chase. The dogs were released from the campsite at dawn. The men would sit around a campfire and listen. They could tell by their bark and howling when the dogs picked up a scent. They claimed they could even tell whose dog was in the lead. The interesting thing about the hunt was that they never intended to catch the fox. One of my brothers asked my grandfather why they didn’t shoot the fox. He said, “If you shoot the fox, all you have is a dead fox. If you leave it alone, you can hunt it again.” The goal was not to bag a fox. The goal was to experience the hunt.

If we find ourselves stressing over bagging a fox, it may be time to let go and enjoy the hunt. Again, the most profound spiritual guidance is that which brings us to this now moment.

Spiritual Affirmation

YouTube: Spiritual Affirmation

As we saw last week, spiritual denial is the deliberate act of pulling our attention and power out of negative reactions to life’s events. Spiritual affirmation is the assertion, through visualization, word, and feeling, of a greater good unfolding. Denial clears the way while affirmation sets in motion the creative energy that generates desirable ideas and favorable conditions. We can think of these two actions as the activity of love, which dissolves that which is not for our highest good (denial) and draws to us that which is (affirmation).

When Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32), he was stating a vital principle. The truth we come to know is that the soul is already free. To know the truth is to know yourself at the deepest level. Denial is the process of letting go of that which is not true of the soul. Affirmation is stating and knowing that which is true. We experience greater freedom as the result of bringing the truth of our being to the forefront of our mind. This, in fact, is the essence of affirmative prayer.

Think of your day-to-day emotion and thinking mind as the surface of a lake. Sometimes it is calm and sometimes it is churning with waves. Think of your soul as the lake’s calm depths not subject to changes in weather. While the surface and the depths of the lake co-exist, each represents a very different experience. The soul, like the lake’s depths, is always free of turmoil. Denial is the deliberate act of taking our attention from the surface. Affirmation is our deliberate embrace of the peaceful depths of our soul.

Storms happen. Sometimes we see the clouds gather in the distance while other times they catch us off guard. We’ve all heard of the calm before the storm. Let us seek to know this same calm during the storm. Jesus spoke to the threatening wind and the waves, “Peace, be still,” and the storm ceased. He did not allow the inclement weather to rob him of his power. Instead, he spoke with absolute conviction from the depths of his soul.

Through the practice of spiritual denial and affirmation, we too can let the calm peace of our soul rise to the surface of our mind and our life.

Spiritual Denial

YouTube: Spiritual Denial: What It Is and How To Use It

The word deny has two familiar meanings. The first example is when a person refuses to admit the truth. Did you eat the last cookie? No. The second is to refuse to give something that is requested. Can I have that last cookie? No. Spiritual denial falls under the second example. But instead of cookies, we’re talking about attention and power.

The world is constantly requesting our attention. Where our attention goes, our power tends to follow. Someone has rightfully said, whatever gets your attention, gets you.

Let’s say we receive some potentially upsetting news. I say potentially upsetting because at first, we don’t think that much about it. However, the more we do think about it, the more upset we become. The situation is asking, Would you give me your attention and power? We are saying, Yes, it’s all yours. Spiritual denial is doing the exact opposite: No, I will not give you my attention and power.

Spiritual denial is not the act of pretending the news we received does not exist. It involves a definite decision on how we are going to use our mental and emotional faculties. We can employ our faculties of imagination and faith to create a worst-case scenario that leaves us languishing in fear. Or, we can say no to this temptation by refusing to visualize the worst and instead pour our faith into a brighter picture.

Jesus warned against judging by appearances for a very good reason. Looking only at the facts of a situation creates tunnel vision. In this universe of infinite possibilities, we home in on a specific few. The appearance demands our negative reaction, but are we obligated to give this appearance the attention and power it demands? The answer, of course, is no. We will most certainly deal with the situation, but in a positive and constructive way. Through spiritual affirmation, which we will explore next week, we remain in our center of power by directing our faith to the best and highest good for all concerned.

YouTube Shorts

A feature known as YouTube shorts (videos 60 seconds or less) has gained great popularity on the YouTube venue. Below are three examples I’ve created. My thought is to post a couple of key points from each talk throughout the week. These easily digestible bytes would not only serve as refreshers, they would also provide sharable links for friends and family, your Facebook page, and other social media outlets that could provide an easy opportunity for those of you who want to help us expand Independent Unity’s online outreach.

Let me know what you think.

Rev. Doug

True Enlightenment

Peace and Freedom

Do I Want To Be Here or There?

Monkey Mind: Is There a Cure?

YouTube: Monkey Mind: Is There a Cure?

What is the monkey mind? It is believed that the term originated in Buddhism to describe the constant mental chatter that scrambles through our mind like a troupe of busy monkeys. The monkey mind generates a false perception of reality that often has us running in fear and anxiety away from possible danger we cannot control.

Our chattering little monkey may not always present as a sense of danger. It may simply rattle on as a preoccupation with perceived possibilities of the past or future, mental noise that has no bearing on anything in particular.

When it comes to achieving mental and emotional peace, we need to recognize the difference between life in the here and now and the constant scanning of future and past possibilities. I have said before that we only worry over things we can do nothing about. These things are mental and emotional projections that have us wrestling with questions of what if rather than dealing only in the moment with what is.

Jesus recognized the need to still the busy mind. At one point he said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Yet it isn’t enough to simply go to a lonely place. We tend to take our monkeys with us.

It is important to pay attention to how we are using our mind. Are we allowing ourselves to be present? Some balk at the idea of practicing the Presence in meditation. We may want to begin simply with the practice of being present. Mindfulness. We can achieve mindfulness by taking a few moments to focus on something as simple as our breath. We can feel and appreciate the warmth of the sun, or the loving response of a pet. The practice of being present is a necessary step to becoming aware of the Presence.

The monkey mind will probably always be with us. The more we recognize it for what it is, the better we become at letting go of its incessant chatter.