Question on Meditation

Question: I try to meditate but I just can’t seem to get anywhere. I know you’ve written a book on this subject but could you share some thoughts that might help someone like me?

As we consider spiritual ideas, it’s important to remember that there are two types of learning: intellectual and intuitive. Intellectual learning involves the accumulation of spiritual facts. We do this through study and exposure to teachers. Intuitive learning is based on direct exposure to the soul. This experience is then transmitted to the intellect. Because the experience is subjective in nature, it cannot be taught. But don’t make a mystery of this. Someone can explain what orange juice tastes like, but you don’t really know until you actually take a sip and experience it for yourself. Then you learn in an instant.

Taste, of course, is not an intuitive function, but we can use it as an example of things that can only be known through experience. Touch is another example. You look at a bowl of water that may be warm or cool. The instant you place your fingers in the water you learn its temperature through direct experience.

The intuitive faculty is capable of sensing and experiencing the subtle spiritual energy that is your being. The Bible refers to this energy as “living water” that wells up from within. This metaphor provides a way to think of our spiritual connection that cannot otherwise be defined or imparted by another.

The intuitive experience is not emotional. Nor should it be confused with those “hunches” that a thing is true or false, or that we should make a certain decision. This type of knowing is important and very useful. But we’re talking about something of a deeper nature. The intuition open to the soul does indeed stir the emotion and instills peace and the feeling that something greater than our own consciousness is at work. This revelation we seek involves knowing the true nature of Being, and this is imparted only through direct experience. Jesus compared it to the wind that you feel and hear but do not see. It is invisible but very real. You know it when it seeps into your awareness. You experience the joy of freedom knowing you are much more, and something much different than you thought.

This is an important observation. As you seek to open your intuition to the soul, you do so with the willingness to let go of who and what you think you are. Most of us maintain a running internal dialog that creates an endless loop of definition and response: I am this, so that is what I need. It is best to release all preconceived expectations, all definitions of God, the soul, and the self. As much as possible, make yourself an empty vessel receptive to inner energies that are totally familiar and natural but have likely gone unnoticed beneath the constant drumming of a perpetually busy mind. I assume this is the problem you are having.

It is not possible to force results. If you find yourself struggling, open your eyes and move about if you need to. You want to break yourself of all attempts to create an experience. If you stay with it, you will likely begin to have brief, nearly imperceptible movements of spirit. If you can recapture and pursue these, fine. Just don’t chase after them. During the day, you may find such experiences rise naturally on their own, without any effort on your part. You suddenly feel good and lifted without knowing why. You experience an unprovoked sense of joy and well-being. Take these as a sign that you are cracking the shell, that more is being done than you realize.

The spiritual breakthrough will come if you stay with it. Our externally driven western culture contributes to most of the mental and emotional distractions we encounter. From very early in life, we are taught to look to the world for the peace, joy, and well-being that we seek. For most of us, going within and seeking an experience with the unadulterated core of our being is a foreign endeavor. We are taught to pray looking to the heavens rather than to the kingdom of heaven within.

A helpful attitude to hold while meditating is this: “Before they call, I will answer. While they are still speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). I have said often that we desire more because we are more. It is the fullness of your soul that beckons you to come up higher. You are not creating this desire; you are responding to it. The fact that you have come to believe there is value in seeking an inner awakening says that you are on your way to a broader experience. Everyone gets discouraged, but don’t give up on it. You will eventually find that meditation is very natural and a thing you already know how to do.

I hope this is helpful.

The House of the Lord

[Adapted from an article written in March of 2014]

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalms 23:1-6

The small town in northwestern Missouri where I grew up evokes many fond memories of green pastures and still waters. One scene in particular, located a few miles outside of town, is that of a small pond beneath a sprawling oak set in the gentle slope of an isolated meadow. As children, railroad tracks provided our well beaten path into a world of wooded landscapes, fields of grain and pastures dotted with all varieties of livestock. On a summer day, you’d find the leaves of the oak stir in the breeze that rippled the pond’s surface and lifted a patrolling hawk. Magnificent thunderheads cast shadows that crawled over the ground dispensing temporal relief from the heat. On the high end of the spectrum of sounds would be the brilliant song of a lark. The lower end held the subdued buzz of honey bees harvesting treasured nectar from a rainbow of wildflowers. The humid air that wrapped your skin like a woolen blanket carried the sweet fragrance of wild clover, plowed soil and cattle that still infuse the rural Midwest character with its wholesome, earthy balance.

The Psalmist’s imagery was no doubt inspired by his contrasting desert landscape not unlike the one in which I now live in western Colorado. From a shepherd’s perspective, with an average of 300 days of sunshine and 9 inches of precipitation per year, still waters are outnumbered by dry washes. Remove the man-made lifeline of irrigation and our green pastures quickly revert to their native sage, cactus, and yucca that punctuate this sun-baked terrain. It is with newly acquired affection that I hold the towering dust devil and the perpetually wandering tumbleweed as key contributors to the character of this part of the West. The Psalmist, I believe, would have been perfectly at home in my adopted neighborhood. Contrasting every shepherd’s dreamland of green pastures and still waters with desert realities, the writer successfully employed his craft to evoke soul-restoring images of plenty and peace promised to those who invest their trust in God.

The most profound of spiritual messages is the reminder that we dwell in the house of the Lord forever, that the paths of righteousness that sometimes take us through valleys shadowed with the momentary death of our awareness of God’s presence. We always come out on higher ground to a banquet table spread out for us in the very presence of our internal enemies of peace. This house of the Lord is vast and all encompassing, yet immediately accommodating to all regardless of their present habitat. Wherever I am, God is, beautiful words from James Dillet Freeman’s Prayer for Protection, come to mean that wherever I am in consciousness, God is. No one is barred from this house. No one is taxed to enter. No one is ever disaffiliated.

Whether it is a pleasant reminiscing and writing of childhood memories or, decades-later, against a backdrop of naked cliffs bathed in the pink glow of waning sunlight, an evening walk in the desert with my wife, I never leave the house of the Lord. Yes I venture into the shadows of appearance-based issues, perhaps to bring some self-assurance that we’ll never stop talking and teaching about this house, that we’ll keep in check this tendency to veer off into brain science and pop psychology, sparkling trinkets that seem to continually capture the fancy of this chronically unsettled, ever-shifting collective we call mainstream religion. My first calling is to this house of the Lord, so intricately and eternally woven into my consciousness, a murmuring brook, a healing balm to the intuitive ear, a living essence that never ceases to stir and restore my soul.

As my thoughts drift back to the many green pastures and still waters that I have known, I celebrate something much deeper than scenery. The very hand that painted these unforgettable landscapes has painted me as well, has painted us all and continues to paint us still. For nearly four decades I have written books about it, sung songs of its beauty, spoken of it from the open air of the pulpit and in the intimate setting of the classroom, and I’ll continue to do so as long as these faculties hold out.

The house of the Lord is the one constant in my life, a refuge of peace whose doors do not close. Having dwelt in this house, I’ll never tire of the deep satisfaction that comes with knowing I may have had something to do with showing others the way through these doors.

My Own Journey

[Excerpt from The Complete Soul]

“One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as the whole great body. The constituent elements of water are exactly the same, and they are combined in precisely the same ratio or perfect relation to each other, whether we consider one drop, a pail full, a barrel full, or the entire ocean out of which the lesser quantities are taken; each is complete in itself; they differ only in quantity or degree. Each contains the whole; and yet no one would make the mistake of supposing from this statement that each drop is the entire ocean.” —Emilie Cady

I was sixteen when I first read Cady’s analogy. On that day, a light came on that has never gone off. She helped me understand that my spiritual essence, like water taken from the ocean, could be the same as the water in the ocean itself. I understood that I was not the whole of God, but I was beginning to make that all-important connection of oneness between God and myself.

Jesus, on the other hand, posed a different challenge. I understood how he, with a perfectly clear conscience, could shock his listeners with the highly charged claim that if they had known him, they had known the Father. I grasped how he could be in the Father and the Father in him, but the Father was greater. If the water in the pail could speak of the ocean, could it not make the same statement? I could believe Jesus himself when he said the works he did, others could do as well, and even greater works.

The issue I had was not in the claims Jesus made for himself and others. My growing discomfort was with those claims others made about him. I understood the logic of using Jesus as our primary example, our Wayshower, a clear illustration of what we can and must become. In him, we had a trustworthy standard of morality, sound spiritual logic by which we could measure and be measured. What would this very old, highly evolved soul have to say about our handling of that difficult neighbor, or that church dispute, or that beggar on the street? What would he think, say, and do if he were in our place? More importantly, what should I think, say, and do to become more like this worker of miracles who healed the sick, fed the multitudes, forgave his enemies, walked on water, calmed angry seas, and transformed his own dead flesh into shining immortality?

Where did this view of our Wayshower come from? Was Jesus really all of these things, or could this super-human portrayal simply represent a composite of old world Christian evangelicals and over-zealous modern metaphysicians? Wherever it came from, I was beginning to realize that this larger-than-life status assigned to him was completely inaccessible. If we are to believe testimony from the Gospels themselves, the most enthusiastic response to Jesus and his teachings came from the common people. Is it not possible that this Wayshower had a more down to earth understanding of our spiritual objectives?

I had no reason to doubt my spiritual teacher’s portrayal of Jesus as the prime example for the rest of us still struggling to master the tyrannical desires of body and mind. I could accept in theory that my essence was the same as his, that every spiritual lesson learned, every obstacle overcome added more drops to my pail. Still, Jesus and I remained light-years apart. He was not merely in another league; he was in a league of his own.

At times, I seemed to be making spiritual progress. Other times, I felt as if mine was a leaking pail, a broken cistern, as Jeremiah put it, that could hold no water. Overall, I moved forward with the faith that, despite this vast gulf between where I was and where I needed to be, I was making a net gain. My evolving soul, though advancing at a glacial pace, was indeed edging forward. Even with that little voice from somewhere in the back seat of my mind constantly asking, “Are we there yet?” I continued plodding away knowing that this sense of urgency would one day be satisfied. If God was in no hurry, why should I be?

Yet this little voice would not be silenced. It did not grow quieter but louder, asking other questions that a mere further mustering of more patience would not appease. I seemed to find significant challenges to the evolving soul model from Jesus himself. In one very short parable he explained that the kingdom of heaven was like a treasure hidden in a field. A man happened by, discovered the treasure, covered it again, and in his joy sold everything he owned to buy that field. The man’s ability to purchase it did not hinge on a preordained time-line that evolving souls must follow. The speed by which he acquired that field depended only on his willingness to let go of his present possessions.

In my first book, A Practical Guide to Meditation and Prayer, I related this parable to my own spiritual awakening:

One of the turning points in my spiritual career came during a time of deep frustration. I remember waking up one morning feeling spiritually empty (as I had for some time), so I picked up a book by Charles Fillmore and began to read. Beautiful as the words on those pages were, their effect was mocking and antagonizing instead of uplifting. I wanted to be what those words described but it seemed the harder I tried the emptier I felt inside. In a moment of anger, I threw the book down and said to God, “If You want me to learn all this stuff, then You’re going to have to show me, because I’m tired of trying to do it all myself!”

There was no reply. All day I felt mad at God for giving me a vision that seemed impossible to reach. That night I was getting ready for bed and a strange thing happened. I was sitting on the edge of the bed when something in my mind suddenly opened and I could perceive a grand scheme. Everything was beautiful and in its proper place. Deep waves of love and the feeling of total acceptance rushed through me. I felt a level of contentment with myself and my surroundings that I have never felt. I could see the infinite nature of all things, animate and inanimate and it was wondrous. A knowing came to me that said, “Do not be concerned about your life, for there is a plan for you.” I felt this message was not to me alone but to all who could receive it. In tears and total release I whispered, “Let it be that others can see what I am seeing now.”

With such an incredibly high experience and the numerous aftershocks that followed, it was inconceivable that I would ever leave the beauty of this absolute love and step again into the shallow domain of illusion and half-truths generated by the senses. Yet the world called and the dazzle of illumination grew dim. This was the disappointment of waking from a satisfying dream to a hot, humid night, the lonely chirp of a cricket the stark reminder of my attachment to mundane existence.

The experience left me with the impractical knowledge that the thing everyone is looking for in churches, careers, relationships, money, power, books, sex, drugs, food, sports, movies, and countless other places, I had found in those few spiritually lucid moments. My restless self had briefly settled in peaceful repose on its eternal foundation.

In the years that followed, however, I often felt that revelation was more a curse than a blessing. It set me apart, instilled a kind of aloneness that made me question if I really belonged on this planet. I’d stumbled on the hidden treasure, but I did not want to lay it back in the ground, cover it, or go and sell all other possessions to buy the field. I wanted to lift it from the earth and hold it forever, a response that I am sure would be normal to anyone. I was the near-death experiencer who did not want to return to the body but was told, “It’s not your time. You have to go back.” The kingdom I had briefly experienced was not of this world. I had peered through a hole in the fence of a gated community I could not enter. Having seen this great wealth and beauty, returning to the plain streets of my world was enormously frustrating.

These few moments of lifting the veil and experiencing a profoundly beautiful cosmic awareness ultimately set me on the path to ministry. My message, fueled only by my experience of God, would center on God as a living presence whose existence I could not deny. Never in my young life had I felt so complete or so supported by the everlasting arms of love that sustained my very existence, all without condition or price. I had no major healing to talk about, no rags-to-riches story I could hold out to the world as proof of my life-altering revelation. Despite this handicap, I could not deny the permanent impact this elusive treasure had on me. I knew my highest service would be that of telling others they too had their own inner field, their own hidden treasure. I took the formal steps of entering the Unity ministry to become a champion of those who, like me, had been called from that far country of life-at-the-surface and were making their way back to their true spiritual home.

For much of my ministerial career, I maintained the evolving soul model as the most workable and practical. I wandered in and out of the awareness of absolute love, sometimes feeling very much at home in God, and other times out again on yet another hopeful venture into some new far country. Why not just stay home? Why repeat this prodigal eating of husks when I knew the advantages of staying home? Why, like Paul, do I “… not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate?”
The best answer seemed to be the partially filled pail theory, the notion of the evolving soul. Though I was beginning to regard this idea with increasing skepticism, my pail was obviously not full. Mine was an immature soul, an adolescent doing what adolescents do. I was leaving home in high moments of strength and self-assurance, and returning when that strength waned, and fear and insecurity drove me into repentant humility. I could envision a day of coming home and staying home, but apparently I was not spiritually mature enough to settle into my true, God-given estate. I was an evolving though impatient soul not yet seasoned with the sweet stability of maturity.

Still, I could not forget the sheer completeness I had felt in those fleeting moments of absolute knowing. There was no question that the water in my pail was drawn from that cosmic ocean we call God. I could not shake the growing suspicion that my pail was already full.

Then, a slight shift in my understanding of the hidden treasure occurred to me. My wife and I were relaxing at a friend’s cabin in Colorado when it suddenly dawned on me that the treasure was not a partially filled pail, a potential to be developed, but one whose current value exceeded all else the man owned. I realized that this parable was a metaphor depicting the soul (hidden treasure) whose full value is already established.

I had thought of myself as having repeatedly left this field because I was spiritually immature. But the man did not leave for this reason. Quite the opposite, he left because he was mature enough to recognize the value of the treasure. Like me, he had found what he was looking for. He had stopped trying to acquire more things and was divesting himself of everything that was of lesser value than this treasure. I realized this was exactly what I was doing. My eye had become single, my choice between God and mammon clear. I wasn’t leaving the field, as I supposed, for the adolescent purpose of squandering or acquiring something more. Like the man, I left to unburden myself of things of lesser value, that I may buy that field. In my own way, I was moving my self-awareness from a pail-centered self-image to its true ocean-water foundation, the soul.

The revelation did not stop there. I began to realize that if you draw one pail of water from the ocean today and another in a year from now, the age of the water in each pail is still the same. Likewise, one soul, regardless of when or how many times it has incarnated, is no more advanced than another. As with the water in the pail, the clock we think is ticking in regard to the soul is relative only to time spent in a body. The soul, like water, neither ages nor matures.

What I had gradually begun to suspect was now blossoming into a full-blown realization: The premise of an evolving soul, as logical as it seemed at one point in my understanding, was wrong. I could now see the soul is complete, has always been complete, and years devoted to further spiritual study would make it no more complete. The spiritual problem that confronts us is not the result of soul immaturity. The problem lies in what we mean when we speak the pronoun I. Thus far, we have associated it almost exclusively with the pail, the self-image. The I must be understood as a reference to the water, the soul.

My pail, I began to realize, is indeed full, my soul eternally complete. As an individualized projection of God, created in the image and after the likeness of God, it cannot be otherwise. My essence, my foundation of being is as equal in composition to God as the composition of the water in the pail is equal to that of the ocean. As Jesus put it, the harvest (soul completion) is not four months, four lifetimes, or four-hundred lifetimes away. This field is already ripe for harvest. Everything is in place right now. The truth that sets us free is present, accessible, and will never be more so than it is at this moment.

I was beginning to see that from the instant I stumbled upon my own treasure, I had been undergoing a major shift in values. I was not aware of it at the time, but I had begun selling those possessions that were preventing me from embracing the truth of my soul. Though I am still sorting through inconsistencies in self-perceptions and beliefs about the world, I have come to accept that we are not here to convince the world we are something other than that which we are at our sincerest, most authentic level. If we express qualities the world deems great, it is not because we have labored hard to manufacture these. We express them because we are simply doing what comes most natural. We made the choice to be here, to give expression to our soul, to give it a face, a voice, and a way to interact in the world that is ours and ours alone.

This is why, in this book, I am placing emphasis on experiencing the soul rather than knowing God. It’s not that knowing God is unimportant, but I choose to follow Jesus’ premise that if you have known me [the soul], you have known the Father [the soul’s source]. Studying a single pail of ocean water is not nearly as intimidating as studying the entire ocean. Yet following this analogy, understanding of the composition of the water in the pail is equivalent to understanding the composition of the water in the entire ocean. When you experience your soul, you experience God.

The Prospering Principle of Love

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A theme familiar to those attracted to Unity’s approach to spirituality is that of prosperity. If we continue with the principle that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not, then we see that our highest good and prosperity are actually one and the same.  How do we understand our highest good? Is it that which enables us to continue living unchallenged in our comfort zone, or, is it that which is nudging us out?

The embryo of the chick develops naturally and comfortably within its shell. But the day comes when the shell – once a solution – becomes a problem. When we find ourselves in this predicament, we usually pray for some alteration in the shell. We need more room. The chick, uncertain of what lay on the other side but sure that life has become a bit too cramped, instinctively begins pecking at the shell.

This is a clear example of the prospering principle of love. The chick not only has the instinct to start pecking, it also has an egg tooth to aid in the escape. Love urges the chick into a freer environment while dissolving the old, now confining world within the shell. Within moments of hatching, a life-sustaining environment becomes a useless pile of debris.

The shell we humans deal with is the universe of ideas that make up our current consciousness. These may have worked for us at one time, but now we are beginning to feel cramped. Our life is not working so well. Affirming the prospering principle of love is at work in us now is a willingness to acknowledge our desire for greater freedom is God calling us to move into a broader experience. We’ve reached the limit of a shell and it’s time to let it go. In silence, we listen, we learn, and then we start pecking.



Follow Me

Question: When Jesus said,“Follow me” what do you think he meant?

Historically speaking, we cannot presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus. Unlike Paul, who left a number of letters from his own hand, we have no direct writings from Jesus. We have the works of four evangelists who painted word pictures based entirely on hearsay. As these writers were not historians, they employed Jesus as a literary tool to advocate a religious position that Jesus himself may not have endorsed. Of course, short of finding an original diary or other writings from him, we can only speculate on what he may or may not have approved.

Who is this me we are encouraged to follow? In most cases, it is not a man and his teachings but a composite narrative hammered out by a religious sect. That so many Christian sects have risen from a single man illustrates the complexity of the problem. In the religious arena, we’re not being offered the choice to follow the discovery of the man, but an interpretation of the man — what he said, why he said it, and what it is supposed to mean to us. Differing views of a given orthodoxy are simply dismissed as irrelevant and misleading.

An insightful proverb reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). This statement points to a way that doesn’t work, but it also implies there is a way not so obvious to the average person, but its end is the way to life. This way is an understanding that places the individual in harmony with universal laws of expression, a way that has always been followed by nature. When I hear Jesus say, follow me, I hear him saying, place yourself, as I am doing, in harmony with the universal laws of expression. His relevance to his followers, after all, rests on their ability to implement the insights he offers. The way, the truth, and the life that he offered is not a gift of the man Jesus. The gift is in what the man discovered. The birds of the air and the lilies of the field have always partaken of this gift. I can imagine Jesus saying, they are doing it, I am doing it, and you may do it as well.

Do what? Look beyond the way that seems right to a man, the way the world is following, and find the way that is right. Is there such a way? Yes, but this way follows an inside-out pathway that runs counter to the outside-in buildup of the self-image we are conditioned to follow. We are trained to think it is necessary to complete ourselves through career, position, marriage, credentials, and other various accomplishments.

When we arrive on this earth, the world immediately treats us as an empty vessel to be filled from the outside-in. The very process of our birth, however, illustrates a flow from the invisible to the visible. The body is but the biological vehicle of the soul. And what is the soul? Is it a blank slate that requires interaction with the material realm to advance its stature? No. The soul is a focal point, the transitional mechanism designed to bring the invisible into the visible.

When I speak of God as the Creative Life Force, I’m saying the soul is the creative component of this term. The soul serves as the basis of all that is seen. John made the distinction between God and the Word through which all things are made. God is the universal, the soul is the Word, the universal transitioning into the personal.

Jesus’ admonition to “follow me” is a way of saying, put yourself in the position where you are having the same direct experience with God that I am having. Identify yourself, not as the senses-based self-image, but as the soul you are. If Jesus is to mean anything to us, then he has to represent a level of experience that is accessible to all.

This, of course, is in keeping with the notion of omnipresence, that there is literally no place where God is not. Jesus demonstrated the spiritual status of every person. It’s important to understand that he was not unusual in this regard. What set him apart was that he was grounded in this spiritual aspect. When he said I and me, he spoke from the soul. If you have seen me (the soul), you have seen the Father; there’s no place where God leaves off and I begin. And what is true of me is true of all.

He undoubtedly arrived at this conclusion by turning his attention to the inner spring of the soul and asking, Who am I? The understanding he gleaned was the assurance that you are the son of the living God. But he would have understood the universal nature of the soul, that every person who made this inner inquiry would get the same answer. I think Jesus was saying, Do not follow me, the flesh and blood man, but follow me in your focus on the soul and asking this same question: Who am I? You too will experience your own revelation of oneness with God, the spiritual source of your being.

I believe the temptations of Jesus symbolize the struggle of his own inner inquiry. Considering that no one but Jesus would have been witness to this episode, the gospel version is likely a metaphorical account of the distractions he encountered and overcame, a subject he certainly would have discussed with those in his inner circle. “Peter answered him, ‘We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’”(Matt. 19:27).

His baptism by John represents the initial revelation, though this too is likely dramatized. The temptations that follow represent a permanent shift from a life based on the values of the self-image — Paul’s natural man — to a life based on the values of the spiritual man, the soul. This shift is key to his departure from the values that drive standard human thinking. The portrayal of forgoing worldly power and riches was presented in a more easily digested literary form that later served as the basis of the accounts found in Matthew and Luke. In reality, the tempter is the drive to pursue those things that empower and build up the self-image. We encounter this devil each time we try to silence the busy mind and move into a direct experience with God.

Again, we cannot presume to know what was in the mind of Jesus. We can realize that the greatest objective in our pursuit of spiritual understanding is not to understand his mind, but our own. I feel certain that he would as quickly steer our attention away from himself as the good teacher, and turn it to our own inner connection with God. “Why do you call me good? None is good, save one, that is God.

Had we never heard of the man Jesus, we would still be expressions of the Infinite, and the longing to know our spiritual source would continue to stir in our heart. It is in our response to this stirring that we find in ourselves that very ideal exemplified in Jesus.

Love Yourself Through Fear


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Question: “I know I need to make some changes in my life, but I’m afraid to make them. How can love help me to overcome fear?”

One misunderstanding we have about love is that it is a power we call upon or we employ as we might employ an air freshener. Here, we’re treating love as one of the four fundamentals of our being: life, love, power, and intelligence. As such, love is not a power we employ but an aspect of our being we express. What’s the difference? We don’t try to muster enough love to power our way through obstacles. Instead, we allow love to do its perfect work through us.

We start from the premise that love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not. You may argue, “I’m in an unhealthy relationship that I know is not for my highest good, but I’m afraid to do anything about it. Why would love draw to me an unhealthy relationship?”

Love is not drawing the unhealthy relationship. Love imparts the wisdom to recognize you are in an unhealthy relationship. Love is stirring the discomfort you feel. Love is alerting you to the fact that you are trying to stuff yourself into a container (relationship, circumstance, etc.) that is far too small. Each time you make decisions that perpetuate this confining situation, love alerts you. If you ignore the signals, then love patiently re-sends them.

Think of it this way: Love expresses a strength, fear protects a weakness. Am I responding to inner strength, or am I protecting a weakness? You already know the answer. If you make different choices, then know that love will support these choices. You were not given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love. Your discomfort is your soul asserting itself, assuring you that life can be more than your fear allows. Accept the gift that love inspires in you and watch how it dissolves the chains of fear that have kept you in bondage.

The Art of Conflict

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Question: “You brought up personal conflict with others. Do you have a solution to offer that accommodates distance and difference?”

On one occasion, a lawyer approached Jesus and, as a test, asked him to name the greatest commandment. According to Matthew, Jesus responded in this way: “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

In light of our treatment of love in this series, this is a brilliant response. To love the “Lord your God” is to embrace the truth that love is drawing to you that which is for your highest good and dissolving that which is not. To “love your neighbor as yourself” is to acknowledge this same truth for others.

The Gospels depict Jesus in perpetual conflict with the religious professionals of his day. Because he threatened their ideological narrative, the lawyers of spiritual law were doing everything in their power to destroy his credibility. Jesus had enemies. It’s also pretty obvious that he held them accountable for using their scriptural skills to keep people in spiritual darkness.

The lesson here is that we do not have to like a person to love them. If you hold resentment toward another, then that resentment binds you. The answer is to release them in love. As you think of this person, you see love drawing to them that which is for their highest good and dissolving that which is not. It’s not your job to determine what needs to happen to them. Your highest good involves pulling your negative emotion out of the situation and letting love do its perfect work. The more you want to see them pay for what they did, the more of an emotional burden you heap upon yourself. They may indeed deserve all the payback you envision. The question is, do you deserve it?  Knowing that love is doing its perfect work offers a way out from beneath this stifling burden.