The Freedom You Desire

The underlying objective behind every goal we set is the condition of greater freedom. This is helpful to consider and critical to understand. By tying our hope for greater freedom to a particular acquisition,  we are likely placing an unnecessary obstacle on the actual freedom we seek. “When I get there,” we reason, “I’ll feel good about my life.” But what about here? 

The essence of the freedom we seek is actually a spiritual condition. We want to resolve a certain situation so we can feel better. This is totally understandable and reasonable. But is there another path to this goal of feeling better, or is our declared path the only one? With the information we have on hand, we may believe our chosen approach to a given problem is the best, but there is always a better way.

Some years ago my world fell into a tailspin. I had some very clear ideas about what needed to happen if I were to regain control. When these fixes came, I reasoned, I’d be free. These, after all,  were the fixes that would resolve outstanding issues and pay the bills. I was also operating under the gnawing assumption that if my world failed, I was a failure.  My freedom, my self-esteem, my definition of success all hinged on things going a certain way. If these things didn’t happen, I’d lose the battle to sustain the conditions I believed were essential to my inner freedom.

Then a strange thing happened. While I was praying for these fixes, a powerful truth emerged from within. I rediscovered my spiritual center of strength. In one of those “darkest before the dawn” moments, I experienced a flush of inner strength and peace that assured me I’d be okay even if everything crashed. In this moment of clarity, it didn’t matter that this world I was praying to keep intact fell apart. The strength I found set me in a position high above all that I feared losing. Regardless of what happened, I knew I’d be fine.

The path that unfolded from that point on was not one I had considered. It was far better, a sentiment I shared from an earlier period in the lyrics of one of my songs, Something Spoke to Me:

Over the years I have taken some turns, to places I don’t understand.

But it took every one, to bring me here, I’ve been led by a soft guiding hand.

Faith is a very interesting faculty. When it’s directed only to the outworking of unruly circumstances, it becomes a flashlight beam that causes us think of ourselves and our life as that which is within this circle of light. Faith, in its highest function, turns off the flashlight, allows our eyes to adjust, prompts us to look up and you see the vast universe of stars spread out overhead. Occupied with life within the beam, we forget that our soul perpetually resides in a much larger, completely unfettered context. We are children, not of the flashlight beam, but of the universe. It is in this larger context that we find our spiritual center of strength, power and freedom.

When Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, I believe he was talking about the world of flashlight beams. His kingdom was the universe, the soul’s true home. So much in our religious training misses this, as it teaches that we mere humans are destined to make due with life, to walk a straight and narrow path within the beam. I believe Jesus’ real message encourages us to turn off the flashlight, lift our spiritual eyes and behold the vast kingdom of God that is our true and eternal home.

If we are focused only on finding contentment, peace and freedom within this circle of light we call our daily earthly life, then we’re putting conditions on our freedom that in reality do not exist. Do you think the success of the universe depends on what does or does not happen within your little circle of light? The drama that unfolds on this tiny stage is inconsequential to the bigger picture. Does this mean your individual life is unimportant? No. It means that if you are to live your life successfully, you start with the understanding of your inseparable oneness with that star-studded cosmos. You draw your strength, not from the proper arrangement of things within your little circle of light, but from the larger cosmic context within which you presently live, move and have your being.

Within your circle of light, you’re likely saying there are yet four months to harvest. This or that thing must happen before I win the prize of peace and freedom. Jesus encouraged us to lift up our eyes and see the fields are ready for harvest now. Turn off the flashlight and see that you live in all you will ever need at this moment. The universe, after all, is not moving toward some state of perfection. It is perfect already, and you and I are integral expressions of it. Be perfect, even as your heavenly Father (your cosmic source) is perfect. Now this rather enigmatic statement begins to make sense.

Your goal is not the thing you desire. Your goal is the freedom you believe the thing will bring. Your goal is not the resolution of unruly circumstances that are now playing out within your flashlight beam. Your goal is to remember who and what you are. This is your center of strength, peace and power. This is the freedom you desire.

 

Prayer and Manifestation

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).

Spiritual teachers of all time have made a distinction between the realms of spirit and matter. The author of Hebrews wrote, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” (11:3). Eastern tradition states that God is complete unity, while the realm of matter operates under the law of maya (illusion), the principle of relativity and duality. Likewise, Thomas Troward made the distinction between differentiated and undifferentiated spirit.

There is agreement that spirit and matter are one substance (energy) expressing at different levels and, therefore, operating under a different set of laws. We see a similar analogy with water, which can express as gas (humidity), liquid (rain), and ice (hail), three different expressions of a single substance, each subject to different laws.

When we speak of the illusion of time and how the now moment is the only reality, we should take care to understand that we’re speaking of the realm of spirit, not matter. The material realm is subject to time and space. You can instantly imagine yourself being in a distant location, for example, but to get your body to that location, you must travel through time and space. I don’t believe Jesus was suggesting that if you want to be in a distant location, you simply close your eyes and believe you are there. When you open your eyes, you will be there. Your mind is obviously not subject to time and space, but your body is.

Thomas Troward dealt extensively with this subject throughout his many writings. In my book, Native Soul, I included a summary of what I believe to be a practical application of the principle Jesus was referring to. I hope you find this a useful reminder.

Step 1: Form a clear picture of your desire with the understanding that, by so doing, you create a prototype that is impressed upon the creative life force.

Step 2: Understand that you are working with spiritual law. With calm expectation of a corresponding result, know that all necessary conditions are coming about in proper order.

Step 3: Enter your daily routine with the assurance that conditions are either present already or will soon present themselves. If you do not see evidence at once, know that the spiritual prototype (your desire) is already in existence.

Step 4: Wait until some circumstance pointing in the desired direction begins to show itself. It may be small, but it is the type and not the magnitude of the circumstance that is important. This is the first sprouting of the seed.

Step 5: Do whatever the circumstance seems to require. This action leads to the further unfolding of other circumstances in the same direction. By addressing each one as it appears, you move step by step toward the accomplishment of your desire.

 

Commitment to the Ideal

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Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:62).

There is a significant number of Bible verses attributed to Jesus that give keys to understanding and practical application of our spiritual resources. Absolute commitment to an ideal is another key.

We are beginning to understand that there is a definite connection between our consciousness and the way our life unfolds. We have come to see that if we can play a role in creating what we see in our experience, we can also play a role in creating what we would like to see. The image we hold of our self and our life influences our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions that go into building the external side of our life.

When you use your imagination to form a new picture of what you would like to see in your life, you discover quickly how easily that picture is challenged. The old self-image does not just dissolve because you decide you don’t want it anymore. You still have plenty of emotion and logic tied up in the old. So it’s important to understand that a permanent change of mind requires a commitment. One moment you can hold a wonderful ideal and the next moment find it, like a sand castle, washed away by a wave of negative emotion.

Right here is where you need to remember the advice of Jesus. Put your hand to the plow and keep it there, no matter how you feel and no matter what appearances are saying. One moment may indeed bring the appearance of failure, but the next moment will present the opportunity for success. If you throw up your hands and walk away from your plow in that apparent moment of failure, you will not see your opportunity for success. You’ll never get your “field” in shape to produce the abundance you desire.

Refuse to quit, and you will see your life transform.

The God Perspective

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In the New Testament letter of James, we find this reference to God as the, “Father of lights with whom there is no shadow or variation due to change” (James 1:17). Presenting God as changeless is a significant departure from the traditional view of a moody Deity. We so routinely ask for God’s special favors that we may not be aware our perception of the behavior of the Divine as subject to change. Could James’ changeless Father of lights bless and not bless or pass out serpents and stones when we ask for fish and bread?

It is certainly easiest to think of God in terms of our human relationships. At times, we feel close to those around us and other times it seems there is not enough distance. For some we would grant favors without question while for others, our favors come with conditions.

There is a similar dynamic in our relationship to the sun. We have sunny days, cloudy days, daylight and darkness, sunrise and sunset. Depending on how near or far earth is from the sun, we have skin-burning summer and icy cold winter. The sun, it appears, has many moods. These variations, however, have less to do with the nature of the sun and more to do with our relationship to it.

When you think from the perspective of the sun itself, you see a different picture. How many days has the sun seen? We say this closest star is roughly 4.6 billion years old. But how do we measure a year? Multiply 365 sunrises by 4.6 billion and you have more days than most of us can wrap our minds around. The sun itself has seen but a single day, and that day has stretched throughout the duration of its existence. The sun has never risen, never set, never known the cold of winter or the blackness of night. It has never seen a shadow or shivered in the dark corner of a dank cellar. There is no variation due to change.

We cannot understand God from our ever-changing human perception. We must think of God from God’s perspective. From the sun’s point of view, we can understand how there is only one condition and that condition is light. It is only as we think of God from God’s perspective that we begin to grasp the truth that there is but one Presence and one Power. There is not good and evil, not light and shadows. There is only absolute good, as in absolute light.

The light that you and I seek is here now, has always been here, and will always be here. As we commit to opening our minds and hearts to the God perspective, every shadow dissolves into the nothingness from which it came.

The Challenge of Omnipresence

[Excerpt from: A Spiritual Journey] 

After a talk that I gave, where I spoke of the concept of the omnipresence of God – everywhere present, equally at the same time – I was challenged by an individual who considered the negative thinking of a person as a place where God is not. They reasoned that the only way God could be present in the negative thinking of a person was for God to have the capacity to think negatively.

It is, of course, difficult for many to set aside their anthropomorphic views of God and think instead in terms of law and principle. A person can hold the belief, for example, that 2+2=5. We could argue that the principle of mathematics states that 2+2=4, and this is true everywhere but in the thinking of the person who holds that 2+2=5. Does this person’s false belief actually create a place where 2+2 does not equal 4? No. The principle of mathematics remains applicable everywhere, regardless of the erroneous thinking of any individual. Their mistaken thinking does not create some special vortex where mathematical principles make exceptions and do not apply.

We know there was a time when the public held that the earth was flat. Did this universally accepted belief in any way alter the fact that the earth is and has always been round? Of course it didn’t. Believing it to be so did not make it so; it only made it appear to be so. A flat earth has never existed.

We say thoughts are things. Does this mean that if I hold in my mind the thought that God does not exist, I have created a place where God is not? Things, after all, are objects that occupy their own unique space. A rock is a thing. Are we prepared to say that a rock lying on the ocean floor represents a place where the ocean does not exist? If you pull the rock from the ocean, it is true that you would then have a rock and an ocean. If the ocean were omnipresent, however, it would not be possible to separate the two.

A false belief and the thinking it generates does not represent a place where God is not. The young Jacob’s belief that he had traveled outside of God’s presence while fleeing his brother’s wrath did not make it true. It seemed true to him only because he accepted a false belief passed on by his ancestral authorities. The belief that he could leave the presence of God evoked the same level of fear and uncertainty as if it were true. His dream, however, opened his eyes to what was actually true.

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).

We can probably generate dozens of clever riddles and word games to undermine the truth of the omnipresence of God. To do so, however, places us in a weakened position. The above text states that Jacob was afraid, but the proper word, as indicated in his exclamation, should have been awestruck. He was, in fact, suddenly free of fear, totally empowered to move forward with a level of enthusiasm that had been absent while fleeing the wrath of his brother. Yesterday he had been running from a problem. Today he was running to a new possibility. Aside from his own attitude, nothing in the entire universe had changed. Generations of worshiping a localized God did nothing to confine God to a specific locality. It only affected the way Jacob and his family thought of God.

The truth of omnipresence makes it possible for us to say, wherever I am, God is. Poking logic holes in the idea only makes it possible for us to say, God is everywhere but where I am. With this logic, we can justify our misery and our failures, if this is what we want to do. How much better it is to know the full power of God is behind us always, every moment of every day. The instant we awaken to this truth is the instant we become empowered by it.

In the work of ministry, someone is always raising a question because something they read or heard does not jive with their understanding. Those of us involved in ministry do well to seize such opportunities to think through and clarify our understanding of the implications of the issue in question. In the past, we could simply accept it on faith. Now we need settle for nothing less than understanding faith that makes it possible to explain the spiritual logic behind an otherwise abstract teaching.

Omnipresence is not merely a thing we affirm. It is a potent reality that enables us to awaken from our sleep, to rise from our fears and our feelings of being trapped in a life we do not want and to move forward into the life we do want.

The Jesus Factor

(excerpt from The Complete Soul)

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

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

The Jesus I have come to know through my own study and meditative experience is a man who fully discovered and spoke from his soul, a fact that profoundly distinguishes him from the average person. I’m not suggesting he was different in spiritual capacity. He was different in focus and in self-understanding. We have made him into something beyond the reach of the common people he addressed, and I do not believe he would have approved. “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). He demonstrated what it is to be a divinely awakened human and pointed out that the things this revelation enabled him to see and do, others could see and do as well.

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

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

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

“The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

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

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us, just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed”(Luke 1:1-4).

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

Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty” (The Gospel of Thomas, #3).

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

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

Our quest for spiritual authenticity provides the heat that separates the slag of orthodoxy and tradition from the precious metal of truth, as relevant today as it was in the day of Jesus. We are left with the task of discerning between the voices of authority and that live wire of Truth that electrifies and enlightens the mystic. “My sheep hear my voice …” (John 10:27) is, for me, a kind of knowing wink to those who recognize this language of the soul.

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

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