The Resurrection Principle

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Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

According to Matthew’s version of the resurrection, when “Mary Mag’dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher,” they found it empty. An angel was there to tell them Jesus had risen from the dead. The Easter story presents the defining principle for both mainstream and alternative Christianity. In both cases, Easter illustrates that life, not death, is the truth behind all appearances to the contrary. We celebrate Easter in the Spring because all around us we see the resurrection of new life from the dry stalks and branches of apparent death, and we marvel at the tenacity and the proliferation of this mysterious, living energy. Traditional Christianity draws its meaning of Easter from the past, projecting its fulfillment as a glorious and everlasting future. In metaphysical Christianity, we invoke the principle of resurrection in our current affairs by letting go of the old and affirming the new. Life is always creating new channels through which to express itself. Our work is to make ourselves as open as possible to the renewing energy of this resurrecting force so that every point of our experience may expand and flourish. Are you sealed in a tomb of fear and negation, worried about your future, uncertain about the outcome of some current situation? Then begin to release this fear and affirm that the resurrecting power of life is now lifting you beyond all restrictions, all uncertainty, all inhibitions, and that your life is full of new possibilities, and those possibilities are unfolding now, like the spring buds bursting all around you. Open your mind to God’s resurrecting life right now, right where you are, and enjoy the blessings of a transformed experience.

Paper Pulp or Flour?

[Excerpt from A Spiritual Journey]

Someone raised the question of how we can consider God as being personal and universal at the same time. If we continue to assign human attributes to God, this is a difficult question to answer. If we think of God as the creative life force expressing through all, then it becomes much easier to grasp.

Let’s step back in time a bit and imagine diverting water from a river into a small channel (millrace) that turns the water wheel of a mill. The mill may be designed for any number of purposes, like grinding flour or making paper. In this simple but ingenious machine, we see a clear illustration of how the universal and personal can be understood.

The river and the water diverted into the race are universal. The water, indifferent to where it goes or how it is used, creates a current by forever seeking the lowest level. The mill is designed to utilize this current. What the mill produces is a personal choice of its builder. The mill (the personal), taps into the river (the universal), in a way that utilizes the river’s current.

In a very real sense, every individual is a kind of mill through which the creative life force (life, love, power and intelligence) is diverted. What we produce as our personal experience is not the effect of this universal source, but the effect of what we have set up to mill.

Our milling mechanism consists of our executive faculties of imagination, faith, judgment, will and elimination. Through the interactive combination of these faculties, we churn out the experience we see as our life. When we don’t like what we see, our normal reaction is to ask God to give us different results. This would be like the miller saying to the river, “I want to produce flour but all I’m getting is paper pulp.” What goes on between God and the individual is not the issue; it’s what goes on inside the mill that matters. The wheel of manifestation is always turning.

What do we do when we’re making paper pulp and we would rather be grinding flour? Although I list elimination as the fifth of our executive faculties, this may be a case where we bring it to the forefront. We may need to focus on letting go of our habit of making paper pulp when we really want flour.

“But I’ve always made paper pulp,” someone will argue. I don’t know what else to do. There is a bit of good news here. You don’t have to let go of your paper pulp business to begin the process of releasing it. You start exploring and releasing within yourself all the reasons you believe you are trapped making paper pulp. For example, you may be saying, I want to make a change but it’s going to cost money, so I can’t make the change until I get the money. Because you’ll probably never get enough money to feel comfortable about making the change, you’ll just keep pumping out the paper pulp and maybe hoping the river will rise, turn your wheel a bit faster and make enough pulp to sell out and move on.

Rather than list and rehearse all the many reasons you can’t make the change, simply say to yourself, it’s okay to go. This is your faculty of elimination at its best. It’s okay to go. This simple statement stirs the imagination. It awakens your faculty of faith to new possibilities. You willingly agree that it’s okay to go. Your faculty of judgment comes alive discerning the many ways you have been telling yourself it’s not okay to go.

The problems of the personal are not the effects of the universal. Don’t pray to the river to change the mill. You and I are not grinding away in our paper pulp mills because the river is forcing us to. We’re doing what we do because we’ve set up our mill to do it. The river is no happier when we’re making flour than when we’re churning out paper pulp. Nor is it forcing us to make paper pulp to pay off some karmic debt or because we happened to have a couple of dysfunctional parents or we married the wrong person. The river happily flows along letting us make whatever we want – paper pulp or flour.

The Grasshopper Mentality

[Slightly revised excerpt from A Practical Guide to Prosperous Living]

The Old Testament offers a good illustration of the importance of self-image and the role it plays in determining how our circumstances unfold. The story is found in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Numbers.

According to the story, after having wandered in the wilderness for many years, Moses brought the nation of Israel to the border of the land the Lord had promised Abraham a few generations before. Moses, desiring to measure the strength and numbers of the occupants of this land, sent in twelve spies to gather intelligence. Upon their return, he summoned the twelve to give their assessment of the situation. They returned from their intelligence gathering mission with good news and bad news. The good news, and all twelve agreed on this, was that this was indeed a land of abundance, a land flowing with milk and honey. The bad news, which they all did not agree on, was whether Israel was capable of overcoming the inhabitants. The majority of spies, eleven to be exact, reported that the people of the land were strong and the cities were large and well fortified. Their conclusion? “We can’t take on these people, for they are stronger than us.”

There was one spy, Caleb, who did not agree. His advice to Israel was this: “Let us go up at once and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it.”

How could it be that Caleb and his eleven companions could see the same people but evaluate them in two completely different ways? The answer is simple. These conflicting evaluations were not based on the actual people they saw. Their evaluations were based on how they saw themselves. This interesting fact is revealed in the report of the eleven when they said, “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers and so we seemed to them.”

Naturally, if you see yourself as a “grasshopper,” it is going to affect the way you create your circumstances. A grasshopper mentality affects what you believe you can and cannot do. These grasshopper beliefs influence the decisions you make, your decisions determine actions that are in keeping with your grasshopper beliefs and your actions influence the way your circumstances unfold. In other words, if you see yourself as a grasshopper, you will naturally want to create an environment that accommodates grasshoppers.

Because they saw themselves as grasshoppers, the eleven did not believe they could overcome the inhabitants of the land. They recommended to Moses and the assembly that Israel should take no action against these inhabitants. If the assembly had accepted their recommendation, Israel would never have occupied their land of promise. The circumstances of an entire nation would have been adversely affected by the grasshopper self-image of these eleven spies.

Caleb, on the other hand, did not see himself as a grasshopper. He saw himself as a warrior for the Lord who was simply accepting the land that the Lord had promised Israel through Abraham years before. This divinely-sanctioned self-image gave him quite a different perspective of the situation. It caused him to believe Israel, through the strength of this sacred promise, could overcome these inhabitants.

More on Imagination

[Note: the following is a response to some questions posed in the previous post. JDB]

Do I have to imagine a thing before I can desire and create it, or must I see something before I can desire it?

Observe your own imaginative process. You can be hungry before you know what you want for dinner. You desire something to eat, but you’re not sure what sounds good until you give it some thought. But this is only a very surface example.

In one of my books I referred to the connection between the term desire and the Latin phrase, de sidere, meaning of the stars. The spiritual root of all desire is absolute freedom, likened to the experience of gazing into that heavenly, star-filled expanse.

Examine every one of your desires and you can trace it back to the need to be free of some limiting condition. Freedom is a universal desire shared by every living thing. The reason we experience the desire for greater freedom is because the soul is already free, and we’ve done something in our thinking to restrict it.

This universal desire for freedom is imparted into our awareness through the intuitive aspect of the imagination. Because we are so tuned into outer noise, this natural impulse is like a still small voice. We have to retrain ourselves to specifically tune into it. This is where the meditative process comes in. In meditation we commune at the intuitive level with this natural impulse. The visualizing (intellectual) aspect of the imagination begins to clothe intuitive impulses with images (ideas) that we can then act upon. These ideas become the basis of affirmative prayer, which is really the natural formation of imagery that rises from this intuitively inspired process. Meditation is the inlet and prayer is the outlet of our unique connection between heaven (spiritual, unseen) and earth (material, the seen), so to speak.

I believe this is the process Jesus was referring to in his, seek first the kingdom and all else will be added, statement. Finding the kingdom is experiencing the soul in its pristine state of absolute freedom.

I think from what you wrote, an animal must see (or sense) something before it desires. But a human being can imagine something that does not yet exist, if I am reading you right.

The animal responds only to the moment, but we humans have the ability to dwell on tomorrow or yesterday, or imagine countless scenarios that may never happen. The animal does not have the ability to imprison itself in dysfunctional loops of thought and emotion. We do. The imagination is a faculty that sets us apart. But due to a lack of spiritual understanding, we have abused it. We’ve been using it to prop up and strengthen the self-image rather than to express the natural impulses of the soul.

We love and admire our animals for their ability to accept us unconditionally. But this is not a quality they developed. They do not possess the imagination that is capable of placing conditions on our relationship with them. We do have this faculty, and it is vital to our happiness and peace of mind that we learn to use it properly. If we were suddenly stripped of this faculty of imagination, then we too would love unconditionally. But we might also become stricken with an insatiable need to chase cars, kill rodents, and put our noses in places that would likely get us into trouble. We don’t want to eliminate this faculty, we want to point it in the right direction.

I recall reading sometime in the past that we are unable to imagine (visualize) something that we have never seen. This may be true of the color red, for example, to a blind person. But must a sensory impression be in one’s memory before he can imagine it in some current relationship?

If we were unable to imagine something we have never seen, then there would never have been a first man in space, exploration of the ocean depths, airplanes, cars, cell phones, iron ships that float on the sea, etc. In its spiritual usage, the visualizing aspect of the imagination is not a function of memory. It draws from our intuitive connection with God.

Let’s flash back to the Christmas story, the virgin birth in particular. Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Mary is the intuitive function of the imagination open to the soul (the Christ). Joseph, the intellect, does not participate in bringing forth this child, but he does participate in raising it. The soul (the Christ) is not born from the memory or any intellectual activity. It is a projection of the self-existent, omnipresence of God.

To be made flesh, the soul requires a transforming mechanism. This mechanism is the imagination-equipped human being. In a spiritual context, the Christmas story is not about the birth of a man 2,000 years ago. It’s about you and me, and how we are designed as this transforming mechanism.

Shifting metaphors, the so-called “fall of man” happens because we turn our attention away from the soul and place it on the self-image. The self-image is indeed a product of the memory and an abuse of the original purpose of the imagination. The self-image is derived from ideas gleaned through the senses and stored in the subconscious mind. We keep trying to fix this broken replica of the soul, but we cannot. We try to squeeze it back into the garden, but the gate is guarded by flaming swords that do not let it enter. This is the bombardment of thought that keeps us from achieving inner stillness.

The virgin birth is the soul entering our awareness through the intuitive aspect of the imagination. We realize that the soul never left the garden and, in fact, is the garden.

This is undoubtedly much more than you asked for, and it’s not nearly as complicated as I fear I’m making it sound. So, all further questions are welcome.

Good Questions

Questions: You say that evolution is environmentally driven. Wouldn’t learning more about our spiritual nature be considered an evolution in understanding? Are you trying to say that the human race is not moving toward a more spiritually enlightened state?

Response: When we think of spiritual issues, we have to think in terms of two realms: The spiritual and the biological or material. The spiritual is the unseen, first-cause and the material is the visible vehicle that carries it. The spiritual realm is not subject to the material environment. If the spiritual is to continue to express through material form, however, then the material form must be in sync with the environment. If, due to significant environmental changes, a material form goes extinct, the spiritual realm continues unaffected and will express as a different form suited to the new environment. Scientists tell us that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed have gone extinct. Yet this energy we know as life persists as strong as ever.

When science says that life evolves, they are referring to the biological forms that life takes. This is because science is dominated by materialistic thinking. It is assumed that life is generated by the physical forms that express it. Unfortunately, many in the spiritual community have done the same thing. The state of humanity is associated with environmental values which include the state of the physical body and the current state of social conditions. At a certain level, we accept that life cannot die and the source of all peace and harmony must be found at the spiritual level. Because disease, aging, death and discord are still mingled in the human experience, we mistakenly interpret these conditions as evidence of spiritual immaturity. In defining the core and condition of man, we take our eye off the soul (the changeless) and focus on the body and social environment (the ever-changing). We place the soul in an evolutionary framework that simply does not apply.

Is the desire to learn more about our spiritual nature evidence of an evolving soul? Not necessarily. The accumulation of facts, even spiritual facts, has nothing whatsoever to do with the state of the soul. It’s the difference between looking at a beautiful photograph of a mountain and actually experiencing the mountain. One can accumulate a library of books full of mountain photography, but this is not the same as actually experiencing mountains. We can argue that an interest in collecting mountain photography is a sign that the collector is moving toward a mountain experience, but this is not necessarily true. In addition, a person who does not have even a single photograph of a mountain can have a mountain experience. Photos are not required.

In our quest for spiritual understanding, we naturally pick up books and look to teachers to guide us on our way. While these prove to be inspirational and helpful in many ways, these sources of information serve to shape our opinion of our spiritual state. Drawing inspiration from another is not the same as a direct experience of one’s own soul. Yet we’re not aware of this distinction. We actually mistake inspiration for a spiritual experience. Because of this, inspiration becomes a kind of drug that we inject first thing in the morning and hope it gets us through the day. We probably require several injections to keep us positively upbeat. The whole notion of soul evolution is tied to the belief that we must acquire so much spiritual information that we stay spiritually high forever.

As seen in this paraphrase, Jesus debunked this false notion: You say four months to harvest, but I’m telling you to lift your spiritual eyes and see the fields ready for harvest now. The “four months to harvest” is tied to the false belief of soul evolution which, in turn, is tied directly to the evolutionary process we see at work in the material domain. In this regard, the spiritual and the material realms are absolutely unrelated. The material, not the spiritual, is subject to evolution.

Is the human race evolving toward a more spiritually enlightened state? No. If anything, the human race is moving away from its true source of enlightenment. An individual does not discover his or her soul in a community of like-minded believers. The individual must go alone to actually experience the inner fountain of the soul. This is how we are designed. I have pointed out that our faculty of imagination has an intuitive side that opens directly to the soul and a visualizing side that opens to the world of externals. Collectively, we have closed the intuitive side and relied only on the visualizing side. We visualize images given to us by the get-rich-quick prophets posing as spiritual teachers (who are usually the only ones who get rich), while ignoring that gnawing question of the value of gaining the world at the expense of losing sight of the soul. As long as we follow the pied pipers of materialism — those who assure us we’ll find our missing core in the accumulation of things — we will never be free of the feeling that something essential to our being is missing.

The senses-based self-image – the mask, the personality – is a herding animal. It needs to be surrounded by a group from which it may draw its strength and identity. In contrast, the soul is self-existent, self-sustaining, drawing its strength and identity directly from the creative life force we call God. It does not matter that the bulk of humanity is engaged in an endless splashing through the shallows of popular culture (especially spiritual popular culture) chasing that eternally elusive brass ring of spiritual enlightenment.

Every individual has direct access to their fully developed soul. The soul is what we seek. Find this and all else is added.

Your All-Knowing Center

Behind every desire, whether it’s health, supply, or relationship related, the two conditions we seek are freedom and peace. Unfortunately, we often fail to experience either because we make both contingent on the achievement of some other thing. I’ll be free when I make that last payment. I’ll be free when I ditch this job and get a better one. I’ll find peace when I meet my soulmate, or when the world starts getting along.

When Jesus spoke of the truth that sets us free, and a peace beyond that which the world offers, he was articulating a principle of the complete soul. The soul is always free and at peace. We may argue that we are shaken to our core, but we’re really saying we’ve been shaken to our center of focus on the more surface values of the self-image. We’re imprisoned by the fear of losing something that is empowering, not to the soul, but to the self-image.

The soul is not threatened. The soul has no need of money, a healthy body, or the companionship of another. Remembering this, we move from the life and death struggle of the self-image to our free and peaceful center. We find our true point of strength. We also discover the straightest, clearest path to resolving these surface ripples that we mistakenly believe have the power to rob us of our freedom and destroy our peace.

Sound impractical? It’s not. I was recently confronted with a situation that, at first, appeared to have the power to enslave me in doubt and fear and rob me of my peace. I have been at this juncture many times and I have observed the futility of succumbing to the appearance. However, in every case I have eventually rediscovered my point of strength, my soul, and I have worked through each situation to a successful conclusion. This time I started at the soul level, holding my peace from the strength and freedom of my soul.

The valley of the shadow of death, those seeming dark moments in life, are never experienced at the soul level. Only the senses-driven self-image makes this plunge. It’s not a requirement, it’s only a really bad habit. The self-image has created a list of required items for freedom and peace. When these are threatened, our spiritual ideals fly out the window. We then compound the problem by calling these inner skirmishes lessons for the soul. But it’s not the soul that’s in need of learning. It’s the self-image trying to imitate the soul that keeps affirming this spiritual insult.

We cannot teach the self-image how to be free and peaceful. We can use the challenge before us now to remind ourselves that any fear we may feel is but an indication that we are not consciously centered in the soul. We were not given a spirit of fear. Nothing in the world is greater than the eternal core of our being. Freedom and peace are the present and unchanging condition of the soul. We can keep telling ourselves we have much to learn, or we can move again to that all-knowing center of power that is our soul.

Coming Home

I was talking to a friend the other day who had asked a question I get frequently: “What makes you think the soul isn’t evolving? Aren’t the advances in medicine, science, and technology evidence that we’re in the midst of a spiritual renaissance? Meditation has become widely accepted and people seem to be moving from dogmatic religion to a more spiritual approach to life. Aren’t these all hopeful signs?”

I responded that it was obvious we were making advances in all these fields, but these are examples of intellectual, not spiritual evolution. It’s also true that we hear more people touting a spiritual rather than religious leaning, but in my observation, much of this quest should still be classified as an exercise in spiritual intellectualism.

The spiritual dimension is self-existent, changeless, it does not evolve. Nor does the experience of this dimension require further development of any faculty, especially the intellect. Every person is presently capable of experiencing the spiritual dimension. The problem is, most treat it as an intellectual prize that must be earned, like an academic degree or a greatly sought-after scientific breakthrough. The spiritual awakening comes, not in waves to the masses, but like a thief in the night, through the intuitive portal of each individual.

There is widespread belief that if we continue to fill the intellect with spiritual concepts gleaned from the minds of others, we’ve joined a collective march toward enlightenment on a massive scale. This is simply not true. Thanks to social media, more people are indeed throwing around spiritual terms like so much confetti, but this is not proof that greater numbers are actually tapping into the spiritual dimension. It only means more have learned the language, the correct postures, and buzz words that suggest they are part of the pop culture of the spiritual set. In this arena, what passes for spiritual understanding tends to be as shallow as the false bonds of social media, where the course of most relationships is not determined by actual interaction, but by the click of a mouse.

Spiritual and intellectual progress are not measured by the same yardstick. The genuine spiritual awakening does not run with the crowd. What’s popular today is forgotten tomorrow. We’re reminded in the Gospel of Thomas: “There are many around the drinking trough, but there is nothing in the well. There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite” (#74-75).

Imagine two people in a windowless room, each with a flashlight. In one flashlight the batteries are low and the light is a dim yellow. In the other, the batteries are new and the beam is very bright. The natural comparison here is that of battery power. One sees their world through the dim light of low batteries. The other sees more clearly with batteries fully charged. So we have a scale of dim to bright with which to measure and compare.

Now imagine a third person who has left the windowless room and experienced the full brightness of sunlight. For them, the brightest of the two flashlights pales in comparison to the sun. They understand that the availability of sunlight has nothing to do with the level of charge in the battery of a flashlight. The one holding the dim light can just as easily step outside as the one holding the bright light. Fully charged batteries are not a requirement for stepping into the brighter world of daylight.

The room represents the self-image, the batteries and flashlights are the “brainpower” we associate with intellectualism. Spiritual development is not about charging the batteries of the intellect with spiritual ideas. It’s the experience of stepping outside the room. The intellect of the person who steps into the direct light of the soul is transformed by this experience. It is not a process of evolution but a condition of direct exposure. Nothing in the room can prepare one for the experience of sunlight. It is the understanding that the experience we seek is not of this world of rooms and flashlights. The belief that we’re making spiritual progress by charging our intellectual batteries is simply false.

The driving force behind the true spiritual awakening is often discontentment, dissatisfaction. We’ve seen enough in the room to realize it can never fulfill the yearning we feel at the soul level. We intuitively know there is sunlight beyond the confines of this room. We have observed those who believe that fully charged batteries are the epitome of human achievement, that, in their thinking, the concept of sunlight is but a myth, wishful thinking for those who cannot adapt to life in the room. We may not posses the facts to support what we know is true at the deepest level, but we know these folks are wrong.

We are naturally drawn to the outdoors because this, not the room, is our true home. The soul does not forget its Source. Its light seeps through this battery-powered realm of thought and draws us out of the cultural standards that use the room and flashlights as its basis of reality. The room, we instinctively know, is no more the center of the universe than was the earth, as all room-dwelling authority once believed.

Evolution applies to life in the room. Outside the room, the light of self-existence shines eternally, without shadow due to change. The light forever beckons every soul to open the door and come home.