Regain Your Spiritual Center of Strength

We all have a center of strength, a place from which we live life with a deep sense of confidence and well-being, the feeling that we’re on the right track. But it’s more than this. It’s a deeply intuitive knowing that we are something much more than our cumulative history. We know ourselves as a spiritual being whose essence is grounded in something greater than the surface personality we hold out to the world. This knowing is more than intellectual information gleaned from book studies. It’s the unshakable knowledge that our being is derived from the living presence of God, the source of all. This is the place we go when our world appears to be collapsing and our faith is shaken to its very core.

It’s obvious by the level of unrest we see in the world that many have strayed from their center of strength, that something essential to their happiness is missing. Ironically, the closer one lives to the surface of his or her being, the more prone they are to embrace the belief that this gnawing dissatisfaction can somehow be addressed through external means. They assume their place of rest and peace of mind is located on a distant horizon. Yet they reach that horizon only to find another. They set and accomplish goal after goal, with none ever being quite as fulfilling as they had hoped. The satisfaction gleaned never fully quenches their thirst for that missing element.

Does this mean that we throw in the towel and give up hope of finding satisfaction on this earth? No. But we need to learn to look in the right place to experience it. Our craving for that missing element is not satisfied by the temporal manna of material accomplishment. The fulfillment we seek is found in a much deeper yet more accessible place. And while it has become a cliché to say our answers are found within, this is still as true today as ever. Our challenge is to move beyond simply mouthing such feel-good words and come to know and experience the deeper reality they represent.

Emerson gave us an excellent way to understand this when he wrote, “Every man is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God.” To appreciate the wisdom of his words, we can think of two types of ponds. The first is a simple depression dug in the ground and filled by the external sources of rain and runoff. This pond has no outlet. The second is fed from an underground spring. Because this pond is filled from a perpetual water source, it creates its own outlet to accommodate the natural overflow.

Now suppose we use each of these ponds to irrigate two separate fields of corn. We must pump water from the rain-filled pond. With the spring-filled pond, we only need to dig a canal from the outlet to the field. The corn in both fields starts out well, but it isn’t long before we notice a drop in the water level of the rain-fed pond. With no rain in sight, we begin rationing water. Soon we notice a difference in our two fields. Over time, the field irrigated by the rain-fed pond begins turning brown and becomes stunted from a lack of water. The second field, irrigated by the spring-fed pond, continues to flourish.

If you think of yourself as the pond and the field as your life, with which of these two ponds do you most identify? Many will respond positively to Emerson’s imagery, yet in practice will find themselves behaving more like the rain-fed pond. There’s a very good reason for this. In our daily life, most of what we do involves the field of material matters. It’s easy to tie our sense of happiness and well-being, even our identity, to the condition of the crop. We can so turn away from our natural inlet as to forget that it’s even there. We begin to define ourselves based on the condition of the field. Because of this, we turn to the sky (outside sources) for answers. When the rains come, life is good. When they stop, we wonder what we may have done wrong and what we can do to bring rain. We pray to the rain gods, so to speak, with the hope of influencing the weather.

The spring-fed pond, on the other hand, is unaffected by changes in the weather. Because it maintains the same steady flow of water in rain or drought, it thinks of the field and its crop in a very different way. The field is the effect of its oneness with the spring. We could direct its waters to any kind of crop, or no crop, and it would still be the spring-fed pond that it is. Lack is not a word in its vocabulary.

From the point of view of each of these ponds, how might we define success and prosperity? The focus of each is completely different. With the rain-fed pond, we associate prosperity with externals like rain and the condition of the crop. With the spring-fed pond, we associate prosperity with the pond’s natural internal connection to the spring. Having or not having enough are never concerns with this pond. In terms of peace of mind, we can see how the rain-fed pond might experience ups and downs while the perpetually supplied spring-fed pond, not subject to the possibility of lack, maintains a steady experience of peace.

Let’s return to Emerson’s, Every man is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God. Notice he didn’t say that some people are rain-fed ponds and others are spring-fed ponds. He said that every person is a spring-fed pond. Many, however, believe and behave as if they are a rain-fed pond, that their good comes from external sources. The process we refer to as the spiritual path, then, is not a matter of evolving from a rain-fed pond to a spring-fed pond. It’s a matter of waking up to the truth that we are each now a spring-fed pond. Every person is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God. How do we transition from a rain-fed self-image to the truth of our spring-fed nature?

Considering our illustration, it’s important to be clear on a couple of points. We are not an inlet to the cornfield. We direct our outlet to the cornfield. The cornfield is the effect of a our choice as to how we direct our water. Praying for more rain and visualizing a more abundant crop does not produce a healthy harvest. It’s the steady supply of water that ensures the better crop. Prosperity depends on our keeping the spring open.

Water in this case represents the universal energy that is God. This energy is brought to bear on the kind and quality of life we want. As Emilie Cady points out, it isn’t more things (corn and rain) that we’re after but a deeper awareness of God that we seek. Empowered by this awareness, we till and plant the field of our life knowing all that we need to take each step is provided. From the spiritual perspective, it’s never the thing, but the energy that produces the thing that we seek to experience first. It is then that, as Jesus pointed out, the thing itself is added. Like the spring-fed pond, we are supplied from the inside out. The successful crop is the inevitable result.

It’s not just individuals who fall into the trap of behaving as if they are rain-fed ponds. Many leaders in the New Thought community have turned from emphasizing the individual’s oneness with the spring to oneness with the rain-fed ponds of the world. This is driven by the notion that one rain-fed pond may have a little water, but a collective of rain-fed ponds has a lot of water. If we all ban together, there will be plenty of water to go around. Under the guise of such catchphrases as “spiritual social action” and “mission concentric ministry,” their emphasis is on finding ways to redistribute water from the haves to the have nots. In truth, a hundred rain filled ponds don’t hold a candle to the power of a single spring-fed pond. Imagine how powerful a hundred spring-fed ponds would be!

Bringing individuals back to their spring-fed source was the primary focus of the founders and pioneers of the early New Thought movement. Fortunately, it still is with some, but much of today’s spiritual pop culture has turned instead to the politically charged landscape of social reform. While they claim this is a natural evolution, the reverse is actually true. This makeshift, outside/in approach to changing the world is as old as civilization itself. The seers of all ages who have encouraged the inside/out approach have always been a minority voice crying in the wilderness of popular human thought. The shift back to our spiritual center cannot be accomplished in groups. Souls, again as Emerson wrote, are not saved in bundles. We each have our own inner spring and our return to it is a private affair. No spiritual community can take us to this inner sanctuary. They can only encourage and support us in our return.

If you feel your life has lost its meaning or is moving in a direction that does not suit you, it’s probably time to re-establish yourself in your spiritual center of strength. Take time to become still, to hold this image of yourself as a spring-fed pond being filled from within. As you regain your spiritual strength and power, you will view and approach your life with new vision, new enthusiasm, and possibly a whole new direction.

Finding Balance

Imagine two sponges immersed in the ocean. One says, “I am a sponge immersed in the ocean.” The other says, “I am the ocean expressing through this sponge.” Which one is right? It depends on where you place the “I“. If you place it on the sponge, as in, “I am a sponge…” you become the proverbial human being seeking a spiritual experience. If you place it on the ocean, as in, “I am the ocean…” you are the spiritual being having a human experience.

The sponge, a mortal that is subject to the elements of its environment, spends its life protecting and seeking to enhance its mortality. Its religion promises security against environmental forces that may prove destructive to its existence. Its education centers the success of its life as a sponge. It looks for the day when all sponges will cease competing for limited resources and the world of have and have-nots is a thing of the past.

The ocean, immortal and indestructible, shares none of these concerns. It sees its experience through the sponge as a unique opportunity to know life at the material plane, and it never loses sight of its true nature. It doesn’t have to express through the sponge, but it thrills at the opportunity.

Are you the sponge or are you the ocean? Do you identify yourself as your body and your circumstances, with your primary objective of achieving the status of a care-free sponge? Or, do you see yourself as the immortal soul expressing through this body and circumstances? Are you striving to become something more than you are, or are you living from the awareness of the unlimited being you have always been and you will always be? There isn’t a single issue in your life that is unaffected by your answer to these questions.

The ocean represents the soul. The sponge represents one of the countless life-forms through which the soul expresses. Does this mean that we have no individual identity, that in truth there are no sponges, no starfish, no coral, no seahorses? Does this mean that I, as a human being with a unique personality, appearance, and fingerprint, do not really exist? We ask again: Am I these things that define my physical presence, or do I have these things? Am I my body, or do I have a body? If I acknowledge that I have a body, then I ask, Who and what is this “I” that has this body? The answer? I am the ocean. I am not parceled out in the diversity through which I express. I am the unity of life behind all diversity.

We speak of the ideal of oneness while clinging to diversity. There is diversity in expression, but there is only a single source behind it all. We call this source the soul. John called it the Word, that creative mechanism that enables the universal to express as the personal, the undifferentiated to express as the particular, the very life that is the light of all. It is the single ocean that supports the diversity of life forms.

The highest objective of meditation is not to simply lower blood pressure and produce a relaxed sponge. Nor do we merely seek answers that will satisfy the questions of the confused sponge. The objective is to peer past the needs of the sponge and re-establish our identity as the ocean.

We do not deny our body, its material needs and circumstances. But by focusing only on fixing these, we deny the soul. We seek to squeeze unity out of short-sighted attempts to honor diversity. Diversity, as an object of worship, is a false god. We experience genuine oneness by consciously connecting with the soul in its native environment. This return to the soul does not answer the questions of the sponge; it eliminates them.

As you go through your day, think of yourself, not as a sponge seeking to make its way though the ocean, but as the ocean expressing through the sponge of your body and circumstances. You quickly notice that every problem you have is sponge related. How does the ocean view this sponge-related problem? Does it get upset? Is it fearful? Does it believe some needed element is missing? Is it confused by the actions of another sponge? No. By virtue of its indestructible nature, it holds an entirely different view. It is not drawn down into the clashes that often erupt in the realm of diversity.

To see from this perspective, you cannot be a sponge attempting to act as or think like the ocean. You must let go of your identity as a sponge and actually move into your experience as the ocean. You are not what you think. You are so much more. Try making this shift in self-perception and see for yourself how differently you look at this thing you call your life.

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.

 

The Truth You Seek

“What we are trying to grasp with our head (intellect), the heart has always known. The spiritual pop culture worships the quest. It thrills in filling its bookshelves, accumulating credentials and traveling through all the wide gates of the world in search of the fulfillment that can only be found at the quiet center of every individual.”

Question: Could you elaborate on this part of your previous post? I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.

Response: If you declare yourself on a spiritual quest today, you will be on a spiritual quest tomorrow. You will still be on this quest a year or ten years from now. This means you are not finding what you seek. Because you are not finding what you seek, keeping the quest going becomes your objective.

The truth is that God is centered in you. To experience God, you must make a conscious connection with this divine center. At this moment of awareness, your quest ends because you now know the location of that which you seek. You are the man who finds the treasure hidden in the field. His quest for wealth is over. Knowing this, he is entirely devoted to letting go of that which is of less value than the treasure he found.

The trap that many fall into is that they tie the spiritual quest to unity/oneness among people. Because global unity becomes the benchmark of success for so-called spiritual movements, we consider the success of such movements as a sign that collective spiritual progress is being made. This deception turns the individual away from their inner connection to God and places their hope in the growth and success of the external movement. They then take their cues from the movement, which can only promise a perpetual quest and a dissatisfying spiritual void that never can and never will be satisfied.

The world changes but Truth does not. All valid spiritual disciplines teach that the individual’s connection with God is internally accessible. The spiritual movement, the book, or that particular teacher that reminded you of this truth is not the one that will make it real to you. They were but the catalyst that reminded you what you already know at the deepest level of your being.

Have enough faith in yourself to uncover this buried treasure, to declare an end to your quest for Truth, and dare to live the life your soul longs to express.

 

Run To, Not From

YouTube: Run To, Not From

Audio: Run To, Not From

“It is perfectly natural for the human mind to seek to escape from its troubles by running away from present environments, or by planning some change on the material plane. … There is no permanent or real outward way of escape from miseries or circumstances; all help must come from within.”   Emilie Cady

Most all of us have dreams and desires that would have us leaving one condition and moving to another. While the motivation for some of these changes may seem obvious—simple improvements to our life conditions—others may be pointing to our need to be still and take another look. We might be running from an inner call to come up higher, to begin filling the undesired condition from within.

We usually see unsatisfying conditions as a glass filled only half way with water. We want a full glass and so we set aside the half-empty glass and pursue one that is fuller. Rather than set the half-filled glass aside, it may be that we simply need to fill the glass we have rather than seek another.

When Cady suggests that help must come from within, she is pointing to the idea of beginning right where we are, using the conditions we have, to begin filling our life. In other words, rather than curse our conditions, we start blessing them and asking how we can give more of ourselves to fill them.

You may be in a demanding relationship and you say, “I’m already giving as much as I can, and they just keep wanting more.” Maybe you’re feeling drained, not because you are giving so much but because you are giving against your will. If you want to fill this glass, you must stop denying how you really feel and begin giving from a basis that is true. You are going along to get along, so you’re not really giving out of who and what you are, and the relationship suffers because of it.

Pour the full force of your being into your present circumstances. Top off the cup that is yours to fill. When it is full, you may decide you want to keep it.

 

 

Listen to Yourself

[From, A Practical Guide to Prosperous Living]

Typically, each one of us receives a significant amount of input from friends and family members as to how we should go about improving our lives. These well-meaning people may even suggest that you study and practice the ideas in a book like this to get what you want. In an attempt to honor a friendship or show respect to a family member, you may find yourself acting on ideas that are not genuinely yours.

If it is not your idea, if you are doing a thing to please or appease another, you will not put your heart into it. You have to know the value of the course of action you take or you will abandon it. Yes, you will get good ideas from others, but these ideas must become yours if you are to ignite them with the fire of enthusiasm required to bring them into full manifestation.

The same holds true with your own attitude. You may say to yourself, “I’m supposed to be positive, so I should be able to do anything.” If this is your approach, you do not yet own the attitude it suggests. You simply can’t make the kinds of internal and external changes that are required because you think you are supposed to, or because you are trying to be positive. You can only make these kinds of changes when you, in your own way, come to know the value of doing it.

Consider all input, but remain centered in what your deepest, most natural inclinations are telling you. It is better to be slow to act than it is to attempt to make changes in your life based on inspiration that is not genuinely your own.

Making The Two One

“I’m confused. You say there is a difference between the soul and the self-image, but I’m not sure I understand this. Aren’t they one and the same?”

This comment was made in a recent conversation I had with a person who had just finished listening to my talk, The Truth About The Law of Attraction.  I explained the difference in this way:

Imagine a retail clothier with a store full of inferior merchandise that no one is interested in. They hire an advertising firm who assures the retailer they have a technique that will get potential customers into their store. The advertiser suggests revamping their window display with a level of merchandise that equals the type customer the store owner wishes to draw. Excited at the prospect of attracting new customers, the store owner orders some finer garments to create a phenomenal window dressing. It works! People begin pouring into the store. The money the retailer spent on the advertiser pays off.

Or does it? Once the would-be customer enters the store, they encounter a problem. The racks and shelves are filled with the same inferior merchandise they rejected in the past. They leave without buying anything.

Emphasizing the law of attraction, the New Thought/New Age hawkers of success and prosperity through positive thinking and visualization place their focus on the window dressing of the self-image. They know little or nothing about actually filling the store with quality merchandise. Their specialty lies in generating responses from the surface level of life. It’s these hawkers of success, not the actual merchants (you and me), that leave with their pockets full of cash. And because there is no shortage of people looking for a quick pass into the kingdom, the hawkers do quite well.

Tapping the authenticity of the soul becomes the primary focus of one who is genuinely interested in building a successful life from the inside out, the bedrock of the soul. This is the law of expression: first fill the store with quality merchandise. When the display window (self-image, personality, ego) reflects the actual content of the store (soul), when these two become one, then the world knows what it will get when it walks through the door. No one is fooled. No one is disappointed.

Those who are looking for that magical formula for instant success will not do what it takes to fill their store with quality merchandise. They won’t sell all their junk to buy even a small quantity of authenticity. Such small beginnings have no appeal. They’re only interested in the window dressing that will trick the world into thinking they are something other than they really are. Isn’t this the whitewashed tomb full of dead men’s bones that Jesus was talking about? And, he wasn’t just talking about Pharisees; he was talking about the Pharisee within us all.

The law of expression comes first. Fill the store with quality merchandise. Seek first the kingdom. Engage the soul. The law of attraction, then, is the natural effect. Your window dressing – what the world sees – exactly represents your store’s content. You attract that which is in harmony with who you are. No trickery needed.