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.

The Truth About The Spiritual Path

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A path is defined as “a way or track laid down for walking or made by continual treading.” We’re all familiar with paths or hiking trails, a means of getting from one place to another.

Most people think of the spiritual path in a similar way. We tend to see it as a process of soul development, of moving from one place in our soul’s growth to another more advanced condition. A literal path involves time and space. You’re at a given point on the path–a point in space–and as you walk, time passes and you’re in another place.

While this seems an applicable analogy to spiritual development, there’s another way to think of our experience on the path. Regardless of how long the path is, and regardless of where it leads or how long you’ve been on it, you can only say, “I’m here now.” You can think about some point ahead or some place you passed, but you can only be at the point you presently occupy.

This is the key to understanding the spiritual path. There’s no point you can reach in the future when your soul will be more than it is now. Neither were you something less in the past. The full force of life is concentrated as you, at this moment, right where you are, regardless of your circumstances.

Your soul is not subject to time and space. You don’t have a set of required lessons to learn that will take you further down the spiritual path. If right now you think you will gain more of your soul in the future, then in the future you will still think the same. You’ll always be plagued with the false notion that something essential is lacking.

Hold the thought that you are spiritually complete right now. Yes, you’re on a path, a series of circumstances that you call your life. But you won’t find more of who and what you are in more and different circumstances. You’re here now, you’ll always be here, and you’ll always be spiritually complete.

 

 

 

Spiritual Guidance

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“Is there a man among you who will offer his son a stone when he asks for bread, or a snake when he asks for fish? If you, then, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).

If we apply this logic of Jesus to the notion of spiritual guidance, we can know that our need and request for guidance is being fulfilled at this very moment. This is true even when it appears we’re being given a stone rather than bread, or a snake rather than a fish.

Stones and snakes are not really stones and snakes. They are more likely answers to our prayer for guidance. They just don’t look like the bread and fish that we’re expecting. When we ask God for guidance, we are to believe that we have received the guidance we seek. This means that everything we do, everyone we encounter, every new unfolding circumstance is part of the solution to our desire for guidance.

In some cases, our circumstances may take an unexpected turn that seems to have no relevance to the greater good we seek. But Jesus also cautioned against judging by appearances. This is good advice, because intellectually, there is no way we can have all the facts about unfolding events. Neither will we fully encompass all the possible scenarios that can present themselves. While we’re looking in one direction, our answer can sneak up behind us.

Think of how many times this has happened. You get something fixed in your mind, but the actual solution unfolds in a very different way. What may look like failure or a misstep from one angle, turns out to be the exact right thing for the whole picture.

Paul reminded us that all things work together for good for those that love God. We can reframe this thought to all things are working together for our highest good, as we trust that God’s guiding wisdom is fully in play, right now. Our every step is the right step, our every move, the right move.

Hold this thought. Know this truth. At this very moment, God is guiding you to the highest and best solution to your need.

 

The Goal of the Goal

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“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

This passage represents a partial response of Jesus while under interrogation by Pilate. When Pilate asks, What is truth?, Jesus makes no reply. Among Christian theologians, however, there is no shortage of answers as to the nature of truth, and Jesus’ purpose on earth.

Stripping this statement of its theological implications, we can see Jesus is simply saying that he understands the purpose of his incarnation as that of giving full expression to his soul, unhindered by the restrictions of the body-based self-image. Pilate, firmly established in his own position-oriented identity, could not grasp the profound implications of Jesus’ statement.

Think of Jesus as a window who is saying he is here to let in sunlight, to bear witness, not to himself as a window, but to the truth of the sun. The window may be dressed and beautified in a variety of ways, but always its purpose is to bring sunlight into the house.

You and I are designed to bring the light of our soul into everything we do. Our desire for greater freedom is the warmth of the spiritual sun shining from our innermost depths. We feel this warmth and we are inspired to find new ways to express it. All our endeavors become the means to the end of bringing forth the light. Our window can be as complex as a career or as simple as a kind word or gesture.

Try beginning your day with this thought: I enter this day with the single purpose of bearing witness to the truth of my soul. In all that I do, I let the light of God shine through. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth of who and what I am as an expression of God.

 

 

Seeing Through the Fog

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It is often when your world is shrouded in fog that you gain your clearest vision.

We all have moments of doubt, times when the road ahead seems shrouded in a fog of uncertainty. Perhaps we are on a path that felt right when we started on it, but now seems unclear and confusing. Our original inspiration has evaporated, and we are in a quandary as to what to do. Or, we may have experienced major changes in our conditions that have left us baffled. People or things that served as anchors are no longer present and we feel adrift in a sea of apprehension.

In such times, it is good to remind ourselves that the inspiration that brought us to this ever-changing life rose from our depths. Our circumstances are simply the temporal clothing of the presence of God expressing through us. I always draw comfort from a verse given by Emma Curtis Hopkins:

He who hath led me to this way,

still on the way will show.

He who hath taught me of this way,

still more will make me know.

We naturally seek stability and predictability in our circumstances, for we feel safe when we achieve it. However, it is when our trust shifts from God to circumstantial stability that we begin to move away from that creative live-wire of faith that brought the seeming external stability in the first place. Drawn by the power of the sea, we built a magnificent sand castle on the beach. We admired and identified with it for a time, only to have it washed away by the restless tide of change. But the sea and its eternal inspiration remains. It is this living, ever moving ebb and flow that never leaves us that is as quick now to inspire and guide as ever.

We live in a world of change and absolute stability. Focused on that which changes, we gain and we lose. With God as our anchor, we lose only to gain. In our moments of uncertainty, we open our hearts to the assuring truth that God is with us, that new ways of being in this life are now unfolding for us, that the apparent end we are witnessing is only a new and fresh beginning to something at least as beautiful as we once had.

 

 

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.