Spiritual Mastery

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Gems of Truth: Spiritual Wisdom from the Words of Jesus

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3).

As we look for gems of Truth found in the words attributed to Jesus, we come across this intriguing incident. It’s intriguing because it challenges the highly popularized law of attraction. According to advocates of this law, the man or his parents must have done something to attract this condition of blindness. Jesus, however, puts this notion aside and initiates a new cause.

We too can get caught in this trap of self-blame for unwanted conditions. Far from being the spiritual master we hope to one day become, we struggle with the consequences of the “sin” of negative thinking and low visioning. The question, “Who sinned?” does not resolve the issue, it only places blame.

Here’s a suggestion: Rather than chiding yourself for failing to be a spiritual master, try practicing some spiritual mastery in your present situation. Take the truth you know and apply it to the condition that is bothering you. In your highest moments, what do you affirm about God? What do you affirm about yourself? God is absolute good. You are an expression of God. Appearances are passing. The deeper reality of God is now shining forth.

A spiritual master is one who spiritually masters the moment. What happened in the past is not happening in the present. The present is your opportunity to display the works of God. Pull your attention from the appearance and center it in the truth. Bring all your studies to bear on the situation at hand. It does not matter where the situation came from, it only matters what you do with it now.

 

 

 

The Narrow Gate to Freedom

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“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter though it” (Matthew 7:13).

Though I have referenced this scripture many time in my talks and writings, I return to it again to reiterate the profound truth it embodies. Many on the spiritual path today distinguish between religion and the quest for a deeper understanding of their spirituality. What is implied here is that the old worn paths of religious dogma and creed no longer suffice, that the seeker is looking for a more organic, experiential approach to spiritual understanding. While this quiet rebellion against stiff tradition is understandable, this new version of the spiritual quest has also become a wide gate through which many have entered. There exists a spiritual pop culture that makes the same undeliverable promise of enlightenment.

The narrow gate that Jesus spoke of is so simple that it is easily missed. The fulfillment of our spiritual quest is present, right where we stand. We are looking for our soul. To label our search a spiritual quest is to guarantee that we will not find what we 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.

The truth Jesus conveyed is true still. He was not talking about the narrow gate of religious belief. He was talking about the correct understanding of the soul. The soul is complete now. How do you get to the now? How do you experience that which you already are in truth? You settle in, you turn your focus away from the demands of the self-image and you observe that changeless point of awareness you have always known as I. This is the narrow gate to freedom. The moment you step through it you will know without a doubt that your spiritual search is over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing Your Vision

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Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48).

What is a “good” fish, and what is a “bad” fish? In the realm of the Divine, there is no such distinction. God is equally invested in the carp and the tuna. Determining the difference between a good fish and a bad fish depends on who is doing the determining. If you want fish you intend to sell through a pet store, you use one standard of judgment. If you are supplying a restaurant, you use another standard.

Your mind is a net that is constantly being cast into the sea of infinite possibilities of ideas. The ideas you bring in and hang onto culminate as the conditions of your life.  When you set a goal for yourself, your choice of the mental pictures and of the thoughts and feelings you hold about that goal become relevant. Excitement toward your objective becomes a good fish. Doubts in your abilities become bad fish. You want all the creative energy of your being to support your vision so you make an effort to dismiss your doubts and reaffirm your excitement.

This principle holds true at all levels of action, not just mental and emotional. The activities you engage in, the conversations you conduct, the types of television shows you watch, the material you read all have their impact on the vision you desire to express. If you engage only in actions that support your vision, your vision will become a manifest entity. If you engage in actions that diminish your vision, you will get only a partial and inadequate demonstration.

The message of this parable is simple: Hold on to the ideas and actions that support your vision and let go of the ideas and actions that do not.

 

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 Tie that Binds

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I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

One of the most important features found in the teachings of Jesus is his understanding of the relationship between God and the individual. This understanding is important, not so much for its futuristic impact as for its impact on daily life. “God is Spirit,” he said, “and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” God is invisible, like a breath of air, but very real and very responsive. This presence permeates all, but most importantly, it permeates and is responsive to each person.

God does not respond to us on a capricious whim, but by law. In the above statement, Jesus points out why our life unfolds the way it does. If you think of “earth” as your mind and “heaven” as the creative process of God, you see that Jesus was talking about the process of converting spiritual energy into the material layout of our lifescape. To bind something on earth is to form a definite mental and emotional image of it and then charge this image with enough faith to bring it about. The unseen, formless energy of Spirit then goes to work to bring into manifestation that which you have “bound” in your own consciousness. Thus, what you bind on earth, or latch onto in your mind, assures that the universal, creative process of Spirit will follow suit.

To begin to create a new life through this conscious “binding” process, you must first embrace your life just as it is. If you are thinking of your life as a kind of prison from which you must escape, you are creating barred doors that will prevent your freedom. Accept that you have created life as you are experiencing it now and begin blessing the good that abounds. Hold a vision of your life as healthy, prosperous, and successful, and getting better. In creating a vision of where you would like to go, include much praise and thanksgiving for where you are.

Giving Way to Natural Law

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 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

Today it seems a growing number of people prefer to describe their interest in the Divine as a spiritual rather than a religious quest. The implication is that a fresh look at spiritual issues requires casting off dogmatic formulas of faith passed on from one generation to the next.

Some of Jesus’ contemporaries apparently thought he advocated abandoning the many formulas of Jewish orthodoxy. He corrected them when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). He was calling attention to the deeper meaning, the natural law from which the ritual is born. Regardless of the presence or absence of religious trappings, every practical spiritual system must have at its core an understanding that is rooted in natural law.

Jeremiah strikes at the heart of the issue with his two sins dialogue. Of course he isn’t talking about water and cisterns. The “spring of living water” is the indwelling presence of God. The broken cistern is the self-image that we have “dug” or adopted as our identity. A cistern must be filled from outside sources such as rain or water that is hauled in. Jeremiah’s “two sins” indicate a breach in natural law, a turning away from our true inner source of life, love, power, and intelligence and looking to external sources such as people, places, and things as our means of fulfillment. This cracked cistern of the self-image can never be filled, never satisfied.

The source of our being carries the true fulfillment we seek. As we open our heart to this inner infilling, we find the satisfaction we seek. The spring of living water, the spiritual fulfillment we seek, has always been with us, a natural law that expresses from the inside out.

 

The Prospering Principle of Love

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

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

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

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