The Art of Conflict

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Question: “You brought up personal conflict with others. Do you have a solution to offer that accommodates distance and difference?”

On one occasion, a lawyer approached Jesus and, as a test, asked him to name the greatest commandment. According to Matthew, Jesus responded in this way: “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

In light of our treatment of love in this series, this is a brilliant response. To love the “Lord your God” is to embrace the truth that love is drawing to you that which is for your highest good and dissolving that which is not. To “love your neighbor as yourself” is to acknowledge this same truth for others.

The Gospels depict Jesus in perpetual conflict with the religious professionals of his day. Because he threatened their ideological narrative, the lawyers of spiritual law were doing everything in their power to destroy his credibility. Jesus had enemies. It’s also pretty obvious that he held them accountable for using their scriptural skills to keep people in spiritual darkness.

The lesson here is that we do not have to like a person to love them. If you hold resentment toward another, then that resentment binds you. The answer is to release them in love. As you think of this person, you see love drawing to them that which is for their highest good and dissolving that which is not. It’s not your job to determine what needs to happen to them. Your highest good involves pulling your negative emotion out of the situation and letting love do its perfect work. The more you want to see them pay for what they did, the more of an emotional burden you heap upon yourself. They may indeed deserve all the payback you envision. The question is, do you deserve it?  Knowing that love is doing its perfect work offers a way out from beneath this stifling burden.

The Yes and No of Love

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“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37).

Drawing upon a wide range of sources, I have summarized characteristics of Being that I refer to as the four fundamentals of God. God is life, love, power, and intelligence. I’ve suggested that we think of these characteristics as we would think of white light that breaks down into a rainbow of colors.

God as love draws to us that which is for our highest good and dissolves that which is not. Absolute freedom from the mental and emotional chains of fear and regret is the natural condition of our soul. As we acknowledge the working of divine love in any troubling situation, we are affirming this attracting and dissolving action at all levels. We are open to it in our circumstances, our attitudes, and our feelings toward the situation.

To help with this understanding, imagine taking your concern and placing it in the hands of the wisest, most loving being you can imagine. You do this with the full assurance that your issue is being resolved in a way that works best for you and for all concerned. Imagine how freeing this is, to know your problem is being resolved at this very moment.

There is a simple practice that can help with this letting go. Set aside a container like a coffee can, a sugar bowl, a coffee mug. Give it the name of your choice with the understanding that this container is the action of love. Write out a brief description of the issue you want to resolve and place it in your container. Each time you think of this issue, remember that you have turned it over to love, that love is attracting that which is highest and best and dissolving that which needs to go.

This is a hands-on reminder of the yes and no of love in action.

Spiritual Adaptation

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It is common to associate our ongoing spiritual interest with a quest, a journey, or an evolutionary process of development. We think of ourselves as being at one place in understanding and we’re slowly moving to another. This perspective is strengthened by observing our typical method of learning. Acquiring knowledge on any subject involves the acquisition of information we do not currently have. The more information we gather, the more informed we obviously become.

When we think of someone we consider a spiritual giant, Jesus, for example, we assume he applied the same information-gathering process to his own spiritual development. The people of his day were certainly baffled. “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?” (John 7:15). Today, still applying the evolutionary model, we speculate that during the so-called missing years – that 18-year gap between ages of 12 and 30 – he may have retired to the desert to study with the Essenes, or traveled to India to study with Hindu mystics. Some speculate that he was a very old soul. Still others hold that he was sent by God, that his great wisdom is explained by his unique spiritual pedigree.

Let’s look at this with fresh eyes. All of creation is constantly tuning itself to its present environment. Any living form that does not do this successfully goes extinct. What we are calling a progression – moving from a lesser to a greater, more complex state – is really a perpetual adaptation to the present. This is a very different process that suggests all the pertinent forces of this universe are active and fully engaged now.

This is how we must think of the spiritual dimension and our relationship to it. We, like all of nature, are designed to interface with this omnipresent reality we call God. We won’t eventually evolve to this capacity, we have it now. To think something so essential to our spiritual well-being is somehow withheld, or that we have to earn it through lifetimes of searching is spiritually illogical. Who would withhold information critical to the well-being of their own children? If we as parents would not do this, why would we think it’s happening to us?

Man has the greatest capacity for creative expression. That natural hurdles would be thrown in front of us to hinder us is ludicrous. We are blinded by our own ignorance.

 

Our Spiritual Core

Audio: Our Spiritual Core

YouTube: Friends, we had a technical issue with the video this morning, so I’m running one I did earlier: The Undamaged Soul

Today’s talk is in audio format only. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Question: “What, in your way of thinking, is the difference between the term “Soul” and Unity’s use of the “Christ within?”

Answer: “The soul is eternal, unaffected by our ever-changing beliefs, moods, and the perpetually shifting sands of daily thinking. The soul is the spiritual core that we associate with the Christ, that image and likeness of God that is already complete, no evolution required. It is that deeper essence that survives when there is no more need for a hat and boots.” Excerpt from The Complete Soul.

From this, you can see that I consider the soul and the Christ as two separate terms that refer to the same thing. The public’s general understanding of these terms is that they are different. If you Google ‘soul definition’ and ‘Christ definition’ here’s what you come up with: soulthe spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal. Christthe title, also treated as a name, given to Jesus of Nazareth. Though Unity treats the Christ as our spiritual core, the term has such historical and religious significance many may find it a barrier rather than a help to advancing their spiritual understanding.

It is important that each person find his or her own direct experience with God. Nothing cuts quicker through the maze of terminology and dogmatic formulas than a genuine spiritual awakening. This is the beauty of Moses’ face-to-face with the Lord. “Tell them I Am sent you,” Moses was told. This is not a name but an eternal state of being, universally shared by all. It’s a confusing response only as long as we are trying to place God in time and space, or worse, inside someone’s skin.

You have a spiritual core that responds to any name you are comfortable giving it. Tennyson described it as “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” The location of your spiritual core is fixed. The name you choose is yours to decide.

The Whispering Soul

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From a teaching point of view, it’s a lot easier to talk about the soul than instruct someone on how to actually experience it. Yet, it is the experience that transforms belief into knowing, a vital component to our spiritual understanding.

The pioneers of New Thought referred to the silence as a state of inner communion with the spiritual source of one’s being. This communion is an intuitive experience that comes through stilling the anxious busyness of the intellectual mind and bringing the attention to the original, unadulterated spring of life welling up as one’s being. I have compared this stream of incessant thought to encountering a river to be crossed. While most seem to be stopped at the bank, it is possible, and essential, that we wade into this river and cross to the other side. This is not an actual span involving distance, but a state of inner stillness that is achieved through releasing mental distractions.

Two phrases I find helpful are peace, be still and I am. Peace, be still encourages a mental and emotional letting go of distracting images. I am is a statement of alignment with pure being, the “river bank” toward which you are moving. The Old Testament refers to it as “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).  In this episode, Elijah found the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but in a still small voice. Though we are forced to speak of this inner connection in metaphors, it is a homecoming that every person instantly recognizes as their natural state of being. It may at first be fleeting, but we recognize its simplicity and natural warmth as the very womb of our being.

Our experience at this level is the recovery of a familiar place we have never left. Though we have been engrossed in the winds, the earthquakes, and the fires of external religions, programs of self-improvement, and perpetual efforts to acquire that missing thing that promises to be the fulfilling element that brings our peace, our search ends only when we learn to listen to the still small voice of the whispering soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are We There Yet?

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If you’ve had children, you’ve probably had the experience of setting out on a car trip with the child hanging on the seat asking every few minutes, “Are we there yet?” To our children’s dismay, I learned to answer truthfully, “Yes, we’re here.”

Though there was sufficient time in any of our given car trips for a lengthy philosophical debate, I didn’t want to be the bearer of bad news by saying, we will never be there, we can only be here. I assumed life would provide that lesson soon enough. This assumption was probably a miscalculation, however. There are plenty of sectors who believe the day will come when their special interests finally reach the promised land of there.

In one of my talks, I mentioned that the process of evolution is not one that is working toward some idealized goal, some perfect expression of any given species. The driving force of evolution is adaptation to the present environment. In this sense, the whole of nature exists in a perpetual state of completion. The biological component of life adapts to the environment in a way that allows for continued expression of life. When the environment changes, the biological interface changes. Life itself remains the same.

Science does not invent the laws that allow them to send a robot to Mars. Science discovers the laws. The spacecraft and controlling software they design is adapted to the preexisting laws that govern our planet, conditions beyond our planet, and conditions on Mars where the craft is sent.

Think of your spiritual essence, your soul as that body of laws that is already complete. Nothing at the spiritual level needs to change. Only the way we think about ourselves needs to change. Paul warned of the problems of conforming to the ever-changing landscape of the world. To find our true anchor, we must take our eye off that ever-adapting material interface and ground our understanding in the changeless reality that is the soul. There’s no there to reach. There is only here, and we’re in it.

 

Keeping the High Watch

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This phrase, keeping the high watch, was first presented to me through the works of Emma Curtis Hopkins. Hopkins, known as the teacher of teachers, had a major impact on a wide range of early American New Thought leaders, including Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and Emilie Cady. I was introduced to her in the late 70s by Unity minister, Dr. John Rankin.

The high watch, as Hopkins used the term, “… concerns that swift, subtle faculty possessed by us all, whereby we look whithersoever we will; to the Deity ever beholding us, or to the dust beneath, without the aid of our physical eyes.” This inner seeing is what she was referring to when she wrote, “For it is primarily what we most see, and not what we most think, that constitutes our presence, power and history.”

Keeping the high watch is holding fast to the truth that there is but one presence and one power at work in our life. With perpetual media bombardment and full immersion in our body-centered, materially-grounded culture, our inner vision is easily enticed away from the notion of a single power at work. And yet this is truly our means of finding inner peace in an ever-changing world.

Keeping the high watch is not standing on tiptoe straining to see some great good finally appearing on the distant horizon. It is closing our outer eyes, for a time, and allowing the illumination of the soul to make itself known. As Hopkins writes, “The farther toward the celestial zenith we send our limitless eye, the deeper is our assurance of our own divine origin and transcendent Selfhood. For truly the Highest is the Nearest, most distant yet most present, and we are in His image.

You and I are perfectly placed to keep the High Watch. Nothing but the focus of our attention has to change. Holding the truth that there is but one presence and one power, God the good, at work in our life is the key to genuine accomplishment and true peace of mind.

Intelligence and Order

Advent Series, Part 4 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week. Bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am.

Open your mind to the quickening presence of intelligence. Your entire being is already permeated with intelligence. The functions of your body are all governed by it. You see and experience intelligence as order in your breathing, the beating of your heart, and all the many activities within the universe of your body of which you are not even aware. You see intelligence in the flower, in your pet, in the birds, and the clouds that sail across the sky.

As you relax and let go, get the sense of this truth that you are completely immersed in intelligence and that your life is now unfolding in perfect order. Affirm:

The very essence of my being is intelligence. My mind is clear. My thinking is orderly. I see things in their highest relation to the whole. My vision is clear. My soul is imbued with the wisdom of the universe. In all I do, I move forward in confidence and in peace.

Release all feelings of uncertainty about your life and know the intelligence of your soul is guiding your every step. Lift your spiritual eyes away from all appearances and see yourself as a conduit through which infinite intelligence is expressing as you.

Everyone and everything becomes part of your success in living. If your life seems to be pushing you to the left when you think you should go right, then know the intelligence expressing as your soul is now at work. Do not strain to work out plans or struggle to control events. Hold fast to the truth that the wisdom of your soul is directing your life, that the order and success you desire is unfolding with every new development.

Power and Strength

Advent Series, Part 3 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week and bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am. See and feel your soul radiating power. Power manifests in a wide range of ways, from the unfathomable power of the sun to the simple unfolding of a leaf. Power divides our cells and fuels all aspects of our being.

Power rises in your being as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. You may call on strength to hold a steady course, to take one more step when your world seems to crumble around you, or to steady your faith in the well-being of a loved one. Strength may manifest as the courage to make an apology or it may express as the power to say no to behavior you know as destructive.

With your attention focused at your center, sense the power of your soul rising from your innermost depths and radiating throughout your being. Affirm:

I am an expression of pure power. The full radiance of my soul empowers me to steadfastness in all that I am and all that I do. My strength is boundless, my power has no limits.

If you are feeling powerless to do anything about some condition in your life, release the emotional energy of helplessness as you use this affirmation. Again, do not try to make anything happen or even look for changes in your life. Simply allow the flow of power to rise in your being and know it expresses as the strength you need, as you need it. Take a series of deep breaths. With each one, breathe in power and breathe out strength. Power is the essence of your being. You are never without it.