What Is a Terrorist?

HamasIt’s hard to kill a human being. That’s why you have to label him as something other than human. Take the word “terrorist” for example. Easy to hate, right? By labeling an entire group of people terrorists, you no longer have to bother with understanding their grievances. They become a lot easier to kill.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Too often, this has been interpreted as throwing down your weapon and offering your chest as a target. Stupid, right? No one in their right mind would do such a thing, which means that Jesus was either stupid or, worse yet, delusional. Or…there could be a deeper, wiser understanding of this principle.

Let’s go with the deeper and wiser.

targetWhat does it mean to love your enemy? It means do not dehumanize him. Do not demonize him or in any way disregard his concerns. RESPECT him. You can hate him all you want, but do not for an instant see him as a thing.

As a species, we are still a long way off from beating our swords into plowshares. We are going to fight. The question is whether we are going to fight as animals (and I don’t mean this as disrespect towards animals) or as human beings.

bodegaThere are three major business enterprises on Earth. They are so huge that all other enterprises fade into insignificance by comparison. These three enterprises are prostitution, drugs, and war. Prostitution manifests at the extreme end as human trafficking, pornography, and the sex trade. Its less obvious forms involve sexualizing everything from cars to clothing. Drugs cover the entire spectrum from narcotics to pharmaceuticals, including such things we don’t usually think of as drugs, such as coffee, tea, cigarettes, and chocolate.

F-35But, of the three, war is by far and away the most profitable. The new Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet has an estimated cost of $223 million. That’s not the cost of the program; that’s the cost of each airplane! Knowing what you know about human nature, what do you suppose the chances are of war going away anytime soon? If you need help answering this question, try to imagine what the profit-margin is on a $223 million airplane. Then multiply that by the thousands of these airplanes that will be sold over the next decade. That kind of money is almost beyond imagination.

In order to sustain this kind of profit center, war has to be sold. And, the first step in selling war is to dehumanize the enemy. They are the other. In reality, they are no such thing. They are human beings just like we are, with the same values, the same concerns, and the same desire to love and be loved.

At the same time, they have the same propensity to see us as the other, to demonize us, so that they too can find it easier to kill. So, we’re gonna fight. The real question is whether we will let fighting destroy our souls. Jesus said not to fear those who can kill our body, but to fear those who have the ability to cast our souls into hell.

media

Who might that be?

Real power comes with the ability to create the context of a given situation. Create the context, and it doesn’t matter what the issues are. The tide of opinions can vacillate all they want and it won’t change a thing, as long as they vacillate within the context you put in place. Understand the context, and you understand the issues. Create the context, and you can re-create the world into whatever form you want it to take.

Pinocchio-classic-disney-5435119-1280-960Are you a spiritually free person? Let me ask this a different way: are you conscious of the contexts within which you live? If not, you are a puppet— a marionette that dances to the tunes of others. You haven’t yet become a “real boy” or a real girl.

A Course in Miracles says that the purpose of the world is to teach you that it is not real. The “not real” part is the context you have bought into, not the physical world. When you realize that the context through which you perceive the world determines how you will perceive the world, then you are on the path to spiritual freedom. The politics of the world then become your daily lesson in detecting bullshit.

Enemies are a fact of life. There is always going to be someone who wants what you have and is willing to take it by force. So what. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. Don’t let others talk you into dehumanizing him. If you do, you only dehumanize yourself. Jesus knew this. That’s why he said, “Love your enemy.” Ask anyone who has killed another person. They will tell you (if they have a shred of humanity left in them) that it is something you never ever want to do. A part of you dies with them.

Stop using the word “terrorist.” Stop buying war. Stop it.

 

 

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A word about inner guidance and spiritual gifts

8A611BCC51F545F29CB49DD8EFCF109FWe are each born with certain spiritual gifts—some with more, some with less, some unique and specific, some quite general and broad. Some have the ability to heal, others the ability to teach, and some have the ability to be a friend to all of humanity.

Inner guidance comes in many forms. Some people hear a distinct message, some have visions, some find themselves caught up in the spirit of the moment, and the right thing to do spreads itself out before them like a roadmap.

Have you ever considered that your spiritual gift IS your guidance? In the parable of the Ten Talents, the lord gives each person a different amount of money and tells them to go out and earn some more. He doesn’t take them by the hand and tell them what to do at every turn in the road. He just says to go out and put it to work.

If your talent is healing, heal. If it’s teaching, teach. If your talent is love, go out and spread love. Doesn’t it make sense that THAT is your guidance? The particulars of your “mission” don’t really matter. That’s the human mind talking. The overall plan, however, matters a lot! Because, at some point, when all is said and done, someone’s going to ask you, “Whadaya got?”

We don’t have to wait for “a message,” necessarily. The message is written all over us. All we have to do is be true to who and what we are. If we wait to be taken by the hand and told exactly what to do, we could be waiting for a long, long time.

You know the saying: “Be yourself.” This word, “be,” is an action verb in this case. You have to put ALL of yourself into whatever you do. BE a presence in the world, and you will know what to do.

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The New Teacher/Student Relationship

zodiac_signs_aquarius_004071_by Michael Maciel

It stands to reason that the Age of Aquarius would bring changes in all areas of life, including the time-honored traditions of the teacher/student relationship. Perhaps especially in this area, since Aquarius represents a major course-correction in all things authoritative. Yes, authority is the issue. Specifically, it is the usurpation of authority by any person who takes on the authority of God as if it were his own. Sure, you have to step into those shoes if you want to be effective in the world. But, if and when you forget that it is God’s authority and not yours, you will become, and I mean this in all sincerity, an insufferable pain in the ass.

Here is the new law about the teacher/student relationship. It’s not a rule, but a principle. And it’s not new, strictly speaking, because it’s always been in play. It’s new in the sense that it can no longer be ignored. Here it is:

Teachers learn from their students.

Now, if this seems like something you knew already, well…of course you knew it already. But what you may not have known is that the student doesn’t know it. And this is where the playing field is changing. Every teacher/student relationship in the past has been based on the contract of “I will teach, and you will learn.” This is straightforward enough, and every teacher has taken comfort in its simplicity. The problem is that it’s an entirely up-down affair. It is hierarchical—linear—with no room for feedback or the living system that feedback provides. The new contract, which both parties must enter into with eyes wide open, is “We will learn together.”

This is going to rankle the hell out of a lot of people, not only teachers, but students as well. Why? Because it ain’t the way things are s’posed to be. Why fix something that ain’t broke? Well, guess what…it is broke. Every teacher who has set himself up as the ultimate authority in a student’s life has only created a whole lot of issues that the student will eventually have to work through, just like most parents do with their children.

The problem with this is that if you see your student as a child, he will behave like a child. He will abandon every shred of common sense that he has learned in his life, prior to meeting you, in order to fit your preconception of him. Instead of getting what he needs in order to live an independent spiritual life, which is ostensibly what you are trying to give him, he will adopt your idiosyncrasies and personal traits, which for him are inappropriate. Why corrupt the good stuff with your stuff? Why inflict that on him?

Here’s why this has become an issue. The Age of Aquarius is bringing in a new level of energy. Spiritual growth is happening faster and more spontaneously. In the words of the prophet, “No man will have to teach his neighbor, saying here is God, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest.” Our task now is to help students cope with what they are experiencing already. God is becoming part of the landscape, as bright as the noonday sun. And most people don’t need to be told what the sun is, do they? They already know. Your job is to help them deal with it.

So, this is it. This is the new program. It doesn’t invalidate what you know, neither does it put the student up on a pedestal. It makes the relationship real. We have always learned from our students, and we always will. Why try to keep that a secret? Deep down, the student knows it anyway. If we hide behind our robes and our rank, all we do is teach him how to pretend. After all, we are not in the business of creating clones. We want to help the student reveal themselves, not mimic us. Thinking that we already know who they are can only lead to cloning. If we think our spiritual sight is that good, we are kidding ourselves. It’s not. Only God knows the true potential of each living soul. Teaching is a process of revelation—for everyone involved.

friendship

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Be sure to check out The Mystical Christ Newsletter on Facebook!

bannerAs you can tell, The Mystical Christ is a series of articles and essays on the spiritual life. It’s your go-to place for thoughtful, insightful examinations of spiritual principles and beliefs.

The Mystical Christ Newsletter on Facebook is a bulletin board of interesting and pertinent books, articles, and news that we feel would be helpful to you.

Check it out! I think you will “like” it.

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World Priest 2

Adam Scott Miller

Adam Scott Miller

by Michael Maciel

…continued from World Priest

In order to be a world priest, you have to know what is essential to spirituality. You have to be willing to strip away the jargon of your own beliefs and the beliefs of your religious tradition. You have to take an honest look at what you mean when you say the word “God.” What does “faith” mean? And, is there more to prayer than begging God for a different outcome? How much do we understand the words we use?

Usually, when we try to broaden our understanding of God, we look to other religions. More and more, we also look to science. But, how much do we look at our everyday lives? Could it be that we are interacting with God all the time and not know it?

Science tells us that there is much more to reality than what we see, more even than we can see. Our senses seem to be part and parcel of this world, not the next. Any knowledge of anything besides where we are now seems to be, by default, beyond our reach.

But…

We can see the effects of unseen causes in our lives. And, logically we can deduce from our observations certain facts about them. For instance, we know that our attitude plays a huge part in the quality of our experience. It’s what we think about what happened that has the most power, not what happened. By our thinking, we determine what is good and what is evil, and then we tailor our reactions accordingly.

Wouldn’t this be a workable definition of faith? Observing the effects of unseen causes, knowing that those causes must exist by reason of the effects they bring about—this is “believing without seeing,” is it not? If a fervent feeling of gratitude made habitual through careful, intentional control over one’s thoughts can bring about a dramatic change in the quality of one’s life, isn’t that proof of an unseen cause?

Take synchronicity, for example. If, as a lot of people think, synchronicity is a function of the subconscious mind, that we are guided by subliminal thoughts and observations into chance encounters, then wouldn’t it be possible that what we call our “subconscious mind” is really the world itself? If intelligence is the very fabric of matter, the stuff out of which matter is composed, then where is the boundary between what the world knows and what we know? Could they not be one and the same?

Remember, we are making a distinction between mind and consciousness. Consciousness is the result of mind reflecting back upon itself, “moving over the face of the deep.” Mind is the computer inside every atom and molecule, the patterns of intelligence that give matter its characteristics and govern its interactions with the rest of the universe.

We would have to believe that each of us, each and every person who has ever lived or will live, is a completely autonomous individual, entirely separate from his or her environment—an island amongst other islands. If we were separate from the universe, we would be the only physical entity that is. But we know that that’s not the case. Even the atoms of our body interpenetrate and react with the atoms of our immediate surroundings, and, some think, with other atoms at great distances from us, instantaneously and without crossing the intermediate space.

Is it any wonder that our gut sometimes knows more than our head?

If matter is essentially waves of vibration entrained in specific patterns and varying densities, and the boundaries between our physical apparatus (our bodies) and their environment are less than distinct, then perhaps we are tuned in more than we realize. Maybe we are affected by light and sound at the very deepest levels of our being. Maybe the distance between us and the objects we hold at arm’s length is really zero. What if there is no such thing as “intermediate space”?

When we get a good look at just how much we confine our experience to our brain and the surface of our skin, to the exclusion of all the other data that is pouring in, we can finally see why we never quite feel at home—anywhere!

Mind is the key, and imagination is the door. With our imagination, we can see into the deepest recesses of matter. We can see the inner workings of atoms and molecules. We can picture vast areas of the universe, the infinite expanses of space and time, the geologic processes of the Earth, and the evolution of its lifeforms. There is nothing that our imagination cannot see.

The only limiting factor is the belief that what we see with our imagination is imaginary.

Let’s try on a new definition of “imagination”: imagination is a tool of communication.

What if it was impossible to imagine anything that did not already exist, if only in potential? What if our imagination was really our sense of vision spread out across the entire spectrum of reality, not just the part we call the “physical world”? What if what we see in our imagination is every bit as real as what we see with our eyes, only in a broader, as yet unrealized reality? If you are at all familiar with quantum physics, this will ring a bell.

In order to function as a “World Priest,” you must, as Fritz Perl said, “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” But, remember: your senses are the feeling part of your imagination. They are unlimited by space and time. Stop looking at the surface of things. Look at them instead with your mind’s eye. See all that you can see!

There is no such thing as extra-sensory perception, because there are no “extra” senses. There are only senses that are more fully developed.

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Is the World Unreal or (for the theologians in the audience) “Sinful”?

escherIt would be ridiculous to think that just because we cannot see something that it does not exist. It would be like saying that nothing exists on the other side of a wall, that the limit of our vision is the limit of reality. It would be like looking at the surface of the ocean and thinking that nothing existed below it, that there was no such thing as depth. If something emerged from it, such as a dolphin or a school of flying fish, these would simply be “unexplained phenomena,” beyond our current capacity to understand. wallWe might, in the absence of a concept of “depth,” think that such occurrences were phenomena of the surface itself, as though the atoms and molecules of the water rearranged themselves for some unknown reason, perhaps as a result of sunlight or wind. In other words, dolphins and flying fish would be the result of some external cause, not entities in their own right emerging from beneath the waves, from the “unseen” reality.

There are two separate concepts I would like you to consider:

1) The world does not exist unless it is perceived.

2) Consciousness is everywhere.

treeThe first concept asks the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” This question could be rephrased to ask, “If there is something on the other side of the wall, and I can’t see it, does it exist?” The first question has to do with hearing and the second with sight—both faculties of perception.

The second concept asserts that consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality. There is nowhere that consciousness is not present. Flowers and leaves turn to follow the sun in what’s called “heliotropism,” exhibiting a particular level of consciousness. Electrons “know” which shell of an atom they belong in, and they know it without analysis or consideration. They know it automatically, which can be said of all of nature, including our own physical bodies with all of their autonomic functions.

sunflowerConsciousness has a spectrum, just as light has a spectrum. Spectrums are continuous, but they allow for distinct differences. Red at one end, ultraviolet at the other—red and blue are different colors, but they both live in the same spectrum. The same can be said of consciousness. The consciousness of electrons is of a different order than the consciousness of leaves; the consciousness of leaves is of a different order than our consciousness of what might exist on the other side of walls. But, just as light is light, regardless of its frequency, so is consciousness consciousness, regardless of where it shows up in the spectrum of reality.

Here’s another concept to consider:

3) Sight and hearing (along with touching, tasting, and smelling) are also differences along a continuous spectrum of perception. They all register states of vibration, each at their own particular level.

These senses are not restricted to organic life-forms, just as vibration is not restricted to organic life-forms. Rocks and stones have their own means of “seeing” and “hearing.” So, the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”, is rendered moot—”someone” is always there.

flower of life

Flower of Life

There are two issues that arise from this line of reasoning:

1) The universe is a web of consciousness.

2) Reality has a certain stasis that is in a constant process of degradation and renewal.

The first explains how actions can mirror each other at great distances simultaneously without traversing the space between them. It also explains how we can know things without perceiving them directly with our physical senses. Along with this, it helps us to understand what Buddhists are talking about when they say that there is no such thing as an independent self. If there is only one consciousness, complete and continuous within itself, how can we separate ourselves from it? We cannot.

kali

Kali

The second explains what Hinduism calls maya. It is the trap in which we sometimes feel caught, the sense that the universe has a mind of its own, and that there is nothing we can do to change it. From this we derive the notion of fate, the inexorable outworkings of the law of cause and effect—the wheel of karma. But this, as we shall see later on, is an illusion.

Divine Mother,  by Alex Polanco

Divine Mother, by Alex Polanco

If consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality, then knowing is the glue that holds the universe together. Knowing and memory go hand in hand here. This is what Hinduism calls akasha. If every point in the universe is conscious of every other point, then that’s the Mother of All Networks. It is the matrix, a word that comes from the Latin word for “mother.” It is the fabric (or gown) of reality, the outer cloak of an inner or unseen process.

If this Grand Stasis were left on its own, it would eventually grind to a halt. There must be some element in all of this that feels compelled to shake things up, some agitating principle that can’t resist the urge to insert something new into the system—to create. This agitating, creative principle is what Hinduism calls OM and Christianity calls the Logos or “Word.”

LogosI’m sure you can see the metaphysical principle of Gender in all of this—the active, initiating male principle and the passive, conserving/maintaining/protective female principle. One is always “got to be startin’ somethin’”, and the other just wants a little respect. This is the dynamic that, just as it does in biology, makes all life possible.

aretha

Aretha Franklin

jackson

Michael Jackson

I am presenting these ideas in a somewhat irreverent way on purpose. Sometimes, I think our notion of reverence gets in the way—hugely—of our ability to see spiritual things realistically. We tend to project all of our beliefs about goodness onto our sense of God, and at the same time, we project our beliefs about evil onto a “devil.” These projections, which are always amplified in direct proportion to our existential insecurities, can only prevent us from seeing reality as it really is. There is an element of unpredictability (mischief, if you will) in creation, just as there are elements of wonder and awe. If we fail to recognize this, then we will distrust and even demonize those same attributes when we find them in ourselves.

And perhaps the greatest act of mischief ever perpetrated is this game of hide-and-seek that we call life—where the real world lies hidden just beneath the surface of the “waves.”

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A Workable Definition of “God”

GodThe trouble with living in the scientific age is that few of the words we use in religion make any sense. One-time Unity minister in New York City and metaphysics teacher, Eric Butterworth, said, “God is a three-letter word.” No one agrees on what that word means, and most people are at a loss to come up with a coherent definition of it. Even terms like “universal intelligence” fall short, because the same could be said of the World Wide Web. And, “Supreme Being” is supremely inadequate, because it sounds like a North Korean dictator. We need a workable definition of “God,” one that doesn’t demand that we sacrifice everything we know about science. At the same time, it should give us a way to come into direct contact with the Divine presence.

towerNotice the word “workable.” What we’re looking for is a non-definitive definition, not a once-and-for-all pigeonhole or a bulletproof talking-point. We need a direction in which to look, not a destination where we can build an ideological fortress. What we need is a general map of the metaphysical universe, one that also has a street view. Most of all, we need a conception of God that is full-spectrum, one that places God everywhere and not in a place you can only get to by dying.

Let’s address the universal intelligence issue, an idea that drives most scientists bonkers, which (as we shall see) is completely unreasonable on their part. When we consider the extensive degree of organization present in matter—its seemingly infinite capacity to adapt to changing conditions, and its ability to communicate with its environment, and its power to remember its preferred configurations—the idea of universal intelligence becomes an inescapable conclusion. Matter is nothing but intelligence. It is, you might say, intelligence made visible.

nitrogenAtoms are extremely complex mechanisms composed, as we know, almost entirely of empty space. They generate enormous energy fields, despite their small size, and are capable of forming nearly unbreakable bonds. They “know” what they are supposed to be and how they should act, and they know it with precision.

Look at the objects around you. In the most real sense, they are clouds of electromagnetic energy, their borders indistinct, each mingling with the other in a communicative dance. Move any one of them, and all the rest “sense” the change. It’s as though they exist in a continuous web of vibration. At a certain level, those vibrations must surely make a sound, the harmonies and discords of which must produce quite a symphony indeed! Cycles, rhythms, harmonies—the entire spectrum of matter pulsates with interconnected relationships. The universe itself, at both large and small scales, is a computer.

faceoffWhy then is the idea of universal intelligence so hard for the scientifically minded to swallow? And why, as a spiritual person, do you perhaps feel compelled to choose between two (erroneously) opposed worldviews?

Remember, we are looking for a workable definition of God, not an Answer. And, as far as matter is concerned, this expanded idea of universal intelligence provides us with a good baseline.

What about consciousness? When we consider that the seeable universe is a matrix of intelligence that functions much like a computer, we must then ask, “Who is operating this computer?” In a recent interview, a philosophy professor admitted that the people in the AI (artificial intelligence) department at his university know more about philosophy than he does. They are grappling with questions of being and consciousness on a daily basis, whereas most philosophers are stuck in never-ending debates over what previous philosophers have said. The AI people are actually looking under the hood trying to figure out how consciousness works, what makes it possible, and how to build a platform within which it can “show up.”

the First Day of the Creation, by Escher

the First Day of the Creation, by Escher

But, both the philosophers and the scientists are ignoring key bits of information found in the creation myths of the world’s major religions, information that could provide the breakthroughs they are looking for. Take for example this passage in the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” This is ancient language for the process of mirroring and self-assessment. The surface of the “water,” an ancient symbol for “mind,” is a reflective surface, beneath which lies the unseen, unknowable intelligence of the natural world. The “deep” contains all of the automatic functions of matter, which when reflected back upon themselves create an interface that makes consciousness possible. How all of this works has yet to be discovered, but it will be discovered in the foreseeable future, perhaps within our lifetime.

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

The image of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (or as science-fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, put it, Venus on the Half Shell) symbolizes consciousness arising from the “deep” of Genesis. This account in Genesis describes a set of conditions out of which something happens, namely the “beginning.” Compare this with Taoist master Zhuangzi’s statement in the Book of Master Zhuang: “This moment—the beginning not yet beginning to be a beginning,” and with the Buddhist Idappaccayata: “When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn’t, that isn’t. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.” Within these statements lie the keys to understanding consciousness. When they are eventually translated into the language of science, AI will become a reality.

caduceusThis idea of the universe becoming “self-aware” is, however, nothing more than materialism on steroids, IF it is taken to mean that consciousness is a phenomenon of matter. It could just as easily mean that matter is a manifestation of consciousness. Huston Smith, the author of The World’s Religions, put it thus: “The brain breathes mind the way the lungs breathe air.” This mind is the “Spirit of God” mentioned in Genesis, the one that “was moving over the face of the waters,” which shows that the author had the insight that Mind was there before the beginning.

Wondering where Mind came from can seem like a useless speculation. Or this account, which shows up pretty much the same way in many different religious traditions, describes the stillness out of which arises creative thought. Instead of Genesis describing an ancient historic event, it gives us explicit instructions in creativity. Creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) takes on a new meaning: New combinations of thought and their corresponding physical manifestations depend for their arising on a mind that is devoid of thinking—in other words, a meditative state. Quieting the mind is the goal of nearly every acknowledged spiritual discipline, from devotional prayer to Zen Buddhism. What they don’t tell you is that this state of mind is enormously powerful when applied to creativity.

sciencereligionAs you can see, a realistic understanding of the word “God” requires a multi-disciplinarian approach. Science, philosophy, and religion must all be brought to bear on the problem. The tragedy of 9/11 was blamed on the failure of the CIA and FBI to communicate with each other, mostly due to departmental pride and competitive arrogance. The lack of a workable definition of “God” is the fault of science, philosophy, and religion—their unwillingness to listen to the best of what each has to offer.

Here’s our workable definition of “God,” our updated cosmo-conception of metaphysical reality: The universe, the part we can see, is comprised primarily of intelligence. This intelligence is the unseeable part that informs the part we can see. Understanding how this intelligence works and putting that knowledge to work in our everyday lives is the essence of scientific prayer. Locating ourselves within this process brings us into direct contact with the mystery of consciousness. The more we contemplate this mystery, the more our limited sense of who we are as an individual dissolves, and we begin to identify with the Whole and not merely as an embodied personality. As we cease to rely on our individual abilities to know the world, and we open up to the existence of the One Mind, we discover our interconnectedness with the entire spectrum of existence, and we become a new being.

ChristThis description is not meant to be a summary, but as a beginning, a starting point from which we can explore reality. Even if it is not 100 percent accurate, it is still useful. The deeper we look into matter, the more intelligence we see. And, I think it’s clear by now that we have made the distinction between intelligence and consciousness. It is when we can apply this distinction to ourselves that the usefulness of this hypothesis makes itself known: it allows us to experience the presence of God.

 

 

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World Priest

Walter Louis Emil Sauer PureteIs it no longer enough, spiritually speaking, to think of ourselves as members of a particular religion, citizens of a particular country, or proponents of a particular ideology. The time of secular thinking, of nationalistic thinking, and ideological thinking is over.

If we are to survive as a planet, if we are to thrive as a species, and if we are to grow spiritually, we must think of ourselves as world citizens. There is no longer an “other.” We are all in this together, and we will either succeed as a unified human race, or we will tear ourselves and our world apart.

Nowhere is this truer than in the field of spirituality. We can no longer afford to emphasize our differences in matters of faith, to differentiate ourselves from the followers of other saviors, other gods, or other beliefs. All of these differences must be transcended. They must be seen for what they are—different articulations of the One Truth designed to suit the needs of the people and times to whom they were given.

Underlying all faiths are a few basic, simple principles—the sanctity of life, the presence of a higher intelligence that creates and sustains the world, and the importance of love and compassion in our relationships with each other. These are the high points, the ideals around which we build our lives, our communities, and our nations.

Whether we call that which is bigger than we are “God,” or some other name, such as democracy, science, or freedom, the effect is the same. As we submit to a higher principle, we see ourselves less as a separate entity and more as a part of a unified whole.

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Bringing Matter to Life with Sound

bookcoverBringing Matter to Life with Sound

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Being with the Evil

self-assessmentOur normal tendency when we face the evil within ourselves is to try to change it. This is the beginning of sorrows, because the more we try to change it, the stronger it gets. If instead of resisting it we simply allow it to be what it is, it gets integrated or absorbed—“eaten,” if you will—and made a useful part of our whole personality. Jesus referred to this in The Gospel According to Thomas when he said, “Blessed is the lion which the man eats, and the lion will become man; and cursed is the man whom the lion eats, and the lion will become man.” The “lion,” in esoteric-speak, is our passions. 

Bible stories are not history lessons; they are the chronicles of our spiritual journey. In esoteric, or mystical, Christianity, “Jesus” refers to us, our human personality, and “Christ” refers to the Divine in us, the God Self. The word “Christ” is neither Jesus’ last name, nor is it a title. So, when we read stories about Jesus in the Bible, they are really stories about us and what we go through on our path toward spiritual enlightenment. It’s not that Jesus didn’t exist or that he didn’t accomplish the single greatest feat in the history of the world, but that he was also a Teacher, and he used his life to illustrate in living symbology what we must all go through on the spiritual path. This is what he meant when he said, “I am the Way.”

condemnedFor instance, when Jesus was taken and beaten by the Romans, he no longer looked like the magnificent messiah everyone wanted him to be. He looked like an ordinary criminal who was about to be put to death. Peter, his disciple, not only feared for his own life, but was ashamed of the man with whom he had so identified himself. He had fully expected him to take Jerusalem by storm—to fix the world—and this “defeat” was not what he had expected. He didn’t understand the true nature of Jesus’ mission.

We want the ego to be the conquering hero. We want our kingdom to be of this world. We think that this is what it means to be truly alive. But, Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, said, “Where your pain is, that’s where your life is.” The “evil” things within us, those things we regard as weaknesses, are really our greatest strengths, only they’re disguised by the mask of our own misunderstanding. All we can see is that there’s a hell of a lot of energy packed around them, and anything that powerful scares us and therefore has to be bad.

braveHere’s an example: A woman was beating herself up, because she could not permit herself to be angry with her mother. Mom knew where all the hot buttons were and would circle her prey relentlessly and then go in for the kill. She wasn’t worried, because she knew her daughter wouldn’t fight back. As long as the daughter believed it was wrong to get angry at her mother, she was helpless. But she was disempowering herself; it wasn’t her mother’s fault. When she finally accepted her anger, she was free to express it. The violent outburst that she feared lost its demon mask, and she was able to deal with her mother appropriately and effectively. It wasn’t the anger she feared; it was what it said about her as a person. It made the “Jesus” part of her look bad. In her own mind, getting angry at her mother was evil, and she didn’t want to be an evil person. But, it was her judgment that was at fault, not her anger.

beachIt’s not the evil in the world that threatens us; it’s the evil within ourselves. As long as we fear it—as long as we resist and deny it—it will have us by the throat, and it will run our lives. It will destroy our spiritual vitality.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt. 10:28

Be wary of people whose main purpose is to provoke reactions in others. This is especially true of the media. They’re not trying to motivate you into action. They are trying to keep you from acting. As long as you are reacting, you are powerless. And powerless people have nowhere to vent their anger but on themselves, their families, and the communities in which they live. When people riot, they don’t burn down City Hall; they burn down the corner grocery store.

Here’s my story: for the longest time, if I was waiting in a long line of cars, and someone would speed past, so that he could cut in up front, I would go ballistic. Invariably, some “idiot” at the head of the line would let him in. I was just as mad at the person who let him in as I was at the one cutting in line. And—I mean—I would get all the way into the red, completely pegged off-scale!

Road-RageEventually, I came to the realization that I was totally at the effect of this situation whenever it occurred. I had to find a way to be with it. So the next time there was a long line of cars ahead of me, you know what I did? I cut ahead of everyone else. I became “that guy.” And you know what? It doesn’t bother me anymore. My reaction to it completely disappeared. Now, when someone makes a run for the head of the line, I can let them do it! I’ll even let them in myself when they want to cut in. I have no reaction to it at all.

There’s a saying: “Never trust anyone who’s incapable of being a jerk.” If jerks really get your goat, maybe you need to be one for awhile. The world didn’t come to an end when I cut to the head of the line—it went on spinning. But it completely changed the way I react to that situation. Look at what you do, at how you’re reacting. Chances are, you’re totally caught up in it, and it’s running your life.

BalanceWhen I did this, I didn’t do it as a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” kind of thing. That would have been merely surrendering to cynicism. I knew that it was a problem within myself. My judgment had become so polarized, so potentialized, that something truly bad was bound to happen. My decision to cut to the head of the line was not rational; it was spontaneous. It came from deep within me. It was as automatic as someone drowning reaching for the side of a boat. It came straight from the wisdom of my own soul. How do I know this? Because the result was so dramatically positive.

If you do this in the little things in your life (as in cutting in line), you won’t have to do it in the big things. It’s only when people are so determined and so stubborn about letting the small stuff go by, that they usually wind up having a major collision in their life. “Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.” God knows nothing about size. As Emerson said, “There is no great and no small to the God who maketh all.” Every action, regardless of scale, affects our whole being.

There’s another saying that seems to always go with spiritual work of this kind: “First the test, then the lesson.” It wasn’t too long after I overcame my problem with people cutting in line that I heard on the radio that a study had been conducted on this very thing. It turns out that when people go around a line of cars (they call it “late merging”), traffic efficiency improves by twenty percent. Everyone benefits. What a perfect example of the gap between perception and reality!

cloverleaf-intersectionSometimes, the inherent intelligence within a system will cause people to break the rules, because the rules are getting in the way of the system’s need to function efficiently. Usually, their rebellion will be unconscious and manifest in strange ways. Their actions will appear anti-social, even criminal, because they cannot explain to themselves their own motives and therefore act out in the only way they can understand. They are controlled by their own judgments of right and wrong and will behave accordingly.

It’s important, dear reader, that you understand what I’m saying. If you have a judgement about bank robbers, I don’t suggest that you go rob a bank. But if you do, I guarantee that you’ll have an entirely different perspective on bank robbers! You’ll also have a lot of time to think about it—in jail.

If you have a judgement about something, it’s like a polarity build-up that you have to neutralize. In a karmic sense, you’re going to have to live your life doing the thing you hate, because you’ve got this whopping judgement about it. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to come into balance with it. So…what would you rather do? Would you rather do that and learn your lessons the hard way, or will you take your pet peeves, the little ones, and work out your judgements through them?

Karmically, there’s no difference between esteeming something and condemning something. If you esteem something, you have to go to it—you have to experience it in order to figure out what its real value is. And if you’re condemning something, you have to go there in order to learn understanding and compassion. Both esteeming and condemning have their magnetic pull. “Where your treasure is [what you value], there will your heart be also.”

StrengthResisting the evil in yourself is the surest way to give it strength. Giving into it isn’t the answer either. To neutralize an energy buildup, you have to first let it be what it is. You have to acknowledge it without judgment, without calling it evil. The word “evil” is already framed as something to be fought against—that’s its built-in meaning. Instead, recognize that the energy itself is neutral and that you can convert it into spiritual cash. You can give that money to the poor, those parts of your personality that are undeveloped—your weaknesses.

These are the mechanics of spiritual growth. No one can do it for you. Take these tools and use them, and you will see immediate progress in your spiritual life.

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