A scientist once said, “The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine,” meaning that the human mind is not capable of a direct perception of reality. Even the most enlightened people in their highest experience of oneness can only be confronted by it, not comprehend it in its fullness.
Unfortunately, many people define “truth” as anything that validates their beliefs. This, however, is a bastardization of the word.
Scientists, on the other hand, if they are faithful to the scientific method, always seek to disprove their hypotheses and don’t stop until they’re either successful or unsuccessful. Even then, it’s only a step towards truth and can be subject to revision when further data is available.
Philosophers approach truth in the same way. They work within conceptual frameworks that prove to be the most comprehensive, but they’re always willing to revise their conclusions when those frameworks prove to be inadequate. But as with scientists, their willingness to transcend their conclusions is inversely proportional to their investment in them.
In the political sphere, truth is only as good as the data that support it, but that’s based on an unbiased assessment of those data and their interpretation, which then drives policy. The primary metric for ascertaining truth in this domain is whether the speaker is lying, which can also be incentivized by investment.
But then we have to ask, are they lying deliberately, or do they truly believe what they’re saying? And if so, is it a lie? This is where open dialog is of greatest importance, because ideologically driven people usually have at least some dedication to truth and can thus be open to debate, whereas those who essentially have no ideology but instead use ideas solely as tools for manipulation have no such dedication except to power. That’s another domain entirely. It has nothing to do with honest policymaking, only control.
What can be said, will be said.
The final arbiter of truth is the act of praying for truth. We ask for it to be revealed to us from the Universal Intelligence we call “God.” But this truth does not come in the form of an “answer.” Truth, as truth, is indefinite and unspecified from our human perspective. It is, you might say, free of content. You could call it the potential for truth, the depth of which is infinite. But this doesn’t mean that truth as we understand it doesn’t exist. It only means that its full range—its totality—is inaccessible.
Knowing this is the essence of humility.
Praying for truth allows the energy of it to descend upon us and, in so doing, cleanses our doors of perception and lets us see more of what is. It doesn’t give us the answer, but it does greatly widen our horizons. As Saint Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
By itself, truth cleanses us so that we can peer a little more deeply into the heart of reality. It’s as though reality, then, sees more deeply into us, and we become better known by it, to the extent that we are capable of opening up to it.
Neither does praying for truth do anything at all, necessarily, for our understanding. That’s on us. We can pray for that, too, but it requires work on our part before what’s true can be integrated into our worldview and thus our activities. Praying for understanding greatly enhances our capacity for it, but capacity has to be implemented before it becomes useful in a meaningful way.
Chemists might know what a particular atom is, but unless they understand its valence, they won’t know what to do with it. An encounter with our shadow is a powerful event, but without integration, it’s meaningless. Integration is a form of understanding. And unless we understand our worldview in the context of culture and history, we don’t really understand it at all, and it devolves into an ideology.
And this leads us to courage, without which transcendence is impossible, because letting go of our conclusions can be frightening. No one likes uncertainty and will sacrifice almost anything to preserve their current understanding of reality. This is why the 9th Century Zen master, Lin Chi, said, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” It’s far less risky to hang onto our preconceptions than it is to let go of them. And yet, unless we do, our apprehension of the truth not only stops in its tracks but immediately starts to degrade. As Jeremiah said, “Our God is a living God.” The truth does not live in answers—it lives in the present moment.
Learning how to access our own wisdom is more important than learning someone else’s techniques and practices. Doesn’t it make sense that everything we need in order to grow spiritually is already right at our fingertips? Here are eight spiritual tools that we were born with:
Fill your body with light. Every cell in our body is filled with light and energy. When we allow ourselves to experience this directly, it enlivens our entire system. It also tunes us in to the divine intelligence that created us, and it reboots the original programming we were created with in the beginning. This light energy in our bodies, and the intelligence inherent within it, is the interface between us and God. When we put our attention on it, it grows stronger, and so does the interface. Our intuition gets better, events occur with greater synchronicity, and our thoughts manifest much more quickly. This is not a patented technique. We were all born with it.
Sit up straight and stand erect. This is a yoga exercise you can do all day long. In Buddhism, there is a concept called axis mundi. It means “center of the world.” It’s where Buddha sat when he came into enlightenment, and it’s represented in Christianity by Christ on the cross. It is the lifting up of the serpent by Moses in the wilderness, and it is the Central Mountain of the World of the Ogallala Sioux. When the ancient philosophers insisted that the Earth was the center of the universe, they were talking about axis mundi (philosophy and science had not yet separated). By sitting up straight and standing erect, we are telling the universe, with our bodies and our intention, that we are one with axis mundi.
Breathe. This is the first and last thing we do on Earth, and it is the most important tool in our spiritual tool bag. I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “Stop Holding Your Breath.” My reaction was, “Who, me?” It’s fear (apprehension and stress) that makes us hold our breath. And if Saint Paul was right when he said that perfect love casts out all fear, then breath and love are directly related. The formula is simple: when we breathe properly, our heart chakra opens.
Be grateful. Don’t be grateful for what you are experiencing, be grateful regardless of what you’re experiencing. Gratitude is the reset button of spiritual energy work. No matter what’s happening or how you’re feeling, gratitude restores the flow of grace. Gratitude is the one virtue within everyone’s immediate grasp. Why is gratitude so important? Because it dissolves resistance. And resistance, according to Ohm’s Law, restricts the flow of energy.
Relax. When I was a teenager, I was into alpine ski racing. You wouldn’t believe how slippery snow can be when it turns into ice, especially when you’re skittering across a steep slope of it at sixty mph. Next to strong leg muscles, controlled relaxation is the most important acquired skill. If your upper body gets tense, it becomes impossible to maintain balance and control, regardless of how strong you are. Similarly, when you’re walking on icy pavement, relax your shoulders and let them drop. This lowers your center of gravity and keeps your weight over your feet, making you less likely to fall. Spiritually, it works the same way: When we try to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, we tense up. Rapid changes can throw us. Also, the smooth muscles in our bodies, like the ones in our stomach and small intestine, react to stress in a way that we cannot immediately control. They have a mind of their own, and like a tortoise with its head pulled back into its shell, they won’t relax until the coast is clear. Just telling yourself to relax is not enough. The body has to be trained over time to relax, through practice and repetition.
Pay attention to your attention. If you’ve ever flown an airplane or sat next to a pilot in the cockpit, you know that the instruments inside the airplane are just as important as what’s going on outside. We have instruments, too, and they’re always reporting valuable information to us. But, if our attention is always on the externals of our life, those inner reports will go unnoticed. We’ll be flying blind in the dark. Remember, in life there is more to the unseen than there is to the seen. Learn how to read the unseen. Pay attention to your instruments!
Find a way to serve others. In water pumps, there is a component called a “check valve.” It’s a spring-loaded valve that lets the water flow in one direction only. We all need an activity in our lives that employs the spiritual equivalent of a check valve. This means giving one hundred percent without getting something back. The keywords here are giving and one hundred percent. Giving means giving something of value, such as your time or your money. (Compliments, promises, and pats on the back don’t count.) One hundred percent means that you give to everyone, not just those you like—no room for prejudice and bias here. Like the rain that falleth on the just and the unjust alike, you have to give freely without thought of return. Serving and gratitude go hand in hand. Whereas gratitude dissolves resistance, self-forgetting service brings that resistance right up to the surface and into the light where you can do something about it. So simple, so fast, and so elegant.
Change the past. Everyone has a story to tell, and the stories are usually loaded with drama. So and so did this; so and so did that. And now I’m a mess because of it. But these are just stories. The actual events are like the lines of the drawings in a child’s coloring book; we’re the ones who add the color, and sometimes it gets very messy. Unfortunately, the drama is too deeply embedded for us to do much about it. It’s like a bad computer program—only a skilled technician should attempt to change it. God is that technician. Ask God to change the story. The events will stay the same, but the story you tell yourself about them will work for you instead of against you.
We do not need exotic and complicated spiritual practices to cultivate our spiritual energies. Everything we need is already within us. By simplifying our approach and our understanding of spiritual principles, we can achieve greater health, a higher consciousness, and a clearer conscience. The oracles of Delphi had it right: “WoMan, know thyself.” After all, what good is a spiritual practice if you can’t live it every day?
One of the things that gets in the way of forgiveness is our reluctance to accept the way people are.
We expect them to be different, as though they’re violating our expectations of them. Every time we see them, they surprise us with their behavior.
At some point, we have to ask ourselves why we’re being surprised.
So when we let them be who they are and not try to fit them into our sense of right and wrong, our stress levels go way down. They’re still irritating, they’re still causing problems for us, but we no longer get blindsided by them.
Getting upset with someone for acting badly is like getting upset with a cloud for raining on us.
People who act badly are like that—they’re like a cloud that rains. They’re like a fact of nature.
Seeing them in this way changes us, and as we change, they will change. Maybe not as much as we would like, but enough to lower the stress level for both them and us.
The highest form of love is respect. When people act consistently, we tend to trust them, and trust is the foundation of respect.
Trying to change people is the highest form of disrespect, so when we stop doing that, they sense it. They can feel us withdraw our “changing” energy from them, and they tend to settle down.
This is a lot of what “love your enemies” is about.
Jesus told us to love our enemies. WHAT are we supposed to do with that? I mean, it’s hard enough to love the people we love, right? How, then, are we supposed to love those who, by definition, we hate?
Let’s define our terms:
And these definitions aren’t conclusive, they’re just something to work with—a working model.
What do we mean by love? Let’s use THIS as our working model:
Love is connection. Like in the movie, Avatar, love is saying, “I see you.” When we love someone, we don’t see them through a filter. We don’t see them through the filter of our judgments about them. We don’t see them through a filter of what they’ve done to us in the past. We don’t see them through any filter at all. We see them.
We see the person. And we see past their filters—the way they see us. Because, we’re their enemy, too. So, it’s two people looking at each other as God Beings—no filters, no history, just awareness in the present moment. That’s connection. That’s love.
When you do that, even if it’s one-sided, the event is too large for emotion. The sheer intensity of the moment takes us to a higher level of experience and we see him or her as they are, not how we feel about them.
The truth of the matter? — the purer love is, the more impersonal it becomes. Don’t ask me how or why—that’s just how it works.
And then there’s the word “enemy.” Now, the important thing about this is that when Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” he didn’t say anything about that magically turning them into your friends. No. He didn’t say that at all. And that makes it all the more difficult because loving them doesn’t come with any promises. We have to love them as they are. We have to be able to love them even though it doesn’t change anything about the way they feel towards us. In fact, it implies that we have to love them even if we’re engaged with them in combat.
Okay. So love is seeing the other person—in this case, your enemy. This is true connection because when you do this, you’re seeing them in the present moment. And that changes everything. Now, remember, this person is your enemy. That means that he is coming at you. He is actively opposing you and what you’re trying to do. It’s gonna be a fight, whether you want one or not.
Jesus was a person. He knew how this works. If someone is trying to do you in, the worst thing you can do is close your eyes. Because that breaks the connection. In other words, be withyour enemy AS he’s being your enemy.
Martial artists know how to do this. They can be so much in the present moment that they can feel what their opponent is going to do almost before they do it. But here’s the thing. It’s not that Jesus is telling us how to be better fighters. He’s telling us not to break the connection. No matter who we’re dealing with.
Because if we can do this with our enemies, we can certainly do it with the people we love, haha. And right now, that’s pretty important, wouldn’t you say? I mean, Thanksgiving Dinner is only eleven months away, so we better get ready now!
Being connected with your enemy does three things:
First, you get to know where he is at all times. That’s a huge advantage.
Not that we’re trying to beat him, necessarily, but we’re trying to keep him from beating us. Because either way, nothing good comes from that. It’s much better to work it out—in such a way that everyone benefits. Love is not a zero-sum game.
And it’s not easy, either.
So—the second thing being connected does for us is that it keeps our emotions in check. And that’s important. Because the first thing people do when they pick a fight with us is to get us riled. Then they play off of that. But if you stay connected with them, that’s not gonna work.
This leads to the third way that staying connected helps us when we’re dealing with someone who intends us harm. It establishes RESPECT. And respect is what keeps squabbles from turning into murder. At least it keeps aggression within certain bounds. When you respect your opponent, you’re not likely to make a bad situation worse. You’re gonna look for ways to save face—for both of you. And that can make the difference between a brief battle and a multi-generational feud.
So, in a way, Jesus is teaching us how to fight—he’s teaching us how to fight fair.
It’s this teaching that prompted America to rebuild her enemies after the Second World War. It’s what helped Nelson Mandela heal the wounds of a divided nation. And it’s what helped Martin Luther King to bridge the racial divide and bring both parties to the table. This is what connection does. It allows good things to happen, even in the face of animosity.
There’s a better way to approach this question. God is only gendered in a mythic sense, not literally. Mythic truths are never meant to be taken literally because they have their own epistemological domain, one that is fundamentally different from empirical truth.
As students of Christian Mysticism, we know that God is One, but we do not think that God is monolithic.
When we speak of God in gendered terms, it’s the masculine and feminine aspects of Deity with which we are attempting to form a connection. We’re not trying to say that God is a man or God is a woman. That is in a completely different conceptual universe.
But God lives in us and is the source of all of our spiritual energy. We live and move and have our being within God, and God lives and moves and expresses God’s being within all of us, individually and collectively.
God’s energy has many aspects, of which masculine and feminine are merely two. But it’s easier for us to connect with these two energies specifically because we know what fatherly and motherly energies are like. Both are grounded in love, but both have distinctly different aspects. They are both equal, but they are not the same. We appeal to one for certain needs and to the other for other needs.
When we approach God’s masculine aspect, as in “Our Father,” we come with the expectation of a perfect father’s love, which is characterized by encouragement, strength of will, concentrated focus, and decisiveness of mind.
And when we approach God’s feminine aspect, as in “Holy Mother God,” we come with the expectation of a perfect mother’s love, which is characterized by self-sacrificing attention, a gathering in to heal and protect, and the assurance that we are loved.
We ourselves can manifest either aspect, regardless of our biological sex. Although, our body, along with its functions, reflects in physical form the divine aspect for which it is a living symbol.
If we try to deny either of these two aspects, insisting instead on a genderless or androgynous god, then one aspect will dominate our psyche and attempt to conceal and suppress the other. We are then stuck with an aspect that, in the absence of its counterpart, becomes unbalanced and destructive. This is true both psychologically and spiritually.
So, it’s not about who gets top billing. It’s about what we want to accomplish with the energy that God provides us. The energy itself is one energy, but it expresses in many marvelous ways, two of which are Father-energy and Mother-energy.
God creates in and through us by our creative activity, which is powered by divine energy. The energy isn’t ours. There is only one energy and it is God’s and God’s alone. But God gave it to us to use.
That’s the reason God created us, so that God could experience God’s own creation, to touch the world with our hands, to see the world through our eyes, and to speak the creation into being with God’s own Word of Power.
When we understand these two divine aspects—the Masculine and Feminine—then we’ll understand the Laws of Creation.
In this post, we’re going to talk about how to find and keep our spiritual balance. Why is this important? Because the world is changing—fast. So fast that it can knock us off our feet. And that can disrupt and lower our vibration.
Remember, change isn’t the problem. We all want the world to change for the better. It’s the rate of change, however, that can make us unstable.
[Keep reading for an exercise that will help you build and maintain energy stability.]
As an example, one of the biggest changes that’s going to affect all of us is robots. As this video shows, they just might charm us to death!
How can anything this charming be scary?
It’s the uncertainty factor that causes us anxiety. We know that technology is changing the world—our world—in profound ways. We just don’t know how, not exactly. Along with the economic, social, and climate changes we’re facing, all these changes can destabilize us in deeply significant ways.
Now more than ever, it’s important to find your spiritual center, so that no matter how much the world changes, you will be able to maintain inner stability.
Here’s the exercise. This is how to build and keep your spiritual balance. Start by turning your attention inward and finding the center ofyou—your center of gravity.
If you learn how to balance your body, your mind and emotions will follow.
You already know where your center of gravity is in your body. It’s in the the area behind your belly button. Drop your attention out of your head and into this core part of you.
Breathe into it. Stop identifying with your thoughts and keep your attention on your center of gravity. Pretend that it’s you. I know, it feels like you’re in your head, somewhere behind your eyes. But just try it out.
Being in your center of gravity is a grounding exercise. In meditation, you want to focus on the area slightly below and between your heart and your spinal column. But for this exercise, drop down about six inches lower.
The “you” of your center of gravity doesn’t think—not the way you’re used to thinking. Its thoughts are way more primitive and direct. It processes information many times faster than your brain. Get familiar with it.
[Keep reading for the technical aspects of this.]
Move your torso around so that you get a feeling for this. Do a small hop and let yourself settle into the ready position of an athlete. Feel your connection with the center of the Earth.
The important thing is to get out of your head and into that connection. Make it so that if someone were to bump you from the side, you could easily shift without losing your balance.
Take your new awareness out for a test drive. Go for a walk. Get out of your head and drop down into your center of gravity. If it’s icy outside, all the better. Drop your shoulders, relax, and don’t think about it. Your body knows exactly how to keep you from falling. Trust it and let it do the work.
Once you get a feel for this, your mind will follow suit—your thoughts will stop jumping all over the place. First your body, then your mind. And once your mind is dialed in, your emotions will follow.
Here’s how it works (for spiritual techies):
This area that I’m calling your center of gravity is neither the solar plexus nor the generative plexus. It’s a blend of those two energies. The generative energies control the hips, which are powerful. I have taught people how to ski on dry land, before they ever put on a pair of skis, simply by showing them how to control their hips. It works the same in golf. Knowing what to do with your hips can add twenty yards to your drive.
The solar plexus energies move us forward. They, too, are powerful. They use the platform of the hips to initiate that forward movement. Together, they are the engine that allows us to extend ourselves into the world.
There are also energy centers in the crooks of our elbows. They are connected to the combined energies of our generative and solar plexus centers. As we extend into the world, these centers in our elbows expand and our arms straighten. You can see this not only in skiing but in every other sport that involves intentional forward movement. (I like to call sports “kinetic yoga”). And just as the generative/solar plexus combo uses the hips as their operating platform, the energy centers in the palms of our hands use the elbows as their platform, from which they can then articulate more precise movements (picture using your index finger pointing the direction to go).
Fear, however, shuts these energies down. All of them. It contracts the energy centers in our elbows, causing us to retract our arms and lose the articulation of our hands and, therefore, our direction and our grip. The ground beneath our feet, both literally and figuratively, becomes unstable, and our forward movement energies either freeze up or reverse direction. Our extension into the world turns into aversion and retreat.
In skiing, this causes our hands to drop or draw back, which then causes us to lean back. Our skis shoot out from under us and we fall on our butts. Or, our arms reach out to the sides in an attempt to stabilize but instead cause us to forfeit control of our direction because our hands stop pointing the way. This is a great metaphor for all of life, but it’s also quite literally true.
If our aggressive instinct is strong, the energies of the solar plexus kick in and we fight. But they can only be as effective as they are rooted in discipline. Otherwise, we flail. They have to be painstakingly interwoven into the energies of all the other centers before they can respond effectively and appropriately to the danger—aggression formed by discipline and sheathed in voluntarily controlled restraint.
When we master the forces of these energy centers, we become unstoppable.
Faith is not necessarily the same as certainty. It is, rather, more like the expectation that there is more to reality than we can perceive and that that reality is somehow supportive of the one we can see, touch, and feel.
Certainty and expectation aren’t the same.
I live in a house that’s surrounded on all sides by the huge ranch it sits on. At night, it’s easy to forget how isolated it is. The inside is comfortable, well-lighted, and has everything I need for daily life.
It’s easy, when I’m focused on my work, to forget about the wider world. When the blinds are closed, the interior space of the house becomes, in a sense, all there is. My mind ends at the walls that separate me from the wildly natural world that stretches out for miles a few feet from where I sit.
In the daytime, it’s entirely different. The blinds are open, and the hills, pastures, and vineyards (I live in Northern California) are right there, reminding me that I’m in Earth and not the cave of my living and dining rooms. The landscape I see is real—it’s unmistakably real. I’m in here and it’s out there, but the walls are transparent to the world, so it’s impossible to forget where I am.
But just as the walls at night seem to be the borders of reality itself, isn’t the world that I can so plainly see during the day just another kind of wall, just another kind of border? What if there were a greater daylight, one brighter than the visible sun, that would cause me to open a different kind of blinds, ones that would reveal that which is normally hidden from normal eyes?
Would that not substantiate my faith in higher worlds? Would it not prove that every limit of my experience is just another border, just another wall with just another set of blinds?
I would be a liar if I said that I have not seen what’s on the other side. But I would also be a liar if I claimed to know what’s on the other side of the other side. Oh, I’ve glimpsed it, but that hardly qualifies as knowing. And who knows how far that goes? How many other sides are there?
So, without the luxury of certainty about such things, I still expect that they’re there. And I expect that they all somehow work together, but I’m not so certain that I will ever understand completely how they do.
And here I sit, nested within multiple walls, multiple borders, with only a limited perspective of what’s really out there and whether it ever ends, something I doubt I can know. So it’s useless to speculate about it. But as long as it all works together, that’s fine by me. I’m okay with that, no matter how big or how far it goes.
Honoring our parents means recognizing them as a factor to be understood, not a model we have to replicate.
In its simplest sense, the Fourth Commandment means taking care of your elderly parents. But in a deeper sense, it means recognizing that which deserves honor and overlooking (forgiving) the rest. You can’t honor what’s dishonorable.
Biologically, we inherit all the genes we have from our parents. But which ones get turned on is determined by how we react to our environment. That’s why it’s important to “honor” the better angels of our nature.
Mentally, we “honor our father and mother” when we recognize the existence of the preconceptions out of which our ideas are born. An amoeba moves by extending itself through a narrow bridge of its own cytoplasm. It can’t jump from one place to another. It has to maintain a connection with its former position before it can fully take on another. Or, as the saying goes, “If a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass a-hoppin’.”
In terms of prayer, or the use of the Law of Prayer, it means that we can only move as far as our legs can carry us one step to the next. We can’t, by taking thought, make one hair white or black, as Jesus said. When the Wright Brothers set their minds on flying, they didn’t magically sprout wings from their backs. They worked with what they had and built an airplane. That was the answer to their prayer.
At the soul level, which is our spiritual operating system, we honor our Creator, knowing that we are infinite in our potential but, at the same time, confined to our humanness. It’s as though we have been shot into this environment so that the infinite potential that we are will raise up or redeem the whole place. This is the Christian doctrine of “The Incarnation,” the atonement and redemption all rolled up in one. Enlightenment starts with a spark from above that lights a fire, which then burns towards heaven.
These three actions—incarnation, atonement, redemption—are distinct. The Incarnation is the descent into matter. The atonement is Christ submitting to the tomb, Jonah to the whale, Shadrak, Meshack, and Abednego voluntarily entering into the furnace—allowing ourselves to be consumed by the Earth Plane and becoming one with it. The Redemption is regeneration—the transformation of matter into the New Man, the New Jerusalem, the Return.
What’s being born in us at this Holy time of year isn’t like a parasite that destroys its host, like the creature in “Alien,” but like a baby that comes into our life and overturns it completely.
Make no mistake—it will change your life forever. But just like a baby, it needs you to be the adult, to help the newborn thing to safely integrate into the world.
And the Christ Child NEEDS you to protect it—from Herod, your own stipulations as to who the Child will grow up to be. You might need to hide it from the profane, lest they murder the new version of you in its infancy. But the biggest threat could be you yourself—your fear of losing something, your doubts, and your opinions about who you are.
There is a point where you will have your “coming out” in the temple, after which you will no longer be able to keep the New You hidden, nor will you be able to keep it from saying and doing the things it was born to say and do.
But now is the time to stay indoors and ponder the true nature of who or what is being born. Protect it. Nurture it. Give it your full attention.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”