The Resurrection Principle

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He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay” (Matthew 28:6).

According to Matthew’s version of the resurrection, when “Mary Mag’dalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher,” they found it empty. An angel was there to tell them Jesus had risen from the dead.

The Easter story presents the defining principle for both traditional and metaphysical Christianity. In both cases, Easter illustrates that life, not death, is the truth behind all appearances to the contrary.

We celebrate Easter in the Spring because all around us we see the resurrection of new life from the dry stalks and branches of apparent death, and we marvel at the tenacity and the proliferation of this mysterious force that we call life.

Traditional Christianity draws its meaning of Easter from the past, projecting its fulfillment as a glorious and everlasting future. In alternative Christianity, we invoke the principle of resurrection in our current affairs by dying to, or letting go of, the old and affirming the new. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Life is always creating new channels through which to express itself. Our work is to make ourselves as open as possible to the renewing energy of this resurrecting force so that every point of our experience may expand and flourish. Are you sealed in a tomb of fear and negation, worried about your future, uncertain about the outcome of some current situation? Then begin to release this fear and affirm that the resurrecting power of life is now lifting you beyond all restrictions, all uncertainty, all inhibitions, and that your life is full of new possibilities, and those possibilities are unfolding now, like the spring buds bursting all around you.

Open your mind to God’s resurrecting life right now, right where you are, and enjoy the blessings of a transformed experience.

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The Beginning Within the End

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Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24

John, who wrote his Gospel some sixty years after the death of Jesus, uses this saying to show Jesus prophesying his own death. The saying is couched in John’s account known as the triumphant entry, which we celebrate as Palm Sunday. Here we have a good example John using Jesus to advance the narrative of the early church.

The saying itself bears the characteristics of the mystical thread likely intended by Jesus. It references the omnipotence of God as the power that transforms the seed. That this power is within the seed illustrates the divinity of the individual. And even in the darkness of death, the seed is not separated from the transforming power that bears much fruit.

The principle embodied in this saying is clear. What appears to be an end is also a new beginning. From the death of one state of mind comes the birth of something greater, something that will bear much fruit. This is reminiscent of the second noble truth of Buddhism that says that trishna or clinging, is the cause of all suffering. If we cling to the seed, it will not bear fruit. If we cling to conditions as they were, our forward movement will be frustrated, and suffering will result.

Think of a situation in your life now that is undergoing significant change. Are you fearful? Are you reluctant to let the seed of the old condition fall into the ground and die? In your time of quiet, try thinking of the situation as you would a seed that is ready to plant. Imagine dropping it into the ground, covering it with soil and then sitting back knowing that something greater is now emerging. How the new emerges is not your problem. Your job is to let go in trust, knowing the Divine is now working its greater good through you.

The Mystical Thread

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As we’ve seen, the Gospels carry two messages: one is the developing doctrine of the early church, the other is what we’re considering the mystical thread that runs through the teachings of Jesus. How do we recognize this thread? We look for ideas that are consistent, not with early church doctrine, but with the principles of mysticism. These principles will always include references to 1) the omnipotence God, 2) the divinity of the individual, and 3) the relationship of oneness between God and the individual. In some verses these ideas are evident while others will require some thoughtful consideration before they yield their hidden treasure.

Jesus made references to God caring for sparrows, lilies of the field and birds of the air in general. He assured his listeners that God, their heavenly Father, would take care of them as well. We can picture how this happens with a favorite illustration of mine. We mow our lawn and a healing intelligence is there to respond to each individual blade of grass. If every lawn on the planet is cut at the same time, this non-depletable presence responds just as quickly and just as certainly.

We see the first element in our trinity of principles as the grass immersed in the omnipotence of God. The healing power is dispersed everywhere, equally at the same time. The second element presents as this power fully involved in every single blade, meaning the whole of the healing power is intimately involved, down to the cellular level. We see the third element in the fact that all the grass is one with this healing energy, no begging for its help required.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?” (Matt. 6:30).

There isn’t room here to cover all the instances of how the teachings of Jesus rest on this powerful trinity of principles. We will continue to explore specific passages in the weeks ahead. The important thing is to be able to identify this mystical thread as a key assurance that God is truly a present and responsive help in our times of uncertainty and need.

The Silence

[Note: I was absent Sunday due to a minor surgery, which was a success. I want to thank Elaine Lawrie-Foss, a lifetime Unity student, for speaking in my place. JDB]

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Excerpt from The Silence, by E.V. Ingraham

The moment it dawns upon you that the first sense of stillness that you feel as you practice the silence is the actual presence of God, that moment you have passed into the realm “beyond the silence,” for then there comes to you a conscious revelation of one of the outstanding characteristics of God Himself. But back of the silent nature of God lie all the numberless phases and degrees of Him who is all.  The silence then becomes the locus (place in consciousness) for receiving the inspiration of the Almighty that gives understanding; the locus where the Spirit of truth becomes the only teacher, where man gains knowledge of the Infinite at first hand.  Silence ceases to be mere stillness, and becomes the unfolding presence of Divinity itself.  At this moment you have literally touched the hem of His garment, and the complete reconstruction of your nature begins.

The Mystical Union

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“Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6).

How we understand Jesus’ kingdom of God is our key to understanding the mystical thread running through his teachings. Is this kingdom a biblically prophesied day of judgment, complete with major destruction, wailing and gnashing of teeth? Or is it a quiet spiritual awakening that is born and grows through our consciousness from the innermost recesses of the soul? It is clear from the overall message of the New Testament that the early Christian community couched it in apocalyptic terms. But when we lift the sayings of Jesus from this evangelical narrative, we find another, inner-directed message more closely associated with the mystical thread.

Jesus often speaks in contrasting terms. He uses things like good and bad fish, wheat and tares, wide and narrow gates, old and new wine, houses built on rock and sand, man and woman, to name a few. We get the most from these illustrations when we see them, not as references to believers and sinners, but as contrasting types of consciousness. One is the surface, senses-based understanding, the wide gate that most rely on to navigate through their world. The other is a consciousness built upon the bedrock of the soul, the narrow gate that relatively few discover. This is the heart of the gospel of Jesus for it not only establishes our relationship with God, it gives us a practical spiritual base from which to weather life’s storms.

Matthew obviously used this passage simply as commentary on the institution of marriage. The deeper meaning addresses the need for unity between the intellect (man) and the intuition (woman). Rather than think of ourselves as a human being seeking a spiritual experience, we correctly understand ourselves as a spiritual being having a human experience. From this spiritual foundation, the intellect and the intuition act in unison, the soul inspired intuition providing the primary insight. We are no longer two but one flesh, our head and our heart joined in spiritual matrimony.

This is an appropriate message for today. Our intellectually driven science sees the soul as little more than a neurological process, an unnecessary curiosity. The towering intellect has effectively divorced this intuitive counterpart for that singing siren of technology.

We know that civilizations grow or fall on the same principle: from the inside out. It’s what we grasp as our center that determines which direction we go. Through all time, this mystical union that God has joined together is truly a marriage that no culture can afford to put asunder.

Finding Your Center of Power

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The Alternative Christian Series

Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:22-24).

Last week we focused on the parable of the prodigal son, which is all about coming home. Coming home is a return to your center of power, a key element of the mystical thread that we’re considering as the Gospel of Jesus.

How do we find our center of power? Jesus says to have faith in God. That is, draw your attention away from that mountainous problem that looms before you and recommit to turning your faith in God.

A story found in 2 Chronicles really drives this home with a practical how-to. Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, is informed that many of Judah’s enemies have formed an alliance and are coming to attack. Jehoshaphat responds in fear, but he vows to “seek the Lord” and calls for a national fast. Addressing the Lord, he says, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” Then the Lord spoke through the prophet Jahaziel. “You will not need to fight in this battle. Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.

The recognition that the battle was not theirs but God’s indicates they had found their center of power. Jehoshaphat then orders singers to go before them singing praises. In the end, the forces arrayed against Judah began to fight amongst themselves and they destroyed one another.

God within is our center of power, the source of our strength. If we are drawing our strength from what we have rather than from who we are, we may discover that we don’t have what it takes to win the battle.

When Jesus says, “…and does not doubt in his heart,” he is echoing Jehoshaphat’s, “In thy hand are power and might. We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon thee.” In other words, both are describing a very definite shift in focus. How will the mountain be cast to the sea? How will the army be defeated? We don’t know. We only know that our eyes are upon thee. Our faith is in God.

This is the homecoming, the return to our center of power. Problems come in the form of mountains and great armies that seem poised to destroy our peace. Return to your home, your center of power by reaffirming your faith in God, the absolute good working through your life right now.

 

 

 

 

The Gospel of Jesus

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The Alternative Christian Series

We have four Gospels about Jesus, but do we have a Gospel of Jesus? I like to think we do, and it’s found in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). The story not only provides a summary of the entire problem of sin and salvation, it also gives us the key to the mystical thread that I believe represents the heart of his message.

Luke positions this parable and the two that precede it—the lost coin and the lost sheep—in the early Christian context of the wayward sinner, which is how it is usually considered today. Though we’re led to believe that Jesus taught a repent or else message, his original intent was probably more in line with the less abrasive, forgiving words and actions of the father toward his wayward son. It’s been suggested that Luke was seeking to appease a remnant of John the Baptist’s following who would have been accustomed to John’s harsher tone.

An overview of this parable shows that it contains all three phases of the Hero’s Journey: 1) the departure 2), the initiation 3) the return. The son leaves his ordinary life to heed the call to adventure. Once out, he encounters severe trials that lead him to the brink of disaster. His transformative moment occurs when he comes to himself. The arrogance of youth is replaced with humble compliance. He returns home a changed character.

I think the perfect litmus test for Jesus’ gospel is found in how well his various sayings align with the tone of this parable. The sinner is punished by his sins, not for them. The father does not forgive the son because he never condemns him. He expresses nothing but unconditional love. The only condemnation in the story comes from the older brother, who represents the demand for punishment found in so many mainstream religions.

If we go back to the statement that Truth is the omnipotence of God expressing as the spiritual essence of every individual, we see this principle portrayed in the prodigal story. The father represents this perpetual state of self-expression in his love for both sons. Our wayward thinking does not change the expressive activity of God in us. We may wander into the far country of despair, but because this relationship of oneness is unchangeable, we can come to ourselves and begin our journey home, no bargaining required.

The younger son breaks the rules and the older son insists on punishment for his sins. Both suffer as the result of their transgressions. The father goes out to welcome his wayward son, but he also goes out to console his angry son.

The story clearly illustrates the unconditional love of God, a message worthy of being treated as the good news, the Gospel that Jesus likely intended to bring to the world.