Coming Home

The Truth Will Make You Free: Part 2 of 2

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“If then the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”        – Jesus

As we saw last week, the Son represents your soul. Spiritual freedom is an experiential awareness of the soul. It’s important that we become conscious of how we see ourselves throughout our day. Are we enslaved by what our senses are reporting? Are we consumed by some pending “what if” that we’re not sure how to resolve? If so, then we are playing the role of the slave to sin. We’re missing, in the sense that our awareness of the soul, our true source of power, has been enslaved by anxiety over the future or past. We have lost sight of the truth that That which is within us is greater than that which is in the world (1John 4:4).

When we think of the soul, we tend to think of it as an entity inhabiting our body. It’s more accurate to think of our body as existing within the soul. When we drop the body, our soul continues our life’s journey. The body needs the soul. The soul does not need the body.

This is important to grasp because 99% of our anxieties are body-driven. We do not want to deny the body or neglect its needs, but we do not want to ignore the stabilizing influence of the soul either. The soul is our true home. The further we wander into the far country of the senses-driven concerns of the self-image, the more freedom we lose. Our freedom becomes conditional, dependent on the status of our affairs. When we resolve this or that thing, we’ll be happy. We’ll be free.

And resolve it we may. Just before another troubling situation arises. A big part of attaining spiritual freedom is found in the understanding that there will always be unrest in our conditions. The nature of life is change. If we’re living with the hope of reaching a state of changelessness in the ever-shifting sands of our material experience, we’ll be forever disappointed. Our affairs will never stabilize to the point of offering us permanent peace.

Jesus pointed out that his kingdom was not of this world – the ever-changing world of appearances. He found a peace and freedom that surpassed material understanding. The ebb and flow of change is ongoing, but the soul is the changeless rock of truth that can never leave us.

True freedom is found at the spiritual level and is available to all. As we begin to grasp this truth, we find that elusive path to freedom.

Love, Thought and Emotion

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In this final part of our February Love series, I want to focus on the distinction between love, in the spiritual sense, and thought and emotion, particularly emotion.

When the apostle Paul speaks of the carnal mind or the mind of the flesh, he is referring to the senses-based composite identity that I associate with the self-image.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6).

We should not think of death in this context as the loss of heart and brain function, but as a severing of our awareness, through distraction with external conditions, with deeper reality. Eastern traditions refer to this distraction as maya, or illusion, the “power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality”.

This world of illusion exists and is sustained in the realm of our own thought and emotion. We’re presented with an appearance, we analyze it, brand it negative and have the corresponding negative emotional reaction. This whirl of mental and emotional energy becomes our experience. If someone asks how our day is going, we look at this internal dust devil and say, not so well. Our response is a product of Paul’s mind of the flesh.

Merely changing our thinking, as advocates of mental science suggest, is not enough. We want a change of experience. We want to move our awareness from the whirlwind of thought and emotion to the eternally steadfast experience of the soul. The common belief is that we must first remove the apparent source of the mental/emotional disturbance before we can have a better experience. The soul, however, is always at rest. To set the mind on the soul (Spirit) is life and peace.

In the midst of whatever whirlwind you may be experiencing, practice knowing that love is doing its perfect work in and through you now. Love is dissolving that which seems to stand in the way of your highest good and love is attracting to you that which is best. Release the tumultuous mental and emotional energy and move toward the peace that is ever present.

 

 

 

 

Love and Self-Preservation

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After last week’s talk, a question was raised about our strong and very natural instinct for self-preservation. This came because of my commenting on the process of letting go of the needs and desires of the self-image so the soul may emerge as our true basis of identity. The principle involved here is one of letting go of the lesser for something of greater value.

This principle is illustrated in a variety of ways in the Gospels. Jesus told the rich young man that selling his possessions, giving the money to the poor and following him would give the young man eternal life. Another instance involves the man who discovered a treasure buried in a field and in joy sold all he had to buy that field. Jesus taught that a seed dropped in the ground must first die to bear fruit. And, of course, the crucifixion itself illustrates the shedding of the mortal for the immortal.

Each of these cases involve surrendering a confining condition to one that allows greater expression. We might also think of the caterpillar and butterfly transformation. The caterpillar weaves itself into the confinement of a chrysalis and emerges as a very different creature. If we think of our self-image as the caterpillar and our soul as the butterfly, we get a good sense of how we may approach our own transformation.

Like the caterpillar, our self-image is the product of its earthbound environment. The caterpillar spends its days drawing from its environment the needed elements to sustain its identity as an earth-bound worm. The instinct to preserve its caterpillar self dominates, manifesting as a voracious appetite. Somehow the caterpillar knows it is destined to become something more. The day comes when it stops looking to its environment for fulfillment and surrenders to this mysterious urge.

We can think of love dissolving the caterpillar’s urge to sustain itself as an earthbound creature while simultaneously stimulating the innate knowledge required to encase itself in the chrysalis of transformation. It is responding to the universal desire for greater expression and freedom, the same desire shared by every person.

The caterpillar instinctively responds to this transforming process. Our choice is not if but when we will respond to this same impulse. We will strive to preserve our self-image until we place more value on the expression of our soul. When we are ready to surrender to the greater process of transformation, love will lead our way.

 

The Love Connection

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Entering the month of February, our thoughts turn to valentines, romance, chocolate and all the other culturally and commercially prompted things we associate with love. From a spiritual point of view, we may raise our thoughts to God as our loving Creator/Sustainer and find strength in affirming we are guided and protected by God’s perfect love.

I refer often to what I consider the four fundamentals of God. These are life, love, power and intelligence. While we see these qualities expressed at all levels of the natural world, love, as a creative force, may seem the least apparent. Viewing it from a spiritual point of view, however, we see love as a major force in the creative process.

Think of love as a twofold activity. On one hand, love dissolves everything that stands in the way of your highest good. On the other hand, it draws that which is for your highest good. The important thing to realize here is that the thing we desire may not be for our highest good at all. What may seem good for the self-image may not be the best thing for the soul’s further expression. The self-image is generally in the business of protecting some weakness while the soul naturally expresses its strength.

Love has a strong association with understanding. When we affirm that divine love guides us, we do it from the understanding that love is dissolving every hindrance to our soul’s expression and drawing to us the needed opportunities for the soul’s greater expression. We are to release our preconceived notions and affirm Thy will not mine is being done. The mine we are referring to here is the self-image. Things may appear to take a turn for the worst, but we hold to the higher truth that the way is being cleared for a greater good than that which we imagined. We may experience disappointment at the level of our self-image, but we hold fast that an even greater good is now unfolding. We call upon our steadfast faith in God to carry us successfully into the next phase of our experience.

There is a Proverb that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (14:12). As we affirm love as the guiding power in our life, let us be willing to let go of what seems right and hold to what is right. Love is establishing that which is for our highest good, right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuck in Traffic

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It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. 

Henry David Thoreau

One of Jesus’ most effective teaching techniques was his ability to take the simplest things and use them to convey a profound spiritual principle. He used seeds, birds, fishing, wind, water and a host of other commonplace objects to make his points.

One day while driving, it occurred to me that we can use this common activity as an indicator of how we are moving through life. Have you noticed that when you are in a hurry, everyone gets in your way, you hit all the red lights and the speed limit seems ridiculously low? You don’t want to be where you are. You want to get where you are going. You have one eye on the clock and the other on traffic that seems to conspire to make you late. If there’s a wreck up ahead, the chances are good that you will think less about the well-being of those involved and more about how their bad driving is going to slow you down. In other words, the focus of your driving experience begins and ends with you.

Here is a simple experiment you can try. Get in your car and take a little trip. Your goal isn’t going to be a place. Your goal is to become an observer. When you see other cars, think of them as being driven by people who have destinations important to them. If they need to cut in front of you to get where they need to go, you gladly let them. You let your whole attitude become centered on courtesies you can perform to help others get on their way. You will quickly discover a very different driving experience.

Now think about how you are driving through your life. Do you feel like you’re stuck in traffic? If so, could it be that you’ve become so focused only on what you want that everyone else seems to get in your way? Try relaxing your own ambitions long enough to pay attention to the fact that others are doing their best to get where they feel they need to go. Perhaps there are things you can say or do to help encourage them along their way. You may not actually need to say or do anything. Just relaxing the way you approach your own life might be enough to help you see an important quality of experience that before seemed elusive.

 

The Element of Denial

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The word denial carries many shades of meaning, depending on the context in which it is used. We can deny an allegation that is untrue. We can deny that a situation in our life needs our attention. We can deny a character flaw that causes repeated problems. Or we can deny a negative appearance the luxury of our creative attention. This last example best describes our spiritual use of denial.

We all know how easy it is to dwell on a negative scenario that may or may not be true. In her book, Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady points out that we can be given false information indicating a family member has been harmed. Though it is not true, the belief that it is can be just as debilitating as if it were true. This illustrates the impact of our thought and emotion on the quality of our experience.

Denial has less to do with appearances and more to do with our use of mental and emotional energy. If you think of your mind as a flow of energy, denial would be a refrain from allowing yourself to be totally sucked in to the negative possibilities suggested by an appearance. We all know how easy it is to jump to conclusions that are not in our highest good. Denial is the process of stopping ourselves from going down this energy-draining road.

It is helpful to look at a negative appearance with the thought that some greater good is at work and will make itself evident as things progress. While this may not be our initial reaction, we can come to this place eventually. Running a different, more positive scenario is denying the appearance the negative power we have given it. A slight shift in perception may be all that is needed to get our creative energies flowing in a better direction and get us on a more constructive track.

Fear is the primary drain of our creative energy, so releasing fear is the most effective use of denial. We don’t pretend things are different but we allow ourselves to begin entertaining a better outcome. We hold that God is guiding us in ways that will unfold the highest good for us and for all concerned.

 

 

 

In the World, Not of It

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Part 3 of 6: Navigating from the Complete Soul

Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

When Jesus refers to the world, he is referring to the general, senses-based perception of reality to which most of us subscribe. We deem as real that which we see with the eye and hear with the ear. If it is true, as we saw last week, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, does this mean that we are to treat as unreal all that comes to us through the senses?

Science presents its own version of the dilemma by stating that matter is 99.999% empty space. Does this mean when I crack my shin on the coffee table that it cannot possibly hurt, that gasp-inducing pain is simply an illusion?

The above passage does not deny our human experience. It reminds us of the spiritual foundation upon which our human expression rests. Jesus’ reference, “to be with me where I am,” is a way of saying that those who understand his message – whom thou hast given me – are awakening to the truth of their spiritual nature. This shift in self-perception is a vital key to developing a successful relationship to our external world.

Imagine that you have taken on your human body because you felt you had something important to give. Have you forgotten what this something is? Then look at the world you are in. What of yourself can you bring to this world right now? What of your genuine nature can you share in this day, in this moment?

To be in the world but not of it is not a denial of our body and our material surroundings and needs. It is to acknowledge the glory God is expressing through our soul, that we may bring it into this world that is ours alone to share.