The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment

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The belief that our soul is evolving produces a number of side effects that have a subtly negative impact on how we approach our spiritual quest. One of these is our view of spiritual enlightenment. Many see this as a state they will reach after years of study and devotion, a time when they will live with the perpetual awareness of the wisdom of the ages and remain blissfully unperturbed when negative appearances arise.

The principles presented in The Complete Soul challenge this spiritual stereotype. Spiritual enlightenment is not a condition we find at the end of our spiritual journey; it’s a shift in values that truly marks the beginning of our spiritual journey.

I refer often to the parable of the man who discovered the buried treasure in a field, then sold his possessions so he could buy that field. This man was not enlightened after he owned the field. He was enlightened the moment he discovered the treasure. At that moment, his search for treasure ended. All his actions were then focused on possessing that which he had discovered.

You are enlightened the moment you realize you are an eternal, spiritual being who currently inhabits a physical body. You have discovered the buried treasure. Your work now is to free yourself from all previously learned falsehoods and bring the realization of your spiritual understanding to bear in every area of your life.

Implementing this truth is a progression. Coming to know it is not. When you connect with an idea you know at your very core is true, you cannot turn back. You will, of course, expand your understanding, but when you are moved by an exposure to what your soul knows is true, you are changed for life. No one can argue you off what you know is true. You are an enlightened being.

It is not wise to discuss this with others, as they will consider you arrogant. It’s nothing to brag about. You have simply reached that point in your journey where you have made a significant and permanent breakthrough. Recognize and cherish it.

Dancing Through Eternity

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“When you are tempted to think a life has been cut short, remember that every soul is dancing through eternity.”

Memorial Day is a holiday for remembering men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces. Many use this time to remember all loved ones who have passed. It is certainly a good time to reflect on perspectives we hold on matters of life and death. In ways we may not even be aware of, our view of death impacts the way we live our life.

Recently, a woman was telling me of a family who lost their three-year-old daughter to leukemia. “I don’t understand why some lives are cut so short,” she said. “It just doesn’t seem fair.” While we are empathetic toward those who experience such a loss, we do well to consider the grander picture. We always feel the time we shared with a loved one now passed was too short. But whatever its duration, the earthly experience is temporary. The soul, momentarily tethered to a body, is not the sum of the loved one we knew in bodily form. They are experiencing life free of the blinders imposed by the physical senses. Their stay on earth may have been brief, but their life has not been cut short.

In our consideration of death, the disadvantage most of us have is that we only have memories of events connected to this incarnation. Life, as we understand it, is what happens between the bookends of birth and death. Everything beyond is unknown. Yet the one who sails over the horizon of visibility gains an insight those who remain on the shore rarely grasp. Whether they were killed in the heat of battle or silently slipped away from the quiet of their hospice bed, they would long for us to know that there is no death. They would know that if we do not grasp it now, we will discover it soon enough.

We are all dancing through eternity. The day will come when we step from this plane, but we will never step from life. Jesus reminded us that in the Father’s house there are many rooms. Earth is but one of these rooms. Hold your loved ones in the light and beauty of life and know they are doing the same with you.

 

 

The God Perspective

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In the New Testament letter of James, we find this reference to God as the, “Father of lights with whom there is no shadow or variation due to change” (James 1:17). Presenting God as changeless is a significant departure from the traditional view of a moody Deity. We so routinely ask for God’s special favors that we may not be aware our perception of the behavior of the Divine as subject to change. Could James’ changeless Father of lights bless and not bless or pass out serpents and stones when we ask for fish and bread?

It is certainly easiest to think of God in terms of our human relationships. At times, we feel close to those around us and other times it seems there is not enough distance. For some we would grant favors without question while for others, our favors come with conditions.

There is a similar dynamic in our relationship to the sun. We have sunny days, cloudy days, daylight and darkness, sunrise and sunset. Depending on how near or far earth is from the sun, we have skin-burning summer and icy cold winter. The sun, it appears, has many moods. These variations, however, have less to do with the nature of the sun and more to do with our relationship to it.

When you think from the perspective of the sun itself, you see a different picture. How many days has the sun seen? We say this closest star is roughly 4.6 billion years old. But how do we measure a year? Multiply 365 sunrises by 4.6 billion and you have more days than most of us can wrap our minds around. The sun itself has seen but a single day, and that day has stretched throughout the duration of its existence. The sun has never risen, never set, never known the cold of winter or the blackness of night. It has never seen a shadow or shivered in the dark corner of a dank cellar. There is no variation due to change.

We cannot understand God from our ever-changing human perception. We must think of God from God’s perspective. From the sun’s point of view, we can understand how there is only one condition and that condition is light. It is only as we think of God from God’s perspective that we begin to grasp the truth that there is but one Presence and one Power. There is not good and evil, not light and shadows. There is only absolute good, as in absolute light.

The light that you and I seek is here now, has always been here, and will always be here. As we commit to opening our minds and hearts to the God perspective, every shadow dissolves into the nothingness from which it came.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yellow Brick Detour

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We’re all familiar with the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum. Since its release, the film has captured the imagination of millions, both for its entertainment value and for its commentary on the human condition. We can draw even greater significance from the story when we view it in a spiritual context.

To summarize, Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is knocked unconscious during a Kansas tornado. Her house, lifted by the storm, crashes in the strange land of Oz, where her single desire to return home begins. Her journey is fraught with danger but in the end, she realizes that the way home has been with her all along.

Like Dorothy, many of us are following the yellow brick road to an Emerald City we believe holds the key to fulfillment. Also like Dorothy, we accomplish the expected requirements but find we are still not home. Something is missing. The solution to Dorothy’s dilemma is not found in reaching the Emerald City or fulfilling the requirements laid out by the mighty Wizard. The solution to her problem is found in the simple act of waking from her very vivid dream.

In many ways, our constant attention to material responsibilities lulls us into a kind of spiritual sleep. We feel something essential to our happiness is missing. That something obviously is found in the acquisition of something we do not currently possess. If we accept that our soul is complete now, and that tapping into this completeness is the key to the fulfillment we seek, our current place on this road becomes a suitable wakeup point. The belief that fulfillment lies at the end of the yellow brick road actually creates a detour.

Dorothy’s affirmation, There’s no place like home, is truly the spiritual motive that drives us. In all our endeavors, we are seeking to return to our spiritual home. We are only dreaming that we are separate from the spiritual homecoming we long for. In truth, we are home now.

 

 

 

 

 

Above the Clouds

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Most of us have probably had the experience of boarding a plane on an overcast day and flying up through the clouds. The view rising above the dull gray day and breaking into the cotton-carpeted world of light is breathtaking. The experience is even more gratifying if the clouds have been hanging over us for a few days. In truth, we know the sun is still present and shining in its fullness, but it lifts our spirit to see it.

We understand there will be a certain number of cloudy days in our weather system. Even when the clouds set in for an unusually long period, we know the sun will break through. What about those days each of us have when our optimistic outlook becomes clouded by negative thinking and emotion? Is this part of our natural “weather” system that we can do little or nothing about? Do we just wait it out and know that our spiritual sun will one day shine again?

The letter of James reminds us that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). The sun would fit this imagery. Change is in the weather, not in the sun. Likewise, in God there is no variation or shadow due to change. So our down moments are our own. Do we try to fight them off with affirmations and increased study of spiritual principles? Do we go with them knowing they will pass? Do we see them as indicators that we have much to learn so we may as well accept the clouds?

The clouds affect us only as long as we are earthbound. We can rise above the clouds by boarding a plane. The same is true with our mental and emotional clouds. We are only subject to them as long as we think of ourselves as mental emotional beings subject to the whims of circumstances. At such times, we can remember that we are not these thoughts and feelings. Nor do they constitute our reality. We are expressions of God with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Our mental and emotional state is not the state of the soul. As we pause to remember this, we take a deep breath and remember that regardless of how we are feeling at this moment, despite the negative train of thought that chugs through our mind, the sun is still shinning. God is still light and we are still expressions of God on this beautiful planet. This remembrance will take you above the clouds of negativity.

 

 

 

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.