The Truth About Spiritual Growth

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The Jews marveled at it, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” (John 7:15).

In her book, Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady discusses two types of learning: intellectual and intuitive. Intellectual learning is the study and memorization of facts presented through things like books, the internet, or teachers. This is the most common and practical approach to developing skills and gaining the type of knowledge necessary for the workplace and for navigating through everyday life, especially in this age of the computer. Intuitive learning is not so straight forward, for it involves a direct, experiential knowing that the fact-hungry intellect finds difficult to trust.

In our quest for spiritual understanding, nearly all of us start with the intellectual approach of gleaning information from external sources. In my own case, it was Cady’s book that opened my spiritual eyes. Or so it seemed. In truth, the ideas contained Cady’s book actually confirmed an internal knowing that had been nudging me beyond the spiritual “facts” I had been given up to that point. She articulated what I knew was true. I simply lacked the intellectual skills to put it into words.

When our soul is aroused by something we read or hear of a spiritual nature, a kind of circuit is completed. We’ve intuitively arrived at a truth that is intellectually confirmed. In other words, you and I know more than we can say. We do not randomly respond positively to certain ideas. We respond to those ideas that we, in the quiet of our being, have already embraced. We may be reluctant to speak of them, for perhaps we do not yet know how to express in words what we know in our heart to be true.

Spiritual growth is not as much about adding new information to your stockpile of facts as it is about remembering what you already know at the deepest level. Your intuition has, in fact, been the guide that has brought you to this present point in your understanding.

 

The Truth About Judgment

 

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“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Matthew 7:1-2).

Much has been written about judgment, usually casting it in the unfavorable light of a practice we should avoid. Passing judgment on another, we’re told, is a sure way to reap unwanted consequences. But what if we understand that the motive and actions of another are selfish, disruptive, even potentially harmful to ourselves and others? Do we never say no, but stand in harm’s way, and deal with the fallout as if it’s only our soul’s lesson to learn? Does learning to hold our peace while getting trampled earn us points in heaven?

I have devised a question that may help sort through this very common type of situation: Am I protecting a weakness, or am I advancing a strength? Am I afraid to do what I know is right, or can I do what is right and own the consequences?

While we may think of the ministry of Jesus as a great gift to the world, we should also remember that there were many people who did not want him to continue. Had he capitulated to their short-sighted concerns, he would have been protecting a weakness. His fear would have robbed the world of the gifts he brought. As it happened, he stood his spiritual ground and gave from his greatest place of strength.

Are we to suppose that Jesus advocated neutralizing our faculty of judgment, or was he simply calling attention to the fact that we’re actually judged by our own motive? If we are protecting a weakness, we will perpetuate weakness. If we are advancing from a position of strength, we will contribute to stronger, healthier conditions.

Whatever conclusions we draw from this will set the tone for our experience in life. Judgment is one of our executive faculties and should not be denied. Being clear about the motive from which we exercise this faculty will go a long way toward resolving any confusion about it.

The Truth About Grace

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To assist in sorting through those elements of our religious training that may or may not be true, it’s helpful to start with a baseline concerning the nature of God. For example, can our thoughts and actions influence the way God behaves? If we do our best to walk the straight and narrow, will God grant us special blessings?

I recently spoke with a woman whose husband finally got a good-paying job. She said, “I think God has seen how we’ve struggled, that we really try to be good people and do the right thing. This really feels like a God thing.”

This seems perfectly logical, and a lot of people endorse the idea. But then a Jesus comes along and says something like this: “… for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Is he saying God is as willing to help the evil and the unjust as the good and the just? Or is he simply saying, God is changeless?

The notion of grace, in its highest form, is really an acknowledgement of the changeless nature of God. Unfortunately, the general understanding of grace, at least in Christian thinking, is that it is a free and unmerited favor of God. We don’t deserve it, but God loves us and will do the occasional favor for us anyway.

In truth, grace is simply God being God. Whether we live with our mind and heart open to the presence of God has no more bearing on God’s behavior than it would on bringing sunshine or rain.

If you have a situation in your life that needs a resolution, try dropping all thought around the idea that God is trying to teach you something, or that you probably deserve this problem but you would like God’s help anyway. Focus instead on the truth that God is changeless love and light, and that God is now working through you in the most marvelous way to resolve your situation.  Affirm the following:

By grace I am lifted above all fear, all struggle, all doubt that God’s greatest good is now unfolding through me. Thank you God, that this is true!

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.

The Quest for Immortality

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Many metaphysical teachings suggest that the body need not be subject to the laws of time, space, and gravity, that there’s really no reason for the body to age, get ill, and perish. Some have even taught that we should be able to so align our consciousness with the regenerative properties of God, that we could live in the body forever.

Most who have sought the brass ring of perpetual youth – physical immortality – have taken a less philosophical approach. All one had to do was bathe in the proper healing waters, no consciousness-lifting required. In Jesus’ day, this was the pool of Bethesda. If you were first to make it to the pool after the angel’s disturbed the waters, you would be healed of your malady. And we’ve all heard of Spanish explorer, Ponce de Leon’s quest for the fountain of youth.

It’s estimated that by 2019, the global anti-aging market will be worth an astounding, $191.7 billion U.S. dollars. Beginning in 2012, pro-immortality political parties have organized in Russia, the United States, Israel, and the Netherlands whose aim is to provide political support to research and technologies focused on anti-aging and what they call, radical life extension.

All of this points to the obsession with the body-based self-image. The quest for physical immortality reveals a deep-seated fear that the loss of the body is equal to the annihilation of the soul, our true essence and identity. This fear is reinforced by modern science’s assumption that consciousness is a product of the brain. When the brain dies, so do we.

Because it is easier to identify with the body and its endless needs, we can easily lose sight of the truth that we, as spiritual beings, are by nature immortal. When Paul suggested that we will not all experience the sting of death, I believe he was referring to those who know who and what they are at the deepest level. Near-death research reveals that one of the most common elements of those who have had an NDE is the complete loss of the fear of death. This is because they have experienced the soul and found it to be immortal.

Our quest for immortality amounts to nothing more than a perceptual shift. We are not the body. The body is the physical interface we use to interact with the world. That which we are, the soul, is in this world, but as Jesus said, we’re not of it. We are expressions of the eternal Source of life we call God.

 

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.

Spirituality and Fatherhood

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“Do not call any man on earth “father”; for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9).

While this saying of Jesus may appear to reduce the role of fatherhood to irrelevant, it’s really a call to understand who and what we are as spiritual beings. Bodily incarnation obviously requires a father and a mother, even if neither actually stay around to raise their offspring. We all have an earthly father.

What Jesus is implying is that souls do not give birth to souls. Our bodies are the physical offspring of our parents, but our soul predates them both. Our parents provided the door through which our soul entered this earthly plane. Jesus is reminding his followers (and us) that the source of their being is not found among their ancestors, but rises from the eternal spring of infinite life.

When we tie our identity to our biological heritage, we tend to limit the way we think of ourselves. What if you realized you have had many incarnations, thus, many parents? And what if you realized that you have also been the parent of more children than you care to count? I’m referring here, of course, to the idea of reincarnation, which you may or may not believe is possible. If the source of our being is truly one heavenly Father, however, then the birth and death of a single body becomes incidental. What appears obvious and fixed in relationships, is suddenly not so obvious and fixed.

We can also look at Jesus’ statement in a slightly different way. We consider the intuitive side of our being the feminine. The intellectual side is the masculine. Jesus can be saying that that self of us that is born of the intellect–the self-image–is not to be thought of as our true identity. The soul, our heavenly Father, is our real Self. That part of us that is fathered by the intellect is tied to the body and subject to environmental whims. The soul is indestructible. Approaching our life experiences from the soul level gives us the advantage of retaining our center of power, for we see from a much larger context. Of any negative appearance, we know that it shall pass, and we will come out fine.

Jesus sometimes had a strange way of saying things, but a little consideration of his words can open some interesting doors.