Monday, July 25, 2016

Will you play the role of the enlightened witness and save the soul of America?

We usually think of the soul as an individual thing but then we recognize such a thing as team spirit and the soul of a nation. There is such a thing as group consciousness, and we recognize the concept of a "culture" as being a helpful idea.

The soul of a nation can be thought of as made up of the predominant norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices. These norms and attitudes, values, beliefs, and practices can be further thought of as dysfunctional or functional, functional meaning that they enhance the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual functioning of the individuals who participate in that culture.

Once looked at from this perspective, the question can be asked, "does racism enhance the functioning of the members of a culture? The answer based on research is no. Racism has a negative impact on the person with the racist belief as much as it has a negative impact on the target.

The problem is that people with racist attitudes are not aware of how the racism negatively impacts them and others. If they were more aware they would no longer allow racism to influence their thoughts, attitudes, values, and behavior.

The problem of racism evidenced by the building of walls and the demonizing of groups of people is that it corrupts the functional soul of America. It brings suffering on us all and by extension to the whole world.

What is to be done about racism?

It must be identified, acknowledged, and treated to diminish, if not eliminate, its influence on our culture. There are many ways to treat racism once it has been diagnosed. The best way is by the introduction of alternative stories which are positive about the people in the groups being oppressed and subjugated. Empathic understanding comes from getting to know "the other" better which dissolves racist ideas at their core. The understanding that we are all God's children, unconditionally loved is key. This empathic understanding may need to come first from changing people's behavior. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he had no illusions about changing the attitudes of a racist. He was not intending to simply change their attitudes, but he wanted to change their behavior. The civil rights act made many racist practices of segregation illegal. Walling people off is more a symbolic than a practical solution to creating security and safety when people have been influenced to fear "the other."

The spiritually aware can make a huge difference in a culture by being what is called "enlightened witnesses." They are the soothers, the reassures, the ones who manifest compassion and loving kindness.

With whom can you share your witness today?

For more on the role of enlightened witness in society click here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The soul of America

The sexism, bigotry, racism, greed, hatred and xenophobia that emanated from the United States Republican Convention this past week from July 18 - 21, 2016 calls into question the soul of America.

The observation that these ideas are supported by a group of Americans might lead one to question the spiritual well being of part of the nation.

It is too easy to say "let us pray for them". It also is condescending and patronizing because these misguided people are part of us and deserve out love, compassion, and acceptance, but we also have an obligation to set appropriate limits and hold accountable those who advocate for hate and would hurt groups of people.

How does one set appropriate limits and work to decrease and maybe even eliminate the racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia, and vanity that was spewed encouraging followers to lock up and even kill people who oppose these evil ideas?

The first and most important step is identifying and naming the evil. Demonization and exclusion promise safety, security, and increased well being, but they do not deliver what they promise. Usually demonization and exclusion beget more of the same and a tit for a tat dynamic is generated which is destructive for all participants no matter which side is taken.

Second, Jesus tells us, counter-intuitively, that we should love our enemies. Demonization and exclusion protest that this makes no sense and will only increase the risk of harm and yet, at a spiritual level, if one has achieved the higher levels of spirituality, one is aware of paradox, and recognizes that the fear injected into us is an illusion because as a spiritual being we realize that harm and death to our spirits are not real. We have just unthinkingly believed it.

Third, given the awareness of the tricks that demonization and exclusion are playing on us, we laugh at the silliness of the situation. The risk that demonization and exclusion claim to protect us from never existed. It is a figment of our imaginations being triggered by fear mongering so that we will give up our power to those who would dominate and control us, and profit from us.

Fourth, we make another choice. We choose love, compassion, brotherhood, and inclusion because we know that we are all in this thing called Life together and our fulfillment comes from helping each other achieve the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Moving in this direction our spiritual health as a nation will be nurtured.

Fifth, we act in ways to include, to nurture, to support, to lift up and build up all people, everywhere. In short, loving kindness will restore the soul of America and we can do things every day to manifest this in our daily lives enhancing the lives of others as well as ourselves. This is how God will bless America working through the loving kindness manifested in our mutual lives together.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Life isn't fair!"

Joan complained to me "It's not fair. How can God allow these things to happen!?"

Joan is at stage 2 using James Fowler's model of stages of faith development. Stage 2 is what he calls "Mythic-literal." In every day speech, people at his stage of faith development are called "fundamentalists."

Fundamentalists believe in the literal interpretation of what they consider to be sacred texts, the revealed words of their God. They also believe in an orderly world based on reciprocity and fairness, an eye for eye, the Code of Hammurabi.

This stage of faith is very soothing for believers because it makes order out of what they perceive to be a chaotic world and thus reduces their anxiety and enhances a sense of security and predictability. People in recovery from addictions find this stage of faith very helpful in reorganizing their lives in a more constructive way. Also children in elementary school years find this stage of faith development helpful in creating rules and roles they should play and expect others to play as they make sense out of an unfamiliar and sometimes threatening world.

Stage 2 faith works for a while with its literalness and articulated understanding of fairness, but it can't last forever because life is full of paradox and is not always just and then what is a person to do, believe, and how is a person to manage mixed feelings?

For today take comfort in what you understand to be the order of the universe and what you understand to be fair and just, but remain open and flexible if contradictions, paradoxes, and injustice come your way. Life is not to lived based on a recipe or a protocol. It is to be lived as an adventure and in the last analysis as a mystery.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why are there people in the world?

James Fowler in his book, Stages of Faith, asks a child of ten, "Why are there people in the world?" and she answers, "People in the world? Let's see. If there weren't any people, there wouldn't really be a world. And if there wasn't a world then the world would be blank. I mean everything - that's a tough question. Let's see. Why would there be people.?" p. 137

A follow up question to the same child was what the world would be like if she wasn't in it.

It's one thing to mess around with kids asking them these questions, but I got to imagining how the average adult in the United States in 2016 would answer these questions; Why are there people in the world, and how would the world be different if you weren't in it?

I would guess that the answers would run something along these lines: people are in the world to make it a better place and to help bring God's creation to perfection, and I'm here to assist in this process.

And then, I began to wonder if this is true. If it is, it is rarely reflected in our media, our politics, our arts these days.

I met a man from Australia in Washington, DC at Arlington Cemetery traveling with his family for a month in the United States and I asked him what stood out for him in his visit to the states and he said, "How courteous and polite and friendly everyone is."

I said, "You'd never know it from the media what with Donald Trump wanting to wall off Mexicans and keep out the Muslims," and the man said to me, "we have our conservative politicians in  Australia too" and dismissed the subject.

Of my five day trip to Washington, DC, my encounter with this man was the high point of my trip. I wonder what he would have said in response to the questions about why there are people in the world and how would it be different if he weren't in it. I feel blessed by my encounter and I am certainly glad he is in the same world I am in and I had a chance to meet him.

Friday, July 15, 2016

If you would find your real life, lose the counterfeit one with all the drama

A friend of mine asked , Jesus says in Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." It is written in the seventh chapter of the Tao Te Ching that because the master has let go of himself, he is perfectly fulfilled. These statements seem paradoxical, contradictory. I don't get it. What do they mean?

I tried to answer as best I could because I'm not sure I get it either, at least not in my dichotomous mind which wants to reduce things to their component parts and think things through in a logical way. 

In order to understand the paradox of losing your life to find it, you have to think systemically and intuitively. It has been taught in A Course In Miracles, and in other mystical traditions, that the ego world is not real. We have made it up when we separated ourselves from godliness. We did this when we thought we knew better than God. This separation is alluded to in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve ate the apple from the tree of knowledge. The so called "original sin" was thinking that we can create our own universe apart from God and as we become more aware and conscious we come to realize that our creations, our drama on the ego plane, is not real and not what we really want. In fact we often experience our ego creations and drama as hell. Jesus says to us simply, "drop it." This so called "life" you have created with all its drama, pain, and suffering is just nonsense. You cannot find your real life until you get rid of this false life which you have made up and participate in. As you point out, it says the same thing in the Tao Te Ching. We can't be fulfilled until we let the bull shit go.

One of my favorite bumper stickers says, "Don't believe everything you think." A lot of the stuff we think and then believe is fraudulent, counterfeit, not the real deal. Both Jesus and the Tao Te Ching are teaching us to detach from the life on the ego plane which we have created in our own minds.

So, for today, let go and let God as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous. Surrender to your Higher Power whatever you conceive your Higher Power to be. Admit that your life is unmanageable and let go and let God. While it is scary to do this at first, being willing to surrender to the Will of God, to the Tao brings blessed peace.

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

A woman complained to me the other day, "I have lived a good life. I try to do the right thing. I have made many sacrifices for my family and friends and yet bad things happen to me. My mother died last year from a heart attack at 63, and my brother who was only 32 was killed in a car accident 3 months ago, and now my best friend has breast cancer. I can't understand why God would do these things to me. I've stopped going to church because this whole religion thing seems so fraudulent. To be honest, I'm angry with God for taking these people from me. What kind of a God does such things?"

People who are functioning with this mindset are at what James Fowler describes as the third stage of faith, conventional. People in the conventional stage not only play by the rules, but they believe in the importance and significance of the rules. They believe in some code such as the ten commandments, the constitution, and/or some other ethical code.

Following the rules and believing in the rules provides a psychological and cognitive structure which binds anxiety in the individual and governs interactions with others. Rules make for a predictable and more secure context within which to live one's life. People who find these rules, and the structure rules provide, comforting and useful cannot understand how atheists and secular humanists can be good people and have good lives because they seem to be living without the rule book.

The woman who questions above believes that she has followed the rules and appears to believe that following the rules will prevent negative events. The fact that what she believes are negative events have occurred has created for her a crisis of belief. The God she has believed in she now thinks has failed to follow the rules. Her God has betrayed her and she withdraws her belief and commitment to him.

The woman's belief in the rules is a normal stage of faith development. She not only obeys the rules but she believes and upholds the existence of the code. It is a distressful realization that following the code does not guarantee what she perceives to be safety. Even further, she may realize that some of the rules are not just and appropriate. She has failed to recognize until now that her belief in the code is a social construction which is based on convention not on some divine revelation. Her belief in the divine revelation of the code is superstitious and magical. Hopefully she will come to realize that "God" did not allow her mother and brother to die or her friend to get breast cancer which threatens to take her friendship from her. These are events on the ego plane which God has no power over.

Hopefully, after her anger over her sense of divine betrayal dissipates she will come to understand that her belief in a God who distributes justice is childish. God knows nothing of justice, but only of love which Jesus taught and demonstrated over and over again. Something which, at this woman's stage of faith development, she was not able to grasp.

Humans create all kinds of ego drama which God knows nothing of because this drama is not of God. Humans have separated themselves from the love of God and develop all kinds of rules about how to protect themselves from their guilt and shame of doing so by appeasing what they unconsciously believe is a wrathful, vengeful creature. When their appeasing behavior doesn't appear to work, they become angry with that creature thinking he didn't keep his side of the bargain.

Out of this crisis of belief, comes a dawning realization that life is not governed by rules of convention. Doubt and questioning begins to emerge in the person's mind and they find that they are losing the faith that others have taught them. They no longer feel that they fit into the group of believers of which they have felt a part.

This doubt, this questioning, this rebellion is what Osho calls the first step on the spiritual path. The person starts to search for a faith of her own and is no longer willing to just accept the rules she has been taught by others. What, if anything, do you think authority figures have told you that isn't true? Do you think they really believe what they are teaching themselves? If you don't believe what they are teaching is true, then how do you proceed?

I replied to the woman above who asked, "'What kind of a God does such things?' that's an excellent question. What ideas do you have about that?"

She said, "No God I can continue to believe in. I'm too angry at him."

I said, "Good! I'd be angry with him too if I were you. Your belief in him and his rules have really let you down. Once you have come to terms with your grief over your mother's and brother's deaths and your fear about your friend's illness, you can reflect and consider what you are learning from these very painful experiences about life. There are other ways of looking at and understanding these experiences if you are interested."

She said, "Maybe some other time. This is just not a good time for me."

I said, "Okay. When you are ready, if you want to talk more about these things, let me know."

"Thank you," she said.

"You're welcome," I replied.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Have you subscribed to Notes On The Spiritual Life?

Did you know that you can subscribe to Notes On The Spiritual Life and receive an email update when new articles are posted? It's a good way to stay in touch and work on your spiritual life on a regular basis.

What matters to me the most in my life is ____________

A 15 year old young man asked me what I thought of people who have no faith. I said, "Everyone has faith in something. They have faith in something which they think will make them happy. It may be faith in money, friends, new clothes, their sports team, it can be any number of things. If you want to know what a person puts their faith in ask them to answer this question. The thing that matters the most to me in my life is __________. What do they fill in the blank with?"

The young man said, "So you don't believe in atheists?"

"Atheist is one of those categories that monotheistic deity believers have made up. No I don't believe in atheism. Like I said, everyone believes in something even the nihilists who believe in nothing and death."

"Okay," the young man said. "I appreciate your thinking."

"What do you believe in?" I asked.

"My family," he said.

As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, "And so it goes............."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Tao is the Great Mother as The Father is the source of our being and the base of the Atonement

It is written in the sixth chapter of the Tao Te Ching: "The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want." (Stephen Mitchell translation."

It is written in A Course In Miracles; "Use no relationship to hold you to the past, but with each one each day be born again. A minute, even less, will be enough to free you from the past, and give your mind in peace over to the Atonement. When everyone is welcome to you as you would have yourself be welcome to your Father, you will see no guilt in you. For you will have accepted the Atonement, which shone within you all the while you dreamed of guilt, and would not look within and see it." T-13.X.5:2-5

Is God, The Father, of A Course In Miracles, the same as the Great Mother of the Tao Te Ching? Both the Tao Te Ching and ACIM counsel us to look within as the source of our being with which we are one with everything, "inexhaustible," and the source of the "infinite worlds" which make up the Atonement.

The monk said to the hot dog vendor, "Make me one with everything," and I imagine Him saying "coming right up" and "you only need to look within because you are one with everything already."

Today look for the divine spark first within yourself and blow on it to fan it into a flame and then look for the divine spark in every person you meet and blow on their spark as well. Before you know it we will have a roaring blaze of people joining in one spirit to save the world.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stage 3 of faith development - What it looks like in a coffee shop

I was sitting in a coffee shop chatting with a group of guys and one of them said quite seriously, "My problem is that my wife does not walk in the way of the Lord and recognize me as the ultimate authority and decision-maker in our marriage."    

I was tempted to ask him where he got this idea that he should be the ultimate authority over his wife but I restrained myself because I didn't want to hear his repetition of bible verses or have him tell me that this is the teaching of the church he attends.

This man made a statement indicative of stage 3 using Fowler's model of faith development. Stage 3 is defined as "Synthetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to authority and the religious development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one's beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.

This man seems stuck and I wondered if his marriage was in trouble? I wondered further how rigidly he held to this belief and whether he might be amenable to more flexibility.

I said to this fellow, "Jesus was about love and true love is not concerned with authority because the opposite of love is fear and authoritative people tend to be insecure and their beliefs and emotions are fear based. I am not sure that God intends you to be the boss of your wife and family, but intends for you to love them unconditionally."

He asked me if I was born again.

I said, "Yes, but probably not in the way you are meaning."

He said, "Come to church with me, hear the word, and you'll come to understand."

I said I would make a deal with him and come with him to his church if he would come with me to mine. He said he couldn't make any promises. He would have to consult first with his pastor.

I said, "I have found it interesting that people want to share their religious views with other people, but rarely want other people to share their religious views with them."

"Why would they," he said, "if they already have the truth."

I bid him a good day, asked him to let me know what his pastor advised, and continued with my day intending to love and serve the Lord of my understanding.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Miracles are natural. When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

The sixth miracle principle in A Course In Miracles is:

T-1.I.6     Miracles are natural.  When they do not occur something has gone wrong.

Kenneth Wapnick writes in his commentary on the 50 miracle principles about the sixth principle, "The course teaches us that the most natural thing in this world is to be at peace and one with God, because peace comes from the Holy Spirit within us." p. 32 It is our egos which obstruct and block our awareness of Love's presence. In other words one person is not holier than an other. As the Universalists have taught us we all are unconditionally loved by God, the Spirit of Life. Some people have erected more impediments to the awareness of Love's presence or they have not purified their lives of these impediments so their awareness is dim. Jesus was a master as have the other enlightened people who have walked and walk this earth. Enlightenment means to become aware of Love's presence and to have removed or overcome all the impediments to this awareness.

 How do we encourage spiritual growth? According to this principle of ACIM, the awareness of Love's presence is natural and when we lose this awareness something has gone wrong. And what is it that has gone wrong? It is the ascension of our egos, our sense of specialness, our separation from God and the Body of Christ, the communion of saints, the peace and oneness with God. Universalism teaches that we are all are one and yet in our daily lives we forget. God, I imagine, laughs with us because we behave and think so stupidly. God laughingly says to us, "Don't believe everything you think because it is your ego that is playing tricks on you and makes you believe in things which in the last analysis are no real threat to you at all. Once you have become aware of this you will experience my peace."

As the saying goes, "Everything will be all right in the end, and things are not all right now, it's just because we are not at the end yet."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spiritual people are people of peace and joy.

The eight principle of the 50 principles of miracles in A Course In Miracles is "Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less."

The ego doesn't allow us to know what we lack. The ego operates on the scarcity principle meaning that we always have anxiety that we are inadequate or deficient in some way and so we spend our energy trying to soothe our anxiety by getting more. However, what we lack is God. We are suffering from the separation from God and from each other.  Jesus tells us as much when he tells his followers that the way to the kingdom is "to love as I have loved."

What this eight principle points to is the observation that some of us have a more loving heart than others and those with a more loving heart are called to help those who are less loving. This is a temporary phenomenon until those with less love catch up with those with more love. Love is all around us. Tune in and then broadcast it as you go about your daily routine living with Love. This idea reminds me of the bumper sticker, "If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours." Spiritual people are people of peace and joy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Don't take sides between good and evil but welcome both and live beyond the dichotomy

It is written in A Course In Miracles:

"The guilty always condemn, and having done so they will still condemn, linking the future to the past as is the ego's law. Fidelity to this law lets no light in, for it demands fidelity to darkness and forbids awakening." T-13.IX.1:2-3

It is written in the fifth chapter of the Tao Te Ching:

"The Tao doesn't take sides; it gives birth to both good and evil. The Master doesn't take sides; she welcomes both saints and sinners." (Stephen Mitchell translation)

Jesus says in Matthew 18:21-22: "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!…

It takes a big person to forgive and rise above guilt. According to James Fowler this is stage 6 consciousness at the level of universality. People at this stage have overcome fear and in their loving embrace of other people and life they don't seem normal or even trust worthy to people who, out of their insecurity, adhere and comply with conventional norms and attitudes. Loving people who see no guilt in others are unsettling. Whose side are they on after all?

When have you refused to take sides and welcomed everyone? When have you looked past the hate and attacks by others and looked for their good side? Do you hold grudges? Do you throw things up to people that they have done in their past when you are angry with them? Do you believe as former President Richard Nixon said one time that the best defense is a good offense?

It is written in ACIM, " Do not be afraid to look within. The ego tells you all is black with guilt within you, and bids you not to look. Instead, it bids you look upon your brothers, and see the guilt in them." T-13.IX.8:1-3

Look within and what you fear you will see is not very deep if it is there at all. Don't believe the negative and shameful things that other people have told you, you are. You are the lovable child of God and God doesn't make junk.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Tao is like a well: used but never used up.

It is written in A Course In Miracles:

"Yet in this world your perfection is unwitnessed. God knows it, but you do not, and so you do not share His witness to it. Nor do you witness to His Son and to Himself. The miracles you do on earth are lifted up to Heaven and to Him. They witness to what you do not know, and they reach the gates of Heaven, God will open them. For never would He leave His Own beloved Son outside of them, and beyond Himself." T-13.VIII.10:1-7

What does this passage mean?

In the Tao Te Ching it is written in chapter 4, "The Tao is like a well: used but never used up. It is like the eternal void: filled with infinite possibilities. It is hidden but always present. I don't know who gave birth to it. It is older than God. (Stephen Mitchell translation)

And so we see glimmers, inklings of the divine nature of which we are a part, but we cannot know it all, the whole enchilada. It is too big, too mysterious, too all encompassing.

We do what we can to share our sightings of it. ACIM calls these shifts in perceptions "miracles," and indeed they are experienced as such. We realize at this stage of faith that these sightings can come from many sources. The favorite bumper sticker for people at this stage is "My God is too big for any one religion."

For today, attempt to get into and stay in a meditative space where you can appreciate the wholeness, the systemic aspect of your perceptions. Realize that the focus of your attention is only a small part of the whole. Be aware that we are all in this thing called Life together and it is like a well used but never used up and used for infinite possibilities that we can only begin to imagine on the smallest scale. Being able to get into this space also involves the giving up of attachments to money, family, country, things which we previously sought to enhance our security. Our growing awareness is that security comes not from attachments to the various elements of our ego world, but from our deep and abiding sense of the well filled with infinite possibilities which come from the one source which is beyond understanding. May we humbly accept and give thanks for what little grace of awareness that we are given.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Fears are the blocks to our awareness of Love's presence

The three spiritual stages described in the Christian tradition are the purgative, illuminative, and unitive. These stages of spiritual growth, experienced by the seeker, take the person to union with God. The purgative path involves the purification of the soul, ridding oneself of the ego. The illuminative path is the surrendering one's will to the holy spirit, Jesus, the Higher Power to enter more fully into the spiritual life. The unitive path is becoming one with godliness and achieving a cosmic consciousness.

The major obstacle to pursuing this path of spiritual growth is fear. Fear is borne out of our attachments to ourselves, to others, and to things. As the Buddhist tradition teaches, all suffering is caused by attachment. We fear losing relationships and things that are important to us. We are even afraid of losing face and being slighted and hurt by what we perceive as the unkind words of others injuring our ego.

Our biggest fear is that at our core we are defective and inadequate. Unconsciously, we experience the shame of not being okay. So we put our best foot forward and we build a wall of defenses around ourselves to keep the anxiety of this shame at bay. As toddlers we have our teddy bear, our dolly, our blankie and we suck our thumbs, bite our nails, and finger our hair. As we get older we learn our prayers, have our favorite piece of clothing or other object and develop superstitious beliefs in religious, sports, music, and other celebrity figures most of whom we have never met but about whom we develop all kinds of fantasies and beliefs.

As we mature we realize that these defensive beliefs and objects are illusionary. As much as we like the idea and are comforted by it, we realize that Santa is not a real person. It is our parents, if they are able, who leave the gifts for us under the tree which we find on Christmas morning. We come to realize that our mother and father are not all powerful, but who have problems and flaws and cannot always be depended on to love us the way we want to be loved.

All people grow old, this is inevitable, but many people do not grow up. Growing old and growing up are two different things and sometimes don't occur at the same time. Religious beliefs often have the quality of the belief in Santa. It is a superstitious belief whose function is to reduce fear and anxiety and provide an illusion of safety brought about by the fantasy of supernatural protection similar to the belief in Super Powers so popular now in our contemporary culture. What we fail to realize is that, at our core, we are perfect. We are not defective or inadequate in anyway because our very existence is  a manifestation of godliness and all human beings have an inherent worth and dignity. Becoming consciously aware of our divine nature, we can drop our fears, we are already okay. As we become more aware that our essential nature is one of Love we become less anxious and more secure. Realizing our essential nature we behave more loving, generous, compassionate, and forgiving for these are the manifestations of godliness of which we realize now that we are a part.

The key to dealing with fear and anxiety is to realize what we are and to rise above our attachments, take them in stride, keep them in perspective, keep calm and simply do the next best right thing as the opportunity arises. The opposite of fear is love and as it says in A Course In Miracles, "The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence, which is your natural inheritance." The stages of "removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence" are described, as mentioned at the beginning, as purgative, illuminative, and unitive. Where are you on the path?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Recognizing the divine spark in every human being acknowledges the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

What did Jesus mean when He said that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first in the Kingdom of Heaven?"

Spiritually mature people believe that every “person has worth and dignity, not just some. This is not ordinary thinking in our society among the spiritually immature who believe that a person's worth is strongly based on merit. The spiritually immature see the world as made up of winners and losers.
For the spiritually immature it is very hard to be kind, not just nice, compassionate toward, and not condescending, humble with, and not patronizing towards those we perceive as our inferiors. The stumbling block in applying the affirming and promoting of the inherent worth and dignity of every person is our fears. We are afraid of our own inferiority and inadequacy so we put people down, below us, so we don’t feel so low. By comparison with people we consider inferior we fell superior and better.

Recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every person requires a mature spirituality that involves keeping our ego in check. The spiritually mature person recognizes that we are all in this thing called "Life" together. We share in the essential nature of Godliness and as Peace Pilgrim said one time, "I look for the divine spark in each person I meet and I focus on that." May you recognize that divine spark in yourself and your fellow creatures today.