Wednesday, November 29, 2017

There is peace and joy in doing God's will

The atonement, at-one-ment, is when everybody loves everybody all the time. When you love your brother and sister, their spirit not their body, then Love joins you bringing comfort and peace and joy. These relationships are called "holy", "holy relationships," in A Course In Miracles. ACIM describes "Holy relationships" as God's will. It is stated in ACIM,

"If you attack whom God would heal and hate the one He loves, then you and your creator have a different will. Yet if you are His Will, what you must then believe is that you are not yourself. You can indeed believe this, and you do. And you have faith in this and see much evidence on its behalf. And where, you wonder, does your strange uneasiness, you sense of being disconnected, and your haunting fear of lack of meaning in yourself arise? It is as though you wandered in without a plan of any kind except to wander off, for only that seems certain." T-22.1.1:2-7

One of the slogans in AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, is "You are as sick as your secrets." Our biggest secret, which often is unconscious, is that we care nothing for God's will and just want to be left alone to do our own thing. Even worse, we try to hid from people, and God, what we are doing and what our intentions are because we are ashamed of the secrets we keep and what they will think of us, and do, should they find out. Because of the secrets we keep, we see our brothers and sisters as a threat to our safety and so we lie to them, manipulate them, attack them, and say we hate them. We hate them because of our fears of being found out. This fear of being found out robs us of our peace and joy.

Honesty is the best policy. We should strive for authenticity, genuineness, and sincerity. This striving is manifested in our discerning and attempting to do God's will for us. In the great Christian prayer, the "Our Father," we pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." When we bring our will into alignment with what believe is God's will for us we experience great peace and joy, and this peace and joy we want to extend to our brothers and sisters. We can say sincerely and with deep genuineness, "Pax vobiscum."

This desire and ability to extend the joy and peace we have achieved through aligning our wills with what we believe is God's will for us is an important indicator of advanced spiritual development.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We all can be teachers of God.

"Each age needs a new kind of spirituality because each age is different from any other; hence messengers keep on coming. A messenger is nothing but a person who translates the eternal truth for contemporary people." Osho, First In The Morning, p.1

"A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else's. Once he has done that, his road is established and his direction is sure." A Course In Miracles, Manual For Teachers 1.1:1-3

The spirituality of our contemporary age is not parochial. Increasingly, people recognize and acknowledge that God is too big for any one religion. Increasingly, people say they are spiritual but not religious. Unfortunately, religion has been hijacked for ideological reasons and become a tool of politics. Spiritual people see through this sham, this con, this fraudulent counterfeit scheme to propagandize an agenda under the guise of spirituality. Jesus told us to be aware of the prophet who is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

One of the signs of advanced spirituality is the recognition that exclusive parochialism is not the path to the sacred and holy. The person yearns for something more authentic and genuine. This yearning begins with a look within and the start of an adventure that while it can be somewhat scarey is exhilarating as well. As it says in ACIM all it takes is a deliberate choice and extending oneself in a loving way to one's fellow creatures.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Loving just because you want to

Most people are not aware that there are two kinds of love: conditional and unconditional. The foregoing statement is not correct because in reality there is only one kind of love and that is unconditional. Conditional love is counterfeit, fraudulent, and even if called "love" by many is not love at all but a business relationship based on the principle of "give to get."

Unconditional love is a rare and beautiful thing when a person, already complete, satisfied, and fulfilled within him/herself loves just because (s)he wants to extend what they have.

Ben was asked by his friend, Jacob, if he would get married again. Ben replied that he would if he could meet someone who was happy with herself. And then Ben said, "Are there any?" Jacob laughed and said, "They are a rare creature. You are serving up a tall order."

Ben said, "Well, like Diogenes looking for an honest person, I am roaming the world looking for a woman who is happy with herself."

"How about you," asked Jacob? "Are you a happy man? Can you love someone unconditionally without expecting anything in return?"

"I aspire to that," said Ben. "Like everyone I know, I have my baggage, my fears, my frustrations, my depressions, but I am getting there. I have learned that you get what you give, you enhance what you extend, you learn what you teach."

Jacob, with a smile, said "Dominus vobiscum."

Ben laughed and replied as he did in his altar boy days, "Et cum spiritu tuo."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Most popular article on NSL in October, 2017

The most popular post on NSL in October, 2017 was "Forgive your brothers and sisters and gain peace." To access the article click here.

Be still and know that I am God.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, Workbook For Students, Lesson 189,

Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. 2 We learn the way today. 3 It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. 4 For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world's apparent reasoning but serve to hide.

Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. 2 Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. 3 Hold onto nothing. 4 Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. 5 Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

W-189.8. Is it not He Who knows the way to you? 2 You need not know the way to Him. 3 Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. 4 God will do His part in joyful and immediate response. 5 Ask and receive. 6 But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. 7 The way to reach Him is merely to let Him be. 8 For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.

The only thing we have to do to hear God speak to us and to be one with God is to clear away the clutter, the blocks and obstacles to our awareness of God's presence. In Psalm 46, verse 10, it is written, "Be still and know that I am God." In ACIM this is called the Holy Instant. To achieve this on a regular basis takes practice which involves intention and also relaxation in the sense of "letting go" of all the nonsense of the monkey mind. To achieve this state is a sign of highly developed spiritual awareness.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Do you want joy?

Are you a victim or an agent? Do you feel helpless or a person of influence? Do you have enemies or only friends or potential friends? Do you feel unable to cope with the circumstances in your life or have you developed ways of managing your thoughts and emotions in response to those circumstances? Have you developed a wisdom to accept the things you cannot change and the courage to change the things that you can?

A sign of spiritual maturity is the knowledge and awareness that nobody and no things can make you think, feel, and behave anyway that you don't chose to think, feel, and behave. This awareness and practice brings peace and joy which is constant. Nothing can disturb it without your cooperation.

Some people believe that joy comes and goes, but that is not true. True joy is constant because it is based on balanced constancy which is supported by oneness with Creation. Once the center has been found it is difficult to be knocked off balance for long if at all.

The spirituality mature know the difference between pleasure, happiness, joy, and bliss.

The less spiritually mature settle for pleasure and happiness which is fleeting and can change with the winds. As one advances in spiritual development the awareness that joy and bliss are possible leads to a choice about how one wishes to lead one's life. People are afraid of joy and bliss because they are attached to pleasure and happiness and fear the loss of them. And yet we come to realize that pleasure and happiness are ephemeral and as such aren't "real." What is real is on another level and so we must chose whether we will say trapped in the material world or transition to a higher level of living. It is a choice we can make once we become aware of the option. To realize our full potential and actualize it we must say goodbye to the darker side of our nature.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Our most important choice is acknowledgement of Oneness or persistence in our separation

At a deep level people have a choice between the drama of the ego world or the peace and joy of Oneness with creation. Hopefully, people come to a point where they are aware of this choice because often they are unaware and feel trapped in vicious cycles and assume the role of victim of circumstances they perceive as beyond their control. While people cannot always control the circumstances which they perceive, they can, with awareness and intention, control their response and management of those circumstances. When people become aware that they have a choice, the further question, then, is what will they choose?

When people become aware of their errors and mistakes, these errors and mistakes call for correction and repair. This correction and repair cannot be done in isolation and on one's own but requires joining with others. This joining usually requires a request for help. It is not only okay to ask for help, it is necessary for in the requesting and obtaining help two and more become joined in improving their mutual welfare and in doing so the ripple effect blesses the whole world in ways beyond our comprehension.

The person and his/her brother/sister are joined together in the work of salvation which is a theological term meaning liberation from the bonds of error and mistakes to a place of peace and joy and well being.

It is written in A Course In Miracles, "You are your brother's savior. He is yours." T-21.VI.9:1-2

There is a powerful paragraph in ACIM which states, "God is not mocked; no more His Son can be imprisoned save by his own desire. And it is by his own desire that he is freed. Such is his strength, and not his weakness. He is at his own mercy. And where he chooses to be merciful, there is he free. But where he chooses to condemn instead, there is he held a prisoner, waiting in chains his pardon on himself to set him free." T-21.VI.11:5-10

And so another sign of spiritual maturity is the awareness that one has a choice and God is not mocked meaning that God's love for us is constant, universal, and our natural inheritance and what is required of us is simply the choice of acknowledgement instead of denial.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Are you tuned in on the frequency of the angels?

As Geraldine, a character that comedian Flip Wilson created and acted, used to say, "What you see is what you get!" In A Course In Miracles it is written, "Perception selects, and makes the world you see."T-21.V.1:1

The ego creates the drama in our lives. It is written further in A Course In Miracles, "Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you to see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your own control, and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny. For this is your faith." T-21.V.2:1-7

ACIM goes on to explain that this scenario the ego has constructed for us, based on our bidding, is not true. It is only a drama of our own making.

Most of us love gossip and the juicier the better. We are aroused to fear and disgust every day by the constant bombardment of the media. The sensational and emotionally arousing stories get our attention. We gloat initially that these things have happened to other people and we have escaped. The bumper sticker, "Reality is when it happens to you," is the ultimate in the ego's cynicism and sadism.

God's love is always there but we fail to see it because we overlook it as it gets drowned out by the insanity of the ego's world. We see what we have put our faith in. We see what we have been conditioned and trained to believe in. And this unreal world of pain, misery, sorrow, and separation becomes, for us, our own reality.

At this Christmas time of year I saw a church sign board on which was written, "You too can hear the angel's song if you tune in on the right frequency." If you would have peace, joy, and happiness, practice tuning in on the right frequency. Spending more of your life and making decisions on that frequency is a sign of spiritual maturity.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sign of spiritual maturity - Realizing that God loves us abundantly

Most people are afraid that if they look deep down into their soul they will find that they are inadequate, defective, or sinful in some way. This fear, unconsciously, drives  them to drink too much, eat too much, play video games too much, spend too much time on their media devices, and act out in their relationships and daily life.

There comes a point where people become sick with life. They grow weary, exhausted, depressed, anxious, and sometimes suicidal or wonder why life is so hard and whether it is worth it to go on. As is written in A Course In Miracles peoples tolerance for pain is very high and and they will persist in their patterns of dysfunctional behavior until they hit bottom.

When they have nothing else to lose, a miraculous transformation begins to occur. They are determined to do the right thing no matter what and they don't give a shit any more about the consequences. At this point, they become free to be themselves and to live with integrity. They learn that living with integrity is their birth right. They realize that deep down they are a son or a daughter of God and God doesn't make junk. They learn that the ego had tricked them into believing they were defective so they would continue to do the ego's bidding. They realize that their inherent defectiveness has never been true, is not true now, and never will be true because there is nothing they could do that would completely alienate them from the love of their Creator.

This is what Jesus called the message of good news. Jesus often told people that God doesn't just love them, God loves them abundantly. It is an indicator of spiritual maturity to realize God's love for us and for us to extend this love to each other.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

An indicator of spiritual maturity is discerning and doing God's will

Every now and then we get a glimpse that there must be something more to life. There is a faint memory of a time and place of comfort, peace, security, and well being. People in distress sometimes say, "I can't stand this any more. I can't go on. There are times when I wish I wasn't here."

"Do you have suicidal ideas, " I ask?

"Yeah, I do sometimes," is the answer.

"What keeps you from acting on your ideas," I ask?

"My kids, my dog, my ___________."

"Well, it's a wonder, given how miserable you are, that you haven't killed yourself by now," I say.

"I just can't bring myself to do it. I guess things aren't really that bad. I keep hoping that things will get better."

And it is this hope that keeps the person from ending their earthly life. And what does this hope consist of and where does it come from and how does it work?

"What is it that you are hoping will be different if you go on living," I ask?

"I just want things to be okay."

"Things are okay already if you could see beyond the drama in your life," I say.

"I guess," is the reply.

And there is a glimpse of a vision of heaven and peace on earth which has been blocked out by the workings of the ego. We have to admit that we are not in charge, not in control, not the agent of cure. We have to recognize, acknowledge, and surrender to a power far greater than our own and let go. In the letting go, we paradoxically experience peace.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Let the person without sin cast the first stone

It is written in the Introduction to the 21st chapter of the text of A Course In Miracles:

"Damnation is your judgment on yourself, and this you will project upon the world. 2 See it as damned, and all you see is what you did to hurt the Son of God. 3 If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify him. 4 If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free. 5 There is no choice that lies between these two decisions. 6 And you will see the witness to the choice you made, and learn from this to recognize which one you chose. 7 The world you see but shows you how much joy you have allowed yourself to see in you, and to accept as yours. 8 And, if this [is] its meaning, then the power to give it joy must lie within you."

Have you noticed all the condemning going on currently in our society? Condemnation lends itself easily to sound bites and tweets. It seems that those asked for a statement and opinion on some tragic event, when it involves another human being, use the word "condemn" without knowing anything about the person other than the tragic act that they have been reported to have perpetrated.

Have you noticed how people in opposition to others, especially in political campaigns, are prone to condemn their opponents? From where does this desire and willingness to condemn come from?

Judgment is an arrogant act presuming omniscience on the part of the person doing the condemning. Judgment is a usurpation of the omniscience and omnipotence of a Higher Power which the judger engages in with a hypocrisy which only casts himself in a darkness fraught with guilt and anguish.

A person with a more highly developed level of spiritual maturity has given up judgment and condemnation as inappropriate, illegitimate, and a form of idolatry. A spiritually developed person laughs as the absurdity of condemnation of one human being by another. Condemnation of behavior is one thing, but condemnation of a fellow human being is quite another. As Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Not knowing is a significant step on the spiritual path

It is written in the Introduction to Chapter 21 of A Course In Miracles, "As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but chose to change your mind about the world." T-21.Intro.1:6-7

It is also written that "Projection makes perception," or as Geraldine, Flip Wilson's transvestite character used to say, "What you see is what you get!."

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we also learn that you can't judge a book by its cover. So we humbly must question our own perception and judgment and ask ourselves what our perception and judgement are based on and what purpose they serve. The spiritual mature person takes a "not knowing" stance towards the world and its events. As it says in lesson 5 of the workbook of ACIM, "I am never upset for the reason I think."

The spiritual mature person is full of curiosity and engages with the world in generous listening.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Chose love

Religion is based on tradition and doctrine. Spirituality is based on experience and love. Which do you prefer?

It might be asked, "Can I have both?" The answer at first, is one is reasonable, appears to be "yes," but in practice love must trump tradition and doctrine every time for an authentic spiritual life. Jesus said that the way to heaven is "to love as I have loved." What did Jesus mean by that?

Jesus came to eschew tradition and doctrine in favor of love and they killed him as a threat to the organizations of the day. Jesus life teaches us that we can't have both. There is only one choice, and He clearly tells us it is love. You will find peace when you chose rightly, chose love.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Looking for the divine spark in people and things

When you look at a person do you see the body or the spirit? If all you see is a body you have not seen correctly in the spiritual realm. The body is of the ego and is the means of creating illusion and mistakes. If a person is to be spiritually developed the spirit will be of most interest and the focus for a Holy relationship. Peace Pilgrim called the spirit the "divine spark." Peace Pilgrim said when she met people she looked for the divine spark in them and then focused on that.

We can be a witness to the divine spark in people when perhaps they are not even aware of it in themselves. This is what it means to love other people. Spiritually mature people are in love with Love and look for Love's manifestation is all of Love's creation.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

An indicator of spiritual maturity - knowing that love does not die.

I was taught and many other people too in my Catholic upbringing that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. A Course In Miracles makes it clear that the body is not the temple of the Holy Spirit but relationships are. It is written in ACIM: "The Holy Spirit's temple is not a body, but a relationship." T-20.VI.5:1 Section VI, The Temple of the Holy Spirit describes this idea in more detail. It is our relationship with our Creator and our fellow Creations in which the Holy Spirit abides. Jesus told us the same thing in the New Testament when he said, "Where two or more are gathered together in My name, there I will be."

Rev. Marlin Lavenhar at All Souls Church in Tulsa Oklahoma gave a wonderful sermon on October 29, 2017 entitled "Gone But Never Forgotten" in which he makes the point that love never dies. Bodies do, but not love. Love just changes form. Love is eternal. People with highly developed spiritual awareness know this. It is another indicator of spiritual maturity.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The spiritual practice of Lectio Divina

In yesterday's article, the importance of our media diet for our spiritual diet was described. Today we will describe the spiritual practice of lectio divina. Lectio divina is described in wikipedia as:
In ChristianityLectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word.[1] It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.[2]
Traditionally, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.[3]
The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you", an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. In Lectio Divina, however, the practitioner "enters" and shares the peace of Christ rather than "dissecting" it.[4] In some Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.[5][6]
Throughout my life I have practiced lectio divina for 15 minutes per day. I have expanded the practice far beyond Christian texts to other forms of commentary on the spiritual life and philosophical, humanistic, and secular texts as well. My only criteria in selecting texts is  whether they are likely to inspire and nurture spiritual consciousness.
Today, I will start reviewing and suggesting texts that might be appealing and useful for spiritual reading. There is  a page which can be accessed at the top of the opening NSL web page listing books with a brief annotation in a spiritual reading bibliography.

Currently I am reading A Course In Miracles every day and some commentaries which I find helpful.