Harmony in Times of Chaos

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  on June 20, 2021

Today we celebrate the beginning of summer, strawberry season, the time when Mother Earth begins to bring forth the fruits of her bounty; and we human animals who are her caretakers see what we have created in the spiritual realm the previous winter; what we have dreamed of, agreed to, and begun to manifest into the physical world in regards to some of the first major waves of new blessings. Fruits and vegetables are ripening, but in a deeper sense so too are our fears about the Great Balancing, as I like to refer to the current time in history.  

In the last three or four years I have been struck by how many people were using the word “chaos” to describe their worldview.  More recently many people have now decided that we are settling back down, we are no longer living in a pandemic, and that we can now return to “normal.” That clearly is not the case and is not going to happen. 

There is still a tremendous amount of chaos in our collective lives but I think some of us have gotten a little more acculturated to it. It’s gone underground a bit, become less apparent for some. A few of us have worked through enough resistance to the changes within us and around us to have a temporary respite.  As you know, resistance always makes changing more difficult. Global changes however, are ongoing and profound, with many more to come.

The drive to return to normal is an indication that many people still suffer from resistance to change. Get real, folks. Life on Planet Earth has irrevocably altered, thanks be to God. Image from Green Peace New Zealand used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

This morning I want to remind you that chaos has its place in the universe, some might even say a beloved place of honor. I want to impart some hints about how to not only “weather” it–(pun intended)–but maybe even begin to learn to enjoy it. Chaos is what happens when you need to make huge shifts, when you need to destroy things but have little or no permission to destroy.

Seattle-based mythologist Michael Meade embraces the deep spiritual truth that threads through the stories of all cultures. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Chaos is a precursor to great creativity. Out of chaos arise enormous possibilities. The birth process can be smooth, joyful and full of wonder; or it can be painful and disheartening; or anything in between.  Humans still have lots of decisions to make, but the threshold upon which we are currently teetering is nothing less than miraculous. 

At one point billions of years ago our planet was poised on another foundational threshold.  Our universe was a swirling mass of gases and Mother Earth was simply water. Then the Creator brought to this chaos its abundant endless creativity, and thereby fashioned a framework that spurred a paradise of life forms.

In our ignorance and ego-driven desire, humans have largely decimated that paradise, causing a kind of retreat to a state of primordial chaos, at least emotionally-speaking.

So here we are. We get to begin anew, each one of us individually with our own free will, and decide whether we are willing to learn to co create with the divine as his/her children, to begin to access our corner of that abundant endless creativity, or continue to fight a losing battle against the inevitability of needed changes for the good of the whole.

 

I want to talk a little bit now about individual creativity. What does it mean to be a chip off the cosmic block? For those of us who are working with our own individual energy systems and trying our best to do so in junction with rather than opposition to God’s will, how do we actually go about harnessing our creativity in the service of the divine?

And what do we need to create?

Here’s a thought. How about a whole new relationship with ourselves, each other, and Mother Earth?

Let me start by reminding you that everything outside of you is a reflection of what is inside of you. It’s not the other way around. If you look at the political and economic structures around us you will see a tidal wave of people that want to convince themselves and each other that other people are the problem. The blame-game is HUGE at this time. 

Unfortunately this perspective is not only incorrect, it is dangerous. A lot of the souls that are choosing to leave their physical body right now, are doing so because they cannot see a pathway to healing themselves which will allow them to remain on the Planet.

Great spiritual leaders around the world have attempted to teach us that our true life resides within, and therefore changing anything disharmonious has to addressed from within. We engage in group creativity by interacting with others and the entire world around us but it is up to us ultimately how we experience that interaction. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

We’ve all been so tremendously programmed to believe our answers are outside of ourselves, and therefore our problems have to be solved by others.  Then there is a whole cadre of folks that understand theoretically that creating a full and rewarding life for themselves is possible and up to them. . . but they don’t know how to make the changes they seek happen. 

In this community I would say that most of us have a lot of the basics down about our individual creativity, but are maybe missing a few important pieces of the puzzle to take things into the collective world.

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

So let me talk about putting those puzzle pieces together by talking about your individual chakra system.

You all know that there are seven major chakras in the human body, kind of like little powerful spinning hard drives that contain a humongous amount of information, all the information you need and then some. 

Many people sort of have their favorites, areas upon which they tend to focus because that is where they feel the need to do the most healing.  Other people are under the impression that certain chakras are intrinsically more important than other chakras.  For example, it’s common for people to assume that the upper chakras, the fifth, sixth and seventh, are more important than the lower chakras, the first, second and third.  That is often because they have gotten lost to the dichotomy that “up” is more important than “down.” Lots of folks have been programmed to believe the “higher” chakras are associated with “Heaven” and therefore of greater value than the “lower” chakras associated with the Earthly realm.

Actually, what is ultimately important is that your chakras work in harmony. They are a system, one designed where every cog of the machine is important for the smooth functioning of the entire machine.  When you have even one chakra that is really screwed up, really dysfunctional in terms of what you need to use in your life, the information that is supposed to be in that center will go elsewhere. It can be absorbed by other people, gumming up their energy system. It can bleed into other of your own chakras and screw those up. It can end up enervating and throwing off balance any of your body’s organs, muscles, nerves and other physical structures and systems. Like a river in a flood, information–a form of energy–simply overflows onto other pathways when dammed up at its natural flow site.

In a society where we are not taught how to work with our own energy system, and accordingly have done a rather substantial amount of damage to ourselves for many centuries, our energy system is typically hugely fragmented to the point that it is essentially at war with itself.  For example, one part of us wants things to go a certain way while other parts want to take us in a completely alternative direction. We sense or feel we should stay away from a person or a substance like alcohol or the situation that we know to be toxic; we may have second or even third thoughts as to where we are going but we still find ourselves drifting into a maladaptive universe anyway. Part of us wants to rest more, eat healthy or exercise regularly but somehow “something” gets in the way of our following our intention. Much of the time we are even unconscious or unaware of what is driving our life choices.  

This is the internalized chaos to which we are all prone. We all do this until we have cleared enough from our energy space for the different pieces of our information to be compatible rather than contradictory with each other, for our chakras to work together in the service of our higher good.

Then of course, this chaos gets projected outwards. Don’t get me started on the wars, violence, social injustice,  environmental disasters and so on that are made possible as our individual internal warfare combines with other individuals at war with themselves, increasing the conflict exponentially in the collective space.

Collective chaos can lead to places of great suffering. Art used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

So you all are on the journey towards wholeness. You have committed yourselves to cleaning up the mess inside you from years in this body and centuries of neglect in others.  You have been kicking out the energies that don’t belong to you or no longer serve your purpose to live in wholeness.  Congratulations! Mazel tov! Keep up the good work!

But how do we get the individual pieces of our life into a even more complete (although by definition, changing) picture? You all know what my answer to that is:  one step at a time. Meditate daily. Run your energy frequently. Cultivate humility and patience. Ask for help from the divine and its helpers whenever you need it or just want it. Commit yourself to God’s service including devoting yourself whenever you can to the wellbeing of others, not at your own expense but rather because all cogs of the machine are ultimately important for our world to work. . .and because what blessings you impart will return to you in kind.

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Fair Use Principles.

And here’s a little tip. . .or preview of what is to come for the members of this community, including those who participate energetically but not with their physical presence.  Every chakra is important. But if your goal is living in harmony, pay attention to your fourth. There is a reason why medieval paintings were so obsessed with portraying the burning heart of Jesus.

The Christ understood that the heart chakra was the bridge between the lower chakras that regulate more of the energy system’s responses to the Earth; and the upper chakras that regulate more of the energy system’s responses to the Heavens.  He modeled for us someone who crafted complete unity in his own space irrespective of the enormous personal cost to him, and by doing so, embodied unconditional love with all of God’s created order.

If you want to experience Heaven-on-Earth. even if for brief periods of time . .if you want to be a soul that helps bring paradise back to Mother Earth, pay attention to this important piece of your individual puzzle board.            

The fourth chakra is all about setting one’s identity in relationship to everything there is, everyone and every aspect. It is about the peace that occurs when the free will of the individual soul chooses to dwell in unity with everything inside its body and energy system and thereby extends that unity outside. 

A well-defined fourth chakra in harmony with all within and outside of an individual soul is a thing of great beauty. Image by Alpha Channel used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

In other words, learn to love all the parts inside of you, even as you change those that are no longer useful. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of thinking that your yucky parts are the responsibility of others. Others can help you but they cannot do your work for you. Don’t compound your problems by giving away your power to change. Whatever part others played in the creation of these bits of discordant energy is no longer relevant.

Also avoid the major detour of thinking you can achieve wholeness by adopting the false illusion of perfection. Stare your faults, your dark places, your sins, your shadow, your wounds/thorns, whatever you want to call it/them straight in the face. And wink back as you say goodbye.

Copyright 2021 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

Justice, Mercy, Kindness and Karma, Part I

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  on June 22, 2020

Hello.  I’m glad to see you all at the 2020 Summer Solstice Service of the Church of the Harvest.  My job as Presiding Minister of this spiritual community is to tune into the energy of the group, and do whatever I can to bring it to the next higher level.  I offer my personal perspective as a way of doing that, hoping to awaken the truth that is contained within your heart and your mind.  Today my topic is broad-ranging.  Please know that each of you absolutely has my blessing to use any of these words that resonate with you, and discard the rest.  Above all in this Church we believe in free will.  By that I don’t mean freedom to act however you want to act towards others around you.  What I specifically mean is freedom to feel whatever you want to feel, believe whatever you want to believe; and act in accordance with other people in a manner that also honors their essential freedom. 

It is always a challenge for me to write and deliver these sermons.  Spiritual reality is never fully explored through the medium of words, but under the best of circumstances we can dance with words in a way that allows dancers to sense the melodies within their eardrums and feel the rhythms in their bones.  So please forgive me if I dance around our topic. . . because it is too big and too rich to be fully captured by words.  You are invited in as I try to encapsulate what I believe is true about the spiritual journey upon which we are engaged in the present moment.

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Let me start by talking about why I am framing this sermon as occurring in the “days of reckoning.”  Most of you present today know that I have speaking for many months, several years even, about the end times, and as well as the apocalyptic times.  If you heard me, you will also likely remember that I do not believe the end times necessarily mean the end of the physical world, only that the world as human beings have known it is ending.  The word apocalypse comes from the Greek. It translates simply as the unfolding of things not previously known.

For most people, there is a lot of scary energy on the phrase “the end times” as well as on the word “apocalypse.”  Likewise, there is a great deal of fear for many people when they hear the phrase “the days of reckoning.”  That is because for most people these three concepts are all firmly associated with religious dogma, mostly in regards to the abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  As such, these phrases are fraught with the assumption that we are sinful, about to be judged and most of us found horribly wanting, soon to be condemned to deep, endless amounts of suffering.  

In my meditations I have spent considerable time stripping away religious programming from my energy system.   For me, these ideas are no longer a source of anxiety. I am happy that the Creator-of-Us-All is dissolving our illusions through the apocalypse.  I was never very good at living the lies with which most people seem to be content. The end times for me personally seem to be bringing an end to my suffering, the completion of a journey of many lifetimes of brokenness in which my sense of living in the hell-of-my-own-choosing far outpaced those few moments of heaven-on-earth that I could manage to create for myself. 

In the world of energy there is no time. We are all going to the same place but our individual journey towards that place depends on the choices we make along the way, including our sequencing and timetable. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

As to the days of reckoning, let me just say that it is very clear to me that our God is a loving God that does need to judge.  We humans do a more than adequate job of that all on our own.   

What happens when you put all these ideas together?  What are the days of reckoning. . .if they are not the time after death as Muslims and Christians are told in which one has to account for one’s actions before God in order to determine whether you go to heaven or hell?  Stripped of religious programming, a reckoning is simply a time when people are forced to deal with unpleasant situations which they have avoided until that day.  A reckoning is a settling of accounts.

 

 

 

 

When are the days of reckoning? Typically they occur when an entire people are forced to deal with that which previously they as a group have avoided confronting.  You know. . .like what is currently happening with a lot of white people who were previously not really required to notice that they had certain resources and opportunities largely unavailable to people of color. Or what is happening for the more economically privileged around the globe who previously could pretend that destruction and exploitation of the environment was a problem for other people until the entire climate of the planet began to crash and effect them as well.  This is the apocalypse at work, the dying of illusions.  These are the true end times, the end of centuries-long chapters of human evolution.

I want to jump now to another concept, one that is currently consuming the national conversation and saturating the energetic airwaves.  Let’s talk about justice.  If you watch any news broadcast, participate in any social media, interact with the public in almost any context, you are going to be having conversations about justice.  Suddenly everything seems to be about social justice.       

One of the things that interests me about these conversations that people are having on the streets and in the media is how closely the concept of justice is being paired with the idea of people speaking up.  Over and over you will hear people say how vital it is, how important for people to speak up.  Many times folks don’t really even know what they want to say. . .as they busily extoll each other to speak their minds. We are searching for our collective voice, even when we don’t know what we want to do with it. 

The emphasis here is on the collective part. Previously some individuals have been vocal.  Whether or not they were truly heard is another matter but they had the opportunity and/or the desire to express themselves.  But as a collective body human beings have usually only come together as a group to express themselves in opposition to another tribe. The human brain has always overwhelmingly done an us-versus-them kind of thing when expressing group norms.

This is what we are changing. What is new here and now is our coming together to express unity rather than division.  We may not know what true unity really looks like as of yet, and we’re not very good at it so far, but we’re doing our damndest to try to figure it out. The implications for this shift are enormous. The result of this task will be to create a new world order. 

Justice, aka a place in society for all. is always inclusionary. One can see from the heated debate going on in the United States right now that what is or is not every person’s right is a topic upon which we still significantly lack agreement. Our collective political, religious and other systems need to “catch up” with the “golden rule” aspect that is fundamental in all world religions. Image by Mary Engelbreit used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Those present today will understand some of the ramifications of what I mean when I say that human beings all around the globe as a group, are attempting to bring into their physical bodies the highest vibration of energy which is founded on all of us being connected.  Last year the consensus reality, that is to say all of us on a spiritual level, made the decision to rewire the world into one based on love. Right now we are taking the first real step in bringing that commitment into the physical world, right down through our emboded individual energy systems as we talk to ourselves and each other about what that real unity will take, what that will look like.     

In recent history we had the first major wave of this new commitment to collective expression when gay men and lesbians were given the political green light to come out of the closet, the oppressive cloak of invisibility they had endured for centuries. More recently the #MeTooMovement encouraged women to explore their truth and men were told to take a back seat, listen and learn.  Those conversations involved communication. . . but they weren’t yet contextualized in the intention of unity. The latest cultural shift, this spotlighting the stories of black people and other people of color is a double whammy.  It is shifting both the message and the medium.  

Huge assemblies of people are marching together through our urban centers, often without clarity about why they are marching.  They walk under the banner of “Black Lives Matter” and articulate that they want justice in the form of an end to racism, but it is clear that there is so much more to their message. 

There is accompanying conversation about the police which is framed using a variety of filters such as police tactics, accountability, reform, brutality, etc. The police are the boots-on-the-ground highly visible reminder of the justice system.  Law enforcement serve as the tangible symbol of law and order, an order that is seen by most as overdue for an update. The interactions between police and protestors vary widely as a result not only of the personal experience of the individuals and communities involved but also the meaning those individuals and communities read into the symbol. 

Which brings us to the other aspect that fascinates me about the vibrant national dialogue we are having in the United States these days centering around justice. Journalists and other witnesses have commented upon, but I have not seen them really able to interpret the significance of the fact that the public protests are largely leaderless.  These events typically have initial organizers of sorts and periodic visible key players pop up and often disappear again but the groups are essentially coming together and going about their business with a degree of spontaneity and fluidity between huge, divergent elements not usually seen in protest movements. 

Mass movement without direction from a handful of individuals is consistent with the top-down shift of energy I’ve been talking about for awhile.  I’ve been watching the energy move downward, closer to Earth, not only in the protestors but now in the police. Even a year ago it would have been unthinkable for police officers to publicly disagree with each other. The code of silence subscribed to by those in that line of work was rock solid as a result of the perception that such group solidarity was necessary for the welfare of all, to protect members of the profession from a challenging and dangerous job.  Suddenly all over the country, individual and small local groups of police are “breaking ranks” to take differing and sometimes contradictory positions in the discussion about justice.  

The energetic shift from power being welded from the top levels to the lower levels, specifically from national and international forces to state and local forces, is the tidal wave of the future. It is consistent with and necessary for the huge shift of consciousness going on currently for human animals.  The universe is moving us from being dominated by tribal thinking to each of us finding our own individual truth as individuals within collective society. 

Many people are emotionally and cognitively devastated by this change. The anxiety and outright paranoia is enormous as people discover they can no longer rely on the religious, political and social figures and organizations they have always used to tell them what’s up. We have to break down our reliance on others to tell us what to think and feel and do. . .so we can develop the skills and abilities to manifest our own individual creativity. . .and join it with the creativity of others for common goals required to meet our present world-wide challenges.   It has been and will continue to be a really rough ride for those individuals to make sense of the changing world who do not have the experience and lack basic skills on finding their own truth.

But if you think confronting and ending systemic racism is an overwhelming task, wait until you see in the days ahead what we have to do in order to end systemic economic injustice; and what is going to be required to keep the planet from continuing to slide into a terminal tailspin.  

In human society justice is truly a concept whose time has come due. People around the world are calling for it in increasingly passionate voice. This image of Justice used in accordance with Fair Use Principles is from Palestinian artist Malak Mattar who is currently a refugee. She first started painting at age 13, during the 51-day Israeli military assault on on her homeland in Gaza in 2014.

The protests around the country are often described as “passionate” and I hear a lot of participants talking in rather vague but deeply-held language about desiring change. As a people we are trying out new abilities to speak in one voice from different life experiences.  The universe is speaking within us and through us even as few understand as of yet what is being channeled.  What is uniting those on the streets and those participating by their witnessing right now is not message or even motive as much as something much more profound and fundamental.  

To focus on what I believe is the energetic core to these demonstrations; I’d like to return to invocation used at the start of this service. Let me repeat it. This is the statement from the Christ speaking about the end times in which we are living. This is from Verse 10 of the Gospel of Thomas:

            “I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I’m guarding it until it blazes.”

Elsewhere in both Luke and Matthew of the Christian Bible, Jesus talks about a time of turbulence that would bring division to households, between father and son, mother and daughter, etc.  Jesus was all about applying the love of his father to everyone, no exceptions. He understood that this would take a burning away of social norms. He was always the social revolutionary when it came to modeling for others and urging them to follow him as he challenged tribal thinking that held tightly to the domination of the many by the few.  As he blazed a trail for us, he made clear that it would be a fiery one.  So here we are, folks. Welcome to the reckoning.     

I like the Thomas citation because to me, it also speaks to the emotional passion of the protests. Our world is on fire right now, both literally with periodic wildfires breaking out all around the natural world. . .and metaphorically.  Individuals and our society as a whole are experiencing the bonfire of the vanities, a holy fire, if you will. 

Image by Elise Huther used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

We are burning away the essential impurities that must be released it we are to survive.  The passion of these crowds that are protesting around the globe in the name of justice is a kind of collective rage built upon a foundation masking deep, deep sorrow. We have a lot of thoughts and feelings to process, an ocean of rage against the world we have created as a species.  This is the same righteous anger that had the Christ overturning the tables of the moneylenders in the temple.  We tend to think it’s about others but at its core, this anger is the natural consequence of having defiled the sacred with our profane need to exploit each other.  

For some of the protestors and many of the politicians and others commenting on them, this fire quickly loses its essential heat and illumination, and devolves into the petty squabbles of the blame-game.  Lots of folks are getting stuck on an old testament vib of guilt and shame and punishment.  At its spiritual essence though, this righteous anger is paving the way for everyone to have a seat at the table, not just the powerful, the elite, the privileged. 

Benjamin Franklin, that iconoclastic rascal of an American founding father talked about the importance of passion igniting true change  Let the outrage play out its part.

Welcome these fires of transformation, and let them burn through your life.

The world is in a 5th chakra growth period. It does not matter that most do not really understand the nitty-gritty of what they are protesting.

Spirit communicates through images. Learning to add words to the mix is an acquired taste that takes skill development. This is true both for individuals and groups of individuals. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

The first stages to owning the upper three chakras in our collective energy system has to be with opening them, and letting whatever they contain spill out. It doesn’t matter that we don’t yet know what we want to change into. We can figure that out as we go. It’s enough for now that we are open-hearted as the universe moves us, like crucial chess pieces, into the right positions to be available for its mercy.  

 

 

 

I want to remind the people here today as well as those tuning in at a later time, that we each have a part to play here.  There are no coincidences. The protests are showing up in your life because you also have fifth chakra movement to make.  Take inventory of your communication ability and find out where you need to grow.  If you are one who has spent time in the language of emotion, help others learn to regulate theirs.  Model for others as you identify your own emotions, separate what is yours from what belongs to others, express your genuine emotions without using them to attack, and maybe even help people learn that the emotional system is simply a means of communication between the individual soul and its physical body.  On an spiritual level it is not really about other people.

Speaking One’s Truth by Myron Dyal, used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

If you are one who is cautious with your words, typically expressing your true thoughts and feelings only to a few or only to those who will agree with you, take a few calculated risks and expand your repertoire of experience. 

 

 

 

 

One of the most powerful means for healing yourself and others requires no words. The witness is an underappreciated, often incredibly profound agent of change. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

If you have no trouble speaking up, maybe you need to learn to listen more or more effectively with people from a different cultural experiences than your own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And pretty much all of us need to learn to be more gentle, more kind. . .even as we hold feet to the fire for ourselves and any of our brethren who are resisting a more just society.        

Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

In 1968 Martin Luther King spoke to an elite section of Detroit about nearby riots going on in the city.  He was nearly drowned out by the heckling when he dared to put into words the fact that the economic and social plight of African Americans had worsened in the previous years and promises of justice from a white culture were not being met. He told the crowd that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” He was assassinated three weeks later.  We are listening now, Martin.

As spirit we move through the natural world that includes time and space.  Our bodies, which are a physical manifestation of the natural world require time and space.  The universe has grown weary of our tendency to kill each other when we disagree with one another even if the battle being fought needs to happen.  We are being called right now to both address injustices and to do so in a way that honors life. 

For many thousands of years, human animals have equated survival with domination over other groups of humans. It is time to update our thinking. Cartoon by Man Martin used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

That is the essence of leaving behind tribal thinking in which one group tries to overpower another group. Getting to a higher plane is going to take many new experiences starting with new levels of interactive communication.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all saying that we stop at the communications level.  Just speaking up about racism and other forms of social injustice is a good start but is entirely insufficient by itself.  It is no more appropriate to just mouth apologies and epiphanies about systemic racism then it is to offer thoughts as prayers as a solution to gun violence. Having the necessary discussions is just the first part. Translating thoughts and feelings into action is the end game and it can’t come soon enough.

The world is in a great deal of turmoil in part because human animals keep trying to use our limited brain capacity to negotiate an increasingly complicated path. To survive we area going to need to learn new ways of processing issues, develop new epistemological strategies and cultivate humility. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

We need to fix the obvious and immediate problems as quickly as we can; but not rush to judgment about complex actions and policies that require careful dissection and extensive public discussion.  Knee-jerk reactions are not helpful.

Now is the time for a new kind of diversity, not just one of basic role equality and opportunity but diversity of thoughts and feelings.  But be careful . . .because true change does not arise from a place of judgment. The medium has to match the message.  Otherwise you are just swapping one illusion for another. If you are demanding justice, it is likely not justice you are seeking. It is revenge.    

In this assembly we will talk at a later date about developing our other collective upper chakras including folding in mercy and kindness and stepping off the carousel of karma.  But for now, let us join people all around the world in the direction gracefully captured by these words from the great poet Maya Angelou: 

If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone or you’re too sick to be angry. You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host.  So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”      

Copyright 2020 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

 

Following Your Heart; Choosing Integrity in an Increasingly Fractured World

From a Sermon given Autumn Equinox Worship Service  September 23, 2018

Today I want to talk to you about following your heart.  It is actually much more complicated of a topic than it would seem on the surface.   We extol each other constantly to follow our hearts.   This is the go-to advice for the vast majority of human problems.  Whenever somebody is having difficulty making a decision between different life choices, they are inevitably told that the solution to their dilemma is to “follow their heart.”

We’re very good at generating perfect pictures aren’t we?  We’re not so good about actually defining what we mean when we tell ourselves to follow our heart.  In other words, when it comes to the concept of following your heart, we often don’t get the conversation translated from the spiritual realm into everyday life on Planet Earth.  My goal this morning is to provide a certain level of what I think of as “technical information.”  In doing so, I seek to bring Heaven closer to Earth.

When you think about it, it is not so surprising that we usually don’t REALLY know to what we are referring when we tell each other to follow our heart.  After all, in our country and in our world, we pay very little attention to what is going on within each individual.  We are too busy trying to handle the trillions of bits of data coming at us from all around us at every second.  What we process and understand of our world comes primarily from our physical senses.  It’s what we see and hear that gets prioritized by our minds, as well as what we smell and taste.  Even when it comes to what we often label as “feelings,” it’s those galvanic responses, those sensations that are generated by our nervous system associated with our outer skin, states like cold or hot, the comfort of a lover’s caress, the prickliness of an allergic response, the anxiety, surprise and pain if we step on a nail, that gets the most attention.

For every human being there are a whole slew of other possible internal states of being, states of consciousness if you will.  And this is where the internal landscape sometimes can get very foreign for folks.  Often people will refer to any sensation, anything going on within them as a “feeling.”  If asked to describe the sensation further, maybe they can say more about what the feeling is and maybe they have no words for it.  Maybe they can tell where it seems to be located, and maybe not.  We are simply not taught to attend to what the Christ would call the “Kingdom of God.”

At best we may have learned from a particularly mature adult role model or in a school or counseling setting how to label and appropriately express basic emotions.  We are rarely taught the finer viewpoints such as how to distinguish between emotions that are our own and those we have absorbed from others, much less what to do about the latter problem.

When we are not using our emotions for what they were designed–a communication system between the individual soul and it’s physical body, all kinds of distortions and conflicts become possible.

And emotional states themselves are really only the beginning. They are a statement of what our body is going through.  They can have little or nothing to do with who we really are, that is to say, who we are as spirit.

Some lucky few are taught to listen beyond a “feelings” level to their own internal voice.  Usually, however, they do so by revealing what is inside for the benefit of others.  A great poet or painter or musician might express their true nature as a spiritual being through their art.  But rarely do we validate the poet or painter who is dedicating unwritten poems to the universe within.  I know I am not the only one who as a child constantly sang songs to myself with no real need or desire to share them with any other person. Eventually the chaos of the external world drowned out my musical encounters that were a reflection of lived experience of the divine within.

How many of us are taught to converse with the indwelling divine, something available to any and every soul on Earth?  Anyone?

So in a world made blind to the internal, let’s define some terms, shall we?  What do we mean by following your heart?  The heart here is clearly a symbol.

Photograph of the heart muscle and the veins that support it. Posted in accordance with fair use principles

When we tell each other to follow our hearts, we are trying to tell ourselves to follow the lead of our fourth chakra.  This key energy center, also known as the “heart chakra” is in the middle of your chest occupying the same space as your aorta, the main artery of your physical heart. I don’t imagine any of you really believe that you should be following the lead of your physical muscle, the organ that pumps blood.   Certainly that part of your anatomy is an important player in allowing you to be alive, but so are many other components of the miraculous machine we know as the human body.

Just like there is an area in our head which we call the center of our head, that contains both the physical structure of certain parts of our brain as well as the energetic structure of our sixth chakra, we each also have an area in our chest that contains both the physical structure of a large part of your heart organ as well as the energetic structure of our fourth chakra.

The fourth chakra is usually one of the last to fully open because as the chakra that regulates attraction, it can become a major center for stored pain. Many of us are attracted to pain. We seek it out. It is what we have always known and we tend to recreate over and over different versions of the same pain. It takes a lot of experience in the world and spiritual majority to understand we can use the energy of our fourth chakra for an entirely different purpose.

Just as the center of your head was designed to be the main resting area, the seat if you will, of your consciousness, the area in the center of your chest was designed to be the main resting area or the seat of your connection with the All-That-Is, that aspect of the divine that is everywhere and is everything, that is all of life.  Other names for this area include the “God(dess) of your Heart,” and the “indwelling-God or Goddess.”  You can experience the Creator in a thousand different ways but it is in this sacred place of connection within your own space that should you choose this with “all of your heart” the felt presence of your Creator can be at its most pure.

So let me tell you a little about the fourth chakra, this “heart” that our instincts are telling us to follow.   In classes I don’t speak about it very much because quite frankly, it is one of the last parts of an energy system about which most of us are capable of learning.

For those of you who are meditating on a regular basis, there is a natural progression that happens in your growing mastery of internal processes and your development on a spiritual basis.  Development is unique to each soul but it follows certain common pathways.  Just like the infant needs to learn to sit before it can walk, and walk before it can run, spiritual development often comes in stages. One sort-of-gross generalization that can be made is that individuals typically learn to clear out, balance and more effectively use their lower three chakras, the ones that contain information primarily related to manifesting on Earth through matter; as well as the upper three chakras, the ones that contain information primarily related to manifesting spiritually using the resources of the Heavens. . .before they put it all together.

The fourth chakra has many important roles to play in our spiritual life including helping us transcend our fear of mortality. It connects our physical body to other energetic bodies including our own. This piece is “Let Your Heart Shine Even in Death” by Myron Dyal, used by permission of the artist.

It is in these latter stages that one typically begins to concentrate on the clearing and developing of the fourth chakra.  The fourth is the energy center that requires the most balancing of both physical and spiritual, the most about creating Heaven on Earth.  You might work on an important fourth chakra picture here and there that is keeping you from otherwise progressing in other areas; but you are not likely to be very focused on your fourth chakra until you are fairly far along with your spiritual development.  It is one of the last pieces of the puzzle.

I think it is fair to say that most of the people in this room (including myself, I hasten to add) are currently facing the challenge of learning to own their fourth chakra and employ it for that which it was designed.  In fact I would venture to say that it is really the challenge facing most of humanity in present time.   Think of it as we human animals trying to overcome a lack of integrity.  Used here, I’m not talking about lack of “integrity” as some kind of character flaw.  I’m simply talking about “integrity” as all parts working harmoniously together.

We are each of us an intricate work of art learning to create as spirit in the physical world. Sculpture is by Susan Beatrice of All Natural Arts and is posted in accordance with fair use principles.

To make something work well first one has to assemble all the parts, throw out the ones that do not function any more, sometimes manufacture new ones, get all the pieces that are going to be rubbing up against other cleaned up, greased or oiled, and assembly it all into working order.

Right now we have a civilization based on a bunch of parts, most of which are obsolete or rusted,  crucial pieces missing altogether and everything slapped together with a bunch of duct tape, pretending to ourselves that it will now run.  More to the point we have a bunch of individuals often with great intentions who are at war with the out-of-present-time parts of themselves who actually think that the war they are fighting originates from other people.   It does not.

The fully activated fourth chakra understands that all is connected. Our physical bodies are not separate from the body of the Earth.

Since everything outside of you is in one-to-one correspondence with what is inside of you, all the conflict in your world can be resolved by working from your own energy system.  (It’s not that the strife in the physical world no longer exists when you are fully integrated.  It just does not exist in YOUR reality.  You can be content, even as the world goes to Hell in the proverbial hand basket).  From this vantage point there is only peace.  The conflict of the outer world will wash over you but not be experienced by those with a different purpose in their heart.

 

Jesus of Nazareth knew all about the kind of profound peace that comes from within, the peace that comes only from true connection with God; and he knew it was not the kind of peace that many would even recognize.

The peace of the Christ arises from freely surrendering all of one’s being to Love, aka the All-That-Is. In that space there is no need for or even possibility of power games, only the realization that all of life arises from, reflects, and results in the Created Order.

In his words from John Chapter 14, Verses 27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither and do not be afraid.”

If you want to be at peace even as the world around us continues to deteriorate into chaos and disharmony, keep up the good work of grounding and meditating and working to clear what presents itself as obstacles to your greater growth.  Release those aspects of your past that are in your way of adapting integrity as your chosen state of being. Jesus is one of our greatest teachers here.  Follow his lead and make your heart chakra a sanctuary place for your connection with the divine.

Resting on the Heart of Jesus

There is a reason why medieval pictures of The Christ frequently show him displaying a flaming heart.  His integrity was complete, and so this Son of Man as he initially liked to refer to himself, became the Son of God, and showed us how each of us could achieve knowledge of the Kingdom of God within thorough the lived experience of the All-That-Is.

In my opinion you do not need to subscribe to what I like to call “the directional deficits” of traditional Christianity to follow the Christ. You don’t need to invite Jesus into your heart.  The Christ is already there.  You just need to turn within, pay attention and desire with all of your being the communication with and conjunction with the God of your own heart who awaits your presence.

Copyright 2018 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven