Passion for One’s Purpose:  The Great Unfolding

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service on March 20, 2022.

Last time this community came together for a worship service during the Winter Solstice, we worked together on increasing our awareness that opening up to our own power in our individual energy system is vital in that it leads to greater possibilities in our unfolding life. At the same time, this opening up of your third chakra is only the initial step. Thereafter we have to decide what to do with that power, how to take your embodied energy into the world to make your most important dreams come true.

During today’s service I want to talk about the figuring-out-what-to-do-with-your power thing.  Some people call this finding the meaning in life, discovering your life purpose or walking your path. As spiritual concepts go, this one is a doozy. Philosophers often talk about the meaning of life as if it is the same for everyone. Religious institutions are generally more than happy to tell you what your life purpose should be. New age adherents will spout lots of pithy sayings and typically offer one-size-fits-all bits of advice on how to discover and travel the pathway they think you need to traverse. And everyone is happy to sell you the books or other paraphernalia, have you listen to their podcasts or sign up for the programs they promote in placing you on a particular walkway. You can buy oracle cards or do a TED talk, hire a life coach, or I even ran into a YouTube video that offered to tell you how to know your life purpose in two minutes. (It was actually was an eleven-minute video, but clearly they were catering to the instant-gratification crowd).

Many of these folks are well-intentioned. What they often correctly understand is that for each of us, finding our path is an absolutely crucial journey. It is for this that we were born. It is why we are alive, and until we embrace our life purpose, until we are walking the path laid before us by our Creator, we are not fully alive. It is SUCH an important truth, this revealing of who you are to the depth of your soul, that only you and the God within you can locate that path.

Life purpose is sometimes addressed as an individual pursuit; and sometimes as the collective question for all humanity. This is the cartesian dualism that feeds our brain but not our soul. When one begins to acknowledge oneself as the lived experience of the Creator-of-All-That-Is you can then set out to discover your individuality within universality. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

However, notice my language here, if you will. Your life purpose is a journey. It is not a destination. In fact, when you fully arrive at said destination, some of you may discover that you no longer need to be here on Planet Earth. (That is a different story). For now, shed those perfect pictures about where or how far along you should be, or how long it should take you. Rather buckle up for the ride. Like all journeying in the physical world, you and only you get to decide ultimately if the path you take back to God is a fun adventure, the stuff of nightmares or any combination therein.

What is your life purpose? Its not a vocation, although certain tasks in the outer world may reflect it to a greater or lesser degree. Its not a relationship to a beloved or a child or an enemy that you are learning to vanquish, although any of these encounters can help you draw closer to your purpose. Its not even service to your fellow humans or other forms of life on the planet, even if surely some version of service will be a needed corollary of your purpose.

It may not even be something you can even put in words. You be not be able to find your life work using a rational thought process exactly. If your purpose is a true enough reflection of you on a soul level, it is possible that the spoken word cannot even contain it. But I am going to guess that most of you will know it when you feel it. Because the outpouring of joy from every cell in your body will be hard to miss. 

If there is truth to be had in the conversations one hears in popular culture on the subject of one’s purpose, it’s the descriptions that one can find it by doing what you love. I have often appreciated the mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell’s version of this when he advises people to “follow their bliss.” I like that phrasing, although it has a down side to it in that it can confuse people who are already too confused by sexual programming. If you want to make a habit of pursuing your bliss, just try to stay aware that bliss needs to be about real love, not bodily pleasure.

This is an image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals which encapsulates how many see life purpose. Food for thought but take it with a grain of salt. Individual pathways to purpose vary enormously.

Please do not infer that I am dissing experiences that bring pleasure on a physical level. I am just saying that those are not necessarily related to love, or directly to your path. What is the difference you might ask? Love is the quiet stuff, the embodiment of spirit. Pleasure can be that to which the body often gravitates when it is feeling unloved by spirit.

This sermon is a result of a request that I speak about passion. . .so let me throw in a few more words along those lines.  When a person has cleared a lot of limiting energy—programming, energy belonging to others, obsolete pictures etc.—from their third chakra and elsewhere, it typically frees one up to heal more deeply elsewhere.

Subsequently, it is common to move on to deep-rooted blockages in the other key areas closer to the Earth.  That is why we started this worship service with an invocation that comes from Ephesians in which St. Paul talked about Jesus of Nazareth making possible a return of Heaven on Earth by both ascending to the Heavens and descending into the very Earth itself. Every soul who would follow the path shown to us by The Christ, that eternal being that called himself at different times the Son of Man as well as the Son of God, has to choose through our individual embodiment both our spiritual perspective and our physical body which was and is miraculously designed to manifest it.

Many religious belief systems are built on a foundation of sand in that somewhere along the way in their manifestation, they have erroneously adopted the dogma that says to find God, one has to at the very least ignore, if not subjugate and punish the body. These limiting belief systems have put Mother Earth in jeopardy, something not acceptable to the Creator-of-Us-All. Mother Earth is a sacred aspect of the Created Order. Those who are not willing or at this time capable of realizing that divinity, be they individuals or individuals acting in concert with others through political or religious groups, have outstayed their welcome.

To you who are listening to my message I would say–no doubt you have already successfully navigated through oceans of emotion and other bodily sensations arising from your second chakra to even be present at this service. No doubt you have many more trickles, streams, rivers, tidal waves of emotion and sensation yet to come, in order to find yourself more solidly on your path more of the time. The second chakra is potentially where much the dialogue about how our choices affecting the body in the physical world get played out. Some other energy structures are also involved but this key center is a primary conduit. The messages can be lost in translation for many people, but for those of you who are committed to bringing together Heaven and Earth at this point they will likely be loud and clear.

The second chakra, sometimes called the Sacral chakra, is a spinning source of information about how your body experiences the world around it. Image by Brenda Erickson used in accordance with Fair Use Principals. When operating in harmony with you and the rest of your body it can generate life-affirming vibrant energy. When clogged up it can lead to all kinds of disheartening states such as pervasive self-judgment.

Here is the thing, folks. One aspect of finding your life purpose that does not get enough attention is that it is ultimately an act of cocreation. In order to find your unique pathway through the physical world known as Earth, you must find your own unique space; as well as come to terms with the fact that you are also part of a bigger reality; and it is a part of you.  In other words, you are universal spirit embodied in a physical form that belongs to you and you alone.

Co creating with the All-Mighty is a topic beyond the comprehension of many, all too often leading to erroneous and sometimes demeaning conclusions. Cartoon by Jim Benton used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

The Creator-of-Us-All provides the framework. By agreeing to birth in the human form you also agreed to a contract to provide the Creator with lived experience of consciousness that requires individuation. Whatever gets you the highest and best use of your consciousness in the service of the Creator at any one point in time gets you the next step closer to your life purpose.

Another way to think about cocreation is to think of God as the Sun who bathes Mother Earth allowing human animals to cultivate crops and other plants and animals making it possible for life to go on and even evolve. Without the sun and earth there would be nothing, but humans are still largely deciding what grows within the framework of God’s world. Image of “Grandfather Sun Medicine by Leah Marie Dorian used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

How do you know what is passion for your life purpose and what is old emotion to be released? You won’t, at least all the time. But if your intention is for healing and for finding yourself, and you stay sufficiently focused enough in order to do the day-by-day work, the real passion will grow as the left-over emotion from other adventures dissipates.

As far as emotions-to-be-acknowledged-processed-and-cleared goes, I do agree with Jungian psychoanalyst James Hollis who has offered useful words here about the key emotion we call fear.  “Ultimately, to step into the larger, we have to go through our fears. I have to emphasize go through. There is no magic, no set of five steps to dissolve the obstacles, no pill, no narcotic to make it all possible. There is only the going through.”

You have to deal with the full range of your emotions. You have to face your fears. Descend with yourself into your body, your earthly realm. Let yourself know that any old wounding for your body with which you have not yet come to terms, is going to kick up dust at the process as you descend, and try to tell you it feels at risk. Listen. Don’t act, at least initially. The fear can be a really good sign. Listen from the center of your head, assess to what extent the fear is an accurate read on what is before you. Take further steps to protect your body on whatever needs to be cleared, confronted, or otherwise changed. Keep asking the God of your Heart for guidance in finding your highest service. And then carry yourself onward, in the direction you know to be truest. 

Fear is such an important emotion requiring careful dissection. It can be the difference between life and death. If the fear is “justified” by a present time threat, ignoring or suppressing it can be deadly. However if you reside in fear associated with the past or future it can keep you from life. The trick is to learn to discern the difference. Cartoon by Dave Blazek used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Validate the fear as you descend into unknown territory. Do not let it stop you unnecessarily.

Earth becomes Heaven to the degree in which we can let God fulfill itself in our individual corporal experience. As It says in First Corinthians Chapter 6, Verse 20: Therefore glorify God in your body.

Watch as the fire from the belly of Mother Earth grows deep within you, a few embers at a time. 

   

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, USA. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Copyright by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven, 2022

Justice, Mercy, Kindness and Karma in the Days of Reckoning, Part II

From a Sermon given Autumn Equinox Worship Service  on September 27, 2020

Last time we met as a community for our quarterly worship service to honor the Creator-of-Us-All I was drawn to talking about Justice, a topic that has exploded onto our cultural scene.  Of course the subject of Justice is not a new one for folks. It’s pretty much been a central topic of discussion in human society from day one on Planet Earth.  The new element is the Universe has chimed in on the debate, telling we humans as the dominant species on Earth that if we don’t get on the right page now, another set of caretakers will be found.  In my last sermon I talked about it now being the days of reckoning, the days when people are often required to deal with very unpleasant situations that they have heretofore avoided, in order to settle old accounts.

Now, as Mother Nature moves from the season of harvesting what we have sown in the past. . .into the wintertime of rest and recreation, I want to do more of a deep dive into the topic of Justice.  I want us to rise above the petty squabbles of individuals and groups fighting with each other over dominance; attempting to force their energy on others.  I want us to take the next steps towards looking at life from a spiritual perspective, one that acknowledges thoughts and feelings; but does not stop there.

To do that, to find that place that brings all individuals and groups together in the incredibly beautiful, intricate field of unity that is our God-given heritage, what is required is for us to try to free our imaginations from the bounds of time and space. 

The people in this church know a lot about space. We’ve all been meditating, grounding, centering, learning what is us and what belongs to others, employing the basic techniques that help us operate from our own energy field rather than trying to control others, in many cases for several years. In this discussion today let’s focus more on transcending time.

As you know, spirit is eternal and operates outside of the time-space continuum.  Our physical bodies on the other hand, very much live in the world of time and space.  That is all they understand. 

As people develop spiritually, we learn the very tricky skill of walking the tightrope between knowing that on a soul level everything in the universe is happening simultaneously. . .but that our physical form requires us to divide our experience into segments that allows the ability to heal within the framework of matter. Tricky indeed. . .and if you do not yet “get this,” give yourself time! Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

This basic dichotomy, this difference in perspective between who you really are, and what your body wants and needs, is a source of tremendous tension for most people.  When an individual is not working from within their own unique physical space, they often will not take into consideration and indeed, may not even notice their body’s needs.  On a soul level, they will remain unfulfilled in a certain kind of way. This conflict, this disconnect, this lack of balancing between spirit and matter can lead to a great deal of suffering, disease, and outright warfare–an imbalance that then gets projected onto everything and everyone around us.

We all do this at least occasionally. To various degrees, at various junctures, we all get thrown off balance. We all are seeking to come into harmony with ourselves, to find and live in that sweet spot, that internal state of harmony between body and spirit, whether or not we are aware of it. We’re all here on Planet Earth to learn to create as spirit through physical matter and our physical body is where the action gets played out. 

Some of us are a little farther along in the learning process than others of us. That’s not a statement of inequality.  It’s only recognition of the fact that what you pay attention to becomes more of an issue in the unfolding of your life.  So if you have been paying more attention to working from within your own space, and taking the body’s orientation towards present time more under advisement, you will be doing more of that harmony thing, that living-from-a-place-of-balance thing.    

When we talk about reckoning of accounts, the old ledgers that require a balancing act right now are the things to which you have not been paying attention, if only because you have been paying attention to other areas.  Maybe some of those other areas are worthy pursuits. Maybe some have been distractions, detours, and a waste of precious time.  It does not matter to the universe. Contrary to our personal beliefs based on that incredibly HUGE amount of programming we have absorbed from our friends and relatives, schools and churches, neighborhoods and communities and countries, you are not being judged by the universe. What DOES matter at this juncture in our collective story, is that you pay your dues.  Some people have a LONG way to go before they will achieve an ongoing sense of internal balance.  Others have been working on themselves for longer, so the reckoning process for them right now is less treacherous.     

This is the time of the Great Balancing. Image from Dr. Seuss is used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

So let’s talk about karma. 

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Funny thing is that when I realized that Justice was the topic on our minds and that to pursue this topic, we would need to talk about karma, I was not a happy camper. Personally, I don’t like to talk about karma.  For one thing, an authentic discussion about karma requires people to accept the reality of reincarnation.  I know what I had to go through to release programming that had me rejecting the concept of reincarnation.  I’ve never particularly wanted to ask anyone else to make that difficult journey.  I’ve always opted to follow the lead of one of my early spiritual teachers. That individual found himself being cross-examined in a court of law regarding his belief in reincarnation, as a means of trying to discredit another part of his testimony.  With a great deal of patience, amusement and neutrality he said to the people in the courtroom something to the effect of “It doesn’t matter what you currently believe about reincarnation. You’ll find out about it when you pass.” 

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  And I’m usually interested in leaving it at that.

Young ones are often aware that this is not their first time on the Planet, but are typically subjected to considerable pressure to see things in a more socially acceptable light. Cartoon by Dave Coverly used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

The other part of the problem with talking about karma is that the word itself has gotten corrupted by the need of human beings to judge themselves and each other.  Even in parts of the world like India where karma is a widely accepted idea, the meaning behind it has gotten distorted.

So let me say this really loudly for those in the back.  KARMA IS NOT ABOUT THE UNIVERSE GETTING BACK AT US for our transgressions, for our stupidities, if you will. Karma IS about a simple cause and effect movement to energy.  Like a boomerang, what you put out in the world inevitably comes back to you.    

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

Nearly all spiritual traditions acknowledge this circular movement. In Western culture karma is often labeled the “Golden Rule.”  The title is no coincidence, given that gold is the color associated clairvoyantly with the divine.

In the Christian tradition Jesus of Nazareth talked about the path cause and effect energy takes with his usual simple, profound language.  Many have not been able to hear his real message through their own judgment of self/others.  They assume Jesus was talking about God giving us a commandment, then condemning us if we do not follow it.  What they do not understand is that he was talking about the essence of Justice and Wisdom; and simply advising us that if we do not choose to act wisely in accordance with the natural flow of energy, we will be worse for the wear, all Hell could break out, so to speak.

Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 12 of the Christian Bible:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Straightforward, that. What you get is what you sow.  Period.  End of story.  It’s not more complicated than that.

The only “complication” per se, is that from a spiritual perspective there is no set time frame to factor in.  I remind you that spirit is not defined by time. You can choose to act in a certain way, and the effect of that action can practically be simultaneous.  For example if a person in a heated encounter shoots a gun towards someone else who is also holding a weapon pointed at them, there is an obvious possible immediate cause-effect sequence. 

Then again, you can shoot a weapon and kill someone that no one witnesses and no one finds out about in this lifetime, other than the deceased person.  That encounter is magnetized and sent into the ethereal plane; and that person or someone who is similar in some key way to them, someone who is in possession what we call around here “matching pictures,” can kill you or harm you or impact you in some other related manner a hundred years or a century later. 

It’s not a matter of judgment.  It’s not a matter of who is right or wrong. . .or somebody being a bad person and other individual being a good person. It’s also not about being in the wrong place at a particular time, and it certainly is not an accident.  It’s not even about victimizer and victim despite the fact that in any isolated event, there is typically one or more of each. It just is.  What you put out into the universe with your God-given free will comes back to you. 

So. . .when you read in social media that some pastor who has rallied his parishioners against wearing face masks is now in the hospital deathly ill from Covid; or a senator in Oregon who left the state in order to block passage of a bill on climate change just had his home burned down by wildfires, you can label this karma if you want. You can even be thankful that those individuals are likely distracted enough by their personal suffering to not inflict further damage and suffering on their communities. But please refrain from the I-told-you-sos, or the snarky glee at someone else’s misery, regardless of how much misery others may have generated in your world to date. And for heaven’s sake, don’t choose to respond in a revengeful manner from a place of hatred.

Another way of looking at karma without using that “loaded” phrase is through the lens provided by Swiss depth psychologist Carl Jung. He discussed the unsuccessful balance of dichotomies within individuals that occurs when the individual rejects the parts of themselves of which they are not aware. Quoted in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

For your own well being, choose your reaction wisely. Acknowledge and be careful about how you are processing any emotional reactions. Live your life from the center of your head where you can be in neutral about all that you see within and around you, and thereby not project into the airwaves that which you do not yourself want to experience. Because you will. What I am giving you here is practical advice, not a moral reckoning.  

The funny thing about karma is it is correlated with intention.  You can feel whatever you feel including hatred and anger and other maladaptive emotions. Left unchecked they will certainly be corrosive to your body but they will not necessarily generate “bad karma” for you. You can hold whatever opinions you want, including prejudices and delusions. Again, these can be very harmful to your well being, your relationships and your inner and outer life, but they may not kick you in the teeth in a future incarnation. However the minute you combine negative emotion and maladaptive thinking into a desire for others to be hurt strong enough to become concrete, whether or not the other person seems to “deserve it,” eventually that harm will find its way to your doorstep. What counts here are words and actions based on your intent.

All human animals feel so-called “negative emotions” at times, although many have learned to heavily repress what they are experiencing. What matters is not what you feel. . .but what you choose to do with the feeling. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

I guarantee you that all of us have done far more selfish and stupid things in our learning process here on Planet Earth.You will not find it comfortable to have the universe have to strike you down with a deadly disease, take away your residence, or destroy some other aspect of your creativity in order to try to remind you of that fact.  

Right now, in the twenty-first century, we are balancing the books. We are reconciling all those unresolved karmic balance sheets, the ones with debits as well as the ones with assets.  Why? Because we need a clean sheet for a new world.  As a whole, human beings have made enough self-serving bad choices that Mother Earth itself is endangered.  That is not acceptable to the universe and it will not be allowed to continue.  Our brightest path forward involves the cultivation of mercy.

Angel of Mercy, Photo by Robin Hill. Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Mercy is created when someone chooses compassion and/or forgiveness towards someone else who has wronged them, even when the person wronged has the power to do harm.  This breaks the cycle of karma. It is one of the highest uses of the gift of free will from our creator.

Mercy is a statement of profound strength.  Our society often tries to convince us it is a weakness but it is far from that.  Do you think that when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified he died because he was weak?  As the anointed one, the son of God, he could have leveled all around him, indeed all of Israel, with a single breath.  Rather he chose to not fight with the ugliness around him and in doing so, quite literally embodied mercy towards all of humanity. 

The crucification of The Christ may be one of the biggest mysteries and least understood events in human history. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Without mercy there is no freedom for human animals from continuing to experience ages old karmic cycles that lead nowhere useful.  Before The Christ, in the collective consciousness people only understood the Old Testament tribal thinking of an-eye-for-an-eye.  After Jesus, a new foundational energy as reflected in the gospels was given form for human animals: love for all, irrespective of our sins.  The Christ did not dismiss sin as nonconsequential. From a place of non judgment he eschewed it. Neither did he allow his crucifixion in order to do our work for us by having our transgressions go away magically based on belief in ideology.  He simply showed us under the most horrific possible circumstances that we can transcend the cycle of retribution by living fully in the energy of mercy.   

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

More than ever right now we need to choose the path laid before us by Jesus of Nazareth and other saints and spiritual leaders. We need to actively and consciously cultivate mercy.  Jesus showed us the way forward, but only we can take it. Without mercy there can be no real justice.  Any choices that answer wrongful actions with further wrongful actions are simply retribution. Revenge/retribution keeps us stuck on the unending carousel of karma which as I have mentioned is really not an option much longer. 

Many people are leaving the Planet right now because they don’t know how to bring mercy to the table they have set before themselves. Many, many more will be doing so before we get through our transition period.  In your world, allow the compassion of The Christ to infuse your life and your choices as fully as you can. 

Have compassion for African-Americans and other individuals from ethnic minority communities, indigenous cultures, etc that have suffered horrible systemic racism, including some of whom are temporarily lost to their wounding by going after those they consider to have harmed them. Do this even as you take all the tangible actions to end racism that you can imagine. Follow the lead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all time leading scorer and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom who recently remarked:  “What I want to see is not a rush to judgment but a rush to justice.”

Shine mercy upon both those that support and those who oppose the tyrants, dictators, lobbyists, corrupt politicians and other political figures around the world who are actively destroying the natural world in pursuit of money and power, even as you report, speak out, vote, organize counter measures and take any definitive steps to honor Mother Earth that you can. 

“The Throne Within,” poster by Ricardo Levins Morales with quote from Khalil Gibran used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Forgive the trespasses of individuals involved with civil unrest in our cities, whether they are protestors, agitators, vandals, law enforcement, or whomever else you see as contributing to the mess, at the same time you do whatever it is you can personally think to do to stop the violence and bring forth peaceful resolutions. 

Correct the horrible injustice of our economic system when it shows up in your environment and choose the righteous path of nonjudgmental action towards those at the top who would steal what belongs to those below them. For example, bear strong witness against the three multi-billionaires who for no particularly valid reason own more resources than one half of all other Americans but pray for their salvation. Educate others about inhumane financial injustices like the fact that in the last forty years, compensation for the heads of corporations in the United States has increased in many cases one thousand percent in comparison to the other people who are a part of those companies. Advocate and provide for those without adequate shelter or food and confront those who would exploit or abuse workers. Do what you morally can to confront this egregious inequality without adding further to the evil forces in play here.

Above all, be kind to yourself.  I’m not talking about self-indulgence. I’m certainly not talking about that weird set of rules that pass as making one a member of “polite society.”  I’m talking about real kindness.  Mercy towards yourself, so to speak.  To whatever extent you can, acknowledge your flaws, your ignorance, all those multiple times in this lifetime and others where you have actively hurt others as well as those times you have chosen unawareness because it was more comfortable or convenient than the truth. 

This statue of the Buddha contemplating a lotus blossom–the universal symbol of spirit in the Eastern part of the world–appears to reflect the peacefulness that can be achieved when one brings balance to life. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

See yourself as you really are, and choose to love yourself anyway.  Forgive yourself even if you are impatient and judgmental towards yourself and not yet good at forgiveness.  Maybe you don’t even yet know what I’m talking about when I talk of mercy towards yourself.  You don’t have to understand me with your mind, only with your heart. Embrace mercy towards yourself and others because that will pay some karmic debts and open the right doors for your salvation.

Julian of Norwich was an English mystic born in 1342 CE who understood that Justice is another name for God. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

As we are reminded in Isaiah, Verse 30, Chapter 18:    

The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of Justice.

Blessed are those who wait for him.

Copyright 2020 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

 

 

 

Turning the Other Cheek in A Time of Unremitting Violence

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service  March 24, 2019

Last year—2018—was truly a transformational point in time for all of us on Planet Earth.  As spirit we human animals  who share the physical world stage and who have been endowed by our Creator as the species with the right to set the energy for all life on this planet, made a MAJOR fundamental shift in our collective mind.

There are many ways to talk about the new spiritual agreement that we put into place in the consensus reality, that agreement that has dramatically shifted the consciousness of many folks almost overnight.

Hatred is a learned behavior. It is not “natural” to humans but it is common. It can and must be unlearned.

One way of talking about it is that we have decided to base our world on love, not hate, as asked of us, indeed required of us, by our Creator.

 

 

 

 

 

Another way of saying it is that we have decided to embrace inclusiveness, not exclusivity.   Or we can talk about Truth.  A “tipping point” of people decided once and for all that we are going to base our life on the Truth that all life is connected, all that is Created by God, is an aspect of God and is God and therefore worthy of respect.

One example of the emerging new way of thinking.

However you label it, in order to turn the tide, enough people in enough places all around the globe said, it ends now.  I refuse to knowingly trespass against other people just because I can and because I am part of a group that thinks of people outside of our immediate selves as “the other.”

Humans have perpetrated great horror on each other as a result of our ability and willingness to divide the world into “our” social group and the “others.” The divine knows no such separation. This picture is of Australian aborigines “owned” by their enslaver under the “Flora and Fauna Act” which was finally repealed in the 1960s.

Energetically, we globalized. We made the commitment to get over the tribal thinking that has stifled us for decades. Ultimately, nothing will be the same in our world.

The ramifications of this newfound commitment to universal life is profound.  The actual unfolding of our new reality though will likely take years or decades to fully manifest, if we have that kind of time.

Unfortunately, while white supremacy and other hate-mongering may be going the way of the dinosaurs, all us dinosaurs are still at risk from a meteorite strike to end it all.  But now at least we have a fighting chance.

There have always been occasional individuals among us willing to reach across the divide that human political and religious structures have imposed. Graves of a Catholic woman and protestant husband, Holland, 1888. Now is the time for collective awareness

We are finally on the right road; and we ought to celebrate that fact.The truly great news is that this new human commitment to creating in the physical world from a place of Love is no longer just the pipe dream of a new advanced souls, an occasional side trip of a brave person here or there, or the intellectually-based statements of people who are willing to talk the talk but not walk the walk.  It is the intent within our hearts and an intrinsic piece of the group mind that connects us with our God.

At the same time we cannot be complacent because we’re not out of woods yet. For one thing, in the immediate next period of time there will be ongoing massive amounts of suffering.  The meditators in this room will recognize that periods of rapid spiritual growth can be confusing in a VERY uncomfortable way for individuals.  Between the old ways that are no longer functional and the new ways that have yet to manifest there can be an ocean of chaos, disharmony, and even danger.  Multiple this dynamic a hundred thousand fold and you might recognize our current society.

For another thing, there is this other little issue that has to be resolved immediately if human animals are going to survive on the Planet, if we are indeed going to avoid a meteorite, nuclear war, shifting of the poles, whatever.

Now the real work begins: Growing beyond our physically-based senses to embrace the All-That-Is

Now that the consensus is we must base our relationships on Love, we have to decide whether those Love-infused relationships extend not only to other humans but to non human animals, to plants and our waterways, and to Mother Earth itself. In some ways, this is the greater challenge in the sense that it requires the most insight and the greatest behavioral changes.

So here it is spring of 2019. The beginning of a new cycle. What can we expect from a world-wide growth period?  Also, what can we do as individuals and as a community to facilitate a graceful resolution of our upcoming battles centering on the natural  world.  This morning I want to talk about how we might use our time effectively as we shelter in place, so to speak, as we wait for various parts of the world to catch up with the new consensus reality.  And I also want to drop a few hints for this body of experienced spiritual seekers as to what we might expect in terms of the next growth cycle.  (More on that at our Summer Solstice gathering.)

Let me start by talking about where we are coming from, our shared history.

Art by Dave Granlund.  Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

You may or may not have noticed a recent increase in the attention being paid to history.  By nature human beings are story-tellers and so we often construct narratives about our past to help us make decisions about our present and our future. Individuals keep family photo albums and diaries; schools display trophies won by their sports teams and offer history classes about our culture; organizations have archives, cities have their statues and historical sites, churches have their relics, and so on.

Poem and illustration by Rupi Kaur. Shown in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

In the United States in the last few months there has been an ever-growing retelling of our history taking into account other perspectives than have previously been brought into view.  I’m not talking about those who are resisting the change process of our world by trying to rewrite the existing history books in order to impose their distorted perspective, “whitewash” our collective narrative (pun intended). These are the people who say the holocaust was no big deal, the founding fathers enshrined the Christian version of God in our political structures, slaves actually liked slavery, that kind of nonsense.  I’m talking about the larger majority of us who are trying to flow with the changes and expand our awareness of a greater Truth than previously contained in history books.

In the sixties, when I studied the history of African-Americans in the United States and the history of women around the world, the resources for these stories were few and far between.  There were only a handful of books on the subjects, almost no sources of information in mass media.  Most people would give me a blank stare when I would even mention that there was something called women’s or Chicano or African-American history. Even my most ardent friends usually believed I was being weird and eccentric in thinking it was important  to know more about history from the perspective of marginalized groups.

In these digital days in the United States we just finished an entire Black History Month and in a few days will complete an entire Women’s History Month in which commercial breaks for nightly mass media programming on our screens have been awash in images of the women and ethnic minorities whose contributions to our culture were heretofore minimized or overlooked, who are now  being celebrated as pioneers and heroes and reclaimed by our collective story.

For spirit we know that time is an illusion.  The body, however, operates in time as well as space.  So why is there this increased spotlight on history? Why now and why to this extent?  And what has this got to do with spiritual growth?

My take is that in order to create a world based on love as we have decided to do, we have to bring up the energy of not-love in order to let it go.  We can do this by creating more situations where we feel/think/act in a hateful manner towards ourselves and each other.                                   We can suffer through many more experiences of what doesn’t really work and we don’t really want.  I am certain many in the United States will continue to indulge in that type of painful way of healing.  However, many of us are pretty sick of using this method to change the energy.  So we have turned to an alternative method of healing ourselves.

When we tell each other that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, we are reminding ourselves that by viewing the past using the perspective of Truth we can break the karmic chains and grow beyond an outdated version of ourselves.  As a society we can increasingly have love be the “new normal” by looking with new eyes at the experiences we have already created individually and collectively; and use those trips down memory lane to forgive ourselves for our trespasses, and forgive others who have trespassed against us.

Looking at human history however, can be tricky and potentially very disturbing unless your goal is changing rather than perpetuating problems.

Like everything else in the human experience, our brains like to dichotomize our experience.  We fill our stories with heroes and villains and repeat a lot of myths that are very far from the Truth.

                            To use history as a source of healing, you have to look at the times we have been cruel and unjust, as much as the times we have been kind and brave.  We have to tell the stories about our family or country or other group who have been mean and spiteful and stolen things as well as the times we have been generous and kind and produced great artists and interesting civic leaders for the benefit of our communities.

The Osage murders are said to be the FBI’s first big case. This picture is of tribal leaders, FBI staff and President Calvin Coolidge. It is from the Bettmann Archives and used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Recently there has been a rash of stories coming into the light on social media that have helped the healing of our national soul.   One such is of the Osage Indians who originally were forced from their ancestral  homelands in Kansas to a rocky, presumably worthless piece of land in NE Oklahoma.

When oil reserves were discovered in Oklahoma, the Osage became some of the wealthiest people in the country. Some 50 years later about 60 or so of the Osage were then systematically robbed and murdered so that their riches could be stolen from them again, this time their personal wealth rather than their real estate holdings.

The Tulsa Riot fire-bombings were also said to have been the fruit of years of resentment by whites towards the area nicknamed the “Black Wall Street.” Jim Crow laws and segregation resulted in African-Americans in this area amassing a great deal of wealth in a manner that strengthened their community bonds.

Another resurrected part of the American saga that of late is finally being talked about is the Tulsa Riot of 1921.  After blacks tried to ensure that one of their community members would not be lynched, a 35 square block of an all-black-occupied section of Tulsa was actually fire bombed by private airplanes owned by white folks worried that they were seeing a “black rebellion.”  Somewhere between 300 and 3000 blacks were killed, and at least 1500 homes were destroyed leaving thousands homeless, in what is now being acknowledged as the worst riot in American history. We do not know the actual body count with any precision because this event was systematically covered up by white authority figures and did not make it into the history books we use in American schools.

It bears emphasizing that this method of healing the present and future by reexamining the past is effective only if we look at stories from a place of neutrality with acceptance for all involved who played a part.

Your power to change your reality is in the present moment. View the past as needed, but do not let yourself get lost to it.

“Perfect pictures” is a term for a certain type of very common programming that we have accepted into our consciousness, often originally for very good reasons. Perfect pictures can be quite deadly as they can act like a invisible Plexiglass ceiling that interferes with our evolving spiritual growth. They are a rigid view of how the world around us is supposed to be. Since we and the world seldom measure up to these expectations, they become a source of ongoing invalidation and suffering.

You have to get beyond the false dichotomies with which we view the world, those troublesome perfect pictures to which we are so addicted.

In actuality all human society is pretty damn flawed.  Evil is everywhere in our collective narrative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think most of us can all agree that the actions taken by National Socialism in Germany, i.e. the Nazis, during the last World War were evil.  It is to our great credit in the United States that we were a big part of stopping that horror.   But can we let ourselves know that we also had a role in setting up that history lesson?  Why are we not talking about the fact that the Nazis recruited IBM to design the new punch-card system that allowed them to track Jewish lineages?  Truth be told, the numbers tattooed on concentration camp residents were an extension of American technology.

How convenient that we have forgotten that when US soldiers invaded Europe in 1944 not only were they using tanks and jeeps produced by American Motors, they were battling an enemy also driving tanks and trucks produced by 100-percent GM-owned subsidies.  The cozy relationship between US business interests and the Nazis was acknowledged by Hitler maintaining a portrait of Henry Ford on his office wall in Munich.  Ford and the senior executive for the GM factories in Germany were awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagles for “distinguished service to the Reich.” It is well accepted that Hitler would not invaded Poland and killed approximately six million people without the new synthetic fuel technology provided by GM.

You have all heard the saying that history is written by the victors.  What you may not have heard is that many historians think that this saying which is usually attributed to Winston Churchill, was actually coined by Hermann Goering, one of the greatest criminals of Nazi Germany. If the Nazis and their allies had won the war, our history books would be accounts of their supposed glorious and righteous achievements.

Right now in 2019, you are seeing a lot of folks trying to reexamine the past, but too often from a place of judgment that keeps them stuck in their sense of entitlement or victimization, depending on what role they have most recently been playing.  It heals nothing; it does no good to perpetrator(s) or victim(s) to continue to see their experience as one-sided.  You HAVE to be in the center of your head, you HAVE to be coming from a place of detachment to benefit from healing through a historical review.

This is a humorous depiction of an all-too-familiar confusion in the religious thinking of many. We are here on Earth to learn to co-create with God. It is neither entirely up to us as some believe in their egocentric way. . .nor is it entirely up to the divine who honors our freedom to screw up as much as we need or want to learn our place in the universe.

None of us are perfect. Only God is perfect. All we can do is commit to bridling our own maladaptive impulses and approaching the world with the clarity of love, as best we understand it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This message is conveyed in Mark, Chapter 10, Verse 18 as well as in Luke, Chapter 18, Verse 19 of the Christian Bible.  A man approaches Jesus of Nazareth to ask him how to obtain eternal life, and in his approach the man addresses Jesus as “good master.” Before even answering his question, Jesus rebukes him by saying:

“Why do you call me good? Only God alone is good!”

 So here we have the Christ, the embodiment of the divine on Earth, reminding us to get over our perfect pictures about human life, because the only wholeness is the All-that-This.

Sometimes one can find Truth in the most unlikely of places. Here comic artist Dan Piraro captures both the prevalence of humans dividing our world into good-and-evil; and its place in our learning curve as we seek return to the divine. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Finally, I want to talk a bit about violence. This has to do with the road ahead, the next growth period, the next issue about which the consensus reality must come to terms.

Violence is a particularly harsh form of trespassing against life, one that promotes a great deal of suffering. Violence has always been on the planet.

We have MUCH work to do to stem the tide of violence against holy Mother Earth. In this image a man seeks to honor the Hindu god Ganesha through the incredibly polluted waters of the river Yamuna in New Delhi, India, Many of the life-giving qualities of our waters in the United States have also been destroyed by humans.

There are many forms of violence including what we are currently doing to other life on Earth, but let’s focus right now on killing and over forms of overt harm done to each other.

Human beings learn by doing for the most part, and so we have been at war in a multitudinous fashion for thousands of years. Being prone to violence is really almost a part of our DNA.  Currently, the United States is the major source of direct violence around the globe, in part because of the role we assumed after World War 2 of being the peacekeepers of the world.  According to a new report by Brown University since 9/11 the US has spent nearly $ 6 Trillion dollars in 76 countries or about 39% of all nations, resulting in the death of around 500,000 people.  This does not include the nearly 500,000 people killed in Syria.  In many regards those of us ins the United States have the most to do, the most we must change.

Because guess what? This need to kill and hurt others is going to change.  It has to! Violence is not consistent with a world based on Love.  Either we are going to be moving violence out of our human repertoire . . .or we are going to be moving on.  The decision about which trajectory we will be using will likely be made this year by all of us on a spiritual level. Therefore, I want to mention another great teaching from the Christ.  Some might argue this is greatest of Christ’s teachings, but one that is routinely misunderstood:  Turning the other cheek.

In Luke Chapter 6, Verse 29; and Matthew Chapter 5, Verses 38-42 Jesus states that if someone slaps you on one cheek, you are to offer them your other cheek.  If someone steals your coat, offer them your shirt.  So what is that about?  I’m not going to say much about this crucial piece of information that ironically, has been the subject of thousands of fierce arguments over the centuries and dozens of wars.

On the other hand, I cannot walk away without some commentary on what it means to choose nonviolence in the current time of unremitting violence.  Violence is increasing exponentially in our world of overt hatred towards other groups in the world, compounded by the problem of shrinking resources as we battle over the scraps left available in our dying natural world.  I think we are going to see more wars, uprisings and mass shootings before we see less.  I believe that 2019 will be the year in which the consensus reality decides whether or not there will be nuclear warfare or some other form of extinction event(s) happens for human.   So what Truth do each of us need to understand and build upon in our individual lives to be a part of the solution to the group problem that is violence?

The Christ is quoted as talking about turning one’s cheek and offering more clothing to someone who forcefully disrobes us, in order to not resist evil.  When Jesus himself was disrobed and tortured and crucified he was largely quiet. I believe he did this not to model for us being passive. He was and is God on Earth. He chose to not fight back but he participated fully in the events surrounding him. He could have easily killed his tormentors with a single glance, a singular thought:  Romans, Jews and everyone else. Instead, he chose not to even utter a harsh word. He did remind all present that the scene being played out was done at the will of Almighty God.

This Black Jesus image is from Ethiopia around the 17th or 18th century CE. Ethiopia was the site of one of the earliest and most robust of Christian communities. Jesus of Nazareth was of Mediterranean descent and not the “white guy” often depicted in Western culture.

The Christ did not model for us turning his cheek as some sort of sophisticated form of rebellion, as some religious types have argued. What he demonstrated for us is nonresistance to that which was asked of him by his Creator.  In choosing to surrender to the All-That-Is even at the cost of excruciating, unimaginable pain that would have caused even the kindest of souls to act from hatred, he transcended physical boundaries, and demonstrated a spiritually-based reality that humans had to that point believed was not possible  He refused to return evil with evil.  Rather, he remained loyal to the word of God, which is Love.

Many of us are dealing with our personal crosses right now, and many more will be shortly.  If you find yourself a part of a world awash in a sea of violence, whether you do this by coming to terms with your own past, having ongoing struggles with others in present time, or being the witness for others in various stages of working through or getting stuck in their own narratives, remember the end game is Love.

Whenever possible, view the world from the center of your head, that sweet spot of balance between dichotomies where you have the best chance of living a path of nonresistance and acceptance. Heal the blocks that keep you from knowing your truest self as much as possible.  And above all, follow the ways that allow you to regularly communicate with the God of your Heart, that aspect of the divine that lives within you.  Your answers for all the challenges facing you will be there.

Or as Stevie Wonder tells us in the song to which we are about to listen:  “Believers keep on believing; Sleepers just stop sleeping.  Don’t let nobody bring you down. God is going to show you the higher ground.”

Copyright 2019 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

Superstition

superstition
This article was published for the first time in January 2010 in a blog entitled “Ravings from the Rev”:

OK, so one of the things I definitely feel the need to rave about is the whole concept of superstition. For one thing, it’s one of those words that is amazingly pejorative, but in a sneaky kind of way. When you tell someone that they are being superstitious, you are not only telling them that they are an idiot about a particular subject, but also that their whole thinking process is flawed. And to make matters worse, the underlying assumption is that, by contrast, you are a superior person by virtue of your ability to reason.

Superstition comes from the Latin superstitio, translated as “amazement or wonder of the divine or the supernatural.” Originally, the concept was applied by the Romans towards the people they conquered who did not share their committment to the Roman pantheon of Gods. Over time, after the Romans themselves were conquered culturally by that exciting new group of religious zealots who called themselves Christians, superstition became associated with the indigenous pagan religions that were Christianity’s main threat to expansion.  As the centuries went by and Christianity established itself as the prevailing–and mandatory–religious belief system in Europe, superstition became any belief in opposition to Christianity.

The Scientific Revolution in Europe further expanded–and muddied–the doctrinal waters. Eventually we evolved into the contemporary situation where many Christians and other religious folks view science with skepticism or even horror, seeing it as full of superstitions like evolution and global warming; while many scientists and their admirers think religion one mass collection of delusions. And of course, both science and orthodox religion trivialize indigenous spiritual perspectives as “folklore,” i.e. the stuff of “primitives” who are not advanced enough to participate in true faith.

I believe the core of this debate is an essential epistemological question. Who has the right to define what is Truth, with a capital T? One might answer that only God does. Then, who among us gets to interpret the ways of the divine and how that Truth is made manifest? Or said in a way that takes out the controversial “G” word altogether, who gets to interpret the ways of the natural world and come to conclusions about its order?

Should we allow the reductionist paradigm of science to judge the big picture? “I can do without the superstition” says Capt. Jack Harkness of the BBC Torchwood series. “You people love any story that denies the randomness of existence,” (Season 1, Episode 1).  Now I love Capt. Jack but he has his blind spots. Should we allow popular religious leaders to interpret the actions of the ineffable through their limited human understanding? Personally, I found television evangelical Pat Robertson’s recent comments attributing the suffering of the Haitian people after the earthquake to their pact with the Devil outrageous, and highly unChristian.

Let’s make our own pact. Let’s all be superstitious, that is to say, full of wonder at the created order, irrespective of what you think that order looks like; or who or what you think created it. And as to the details, since one person’s superstitions could very well be another person’s cherished beliefs, let’s cut out the judgment of which is which. No, I don’t believe that breaking a glass brings me seven years of bad luck. But if you do, that’s fine with me.

Copyright 2010  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven