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

The Code-Switching of Time; Flowing Gracefully among Past, Present and Future

 

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  June 24, 2018

Code-Switching is a linguistics term.  It was originally developed to describe what happens for people who speak two or more languages.   As the information age unfolds, the term “code-switching” has increasingly also been applied to the experiences people can have of moving suddenly between different parts of human society, such as what people of color sometimes experience when they go back and forth between their ethnic community and the mainstream world.

This morning I want to talk ultimately about code-switching in a different context. I want to explore switching between different parts of the time-space continuum.  It strikes me as potentially very useful if those of us who are actively developing a spiritual perspective can add to our skill set moving through time with greater awareness.

The time aspect of the time-space continuum weaves throughout all of the created order, treasures to be discovered when we are ready. “Treasures” by Maggie Vandewalle of Maggie Vandewalle Watercolors. Used with permission of the artist.

So let’s start by talking about code-switching linguistically speaking.

Language is not as cut and dried as it might seem at first glance.  Every language in the world is unique, not just in the way each sounds, but in the way each is structured. And what meaning it actually evokes. Each collection of human beings, every culture has its own energy.  Each language arises from a different shared history, an idiosyncratic set of common experiences, what we around here would call a matching set of pictures.  These create a unique set of values that guides how that culture operates in present time, and where it attempts to go in the future.  These values also shape where the group focuses its attention, how and about what the individual members think, and therefore how its members express itself when its members communicate with each other, and with the rest of the world. The very neuronal pathways of our brains adapt to that to which we are paying attention.

 

 

We connect with the physical world primarily by expanding on what we already recognize. Awareness builds in an ever-expanding spiral of experience.

New neuronal networks that are utilized grow and expand, quite literally branching out.  The parts of our brain we don’t use fall away, or to use the scientific language, the neuronal connections are pruned.  We shape our bodies to a large degree with the help of our brains by the decisions we make in attention.  Then often, too often really, our bodies shape us.  On the surface, much of this drama gets played out by language.

When one learns a “foreign” language, it is much more than a process of selecting a word from English, and then simply substituting the equivalent word from the other language.  If you want to tell a member of the Sami people of Scandinavia and Russia that it has begun to snow, you have to select between 170 words for snow.   For these people, understanding the nuances of snow is critical to their survival.  They pay a lot of attention to it.  Consequently, they have one word for ice that lasts year after year, a different word for the layers of crystals that form when the seas first begin to freeze, and another for when the ice is filled with holes like Swiss cheese but is good for polishing sled equipment and so on.

It’s not just nouns that can’t always be exchanged.  If you want to communicate with a native Japanese speaker, you are going to select between many personal pronouns that differ based on the gender, age, relative social status of the speaker and the gender, age and social status of the audience, as well as how formal the setting is where the conversation is happening.  These choices are not surprising for a collectivist society with a large population who has had to learn to live together relatively harmoniously on a relatively small island.  They have learned to pay attention to the subtleties of the social fabric in a manner that we Americans with our history of living on thousands of acres of land and our resulting “Wild West” mentality have not.

And what about nonverbal language?  When someone from India engages in head wobble, how do you know whether they are saying “yes,” “no,” “OK,” or “never mind?”  Do you know how many separate cultures, religions, castes, and other human groupings have found their way to the Indian subcontinent?  Nonverbal language that can be transmitted between people who speak different verbal languages is pretty important in that part of the globe.

Successful code-switching involves understanding energy.  You cannot become truly fluent in a second or third language until you pay attention to what is underneath the surface words.  Linguistic code-switching involves understanding that words are symbols. Words point to possible meanings but you still need to understand the larger context, still need to look at what is under the surface if you want to accurately send or receive a message with another human.  When you are exposed to the basics of the other group or person’s shared pictures your brain will then have what it needs to create enough similar neuronal pathways to become aware of the meanings beneath the words or gestures that other person or group is using.

Because we are talking here about reading energy, we are talking about a cognitive process that is VERY rapid, typically below the surface of one’s awareness.  I like the term code-switching because the switching part is quite descriptive.  It’s as if one is immersed in one worldview one second, and then suddenly a switch is thrown and you are part of an entirely different mental universe.  It’s not just the addition or subtraction of a few facts here or there.  It’s a major shift of consciousness.

God designed our bodies to be able to process a tremendous amount of information but at the present time, only a few individuals have ever mastered enough of their energy system to do what is required to create spiritually through physical matter to the degree necessry to access the broader perspective of which we are all capable.  At this point in human evolution, it is enough that some people are learning to switch back and forth between to what they are generally paying attention and perspectives based on a different set of life experiences.

Typically in order to survive, ethnic minorities in the United States have had to pay attention to the values of the dominant society.  By contrast, white people have not had to pay attention to the culture of other groups.  We can if we want but we have not had to.  Many white people have been very confused by the term “white privilege,” seeing it as some kind of intrinsic judgment.  I don’t believe it is.

Words can have very different meanings depending on life experiences.

Look underneath the surface. Remember that words are just symbols, and the meaning of any symbol can be controversial.  In my mind “white privilege” is just a way of saying that people with European ancestry have the option of not paying attention to the ways our particular history has shaped the national environment.  Folks who do not appear European in ancestry have had a different history resulting in a different perspective that requires paying attention to aspects of our society we whites “take for granted,” i.e. do not even notice.

Once you can code-switch, whether it’s from one language to another, or from one culture that shares roughly the same language to another, you can code-switch in multiple situations.  The essence of successful code-switching is looking beneath the surface at the same time as tracking what is happening in the outer world.

You all do that every time you meditate.  The more time you spend in meditation, the more you hone these essential skills. Code-switching is truly a spiritual journey.  Once you train yourself to be conscious of both the outside and the inside, you are on the way home.  As Jesus of Nazareth said in Saying 22 of the Gospel of Thomas:

“When you make the two one and make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside and the above like the below . . . then you will enter [the kingdom of Heaven].”

 What I am asking you to do now, is consider extending your developing code-switching skills to Time itself.  There is not really much of a difference between switching between your own worldview and that belonging to another person; and switching between your own history, your present and your future.  Really, you are not the person you were in the past, nor are you the person you will become.

It all comes down to making choices about paying attention.  What you seek becomes stronger; and that from which you turn away disappears temporarily or even withers.  When it comes to code-switching the time-space continuum though, there are a couple of tricks to keep in mind.

Humans have been trying to understand time for as long as we have been here on the planet. This astronomical clock from Prague is about 600 years old.

This morning I want to go over two of them.

First of all, recognize that living in the present moment is the goal, the spiritual destination if you will. Many people who speak about spiritual development will stress the importance of learning to be in present time.  There are literally hundreds of books on the topic.  Present time is a foundational teaching in many religions, particularly Buddhism but many others as well.  It is also an important concept in secular circles.  The whole mindfulness thing which has become such a huge component of contemporary mental health counseling and indeed, popular American culture, is another version of this viewpoint.  Some folks even advance the perspective that to be in the present moment is the whole point of living.

There is some truth to that perspective . . . but it’s not the whole truth.  What is vital about the present is that it is where the body lives.  Your body really only understands the present.

To the extent that you can.

Many of you in this room have had the experience that as you ground and work with your energy system, things that belong in the past and the future will often surface that need to be cleared.  It can be very confusing when one runs across intense emotions that have no basis in anything going on around you.

Experienced meditators can also feel stark sometimes excruciating physical pain for which there is no reason other than you have triggered something that has been lying dormant which the body immediately assumes is happening at the moment it is triggered.  The pain can be a trace memory from your past or a piece of energy you as spirit have put in place for future reference.  If it is important enough to surface, one must learn to address the issue in present time in one’s meditations.  One way of doing this is by recognizing that you are out of present time, then reassuring the body that the discomfort that is being felt is not real, i.e. is not really happening; and then using the meditation techniques you all know to clear what has you in the past or future.

The irony is that you have to be in present time enough to do that much. Otherwise you will just store the out-of-present-time experience in your energy system and any pain or emotion attached to it will come up a different time when you think you might be able to address it. We need to be at home with ourselves, present in our bodies, and slow down enough to notice how our physical form functions and moves around Mother Earth.   Grounding is a great tool for helping you be present in your body, as well as giving you a means to release what you have brought up for healing.

There are whole medical diagnoses that fundamentally are about someone as spirit  not being sufficiently in the body in present time, things like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, many types of migraines, and various autoimmune disorders to name a few. These are real conditions with very uncomfortable physical symptoms, but like any underlying chronic illness or disease process they start as energy blocks when spirit is not working enough with its body, such that the body resorts to screaming at us to try and get our attention.  Pretty much all of us have a lifetime or two (or three, or six, etc)  like this.

The soul can crave the creation of “failure” in order to learn where it does not want to go and prepare for what it ultimately does want.

For spirit, it is not always a priority to notice what the body is going through in some lifetimes.  Other adventures  are more pressing. Remember that for spirit there is no time; and remember also that emotions and pain properly belong to the physical world and not the spiritual realm. Therefore, depending on what each spirit is attempting to learn, sometimes it would rather discard the body it has that round, and start with a new one rather than take the time to slow down and work with it.

 

 

I hasten to add no one should be criticized or blamed for having heath challenges and failing to recognize the energy component to them.  Human societies, particularly in the Western world routinely marginalize and persecute those who attempt to cultivate awareness of energy.  The jig is up, though.  The time-space continuum is changing. Awareness of working as spirit through matter is becoming a requirement of maintaining life.  We can’t keep trashing the bodies we are given.  Too many human animals have been doing so compulsively for too long, resulting in an increasingly trashed planet.  If we are to survive, we must all learn to be present in our bodies to a larger degree including bringing up and clearing the levels of energy we have stored in the past or the future, however painful.

This can actually be a fun exercise, if you let it.  As they say in the New Age movement, there is a reason it’s called the present.

Second of all, and this may be the new part for some of you, recognize that living in present time is the goal, but PLEASE, pretty please, don’t make a perfect picture out of it.  You know the drill.  Perfect pictures aka expectations will always slow you down from learning what you need to learn, and get in the way of you going where you actually are trying to go.  As long as you maintain the idea of being in present time as a full-time requirement for yourself, you will be beating yourself up every time you notice your mind is in the past or future, and thereby adding more garbage that eventually you have to clear from your system.

Present time is the destination but to get there, you have to make the journey. We’re not there yet, probably not even very close.  Those that are fully in present time generally don’t need to be here on Planet Earth.  We’d be learning something else in some other part of the universe; or we’re in our final resting place, having fully merged with the heart of God, like the Christ.

If any one of the amazing people in this room had even the majority of their energy in present time, the roof would probably blow off. Literally. Think about it.  Present time is where your power is.  If all that enormous amount of energy you have tied up in the past and in the future, was sitting at rest within your body as you sit there you could literally as the Christ pointed out, move mountains.

When people sleepwalk through life as most everyone does almost all the time, the experiences that you create as spirit are stored somewhere in your energy system until such time as you are able and willing to process those experiences and come to terms with them as the learning events that they are. We don’t get to just leave the past in the past and truly move on.  We can only repress our awareness and pretend to move on until such time as our eyes are open enough to see a path through the learning.

The idea that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it has truth to it for both individuals and groups of people. You can certainly outgrow your history, and at that point, let it fully go.  To do that though, you have to face it squarely, with all its pain and all its emotion, and all its glory.  You have to milk all the experience for the learning that you set out to do when you created it.  Very few people want to do this.  Even fewer know how to do this.

Much of the world that human animals have created on a physical level that is no longer useful to us has simply been abandoned. Some has been reclaimed by Nature but most is just lying in wait for us to clean up at another time.

Most people prefer to repress the parts of their individual or collective history that is painful and/or that they don’t know how to handle and fall prey to the Maya.  Unfortunately then one just recreates the essence of the experience over and over until one is forced to deal with it.

 

 

 

 

 

That is why we have so many ungrounded citizens and political figures right now acting out Imperial Rome at its most brutal, slavery of African-Americans in the early days of the United States, Nazi Germany, etc.

One of the main problems with political as well as religious leaders at this point is that most are quite out of sync with present time. When this occurs Mother Earth and its inhabitants are at great risk. Bizarro comic by Dan Piraro posted in accordance with fair use principles.

These people are caught in a horrific hate-filled purgatory of not having enough presence to actually release the past. Even as we block the spread of their hateful actions, those of us who “know better” need to bring whatever compassion we can muster to these lost souls.

Similarly living in the future can be a trap.  Dreaming about possibilities, setting goals, making plans and all is important, but if you have too much of your energy in the future, those possibilities and goals just move farther out of your reach.

Bottom line:  What’s a person to do?  Be aware of past and future, but honor to the greatest degree the present moment.  Visit the future and the past, but live there as little as you can.  When you need to dream more, plan more or otherwise be in the future, read science fiction books or listen to TED talks from visionaries, go on travel sites that talk about the places you would like to visit, and immerse yourself in the many artists who expand our viewpoint through painting or other works of art.

Great art can reach below the surfaces and awaken spiritual truth but it does this using the physical senses, thereby engaging the body as well.  This piece by Wassily Kandinsky called the “Deepened Impulse” from 1928 is thought by many to represent the Big Bang, the foundational act of creation in our universe as spirit in matter. Posted in accordance with fair use principles.

When you need to raise your vibration to the next step by pulling some energy from the past, look at old diaries or family photo albums, go to high school reunions, watch the history channel or historically-based dramas or listen to musicians that have accompanied you on your journey in life. Code-switch your perspective as much as you need step-by-step but keep in mind the goal is to be more present with yourself, your body and the indwelling God.

Be in charge of the process. You will know the difference between being a visitor and a resident of past or future if you just pay enough attention. Make conscious choices.  If you find your thoughts going to the past or the future when you don’t want them to, get some help.  Schedule a healing or a massage, see a therapist or someone else who can assist you to work through emotion, sing or draw or knit, watch a funny movie with your love or spend more time in Nature.   It is your God-given body and you can learn when to be more fully in it; and when to take a break.  

Do the sometimes-difficult work a little at a time, to find yourself and your place in the awareness of God’s miraculous universe.

Copyright 2018 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

Making America Great, for the First Time

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service  March 25, 2018

Spring is typically the time when the natural world wakes up from a long period of resting and dreaming, and begins to manifest the new life that have been put in place during the fall and winter.  As part of the natural world, human animals do this as well.  I am always intensely curious, eager to see what we have called forth from the depths of our imagination.

Energetically we have toyed with a lot of possibilities on a spiritual level during the past six months and now we get to see what the bulk of our final selections will be for this year,  We get to witness the manifestation of energy we have agreed to as individuals and in our communities.

At our Winter Solstice Worship Service shortly after the 2016 presidential election we talked about the Wintering of America, how to “weather” (pun intended) our new cultural environment in the USA, as our world turned topsy-turvy almost overnight.  I talked about the perfect pictures that we all have of the United States, energetic pieces of programming that have us stuck on an image of our country that is erroneous, and that keeps us from actually moving towards the ideals to which we aspire.  The campaign slogan “America Great Again” is an example of an image of national perfection that is not really warranted historically speaking; and thinking of ourselves that way is holding us back contemporaneously speaking.

Perfect pictures always eventually crash under their own weight.  I talked about how we need to rethink our social, political, religious, economic and other systems as they are at the very least transformed, and in the worse case scenario, altogether demolished,.  We need to rebuild our American way of life on something other than a foundation of sand.

For many or most people in the United States and our fellow citizens on Planet Earth, as well as the other species with which we inhabit this awesome planet, it’s been a very chaotic time since the election; and a long-hard winter these last few months.   Even those of us fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwestern part of the USA, where we have been blessed with a relatively calm and livable environment free or war, famine, drought, tornadoes and the like, have been awash in the same vast ocean of fear, despair, and confusion as everywhere in America and beyond.

There is more chaos and fear etc. to come but Spring is here, the time of renewal.  Surprisingly, I find myself increasingly hopeful.

 

 

 

Oscar Wilde was once criticized for being a dreamer.  Oscar Wilde, of course, was the incredibly brilliant and spiritual Irish poet and playwright that at the height of his fame in the mid 1800s was persecuted and jailed for his sexuality.

Many people have dreams of flying, a metaphor for the yearning of the soul to experience itself working through the physical world while maintaining its spiritual nature. “I Dreamed I Could Fly” by Carlos Almara, posted in accordance with fair use principles.

To his critics he replied:  “Yes, I am a dreamer, and a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight; and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world does.”  To Oscar Wilde I would like to say, “yes, but your reward is that you see the dawn before the rest of the world does.”  And to the people in this room, those of you who are in touch enough with spirit to do your own dreaming, I say that we humans are in the fight of our lives for our very lives on Planet Earth.  This is a fight that we needed to undergo.  And now we are in the midst of it.  And it’s springtime!

A colleague of mine who is quite tuned into energy calls 2018 “The Year of Transformation.”  I think she is right.  This is the year when cycles we have completed, some of which started hundreds or even thousands of years ago, are going to blow away in the wind,

When a dandelion flower is at its end, the seeds of the next generation of life are widely disbursed in search of fertile new territory.

like the seeds of the head of a fully opened dandelion.  And there is Grace to that, even though one way to look at it is that everywhere around us things are dying.

 

 

 

I see this in the news every day and every night.  Did you actually think that the national conversation finally becoming obsessed with AR 15s and guns in the schools after years of mass murders, did you think this was really just about gun control?  When you hear the politicians talk about the “opioid crisis,” and the president say that the way to solve it is to bring on the death penalty for drug dealers, did you really think this was only about fentanyl and other pain killers?

Pain is certainly not the only way for humans to make changes happen, but it tends to be the go-to vehicle for many or most who are otherwise unable or unwilling to change their relationship to the physical dimensions.

What I hear is a society coming to terms with the fact that it is in a death spiral, a cycle of destruction that could bring a “premature” ending, particularly for its youngest members.  And I hear a country trying to figure out whether or not to face its pain about what has been created, which it has to do to arrest that downward spiral.

I think that 2018 is the year in the “New World” that we have been trying to create since 1776.  This is the year where it will become so glaringly obvious to WethePeople that we kind of missed our original mark.   For many  spirit in bodies for which there is too much cognitive dissonance going on between perfect pictures and reality, there will be too much suffering.  And consequently, some may choose to go elsewhere.  For those who can accept the “new normal,” who are willing to face their pain and make the necessary changes internally and externally to experience a vastly different way of life, things will be OK if very different. It’s not a question of who deserves life.  It’s a question of who chooses life, eternal life, not life based on an illusion lost to materialism.

And this is where I become hopeful.  Until recently, pretty much all I saw were the signs of the destruction side of the creative/destructive dichotomy.  But recently, just in last few weeks, as  the daffodils and crocuses have been peaking up through the ground of our gardens, there has been a small but intensifying pattern of what I like to think of as the True American Spirit showing up in public places.

Every group of people have their own unique energy, sometimes labeled as “culture” or “worldview.” This is true of countries. Here the Christian artist He Qi depicts the essential energy of the United States as Freedom and Peace. But Freedom struggles with grief, perhaps at not yet being able to fulfill its destiny.  Posted in accordance with fair use principles.

It appears that large numbers of people are waking up, standing up, speaking up, and making choices for connection to the divine through each other.

I’m not talking here about the obvious political protests and huge increase of lawsuits in opposition to congressional and state legislation.  I’m not even talking about individual acts of courage.  There have always been individuals willing to devote all of themselves to the greater good.  I’m talking about the quiet stuff that is frequently missed, the cultural shifts, changes in the way we as a nation full of diverse individuals think about our world.

I’m talking about individuals like the farmers and ranchers who have recently bequeathed or turned over land to which they had legal title which previously had been stolen from Native Americans when their treaty rights were ignored.   I’m talking about corporations like the Gerber company choosing the image of a Down’s Syndrome baby as its 2018 Gerber Baby;

With his obvious infectious joy, Lucas is inspiring thousands to rethink their prejudice against spirit born into different or physically challenged bodies.

and Apple introducing emojis to which people with disabilities can relate.

Lady Liberty 225th Anniversary US Mint coin

 

 

 

 

Then there is Black Lightening taking Hollywood by storm, and the U.S. Mint issuing a 100 dollar coin with the image of a Black  Lady Liberty stamped on it.

 

I’m talking about scientists as their vision expands with the rest of us “discovering” new species of animals that have been there all along but were never previously noticed, like the flying squirrel recently found at Mt Rainier Park; and the US Postal Service passing on a growing understanding of life with its new stamp series on bioluminescent animals as we begin to understand what we’ve done to our oceans.

Most of all I’m talking about a validation of our real individual and collective stories.  Rather than disseminating fear-based conspiracy crap like denying the holocaust, or reinventing history to pretend that slavery is a good thing, an increasing number of people are standing up for authentic stories.

Lt. Wesley Clark Jr. and other veterans kneel in front of Leonard Crow Dog on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Dec. 5, 2016. Vets asked for and received forgiveness from Lakota and Sioux elders for crimes committed against indigenous peoples by the US military.  Words were coupled with actions as nearly 4,000 veterans helped protect Dakota Access pipeline protesters. In less dramatic ways, these times of humility, healing, and honoring spirit are being played out increasingly around the world.

Granted, some are acknowledging past wrongdoings because with the increasing amount of light in the world, it’s harder to get away with the lies any more.  But also–an increasing tide is moving us towards the Truth.

Using DNA, scientists have recently discovered that these Aboriginal men from Australia belong to a tribe of  people who have maintained the oldest continuous human habitat on Earth, going back some 50,000 years to the Old Stone Age.  Rather than being seen as a “rather insignificant” marginalized people of little interest, they now will likely gain significant social status as original human ancestors, rock stars of modern anthropology.

When National Geographic apologized for “decades of racist coverage” I don’t believe it was because they had to, as much as because it is right to take ownership of past wrongdoings so we can learn from them and transcend those limited perspectives.  Granted their admission may ultimately improve sales but still, no one forced them to try to gain more legitimacy that particular way.

When Israeli televangelist Benny Hinn confessed last month that he has come to understand that his belief in the “the prosperity gospel” was an extreme interpretation of scripture that was not “God’s work,” this was a watershed moment for his thousands of followers.   Yes, it remains to be seen what he is going to do with the reported 42 million dollars he has amassed by believing what he wanted to believe but at least he has admitted his transgression and stopped speaking for God in an area where clearly his ego was calling the shots.

Unfortunately, I believe we are far from done with the process of destruction for our way of life in the U.S.  We have had too many decades of picture pictures that we now have to resolve, and a population that still is highly resistant to doing the hard work that it takes to change one’s worldview.

Perfection belongs only to God. For the rest of us, harmony comes only after a true dedication to our spiritual goals. . .while still acknowledging and gaining seniority over our human animal attributes.

Frankly, the worst is probably yet to come. . .as the consequences of our recent choices in regards to the social fabric and particularly  the physical environment become manifest. 

 

 

 

 

 

The worst may yet come. But despite it all, I am hopeful.

As many of you know, for 15 years at the direction of the universe I have been closely following the issue of climate change.  I’ve heard a lot of key scientists and the like, use the phrase “tipping point” to describe the point in time in which human destruction would bring the Earth to the point where it could not sustain life.

As we face a potential human-caused extinction event on Earth, human animals are in an existential crisis of sorts. This 1846 painting by Edward Hicks is called “Who will Save Us This Time.”

God is not going to let us destroy the Earth.  It will let us destroy each other, and in doing so, ourselves if we need that learning experience.  I’m pretty sure the planet’s destiny is to be a Paradise of Love and Life.  If human animals cannot buy into the master plan, then we are free to go the way of the dinosaur, making room for another species to be given dominion to try their hand at creating through matter in an environment reflective of God’s majestic life forms.

What I’ve always been aware of though, as people talk about “tipping point”– when it will occur, if it’s occurred, that sort of thing–is that the dialogue rarely takes God into consideration.

It is no accident that one of the most common words for the divine is the Creator. God is creative beyond our wildest dreams, and as we are made in its image. so too are we.
“God the Creative Spirit” by Alex Grey, posted in accordance with fair use principles.

Human beings are co creating with the divine in this world.  The Supreme Being puts into motion the greater context, and gives us just the one rule about free will, and a whole lot of pointers, and we fill in the details.  In our fear of our physical mortality and seeking our own immortality, we can fill in a lot of those details with stupid adolescent-level death-dying stunts.  Some or many of us may not physically survive the risks we have been taking. . .but God is still our creative partner in this venture.  There is still this little thing called miracles, and there are still means beyond what our puny human brains can comprehend, for the Grace of the Almighty to save us from our stupid selves.

Think 2018 as a sort of energetic “tipping point’ of sorts.  This is the calendar year in which our choices as human beings, we who have the God-given will to freely choose to harness our energy for the Greater Good under the direction of the Supreme Being. . .or not, will make the choice to do so,or turn the tide against our kind continuing to have this gorgeous planet as our playground.

Door of the Shiva Temple at Lakhamandal, Uttarakhand, India. Shiva in the Hindi pantheon is the God of Death and Transformation. Can we allow ourselves to walk through this door to our destiny?

Vast numbers of spirit are just waiting for humans to call them to help with our current Earthly challenges. Because of free will, they cannot be activated without our explicit thoughts and/or prayers. Image is “Angel Thinking” by Dee L. Sprague, posted in accordance with fair use principles.

The good news is that the forces of the heavens have been mobilized to help us in every way they can, to make the choices that will lead us, one way or the other, to our Creator.

 

We can do this.  I know we can.  We can make America Great, for the first time.

 

 

 

 

We can put spirit in charge and restrain and retrain ego.  We can give up our addiction to greed and power.  Individually and collectively we can join the All-That-Is in whatever way it has in Mind.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s bring forth the American Spirit!    Let’s Make America Great, for the First Time!

January 31, 2018 Moon over Lady Liberty

Copyright 2018 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

The Art and Majesty of Co-Creating with God

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  June 2017

Over the years in this meditation community we have had a number of worship services devoted to exploring the dichotomy of creation and destruction.  The vast majority of these sessions have been primarily about the latter, the destruction side of things.  For the longest time, it was important to help each other get over thinking that destruction is a bad thing.  Like every dichotomy that gets played out on Planet Earth, it is simply what it is.  Destruction, as well as creation, is not intrinsically bad or good.  We needed to get more comfortable with the idea of things coming to an end, things dying, if you will.  We needed to get more skilled at helping destruction happen with a minimal of suffering; and get ready for the times in which we now find ourselves.

And here we are.  You can call where we are in the U.S and the world right now the apocalypse if you want.  My preferred term for this time in our history is the Great Balancing. 

Whatever you call it, we are swimming in a sea of destruction of every aspect of our natural and human world, our environment and infrastructure, our way of life, played out in our political, social, economic and religious systems to name a few.

I was very happy after I realized the implications of being drawn to doing a sermon on co-creating with the divine.  Time for us to get on with reestablishing a new world order, so to speak.  This order is not the kind of order that humans build when we get lost to our need for domination and power over each other.  This world order has to do with the kind of order that naturally arises when we surrender ourselves to the indwelling God.  Or as the Christ would say, as quoted in John 14;27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage.

 

As Ghandi reminds us.

In the interest of some of those in this community making  and helping others to make this miraculous transition, I thought we would explore some of the nuts and bolts of what it actually means to go about co-creating with God.    Co-creation is a concept that resonates with many people but few really could put their finger on the message that those words actually contain or how to make it happen.  So let me give it a shot.

We know that God is an awesome, majestic unending Creative force.  Indeed, one of the most common synonyms used by various religious people for God is the Creator; or the Creator-of-Us-All.

God the Creative Spirit by Alex Grey

Most people also believe that humankind reflects the creativity of the divine, that we are made in God’s image and so we are intrinsically creative.  But what does that actually mean. . .and how do we go about creating in conjunction with, as opposed to opposition to the will of the divine?

As I have been preparing this sermon, I have been watching the news about our current rash of extreme weather.   In my opinion, climate change is one of the clearest reflections of how much we have gotten out of sync with the divine.  Sometimes I can find a slight bit of amusement about the irony of someone like fundamentalist Christian Tony Perkins, leader of the highly influential, hate-filled Family Research Council saying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for homosexuality and then having his own home destroyed by a flood.  More often I am filled only with sorrow, anger and on my better days, compassion.

But here’s the rub.  Our extreme weather events these days are both a consequence of our inability to understand co-creation; and a call to action for us to start getting with the program.  We can no longer sit on the sidelines and blame God, or attribute to God everything that is happening in our world.   Humans have a LOT to do with what happens on Planet Earth. When you look closely at the political discourse around climate change, the question of who is responsible is what you see at the core.  Too many individuals are trying to pretend, increasingly unsuccessfully, that humans have little or nothing to do with climate change.  For decades, humans have mindlessly slaughtered animals, fouled the oceans and waterways, desecrated the Earth through drilling, mining and most recently fracking, et. al.

The North Pacific Gyre is an area of trash twice the size of Texas consisting of 30 feet deep of mostly plastics, floating in the Pacific Ocean. There are many similar human-generated “dead zones” in our waters, including the 2010 death of about 68,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill.

Many indigenous cultures acknowledge Nature as God, This is an image of Pachamama, the Inca Earth Mother Goddess by Jose Garcia Chibbaro.

Destroying the Earth was and is not a God-given mandate.  God is Nature and Nature is God.  God cannot destroy itself.

Humans?  That’s another matter.  You have to be really out of touch with God if you do not see that human animals have set the stage for our own annihilation through our treatment of our physical home.

 

 

It’s hard not to get lost in the fear in regards to our extreme weather events. In actuality, they can be seen from a spiritual perspective that the tornado is right on track, forcing us to wake up.

God/Nature is not punishing us through hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, droughts, etc.  It is giving us our (final) warning(s).

We already have been co-creating with the divine from day one.  It’s our basic nature to do so. We have just not been doing so with any degree of awareness or finesse.   God creates the stars, the planets and the entire Heaven; and we decide how to invite them into our life.  We decide whether to base our health care decisions on the movement of Heavenly bodies through astrology or the science of the physical Earth through biology.

The divine’s awesome creativity is everywhere in nature. Anemone Stinkhorn, (aseroe rubra), a truly beautiful fungus.

God sets forth the rivers, and we decide whether to swim them, sail vessels or construct dams on them.  I’m being a bit simplistic in that all human behavior is based in part on spiritual forces so even the invention and application of technologies contain the hand print of the divine, but you get my drift.

 

 

 

We are in partnership with God one way or the other.  Whether we experience a loving and supportive relationship or some kind of toxic soup depends on our choices.

Over the centuries many people affiliated with many religions have lost their sense of God, lost their faith because they have accepted the lie that everything in our World is up to God.  In human history, loud are the periodic questions about why God allows so much suffering and the episodic conclusions that God has forsaken us.  Our Creator never leaves us.  The Creator loves us enough to allow us to create whatever hell or heaven on Earth we wish to experience.  It waits for us to wake up to the responsibility of free will; and participates joyfully in any partnership which we offer.

So, it’s 120 degrees in Phoenix.  Anyone here want to experience that?   Let’s talk about what we need to not make that a reality in Washington State and elsewhere.   This morning I want to talk about two aspects of co-creation and how to think about it, about which we all could stand to make some progress.

First and foremost, we need to figure out where God actually lives; or in the words often used in religious discussions, where God dwells.  This is one of the great mysteries, is it not?  For eons people have tried to make sense out of the idea that God is everything and everywhere.  And still we have evil and ugliness and things of that ilk that seem far from God-like.   People who do not understand dichotomies often try to resolve this confusion by assigning all the evil and ugliness to what I believe is a mythical creature called Satan or the devil.

Harrowing of Hell, image from England, circa 1240 CE

But then, how can you say that God is everything and everywhere?

We are not going to resolve this mystery today.  After all, mysteries are meant to be mysterious.  But  I want to give you a way to think about it and encourage you to start training your mind, if you haven’t already started this process.  Because it is a critical one.  There is a reason why Jesus of Nazareth talked more about the Kingdom of God than any other topic of his ministry.  He did so because this topic is at the center of human confusion.  Christ was VERY CLEAR.  The Kingdom of God is WITHIN.  Within each one of us, without exception.

God is everywhere and everything.  But God cannot be fully experienced unless we seek our Creator within us, unless we choose with our free will, to know the Father, the Mother, however you want to envision that Creative force, to acknowledge it living in our own God-given space.  The Living God, the indwelling God, can only be fully known within each individual.  Where does God dwell most intently?  Within you, waiting for your discovery of it, your communication, your adoration.  In the words of the 46th Psalm:

Be Still and Know that I Am

 

There is a second part to co-creating with the divine that is critical.  When people first learn to turn within, whether they do that through some form of meditation or prayer, religious practice, surrounding themselves with Nature, great works of art or music, or as my atheist Mother learned to do in the latter part of her life, sitting quietly with her own thoughts over a cup of coffee each morning—whatever the process, people generally have to contend with what in Buddhism is referred to as the “chattering monkeys.”

 

Buddhism emphasizes training the mind. The resulting serenity is reflected in its sacred art.

Encountering your inner world, you will probably find the chaos of the external world that you have fallen into the habit of letting have full access to your brain    You may find the voices of parents and teachers and others who have shaped your reality in the absence of you knowing how to shape your own.   You may even see images or run into stored emotion from periods of time long since gone, from your childhood and from other lifetimes.   For most people it is a process that takes a lot of time to find yourself in all that mess of repressed and out-of-date energies.

In this voyage of self-discovery, it is what comes after finding yourself that is so crucial to the art of co- creating with God.  Once you find yourself, you have to give yourself away.  Not to the world, not to another person, but to your creator.  You have to choose to lay down your resistance.  You have to surrender.

When you think about how many centuries of warfare we have created on Planet Earth, along with its perspective that surrendering is a bad thing, it is amazing that any of us want to or are capable of doing so at all.  But we need to.  We need to learn to give up our ego, which is what surrendering is all about.

Ego is a tricky thing.  Telling someone that they are dealing with their ego is considered an insult.  However, mental health professionals like to talk about “ego strength” as an important part of healthy personalities.  In psychology at least, we acknowledge that ego is not only common but also can come in handy at times.   So here we have another dichotomy.  Ego is neither bad nor good.  It depends on what we do with it.

Ego is the band aids we put over our owies to keep them from getting infected.   It allows us to put pain on hold, repress it until we are more ready to resolve it.  Hurts a little when you rip it off band aids but is really no big deal except for sissies.  Sometimes if the hurt has been huge, ego is like scar tissue, and then it’s a little bigger of a deal to recover from it.  You might even need the help of someone with surgical skills.  The point is, to move forward at some point you are going to need to get better and better at processing hurtful information, as well as resolving earlier repressed pain.

Since the universe is always moving forward, you can do the passive thing and let the universe decide when this point is and let it blindside you.  Or you can ask the universe aka God to set before you that which you need to heal at the time and in the manner that is most pleasing to it.  This is the essence of surrendering.  That is the essence of co-creating with the divine.  You find yourself and you give yourself freely into the hands of the Almighty

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As I write this, I am aware that most of you are primarily focused on the finding-yourself part of spiritual development.  If you want to start practicing the surrendering part of spiritual development, my suggestion is that you make this a part of your daily meditations, however brief.

For several years I ended most of my meditations with a mantra of sorts.  I would maintain a strong focus inward after clearing my space using the techniques you all know how to do; and then I would say slowly and repeatedly, speaking  to the God of my heart, “Make Me an Instrument of Your Love.  Make Me an Instrument of Your Will.”  The first statement was an acknowledgement of my individual path in this life; and my need for help finding it.  The second statement was the surrendering part.   After a couple of years I noticed that much to my chagrin, I was still tripping over my ego on a regular basis.  But I could no longer base major decisions on my ego.  When I would try, I would hit what felt like an invisible brick wall.  As our Muslim brothers and sisters would say:  Allah Akbar, God is greater.   God was answering my prayers and protecting me from the worst of my stupidities.

We all have a lot of learn.

My Creator became a greater participant in creating my life when I, with all of my heart, invited it to play an active role.

If you want to use universal words, surrendering is also a part of the Lord’s Prayer.  Repeat that sacred prayer if it has meaning for you.  Thy Will be Done.  Not My Will or Our Will, Thy Will.

Find your own methodology.  Create your own words but give your energy to the indwelling divine.   The extent to which you do this will dictate the amount of the peace talked about by the Christ you will experience.  As the Tibetan meditation master Ajahn Chah says:  “If you let go a little you a will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.”

So back to it being 120 degrees in Phoenix this week.  Can we really change our descent into global heating enough to take the human species off the endangered species list?  Possibly.  Probably.  I don’t know yet.  But what I do know is that not only is the endpoint at hand, but so is the beginning point.

This I also know as truth:  We can’t do it by ourselves.  We are going to need to use our collective will and enormous creativity to lay our fate in the hands of the divine.

Glory to our Creator for all of the Beauty around us. Now let us do our part!

The solutions are far beyond what human brains can envision on our own.  Join me in asking for the intercession of the universe, as we learn to harness our own God-given creativity in the service of us all.

 

 

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

Living the Lie; Seeking the Truth in the Digital Age

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service March 2017

Last fall we gathered for a worship service that occurred right after the United States presidential election.  During that service I talked about the perfect pictures that had dominated the election process and the need for us to construct a new narrative based on greater Truth.  Good example of:  be careful what you pray for.

Three months later our mass media and our social media are flooded with stories of people trying to figure out what is true and what is not true.  As usual, many people are trying to impose their truths on other people.  There is nothing new about this.  The NEW part is that we are now arguing about who has the right to define truth for our society, our collective life.  Many or most of the institutions that we formally accepted as the truth-sayers are now being discredited.

Lots of folks have lots of opinions about whom to trust and whom to distrust as sources of information; as well as what we should all be paying attention to and what should be ignored.   Newspapers and television shows are being blasted right and left over the choices they make either to report or ignore various issues or events, the choices within each story of what to mention, what to focus on, as well as what their comments should actually be.  Academic institutions, law enforcement, medical professionals and other scientists, segments of our population that have been a go-to place for many decades, are now being scrutinized at best, vilified at worst.  Depending on who you talk to, the scientific perspective is either under attack, or finally being put in its place.   Educational systems from preschool to college are being gutted and their professionals viewed as having little or no value.  And of course, everyone seems to think the government is lying, even people in the government.

Suddenly the deep divisions within our country are not just about governmental policies and other surface politics.  Rather, they are about the very nature of our reality, our basic most understanding of the truth.  In the process of figuring out who we want to trust, we’re getting inundated by new terminology like fake news, alternative facts, gas lighting, click bait headlines, and the like.  What’s going on?

In my opinion, we’re right on track.  What I mean by this, is that the fights that are erupting everywhere in our culture these days, from a spiritual perspective are predictable; are vital, even necessary.

We are in the midst of a HUGE epistemological cultural war.  Epistemology is a word that comes from the field of philosophy.  Epistemology is about investigating human knowledge.  Epidemiologists try to understand how we know what we know.  What methods do we use to arrive at the truth, and what are the limitations of said methods?  All useful things to study, especially these days.

There are many ways of understanding that the word Truth, but the Truth that is most of interest to me, the Truth that I hope to bring us back to, the Truth I pray you will have a better understanding of when you leave here today, is something I sometimes call Truth with a Capital “T.”  In other words, God.

As human beings, it seems to be our lot in life to try and make sense out of things beyond our reach.   I am always amazed at the hubris of people who think they know everything, have all the answers for everyone around them.  I am especially astonished by the religious leaders who think they can speak for God when they tell other people what to think or do.  Humans like to imagine that we understand God; and don’t get me wrong, it’s important that we try.  But in my opinion we also need to develop the humility to understand the limitations of our knowledge base.  We are a part of something bigger that contains and knows the whole of the cosmos.  We are part of God, but we are not God in its totality.

The Vedic religions is one of the spiritual traditions that have most clearly addressed the nature of reality.  In Hinduism, the world is referred to as the “Maya.”   The Māyā is a Sanskrit word that means the “magic show, the illusion where things that are before us not what they seem.”   Māyā is the idea that that which exists is constantly changing and thus ultimately  unreal.   God is the only thing that doesn’t change, the only reality.   Written in StoneEvery aspect of what we think of as the physical reality is really just a snapshot in time, seen from one particular camera or lens.  There are as many versions of the truth as there are forms of life in our universe, which is beyond what we can count or measure.  Bottom line:  Truth belongs only to our Creator.

As individuals we are but a piece of the puzzle.  A chip off the cosmic block.  We are not the entire puzzle; nor can we even understand the whole puzzle while incorporated in the flesh.  Here at the Church of the Harvest, we acknowledge this diversity of worldviews by referring to the divine by many names:  The All-That-Is, Allah, the Creator-of- Us-All, the divine, God, Goddess, the God of our Heart, Nature, the universe, etc.   Some of my favorite names for the divine are metaconcepts like Justice, Love, and Truth (with a Capital T).   For us puny humans, each of us have our own unique piece of the truth.  And it’s incredibly important to all of us that we discover and speak that truth and live that truth to the best of our ability.  Deeper TruthsSome of us are closer to knowing and living and speaking the Truth with a Capital T.  But none of us can claim to have the complete picture.

You are all healers, change agents in the great game of life.  You no doubt know that the process of healing involves stripping off the delusions about who are, stripping off the ego that protects those delusions, piece by piece, layer by layer, like peeling an onion some people say, in order to get down to the bedrock, get down to the cornerstone distortions that are keeping us from understanding our true nature.

When enough people have stripped away enough old perspectives, sometimes there  occurs in society something called a paradigm shift.  A paradigm shift is when so much is changing about the basic framework that our cognitive model of how we see the world changes.  Most of you will recognize what I mean when I say that a paradigm shift is to a large collection of people such as those who make up an industry or an  entire country, what a growth period is to an individual meditator.  The U.S. has been in a rather intense and painful stripping process for many months now.  The next step, the natural progression is for us is to deal with the bedrock of how we understand our world.  We are being called to adopt a more accurate perception of reality, to come closer to the Truth.Coddiwomple

We often talk about the world of energy.  We offer opportunities for people to come to terms with their individual energy system.  We have a meditation community so that individuals can safely learn about sharing collective space with other individuals committed to being responsible about their own energy system.   But I’d like to remind you today that energy is not the only component on which you have to get a handle if you want to create the kind of world all of us desire, a world grounded in the unconditional love of the universe.  It takes a lot of power to create a world based on love, and real power takes not only energy, but also truthful information.

Power equals energy and information.  You can have a lot of energy like what happens for many bipolar individuals, but unless you have the information about how to ground that energy and work within your own body, it is a wasted resource.   Or you can have a lot of information like, for example, what is seen in many academic and scientific settings where people have enormous amounts of information at their disposal but lack the energy to bring their insights into the world in a constructive fashion.  When you are too much in your head, identifying with the brain, your energy system does not create from a spiritual perspective.  Every time I’ve been around institutions of higher education, I am always astonished by how such talented, intelligent people can get so stuck in their analyzers and think that what is really important is fighting each other over academic turf, jostling over who has the most prestige.

For human beings to make it through the next period of time, we are going to need to learn to use both energy and information.  We are designed for that and we can operate that way if we so choose.  Think about our brains, the operating system that drives our bodies.  Human brains have an average of 100 billion neurons, about the same number as the number of stars within the Milky Way galaxy.
Stars

 

Each single neuron has the capacity to create a synopsis or connection with 1,000 other individual neurons.

Neurons, Photo by Heiti Paves

Two neurons communicating.  Photo by Heiti Paves.

Current estimates are that we can handle about 2 ½ petrabytes of information.  A petrabyte is a thousand terabyates.  A terabyte is a million million bytes.  We are walking around with bodies that can process some 100 trillion data points each second.  Not bad for an animal like a human being.  But then, we were made in God’s image.

You’d think that would be enough to get a lot done.  Theoretically anyway.  But NOPE, that’s not enough.  We need both the power tools and the information about how to use them wisely.  We can all attest of periods of feeling completely overwhelmed by all there is to handle in the world, particularly when we are in sensation-rich environments, around a lot of technology or a lot of people to intensify the data stream assaulting our senses.  Right now we are densely packed in a world of over 7 billion people, immersed at every moment of the day by technology beyond our wildest dreams, with most of us so stressed that even the brightest of us can barely handle the basics.

When we don’t know how to handle life’s challenges, we tend to use people and organizations as shortcuts in processing information. This is where it gets tricky.  We give other people the power to determine what we feel or believe about the world.   Many have long since figured out that the best way to control other people is to get them to fear things they do not understand.  As our world becomes increasingly complex using our current inadequate cognitive skill set, it is relatively easy for power mongers to generate fear in people; and also alarmingly easy to confuse people.   Elections in the United States are now routinely “bought” by corporations and wealthy individuals with the thousands or millions of dollars it takes to spread the viewpoint they want citizens to hold.  We are going to need a new cognitive skill set to make it through the next months.  Thus the looming paradigm shift.Beginning is Near

Luckily the problems that we face are not exactly new, just greatly intensified, so we do have some history upon which we can draw.  For centuries humans have been living in the world that overwhelms us with its vast amount of sensory data.  We have dealt with our fear and confusion by giving up our power, giving our decision-making to other humans that come along and tell us that THEY know the right answers.  Usually it’s religious or political figures that tell us that we should believe THEIR version of the truth.

Every once in awhile, a Buddha will come along that will remind us that everything we need to know is within us, if we just wake from our state of sleeping through life.  Every once in awhile a Jesus of Nazareth teaches us to seek God within us, to desire to know its Truth and to listen to it when we find it.

Meditation According to the Buddha

The Buddha lived circa 500 to 400 BCE.

From its start the universe has been conspiring to help us recognize the Truth whenever we are open to it.  Key individuals have challenged the cognitive stronghold promulgated by the religious dogma that is usually a big factor in keeping the Truth at bay.  In the sixth century the man we know as the Buddha took the first major chunk out of the entrenched Hindu caste system on the Indian subcontinent.  Many centuries later Mahatma Gandhi would convince the British Empire to move out of India and the caste system would be officially eliminated.  But way before that it was the Buddha who set the stage of teaching hundreds of people to begin the search for themselves.  He told ordinary folks, not only the “untouchables” but anyone below the highest caste, that they did not need the Brahman, the ruling priests to intervene for them in the ways of the universe.  He taught them how to turn within, to meditate to find those ways for themselves.

Around the same time, another search for the truth was happening in China.  Confucius revolutionized thinking in the entire Eastern part of the globe by bringing a greater sense of individual truth-seeking to how humans should process information.   He was one of the first major proponents of the “Golden Rule.”  He talked about the important of treating other people well by following one’s own instincts.  He maintained that if society fails it is because sacred texts and teachings have been misinterpreted.  He told his students that the texts contain the “Way,” but individuals must search for and find it themselves.  He helped shift  human consciousness of much of the civilized world that was China towards pursuit of the Truth.

Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BCE.

And then, of course we have the Christ, who preached that individuals must first and foremost find their answers within, by finding God’s kingdom within each of us.  His teachings have been misunderstood and subverted over the years but periodically, the universe pulls us back closer to the possibility of discovering Truth as Jesus defined it.

Christ Underwater, Key Largo, Photo by Lawrence Cruciana

One such point was the Protestant Reformation around the end of the 15th century early part of the 16th century, when an obscure German pastor named Martin Luther and various of his colleagues reshaped life in Europe and beyond by challenging the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

The statement Martin Luther hand wrote and nailed to a church at Wittenburg in 1517 eventually was reproduced by the new printing presses some 250,000 times, the first such incidence of mass circulation of the written word. His stance spread throughout Europe and led to a movement by religious leaders of many countries to develop their own version of Christianity.

The Reformation is sometimes seen as just political infighting among rival Christian sects, but really it was bigger than just a religious war.  At its essence it was also an  epistemological cultural war, made more vicious by the advent of new technology, very much like what we are going through today.  At issue was who gets to decide what is true and what is not; and how the Truth should be sought.

At the time, Catholicism had become the supreme authority on both spiritual and secular life in Europe.  Typically only monks could read and write books and only monks and priests could speak Latin.  This was important because Latin was the language of the Bible which was the sole basis for the moral code for society.  Therefore, any person in Western society who wanted to live such that they would enjoy success in the outer world; as well as prepare for what they believed was going to happen in the after-world, had to rely on a priest to tell them what to think and feel and how to live.

It was no coincidence that Luther nailed his objections to the way the Catholic Church was doing business in the same time period that Gutenberg was perfecting the oil-based inks, non-parchment papers that could be produced by new water-powered mills, and early printing press machinery that allowed everyday people outside of the church structure to obtain reading materials.  Gutenberg BibleHumans were ready for the triumph of literacy.  And when we were ready for the gift of greater proximity to Truth, on a physical level the resources appeared to allow for dissemination of knowledge through the written word; and on a spiritual level the information we were getting from our religious institutions made a major shift.

The digital period in human history which started in the last few years is another such evolutionary step in human consciousness.  We are right on the precipice.  We have been so since the 70s when computers reached into our collective lives.  We are obsessed with redefining Truth because we are right on the verge of developing the next huge leap in being able to recognize it.  We don’t even know what that truth is going to look like yet.


To get through the next period enough of us human animals have to choose a truer pathway that is savvy about both energy and information.   Here are a few clues about how to work with the unlimited amount of energy available to spirit within the context of a very limited physical form, as the world around us goes through an earthquake-like paradigm shift of unimaginable proportion.

Find your own truth.  This is actually a little more complicated than most people think.  It’s not about what feels right.  That can just be a result of unresolved emotions.  It’s not even necessarily about what you think is right.  That can just be old programming, ways you’ve been taught to think that are unexamined and not really consistent with whom you really are.  Finding your own truth requires you to look within yourself, and do so with enough regularity and courage that you learn to distinguish your own voice from that of your mother and your father and your siblings and your friends, your kids, your social models, your teachers and  leaders and your country; and even from the parts of you that you have outgrown such as your inner child and your experiences in other lives.

SPOILER ALERT:  Meditation greatly facilitates this process.

Listen

Obviously, for all of us finding our truth is a lifelong process.  But it’s one that you have to choose.  Truth won’t seek you out.  Look around you at the world.  Look at all the people that are choosing to stay ignorant of the truth, thinking that will somehow protect them or make it easier for them.

Animals sometimes think that they are safe when they cannot see others. Human animals no longer have that luxury.

It won’t.  Not anymore.  It could be argued that ignorance might have served human beings in the past.  But no longer.  There is no place on Earth anymore where you can hide from knowledge.  All you can do, is distort it.  And if you want to be one in alignment with the Truth, you have to actively look for it, no matter what the cost.  Seek and you shall find; knock and the door shall open.

Second of all, in your search for your own truth avail yourself of the truly miraculous amount of help available to all seekers after the Truth, just for the askingIn the digital age nearly all of human knowledge is readily accessible, sitting quietly waiting for you to discover it, as close as the nearest smart phone or home computer.   And not only is the data ever present, the ways to work with it are as well, at least in this part of the world.

If you want to use the scientific method to explore the truth contained in the natural world, you no longer have to give up everything you know, find some obscure castle where you can work in secret and isolation and hope the inquisition doesn’t find you and burn you at the stake.  You just have to decide what you want to explore, and enroll in the nearest community college with a program in the subject matter of your choice. You can establish your own community of scholars to help sharpen your critical thinking skills or ability to take into consideration the viewpoint of other cultures.  You can sign up for a conference calling and talk to anyone around the globe that will talk to you. Sun Supporting Diversity If you want to find truth through the more invisible world of faith, you don’t have to accept the viewpoint of just anyone who offers their perspective through a church or new age type class.  You can readily find information on how to discern between legitimate truth-seeking and proselytizing or programming and follow the person and process that brings you closest to the divine.  You learn how to access your own God-given talent for the Truth rather than give up power to others.  And that’s just on the physical side of things.

Energetically, all true seekers after the Truth automatically receive the assistance of the entire spirit world.  Insights come not from emotion but through seemingly random ah-ah moments and from the dream world.  “Coincidences” hit you over and over until you pay attention to the pattern within which you are exploring.  Teachers appear when you need that kind of assistance.  Your ego will even trip and take a fall for you when it is too much in your way.   Keep your eye on the prize, the richness of the Truth; and it will find you.

Third of all, don’t worry about other people’s versions of the truth unless it is actively interfering with your own.  Let people be as deluded as they want to be, unless they are the makers of public policy.  Even then you don’t need to call them liar even when they are.  Incorporated into the physical, we are all living a lie.  If you are fortunate enough to be living a version closer to the Truth, rejoice and fill yourself with gratitude.

Thank you God

You do not necessarily need to try and change the mind of those who are choosing the company of ignorance.  Unless they are open-minded, that can be a waste of your precious time.  You have better things to do. . .like finding yourself.

Freemont Troll

Trolls are generally a waste of cognitive resources. . .unless you find it a fun way to spend your time. This one is the famous Freemont Troll under a bridge in Seattle.

There are enough people who rejoice in the Truth that will can use your assistance in accessing whatever corner of it you have figured out.  You just need to prevent the willingly-ignorant from harming others to whatever extent you can.

Tuck into a corner of your mind the words of the Christ from Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 4:

How can you say to your brother:  Let me take the splinter from your eye

and behold there is a beam in your own eye?                         

Like it or not, those who intentionally deceive others for their own economic or political gain, as appears to be the case for many or most of the U.S. Congress and the White House right now, actually deserve our compassion.  They are creating their own hell and are truly losing their soul, one step at a time.

Last but most important, defer always to the greater Truth.  Cultivate humility.  It is your friend. Love the Questions That includes getting comfortable being confused at times and freely acknowledging when you do not understand something, or when you have been wrong about something in the past.   As my atheist mother used to say, the truly wise know how ignorant they really are.

As her spiritually-minded daughter, my own version of the truth is this:   We will never completely know the mind of the Goddess until we are once again fully reunited with her.  But in the meantime, much is given to us when we seek her counsel with all of our heart.

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

The Wintering of America

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service 2016

Winter Solstice is the time we traditionally get together to celebrate the transition that begins at the end of the year and moves us into the beginning of the new year.  Winter is such an underappreciated season, maybe because it forces us to slow down, nudges us into reflection, sets us on the path of integration and changes to come.  It’s like Nature’s growth period, not in the biological sense of things growing, but in the spiritual sense of destroying old cycles with which we have been living; making room for new cycles that are not yet apparent.  It is a time of bareness, of winnowing the exterior world down to basic necessities, so we can look around at a blank canvas and dream about what we want to create.

This year we have the opportunity to do this reinvention not only in our individual lives, but in our collective lives.  I know of many people in America and around the world who are reeling from the shock of the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States.  They say that even most of Trump’s followers were in shock that he actually got elected.  To all who are confused, in anger or fear, or otherwise distressed, I dedicate these words.  This sermon is not about politics.  It is about life on Planet Earth and moving forward when we find ourselves in deep and unfamiliar winter territory.  uncertainty

When I woke up the day after the Election to find we now had a President-Elect Trump, I had many thoughts and feelings, many of which were unpleasant to experience to say the least.  But in the deepest part of me I found a small but very bright and very profound ribbon of gratitude.  I knew exactly what it was about.  I knew in my heart that Donald Trump was not “destined” to be President as of the day before the election.  There are very few times that I know something beyond a “shadow of a doubt.”  But I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the mockup a scant day before the election was that Clinton be elected.  We can blame the media and the pollsters all we want for not preparing us better.  There is certainly no end to the “soul-searching” that the media needs to do about their choices during the election, but they are not to blame for projecting defeat of Trump.   On a spiritual level we had decided that Clinton was going to be the “winner” oflightening-and-lava the election.

And then we changed our collective mind.

The day before, no less.

I mention this almost in passing because perhaps it will bring some solace to individuals who are still lost in the maze of the election energy.  But mainly I mention this because miracles need to be acknowledged, especially ones that are invisible to most people.

It is nothing less than a miracle that an entire nation changed its mind within 24 hours about who to let become President.  The ramifications of this energetic shift are enormous.

 

What it said to me is that there is hope.hope-changes-everythingYou all know that my primary focus and concern these days is on the very real possibility that human beings will not survive on Planet Earth.  In order to “weather” (pun intended) the changes we are bringing to Mother Earth in our arrogance we must make some rapid behavioral shifts in our thinking and behaving.  Further, these changes require a change in human awareness that in my darkest hours has seemed light years away.

If you have any idea of how the consensus reality works, you will recognize that apparently, enough of us have made and/or are making those changes in awareness that a massive shift in the time-space continuum is now possible.  Nothing else explains the fact that one day Trump was not slated to be President and the next day he was.  The fact that collectively so many of us can manifest an energetic shift of that magnitude in that short of a time frame means that we stand a fighting chance of surviving climate change.  And for that, my heart sings with deep gratitude to God and to all of us who are trying to learn to genuinely live consistent with its will.  This was so much bigger and more important than who occupies the Oval Office (or the Trump Tower as it may be).

Here at the Church of the Harvest we have been talking for several years about the fact that humans have constructed a world on the basis of scarcity and conditional love; and in order to move to a world based on God’s endless bounty of unconditional love many of our social, economic, religious, political, and other institutions will need to be destroyed with some being rebuilt in a far different form.  What we just did in our electoral process is greatly accelerate the timeline in terms of destruction.  I was hoping we would not have to do the destruction phase overnight because I know all too well what a hard time people have with change.  The American people decided otherwise.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that all that we upped the stakes in terms of destruction of our world?  It remains to be seen.  We know that from a spiritual perspective there is no good or bad, just experience.

mayan-dancer-representing-an-owl-symbol-of-death-in-mayan-mythology

Death=Rebirth=Potential Wisdom. Mayan Dancer Representing an Owl, Symbol of Death in Mayan Mythology

We also know that our human brains cannot comprehend the master patterning of our Creator.  History has repeatedly revealed points in which horrible things have happened to individuals and to the world within which they live, in order that even more horrible trends are stopped in their tracks.   Think Pearl Harbor for example, where over 2,400 individual souls made the decision on a spiritual level to sacrifice their life, and another 1,000+ were injured so that the U.S. could wake up to what was happening in Nazi Germany and make a decision to enter the World War 2.

pearl-harbor

The attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

If Pearl Harbor had not happened, it is very likely that not only all of Europe and Asia but probably our continent as well would be under occupation by National Socialism.   The destruction acceleration we just made possible in the United States can bring those who withstand it closer to each other and to Nature and therefore, to the ultimate preservation of human life.

I have been tracking the destructive trends for many years now, but the aspect of those trends that I feel drawn to discussing this morning is the perfect pictures we all have about the United States.   Most of you have heard me say that the road to Hell is paved with perfect pictures.  Perfect pictures are those insidious little bits of programming on an energy level with which all old spirits struggle, that tell us that things are supposed to be or go a certain way.   being-wrong

They create a great deal of grief in part because the world doesn’t oblige us by conforming to our pictures so we lose our way more readily.  Additionally, they generate a ton of blame, hostility, and intense fear when the world doesn’t live up to said pictures, which actively interferes with the learning that needs to happen to get closer to the ideal.  Blame and hostility:  Thinking about this election, does this sound familiar?

The United States is a place rife with perfect pictures, almost like an orchard of overripe fruit that falls from the tree and makes such a big mess that it’s hard to even walk around without falling.  The idea that this country is a new and better version of any other country on the Planet has been part of our national credo for over two centuries.  “We the People,” our “creation myth” to use a label from anthropology, did indeed reflect a giant step forward in the evolution of humanity.  Our fledgling democracy was a great achievement but contrary to the popular belief it was never a perfect one.  The “New World” as we called it, afforded some of us a chance to move beyond our history, but not all of us.

Initially the constitution of the newly formed United States primarily protected the rights of wealthy white men.  Right off the top, over half of the population could not actively participate by virtue of their sex–women.  And then there were the Africans who were not yet called “African Americans” and who were not even acknowledged as human but rather, were each designated as 3/5s of a person for the purpose of property taxes.  The over 12 million Africans who were forced into slavery by the 1900s primarily for the economic benefit of white people were missing from our national narrative of greatness. Also by the 1900s  immigrants primarily of European ancestry had  destroyed 80-98% of the indigenous Native American population through displacement, war, other forms of violence, a fact that we happily justified by the 19th century doctrine of Manifest Destiny.   In the United States, we have tried very hard to not notice that American dream was very hard on many; and that everybody in our country did not exactly have the same degree of a chance at reaping it’s rewards.

Nonetheless, the idea of America as the land of opportunity for all has been important to the entire world, not just those in the United States.  For both spirit and body, dreaming is VITAL and America has provided a life-affirming destination for everyone.  With our shiny idea of a place for all, the U.S. has provided hope for hundreds of years to people all over the Planet, allowing thousands with torturous lives to believe in something outside the drudgery of their existence. As a political institution, the U.S. may not have always lived up for our ideals, but that does not make our support of them any less important.  Perfect pictures are often created for noble reasons.  Eventually they always crash under their own weight unless one actually walks the walk, as well as talks the talk.

Lest you think that we worked out all our earlier quirks with constitutional amendments and changes to the law, no.  Yes, women got the vote, almost 150 years late but we did get to participate.  Indentured servants and slaves were eventually set free.  But as to the national culture, we never really worked through our perfect pictures, our ego-based sense of importance.  Even the fact that we made some laws more just for segments of our population became just more evidence in our collective mind of our moral superiority.  We just kept adding to the narrative, calling ourselves the most powerful, richest, smartest and therefore, by implication the most deserving country on Earth.

We began to believe that the United States was uniquely qualified to lead the world in every respect, not just some areas.   We carefully tried not to notice that the ways in which we were exercising our leadership was typically disrespectful of other cultures, sometimes aggressive and/or exploitative, and frequently self-serving.  In the United States the lifestyle of not only the rich-and-famous but even the working-class-families-who-routinely-shop-at-Wal-Mart, has greatly benefited from our commitment to American superiority.  In the lifetime of those in this room, United States citizens who are 20% of the world’s population at best have been owning, controlling, and in most cases using 80% of the world’s resources.  We made it to the top of the heap.  But at a price to our soul.

What has this got to do with the elections?   The recent U.S. presidential election was essentially a cultural war between perfect pictures.  That’s a war nobody can win.

change

Obviously, we all have a sense that change is needed.  We just don’t agree on what the problem is or how to go about fixing it.

Trump got a lot of voter support because of his carefully chosen motto:  “Make America Great Again.”  Some folks recognized the cultural arrogance of such a motto; and proposed their own slogans.  I enjoyed the various wordplay in such mottos as “Make America Smart Again,” “Make America Mexico Again,”and my favorite “Make America Kind Again.”  But the reality is that as a whole, America has never been smart, kind, or great.  Not consistently; and not as a whole.  Individuals and small groups of Americans have at times done truly great things, chosen innovative, courageous and selfless words and deeds.

c495d8bc8cbff92155a422231c852bbf

The Navajo code talkers were critical in helping the United States defeat the evil of WW2 Nazi Germany and Japanese imperialism. Twenty nine of these dedicated Marines were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. There are an additional 33 other tribes that have been code talkers using their incredible communication skills at other times when the United States has needed them, acts of generosity and true patriotism given what Native Americans have endured from white society.

As a nation we have often been generous and insightful, but intermittently.

Clinton’s “Stronger Together” motto was much less embraced, not only because of people’s reactions to Clinton but because it is a weaker archetype that did not spark the nation’s imagination.  We don’t need to be stronger, exactly.  We need to be strong in a different way.  We also don’t need a false sense of togetherness.  We need the real thing.

The social fabric that is the United States of America is vast, multilayered, contradictory and imperfect.  We need to acknowledge that, stop trying to insist we have already got it right, and realize how much we have to learn.  We need to atone for our sins/trespasses to date, move with more honesty and whole lot more humility towards the ideals to which we aspire.

perfection-words-by-anna-quindlen

Perfection. Words by Anna Quindlen

The universe just gave us a hand.  It just knocked us flat on our collective ass so that we could go back to the drawing board. No more building houses on foundations of sand.  We have to change the way we think.  As a society, we have to create a new narrative based on Truth.   In this story line I imagine us still pledging ourselves to the justice of democracy for all, while acknowledging that we don’t always achieve our goals.  We have to grow beyond our tribal thinking.  We have to learn to think from a spiritual perspective, one that respects the basic unity of all life and the moral superiority of no one.

That said, the landscape before us at this point is looking pretty dark. At this point when we are all swimming in the ocean of confusion, getting back to the basics may be warranted.  So I have three things to say today about negotiating the Wintering of America.

First and foremost:  Do what you came here to do.  You choose this time.  On a spiritual level you made the decision to bring yourself back to Planet Earth during this time period which may be the most fascinating and crucial years in human civilization, apart perhaps from those brief 30+ years that Jesus of Nazareth walked on Earth.  You are here now for a reason.  Find your path.  Let your light shine brightly in these dark days.  The rest of us need that; and you need that.  Don’t let the chaos, anxiety and confusion of the world stop you from finding yourself.  It’s more important now than ever.  Your interests are of paramount importance to us all.  It’s still all about individual responsibility in a time when thousands of people are wanting to dictate what direction you should take.  Find your own Truth.  The God of your heart will tell you where to go, what to do, and what to be, if you just take the time to listen.

Second and also very important.  Do what you can with other people.  If you are a part of the Church of the Harvest, you are a big giver.  Most of you work with the public through your jobs in social agencies, government, private industry and the like.  You are all highly social people, committed to family and country, generous to a fault.  You already know what you can do FOR other people.  All of you are skilled at that.  Now figure out what you can do WITH other people.

Little known fact is that from a spiritual perspective, human beings are really at the very beginning stages of learning to work collectively in a genuine fashion.  We have not gotten much beyond survival mode.  We have learned to hunt together, necessary to bring down large mammals. We know how to band together to fight wars against other humans not a part of our immediate community whether it’s “playing politics” at a local level or waging conflicts and wars on a massive scale.  Humans have been very good at uniting AGAINST things.  As a species, we are still in elementary school when it comes to genuinely uniting FOR things.

inclusion

This is the time where the world must learn what it really means to be united in spirit while at the same time allowing for, even honoring and celebrating individual differences.  It’s about transcending the dichotomy, living the Truth, understanding that on a soul level you ARE the other; and they ARE you; and we ALL ARE aspects of the same God. . .at the same time that each of us is an individual soul with an individual mandate to follow the dictates of the indwelling God of our individual hearts.

You have a head start with this vital learning; and you can model for others.  If you are part of the Church of the Harvest, through your meditations you are committed to a process of manifesting the unity of spirit within a unique body. Figure out where you want to be giving and helping others and go for it, while never losing sight of your own path.  Work together with others whenever you can do so without undermining your own integrity.  Do what you can think to do but know that you can’t do it all because not everything will be on your path.  Support people who have found a different vantage point for their gifts, as best you can.  Speak up and lead righteously in the areas which have been given to you; and be a great witness, listener and supporter in the areas where others are on the forefront.

The model we all have for transcending the dichotomy of the individual soul living within the unity of all was given to us 2000 years ago by the Master.

mosiac-of-jesus-in-a-church-in-rome-ad530

Mosaic of Jesus from a Church in Rome 530 ACE

Listen to the words of the Christ as he discusses the idea of the individual soul living as a part of all-that-is.  This is from Matthew, Chapter 23, and Verses 36-39.  Remember that when he talks about God he is talking about the Kingdom of God within each of us–not some old white dude in the sky.

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?

            Jesus said to him:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart

            And all your soul, and with all your might and with all of your mind.

            This is the greatest and the first commandment.

 

            And the second is like to it,

            Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

My third piece of advice is this:  Don’t be afraid of the wintertime.  We know that from a spiritual perspective there is no bad and good.  But we all have a tendency to fall prey to the perspective that winter is the not-so-good or even bad season.  Nature knows better.  All plant and animal life needs an extended period of rest.  In the Pacific Northwest we know that the very waters that sustain our life come predominantly from the snow that falls in the winter to recharge the aquifers.  Recognize the richness of the wintertime of dreaming up new futures, reflection and prayer.

Yes, some of Nature always dies in the winter, adding its carbon and other minerals back to the Earth so that other species will have room.   And with great regret I will confirm what you all know, a greater amount of life on Earth will be dying during this Winter than ever before, both human animals and nonhuman animals so that we all have a greater chance to find eternal life.  But from the big picture, from the mind of our Creator, it’s all good.  We need to hold that Truth in mind.

Again, words of the Master, from Matthew Chapter 24, Verses 10-13, in which he speaks about the “end times” that we are now experiencing:

Then many will stumble, and they will hate one another and betray

                    one another

And many false prophets will rise and will mislead a great many.

And because of the growth of iniquity the love of many will become cold.

But he who has patience to the end will be saved.

fireplace

Hunker on down.  It’s going to be a long winter.  Let’s keep each other warm.

Copyright 2016 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

Angel of Peace Benediction

This prayer comes from the Essence Gospel of Peace, as excerpted by Edmond Bordeaux.

I will invoke the Angel of Peace

Whose breath is friendly,

Whose hand is clothed in power.

I give the peace of thy Earthly Mother

To thy body,

And the peace of thy Heavenly Father

To thy spirit.

And let the peace of both

Reign among the sons of men.

For my peace will strengthen thee and comfort thee,

For my peace is exceedingly full of joy.

Wherefore do I always greet thee after this manner:

Peace be with thee!

Do thou always, therefore, so greet one another,

And then wilt thou find peace also among thyselves,

For the Kingdom of God is within thee.

And give to every one thy peace,

Even as I have given my peace unto thee.

For my peace is od God.

Peace be with thee!