Transcending Time and Space; An Exploration of Our Possible Future(s)

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  June 23, 2019

Lately when the Church of the Harvest has gotten together as a community for our quarterly services designed to honor the divine and to help us move ever closer in the direction most pleasing to it, many of the services have been about time. Last year’s Summer Solstice Service was about the “Code-switching of Time; Flowing Gracefully Between Past, Present and Future.” The Winter Solstice Service was called “Dreaming of Things to Come.”

This was not intentional but neither was it coincidental.  We are all here to learn how to create as spirit within the time-space continuum of this glorious Mother Earth of ours. Typically individuals who are developing themselves spiritually are first drawn to the lessons involving space.  If we are successful enough with these challenges, we then move on to focusing on lessons involving time.

To understand the true nature of space, essentially we have to clear our individual energy systems from enough of our past experiences on the Planet and enough of the programming and other forms of energy belonging to other people–to our friends and family and community and society–to understand who we really are.

Mother and Child Twins by Gustav Klimt, Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Young ones fresh from the All-That-Is and basking in the spiritual glory of all being connected, come into this world through a physical body belonging to another human being, a mother. Even when we pass through the birth canal, even as we are born into a completely separate physical framework, and even when we take our first independent breath, we are almost completely dependent on many other human beings to maintain that breath, to prolong that life, for many, many years.

Humans are late bloomers. We take nearly twice as long as other primates to grow to physical maturity. As the species endowed by our Creator with the responsibility for life on Planet Earth, it takes a tremendous amount of experience to grow our brains such that they can encapsulate the consciousness required to make it all work. Scientists believe somewhere between 44 and 87% of the energy of our body (as measured by glucose levels) is consumed during infancy and childhood by our brain to bring us to adulthood.

Family by Diana Ong, Picture used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Until we become grown-ups we have to lean on others for our basic survival needs. In our contemporary societies that means we take on energy designed for other people and unfortunately as of yet, are not taught how to clear it when its usefulness is over.

As we grow we have less and less of a need to depend on information and other forms of energy from others, but unfortunately old habits are hard to break, particularly when you are not aware of them. Lots of people never get out of their pattern of depending on others, as opposed to interacting with others from a position of equality.  It may be years, often decades, sometimes many lifetimes before we do.

In these faster-paced days though it is not uncommon for people to figure out that life on Earth only really works if one learns to create one’s life from one’s own space.  When you try to force others onto the path you think they should go, when you attempt to force your will on the choices others make, then life always kicks you in the teeth, if not immediately, then eventually.  It can look like a “good marriage” or a “loving family” or a “prosperous“ country for many years. Having your partner seek dissolution of your bonds, your children move out of reach, or your community no longer function can happen dramatically all at once or quietly over time but it will happen one way or the other.  The song of our soul is one of freedom, and to have authentic relationships with other life we have to give others freedom, and we have to claim it for ourselves.

We have to put the pieces of the puzzle together to form a picture of what some people call our truest self, to understand the deepest desires of our heart. We have to let go of the dreams other people had for us, and even the dreams we had for ourselves that we have outgrown; and we have to acquire the skills to protect the remaining dreams, to nurture them, and begin to bring them to fruition.

Our work can then begin. Those “lucky” few, if you want to see them as such, those privileged few or those sufficiently “blessed,” however you want to frame it, those who have acquired a sense of their spiritual purpose are then free to move into the second part of the challenge of living in time and space, making the time part congruent with your purpose.  For many, learning about time is perhaps even a trickier lesson than learning about space.  It is not uncommon for some to figure out that life on Earth only really works if one learns to create one’s life from one’s own space. It is less common for people to figure out that life on Earth only really works if one understands the real nature of time.

Why? Time takes focus.

You have to find your own energy aka power, and then you have to learn to focus it.  Scattering your energy every which way ultimately just wastes it. I usually refer to this process of focusing as learning to “manipulate time,” but I don’t mean this is in the pejorative sense that one might assume.  In this context “manipulation” just means consciously changing the vibration in situations that are yours to control. When you learn enough from a spiritual perspective about what and how you want to change the vibration of your own energy system/field, then you can concentrate on changing how your system/field interacts with the world around you. You can flow with time.

Time is not the stagnant, never-changing force that our brains as they currently function like to imagine.

Time is not static.

Everything in the universe is in motion, and so also is time.  Time is a subjective illusive quality of experience as lived in a physical human body.

 

 

In Western civilization, Albert Einstein started us thinking in a new way about time fairly recently.  It has only been in the last hundred years or so that the consciousness of most human animals has evolved to the point that it can even tolerate this more advanced understanding of God’s creative order.

Albert Einstein was not afraid to “think outside the box” in many regards. This rare photo from about 1950 shows him in his favorite fuzzy slippers.

In his explanation of relativity theory Einstein told people: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.”  (I also have talked about my personal experience of having time “freeze” before my very eyes in order to avoid fatal injury in a major car accident.)

So why is the world needing to learn about time right now. . .and what has this got to do with transcendence?

Throughout history people have been fascinated by time, and specifically by those individuals among us who seem to be capable of seeing through the illusion that it is.  We have called them seers like Nostradamus or the Oracle of Delphi who was celebrated throughout Hellenic civilization, prophets like Moses and  John the Baptist of the Judeo-Christian Bible, saints like Hildegard of Birgen,

Many artists who turn to the collective consciousness for their inspiration are able to see the future, whether or not that is their goal. Morgan Freeman’s book Futility was published 1898 describing an “unsinkable” boat called the Titanic with 24 lifeboats for 3,000 passengers that hits an iceberg on its initial voyage. In 1912, 14 years later on its maiden voyage the Titanic sank with 20 lifeboats for 2,207 passengers.

visionary artists like Leonardo da Vinci or Aldous Huxley, mediums or psychics like Jeanne Dixon or Edgar Cayce,

These individuals excite our imagination and give us hope that the world is bigger than what we can see with our eyes. They also sometimes engender fear or false hopes that the world is predictable or controllable by other people.  The Truth is that each of us create our own individual reality including how it plays out temporally. Together we create a consensus reality that shares a common time framework. It is the latter of which I primarily speak this morning.

Right now the world is perched on a precipice, a cliff of sorts, and the only way forward for human animals remaining on Earth as its God-given caretakers involves a great leap of faith,  Changes to every aspect of our existence are required  including the time-space continuum within which we function.  As the very cosmos above us changes frequency, Mother Earth itself runs more kundalini energy throughout the surface of the Earth and the magnetic field within the Planet itself shifts directionally, so too is the basic fabric of the time-space continuum changing.  As co-creators with the divine, our job is to roll with the punches as much as possible even while we infuse those shifts as much as we can with good intentions for all and Love.

I am not going to make the mistake here of holding myself out to be the prophet of where these changes will take us in the upcoming days. What I am here to tell you is that we are all prophets, each in our own right, each over our own individual space.  Piercing the veil of illusion is a spiritual ability to which all human beings have access. It might be one of the latter stages for those who are exploring our spiritual nature, one of the more advanced steps on the path back to our Creator, but it is open to all.  Now is the time for you to explore your own abilities to “bend” time.

Yes, we are living in the apocalypse, the period that has long been predicted when all will be revealed.  One of the aspects that will be revealed to those who can receive it is the greater ability to manipulate time.  Yes, we are living in the “end times.” However in my opinion this certainly does not mean the end to all life on Earth; and it likely does not mean the end to human beings as a species of animal. Think rather of this as the end to a very long cycle of how we relate to the space-time continuum.

Some of you may remember 1999 when many people were convinced that our increasingly technological world was going to crash around us because computers could not change their Y2K code to recognize the upcoming new century? Many of you will remember when so many people were freaked out in 2012 about the Mayan calendar coming to an end because they saw this as the fulfillment of a prophecy about the physical world being destroyed? Some of you are aware of the approximately third of Americans who interpret many contemporary events as indication that we are about to experience the Rapture and/or the return of Jesus of Nazareth in his physical form? In each of these cases, there was/is a “kernel of truth” to what people were/are experiencing– hidden behind an ocean of fear. The colander of prophecy can sort the wheat from the chaff, but until people have found their own energy and are largely free from the troubling distortion of fear, partial truths can just contribute to the problem at hand.

As you explore your own version of space and time in your meditations and otherwise, I have three pieces of advice for you.

First of all as always, ground yourself as spirit to this physical planet so that whatever you create you can do so with the maximum amount of self control and safety.  Be sure the light that is you has this built-in lightening rod protection to help you weather whatever changes come your way. And a means to let go of the fear and energy that doesn’t belong to you or is obsolete, so you can be who you really are.

Second of all, continue to work to uncover your truest self.  Do the meditation and whatever other forms of healing you need to grow ever closer to the God(dess) of your own heart. This will strengthen you and help you discern your Truth and step-by-step transform you into a prophet in your own world.  It will also protect you from false prophets, those who claim to speak for God. The only God(dess) you need to listen to is the one that speaks within you.

Third of all, cultivate humility.  I’m not talking here about lack of confidence. I am talking about being slow to draw conclusions and open to the idea that by virtue of living through a body, even the best and brightest of us bring to this world a lot of distortion.

Every human being has the ability to be clairvoyant. It is part and parcel of our spiritual playbook, available to all. Clairvoyance is just a French word meaning “clear seeing.” However, if you have not already developed the skill set to separate your vision from the myriad of other sensations, biases, ego, projections, wishful thinking etc. it is best to be cautious about its usage. . .and be open to others who have enough love to challenge you. Cartoon used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Or as it says in Second Peter, Chapter 20 and 21.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Stay open to feedback from others even as, or especially as, you grow closer to your own Truth. Even as you learn over time to create a fresher more constructive version of reality for yourself, let the Holy Spirit take you to places you currently do not even know exist. In this way you will become a prophet in your own life.

Copyright 2019 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

Turning the Other Cheek in A Time of Unremitting Violence

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

One example of the emerging new way of thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

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

 

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 Golden Rule

From a sermon given Summer Solstice Service 2002:

Today’s program is the second in our series this year focusing on the concept of peace.  My sermon this morning is about the Golden Rule.

The Golden Rule, of course, is the name that has been given to a very pivotal teaching in Christianity—the concept of doing onto others as you would have them do to you.

This concept is not unique to Christian-based religions.  We know that it comes from spirit because it is a truth that flows through most, if not all religious traditions and faiths.  I’ve collected a few versions of this same teaching from various religions to show you the universal nature of the Golden Rule.  I’d like to read these for you now.

 

Golden Rule

Hurt Not Others With That Which Pains Yourself.  (Buddhism).

Treat Others As you Would Yourself Be Treated.   (Hinduism)

What You Yourself Hate, Do to No Man  (Judaism)

Live in Harmony, For We Are All Related  (Native American)

Do Unto All Man As You Would Wish To Have Done Unto You (Islam)

One Word Sums Up the Basis of All Good Conduct:  Loving Kindness.  Do Not Do to Others What You Would Not Want Done to Yourself  (Confucianism)

As you can see, even the words are similar to the ones with which most of us are familiar, i.e. the words of Jesus of Nazareth.  This version is from Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 12:

Whatever you wish men to do for you, do likewise also for them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Parenthetically, I think it is interesting that we have intuitively labeled this concept the Golden Rule.  If you think of it, very few of Jesus’s other teachings or sayings ended up acquiring a label.  And why this one?  Most people have very little awareness of the significance of this particular label.  What I believe is that one of the Christ’s greatest gifts to us was that he channeled to the Earth for the first time, a particularly high, miraculously healing vibration of energy, a vibration which when seen on a clairvoyant level appears golden in color.  I think the label itself tells us that the energy around the Golden Rule truly is something that if we accept it, transforms us, transforms our very bodies, our very souls, bringing us to a higher place.

Gold_Metal_Leaf_by_Enchantedgal_Stock

Although the words that Jesus used in the Golden Rule were traditional and familiar to people around the world during and subsequent to his lifetime, the energy behind them was new.  I believe that he did bring this spiritual truth to a new level.  In fact, his message was radical, even revolutionary.  And like many of the Christ’s teachings, 2000 years later we still struggle to have some genuine understanding of that to which he was referring with his simple words.  Spiritually based words are like that: straight-forward but so profound as to be endless in consequence and meaning.  To understand those words better, I would like to go back and tell you more about the historical context of them, particularly that part of the historical context that has been forgotten by those of us currently incarnated in twenty-first century United States.

Jesus was a Jew.  He was part of a society, a culture, a people who traditionally held lively, sometimes fierce debates among its members about all aspects of their religion.  There were several prominent sects of the Jewish people at that time and they were quite divergent in their beliefs.  The people tended to be very passionate about their belief system.  Arguing about differing ideology was the norm.  It was not uncommon for Jewish men to die for their beliefs, even though any particular Jewish man might hold ideas that were fundamentally different from another particular Jew within the same sect.  Nonetheless, most Jews came together as a people during holy times and worshiped in the same temple.

In modern America, we don’t really have an equivalent experience.  We might theoretically acknowledge, for example, that a Jehovah’s Witness, a Catholic, a Southern Baptist, a Seventh Day Adventist, and a Pentecostal are all Christians, but we would never come together at one worship service in the same church or temple at the end of the day.  When it comes to religion, our tradition is to go our separate ways and pretend the people with whom we don’t agree don’t exist unless we are badmouthing them in private company.

Jesus had the challenge of trying to reach all these conflicted, often argumentative, sometimes openly hostile people, Jews and non Jews alike, during the same public talks with his messages about love, peace, and the essential nature of God.  He tried to find words that would help his listeners transcend their surface differences and enter the world of spirit, where all is unconditionally accepted.  And he tried to do this with crowds who were often full of individuals quite determined to trying to pull him into fragmenting debates about religious dogma.

He was confronted for example by the Sadducees, who were a prominent Jewish sect that tended to approach sacred Jewish writings concretely and interpret them literally, in a similar fashion to how fundamentalist Christians often approach the Christian Bible in today’s times.  The challenge for Jesus, then, was to find ways to talk about traditional Jewish teachings that illuminated the spirit behind them without alienating people who, in their ignorance, wanted to impose their limited understanding of the words onto others in the form of rules.

Out of this dilemma came the teaching that we know as the Golden Rule.  This rule states that there are no rules as important as the mandate to love fully and unconditionally.  Let me read you the passage that I think best illustrate the master’s teachings in this regard.  It is from Mark, Chapter 12, Verses 30 and 31.  In this scripture, a man described in the Bible only as a “scribe” overhears Jesus during one of his public debates and thinks Jesus is giving good answers.  As a result, the man decides to ask Jesus a tricky question about Jewish law.  Of all the topics about which the Jews debated with each other, arguments about the extensive and frequently contradictory Jewish law often generated the most heat, the most calls for absolute adherence to whichever position the speaker upheld.  Jesus responded unequivocally with the following directive, a position that paradoxically is both absolute and flexible–read non-rule-bound–at the same time.

      You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your might; this is the first commandment.

      And the second is like to it.  You must love your neighbor as yourself. 

      There is no other commandment greater than these.      

What I hear Jesus saying is that the only thing that really matters is that each of us commit ourselves totally, that is commit all of our energy or what is referred to in this passage as our “might,” to God.  We are enjoined to make that commitment with the use of heart and mind.  In the words that we use around here in this church, we are advised to commit to the indwelling personal divine, the God of our Heart.

Glory Window at the Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas

Glory Window at the Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, Texas

Further, Jesus tells each of us to commit ourselves totally to the unconditional acceptance and love of all around us.  Not just the nice people or the people who do things for us, or the people we know, but all those geographically near to us, i.e. all of those with whom we come in contact.  And he slips in a great Truth.  He articulates that loving the other folks in our world is pretty much the same thing as loving God.

Please notice the subtle underlying progression in his words.  I believe the movement of the sentence supports the idea that learning to love God completely leads to learning to love oneself as a child or aspect of God which in turn leads to loving other children/aspects of God.  But Jesus seems to say that sometimes you have to consciously commit to loving others. You can’t just wait until you’ve got it straight with God; and only then get around to taking on the task of improving your relationship to your fellow human being.  Even though ultimately, loving others is the natural progression of learning to love God, for most of us it takes a conscious choice, an act of willpower, to love some individuals in our world.  It can be hard work.

If we do these two things—follow the God of our Heart unfailingly, and love others unconditionally–everything else will fall into place.

During this period of strife in the world-at-large, let us take heed of the teaching of the master.  I urge you to use every opportunity to find the God within, both in and out of your meditations.   Translate the love that will naturally grow over time from alignment with our Creator to your thoughts, words, and actions towards the people in the world now, irrespective of whether or not they “deserve” it.  Don’t wait to love people until it is the easy next step in your development.  Do it now. Choose unconditional acceptance and care for the well-being of others, even the people that mistreat or abuse you.  The rest will take care of itself.

Copyright 2002 by Rev. Resa Eileen Raven

Prosperity

From a sermon given June 1999 at the Summer Solstice Worship Service:

Prosperity is a very hot topic these days here on Planet Earth.  Many people seek it, even in these days of dwindling resources when people are increasingly aware that there is a limit to what is provided by the Universe free of charge to those of us playing the game of life.  So I thought I’d spend a few minutes this morning talking about my views on what prosperity is and more importantly, what it is not.  Usually it’s easier to find something when you understand what you are looking for.

Until lately, the topic of prosperity hasn’t interested me much.  Like many of us, I was raised in a family and a community that was built on a foundation of scarcity, despite outward indicators of abundance.  There was always food on the table and money for basic necessities but there was also the unspoken sense that the outward stuff could disappear at any moment.  Both my parents had barely survived the Great Depression in the United States, so they were uneasy with their new-found economic advantages.  But as a kid, I was more focused on their uneasiness than the source of it.  I had many basic questions such as why my father worked so hard he didn’t have any time for his children, even though he clearly loved them; and why my mother didn’t seem to enjoy anything about her life, even though she seemed to have everything moms were said to need.  Although I didn’t have the words for it as a child, I was tuned into the poverty of spirit around me.  In a sense, I have been dealing with prosperity, or its alter ego poverty, all my life.  I just haven’t been very interested in the monetary aspect of it until more recently.

I first began to look more deeply at the concept of prosperity about fifteen years ago when I was going through the seminary.  At that time I belonged to a church full of very insightful, interesting and powerful people who were teaching me the basics of working with energy–my own, other people’s and the energy of the universe.  At some point a workshop on Prosperity was scheduled that I was not planning to attend but about which many of the people around me were excited.  And then, expectantly, it was canceled.  And the word came down through the ranks that the church leadership were not able to handle the energy from the workshop.  Now THAT got my attention.  Here were some of the bravest, most talented people I had ever met who were doing amazing things, performing miracles on a daily basis, but who were saying that they did not have what it took to deal with the topic of prosperity.  It was then that I realized that prosperity is a concept of great depth.

Since that time I have paid attention to how prosperity gets played out in our shared world.  I am here this morning to tell you about three conclusions I have reached in the last fifteen years, three principles if you will, principles that I believe are true.

prosperity2

First of all, Prosperity is about wealth of the spirit, not wealth of the body.

This is very important to understand.  Perhaps you have run across one of the thousands of courses, classes, workshops, study groups, organizations, or whatever, that exist in the community that purport to teach people how to create monetary wealth.  Sadly, there are even entire “prosperity churches” that are dedicated to this goal.

If you are in need of money, taking a class on such physical aspects as how to play the stock market, set up savings plans, buy real estate or whatever, may be a good idea for you.  Just don’t delude yourself into thinking that what you are doing is increasing your prosperity.  You may be increasing your monetary resources, which may or may not be a good thing for your overall spiritual development.  But this has little or no connection to your real prosperity level.  People can have a lot of money and no prosperity.  Conversely, people have little or no material resources but an abundant and dynamic prosperity.

Prosperity is about inner wealth, a sense of richness in one’s lived experience.

What I call “true prosperity” is having the experiences that you as spirit want to be having in your life to learn what you came here to learn. . .and if it takes money for you to have those experiences, so be it.

prosperity3

Second of all, Prosperity comes with a price.

We don’t like to hear that.  Indeed, this a message that is almost entirely absent in all those thousands of courses, classes, workshops, study groups, organizations that are often so happy to take your money to teach you how to be prosperous.  We prefer to think of prosperity as a free lunch.  It’s not at all free.  What is the price of prosperity?  Responsibility, of course.

“True” prosperity is a manifestation of energy, like everything else.  If you have a lot of it, you are necessarily gong to be dealing with a lot of energy.  The more you have, the more you must take care of, must work with responsibly. . .or you lose it.  The universe gives freely to those who wish to receive, but it also takes back–eventually if not right away–what is misused, taken by those who cannot handle the gift, or otherwise received ungraciously.

If you can’t handle the responsibility of increased prosperity, you will find that people rush in to take it from you or control you through it.  control

Or you may develop an illness that uses up all those resources, or whatever.  I’m reminded of all the lottery winners who end up dying of a heart attack or something shortly after their win.

It’s not a question that somehow you didn’t “deserve” that increased level of resources.  The universe is much more fair than that.  It’s only a question of the energy flowing to where it ultimately can best be utilized.  Think of true prosperity as a raging river.  You can dam it up or try to divert it to something other than its natural causeway and sometimes, if you’re in sync enough with nature and you’ve taken the time to do the necessary engineering and environmental studies, that may work.  If you haven’t done your work or you’re trying to force something unnatural onto the Earth, the river will overflow its new banks, become stagnant, or otherwise have problems.

In this case, “doing the work” means spending the time getting to know yourself and your spiritual purpose; and if you truly require a large amount of material resources in order to serve that purpose, being prepared to pay the price of living life on a raging river.

prosperity1

Third of all, All prosperity comes from God, and all true prosperity is in the service of God.

The creator knows no lack.  Nonetheless, that infinite wisdom allows us to create scarcity because of its endless love for us and perhaps its greatest gift to us:  the gift of free will.  People ask me all the time:  isn’t abundance limitless?  God has no limits; but we do.  And sometimes we impose those limits on ourselves for reasons that make sense even to us, if we were honest with ourselves.  And sometimes we impose those limits on ourselves for reasons that we are not yet willing and/or capable of understanding.  And sometimes we impose those limits because we are lost.

It’s all up to us.

We get to be rich in spirit or impoverished, depending on our soul’s desire and that choices we make in trying to bring that desire to fruition.  Not coincidentally, we get to be rich in physical resources or impoverished, depending on what we are trying to learn, want to experience and the choices we make in creating that experience.

Only you can examine your conscience, and discover what your prosperity needs to be to accomplish your purpose in life.

I’d like to end my sermon this morning with the words that I was drawn to last year after praying for several days for insight about the name of this new church that we were about to incorporate.  I woke up one morning knowing the name was in Luke, Chapter 10, Verse 2:

The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few.

Pray thee therefore to the Lord of the harvest.

That he would send for the laborers into his harvest.

Copyright 1999  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven

Simplicity

From a sermon given March 2000 at the Spring Equinox Worship Service

simplicity

Back in the dark ages, when I was in my late 20s and beginning to focus on my spiritual development, I had a teacher who said to me once, Eileen, you do understand, don’t you, that simplicity is a spiritual concept? I remember looking at her with what I’m sure was a puzzled expression on my face, tilting my head to one side and just listening. With all the new information to which I was being exposed about how the world of spirit works, listening was often all I could do in those days. Really, I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about then. I knew what she was saying sounded right, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell myself or anyone else why.

In those days, I was still revealing in the freedom of a life I was creating entirely on my own, beyond what I had known for so many years in my family of origin. I was filling my life with new experiences, some constructive, some destructive, but all ones that I craved–experiences I had not been able to have living with my parents. I was stacking my days with places I had never been allowed to go, activities that I had never done before, relationships with people who sometimes weren’t the kind of people my parents would approve of, joining groups that were beyond my family’s and sometimes even society’s norms. It was all pretty thrilling. Sure I was exhausted, chronically sleep-deprived, emotionally unstable most of the time, financially irresponsible, but I felt alive! I was living the loca vida and it felt great.

It probably was a good thing that I didn’t have the words to respond to my teacher talking about simplicity, because the words might have been the unproductive, argumentative kind. Because for me, at the time and place in which my attention was first drawn to the concept of simplicity, what simplicity really meant was boredom. A simple life, in my immature view, was one that was devoid of meaning, one that didn’t have much going on, a state of deprivation.

I tell you about my earlier view on simplicity because I think it is one shared by a lot of people, particularly in American culture. Of course, young adults often have the need to explore the external world in new ways beyond what they have known in childhood, and this is a legitimate developmental phase. Each new generation has a tendency to accuse the last one of being insulated to the point of being boring. But it’s not just youth that equate simplicity with boredom. I think many people believe, at least on some level, that simplicity is for fools, for people who can’t get it together enough to create an interesting life. According to this view, the simple life is for those who are dull by nature, fearful, or who simply don’t mind being stuck.

On the other hand, there are many people who believe the opposite. On Planet Earth, we like to learn through dichotomies, so there are also a great number of people running around who believe that simplicity is not only a good thing, it is the solution for all of life’s woes. These are the people who are nostalgic for the “good old days.” The idea here is that life used to be simple, and now it is not, and a great deal of what is wrong with the world would be corrected if we could simply go back to the time when things were simple. I am always amused by the capacity we have as humans to idealize situations which were not really ideal. Returning to one’s childhood which did not have the responsibilities we face as adults, but usually had other more invisible responsibilities equally challenging, is not the solution. And as a society, returning to times when technology was at a minimum, is not the solution for our collective problems. As you all are probably aware, you can only truly solve problems from present time. You can never really resolve anything by living in the past.

What I find particularly interesting about the “nostalgia” view of simplicity is that it is generally not grounded in reality. I don’t think that life on Planet Earth has ever been simple, at least for the vast majority of people. Of the 800 to 900 or so generations of human beings that have passed through this plane, nearly 700 of those generations have lived in caves, and have been preoccupied during nearly every waking minute of each day with the task of gathering enough food, clothing, and heating fuels to survive. There’s nothing particularly simple about a life in which it takes enormous concentration to bring down a mastodon with wooden spears tipped with flint, or wander to the right area that may allow you to scratch out edible roots when you don’t have any solid information about geography, upcoming weather patterns, or how to stop the bleeding if the mastodon catches you before you catch it.

And what about our last few generations, when we have had increasing amounts of technological information at our disposal? Are our lives now simple because we have more information about how the physical world works? You can find people who tell you that technology has, indeed, made life much simpler. And you can find people who insist that technology has made life much more complex. For the first time in human history, there are large numbers of people in the world who are not solely and totally preoccupied with survival. We actually have something called “leisure time,” which has only been around for less than a hundred years or so. Now that many of us can choose how we want to spend at least some of our time, is our life more simple, or less simple? And even more fundamentally, does it matter? Should simplicity be the goal? Is living a simple life a virtuous thing, is it simply settling for less than is possible, or is it different for different people? And what is simplicity, anyway? (So, now we’ve come full circle in this discussion).

All I can do is tell you a little about my experience, as a person committed to using meditation as a means of connecting with my inner world with the creative force that lives within me, as it does within us all. As the months have gone by in which I spend more time acknowledging what is going on within me, I become less driven by the world around me. My outer world still interests me, in some ways more than ever, but I am less hooked by it, less attached to it. As a result, lots of material things, certain experiences, and even some relationships that used to command my attention, have simply ceased to be important to me. They’ve just fallen away. And other things, experiences, and people in the physical world have become more important to me, but somehow in a way that is effortless.

I’m actually busier now than I’ve probably ever been in my life. These days I have more businesses going, clients, personal friends and projects that I’m working with than I did in my entire 20s and 30s. To an outside observer, my life looks very hectic. But in actuality, I’m getting all the sleep, rest and leisure time I need, and I feel at peace most of the time. Because the people and the resources just show up when they need to and the experiences happen as they happen, and it is all very simple. My life is very simple. My lifestyle is extremely complex. If you can understand how those two things can both be true, than you are well on your way to understanding why simplicity, true simplicity, is indeed, a spiritual concept.

Copyright 2002   Rev. Resa Eileen Raven