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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words can have very different meanings depending on life experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning I want to go over two of them.

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

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

To the extent that you can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

Making America Great, for the First Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Liberty 225th Anniversary US Mint coin

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

January 31, 2018 Moon over Lady Liberty

Copyright 2018 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

For Thine is the Power; A World Based on Love Rather Than Corruption of Power

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service  December 2017

At these services recently, I’ve been talking a lot about climate change and the extreme weather events we have been experiencing nationally and internationally.  It has seemed important to look at these occurrences from a spiritual perspective so we might be prepared as much as we can as individuals, and help things move in the right direction where possible.

This morning I want to take a step backwards and look at what is even the bigger picture from a spiritual perspective.  I want to talk about energy, pure and simple.  I want to talk about how the energy that we work with on Planet Earth is shifting.  And in some surprising ways that you may or may not have noticed.

Energy is always dynamic, always in a transformative state, whether it is transforming in shape like a butterfly from a cocoon, or an ice-cube melting into liquid.  Depending on the frequencies involved, this transformation can be rapid or slow, such as the difference between an ice-cube melting in the refrigerator or that same ice-cube changing shape in the sunshine.

Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American who Einstein once called the “smartest man in the world” is singularly responsible for many key modern inventions such as light bulbs, radio, electrical motors used in cars and other mechanical devices, laser, robotics and X-ray technologies as well as our entire electrical grid. According to Tesla: “If you wish to understand the universe, think of energy, frequency and vibration.” 1899 photo of Tesla and his transmitter in his lab.

We know things are changing rapidly right now.  Many of us are feeling vertigo as the vibrations transform the air around us, the Earth beneath our feet and even the very molecules in our bodies. This can be terrifying to those who have no accurate information about energy, and even scary for those of us who do.  Most of the people in this room are consciously aware of some details of these changes, such as that the Planet itself is running kundalini energy intended to help human animals wake to their nature.

This morning I want to talk to you about another way of looking at big picture energy fluctuations about which you might not have thought.  I want to address the direction of those enormous shifts going on.

You all have heard me say that we are all here on this world to learn how to manifest as spirit in the material world.

We are made in the image of our Creator. Hands are a tradition symbol of human creativity as there are important energy channels that run through our arms and our hands that manifest our creativity. This prehistoric tribute to creativity is from Cueva-de-las-Manos in Argentina.  Photo by Pablo Gimenez  posted in accordance with fair use principles.

For most people, how that process actually works, though, is a little on the dreamy side.  That is hardly surprising because creating as spirit in the material world involves a lot of dreaming.   Whether you start by dreaming when you are asleep or through daydreams happening in your waking hours, the creative process almost always starts with a dream.  It starts with imaging something in the world that isn’t yet there.

We all have a plethora of dreams, some of which are passing fancies, whims in a way.  It’s like we do shopping in a big store in the sky, and occasionally get distracted by the overpriced and poorly made objects set at counter height near the checkout stand. 

Particularly when we are hungry, we get tempted to do impulse buying. For most of us though, these passing fancies get pruned out.  They are culled and they disappear over time as we cease to pay attention to them.  The energy involved with them goes elsewhere, becomes a different dream, a different creation.  Those dreams that more fully activate us emotionally, cognitively, spiritually may change form a bit as we gain life experience and mature, but their essence only becomes stronger as we add more and more energy to them over time.

So one thing I want you to understand from my little digression into how creativity works, is that the trajectory here for the vast majority of creative projects, is that FIRST the dream, and THEN that which is dreamed can become “real” in the material world.  Or as it says in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. “

When spirit is out of the body at night, all kind of possibilities are created. Subsequently some are brought into the physical world; and some are reabsorbed in the spiritual realm. Image by Brett Jones. This artwork is posted in accordance with fair use principles.

Notice the direction here.  Notice that the direction here is that first there is God’s will in Heaven, and then it is done on Earth.  FIRST comes the energy.  THEN comes the manifestation in matter.  This is the inside-out direction of the flow of energy.  It is particularly strong and getting stronger in these apocalyptic times when the divine master plan is to make all things that have been lurking underneath the surface known.  

(Inside-Out)   Why is this direction important?  For many reasons but one big one is because once you realize where change is really made, you can become WAY more efficient at it.  We change things from the inside of us, where our thoughts and feelings reside, where our dreams either originate, or are experienced in conjunction with others dreaming of the same reality.  Only then, when those dreams, those thought-forms, those prayers are sufficiently strengthened, can cosmic forces bring them to fruition.   If you try to change things in the material world without first changing what is within you that is contributing to the situation, at the least you will be a hypocrite who is not likely to be taken very seriously by others; and at worst you could be violating free will at some serious jeopardy to your soul.  This is what Jesus was concerned about when he said in Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 3:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

This morning, though I want to talk about two other directional shifts that the world’s energy is taking right now that are pivotal.  Because the reality is, the huge fluctuations in weather in our physical world are really only a manifestation of the ground swelling of energetic shifts we are all making within each one of us and between all of us.  The storms and hurricanes and fires and such in Mother Nature are all very dramatic. . .but they almost pale in comparison to the storms, hurricanes, fires and seismic tidal waves going on right now within human consciousness.

Bhaktapur, Nepal after the 2015 earthquake

The energy trajectories I want to talk about besides from inside-Out is Top-Down; and Sideways.  These are relatively new developments in human history and ones that I would like this powerful group of mediators, through your awareness, to help shape.

Top-Down   I have been watching the heated national conversation about a new tax system in the United States with, among other things, amusement, a response I typically have when people are not aware of what it is about which they are really arguing.  Keep in mind that money is just a material form of energy.  If you listen carefully what you will hear is that pretty much the heart of the disagreement in the national conversation is what direction the energy should move.  Should the energy move upward, as in the argument that when the lower socioeconomic classes have more to spend, the people with greater economic resources reap the monetary benefits; or should the energy move downward, as in the trickle-down economic theory?

So let’s step back again to look at the big picture.   We know from anthropology that the earliest human civilizations, the hunter/gatherer societies, were almost always egalitarian in structure.  Everyone had a voice in some form or fashion, and when leadership roles were needed, they were usually distributed among a mix of experienced elders, guidance from the spirit/natural world through shaman and other religious figures, as well as leadership by the most skilled and/or strongest clan members.

About 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, when the world’s population grew too large for hunting and gathering, human society evolved into agricultural/industrial societies who organized their members hierarchically.  Counsels of elders and clan leaders eventually gave way to leadership by warlords, familial dynasties, and theocratic/civil governments who had the authority to intervene in human life but were sometimes removed from the real consequences of those interventions. Whoever held the political reins could advance their social and economic interests to the detriment of others not in power, and they could do so without having to see, feel or hear from the people affected by their decisions.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with hierarchies.  As our military and first responders can tell us, they can be very efficient and vital, particularly in times of crisis.  The dangers with hierarchies are two-fold.  One comes when the people at the top of the pyramid have not worked through their own issues, have lost themselves to their individual ego(s), succumbed to the temptations of the material world, and forgotten for whom they work.  And the second problem with hierarchies as a standard form of government which has grown exponentially in recent years, is that as the human population has grown, hierarchies have gotten taller and the distance between those at the bottom and those at the top much more steep.

The pedestals are now so high that the people at the top and the people at the bottom can no longer see or hear each other.  Governmental officials and agencies are increasingly making monumental gut-wrenching, sweeping policy changes that change people’s lives dramatically from behind closed doors, figuratively and sometimes literally.

Hierarchy. When the distance is too great between those making the decisions and those affected by them, it wreaks havoc on human relationships.

Ten days ago, we watched three people on the Federal Trade Commission impose a business model on the way Americans use the internet, an action that will affect approximately 240 million individuals, and probably every organization in America.  The Commission had to stop their proceedings right before the vote for unknown “security” reasons.  We know that their decision was opposed by approximately 240 million people (83-87% of 287 million users) that they will never meet.

We are also watching those officials, who are still trying to listen to the public directly, get absolutely skewered verbally and emotionally, sometimes assaulted and even occasionally shot at by those on the bottom (such as happened to Representatives Gabrielle Gifford and Steve Scalise) because folks are so frustrated at not being seen or heard.

This morning I’m here to tell you that the energy is moving downward.

And I don’t mean the manifested energy such as money trickling down.  I mean the universe is increasingly “setting” the energy at a lower level.  Under globalization, the world will no longer be exclusively ruled by the United States despite the fantasies of our President and his followers.  The federal government in the United States is being dismantled and though I pray it will be put back together again to some degree, I believe it will never be as vital as it once was in shaping our country.  Assuming the world survives, those of us in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere will have our hands full bringing into line our own region and states, who struggle with their local version of corruption  of power.

And this is how it should be.  Because ALL power belongs to the Almighty, and if you are not using the power you are given in the service of the divine to help all of life around you, you have corrupted it.  Which has become pretty much the norm for human beings, particularly in the modern era.

The sun has often been a symbol of the divine in indigenous cultures and depth psychology. Isn’t it interesting that on Planet Earth we are now experiencing a more direct interaction with the sun’s effects as a result of greenhouse gases?

Corruption Is a word that not only refers to political processes through bribery aka in the our times as lobbying and PACs.  In the larger context, corruption just means something that is changed from its original intended use to something that is used incorrectly, but by doing so, is debased.

Power is something that was given to us by the Creator-of-Us-All, the fuel for us to create a reality based on Love.  Instead of Love however, we have chosen to use our power to subject others to our will, our domination.  We corrupted the power available to us and used it not to live such as to become the willing instrument of the divine to manifest its Love but rather, to force others to our way of thinking, to violate other people’s freedom and require them to do the bidding of our ego(s).  And because ego can never fully satisfy, only Love can do that, we became drunk with power, always craving more.  At this point, when I talk to students about claiming their power, they almost always initially bristle or get very confused because all of our experience with power is such that we equate it with power over other people; and not our own power used in the service of the indwelling divine.

Obviously we are awash in a sea of corruption of our own making; and it’s time to change that.  As I have told you all frequently, when one misuses our God-given energy it is taken away; not right away, but eventually it always flows to the situation that is more in keeping with God’s will.  Or as Martin Luther King says it:  

Recently in a Christian blog of which I am fond a writer used a different euphemism for God:  The Great Equalizer.  Time for the leveling, folks.  The Great Equalizer is bringing us to a greater state of sharing.  I know it doesn’t look like that as we watch the HUGE and growing inequality of income and wealth that is occurring in this country and the world, even as our society increasingly demonize those with less.  But you all are healers, and you know how it goes.  When the universe decides to change, everything that is in the way of that change has to come up for healing.  FIRST the inequality surfaces, and THEN the equalizing can happen.

Sideways Between Groups   So the energy shifts that I want to talk about the most this morning are the sideways ones.  There are significant shifts of power between groups of people that I think have been a source of confusion for most or all of us.  To mention a few—there are the suddenly daily allegations of sexual harassment, personal intimate assaults by people with power, and discussion about the true nature of consent in sexual activity.  There is an intense examination of the dynamics of white supremacy, arguments about whether or not racism in America is getting better or worse, and increased dialogue about our history of slavery:  what it really is, and the best way to deal with it.  And let’s not forget the tidal wave of anxiety and conflict around the topic of which group of people get to be Americans aka immigration, and our national history with indigenous Native American people.  All of these discussions arise from and result in rapid fluctuations not only in the energetic field around the people having the conversations, but in our bodies and the Earth itself.

To date, there has been a need of sorts for humans to engage in strife, competition for resources, warfare and the ilk, if only to rule out what does not work. No longer.  Now is the time to learn to engage in “friendly disputes” when perspectives differ.

Sometimes when I look at what we have stirred up most recently in our interactions with each other, I’m just amazed there aren’t more earthquakes and hurricanes and volcanoes erupting.

Sideways Within Groups   The shifts in energy that are quite possibly going to affect those in this room the most directly are those happening in our very own closely held groupings, our families.  For many in the United States, these might be the most profound and potentially confusing or even painful changes we have or will experience in our lifetime.  That is certainly ironical since these energetic shifts are the ones most clearly foretold by the New Testament of the Christian Bible.  Sideways shifts within families are the ones I hear people talking about with such anguish on television and in social media, particularly around the holidays.  There have been entire programs devoted to how to behave at Thanksgiving when some of the family voted for Trump and others for Hillary or Bernie.  Everyone seems to be talking about the divisions in America as if they are something new.  They are not.  The energy of our apocalyptic times is just bringing them up for examination and healing.

I’d like to read you what Jesus of Nazareth had to say about the energetic shifts that we would be experiencing in our families in the end times in which we are currently living.  This same message is also in two sections in the Gospel of Luke but I’m going to quote his words as recorded in Matthew, Chapter 10, Verses 34-38.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace but a division.

For I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother–in-law.

And a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

 So before anyone panics, feeling like you might lose your family, let me tell you what I hear in these words.  Let’s contextualize them.  Remember that Jesus was a master of energy and knew everything there was to know about how it works.  Remember that he understood the will of the divine, that at the point when he talked about family here, he had already surrendered his own individual will to the divine and was completely his father’s son, the embodiment of God on Earth.  Many of you may recall from the stories in the gospels how he took some heat, that he had been criticized for not showing his mother/family more deference.  The Christ made it clear to his followers that his love was for all beings equally, and that his allegiance to family, his tribe, did not trump his connection to all humanity.

So what I hear him saying is that if you embrace him, in his manifestation as the God of your heart; or as evangelical Christians might say, through your personal relationship with Jesus, any divisions between you and others in your tribe will arise, and that is part of the process.  This is your cross.

Many people have an inaccurate understanding of the concept of karma. They think it has to do with being judged. It is not about judgment. It is about consequences. What you put out into the world energetically returns to you eventually. “Unfortunately” karma is not subject to the illusion of time. We can be off-balance and suffer accordingly as a result of experiences lifetimes ago and if we are not careful, we pass that suffering  onto those around us.  Instead we must learn to take up the cross of our own pain.

We all must bear responsibility for our individual selves, and work through whatever we need to work though in conjunction with the divine will as guided by the indwelling God, in order to affect a more perfect union.

 

 

 

 

 

This teaching also appears in the New Testament in three gospels in a passage known as the Greatest Commandment.  The version from Matthew, Chapter 22 is as follows:

Then one. . .asked him a question. . . Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Do you recognize this direction?  This is the inside-outside perspective.  We are told to start with ourselves, experience the Love as we sync with the divine, and then extend that Love to all of our relationships.

Ultimately, you should not do what your parents want you to do, or be what your parents want you to be, unless those actions or states are what God wants for you.  Nor can you necessarily do what your children want you to do, or be what they want you to be.  Rather you must find yourself and be true to yourself, and follow the lead of the indwelling God.

Face of Christ, Painting by Myron Dyal, used by permission of the artist.

Listen to the words of the master again:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

I do not believe the Christ was saying that you are intrinsically unworthy or have to live alone, cut off from others.   What I hear is the Christ saying that you will be called upon to do the work on yourself you must do if you want to follow his example, and that your family cannot distract you from that work.

You may have to be alone at least some of the time, if that is a part of your cross, your individual journey.  No matter how much family we have, who they are, and how close we feel to them, we all experience a sense of separation at times until we are fully reunited with God and understand to the depths of our soul that separateness is an illusion.

The sideways movement of energy is bringing us an opportunity to be more closely aligned with our Creator whether we want that or not.  And if we do want it, and act upon our desires, then the love of our family, our entire human family can truly come into play. So. . .

And be prepared for the divisions.  Thank the energy for moving sideways even when it feels like the tidal waves of movement through the very structure of our blood lines is terrifying.  And don’t feel disheartened, because that is how it should be.

When you come up against those tensions, take up your cross.  Ground.  Center.  Run your energy.  Clear your space, a little at a time.  Move the log jams of old programming out of your eyes and other parts of your energy system, so you can be less judgmental and more present with yourself, your  family, your community, and all of life.

Know that what is awaiting your presence and the presence of all those around you is the enduring, endless Love of your Creator where there are no divisions.

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

The Art and Majesty of Co-Creating with God

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service  June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

 

As Ghandi reminds us.

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

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

God the Creative Spirit by Alex Grey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Harrowing of Hell, image from England, circa 1240 CE

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

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

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

Be Still and Know that I Am

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We all have a lot of learn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

The Illusion of Time

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service 2016

This fine morning I want to talk to you about time.  This sermon is a little more advanced than I usually present.  It is not something you are going to understand using your rational brain.  So please feel free to just let my words surround you, and awaken within you whatever is evoked by them and resonates.

At the Church of the Harvest, we try to focus on what makes you more aware of yourself as spirit.  Thus I have entitled my sermon the “illusion of time.”  Time, like everything else in the physical world is ultimately an illusion.  Time is an aspect of what in Indian culture is called the “maya.” Maya is a Sanskrit word.  In early Vedic writings “maya” referred to extraordinary power and wisdom, but as the concept developed over centuries “maya” came to be seen as the world always changing; and changing such that it becomes nearly impossible to see things as they really are.  In other words, “maya” implies the infinite reality of spirit that cannot be fully understood by human beings in terms of being contained by the human brain as it is presently constituted.

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Time is an illusion.  For you as spirit there is no time.  When your body passes away, you will leave the space-time continuum that exists on Planet Earth and return to the eternal heart of our Creator.  And when you come back to this Planet, assuming you will, you will again submerge into the time-space continuum that is necessary for the enormous power and wisdom that is you, to slow down enough to function in physical matter.

Time-space continuum.  That’s one of those phrases that people freely use, know there is some kind of truth to it, but don’t really know what it is.  You hear New Agers sometimes talk about the time-space continuum.  Or maybe you’ve heard about the concept from science fiction shows like Star Trek.  Some of the best descriptions of the time-space continuum come from the physical sciences.

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The time-space continuum burst into human consciousness primarily through the work of Albert Einstein, a man who was able to bring spiritual truths through scientific inquiry using mathematics, which he called the language of God.  Einstein taught us that time and space is actually the same thing, they exist on a continuum.  He challenged our views of time as static.  He talked about how an object in motion actually experiences time at a slower rate than an object at rest.

This is the kind of concept that the rational human brain has a hard time wrapping itself around.   Isn’t time always the same?  Well no, actually it’s not.  It changes.

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I was given the opportunity to learn about the non-static nature of time, the illusion of time, during the automobile accident in 1998 about which several of you have heard me talk.  I was horribly “late” for an event for which I thought I absolutely could not be late.  I was driving much too fast on a gravelly backcountry road, when I lost control at a sharp turn of the road and flipped the car.

These days nearly 20 years later, I rarely think about the miracle that I survived.  Or the fact that I was taken to the emergency room where the medical staff seemed to think there was something fishy about what the ambulance personnel were reporting after rescuing me from a ditch by the side of the road.  I not only had no broken bones, I didn’t have any lacerations or even any significant bruising.  They could not find anything wrong with me.

These days, what I often think about is the gift I was given that day I learned that time is an illusion.  I was thrown out the car window nearly fifteen feet away–so they tell me.  The car was totaled.  But what I experienced in a very visceral and real way was that time literally froze.  I can recall hovering above my body and spending what seemed to be many, many minutes “minutely” fine-tuning every muscle and curvature of my body so that it would land in EXACTLY the right way.   Apparently as spirit, I had decided it was not time to leave the body permanently or even damage it in order to learn what I set out to learn.  Instead, I raised my vibration level to such a rapid degree that time was unrecognizable so that I could position my body in the manner that would sustain minimal damage.

Time is an illusion. . .but it is a very powerful one, as I also learned that day.  I never allowed myself to drive at an excessive speed again, no matter how important a meeting was for which I was late.  Because time is an illusion only for spirit.  For the body, it is where we live. In the physical, there is only the present moment. And it is very important for the body that we live in present time.  As the science fiction author Ray Cummings has said, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”  Can you imagine what it would be like if every thought you ever had, every emotion you’ve ever felt, every experience you have gone through all happened at the same time?  If you as spirit are not working within the body’s need for time (and space), all hell can break loose.

All lifeforms require that we work correctly with time.  When an animal is hungry, it needs to find food then, not some indeterminate time in the future.  If it does not, its very life is threatened.  When a plant needs water, it cannot be provided whenever.  The plant will wither and die if it does not receive water at the time when it needs it.  The reason I decided to talk about time today at our Summer Solstice service is because currently on our planet, all hell is breaking loose in large part because there are too many people not paying attention, or the right kind of attention to time.

We need to understand both the illusion of time and the fact that it is a powerful one which we have to take into account if we are going to manifest our essential nature as spirit here on Planet Earth.  We are here to learn about creating as spirit through matter, and there are several challenges that each of us need to meet for that learning to have an optimal outcome.

These days more and more people understand some of the basics about the space aspect of the time-space continuum.  In the United States we’ve been talking about codependency for several years now, which is just another way of people learning to work through their own space and not trying to work through others in the name of “fixing” them somehow.  We’ve been talking more and more about the importance of and what it really means to “consent” to sexual encounters.  And we increasingly dialogue about diversity, meaning that individuals can have a variety of different experiences that we need to respect with their free will within the context of a complex social fabric.

Most recently the entire world has been hot on the trail of trying to understand and diminish violence, whether perpetrated by gun-wielding haters, war mongers, bullies, human traffickers, exploiters of vulnerable others, or even the equipment that we use to protect (or not) the heads of football players.  We’ve been learning about economic, racial, sexual and other forms of inequality and privilege, and having national debates about how best and how much to help people that don’t have enough, without forcing them to live our chosen lifestyles.

These issues are all manifestations of trying to make sense of the dichotomy that as spirit, we are all one; but as a physical presence, we each have a body for which we are independently responsible.  These are not new issues.  Humans have tried to make sense of this paradox from the beginning of our time, but many people are on the verge of balancing these key dichotomies; and the space aspect of our physical existence that makes them so difficult to comprehend.

In my opinion, there has been less progress on the time aspect of the time-space continuum.  There is some interest in concepts like mindfulness, which is at its essence just a way to help people learn to live in the present moment.  But too many people have the vast majority of their energy tied up with the past, or the future; and are not very present in their actual physical body.  time-travel

When you are out of sync with yourself individually, that is to say when spirit is not creating in conjunction with the body’s need for time, at the very least you probably “waste” a lot of time; and at the worst you create pain and loss.  And YES, everything has a purpose, and YES, even the times of losing your way can help you learn. . .but do you really want to learn using pain and not joy as the vehicle for change?    53e6ead70d9c487e90883d8f579bd66f

When individuals are not in sync timewise—or as we say around here, having a body/spirit split—all kinds of disharmony is possible.  You can just waste resources, such as when people hoard a lot of material goods they don’t need  because they are living in past lives when they did not have enough; or trying to prepare for a future they can sense but can’t really see, where their fear says there will probably be less.  Some of the problem with hoarding includes the fact that people tend to be owned by too much stuff rather than owning it; and in the end excessive amounts of stuff usually deteriorates anyway if it is not being used.

Even if you don’t collect things when you are unaware of time, other disharmony is possible.  People can waste opportunities, opportunities that do not easily come again.  Some of the greatest regrets that are verbalized by those who are dying, are that they did not spend their time wisely, did not spend more time with their children or their family, did not travel, make music or art, or pursue some other dream.

In Erik Erikson’s final stage of human development, older individuals either integrate their life. . .or leave it feeling disgust with themselves and despair.  To put this in spiritual language, I can tell you that there is probably nothing more dehabilitating than getting to the endpoint with your body and realizing you have failed to learn what you came here this life to learn, failed to walk your path. . .and need to do it all again at another time.

Rest assured, I really have no fears about that level of disharmony with anyone present today.  You would not be here hearing my words unless you are closer to integrating body and spirit.  But I do have some concerns about our understanding of time as a society and as a world.  When many individuals are out of sync timewise—all kinds of disharmony are possible within our collective society. There are far too many people in key leadership positions, politically, economically, religiously, and throughout almost all of our other institutions that are living in the past or living in the future; and have no real ability to help with the problems of the present. confederate-flag-rally

In regards to the past for example, we have hundreds of people who still think they are fighting the civil war; thousands of Westerners who don’t even believe in past lives acting like they did when they were a part of the Roman Empire with all the world to subjugate; millions of people in other parts of the globe who are willing to wage war in a futile attempt to return their lifestyle to pre-industrial revolution days, etc.

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And don’t get my started about people living in the future.  We can acknowledge the intense fear of preppers who are putting all their energy into a false notion that they alone will be able to meet our collective challenges by hiding away; along with the millions of Americans who believe that God will rapture them away from our sins against the planet.  It is hard to deny that those who are putting their energy into living in a future that will likely be very different from the one they expect are wasting their time.  As we used to say in the sixties, they are part of the problem, not the solution. When you stick your head, i.e. your consciousness in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, you are not helping the very real challenges we face together as a species.  Because the sad truth, my friends, is that the endpoint for human animals on Earth, as well as for many other animals is far too near.

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Politicans Discussing Global Warming. Sculpture by Issac Cordal, Berlin

So what needs to be said to those of us who mostly understand space; and are beginning to understand time from a spiritual perspective?  Time is an illusion, but a powerful one.  Address it head on.  To the extent that you want to continue to operate as spirit on this gorgeous planet called Earth, please honor NOW the Mother Earth as our body-at-large, by increasing your awareness about time.  Be aware of the fact that collectively we are running out of Time. time-busyness

Please do not run my words through the programming so rampant in Western culture that you need to do more.  What I am saying is. . .in your individual life, do Time more wisely. For you, that might mean that you do less. Be in charge of the portion of Time you can control in your own space.  Use the techniques that you know to put spirit in charge of your own life more completely.  Ground for safety sake.  Center to bring you peace of mind and the ability to confront our challenges without getting lost to anger, grief, and/or despair.  Run your energy to clear sources of confusion and disharmony from your space.

Talk to the divine within.  Ask what you are spending your time on that you don’t need to be doing or thinking.  Ask what you are not spending your time doing or thinking that needs to be more of a focus.  Be still enough to listen for the answers.  And know that whatever changes you make as a result of these internal conversations will have a ripple effect, in some cases a major ripple effect, on all the people around you who are not similarly paying attention.

Some of these changes in how you spend your time will be big ones and some small.  Some will involve other people and some will not.  Join the human family with greater awareness, as we all learn more completely to be spirit in human form on Mother Earth.

Copyright 2016 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

The Economy I: Where We’re Coming From

This article was written by the Rev. Resa Eileen Raven and published for the first time in March 2010 in a blog entitled “Ravings from the Rev”:

Last month Newsweek contained an interesting article that was called “May the Best Theory Win: How Economists Are Competing to Make Sense of Our Failed Financial System.” Basically the article was about how none of our existing belief systems can account for the current economic climate. They all are short of the mark, leaving those of us trying to weather the economy massively confused and frightened, and decision-makers clueless about how to get us out of the slump.

I always like it when the powers-to-be can honestly admit their ignorance, but the thing that really caught my eye was the article’s characterization of economists as doing a lot of “soul-searching.”

“Soul searching”–what an interesting choice of words. Maybe it is a stereotype of mine but I don’t think of economists as having much interest in or knowledge about soul. And yet. . .soul really is what is going on right now in regard to the economy.

To be fair, I don’t think those of us who have interested in soul for our part have had a lot of interest in the economy. There is a reason why Jesus of Nazareth talked about it being harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into Heaven. . .and why, when he threw his one and only hissy fit of record, it was directed at a marketplace. Spiritually, you can lose yourself very easily if you get caught up in the exchange of money for goods and services. For many of us truly committed to our spirituality, focusing on money hasn’t been worth the risk. But I believe that this is the time for those of us who value the spiritual path to also learn to pay attention to economic issues, if for no other reason than to put them in their proper place.

For nearly two million years, human beings were tribal, nomadic, and completely preoccupied with survival in an immediate sense. It was primarily with the rise of early human civilizations some 8000 years ago, when we transformed from hunters/gatherers, that we developed the first “economies.” Farming the land, domesticating animals, constructing salt mines to preserve food, all these allowed people to have more than they needed at times, to accumulate “wealth.”  Folks could then trade with people outside of their own family/clan/tribe. Agricultural-based societies always eventually created a marketplace where people could swap things they did not want or need, with other things their neighbors offered.

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This production of “wealth” came with advantages and disadvantages. It had the obvious benefit of accumulating enough to meet the basics of life and a little extra to make life sweeter. It allowed individuals to exercise their God-given creativity. But it also provided opportunities for some to exercise greed, and/or exert control over their neighbors through the granting or withholding of resources, in a way that would not have been as tolerated in a more collectivistic hunter/gatherer society.

Anthropologists tell us that hunter/gatherer societies are almost always egalitarian in structure, whereas agricultural/industrial societies organize their members hierarchically. Counsels of elders and clan leaders eventually gave way to leadership by warlords and theocratic/civil governments who had the authority to intervene in human life but were often far removed from the real consequences of those interventions.   Whoever held the political reins could advance their economic interests to the detriment of others not in power, and they could do so without having to see, feel or hear from the people affected by their decisions.

For example, in 200 BCE, when the feudal kingdoms of China were united into one country, making China arguably the most advanced civilization on Earth at the time, its rulers could declare that all the iron and salt in the land belonged to them because they had to build a Great Wall to keep out the Huns. Businesses that needed iron had to pay exorbitant prices for it, forcing hundreds to lose their livelihood; and thousands of people who couldn’t afford the salt tax and therefore had no way of preserving food for the winter, were left to starve. This is one of the first of many examples of price-fixing and government monopolies leading to real suffering by those not at the top of the hierarchy.

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So what has this got to do with the economy today? Understand that there is a lot of history here, a lot of energy that has gone into our current economic dilemmas. We’ve been lost for a long time. For thousands of years, 8000 more or less, we’ve increasingly based our lifestyles, our political structures and our marketplaces on the acquisition of wealth and the physically-based needs that it can feed: glory, power, status, and hedonistic pursuits. Fair exchanges of goods and services in order to share with each other, has been an increasingly rare experience.

We’ve largely squandered the Earth’s once abundant resources, and have tried God’s patience enormously. During this time of great balancing, there is a lot to put right. And a lot of new ways of thinking will be required.

Copyright 2010  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven

Superstition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2010  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven