Consciousness & Unconsciousness in Uncertain Times

From a Sermon given Autumn Equinox Worship Service  on September 26, 2021

This morning I want to talk a bit about consciousness, and nurturing the kind of consciousness this community would benefit from in the days ahead. We’ve been talking about living in the end times for a quite awhile. Now let’s shift the focus to what we need in order to live in the beginning times.

I continue to be amazed about how many people in our society want to perpetuate the narrative that we must “return to normal.” It is SO unhelpful to think along these lines, because it is SO untrue. Human societies are not just going through a different frame of the same story. Rather, we’re going through a doorway into a different reality. There is no “new normal.”

Sunflower door, Prague. The sun is recognized in many spiritual traditions as the domain of the All-Mighty. It is no “coincidence” that the current crisis on Mother Earth fueling our present evolutionary leap is adjustments to the balance between Sun and Earth screwed up by human animals, aka global heating, climate change or global warming. Photo used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

In psychological terms we are going through a paradigm shift, a massive change in the way human animals think and feel and experience the world.  We are undergoing a revolution if you want to use political terms; or a transformation if you prefer a more holistic perspective.  If we want to talk about this change from a spiritual perspective using metaphysical language, we would be and are going to be talking about a change in consciousness.  

Everything in our physical world changes over time. El Olam, (the name for God used in Psalms to describe God’s unchanging nature as the God of All Eternity) alone does not change. Everything in our human universe is in flux, whether we are talking about rapid changes like those we can see taking place in front of our naked eyes such a butterfly emerging from a cocoon; or changes in matter that we can barely comprehend like a mountain being ground into dust over millions of years. Energy is always in motion.

Included in the changes that shape our species is how human animals think about our world, and therefore how we interact with it and help co create it. This includes how we imagine and experience our relationship with the divine and the embodied divine known as Mother Earth. God never changes, but we do. As such our ability to create has us shaping the natural world in different ways, some helpful, some not so much.

Certain massive shifts in the worldview of our species were woven into the fabric of the Created Order. As such that patterning is encoded in the very genetic material of our physical bodies.  These are the changes with which we are dealing in 2021. 

These fundamental and gargantuan shifts are often labeled by science as the “evolution” of a species.  Unlike other life forms however, human animals have free will so if we so choose we can ignore and work contrary to how we need our lives and the very physical form that we inhabit to change. The danger is that when we work in opposition to the change process embedded in our design, the vehicles in which we are living cannot keep pace with externalized environmental shifts, making possible what in science would be called “an extinction event.”

Human Extinction by Stefan Roth. An accurate description of our present day challenges. Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

We are undergoing an evolutionary leap. Whether it ends up being an extinction event for human animals largely remains to be seen. As part of our role as cocreators we can shift the current Created Order. However this requires a tremendous “leap of faith,” the core of which necessitates an evolution of human consciousness. 

It could be argued that the last time human beings went through an evolutionary shift of the magnitude we are currently undergoing was around the late 15th and 16th century when Western society came to terms with the idea that the Earth is not the center of the universe, the Sun is. The hubris of human ego broke down our collective societies until we could move towards a more divinely-oriented direction. It was major chaos for several generations until we shifted egotistical thinking to permit a more accurate perspective on our place in the universe. Eventually this led to the cultural milieu we now label the “Age of Enlightenment” with all its various gifts made possible by the more expansive viewpoint.

We are now at a similar crossroad involving an evolutionary jump.  Once again our ego is taking a massive hit as we are forced to surrender our view that humans are in complete charge and can control everything on Earth. However, because the vibration of Planet Earth itself continues to go up, the upcoming transition will be more rapid, potentially involving months, years and lifetimes; rather than centuries.

Intuitive people have seen this jump coming, and have been preparing for a long time to take on its challenges, particularly folks from indigenous societies and marginalized cultures. One such person that I have been appreciating lately is Wangari Maathai.  Wangari was a biologist and zoologist from Kenya who in 2004 became the first environmentalist and first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her work towards democracy, unity of purpose and peace, in part through her contributions to reforesting Africa through the Green Belt Movement.

It is all about shedding fear and bringing hope to bear. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

What do those of us who want to help this evolutionary shift happen as seamlessly as possible in our own lives and in the lives of those around us need to keep in mind?  Many of the elements of this unfolding story have yet to be decided and therefore are unknowable at this point in time and space. Some factors are knowable; and we can actively prepare for them. One of the latter is changing the way we think, changing our individual mental life

So let’s start by discussing consciousness. About what do we need to be conscious? And more importantly, what is consciousness anyway? What is it not?   

Primarily this morning I want you to learn to better distinguish your mental energy as spirit, and your physicality. Consciousness is a spiritual event. Most people are under the delusion that their consciousness is all about their brain. In actuality your consciousness, sometimes known as your awareness, is not housed by your brain nor is it a creation of your brain. Humans tend to validate the physical side of our world and invalidate everything spiritually based. We have built whole civilizations, particularly since Rome and Hellenistic Greece on a false belief system that idolizes the brain and its functioning.

The brain is a tool.  It’s an important one but only a tool. It’s an organ like your lungs or your liver.  The brain is a majestic tool with wondrous capabilities that never cease. It is said that with its estimated 100 billion neurons the brain has a network that rivals the stars in the Milky Way.  If your brain doesn’t function well it can cause no end of misery, like most people with epilepsy or mental illness or dementia can teach you. But it is only a tool.  It is not the end in itself. 

Neurons firing as viewed through an electron microscope. Those amazing bits of life are communicating with each other via the use of chemicals and electromagnetic pulses. Photo by Heiti Paves used in accordance with Fair Use principles.

I can’t tell you how many spiritual seekers I have met over the years that have lost their way because they have mistaken their brain for what gives them life. They are like people who spend a fortune on a gorgeous shiny new Tesla car that they program to drive itself, as they themselves go to sleep.  Sometimes they crash and burn; and sometimes they just miss the scenary along the road.  One of the quickest ways to a spiritual impasse is to get “lost in your analyzer.” When you do that, the tool becomes in charge of your life, and you treat everything like a nail, thinking you are simply a hammer.

The brain likes to convince us that it is the most important organ.  It wants us to believe that as the premier organ it is your source of consciousness and therefore decision-making.  I almost never recommend people who are seeking to develop their spirituality read books on the subject until I think they have a fighting chance of developing seniority over their analyzer. 

The brain is also why many people have such a hard time learning to meditate on their own. Most westerners have been far too programmed to confuse the firing of the synapses in their brain with real knowledge.  We actually have a whole educational system in this country that is largely dedicated to stuffing as many bits of data into the brain as we can, thinking that quantity of data is what makes people smart. That’s like believing that your computer or your television is a God because things routinely appear on the monitor.  From that vantage point, somewhere somehow some other animating force has done the keystrokes or manipulated the remote to get those images to appear. If you envision the firing of synapses as the endgame, and take no responsibility for what you input, you end up with an insanely busy brain that won’t shut up.

Many people experience their thoughts as heavy, which they can be in when the brain is in competition rather than in affinity with the rest of your physical and spiritual structures. This piece entitled “The Weight of Thought” is by sculptor Thomas Leroy and is used in accordance with Fair Use principles.

Again, don’t get me wrong. Your brain is a truly miraculous machine. Taking care of it is every bit as important as taking care of any other part of your physical anatomy. Here I mean caretaking not just through things like good nutrition and sleep but also exercise in the form of the right kind of stimulation. It is estimated that it takes about 400 repetitions to build one synopsis.  To use your brain in the service of your goals, you must learn how to input data by exercising it appropriately and with discernment.

Beyond the basic caretaking tasks involved with the physical aspect of the brain, we also must learn how to work with it by developing what in psychology we call “metacognition.”  This is where we go from allowing our brain to dictate our reality to simply using it as a tool. We, the real owners of that marvelous machine we call a body, need to learn to step back, observe what is going on, and make appropriate adjustments.  Regular meditation is a tried and true process for doing exactly that.

Have you wondered why there is such a debate in this country about critical thinking? There are a lot of ego-based individuals who have given up responsibility for the functioning of their thinking to others and feel threatened by those who are committed to learning to think for themselves.

In this country and in most others we are in a world of hurt in large part because we lack even the most basic skills in terms of metacognition, aka learning to work with data.  Many American don’t even know the difference between a fact and an opinion.  Most Americans can’t reliably distinguish between an emotion and a thought, much less which emotions and which thoughts are their own versus which ones have come from other people which they have adopted without examination as their own.

Best case scenario is when an individual allows many glimpses into the big picture, many of which are seen in passing, and then doubles down to focus on what one seeks to create in one’s own life. This way you see both the pattern or cosmic framework within which you function, as well as the best place to grow your individual contribution. “For Granted” by Gabriel Andreas with art by Matthew Andreas used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Highly educated people and those with great political power are not at all immune from this systematic ignorance. Many have not learned to use epistemological processes different than their own and sometimes even their own. We have a society which largely thinks faith and science-based belief systems are contradictory, rather than that both are flawed parts of a greater truth.  It is scary to me to watch national policy makers sometimes talk about the pandemic as if the scientific process was either a competing religion or an established set of objective facts.  Both perspectives lead to suffering and death.

Folks with other advanced cognitive skills who lack that commitment to step back and examine their own belief systems also miss the mark. Metacognition requires that thoughts need to be regularly examined and culled as needed, not just debated by a few similar-thinking colleagues.

Bottom line: Consciousness naturally evolves. Brain functioning does not, at least not on its own initiative. An evolving brain needs to be seeded with new data and purged of the old in order to have the ineffective and/or obsolete give way to a more holistic viewpoint, much like a computer needs to be cleansed of old files and out-of-present-time applications. Without regular updates, improvements and repairs, a neglected computer will slow down and eventually fail altogether. Left to their own devices the brain’s neuronal pathways do eventually wither when they are not used. However, if these changes are not intentional but rather just a result of disuse, it’s like a muscle in the body that simply loses its effectiveness and becomes flab. In many cases the spirit who owns that body simply loses access to it.     

Unchecked the brain can take on a life of its own, including housing the energies from many other people and disembodied spirit. Image of “My Brain and Beings Within” by Myron Dyal

Metacognition requires learning to recognize the data to which we are exposing ourselves and making decisions about it. When you get good at observing your thinking processes you can be in charge about what information to bring into your system, what to do with it and when to destroy it when you outgrow it.  This applies both to belief in religious concepts like the nature of the God, as well as to scientifically-based ideas.  Anything that has your brain maintaining control will ultimately limit you and allow other energies to use you like a doormat. If you do not want to just be a hammer, take charge of your brain. 

So, if our brain is only a tool, what is it a tool for?  Short answer:  you, of course. For you as spirit. The real you–the eternal being, the individual and ever-changing aspect of the All-That-Is.

The brain is a brilliant command center for our physical structure that allows each one of us as an eternal being to create through physical matter. The brain contains some amazing energetic components like our analyzer, that helps translate back and forth between body and spirit visa vie your brain, central nervous system and beyond. But you as spirit need to be in charge of the translation projects.

And what of unconsciousness? How does it play a part?

As spirit you have a consciousness, some of which is contained within your body, the VAST, VAST majority of which is not.  The totality of you is so much more than you could possibly even begin to bring into that brain of yours and the rest of your body, no matter how grounded you are and how many growth periods you have undergone.  Grounding allows you to be in much greater charge of the learning experiment that we call life.  Growth periods help you and your body work towards a mutually beneficial partnership to experience what you are here to experience.  However, until you are ready to return to your Maker for all eternity, you will never have access to the totality of your consciousness at any one particular point in time.

Have you heard about spontaneous human combustion? It is a phenomenon that occurs when someone tries to bring more of their energy or a higher vibration of their energy into their body than their body can handle.  The body can literally burn up. Be patient with yourself even at those times when you are chomping at the bit because you sense you are unaware of something vital. You do not want to burn yourself out. Seek greater consciousness but give yourself time to get there.    

To the ultimate question at hand. For those of us with boots on the ground, how do we best prepare our evolving consciousness to meet the challenges before us?  Here are my cliff notes:

1. Get really good at discernment. By this I mean both figuring out to which information you want to expose yourself, and with which people you want to have the experiences that allow you to process it. 

The trick here is to make sure that the choices you are making are expanding your universe rather than making it smaller.

Many people in our society right now are lost because they are attempting to protect themselves by shutting down the new information, new experiences, new people with whom they can explore new pathways.  That never worked very well and it is kind of deadly in the current time frame.  In the digital age we can’t hide anymore from information that disturbs us by shaking up the status quo.   

The evolution of human consciousness is requiring us to seek Truth in a different fashion than pretending it doesn’t exist, or asking someone else to define it for us.  Read and view and discuss with others as much as you can tolerate of perspectives that differ from and especially those that are contradictory to your own. If you are trying to stem the incoming tsunami of new data by throwing up dams, all you are going to get is flooding on a destructive level. The flood waters are just going to rapidly overtake the banks anyway, and the world of other solutions will simply wash away to nothingness. Alternately if you make judicious decisions about which tides to navigate, when to float and when to paddle–you get my drift–your swimming skills will steadily improve.

Keep in mind that only you can choose what comes to the aid of your learning in what order.  If you find yourself uncomfortable with what you are viewing or discussing, then pull back and look at what is going on for you. Time to go within. 

Calvin and Hobbes have been a major cultural force in the national conversation for many, although this particular strip may be beyond the understanding of even some of its most die hard fans. It depicts how uncomfortable it can be for individuals to struggle against competing data when their brain is stuck in old patterns Here, rather than dealing with his own discomfort Calvin simply shuts down emotionally and projects onto his dad his emotional distress and his own fear of stupidity. In scientific terms we might label this “cognitive dissonance.” Bill Watterson’s work here is used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

When you are being triggered, it may be that the new data to which you are exposing yourself is exactly what you need and is just bringing up for clearing the old stuck places.

It may be that the information is wrong for you or even toxic to you.

It may be you are exploring an important subject using the wrong process.

This is where going within is critical. To whatever extent and in whatever way you know how, work through the feelings, the obsolete belief systems, the pain pictures, etc. Get out of your analyzer and into the center of your head. From there look at what you are stirring up, what is REALLY going on, and MOVE that energy out. 

2. Open yourself up not only to new information but to new ways of acquiring and processing it.  Cognitive processing is a skill set. It must be practiced.  It can and should be practiced from various angles but it cannot just be acquired through superficial exposure. i.e. rational thought, despite what your brain may tell you. You can’t just think. You have to do something.

  

If you know how to read energy clairvoyantly, do a LOT of reading of others so you can expand your universe by releasing matching pictures. That is a great way to purge maladaptive data of which you are not yet conscious.  

If you have been exposed to the social psychology literature, you can have fun catching your brain in the act of distortion as it tries to trick you into seeing the world from a limited place of bias. 

If you know how to find the center of your head, clean it out in your meditations several times a week and operate from there on a daily basis as much as possible which will increase its reach. 

Read magazines with which you are unfamiliar or study a new language. Learn to do something you do not normally do like dancing or singing, or playing an instrument. Develop a relationship with an unfamiliar species of animal, hang out with kids or old people, folks with a major mental illness, culturally diverse groups or anyone with whom you do not normally interact. Watch television shows that make you cringe a little, talk to “strangers,” or even drive down different streets than you normally would. 

And then identify what brings you the most joy, and do that A LOT. 

3. Recognize that consciousness is the goal and recognize the goal will be largely unobtainable.

Awareness is a great thing. 

So, at times, is unawareness.  

I can’t tell you how often if I had known what I was getting myself into I would have stopped myself.  That is to say my ego would have stopped me as spirit, go down certain roads that it was absolutely critical that I explore. 

It is also true that I have caused myself a lot of unnecessary suffering because I did not let myself know what the likely outcome of my choices was going to be. As one’s ability to discern grows, the suffering and self sabotage decrease.

For now just realize that both consciousness and unconsciousness are important at different times.  Leave the perfection to God.

And on that note, my major piece of advice to this community is this:

The Holy Spirit, that aspect of the divine that is possibly the most mysterious and impossible to understand through rational brain processes, is available to all human animals irrespective of gender or sexuality. Art by Megan Wagner entitled “Awakened” used in conjunction with Fair Use principles.

4. Be ready to receive the Holy Spirit. Her wisdom is coming to those of us who survive the next period.

This is the evolutionary shift at play.  This is the kingdom and the power and the glory that awaits us when we are ready.  You do not have to know what I mean.  Get out of your analyzer. Just set your intention to receive what has been promised.

Copyright 2021 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

Ancestors and Young Ones: Seeing the Old with New Eyes

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service  on December 27, 2020

Winter is traditionally the time of the year when life on Planet Earth slows way down, shifts into resting mode and begins to engage in the process of regrouping for the new seasonal growing period ahead.  Human animals usually use this time to engage in reflection about the events of the past few months; and to dream about the new directions we would like to take in the next phase of our cycle of evolution.

2020 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? A year for the history books. A year when our lifestyles, events taking place in the outer world and our society slowed way down.  That is not to say that events in individual internal lives slowed down. For some it did. For others it actually sped up, as people experienced confusion, acute anxiety and other busy, often chaotic emotional states. 

The pandemic and all with which we are dealing, has many of us in hiding. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

As the calendar year known as 2020 comes to an end, many are still lost to their fear, unable to believe in anything other than scarcity.  And of course, that belief in scarcity is mirrored everywhere around us by the society we have created. . .which then further feeds the fear.  For many people there is a frenzied dynamic interplay going on right now, a feeding frenzy, if you would.  Intense emotions are being triggered in their bodies which are then reinforced by irrational belief systems that are then surfacing in their bodies even more pockets of unresolved emotions that then cascade into greater distorted beliefs and on and on.  The amount of hysteria and totally weird conspiracy theories that are being promulgated right now by our national leadership as well as many of its citizens would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.

As the foundation for life on Earth vacillates wildly between conditional and unconditional love, transitions from separateness to unity of purpose, from fear to faith in the enduring, unending presence of our Creator, many of us are suffering from acute motion sickness.  

Here in this community known as the Church of the Harvest we’ve been working to keep our head above the waters, in order to swim to the new shorelines; and help others who don’t know how to swim at least dogpaddle or float their way to safety.

We’ve been doing this in these services most recently by talking about the nature of Truth. In other words, that Truth is the sole domain of the All-Mighty.  That for those of us human beings who are made in its image, it is in our nature to seek it, like sunflowers that turn their head towards the Sun, but not to know it in its entirety.  Those who adamantly insist on the Truth before they are actually prepared to hear it, typically scorch and burn up. 

Truth for us is a becoming. . .not an end product.  As such we need to constantly set our intention on staying humble and being open to cultivating as many ways to receive a greater version of Truth from the source of our being as we can. 

As a process truth-seeking also greatly benefits from engaging with as much of our physical reality as we can.  This is because the Sun that we seek shines down on our beloved planet and wants to illuminate all on Earth that can be activated and nurtured by its light and coaxed into growing.

Right now the universe is telling us that we must learn not only the disembodied truth that can be accessed by our minds but the larger truth, that aspect of the Sun that has been embedded in the very rhythm of our breath and the coursing of our heart as the Sun’s energy flows through the structure of our organs, muscles, nerves, tissues, and bones.  In other words, we have to not only be in touch with emerging truth with our mind, we have to learn to experience it in our entire individual body.

In my role as someone who tracks the energy of the collective unconsciousness, as well as the consensual reality–which is the part where we have made agreements on a soul level about what we are going to bring into the physical world–I have been watching closely as America collectively embraces a larger version of the truth about our country, its history and its place in present time.  Like an amphibian or reptile, we have been shedding our old skin and moving into raw, vulnerable new containers with astonishing speed. This new version of the truth, this embodied vision, comes at a price for many.  As greater energy flows through our individual and collective bodies, it often lights up old wounds to be acknowledged and cleared. Thus the pain and agony for many these days.  It’s shock and awe time.    

The interesting part to me has been that the emerging deeper levels of truth are just that.  Contrary to popular opinion, for the most part they are not brand new concepts or ways of approaching life but very old ones that are being re-imagined, re-contextualized, like beautiful old paintings that are suddenly seen as richer, more nuanced because they have been taken out of dirty old frames and instead, surrounded in gold so as to highlight their glory.    

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Whether its adding 3,400 Negro League players to the statistics of the Major League Baseball such that their contributions can be honored, taking down monuments to white supremacists, renaming military bases and sports teams or starting the annual New York City Macy Thanksgiving Day parade with a land acknowledgement to the native tribes that lived in the area before being deprived of their homelands, the shifting of perspective is phenomenal. 

Those who are trying to swim against the tide are framing their truth as the USA “rewriting history” or “cancelling its culture.” We are indeed rewriting the history books by including the stories of marginalized individuals and groups that were previously excluded.  We are realigning less expansive cultural stories from center stage to their proper new place on the outskirts.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your own version of the truth, some who oppose this opening up of historical perspectives are getting swept out to sea.  The abruptness of the tidal waves of changes with which we are all now engaged, is shocking to us all.  For some, it is jolting us awake. For others, it is just jolting.  Many of the latter are attempting to lighten the load for themselves by closing down their world vision, something dangerously at odds with how the collective energy is moving.

The robust national conversation about the best multigenerational approach to the pandemic was no “accident.” (Can grandparents hug their grandchildren? Should young people be concerned about infecting older people even if they themselves are at minimal risk? Etc.) As the sun shines brighter on our natural world, humans are having to shift their perspective to acknowledge that time is an illusion to spirit. It will take all of us, young and old alike, to step forward into a greater truth. You are the dream of all your ancestors, art by Monica Fernandez. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

2020 is soon to give way shortly to 2021.  Collectively we have planted a few seeds to begin the growing season ahead; and we still have many more months of dreaming and resting and regrouping before we will have the entire new landscape seeded for the upcoming spring and summer.

Normally at this point in my sermon I make a number of suggestions. This year I have one brief further commentary and one major piece of advice.

Many spiritual seekers debate about the question of pain and suffering. Is it necessary? Is it inevitable? Like many other experiences, this depends on the individual’s path. For most, pain is a “useful” learning tool,, one that becomes less relevant as healing progresses, but most of us need to learn to tolerate and eventually transcend it. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

The commentary is about pain. For those of you who follow American mythologist Michael Meade’s wisdom, he has been talking about pain a lot lately as well.  I was struck by a posting he did recently that I will quote:

                    “The pain we feel comes from the cross-wise energies that

                   keep curving back and canceling the wise self and the good

                   word that waits to be expressed from within us. Persistent

                   pain is usually the indication that we have become trapped in

                   a life too small for our true nature.”

Because on a soul level we are learning to come more fully into the physical world individually and as a whole, most of us will have more pain to clear as we go through the transformative process.  Don’t be afraid of this. We’ve got the tools we need. The universe has our backs. And this community has your back as well, should you need and desire our help.  As 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi tells us:  “The cure for the pain is in the pain.” 

You are, as always, the architect of your own journey. Use this time wisely. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

And speaking of Rumi, here is my biggest suggestion:  Stay open to new ways of understanding, ways that are beyond your present understanding. They are coming, waiting for us to receive them.  As Rumi said long ago:

                    “The Truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell and broke

                   into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it and they looked at it

                    and thought they had the truth.”

We are beginning to see the natural world with new eyes. Earth has always been a planet whose “destiny” involves paradise. It’s just that the human species who right now are the co-creators with the divine, and therefore have a pivotal part in validating the master plan, have chosen heretofore to be largely out of sync with it and its creator.

Open your heart to the bounty and the beauty of creativity in the truest form it shows up in your life, but do so while acknowledging that only God contains the whole picture. Make your vessel ready to receive as much of it as you desire. 

Copyright 2020 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

Justice, Mercy, Kindness and Karma, Part I

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

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

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

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

 

Will the Real Reality Please Stand Up? Shifting Perceptions/Changing Consciousness

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service  December 22, 2019

Years ago, when I was learning my craft as a Mental Health Professional—working with psychotic felons at our largest state hospital and going to graduate school at nights to become a licensed psychotherapist—one of my teachers taught me something that has guided my life ever since.

At the time I was struggling to find a way to reach my patients through the heavy layers of delusional thinking that surrounded them, and the rock-solid denial in which they lived to order to avoid looking at the horrible suffering they had endured and that they had carelessly passed on to others in the world.  My teacher made one of those simple statements, those statements that come from a spiritual perspective, the ones that involve few words but embody an endless supply of ramifications.  He said simply: “Resa, everything your patients tell you is true. Your job is to figure out what it is true about.”

These days I reflect on his words of wisdom frequently.  As I watch our political systems degrade into a morass of vicious squabbling; as I listen to the national conversation charged with animosity with half of the country screaming at the other half of the country about what idiots the others are, what horrible people they are for thinking the way they think; as I watch the suffering increase exponentially for those who lack the resources or refuse to participate in the cultural wars that are being played out, I am reminded of what I learned from my patients.

Those who are committed to the spiritual path of manifesting their creativity in the physical world often understand that reality is a fluid construct. Each individual has a unique consciousness and each of us creates our own unique reality based on the imagination we bring to the world. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Everything being discussed right now is true, in part. Every position taken by the Republicans and the Democrats and the socialists and the capitalists and the anarchists and the liberals and the conservatives etc. has a kernel of truth in it.  For the healers in this room, it becomes our job to figure out what it is true about.

There are so many ways we could approach the subject we need to talk about during this absolutely critical time on Planet Earth.  You all know me, though so you probably know that I usually go for broke, at least when I am in an audience where people are listening, when what I have to say has a chance of being heard.  So let’s talk about the big picture here.

Let’s start from the premise that only God can know the whole truth.  That God IS the Truth. That the Truth actually is a synonym for the divine.  We are not the totality of God, but we are as aspect of it.  So right off the bat that tells us we need to cultivate humility, know that we cannot know it all, and bend to the Truth as it repeatedly tells us  what we do not yet know, in our pursuit of its glory.  Or, as my mother would frequently remind my egotistical childhood self, you can recognize the wise man because they are the person who knows that they do not yet know.

“The Truth Coming Out of the Well” is a 1896 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme reportedly based on the philosopher Democritus’s aphorism that “Of truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well.” This is a visual reminder that we are naked in our understanding of the Truth. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

That we are not in touch with the sum total of Truth,  also tells us about that which my graduate school teacher reminded me.  Each one of us, even the most damaged or broken, has at least seeds of the Truth within waiting to be discovered, validated, and explored.  When one commits to cultivating that truth, that spark of the divinity, it sets out to burn away all impurities, perhaps slowly at first, but one way or the other, it eventually erupts into a blinding light that calls out all the shadows around us.

Depending on our individual choices, according to our free will and our own internal timetable, we can callibrate our energetic system to a slow burn step by step for many lifetimes or more actively nurture it until it is brought to a raging fire, seemingly overnight.  We can even ignore that spark within us until it fades away and is extinguished by the coldness of our heart.

Those among us whose minds are dark and hearts have gone cold–to use the words from today’s invocation from St. Paul–still have some kernels of the Truth for us to discover. . . however small, however buried under the weight of their ignorance and maladaptive choices.  And we risk adding to our own ignorance if we do not try and discern what part of their life is based upon Truth, not their truth or even our truth, but the Truth that is God.

Right now, the Truth-seeking that many in our society are doing is complicated for many reasons and it is terrifying for us.  Right now many people are living in the “vanity of their mind”–alienated from the divine by their lack of knowledge and the closed nature of their hearts.

Many or most of our political, economic, religious and other leaders have effectively “lost their minds” to the physical pull of the Planet, to ego in the form of desire for power and wealth. These are the people we see every day on the news that brag about how smart they are and are quick to label others as stupid and/or present themselves as holy messengers of God and portray those who disagree with them as sinners.

The spiritual darkness in which they dwell is hellish, a hell they are interested in projecting onto others.  They are caught in an endless vortex. In their fear and commitment to ignorance they condemn others and reject any other perspective than their own, thereby effectively cutting themselves off from gaining ground.  The more they reject others, the more they create a environment of rejection by others and strengthen the energy around them of isolation and hatred .

We’ve all been there. We’ve all, at various times and to various degrees gotten stuck in the games our ego plays on us. In other lifetimes or maybe even this one,  many of us might have just chosen to physically walk away from individuals who have closed their mind and hardened their hearts to an extreme degree. That is no longer an option for us. It’s the digital age; as well as the apocalyptic time foretold from the dawn of our human history in which all will be revealed. There is no physical place we can go to get away from toxic influences for very long. Our salvation lies only along the pathway of following the God of our individual hearts into an unfamiliar spiritual place that transcends the negativity, a place that has humans energetically rising above the tribal level we have operated from thus far.  We get to grow up. Praise be to God.

In the invocation we used in this service St. Paul advises us to “put on the new man” created by God in righteousness and true holiness.

In his letter to the Ephesians St. Paul advises us to “live not as others who live in the vanity of their mind. . . who are alienated from the life of God because they have no knowledge, and because of the blindness of their hearts.” Rather, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And put on the new man who is created by God in righteousness and true holiness.” Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

What does that mean?  What I hear in these words is validation for the idea that now is the time for a shift of consciousness.

Consciousness is not a concept that is easily understood. Another famous quotation from spiritual leader Ram Dass who just passed from his phsycial body this week provides perhaps a good clue: “We are all just walking each other home.” Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Those of us who wish to leave behind the “vanity of our minds” must adopt a different worldview.  I hear the notion that the required shift in consciousness, in how we think about and act in the world is so profound that adopting it will make us into an entirely new type of human being.

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps we’ll talk about what this will look like at our services next year.  For now I’d like to say a few words about some things that might help this community prepare cognitively and emotionally in the immediate time ahead as we deal with the unfolding chaos around us.  Because trust me, the chaos will not be going away anytime soon.  The death of the old systems will leave a gap for some time to come, before any new systems can be built.

 

Those of us healers who have been systematically going through one gnarly growth period after another after another after another will be called upon to share with others how to persevere in the world-wide growth period presently underway.  Each of us is going to need to recognize and work with as much of our own truth as possible.  Somewhat ironically, that will include looking for the bread crumbs of truth the universe sends us by way of the mirrors of who shows up in our life, not only those brilliant souls we enjoy but also those who have darkened their minds and let their hearts go cold.

So here are my “practice tips” on how to stay alive in a dying world, spiritually and physically.

Embrace the big picture. Learn as much as you can from and about others. Psychology has determined that there are five major aspects of what makes up our worldview. One of the most important is “openness.” An open-minded person seeks new experiences and enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds. This creates new neuronal pathways in our brains, makes empathy aka love more possible and allows us to learn from and enjoy life to a greater degree.  Most importantly to this group of listeners, it also raises your overall vibrational level and invites in a new level of consciousness.

This meme came through Facebook from a stranger on the other side of the country, just as finishing touches were happening to prepare this sermon for publication. Coincidence? Broad band telepathy is a skill to which all human animals have access but not all use with awareness. It can be very useful in connecting with people all over the globe; and is the basis for the joke we often make that “great minds think alike.” That said, if you are not in control of this ability, it can control you. Many people express ideas and emotions that are not consistent with their own experience. It behooves all of us to expand our horizons so we can find our own truths and recognize when we are acting on the basis of programming from others.

Unfortunately, many religions, societies and cultures are stuck on fear-based pictures that have them believing their worldview is more “perfect” or “pure” if their members are not exposed to alternative points of view. Don’t buy it. In apocalyptic times it no longer works that way. If you suffer from any programming that invites you to stay safe in your own small world, get rid of it. Don’t think for a moment that you can hide any longer.

"Listening is Golden" by Ilona Lantos Gold is one of the highest vibrations available to us, a source of much healing. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

“Listening is Golden” by Ilona Lantos.  Gold is one of the highest vibrations available to us, a source of much healing. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals .

LISTEN as much as you can, as deeply as you can, particularly to those with a point of view different for your own, as long as it makes sense.

 

Recognize that everyone has some of the Truth and is in your life to teach you. They might be expressing 99% bs and 1% truth, but if they are showing up in your life, you can bet that that 1% is pretty vital for you to learn.

 

 

 

On the other side of the dichotomy . . you don’t need to listen to anyone if it is a futile exercise.  When people are talking at you rather than with you or at the very least to you, it’s not about anyone learning anything.  It may be that the game is just about power and control.  In those situations it benefits noone for you to get drawn into the drama. Give them a healing by walking away; and heal yourself remotely by looking in your meditations for what they are bringing forth in you, and search out the pattern of who else with a similar message keeps showing up in your life.

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals

If you determine that certain individuals around you are lost but are still seeking the Truth, engage with them when possible. Share those pieces of truth that are already in your possession,  firmly if you must, but do so with much kindness aka neutrality as you can.

By the way, it often helps to cultivate patience.  Be mindful of their timing and sparse with your words, as helping others up to the next level needs to be something based their needs as well as your own. If you find your body is angry or grief stricken as you observe the process, own it, run it and pay attention to these valuable clues of what in your energy system still requires healing.  Let off emotional steam in private with your friends if needs be, but don’t act on your frustration by allowing it to overwhelm and thereby embitter you; or voice slander or malice towards the other, thereby hardening your own heart.

If the person is promoting evil, call it out. This is the righteousness Paul talks about that is a requirement of the “new man.” There is a world of difference–quite literally—between those who with their words or actions express disdain for the sacredness of God’s created order because they cannot recognize it; and those who recognize the Truth but have turned their back.

The former was the case with my psychiatric patients who had perpetrated great suffering because they had never experienced love.  Their ability to cast further demons into the world as they struggled with theirs, had to be absolutely stopped in its tracks, while gently coaxing them into a higher reality.

“Melancolie” by sculpture Albert Gyorgy is a statement of the emptiness of life without soul. Image used in accorance with Fair Use Principals.

There are many in the world right now, including many among our national leadership who sincerely wish to know Truth and live in Truth but have little or no actual experience with the divine’s presence.  In most cases, the healing of these individuals is best left to the heavenly forces. . .and the election box.

On the other hand, don’t let people who know better get away with glorifying ignorance and channeling hatred because that is an affront to God.  When someone knows the truth and is not just “spinning it” because their mind is not open enough to contain the whole of it. . .but is rather consciously rejecting it in order to gain power over others or wealth, we all have to stop them any legal and moral way we can.

There is evil occuring in our world that cannot be tolerated; and must be dealt with not just by spiritual forces. It requires the action of embodied souls who must act in accordance with the indwelling divine. That said, because we cannot see into another’s heart, it is sometimes very difficult to tell what is truly motivating the actions of another person. One important foundation of effectively countering evil has to do with emotions. It takes a great deal of mastery over emotional systems before evil can be laid to rest since that level of sin can only be truly laid to rest from a place of love. Image by Horst Haitzinger used consistent with Fair Use Principals.

When individuals and groups actively work to destroy truth seeking, such as encouraging violence towards those with differing opinions; using deceit intentionally; shutting down truth-exploration  systems like higher education and rigorous science; subverting communication systems like the internet and the media; destorying watchdog agencies that exist specifically is to counterbalance the various systemic biases to which human brains are currently prone, and pathways meant to bring justice into the world; etc. it is on all of us to notice these transgressions against the Truth; and stand up to them.  Otherwise, your silence becomes a part of the rejection of the divine.  There are karmic/heavenly consequences for that you are not going to want to experience.

“Our Calling” by Ricardo Lewins Morales School for Social Justice, Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

And finally, Go for the heavens.   What I want you to hear this morning is what I understand about the tao, nirvana, the creative blueprint, God’s plan for us, evolution, the master plan, whatever you want to call it. The times we are living in, these times for which many of us have waited our entire existence on Planet Earth, are all about creating Heaven on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the time to bring the spiritual fully into the physical. It’s a real possibility, folks.  It’s actually our destiny. . .but like any destiny, we still have to consciously choose to live it out, in order for it to manifest.

A shift of consciousness is about working from within. It requires a deep committment that few individuals have had to date. Many forces are at play in the present time frame to motivate us, support us and otherwise make possible such a tranformatival level of change. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principals.

Recognize you can have an ever-deepening version of Heaven-on-Earth now.  In all the political debates have you noticed how two people can be in the same environment exposed to the exact same information and bring to the discussion two completely different points of view about what is going on?  Have you watched a person who defines themselves as pro-Trump and a person who defines themselves as anti-Trump talk about the Mueller report, the impeachment debate or the latest tweet but arrive at two diametrically-opposite seemingly-incompatible conclusions?

It has always been possible on Planet Earth for one individual to create a completely different reality than another individual. It’s just that right now with the light shining down on all the shadowy corners of the globe and the digital age giving all these different corners an opportunity to argue with each other in real time, we can and do live in and debate contradictory versions of our world. It is consciousness that has the last say in what we create in our reality.  You can choose to bring to your corner of the world whatever level of consciousness through which you would like to live.

Do you want to live in the peace and prosperity and love that is God’s gift to all of us? Go for it!  Don’t wait for your neighbor(s).  Give them a step up as much as you can because among other things, this helps you get more rapidly to where you are going–to the peace and love that offered to all of us. Show them the way, as the way has been shown to us by various individual souls who have tread the sacred soil beneath us,  including that humble carpenter from Nazareth who is with us on this winter occasion, as always.

Copyright 2019 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

Turning the Other Cheek in A Time of Unremitting Violence

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

One example of the emerging new way of thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2019 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

Dreaming of Things to Come; Bring On the New World in the New Year!

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service  December 23, 2018

Almost exactly one year ago today, this meditation community had its Winter Solstice Service here.  We explored the topic of moving towards a world based on Love rather than the corruption of power. I talked about how corruption is a word that not only refers to political processes but at its essence just means something that is changed from its original intended use to something that is used incorrectly, and in doing so, is debased.

I talked about the fact that God is Love; and as the children of God we are meant to create our lives and the world around us through Love. . .but that too many of us had succumbed to the temptations of the material world, and forgotten that all true Power comes from the divine and all energy is meant to be used in the service of the divine.

So here it is a year later.  I think we can all agree that it’s been quite a year.  I imagine we could also agree that the year has been characterized by a society and a world absolutely awash in the vibration of hatred.  In our country and around the world hatred has far too often been the key driver of our interactions with each other.

Many spiritual forces are praying that we get over our need to hate each other.

Hate has always had a big presence on Planet Earth, of course.                                                                                                                                                     But people saying and doing hateful                   things towards each other has never                  been more common.

The difference lately has been that it has taken center stage in the human drama. It was looking like hatred had become acceptable as a social convention, as a way for people to engage with each other.  Acting in a hateful manner towards another person was no longer being seen as a maladjustment for a few aberrant individuals. It was increasingly being accepted as an open and unrepentant option for segments of our society to use in opposition to other segments.

This year women have moved into national leadership in a dramatic way but more importantly, the female energy that every human has, irrespective of the gender of their body has been moving into the foreground.

Fortunately, this year has also seen the rise of influences from other energy streams in human society to counterbalance the hatred, energy streams that are more prone to unification than the kind of disintegration that happens with the vibration of hatred.

Chief among these has been the amazingly rapid shift from the male to female perspective.  Each of us is capable of allowing our sacred female to lead the way, no matter what gender body we hold; and vast numbers of us decided to do so, almost overnight.

We have also seen the phenomenally sudden stepping-up-to-the-plate of younger generations who have grown up in the digital age where diversity and inclusion are more the norm.

For many centuries human animals have labored under a tribal-based paradigm that had one group in competition with and striving for domination over other groups. This corruption of power has been breaking down as the digital age makes it easier for us to understand we are all in this world together. Posted in accordance with fair use principles

Again, children have always led the way energetically.  We tend to forget our spiritual nature as we age so children have always quietly protected our rightful heritage, almost always in an invisible manner.

These children from Thailand reflect their more recent arrival from the spiritual world in many ways, but one of which is their joy in the natural world. Children everywhere are universally attracted to play which they recognize as one of the truest faces of the divine.,

This year, the younger ones among us began to step out of the shadows and told the adults to share the leadership of the material world. I can’t wait to see how this      plays out.

 

 

 

 

So where are we now that 2018 is coming to an end? I know that most of us are still feeling a kind of vertigo as the vibrations continue to transform the air around us, the Earth beneath our feet and the very molecules of our bodies. Many of us are at best uneasy, at worst sick at heart at what is happening to our world. As I have mentioned previously, just in recent memory the planet itself has begun running kundalini energy in increasing amounts to help human animals wake to our true nature.

Lately I’ve been noticing how many people are physically getting sick and experiencing confusing and often painful symptoms in their body, symptoms with which medical professionals are having trouble understanding or addressing, in part because of this massive influx of kundalini.

The powerful healing of kundalini energy has been recognized for centuries, primarily in the Eastern parts of the globe and shamanic traditions. It is often depicted as intertwining snakes, as is seen in the  caduceus symbol for Western medicine. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to “work at” running kundalini. It runs on it’s own when one’s energy system is working well; and recently has begun to be triggered by the Earth itself as it enters the human body through the feet.

Most of the time people seem to just see their illness processes and discomfort as just their individual situation. A lot of people chalk their symptoms up to some ubiquitous process called “stress.”  Many judge themselves as having made stupid choices about their health status, or being otherwise somehow flawed.

Little do they know that the “growing pains” that they are experiencing is a requirement, a mandatory edict from Mother Earth if you will.  Kundalini energy brings to the surface all that has been contained. It’s not a judgment but it is a very high vibration that is hard for many physical beings to experience if they are not used to vibrating at such a frequency. In other words, it does require action to weather it in a way that minimizes suffering.  It’s part of the kicking-us-on-our-ass that is happening worldwide. The universe is over it, in regards to the human learning curve.  We will either be taking a huge leap forward in our consciousness, or we will be invited to go elsewhere.  We will not be remaining the caretakers of this gorgeous planet unless we can do better by it.

But here’s the rub:  many of us are indeed waking up.  This year-2018—the year I have been calling the Year of Transformation–has done its thing. The energy has indeed transformed.

I’m not talking here about the chaos of our political and economic systems falling apart.  That spectacular amount of destruction is ongoing, with plenty more to come. I’m talking about the underlying energy.  I’m talking about the fact that in just the last few days, a scant few weeks, the energy of what is called the “consensus reality” has shifted dramatically.

The “consensus reality” is not an easy concept to understand, so I thought at this point in the presentation, we should step back and take a moment to review it.

This is the “Universal Mind Lattice” as painted by visionary artist Alex Grey, the organic human aspect of universal consciousness. It is the energetic field where all that is human and all that manifests in the physical connects to itself; and as such, can be changed by any shift created by any human being. The “consensus reality” is this field made manifest in a snapshot of time. Posted in accordance with fair use principles

Each of us as an individual soul creates our own reality. Ultimately we decide everything about our life. On a spiritual level we establish a game plan before we are born, and then we get here and see if we can carry it out.  We learn lessons as we go, and may make adjustments as we need.  This is the precious gift of free will that our Creator gives us.

Sometimes challenges look really interesting to us before we incarnate, and then when we get into the body, things look very different. Sometimes those same challenges don’t look nearly as interesting.  We are like the kid who decides we want to be a doctor, a professional athlete or a famous musician when we grow up.  And then as we grow older, we discover that it actually takes hundreds of hours of tedious study, cramping body parts and boring repetitive scales before our mind or muscles or fingers will produce the desired results.  Creating as spirit in the material world requires much more effort and all-too often  body turmoil than it would seem from a purely spiritual perspective.

When the lessons we are trying to learn require interactions with other humans, as most do, then free will dictates that we have to enter into an agreement with that other person or persons with whom we are trying to create.  This process can be very complicated and take considerable time, particularly if the lessons involve large numbers of individuals. Luckily time does not exist on the spiritual level but some individual souls have to create a number of experiences in the physical world before they can sign on to a larger spiritually based group contract, and that does take time.

In the United States there were lots of individuals who knew right off the bat that we did not want to create a world based on hatred when we were encouraged to do so by certain political and religious leaders.  But there were also lots of individuals who had to create some up-close-and-personal encounters with hatred in their personal life to make a more clear decision that this was not what they wanted to experience. Many knew better “intellectually” than to support the vibration of hatred. . .but old  karmic influences or energy from traumatic childhoods still needed to be cleared before they could definitively opt out of creating a world based on hatred.  Thus, it took nearly two years for the “consensus reality” in the United States to shift to an agreement that we were not going to choose hatred as a way of life.

The good news, the very good news in my mind, is that the energy of the consensual reality has shifted. As a group of humans who have been given seniority by our Creator, or what is called in religious circles dominion over life on Earth, we’ve decided something big.  I’m not sure what it is. . .exactly. But I’m pretty sure it has to do with Love.

So congratulations, folks. Congratulations to all of us. Congratulations to those of us who were here a year ago helping the consensus reality shift by together imagining a world based on Love and not corruption of power. Congratulations to those of you who were not here a year ago but were part of getting the Church of the Harvest to that point previously or are creating a connection now to continue this critical work. (After all, spirit knows no time).

And congratulations to all the millions of other people in the world, particularly in the United States where the battle involving hatred has been at it’s most intense.  Congratulations to the many Americans who may have had sufficient resources but who have nonetheless emotionally gone through a kind of virtual hell on Earth this past couple of years, in order to work through what they had to work through for all of us to make it to this point.

We all contributed to the place we are in now.  We made a decisive, life-affirming choice. Now we just have to figure out what that choice is all about.  And begin to shape it, fine tune it so to speak.

You all are meditators so you have had the experience of going through a particularly gnarly growth period or two.  Growth periods come in all shapes and sizes. In the biggest growth periods though, the ones that involve moving to a higher level of consciousness there is often just confusion. The old ways no longer fit at all who one is, but the new ways have not yet shown up. The fabric of one’s most essential self identity changes and we become unrecognizable.

That is kind of where we’re at right now energetically in this country and in the world.  But even though we don’t really know where we are going in this new direction we are taking, it’s probably a good idea to talk with each other about what we do notice, and share our thoughts and dreams and whatever insights we have as we stumble around in the new landscape.

So along those lines I have a few insights to get the dialogue going, to hopefully help us move towards creating a world based on Love and not corruption of the power God has given us.

First of all, Keep up the dreaming.  If you run across a situation involving injustice, hatred, corruption, by all means take whatever action you can to stop it. But keep in mind that right now it is Winter.  Its the season to prioritize resting our weary bodies.

Its the time for letting our minds wander in whatever direction they happen to go.  Do puzzles. Make art and go see good movies. Build things and craft things and exercise that incredible God-given creativity of yours in everyday life.

The direction we ultimately will need to go is not going to be clear for awhile. In all of human history we’ve never been at this point before.  We will be shown by spiritual forces we cannot even imagine the best path forward when it is time.  Meanwhile, give yourself permission to give your imagination free rein.  Creativity can be like a muscle that needs to be exercised. Enjoy where the dreaming takes you and watch.

Second of all, Welcome in the New World in the New Year!  No matter what it is. Please don’t get lost to any perfect pictures.  Its not going to be clear sailing. The destruction of our world is ongoing.  Horrific pain and suffering abounds and may very well intensify. In 2019 we may feel like we just went from the pan into the fire. If humans survive at all, it will be months or years or decades before things are OK.

Unfortunately as a species, human animals are still largely addicted to suffering. However, until we reach a greater acceptance of divine love, we can draw upon other sources of strength. “The Human Spirit,” Photo by Vladsylav Musiienko. Posted in accordance with fair use principles.

But the worst thing we can do is resist. You get what you resist, in greater measure and with greater suffering. You know why we have been having so much trouble with hatred this year? Hatred is simply a particularly intense form of fear. Fear of change. Fear of death.  The world is changing faster than the present level of human consciousness can process. Fear levels have gone up exponentially, and thus, so has the hatred.  You can make a personal contribution to cutting down the hatred simply by not resisting whatever awful as well as wonderful things come our way.

As individuals and as a society first and foremost we need to learn to lean into the change. Lean into the destruction even.  Ultimately it is far easier than digging in one’s heels about what is going to change whether we want it to or not.

Third of all, along the same lines: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. And pray for those who mistreat you.  Why? Because the energy you put out comes back to you.  Right now we are all needing to learn unconditional love. In the days ahead you’re going to want all the love and the good and the blessings that you can create; and you create them by giving them to others.

However, Fourth of all. Do not go gently into the night. I never really understood Dylan Thomas’s redemptive poem until recently.  I thought it was about resisting death. Its not. Its about celebrating life by leaning into death.  Thomas tells us to burn with life when we are near the end.

“Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light ….I will Never Give Up the Fight for Wholeness” by Myron Dyal. Used with permission of the artist.

We are near the end of human life on this planet. It still remains to be seen whether or not humans as a species will make it through the upcoming days. That part of things the consensus reality has yet to decide. Meanwhile, let us burn brightly as we decide where our Love will take us.  Burning brightly is the way of Love.

So how do we not go gently into the night on a practical level? Astrologists tell us that we just are emerging from a very long cycle dominated by the energy of the Wounded Healer. As individuals and as a society we’ve all just gone through a deep cleaning of toxic energies. We are more poised to turn away from other people who are harmful to us.  Do let’s not dirty ourselves up again with toxic people and situations. Yes, love your enemies but whenever possible from afar.

This meme is a bit on the snotty side obviously, but there is a valid point here. Maybe a few talented “jerk whisperers” can change the perspective of those who hate. . .but most of the time this is not a good use of time and energy for anyone involved

Do good for those who hate you but stop showing up for people who are indifferent about your presence.  Bless those who curse you, but you don’t have to have conversations with people who deny you respect.

 

 

Enjoy the people around you with whom you can share your dreams.  Be a willing vehicle through which the Love of the divine can operate.

Coming Alive, Words by Simon Gawley.  Posted in accordance with fair use principles

Love God and glory in all of it’s manifestations:   in nature, in plants and animals including other humans, in the rivers and oceans and most particularly in the divine dwelling within you, the God of your heart. Happy holidays everyone.

Copyright 2018 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words can have very different meanings depending on life experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning I want to go over two of them.

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

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

To the extent that you can.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

Making America Great, for the First Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lady Liberty 225th Anniversary US Mint coin

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

January 31, 2018 Moon over Lady Liberty

Copyright 2018 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

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

.

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.

time3

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.

einsteinmain

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.

time2

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.

preppers

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.

politicans-discussing-global-warming-sculpture-by-issac-cordal-berlin

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.

marketplace

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.

salt pix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2010  Rev. Resa Eileen Raven