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 This picture is of Australian aborigines “owned” by their enslaver under the “Flora and Fauna Act” which was finally repealed in the 1960s.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

 

 

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

 

 

Living the Lie; Seeking the Truth in the Digital Age

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Neurons, Photo by Heiti Paves

Two neurons communicating.  Photo by Heiti Paves.

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

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

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

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

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

Meditation According to the Buddha

The Buddha lived circa 500 to 400 BCE.

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

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

Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BCE.

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

Christ Underwater, Key Largo, Photo by Lawrence Cruciana

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

SPOILER ALERT:  Meditation greatly facilitates this process.

Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you God

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

Freemont Troll

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

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

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

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

and behold there is a beam in your own eye?                         

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

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

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

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven