Freedom: The Language of Soul

From a Sermon given Summer Solstice Worship Service on June 26, 2022.

I have been interested in exploring the issue of freedom with this community for some time now.  Freedom was always a big topic of the conversation in my family when I was growing up. Even when we talked about little else, in my particular family there was always permission to talk about cats. And as a military family in the cultural landscape around us there was always permission to talk about the freedoms that we were told were guaranteed by membership in the United States of America which were our duty to support. We would come together for huge fourth of July celebrations complete with fireworks, marching bands and parades of uniformed soldiers strutting their stuff in formation around fields. 

Talking about freedom is as American as apple pie, as deeply symbolic as the selection of the fierce and high-soaring American Eagle as our national bird. We did not the choose the turkey as our national emblem such as it was rumored was suggested by Benjamin Franklin. (This is actually a myth, but a good story). We chose the Eagle. Every country has an energetic core, an agreement about the essence of what those who are a part of that land have come to explore. In the United States of America our collective agreement involves exploring freedom and social justice.  And so it is fitting that our greatest challenges have been and continue to be learning what it really means to be free; what justice actually looks like.

Every country has its own energy. This depiction from Christian Chinese American artist He Qi depicts the essential essence of the United States. Picture used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

In recent days all around the globe there has been a rude awakening for many who have viewed the United States as a perfect union, as the ultimate land of opportunity. You all know that energetically speaking, perfect pictures led to a great deal of disappointment, despair and other forms of suffering when the world does not live up to our flawed expectations. The American ideal still rings true for millions of people who live under greatly diminished social freedoms and horrible injustices in their own community, whether in the US or other areas. Intensifying environmental disasters mean that US borders are increasingly overrun by thousands of would-be immigrants fleeing from harsh economic and social injustice, violence, brutal repression and other terrible events in their home countries. Recently however, many who have always dreamed of partaking in the American dream are also changing their minds as the universe wakes us up to a greater version of its Truth, and it becomes more clear what is really going on in North America.

In the United States we have a citizenry whose social norms are rapidly breaking down, who are acknowledging more and more the gut-wrenching injustices of our past and present with no real understanding as to how to correct them. In their panic Americans are clinging tightly to false illusions about freedom. After all, the one thing upon which we all can agree is that freedom is a good thing theoretically. That’s part of our national identity, enshrined in our collective psyche.

But what is freedom? Really. What is it? What does it look like? What does it actually feel like? How does it work in a collective space when one person who thinks of freedom in a certain way clashes with another person who thinks their version of freedom is not only the correct version but the only one that counts?

If we require people who don’t want to wear a facemask or get a vaccine to do so are we taking away their freedom? If the government does not let people own assault weapons or do drugs, is it acting unjustly in defiance to the rights of its citizens? If the highest court in the country decides women can be subjected to involuntary pregnancies based on what state they live in, is it supporting state rights or is it attacking the rights of women? Unless a group can actually agree on a concept, it is hard to meet any challenges that arise with any integrity.    

I’ve noticed that even people in this community, or in groups of otherwise-enlightened well-intentioned individuals working on healing themselves, are often still massively confused about what freedom really is. I watch said people just substitute the word “free will” with the word “freedom” like they are interchangeable. The energy behind using these words as a synonym is usually based on dysfunctional religious programming, by the way. Which, by the way, is the opposite of freedom. Pushing “free will” or accusing another person of violating it, is a sure indication that you have more to learn about what freedom actually is. Approaching freedom as if it is a static, binary thing, in which only the vaccinators or the antivaxxers or the people supporting or opposing guns have the truth, means you surely have not found your own freedom.

So, what is freedom? For most of us, the full answer to that question can only come about when we learn to love the question over time; and have the patience to know that our personal answer to that question will arrive when we are ready for it.

“Freedom” is one of those metaconcepts like the word “love” that is so huge, so packed with possibilities that is almost not worth trying to have a conversation with it. “Freedom” is big enough that it typically eludes words altogether. No real communication occurs when individuals with wildly different takes on the word, aka definitions, throw it at each other.

Words are symbols containing anywhere from a little bit of energy to almost an endless quantity. Words describing tangible objects can be simple. Words trying to encapsulate metaconcepts are profound, and often not worth using if your intention is real communication rather than argument. The current cultural warfare puts “freedom” in the latter category for now. Cartoon by William Boyd Watterson used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Meanwhile, there are a few people who have spent their lives in pursuit of freedom that can give us some clues on our own individual journeys towards freedom, often more through their personal stories than precise verbiage. I think the people that have the most to teach us about what freedom really looks like are often those that have survived its lack in the outer world enough to realize that freedom, ultimately, isn’t about the outside, or at least not solely.

As an example, the Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher Viktor Frankl has much wisdom to share. He discovered his freedom under the most horrific conditions possible, in a Nazi concentration camp. He led many people to a deeper understanding of how one can become free despite overwhelming political reality to the contrary.

In the United States, which is a country built upon the backs of indigenous peoples, immigrants, and African American slaves, there are many voices speaking with knowledge and grace about freedom. The thread that rings true through these sometimes widely diverse experiences is that freedom is something beyond just our bodies being constrained. True freedom needs to occur in a socially just physical world, but it does not end there. One can be free in terms of capability to make a great number of physical, economic, and social choices according to one’s own desires, and still be incredibly enslaved. One can be subjected to abject constraints in the material world and still be free in important, vital ways.

Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born leader of the Pan-Africanism movement had this to say to his fellow black Americans shortly before his death in 1940: “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.” 

The United States of America is moving towards freedom and justice. . .just maybe with baby steps when leaps are required. Lady Liberty 225th Anniversary US Mint coin

What is freedom? Freedom is communication. It is communication with the Divine within each of us. Within this communication there is only wholeness. There are no sides, no divisions that allow one person to be free at another person’s expense.

Freedom is something that we desire to the very depth of our soul, just as we all crave connection with our Creator whether we know it or not. Never let anyone stop you from seeking your personal freedom because that would be like intentionally dimming your light. Just like your true destiny is to love and be loved, to know peace and joy, you as a soul will never be fully satisfied until you are free. Especially if you live in the United States of America, because this is your collective journey as well as your individual one.

In order to fully understand freedom, you must first find your own place where there are no borders between self and other life. Art by Elsie Huther used in accordance with Fair Use Principles

That said, reveal in your desire for freedom but bring some humility to the table as you seek to understand both what it actually looks like in your life, and even more so, what it “should” look like for others. Let go of your need to find political solutions in the name of freedom as much as you can. . .less you get stuck in the endless loop of a false dichotomy.

Rather, free yourself, first and foremost. Free yourself from judgment by and of others, unaware social programming, out-of-date thinking, whatever binds you to a truncated worldview. Know that your best bet for advancing freedom in the collective space is to free yourself from that which limits your soul, which keeps you from truly knowing that your own freedom and the freedom of others as the same journey. Only then can you be present to the freedom of others.

As to the rest, trust the universe to rectify any injustices as surely it is doing increasingly these days, very rapidly.

Discerning what constitutes freedom for someone else is nearly impossible. It requires a 360 degree spiritual perspective through time and space. You will have your hands full enough just trying to figure out what makes you free! Cartoon by Man Martin used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Other people have very little to do with our own freedom, except as they reflect what is ours to correct.

Find what brings you alive.This is where your freedom dwells. Words by Simon Gawley, posted in accordance with Fair Use Principles

Ultimately, like everything else in the created order, freedom is from God and is meant to be in service of God. Or as it says in Peter, Chapter 2, Verse 16:

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.

Live as God’s slaves.  

Happy Fourth of July to the United States of America and to every individual in the entire world.

Copyright by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven, 2022

It’s all about letting go of the fear. . .allowing oneself to fall into the loving arms of the Creator.

Power: Pure and Simple

From a Sermon given Winter Solstice Worship Service on December 26, 2021.

I’ve talked a lot about power over the years but not very directly.  With folks that are sincerely trying to understand this concept, until recently I have primarily provided some hints. This is because the very word itself is so triggering for many listeners that the conversation does not typically unfold well or easily. Particularly in bringing up the subject of power with those in a female body, the nonverbal anxiety, confusion, shame, and defensiveness can be overwhelming for a speaker like myself who is sensitive to energy. The psychic cringing when I have used the word in the past has been almost palpable.

That said, it appears that the cultural times are shifting. As a society we are more in a position to look at power directly and still maintain a spiritual perspective. Some of the human-generated power imbalances that have been in place for hundreds or thousands of years, are becoming illuminated under the merciless light of the apocalypse, our time of great revelations. The apocalypse has been bringing environmental, social and economic injustice to the surface, much to the chagrin of many.  So let us have that conversation today to whatever degree we can, shall we?

Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Power is just another word for energy. All power comes from the Creator-Us-All and is intended to be used in service to the Created Order. Its essential nature is both pure and simple. Every gift of life from our Creator is pure. Everything in touch with its essential nature as spirit is by nature simple. Irrespective of what experiences you personally have undergone in your time here on Mother Earth, try to keep in mind that power in itself is never wrong or for that matter right. It just is. The wrong or right stuff comes into play only as a result of the choices humans make in how we use power.  

“Wonder” by visionary artist Alex Grey, used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Because human animals have free will we are given the choice to create whatever the Hell we want within our own body and energy system. We can and do routinely subvert power and quite literally create Hell-on-Earth for ourselves and others. We have all done this, and continue to do this. If you have been around the block more than a few times, no doubt you have started to understand that this is not a particularly useful, fun, or interesting way to conduct life. But if you are still here in a body, it means that you have more learning to do about power. Give up your perfect pictures and get on with the lessons, so you can grow that much closer to Heaven-on-Earth, that place in which power is used efficiently, effortlessly, joyfully, generating great wonder.

On an individual level, power has a lot to do with the goings on of your third chakra. That magical energy center is often called the “power center” for good reason.  It contains the bulk of the information you need to operate in and through your physical body. In recent years I have been amused about all the fascination people have developed with the “gut microbiome.” Scientists have begun to validate how vital our stomach area and digestive system is to overall physical health; how much communication happens between our gut and our brain and other areas of the body. 

Society has yet to make the discovery that these tissues and organs are reflecting a deeper spiritual truth. To frame this in scientific terminology, a good gut microbiome and good physical health are correlational, not causational. The underlying piece that determines both is a functional third chakra that is balanced and free of foreign energy.

When you have a third chakra that works in concert with the other parts of your energy system, body and spirit can have a lot of communication with each other and a respectful partnership in regards to movement.  You know where to move energy around in your body and the space around it to maximum benefit; and your body knows how to move through physical space and time to accomplish that of which it is capable.

When students are first becoming aware of their energy system and learning how to regulate it, I tease people whenever and however I can to get them to kick out the energy that does not belong there and open up their third chakra.  You have all heard me make lots of jokes about the burping that often starts to happen as people start releasing the energy from others. This clearing is an important beginning. 

However, in order to address what you need to work through this lifetime, healing your third chakra enough to power your body as it moves around the physical environment is just the foundation. That is the initial step. Like a child that has to first learn to roll over, then to sit up, then to stand, we eventually are at a place to learn how to walk. Once we know how to walk, only then can we start taking concrete steps in the direction we want to go. Moreover we get to decide whether we want to saunter or hike, foxtrot, waltz or freestyle. . .or maybe simply stand still, smell the roses and admire the view.

Like everything else in your reality, how you move in the world is all up to you. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

For the folks in this community who have kicked out much of the foreign energy from your third chakra, and deenergized many of your most important pictures about working through a body, the next step looks a bit different.  As long-term meditators, if you are in a female body you are probably less terrified of the very prospect of power in your own space than you used to be. If you are in a male body, you are likely more aware than you were previously that you don’t need to fight everyone else’s battles for them.

For you, the challenge about power now is more about taking the whole concept to the higher level. Unless you are a professional athlete or dancer or some such, all the power you need to operate your body is probably already accessible to you. 

By now you probably have had enough experience with working with energy consciously to have a sense that certain choices regarding power can be counterproductive, can definitely set you back on your journey, or at least make it an uncomfortable ride.  You will have made enough decisions using your power that have arisen from a foundation of fear rather than self-love and learned that power over the outside world does not result in a sense of security. No doubt you have indulged in the need to accumulate material goods, only to discover they did not bring lasting comfort or peace. What now?

At this stage of spiritual development the question becomes: how much power do you need to harness in what ways in order to fulfill your purpose?  What do you need to power up your dreams, and which dreams reflect your truest spiritual goals? This is a qualitatively different question that extends way beyond your third chakra into the very ground beneath your feet and very heavens above your head. It is a question the successful answer of which requires a unity of purpose involving every one of your chakras, including the ones outside of your physical body. It is a question that necessitates taking into consideration your individual space as well as the collective space around you, weighing what is within you as well as outside of you. It moves the subject from what you need to survive, into the territory of what you need to thrive.

And it is a question that can be a quite tricky because the universe is infinitely abundant. Therefore the amount and kind of power that you can potential wield is similarly endless. With great power comes great response-ability. The challenges in terms of “getting it right” as well as “getting it wrong”–(not that either, in Truth, is even a possibility)–are much more profound.

You know I can’t tell you the answer(s) to these questions for you. That would be an abuse of my power. But I would like to offer this community some gentle reminders to keep in mind as you explore the question of how much power you as an individual need to wield in what manner.     

First of all, remember that what you put out in the universe, comes back to you . . .often greatly magnified. This is the essence of the “Golden Rule,” a version of which underlies every major religious tradition. “Doing onto others as you would have them do unto you” is not about judgment and retribution. It is very practical advice that validates energetic reality.

If you use your power unwisely, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Maybe not right away. Maybe not in the exact same manner.  Remember that for spirit there is no time and space.  But ultimately there is no escaping the Supreme Justice of the universe. 

Every day I watch folks get lost in their programming about this principle. In the current time frame when society is trying to root out the social injustices in which we have all participated, many well-intentioned people are massively confused about how justice really works. They frequently look at our cumbersome, flawed justice system, see the less-than-ideal sometimes horrible outcomes, and condemn everyone and everything associated with these cases. Often I feel tremendous sadness for these critics. I can validate their heartfelt desire to find justice but I also know almost exactly for what they are signing up with their judgment.  The I-want-the-things-that-I-want-instantly and the I-deserve-it programming to which many in the United States have been highly indoctrinated is not helpful on a soul level.   

One trouble with instant gratification from a spiritual perspective is that it is usually a form of magical thinking. That does not mean it is impossible to achieve or necessarily undesirable. It does mean that as a form of creativity goes, it minimally involves the body as a vehicle for that creativity. One might say that it can be ultimately unsustainable. Cartoon by Steve Moore used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Get real, folks. Only God is perfect. The rest of us flawed individuals are just trying to figure out how to live in the highest vibration of Truth, embodying the greatest quantity of Justice that we can muster at any one point. It takes time to correct power imbalances in our individual reality, and it requires us to give each other lots of space in our collective lives. Choose just words and actions in your own life. Speak up with fiery but neutral and loving language when you encounter injustices in the world-at-large. Take whatever respectful actions you can. And then step back. Leave it at that for now. You can’t force others or even yourself onto the “right” path.

Second of all, remember that you create everything that is going on in your life.  This is the other concept about which even the smartest, most insightful folks are often incredibly confused, even those who prioritize spiritual development.

There are no villains, only people who are making bad choices who are giving you the opportunity to heal and grow. In the situations that the Supreme Justice of the Universe aka God presents to you that seem hurtful, unjust or just plain horrible, you still get to choose your reaction, including whether or not you want to energetically clear the pictures and end the cycles in order to move on in this lifetime or another.

It you want to take this concept into the time-space framework, keep in mind that you cannot change the past and sometimes certain aspects of the present; but you can change other aspects of the present, and thereby your future.  In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, this theme appears many places but these words are from First Peter, Chapter 3, Verses 8-9.

Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but rather, repay them with a blessing, because to this you were called, so that you too may inherit a blessing. 

Another World is indeed possible but you will have to give up your need to “fix” others to find it. Picture by social activist and artist RIcardo Levins Morales based upon the 19th Flammarion engraving, used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Third of all, you can safely access and use all the energy you need to fulfill your spiritual mission, your purpose for being. You can work with a TREMENDOUS amount of power, a quantity and quality beyond your wildest dreams and not get in any trouble with the universe under one condition. You must work with that energy from within your own space. Have you noticed how obsessed the world is with images of superpowers and superheroes recently? That is us, trying to remind ourselves that we each individually have what it takes to work with a huge amount of power. The solutions are endless.

Remember that power is not good or bad. It just is. The universe has an infinite quantity of it set aside for your personal benefit. As long as you are trying your best to abide by the one law the Creator gave us, the law of free will, ultimately you do not have to be concerned about anything coming back to “haunt” you. 

Quick reminder: What is free will? Again, this is a concept most people have trouble identifying accurately through all their programming. Technically speaking though, it is actually simple. You have to create from within your own energy system. If you do not like what is happening outside of yourself, you need to change something within yourself. That is the trajectory. That is the only one the really works. The tricky part for most people is that to follow that trajectory, you have to have gotten enough in touch with yourself to sense where you end and where others begin. So back to the kicking-out-foreign-energy thing.

If you try to create your life in someone else’s space, this misuse of power at the very least will set you back, as well as the other person; and keep you spinning on the carousal of karma.    

Fourth, respecting free will means you operate from the viewpoint that you are totally and 100% responsible for you; and 100% not responsible or at least not solely responsible for anyone else. (It gets a little tricky with children). Everything that happens in the collective space between individuals requires the agreement of all involved for it to be a pure unadulterated form of power, rather than the misuse of it. You can help friends and family all you want. . .as long as they agree they want your help. However, you need to give up the habit of trying to require others to change. Sometimes even if someone else wants your help that does not mean that you should provide it, if doing so is not a good choice for you. 

People are at various stages of awareness about various aspects of the world, according to the timing of their own spiritual journey. One cannot force another to see what is true. But you can open your own eyes and thereby shine more light onto others. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Respecting the energy space of others means YOU and all those in your sphere of influence, that is to say all embodied as well as unbodied spirit you are channeling through or through whom you are channeling, need to honor agreements. And yes, you are doing some form of channeling if you are human. This includes whatever saints, spirit guides or other heavenly buddies with whom you are working, whether or not you work with them consciously or unconsciously. The universe will eventually call you out if you are pretending to yourself that your hands are clean while an unconscious part of you is asking others to do the dirty work of forcing others to your will. You are 100% responsible for you, even in those dark places where you have given away your power. 

Many or most people are so unaware of what is going on within themselves that they are under the illusion that everything internal is themselves. In truth, we all channel the energy belonging to others, particularly family members and people with whom we otherwise share a closeness. Your body was made just for you! Reclaim it, step and step. The initial lessons for people often involve learning to be amused by how much we give away our power. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

Again, a quick reminder: You can freely ask for help for others from the divine as well as some select beings such as the ones we often label angels who are doing the bidding of the divine. These forces do not invade free will. Be prepared, however, if the Creator-of-Us-All or its helpers declines to provide the type of assistance you deem necessary.     

Finally and Fifth of all, Keep in mind that each individual soul has a different mission for their life.  Consequently, the amount of power each of us must learn to safely operate can vary hugely. . .and this has nothing whatso ever to do with worthiness. We are all equal in the eyes of God, even as we all have a unique and vital role to play, however it might appear on the surface. Some roles do not require a lot of power.

Clear your competition pictures if you find yourself envying the power of another, whether it comes in the form of wealth, social status, opportunities, amount of information, skills or talents, whatever. These pictures are not only setting you up for ongoing suffering, they are also a sure indication that you are on a detour whereby you are essentially procrastinating about finding your own path, your own joy, your own peace. 

Peace of mind and heart comes to those who learn to live within their own God-given space; and let go of any need to force others to a path created by their wishes or desires. Image used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

As the Christ has told us in John, Chapter 14, Verse 27:

Peace I leave to you, My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Copyright 2021 by Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

This song is perhaps a little “darker” than necessary for many–full of Old Testament vibes. But perhaps consider it’s essential truth. Used in accordance with Fair Use Principles.

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

 

 

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

Money in Apocalyptic Times

 

From a Sermon given Autumn Equinox Worship Service  September 2017

Last time when this community came together for the Summer Solstice, the topic was learning to co-create with God.   I talked about how as our world falls apart and as we start to even begin to think about putting the pieces back together, we are going to need to change the way we think, in order to create a new world under the direction of the light within each us, that spark of divinity within each of us that every human can access if they so desire.   I also talked about the need to let go of ego, get out of our own way, and this time, create a world in conjunction with the divine and not in opposition to it.

Today I want to talk with you about a specific system that we are going to have to redesign:  our monetary system.  Economics is only one of the systems humans have created that are now in our collective way but it is a pivotal system; and one that must be changed rather quickly in order to keep the majority of us from prolonged and excruciating suffering.

You all have been aware of the extreme weather events this summer and fall.  And I’m sure you also aware that these events are very costly in monetary terms as well as psychological terms.  At a time when the national government is telling our State that it does not have any more funds to help us fight the wildfires that are destroying our forests, the potential costs from Hurricane Harvey alone is somewhere over 200 billion dollars.

Hurricane Harvey, near Rockport, Texas

That doesn’t even take into consideration Hurricane Irma, Maria or the fact that we’re not even done with hurricane season this year; recent and upcoming earthquakes, floods, fires or the wall that the President wants to build between the US and Mexico, the 80 billion increase of the military budget that Republicans have just approved.  Certainly there is nothing set aside to deal with the economic costs of the whatever major future slaps in the face Mother Nature has in store for us until we decide to understand and respect what she has to say.   In the world of shrinking resources that we all live in, the resources that we have been recklessly squandering and consuming like there is no tomorrow have shrunk to the point that tomorrow really is in question.

All currency derives its value ultimately from the agreement of the people in the country where it is in use.  In the United States, the dollar enjoys the” full faith and credit” of the U.S. Government.   This is actually a phrase from our constitution.  But the government itself in our country is in the process of being destroyed, at least the government as we know it.  Many have speculated that we will experience a collapse of our monetary system.  We could see something like occurred in Germany in the last days of World War II after the energetic tide had turned against the Germans.   The Reich mark became obsolete; people burned them in their fireplaces for heat, and resorted to trading cigarettes to purchase items from each other.

I don’t imagine the total collapse of the U.S. dollar is going to occur.  It’s not that I’m overly optimistic about the road ahead.  It’s more that I think other factors will destroy us before our currency goes belly up.  What I do think is that we’re going to see some profound changes in how we view and how we use money.  So let’s talk about this “medium of exchange” that most of us use daily with little awareness.  Let’s look at it from a spiritual perspective and let’s see if we can help swing the inevitable changes to our monetary system in a direction that minimizes suffering.

A popular aphorism is that money is the root of all evil.  Like many aphorisms, that one is a little simplistic. . .but there is a kernel of truth underneath.  Our currency is just paper.  Are these pieces of paper the root of all evil?  Not really. As quoted in the invocation to this service, money is not the root of all evil, love of money is. Our currency is a reflection of and often the continuing source of a HUGE amount of abuse of power.

Hopefully you all have had a chance to take a look at the sermon on our website written 17 years ago about where the economic energy has been going for the last 10,000 years or so.    https://churchoftheharvest.info/2013/02/20/the-economy-i-where-were-coming-from-2/  ) For thousands of years humans have increasingly engaged in business deals that too often involve exchanging goods and services in a manner to increase glory, power, status, and hedonistic pursuits.   These days it’s just a given that the marketplace is almost exclusively about exploitation.  Our societies honor and glorify those individuals and cultures that grab up the most power, the most resources.  That energy, that way of doing business, that way of thinking about the world we create, saturates our money to its core.

Currency is paper.   It’s about 75% cotton, 25% linen.   It’s neither good nor bad.  It’s a piece of paper that can be used to create a world based on heavenly principals, or one that can be used to create Hell- on-Earth.  Our task these days is to de-energize it and strip it of its abusive qualities; and if we can’t do that over time, well then I guess we will have to burn it in our fireplaces or whatever.  How do we do that?  Simply by the way we use it.  If enough of us change our thinking and our actions, and use money as a neutral medium of exchange and not as the instrument of abuse that it has become, we will shift the economic tide in this country.

Money is a major symbol in our country.   We even recognize that factor by stamping it in indelible ink with some of our dearest images.

So let’s talk about symbols for a bit.  As a community of meditators you all are somewhat aware of the incredible power of symbols.  One symbol can contain billions and trillions of bits of energy.   Symbols are to the world of energy what super hard drives are to computers.  When we want to store a lot of thoughts, emotions, programming, and other bits of energy in our bodies or in the world at large, we create a symbol as the shell that contains that energy.  A symbol is like a humongous compressed file.

These symbols were created by the US Army to alert all personnel of the imminent danger of mass destruction. As one could imagine, running into any of these symbols would cause a very strong visceral reaction for the viewer who recognized it.

You can create a symbol that is stored in your own space for your personal use; or you can be subject to a symbol that is outside your body that is collectively shared by thousands or millions of other people. You may or may not have noticed that our country is quite interested in symbols these days.  It’s a part of the waking up process going on, the learning that many are doing on how not be fooled by surface appearances.  Recognizing what is really going on underneath has always been the important part but many people have not known that until recently.   But after all, we are living in the apocalypse.  I remind you that the word apocalypse comes from the Greek, meaning the uncovering of hidden knowledge.  Humans are waking to the fact that symbols are full of power, although like any manifestation of energy we often greatly disagree at what to do with all that power.

Symbols can be incredibly useful and they can also be divisive. They can keep people confused about reality because while some of them are static, many symbols change their energy and therefore their meaning over time.  The rose is an example of a symbol that has changed very little over the centuries. The rose depicts the soul or individual spirit manifested in life.  An example of a symbol that has changed a great deal is the swastika.  The swastika was a symbol for good luck and well-being used for thousands of years in sacred Sanskrit and Buddhist texts, by ancient Greeks, Christians, Nordic cultures and the Navajo,

was adopted by Coca Cola, the Boy Scouts and the Girls Club of America before being hijacked by Nazi Germany.

If you want to see how confused people are about symbols, all you have to do is watch people argue about confederate statues, whether it’s OK or not for athletes to sit during the national anthem, students to refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, or whether or not we should be celebrating Columbus Day as a national holiday.  We are not really arguing about history or what are correct social actions, what we are arguing about is how the power of a symbol is going to be used, what you will sometimes hear me refer to as “setting the energy.”   In the previous example, for example, is the swastika going to be used to promote a sense of well being or to promote hatred?

Taking down a statue of Napoleon, circa 1871.

Veneration of an image of Stalin during the post-communism purge of monuments.

 

 

 

 

 

You see the biggest problem with symbols, apart from the fact that they can confuse things because they can have different meanings for different people,  is that they can and often are used to control the minds of individuals who have not yet found themselves.  Symbols have SO much energy that they can overwhelm people and almost poison their thinking.  If you want to see an example of that, watch films of Hitler addressing the Germans during Nuremberg rallies from 1935 on.  You don’t have to speak German or even know what he is saying.   The symbols are intimidating, the emotional sense of the rallies is terrifying, and you can almost see the brainwashing that is occurring as the energy of the symbols overwhelms any rational thought process.  The audience becomes a mob willing to do whatever it takes to please Hitler.

Like many despots and cult leaders, Hitler was a master at using symbols to intimidate, dominate, and psychologically enslave. This is from his declaration of war against the United States in 1941.

Our currency is a major national symbol that has accumulated energy over 200 years and more.  In our country we have so lost our space to the dollar such that it is essentially worshiped. 

We need to change that, to topple the American dollar off its pedestal, to return it to its rightful status as just a shortcut to fair exchanges between people.   Ironically, this would be returning the dollar to one of the symbols we have printed upon it:  In God We Trust.

I have LOTS of ideas on the topic of how to change the energy of the US currency but this morning  I primarily want to talk about three economic areas. . .and then maybe hit you with a bonus round.   These are things you all know, but hopefully after our time together, you will see them more from a spiritual perspective, and be more able to help our country and world heal.

FIRST:  Spend less. Figure out how to cut down on the amount of money you actually use in pursuit of your life. Make sure that everything you acquire is something you actually need and not something you bring into your life because you can. Don’t allow your desires to be in charge of your monetary practices; or submit to the programming we all receive in massive quantities to be consumers.

I’m not talking here about deprivation.  I am talking about being mindful and frugal.  Give your body everything it needs in terms of the basics of good food, well-designed clothing and a decent home that allows you to rest and recharge; and also feed your soul with great company, music, art, traveling, whatever. You don’t have to be a Mahatma Gandhi with only a robe and a tattered copy of the Bhagavad Gita to your name.  That was his path; you have yours.  Create and use shared resources when you can:  tool banks, renewable energy coops, community land trusts, etc.  And live more simply.

Don’t spend money you really don’t need to be spending even if you have it.  Because when you do spend money recklessly, the energy of money is controlling you, not the other way around.

Would any of you feel anxiety if I tore up a dollar in front you? That’s the programming speaking.  That’s the stuff that says these pieces of paper have intrinsic value that might go away if you don’t hoard them or convert them to other “valuable” items.

Cover the financials basics and accumulate enough of these pieces of paper for a small safety net for you and your family.  And then give the rest away to the people and causes that don’t have the basics.   You don’t need much of a safety net.  Because trust me when I tell you that if the world makes it through the next couple of years, it will be because we have actually integrated the knowledge that we each of us is connected to all other life, human animals and non human animals; and we have taken our commitment to that Truth and translated it into the action of sharing what we have with others.  And if we don’t come to the realization of that essential Truth, no amount of money is going to save us, not even the millionaires and billionaires among us.

SECOND:  Figure out how to cut down on the amount of money you actually use by getting money out of the middle of your transactions with other people whenever you can.  It’s cleaner that way; and it de-energizes currency.  Obviously you are going to have to send your mortgage payments to some anonymous worker at a financial institution somewhere and meet certain other obligations in “cold, hard cash.”  Acting like that for all of your financial interactions, however, is like people who have a lot of casual sex and never experience the real human connection of intimacy.

Essentially, we need to be creating a peer-to-peer economy where all of us are both producers and consumers, with minimal use of intermediaries.  So get your produce from the farmer down the street or join a Community Supported Agricultural network if you are in an urban area.  Sell or give to your neighbors  the extra flowers or the raspberries you have grown at your place or the hats and scarves you have knit.   Or if what you have to give is time rather than money, pick the apples off the trees that your elderly neighbor owns but no longer has the mobility to harvest, bake fruit pies for yourself and your neighbor and the local food bank.  Bartering is how humans did financial transactions for centuries before money came into the picture and “dirtied up” the process.

THIRD:  Connect the dots.  Those of us with money have been telling each other for years to become informed consumers.  Mostly, however, what we have meant is that we want to learn how to get the best possible deal.  Our financial transactions have gotten lost in the power struggles.  So we think we’re really smart when we get a good deal from a store; rather than being really dumb and not noticing that who is really paying the extra money we think we are saving.  Are we profiting off the employees of the store that are paid less than a living wage, the prisoners, the children, or other slave labor that produced the goods we are buying;  the orangutans or tigers that were burned alive in their habitat for the palm oil that makes our baked items just a tad cheaper?

from the Ricardo Levin Morales Art School

We’re better than this.  We have to be.  We are being called to a higher level.   Connect the dots.  And yes, it’s a lot of time and attention to do something other than consume mindlessly, but our ignorance is destroying our world. Whenever you need to purchase either goods or services, make sure your transactions are based on fairness for every part of life touched by that transaction.  With your dollars and cents vote for the world you want to see; not the one that allows you a bigger share of the economic (power) pie.

AND FINALLY, here is the bonus round:  Every now and then give your money away in a manner that brings you nothing whatsoever.  Make donations anonymously and/or to groups that need money but cannot give you a tax write-off or aren’t in a position to thank you for your gift. We all need to be doing this not only because it is the right thing to do, but because each of us needs to practice giving unconditionally.

Each of us needs to be creating the energy of unconditional love, in atonement for our past sins, in anticipation of a future where we are more able to accept unconditional love ourselves; and in the joyful companionship with that part of us that is aligned with our Creator. 

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the big picture.  That’s what the apocalypse is all about.  We are attempting to transition our world from conditional love of a few, to the unconditional love of all.  GO THERE NOW!  God bless the entire world, no exceptions.

 

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

 

 

 

Living the Lie; Seeking the Truth in the Digital Age

From a Sermon given Spring Equinox Worship Service March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Neurons, Photo by Heiti Paves

Two neurons communicating.  Photo by Heiti Paves.

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

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

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

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

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

Meditation According to the Buddha

The Buddha lived circa 500 to 400 BCE.

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

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

Confucius lived from 551 to 479 BCE.

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

Christ Underwater, Key Largo, Photo by Lawrence Cruciana

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

SPOILER ALERT:  Meditation greatly facilitates this process.

Listen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you God

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

Freemont Troll

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

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

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

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

and behold there is a beam in your own eye?                         

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

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

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

Copyright 2017 by the Rev. Dr. Resa Eileen Raven

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