WITHIN THEN WITHOUT
As I've said each week this month, here at Unity of Castro Valley we are thoroughly committed to being a catalyst for personal and collective transformation, in which the heart is opened to experience God's profound love and joy and in which divinely-inspired dreams are made manifest. This is who we are. This is what we are all about!
And if you think about distilling all of our teachings down to specific practices, I propose that there are nine of them that, when experienced in tandem , support us in living from our God-centered nature with our hearts opened and our visions and dreams made manifest. So, this month we are exploring those nine practices, and we have called them the "Divine Nine."
As a reminder, here's where we have been so far with our Divine Nine:
* Sacred Service otherwise known as Seva - which we explored the first week of the month. It is giving of our time and talent from the overflow of our Infinite Beingness and from a place of knowing that as we serve all of God's creation, we are re-enacting the loving Givingness of God and therefore expressing our own Divine Nature.
* Sacred Giving otherwise known as Tithing - which we also explored the first week of the month. It is leaving 1/10 of our supply with the Source of all our Supply and keeping and using as we see fit the remaining 90%.
*Visioning - which we explored last week, is a way to open us up to receive God's highest and best. Behind this practice is the idea that if we do not have a vision for our lives, a vision of where we want to end up (at least the end of this circle around the upward spiral of our unending evolution), then we will live our lives by default. But if we have a vision (God's higher vision than we might even have for ourselves), our lives will be lived by design.
*Affirmative Prayer - which we also explored last week, is another way to open us up to receive by accepting that higher vision.
Today we look at two more, focusing on the words of the Master Teacher Jesus, who said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things shall be added unto you."a
That's a beautiful promise, isn't it? In this service, we will deepen into this promise and into the sacred practices of meditation and visualization, one of which enables us to go within and the other to manifest the without - or the outer - and both of which empower the innate ability we all have to create a world that works for us all.
I suspect most everyone on this room is familiar with this Divine Nine spiritual practice, and I am sure many of you have a regular, ongoing meditation practice. Yeah. Good for you!
So you know the value and importance of it to regroup, to reground, to gain clarity and, most importantly, to experience a sense of Oneness with the Divine. Think for a moment of this analogy:
Let water represent the Divine. What happens when you try to grab it? Nothing! There is nothing there, right? But, if you immerse yourself in it, you experience it fully. Meditation immerses us in the Divine and is the practice that allows us to "seek ye first the Kingdom of God."
Charles Fillmore in Atom Smashing Power of Mind wrote: "Every student of Truth builds the Christ body as he constantly abides in the Christ Mind through daily meditation upon words of Truth."b
And, Christian Larson in The Pathway of Roses, wrote: "The more deeply we love the inner life and the riches of the spirit, the more spiritual and illumined we become; accordingly, we can see more and more clearly how to do all things as they should be done; our mistakes will decrease, and wrongs and evil will disappear. To love the life is to enter into the spirit of truth, and in the truth there is freedom - freedom from sickness, evil, weakness and want."c
So, we all realize the importance, the benefit of the quiet mind, but what is the challenge here? When a student once asked Ramana Maharshi, one of the 20th century's greatest Hindu sages "What stands in the way of my knowing myself or God?" he shot back "your wandering mind." Oh, yes, that wandering mind. What a pesky challenge it can be!
I absolutely love this description found in The World's Religions by Huston Smith: "The motions of the average mind, says the Hindus, are about as orderly as those of a crazed monkey cavorting about its cage. Nay, more; like the prancings of a drunk, crazed monkey. Even so we have not conveyed its restlessness; the mind is like a drunken, crazed monkey that has St. Vitus' Dance. To do justice to our theme, however, we must go a final step. The mind is like a drunken crazed monkey with St. Vitus' Dance who has just been stung by a wasp! . . . How long can the average mind think about one thing -- one thing only, without slipping first into thinking about thinking about that thing and taking off from there on a senseless chain of irrelevancies? About three and a half seconds, psychologists tell us. Like a Ping-Pong ball, the mind will alight where its owner directs it, but only to take off immediately on a jittery flight of staccato bounces that are completely out of hand. What if the mind could be turned from a Ping-Pong ball into a lump of dough, which when thrown sticks to a wall until deliberately removed? Would not its power increase if it could be thus held in focus? Would not its strength be compounded, like the strength of a light bulb when ringed by reflectors? This is the aim of [meditation]. . . . When all the senses are stilled, when the mind is at rest, when the intellect wavers not -- that, say the wise, is the highest state."d
And there it is; our wandering mind is our greatest challenge and calming it is our greatest opportunity to reach a high state of consciousness - Oneness, from which all else derives!
Chuang Tzu (Sue), an influential Chinese philosopher who lived from 399 - 295 B,C., once wrote:
When water is still, it is like a mirror . . .
and if water thus derives lucidity from stillness,
how much more the faculties of the mind?
The mind of the sage in repose
becomes the mirror of the universe."e
I could talk on and on about the virtues of meditation, scientific research about meditation, etc., but if I did, I would be like the man who came to visit the home of a well-known writer on spiritual themes who took him into his exceptionally full library. There were books on every conceivable kind of meditation, really an impressive collection.
"With all of these books on the subject," the visitor said, "you must be very adept in meditation." The host looked a little embarrassed and said, "Frankly, I'm so busy reading and studying that I don't have time to actually meditate."
So, I'm not going to talk about it anymore, and in a few moments, we will experience it. We will experience a calming of that wandering, prancing mind. But first, we will look at our second Divine Nine for today and that is . . . .
Wait a minute, didn't we already do that last week? Didn't we talk about and experience visioning last week? And isn't that the same thing??
Well, to answer your questions, "yes," we did talk about and experience visioning last week, and, "no" visioning and visualizing are not the same thing; they are, in fact, two very, very different things.
In visioning - the sacred practice we explored last week - we are open and receptive with no preconceived ideas. We are a blank canvas, awaiting inspiration from on high (actually from the depths of our being) on what the highest and best is for our lives. Visioning goes beyond what we think we want to have, to be or to do. Visioning comes first, and then comes visualization.
Visualization is putting the meat on the bones of our vision. Visualizing is seeing, in our mind's eye, our vision made manifest. Visualizing is feeling ourselves having the outer experience of the vision.
And just as important as it is for us to spend time in the silence, quieting our minds in meditation so that we might commune with the Divine, so is it important for us to spend time seeing, feeling and tasting that which the Divine has brought forth in and through us to experience.
This is a powerful Note from the Universe: "If you could take a daily pill that would profoundly speed-up the manifestation of all your dreams, would you take it without fail? I thought so.
"What if it was a big, ugly pill that took 5 minutes to dissolve on your tongue, and it tasted like medicine. Would you still do it? Yes, it would bring forth all of your dreams. Thought so.
"But what if during those 5 minutes each day you couldn't watch TV, or talk with friends, or distract yourself in any way from your chore? You'd do that too? Wow, you must really want a fabulous life!
"OK, what if you could skip the pill bit entirely, but instead you had to set aside 5 minutes a day to visualize, in a dark and quiet room, seeing your life unfold as if all your dreams were coming true, and for good measure you had to say or do something, each day, that implied the same?
"No, you can't go back to the pill idea. Yours, The Universe"f
Dr. O. Carl Simonton was a radiation oncologist and medical director of the Cancer Counseling and Research Center in Dallas when he suggested to a patient that he could influence his own disease through visualization. The patient was a sixty-one-year-old man with throat cancer so advanced that he was extremely weak and could barely swallow or even breathe. He had only a 5% chance of surviving.
Simonton taught the man very specific visualization therapy. The results were so dramatic and the recovery so remarkable that Simonton and his colleagues taught their mental imaging technique to 159 cancer patients considered incurable. Four years later:
14 of those terminal patients were disease free;
17 had stabilized;
In another 12, the cancer was regressing.
All together, an astonishing 63 of these terminal patients were still alive.g And that is the power of visualization.
So let us put both of these spiritual practices together. I want to start by using a meditation from Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn, and we will take it from there. Close your eyes and silently repeat after me as you breathe:
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.h (X3)
Breathing in, calm;
Breathing out, smile;
Wonderful moment. (X3)
(Complete silence for several minutes)
I know there is a dream that you have been desiring to manifest. So right now, visualize that dream; see it; feel it; taste it, totally experience it in full vivid colors.
Father, we do give thanks that our dream is now manifesting in our life. We are so grateful for your love and guidance in all things
And now, since it is Father's Day, I would like to pay tribute to the men we have known in our lives. I have the names of men that I would like to acknowledge. If you are present and would like to come up to pay tribute yourself, please do so. And for me this candle is in memory of my father Robert Caldwell and my son in law Kris Johnson. Is there anyone else who would like to add a man to this list?
As you look at this garden of candles, think of the men in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Men who have planted ideas in your mind and watched you grow. Men we love and hated. Men we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Men who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do. And so we grew, blossomed and produced fruit. And so we thank them.
I think fathers must have done all the things a good gardener does. They prepared good soil and had the courage to do what was right and loving for their children. They knew they could not plant everything in their lives. Time is so short, so we choose the seeds of faith in God and national identity. We plant them as often as we can. Enough seed, and surely something will grow. God provides the watering and fertilizing and weeding. We plant with our eyes on the harvest and our children surprise us with their magnificence.
bCharles Fillmore Atom Smashing Power of Mind, p. 78
cChristian Larson The Pathway of Roses, p. 115
dThe World's Religions Huston Smith, p. 48
fNote from the Universe
gArchitecture of All Abundance Dr. O. Carl Simonton pp. 231 - 232
hThich Nhat Hahn