FROM THE DARK NIGHT TO THE DAY LIGHT
This is a very powerful month here at Unity of Castro Valley as we are looking at how to do life in a more conscious and connected way by addressing real life - human life - issues using our Unity principles and adding-in wisdom from Gregg Braden's book Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer.
As a brief reminder, last week we looked at the First Secret of the Lost Mode of Prayer and it is what? Who remembers? "Feeling is the prayer."a And in the context of last week, we looked at that secret in terms of moving into a place of feeling, truly feeling, that whatever it is we are praying about is already done.
I shared the example of praying rain, not praying FOR rain. We pray abundance, we don't pray FOR abundance. We pray health, rather than pray FOR health. We pray love, rather than praying FOR love. Why? Because as we pray FOR something, we empower the "what isn't"! But as we feel it already done in our prayers, we empower our dreams and desires. We also talked about how that really isn't a secret in Unity.
Remember New Thought author Christian Larson in The Pathway of Roses, wrote: "And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I know that thou hearest me always. - John 11:41 This beautiful statement was given before the answer to the prayer was received and is therefore an illustration of the very highest form of supreme faith. To thank God after you have received what you asked for is simple; any heart can, at such a time, be full of sublime gratitude, but to thank God before you have received what you intend to ask for, and feel the fullness of that gratitude thrill every fibre in your entire being - that is spirituality indeed. Likewise, to be able to say that you know that God hears you always; only the mind that is in the spirit can make such a statement and pray in this manner, but that alone is real prayer."b
And while we may know this intellectually, the important thing is to actually feel it in our hearts and in our bodies. And last week, we had a chance to do just that.
Our topic today, based on the Second Secret of the Lost Mode of Prayer, can be a little heavy -- although we will do something amazingly powerful with it -- so I want to start with something light. It's a really, really bad joke about answered prayer, so are you ready for it? Are you sure? OK, don't say I didn't warn you!
A lady goes to her priest one day and tells him, "Father, I have a problem. I have two female parrots, but they only know how to say one thing."
"What do they say?" the priest inquired. They say, "Hi, we're hookers! Do you want to have some fun."
"That's obscene!" the priest exclaimed. Then he thought for a moment.
"You know," he said, "I may have a solution to your problem. I have two male talking parrots, which I have taught to pray and read the Bible. Bring your two parrots over to my house, and we'll put them in the cage with Frank and Jacob. My parrots can teach your parrots to pray and worship, and your parrots are sure to stop saying that phrase in no time."
"Thank you," the woman responded, "this may very well be the solution."
The next day, she brought her two female parrots to the priest's house. As he ushered her in, she saw that his two male parrots were inside their cage, holding rosary beads and praying. Impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them.
After a few minutes, the female parrots cried out in unison: "Hi, we're hookers! Do you want to have some fun?"
There was stunned silence. Shocked, one male parrot looked over at the other male parrot and exclaimed, "Put the beads away, Frank. Our prayers have been answered!"
Remember, I warned you!
Back to our topic at hand. It is "From the Dark Night to the Day Light," and we are going to continue to talk about "feeling is the prayer," but in a different way. And, as I promised, we would look at real life issues each week, the real life issue we are going to look at today is the real life issue of hurt and pain. Not something we really want to talk about, is it? We would just as soon not go there.
The Second Secret to the Lost Mode of Prayer, according to Gregg Braden, says this: "Hurt is the teacher, wisdom is the lesson."c
And because I'm not a big believer in the idea of being taught lessons in this life, I am going to rephrase it a bit and say: "Hurt is the vehicle, wisdom is the gift."
And living from the deep and powerful impact of those eight words has the ability to shine the light of day into the darkest of nights.
HURT IS THE TEACHER, WISDOM IS THE LESSON
Braden writes: "How we deal with loss and tragedy is a question that each of us will have to answer during our lifetime. Although the experience of hurt is universal, what we do with our hurt is not. If we allow the pain of life's disappointments and losses to linger unresolved, it can destroy our health, our lives and the very relationships that we most cherish. If, on the other hand, we can find wisdom in our hurt, we can give new meaning to the most painful experiences. In doing so, we become better as people - for ourselves, for our families and for our communities. This is the way we build a better world."d
Wow. That's packs quite a wallop. Doesn't it? So much so that I want to read it again with some commentary.
* "How we deal with loss and tragedy is a question that each of us will have to answer during our lifetime." Has anyone in this room not experienced a loss or a tragedy or a hurt or a painful, gut-wrenchingly painful experience as you are doing life? I think not! So his next statement is totally accurate, which is . . .
* ". . . the experience of hurt is universal, . . .Yes it is.
* . . . what we do with our hurt is not. Let's just stop for a moment here. "What we do with our hurt is not." This is rhetorical, but the question to pose this morning is what have you done with yours? Is it still a dark night for you? Or has it been transmuted to daylight?
I know of a spiritual woman, Rev. Hilda Villaverde. She used to do a women's group and for many years she, another colleague did women's retreats together. She was an absolutely light. Clear. Joy filled. On purpose. Hilda wrote a book entitled Living on the Other Side of Fear. And in it, she talks about her abusive and painful childhood.e You NEVER would have known that from being with her today. NEVER in a million years. She took the abuse and pain from her childhood and the fear it created in her and turned it into her greatest assets - her gifts of empathy, clarity, love, purpose and spiritual power. She most definitely turned the dark night into day light.
On the other hand, we all know people who 20, 30, 40 years after the fact are still talking about and living from a past hurt.
Braden goes on to tell us what to expect depending on the answer we just gave: * "If we allow the pain of life's disappointments and losses to linger unresolved, it can destroy our health, our lives and the very relationships that we most cherish. If, on the other hand, we can find wisdom in our hurt, we can give new meaning to the most painful experiences. In doing so, we become better as people - for ourselves, for our families and for our communities. This is the way we build a better world."
But sometimes the pain feels unbearable, doesn't it? It feels like you can't breathe. Can't take another step. Just can't do it.
I know we have heard the statement: "God never gives us more than we can handle." Or the one attributed to Mother Teresa: "I know God never gives me more than I can handle, I just wish he didn't trust me so much!"f
But honestly, when we are going through a difficult time, we want to smack whoever says that right?
Well, Braden suggests that that is actually, scientifically shown to be the truth. He writes in Secrets: "So, how much pain can we bear? According to ancient traditions, the answer to this question is brief, clear and straightforward. The great challenges of life appear to us when, AND ONLY WHEN, we have everything we need to survive and heal from the experience. . . . In this uncomplicated assertion, we're being offered a promise that has withstood the test of time and can now be verified by science. We already have all we need to survive life's [pain]. . . . While we may find comfort and insight in self-help books, magazine articles and seminars, the spiritual tools we need already exist within us."g
"Can now be verified by science," he writes. What science? Well not being a scientist, I am not even going to try to describe the science, but let us say it has to do with numbers (fractal geometry to be exact!) and balance. The bottom line is that science and fractal geometry have shown that there is a never-ending dance between balance and chaos in nature. Balance can only come when all of the patterns are in place to support it.
Secrets: "Whether or not we're conscious of this principle, no matter what life brings our way, when we find a ‘crisis' at our doorstep, we already have everything we need to solve the problem, heal the hurt and survive the experience. We must, because it is nature's way."h
I've often used the phrase "life doesn't happen to us, it happens FOR us." That phrase seems pretty appropriate here!
Braden goes on to write: "The power of wisdom, beauty and prayer described by many ancient traditions has been discovered through modern experiences. For example, the underlying theme in the knowledge of the Navajo is based in recognizing the relationship between the pain in the outer world and the wisdom and love in their hearts. Although unquestioningly different experiences, hurt, wisdom and love appear to be closely linked through an odd and perhaps unexpected relationship. Through our hurt, we're shown our capacity to feel - the deeper the hurt the more powerful the feelings. In our deepest feelings of pain, we discover the depth of our capacity to love."i
And there it is. There's the wisdom. "In our deepest feelings of pain, we discover the depth of our capacity to love."
Simply put, hurt is the price that we sometimes pay to discover that we already have the love we need to heal ourselves, others and the world. Sometimes, merely, knowing the relationship between wisdom, hurt and love is enough to catapult us to the other end of the extreme and to healing.
But if it isn't, I want to offer something that is presented by "Heart Math." And, as the briefest of explanations, it is all about creating a coherence between the brain and the heart. Between thought and feeling.
The heart has now been proved to have ‘brain cells" in it. When we have coherence between the two, we have access to wisdom, intuition, physical healing, vitality. In a simple, but profoundly powerful three-step process, we can build the pathway between head and heart to create the resonance. Today we are going to create the resonance and then invite wisdom into the field that we create.
Come with me please by closing your eyes, relaxing into your seat, allowing yourself just to be.
First, turn your attention, your focus to your heart. To bring your focus to your heart, it might help to gently place your fingers at the place of your physical heart. Now, with no pressure of doing it correctly, just have your attention gently rest on your heart.
Next, consciously slow down your breathing - count 5 seconds in; 5 seconds out
Finally, feel care, appreciation, gratitude and/or compassion. And let us stay with those feelings for a few minutes.
Now that we have created a coherence between the head and the heart, let us ask this question into this beautiful field:
What wisdom is wanting to reveal itself to me through a pain, loss or hurt?
And so today, we stand in that wisdom. We stand in the knowing that God's eternal loving presence is right here in the middle of it all urging us forward every step of the way. Today we stand in that Truth and wisdom. And so it is.
aGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer
bChristian Larson The Pathway of Roses, p. 181
cGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer
dGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, p. 42
eRev. Hilda Villaverde. Living on the Other Side of Fear
gGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, p. 44
hGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, p. 50
iGregg Braden Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer, p. 78