LET'S GET REAL ABOUT LIFE
As we continue our month of Getting Real, today we get real about life. By "life," I mean life with a lower case "l," this human life and our life experience with all the twists and turns, ups and downs, joys and sorrows - you know, the full gamut it brings. You are familiar with the full gamut, aren't you?
And, I am also talking about Life with an upper case "L", . . .
. . . about which Charles Fillmore says in Talks on Truth: " We find that life is a principle; that it is inherent in Being, everywhere present at all times; that it is manifest to consciousness through vehicles; that these vehicles are animated by life according to their capacity or power to express it; that that capacity or power of expression is governed by the idea of life that is infused into it by the generative energy of the I AM."a
So, today we are going to Get Real about the interplay between lower case "l" life and upper case "L" Life. And, I hope that referring to lower case "l" life and upper case "L" Life sounds familiar to you because we spent an entire month last fall looking at those two concepts. And today we will again in a little different way.
I want to begin with a parable that we will unpack this morning. And as I share it, just be present for whether you see yourself anywhere in it.
THE RIVER'S JOURNEY
Once upon a time there was a joyful stream of water, dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. She soon became a young and beautiful young river finding her way among the hills, forests and meadows.
As she continued to wind her way gracefully among the hills and meadows, her greatest desire was to go to the ocean.
Then one day she noticed the clouds. Clouds of all sorts of colors and forms. She became mesmerized and from that moment on, she did nothing but chase after clouds. She wanted to possess a cloud, to have one for herself. But clouds float and travel in the sky and they are always changing their form.
Because of the impermanent nature of the clouds, the river suffered very much. Her life became about chasing after clouds, one after another, but because she never could catch one, despair, anger and resentment entered her heart.
Then one day a strong wind came and blew away all the clouds in the sky. The sky became completely empty and so did the river. She thought that life was not worth living, for there were no longer any clouds to chase after. She wanted to die, but how can a river cease to be?
That night, the river had the opportunity to go back to herself for the first time. She had been running for so long after something outside of herself that she had never seen herself. That night, for the very first time, she heard her own crying, the sounds of the water crashing against the banks of the river. Because she was able to hear her own voice, she discovered something quite important.
She realized that what she had been looking for was already in herself. A voice from within whispered to her that clouds are nothing but water. Clouds are born from water and will return to water. And she found out that she herself is also water.
The next morning when the sun was in the sky, she discovered something beautiful. She saw the blue sky for the first time. She had never noticed it before. She had only been interested in clouds, and she had missed seeing the sky, which is the home of all the clouds. Clouds are impermanent, but the sky is stable. In that moment, she realized that the immense sky had been within her heart since the very beginning. This great insight brought peace and happiness. As she saw the vast wonderful blue sky, she knew that her peace and stability would never be lost again.
That afternoon the clouds returned, but this time she did not want to possess any of them. She could see the beauty of each cloud, and she was able to welcome all of them.
When a cloud came by, she would greet it with loving kindness. When that cloud wanted to go away, she would wave to it happily and with loving kindness. She realized that all clouds are her. She didn't have to choose between clouds and herself. Peace and harmony existed between her and the clouds.
That evening something wonderful happened. When she opened her heart completely to the evening sky she received the gift of a full moon -- beautiful, round, like a jewel within herself. She had never imagined that she could receive such a beautiful gift.
She received the gift of that beautiful moon within her heart and in that moment the water, the clouds and the moon took one another's hands and walked slowly, slowly to the ocean.
That is a beautiful story, isn't it? But, what does it have to do with Getting Real about life/Life? Let's look at three pieces from it.
1. THE PURITY, BEAUTY AND INNOCENCE WE ARE BORN WITH
The river began by being a joyful stream of water, a spring always dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. As she grew, she beautifully winded her way gracefully among the hills and meadows, and her greatest desire was to go to the ocean.
Doesn't that describe the purity, beauty and innocence with which we come into this world? We teach in New Thought that we are born in original innocence not in original sin like many of us were told.
And there is something innately in us that yearns to retain the connection to Source we came in with. I believe we have it at first, but the minute we come into this world we grow an ever increasing amnesia.
There is the precious story of a couple who had a 4-year-old and a newborn. You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating. The 4-year-old wanted time with the baby alone. In fact he was quite insistent and kept pushing and pushing his parents to let him have time alone with the baby.
They were, of course, concerned about leaving a newborn alone with a 4-year-old but eventually decided to turn on the baby monitor so they could hear what was going on in the baby's room and let the 4 year old go in alone.
From what the parents could tell from the baby monitor, it sounded like big brother got as close to the baby's ear as he could through the slats on the crib and whispered,
"Tell me baby, what is God like? I'm starting to forget."
So, we come into this life having that beautiful connection to Source, to Life (capital "L"), to the ocean in our parable -- innocent and pure, beautiful, playful, joyous.
And then we learn about clouds! All those things in life we want but do not have.
2. WE CHASE AFTER CLOUDS
The river's life (lower case "l") became about chasing after clouds, one after another, but because she never could catch one, despair, anger and resentment entered her heart.
In the Buddhist tradition, it says that we suffer because we chase after desires. If we had no desires, we would not suffer.
That seems to go against our New Thought teachings that says the desires in our heart are planted there by Source and it is our Divine Right to experience and express them.
So, which is it? Perhaps it's both. Perhaps the message our river is bringing us is that in this human life, we can get so caught up in chasing our clouds - whatever that looks like - and being unhappy about not having them that we lose sight of everything else and become unhappy, desperate and resentful - in other words, we suffer.
But when we quit chasing it and open ourselves up to the beauty of life (the sky, the moon), then peace and happiness occur and the clouds take on a whole new meaning.
Our power to create a life that we love living lies not in chasing after whatever our clouds are, but in loving them into our lives. In other words, not chasing after what we want but don't have, but rather loving what is.
We can love into our lives exactly what we want because the Infinite Source of Life is Love and is yearning to bring us that which we love.
In the The Art of Living, Ernest Holmes says: "You do not have to beseech Life to be good or to bring good into your life. Life is like the sun. It shines on everything. Get out of the shadows! Crawl out of your basement! Open the windows of your mind! Open the doors of your soul! Lift up your thought and let Life be to you whatever you wish It to be!"b
So we open the channels to a joyous fulfilled life by focusing on what we love, not on chasing after what we don't have.
And then the river gives us a final message -- return to the beginning, as the river did when she held hands with the sky and the moon and walked slowly, slowly to the ocean.
3. RETURN/SURRENDER TO SOURCE
Return/surrender to Source, to Life. This word, "surrender," could bring up images of giving up, waving the white flag or conceding a loss. It sounds like an act that is extremely disempowering, but oh contraire, my friends, oh contraire!
If I don't mean white flags, giving up, conceding, then what do I mean? I once heard the spiritual practice of surrender defined as: Having a belief that as deeply as we are willing to let go, Spirit is willing to fill us up.
Isn't that beautiful? Let me say that again and make it more personal. The spiritual practice of surrender means: Having a belief that as deeply as I am willing to let go, Spirit is willing to fill me up.
We could see it as a willingness to step into the unknown, the greater, the Higher Self's expression, which is never fully revealed until the moment it is revealed.
Holmes tells us in The Art of Living that: "Our highest satisfaction [in life] comes from a sense of conscious union with this invisible Life."c
And that is what this journey in life is really about. Realizing who we are in God. Returning to center, returning to Source, returning to the ocean of Life itself.
And so our beautiful example of the river's journey helped us get real about the interplay between lower case "l" life and upper case "L" Life.
As a reminder:
* We are born pure and innocent and beautiful and magnificent because we are born of Life;
* We lose our footing and sometimes our way in this life when we chase after what we want and don't have rather than loving it into being; and
* Our greatest, deepest satisfaction in this life occurs when we are in conscious union with the invisible, the ineffable, the eternal Life.
So, each day this week, spend a few moments in union and communion with Life.
aCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth, p. 40
bErnest Holmes The Art of Living p. 24
cHolmes The Art of Living