BE-ATTITUDES, PART 1
In The Science of Mind textbook, Ernest Holmes wrote, "[Our] thought should tend more and more toward an affirmative attitude of mind that is positive, stable and -- above all else -- toward a real unity with Spirit that is already complete and perfect."a
During the month of May, we are focusing on our attitude and whether it is "toward a real unity with Spirit," which always lifts us up. Specifically this morning, we are going to look at ATTITUDES OF BEING that were taught by that great Jewish Metaphysician who walked the earth a little over 2,000 years ago.
One of his most famous teachings is found in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount and it opens with the Eight Beatitudes. Even people who don't know much Judeo-Christian scripture are most likely aware of the Beatitudes.
But whether they are truly understood is the question. And whether they are looked upon to have any real application to everyday life is another.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer."b
This morning, we are going to dig underneath the words to find that rudder! Emmet Fox in his terrific book The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living, suggests that the Beatitudes are a general summary of the whole Christian teaching.c
And they are all about our mental states -- or our ATTITUDES -- for the master teacher, Jesus, knew that if our mental states are right (aligned), everything else must be right too. And if these are wrong, nothing else can be right.
So, today, we are going to look at the teachings of Jesus that have come to be known as the "Beatitudes" - or as I like to think of them -- ATTITUDES OF BEING!
There are eight Beatitudes; eight ATTITUDES OF BEING. Now, obviously we can't go through all eight of them this morning -- So we will explore four today and four next week.
Today, the first four:
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;
Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted;
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth; and
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.d
Before delving into those four, let's look for just a moment at the two words that begin each statement: "Blessed are." According to Webster's Dictionary, "blessed" means: To invoke Divine favor upon. Why? Because these attitudes make God happy? Of course not! Because:
they align us with Universal Harmony;
they align us with the Creative Flow of Life;
they align us with the Innate Goodness of the Presence of Spirit.
That's why Divine favor is called forth! So, let's look at the first four this morning.
1. BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Right away, in this first Beatitude, we come to a point of needing to realize that terms and expressions, and sometimes actual words, are used in the Bible in a sense that is distinctly different from that of everyday usage or from the meaning that the words have today.
What does poor in spirit mean? Emmet Fox says: "To be poor in spirit does not . . . mean the thing we call "poor spirited" nowadays. To be poor in spirit means . . . . to have renounced all preconceived opinions in the wholehearted search for God. It means to be willing to set aside your present habits of thought, your present views and prejudices, your present way of life if necessary; it means to jettison, in fact, anything and everything that can stand in the way of your finding God."e
So -- Divine favor is invoked upon those who are willing to let go of the old - old thought patterns, old assumptions, old prejudices - in order to find God.
These last few words imply that God is lost, and, of course, we know that is not true. God is never lost -- but we often might think so.
In fact, there is a story of a couple who had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. The two were always getting into trouble and their parents could be assured that if any mischief occurred in their town their two young sons were in some way involved. The parents were at their wits' end as to what to do about their sons' behavior.
The mother had heard that a clergyman in town had been successful in disciplining children in the past, so she approached the minister about seeing her sons. The clergyman agreed to speak with the boys, but asked to see them individually.
The 8-year-old went to meet with him first. The clergyman sat the boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is God?" The boy made no response, so the clergyman repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?" Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the clergyman raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face, "WHERE IS GOD?"
At that the boy bolted from the room and ran directly home, slamming himself in the closet. His older brother followed him into the closet and said, "What happened?"
The younger brother replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time. God is lost and they think we had something to do with it!"
According to Emmet Fox, this first Beatitude is telling us that in order to "find" God or the Kingdom of Heaven -- or perhaps we want to rephrase that and say to "rediscover" God -- we may well need to let go of some things. Let go of old ways of thinking, let go of old perceptions of God. In other words, have an open and receptive heart.
When we come into this teaching, many of us found that we needed to "dump" a bunch of mental and emotional baggage we brought from our former religions. In fact, many of us are religious refugees!
And all of us, I think I can say quite confidently, found we needed to "dump" (which is most likely an ongoing process) some negative thought habits and patterns.
Emmet Fox writes: "The poor in spirit . . . have come to see that their most cherished beliefs may have been and probably were mistaken, and that all their ideas and views of life may be false in need of recasting. They are ready to start again at the very beginning and learn life anew, and in that process, they truly are blessed."f
So, the first ATTITUDE OF BEING says: Divine favor is poured upon those who are willing to let go of old, limiting beliefs so they shall know heavenly bliss.
2. BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED
On the surface, this says that when we are sad, God shall comfort us. OK, I understand that. But what I never understood was the blessing part. Why would those who mourn be blessed?
Remember, being blessed means to have "Divine favor" invoked upon us. Why would those who mourn receive such Divine favor?
An interesting thing about us humans -- we all can make the choice to turn to God at any time in our lives; we all can choose to reap the blessings of an awareness of our connection at any time,
but MOST of us, MOST of us, don't turn to God until we are in trouble. Isn't that the case?
Most of us do not undertake the search for God wholeheartedly until we are driven there by trouble of some kind -- health challenges, relationship challenges, money challenges, we have suffered a loss, addictions, on and on and on. We don't seek God until we are desperate!
Think for a moment what caused you turn to God. My guess is it wasn't because life was going great for you and all was rosy! Chances are it was because things looked pretty black and you didn't know where else to turn.
And therein lies the blessing. The darkness, the despair, the sadness, the mourning (to use the word here) brought us to seek comfort from God. And, according to Emmet Fox, "comfort" means experiencing the Presence of God, which is the end of all mourning.
In this Beatitude, Jesus told us that Divine favor is invoked upon those who allow their troubles to take them to a place where they can experience the Presence of God.
Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind: "All things work together for good. Even that which we call evil is salutary, leading us to the Way, the Truth and the Life. Suffering should teach us a lesson which would cause us to refrain from making more mistakes; it carries a blessing with it when we learn how to garner knowledge from the experience."g
This ATTITUDE OF BEING says those who allow their troubles to deepen their relationship with this AWESOME power that is God are blessed.
3. BLESSED ARE THE MEEK FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
According to Fox: "This Beatitude is among the half-dozen most important verses in the Bible. When you possess the spiritual meaning of this text, you have the Secret of Dominion - the secret of overcoming every kind of difficulty. It is the Jesus Christ Message reduced to a single sentence."h
Pretty powerful proclamation!!! Well, we know right off the bat with this one, that we can't take it literally -- no one is going to inherit the earth. So, obviously, there must be some deeper meaning behind at least that term in this Beatitude.
The word "earth" in the Bible does not mean merely soil, this planet we call earth. It really means manifestation, material expression. In other words, your "earth" means the whole of your outer experiences, and to "inherit the earth" means to have power to bring your conditions of life into harmony and truth.
So we see that when the Bible talks about earth, it is referring to the conditions of our lives from our bodily health outward to the farthest point in our affairs. This text undertakes to tell us how we may possess, or govern, to be masters of our own lives and destinies.
How then does Jesus suggest this is done? In a certain way. In a certain way that may seem quite unexpected -- through meekness. The fact is that the word meekness also is used in a special and technical sense. Its true significance has nothing in common with the meaning it now bears in modern English. (Showing patience and humility; gentle; easily imposed on; submissive.)
Emmet Fox says: "The true significance of the word "meek" in the Bible is a mental attitude for which there is no other single word available, and it is this mental attitude which is the secret of "prosperity" . . .. It is a combination of open-mindedness, faith in God, and the realization that the Will of God for us is always something joyous and interesting and vital and much better than anything we could think of for ourselves. . . . This mental attitude . . . . is the key to success in demonstration."i
That definition is a sermon in and of itself, which I'll do sometime - but for now let me say those three components of manifesting again: 1. Open-mindedness -- 2. Faith in God -- 3. The realization that the Will of God for us is always something joyous and interesting and vital and much better than anything we could think of for ourselves.
4. FINALLY, BLESSED ARE THEY THAT HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THEY SHALL BE FILLED
Righteousness" is another of the great Key words of the Bible, one of those keys that the reader must have in his possession if he is to get at the true meaning of the book.
Righteousness means, in the Bible, not merely right or ethical conduct, but right thinking on all subjects, in every department of life. As we study the Sermon on the Mount, we shall find every clause in it reiterating the great truth that outside things are but the expression or the outpicturing of our inner thoughts and beliefs; that we have dominion or power over our thoughts to think as we will; and thus indirectly, we make or mar our lives by the way in which we do think.
Jesus will constantly tell us in these discourses that we have no direct power over outer things, because these outer things are but consequences, or if you like, the resultant pictures of what goes on in the Secret Place.
The great law of the Universe is just this -- that which you think in your mind you will produce in your experience. As within, so without.
Bill Hornaday: "Can you afford the consequences of your thinking?"j
You cannot think one thing and produce another. If you want to bring into your circumstances harmony and happiness, you must first control your thoughts for harmony and happiness, and then the outer things will follow.
If you want health, you must first think health; and remember thinking health does not mean merely thinking a healthy body, important as that is, but it also includes thinking peace and contentment and goodwill to all, for destructive emotion is one of the primary causes of disease.
If you want spiritual unfoldment and growth in the knowledge of God, you must think spiritual thoughts -- God thoughts -- and give your attention, which is your life, to God rather than to limitation.
If you wish to be loved, you must first think thoughts of love and goodwill.
If you want material prosperity, you must first think prosperity thoughts, and then make a habit of doing so, for the thing that keeps most people poor is the sheer habit of poverty thinking.
When we awaken to a knowledge of these great truths, then we naturally begin to apply them in our lives. Realizing at last the vital importance of "righteousness" or the thinking of harmonious thoughts, we begin immediately to try to put our house in order.
The principle involved is perfectly simple, but unfortunately the doing of it is anything but easy. Now, why should this be so? The answer lies in the extraordinary potency of HABIT; and habits of thinking can be most subtle in character and most difficult to break. They happen so fast. They flow across the state of consciousness in an unbroken stream, and so rapidly that only unceasing vigilance can deal with them.
And so we might become discouraged with ourselves and indulge in a great deal of self-condemnation because we do not very speedily change our whole current of thought over the whole area of our lives. This of course is a grave mistake, since self-condemnation being essentially negative is an unrighteous thought and tends to produce still more trouble, and the vicious circle continues.
If you are not progressing as fast as you wish to, then remember this -- to be still more careful to hold only harmonious thoughts. Do not dwell upon your mistakes or upon the slowness of your progress, but claim the Presence of God within you, all the more, in the presence of discouraging circumstances.
Claim wisdom, claim power, or prosperity in prayer. Have a mental stocktaking or a review of your life, and see if you are not still thinking "unrighteously" in some section or other of your mind.
In this Beatitude, Jesus tells us not to be discouraged because we do not overcome everything at once, because our progress seems to be slow. If we are not making any progress at all, then it is for us to find out why, by examining our lives, and by praying for wisdom and guidance. But if we are moving, if things are improving, although not very quickly it may be, we have no need to be discouraged.
We need only to work on steadily and provided we are truly wholeheartedly in our efforts, provided that is to say, that we really are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, then, at last we shall surely be filled. It could not happen that a wholehearted search for truth and righteousness, if persevered in, should not be crowned with success.
Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind: "If daily, we are realizing more of Truth and applying it in our actions, then we are on the right path."k
There you have four of the eight Beatitudes. We'll explore the second four next week:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
meaning heavenly bliss is invoked upon us when we set aside preconceived notions that prevent us from connecting with our Source.
2. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted
inviting us to allow our troubles to take us to a place where we can more deeply experience the Presence of God.
3. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth
teaching us how to be manifesters in this world by:
having faith in God and
knowing that the Will of God for us is always something joyous and interesting and vital and much better than anything we could think of for ourselves.
4. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled
meaning those who stick to the idea of right thinking, one thought at a time, shall have lives transformed.
Jesus is telling us that life is an inside job! It is the journey of awakening of our soul that not only brings us to a place of peace and happiness, but that also enables us to create and manifest our external reality.
When we realize this - when we realize that life is an inside job -- we are blessed, truly blessed.
And now I would like to recognize all biological mothers, all females who have served in the role as mothers and all males who have served in the role, so let's talk about Mothers, since this is Mother's Day.
The service today is to celebrate Mother's Day as a day of universal blessing for mothers and for all the women that we honor in our lives. A day when all mothers and nurturers are enfolded lovingly in the prayers and blessings of all people everywhere. So let's take a look at Mothers.
In Reader's Digest, Jeanne Young wrote, "My children, who had forgotten to shop for Mother's Day, presented me with a homemade card. The contrite message read: "We know you deserve the very best, Mom. But we're glad you kept us anyway." It is a card I will never throw away."
And that's what being a mother is all about. Holding your children in your heart for who they are. When we honor and love them, they learn to honor and love us.
I truly believe that before we come to this world we pick the parents and the situation we want to come into so that we may develop and grow.
My Mother did not bond with me because of her own situation in life at the time I was born. But because of that, I gained the soul strength to do what I came here to do.
Somewhere, on some other plane of existence, we decide what challenges we need so that we may grow spiritually. So we put ourselves into the most atrocious situations so that we can grow up.
Or at least we THINK we grow - but let our Mother come into the room, and we are again 5 years old.
So as we think about our Mothers and others who nurtured us, let's know that they did the best they knew how to do. They too, were raised by dysfunctional mothers, who were also raised by dysfunctional mothers.
So we can sit back and blame them - or we can step up and change the pattern of dysfunctionality in our generation. Then we will be able to appreciate them for what they did for us even though they weren't perfect.
We all owe our mothers a deep and heartfelt thank you. Why do I say that? It's pretty simple -- Without her, we wouldn't be here!
So, wherever you are on the mother continuum - on one end having the most nurturing, wonderful, loving, caring mother to having, on the other end, the Wicked Witch of the West as your mother, we each owe our mothers a thank you for bringing us into this world.
Now I would like to pay tribute to the women we know. I have been sent the names of women that I would like to acknowledge.
But first I would like to invite those who wish to come forward to honor women in their lives. Please come up, place a flower in the vase and acknowledge the women in your life.
Now, the names that have been sent in to be honored are...
As you look at this vase filled with flowers, think of the women in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Women we loved and hated. Women we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Women who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do.
Blessed are the mothers of yesterday. They nurture us with loving memories and inspire us to become all we are meant to be. Blessed are the mothers of today. They hold in their hands and in their hearts the keeping of tomorrow and the destiny of our children's future. Truly, God is blessing all mothers now. Amen.
aThe Science of Mind textbook, Ernest Holmes p 53
bOliver Wendell Holmes
cEmmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living
eEmmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living
fEmmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living
gErnest Holmes, Science of Mind, p. 485.5
hEmmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living
iEmmet Fox The Sermon on the Mount: Keys for Successful Living
kErnest Holmes, Science of Mind, p. 271