WHAT WOULD ERNEST SAY?
Our monthly theme is - Interesting conversations. We started off our theme last week by having you write down questions, which were put in a basket. I then drew questions from the basket and answered them on the spot.
It also gave me the opportunity to see what's on your minds, which was my ulterior motive for starting our month off this way. I have now gone through all of your questions and picked out a number of them to look at today and many of them sparked future sermon ideas.
To give you a heads up - here are some talk topics you can expect to hear in the near future based on your questions:
Affirmative Prayer - in fact, this one is very near;
How to move out of negativity and depression;
Staying calm and centered in the middle of the storm;
Expressing and experiencing more love in your life;
And finally, you'll hear a talk entitled "Walking the Talk." Thank you, whoever wrote that one!
Those are all in the future and there are other single questions that will find their way into talks over the weeks as well, but for today, we are going to look at a grouping of questions that had a similar theme.
And they all are grouped around a seeming dichotomy in our teaching. Who knows what a dichotomy is? I looked it up just to be clear. Here's what the dictionary said: A division into two, especially into two mutually exclusive or contradictory groups.
We need to look at these concepts:
If it is all God and all Love, then why do bad things happen to good people?
How can we claim that there is "only good" when crimes against humanity perpetrated by our government, by corporations and by individuals bespeak evil?
Why does God permit terrible things to happen?
What do we say about war - what do I say?
How do we cope with and make sense of "the evil" we see in our society and the harm that is being done to our planet?
So you get the picture. These are heavy topics. They require some deep introspection and are not subject to pat answers. In fact, for some of them, we may have to move, at least in part, beyond the intellect, beyond trying to figure them out logically, beyond our heads; we may need to move to our hearts; to a place that cannot really be explained, but only felt.
So, we are going to do several things today.
WHAT ERNEST WROTE
First, I want to share with you WHAT ERNEST (and a few others) WOULD SAY on these ideas/questions. To do that, I want to share with you some direct quotes.
Second, you are going to get the Truth on how we can say there is only "good" when it sure doesn't appear that way;
And finally, we are going to turn to move out of our heads and into our hearts to be, in this moment, here today, a catalyst for God's good.
Sound like a plan?
1. FIRST, WHAT DOES ERNEST HOLMES AND OTHERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT EVIL, WAR AND WHY PEOPLE HATE
1. First, What Does Ernest Holmes and others Have to Say About Evil, War and Why People Hate
I had originally planned to take everything for today from a book published in 1935 by the Institute of Religious Science called Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind (a compilation of questions posed to and answers from Dr. Holmesa), but then I found other sources for Holmes and others that I will refer to today as well.
And, in fact, I want to begin by sharing with you a dialog that occurred between a university professor and a young student on the topic of EVIL. It pretty much is the New Thought way of thinking on this topic as well.
The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists?
A student bravely replied, "yes, he did!"
"God created everything?" The professor asked.
"Yes, sir," the student replied.
The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and, according to the principal that our works define who we are, then God must be evil."
The student became quiet before such a statement.
The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.
Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?" "Of course," replied the professor.
The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"
"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The other students snickered at the young man's question.
The young man replied, "In fact, sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat.
The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"
The professor responded, "Of course it does".
The student replied, "Once again you are wrong, sir. Darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color, but you cannot study or measure darkness. The only way you can you know how dark a certain space is is to measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."
Finally the young man asked the professor. "So, sir, you said earlier that evil exists, but does it?"
Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."
To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist, sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that we have created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."
To this, the professor sat down.
The young man's name --- Albert Einstein
Evil as defined in The Science of Mind textbook: "Evil, of itself, is neither person, place nor thing. It is an experience of the soul on its journey toward the realization of Reality and will disappear in the exact proportion that we cease using destructive methods."b
In Q&A on the SOM, EH said: "Evil is man created, while God, the Eternal Goodness, knows nothing about it. He is too pure to behold evil and cannot look upon it. Evil is the direct and suppositional opposite to good and has no reality behind it or actual law to come to its support. Let those who feel so inclined argue over the problem of evil, but see to it that in your own mind you are the offspring of good alone and you will have solved the riddle of the universe."c
There is no duality taught in Metaphysics - No good and evil; no God and the devil.
WAR & HATRED
War & Hatred
EH was relatively quiet on these topics preferring to stand "for something" rather than against something, remembering his last sermon given at the Asilomar conference in 1959 when he said: "It would be wonderful indeed if a group of persons should arrive on earth who were for something and against nothing."d
So, I didn't find much. But in the July 1955 issue of Science of Mind Magazine, he did say: "Let us realize if the world is healed of war and brought into peace, it won't have been because guns were bigger and better, or more of them. We [may] need them until it does heal itself, but that will come to pass only because somewhere along the line the balance of the scales of eternal truth shall fall on the side of peace. Let us, you and me, pray for peace and let us make our hearts fit to accept it when it comes. Let us make our intellect, and our soul, and our will and our feeling ready to receive it and embrace it even before it comes. Let us, in the stillness of our own soul go back to that ineffable Presence which is Peace and proclaim It even in the midst of confusion - that peace which is the Power at the heart of God."e
EH in Creative Living and Living the Science of Mind: "What is war? Fear! What is hatred? Fear! What is intolerance? Fear! To understand that Love overcomes both hate and fear is one of the chief requisites of a scientific mental practitioner. Love does not overcome hate and fear by argument or force, but by some subtle Power of transformation, transmutation, sublimation, invisible in Its essence but apparent through Its act."f
I want to return to that idea in a moment, but first . . .
2. TRUTH THAT IT'S ALL GOOD ACCORDING TO ME
2. Truth that it's All Good According to Me
Early in R.S. and early as a minister of R.S., I struggled with this concept. Then, this illustration was told to me and it helped me make sense of it all. A tapestry or Persian Rug is an exquisite piece of art when looked at as a whole, when viewed from its entirety. But if you were to look at just one tiny bit of it and that one tiny bit was of a color or texture that was not to your liking, you would say the rug was not beautiful, in fact you might say it was ugly. But without that "ugly" spot, the rug would be incomplete. The whole would not be whole.
The same is true with life. If we view life from the small perspective of a single incident or time period, it may not look so great. But what I know is that life is just like the Persian rug. The whole would not be the perfect whole, that we spiritually know it is, without each experience in it - even ones that we don't care for.
3. THE SOLUTION: MOVING FROM OUR HEADS TO OUR HEARTS
3. The Solution: Moving From Our Heads to Our Hearts
Einstein: "Evil is the result of what happens when we do not have God's love present in our hearts."g
Holmes: "Let those who feel so inclined argue over the problem of evil, but see to it that in your own mind you are the offspring of good alone and you will have solved the riddle of the universe."h
Holmes: "To understand that Love overcomes both hate and fear is one of the chief requisites of a scientific mental practitioner."i
Mahatma Gandhi: "When I despair, I remember that, throughout history, the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of this ... Think of this . . . always."j
In the words of the compassionate Buddha: "Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred ceases by love."k
Do you remember the story in the news a few years ago? A man had broken into a woman's home and was going to rape her, but she just talked to him. She was reading Rick Warren's book A Purpose Driven Life and talked to him about it. She treated him with kindness and love. She even cooked him breakfast. Eventually, he turned himself in without laying a hand on her.
EH in What Religious Science Teaches: "If we would look for a God of love we must look long and deeply into each other. We must look away from the differences until we penetrate into the Unity of the Whole. Love alone reveals love. Hate but hides the gleam."l
I would like for you to just close your eyes for a moment. Breathe through your heart and imagine a circle of 6 empty chairs. Then begin to bring people in the room to sit in the chairs.
First Chair: a public Avatar, universal symbol of love (Jesus, Buddha, Mother Theresa, St. Francis of Assisi)
Third Chair: Person in your past (teacher, grand parent, friend) who nurtured and unconditionally loved you
Fifth Chair: Someone in your present who nurtures and unconditionally loves you
Second and Fourth Chairs: People you would label "evil"; past or present; public figures or people in your personal life
Leave the sixth chair empty for now.
Place yourself in the middle of the circle of chairs and walk up to the first chair. Have your public Avatar stand and look at you. Look deeply into his/her eyes and feel the love that is pouring out to you. Breath it in. Really feel it.
Take that love with you and move to the person in the 2nd chair; give that same love out to that person. Observe what happens to his/her face, to their demeanor; feel a shift in the energy.
Replenish yourself by moving to chair 3 and receive love again from that person in your past who nourished and unconditionally loved you.
Take that love to the person in the 4th chair.
Replenish with the love felt from the current loving person in your life seated in chair 5.
Finally, go to chair 6, which right now is empty. Put yourself in that chair. Give yourself an outpouring of love.
Remember the words of EH: "If we would look for a God of love we must look long and deeply into each other. We must look away from the differences until we penetrate into the Unity of the Whole. Love alone reveals love."m
And so it is.
aInstitute of Religious Science Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind
bErnest Holmes The Science of Mind textbook, p. 590
cInstitute of Religious Science Questions and Answers on the Science of Mind
dlast sermon by Ernest Holmes at Asilomar conference in 1959
eJuly 1955 issue of Science of Mind Magazine
fErnest Holmes Creative Living (p. 38.2) Living the Science of Mind (p. 331.1)
lErnest Holmes What Religious Science Teaches p. 12.2