STEPS ON THE PATH, PART I
This month, we will spend time exploring how we might respond to the chaos and breakdown appearing in our world from a spiritual perspective.
And that response to the outward appearances is going to be to put on our spiritual armor, if you will. Let me be very clear here - I DO NOT mean armor which prepares us to go into battle - not at all, but armor in the sense of that which gives us strength, that which protects us and that which empowers us.
We are going to build our armor out of 15 concepts, 15 statements (three each week) spoken by the Master Jesus. Each concept, in and of itself, standing alone,
Offers us strength,
Provides us with protection and
Serves to empower us.
When you put them all together - whoa - we'll have some serious spiritual mojo working!
Now, let me be very clear about something else - just as I wanted to be very clear that I am not talking about armor for battle, I am also NOT talking about armor that is worn on the outside. Rather, I am talking about armor on the inside.
I am talking about building a CONSCIOUSNESS (an internal structure of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values and attitudes) that is strong and that can easily withstand the external winds as they blow around us - even when they look like whirling dervishes!
This month has been inspired by one of Deepak Chopra's recent books entitled, The Third Jesus. I want to share with you a description that is found on the jacket cover of the book, because in a nutshell it does three things:
- It explains the title (The Third Jesus);
- It sums up the way we, as followers of Unity, have always looked at Jesus; and
- It lays the foundation for our work together this month.
It reads: "In The Third Jesus, bestselling author and spiritual leader Deepak Chopra provides an answer to the question "Who is Jesus Christ" that is both a challenge to the current systems of belief and a fresh perspective on what Jesus can teach us all, regardless of our religious background. There is not one Jesus, Chopra writes, but three.
"First, there is the historical Jesus, the man who lived more than 2,000 years ago and whose teachings are the foundation of Christian theology.
"Next there is Jesus, the Son of God, who has come to embody an institutional religion with specific dogma, a priesthood and devout believers.
"And, finally, there is the third Jesus, the cosmic Christ, the spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. This Jesus speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience, to attain what some might call grace, or God-consciousness or enlightenment.>"a
This month, we will look to this third Jesus - the Jesus Deepak writes about, the Jesus the Fillmores taught about - as our spiritual guide for transformation into God-consciousness --- our strong, protective, empowering internal armor. Yes? Sound good?!
Today will begin building our armor with concepts found behind 3 of Jesus' statements:
- The Kingdom of Heaven is within you;
- My yoke is easy, and my burden is light; and
- Being in the world but not of it.
1. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU
1. The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You.
In Teach Us To Pray, Charles and Cora Fillmore write: "It is not a question of geographical locality but of mental recognition. Seeking the Kingdom of God within changes our whole mental viewpoint. We find ourselves right in the presence of creative Mind, and seeking to co-operate with this Mind, we receive spiritual inspiration and are guided in even the most minute details of life."b
We generally think that this place is merely a place in consciousness, not a physical place, but we have a scientist who right now is telling us that it is a physical place in our brain! That scientist's name is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Do you know who I'm talking about?
Dr. Taylorc is a neuroanatomist at Harvard Medical School who had a stroke, which shut down the left side of her brain. And as it shut down, the mind chatter - the stuff we might call "monkey mind" - also shut down.
While this all shut down, the right hemisphere remained active. And from the right hemisphere, she felt deep and abiding peace, a Universal connection, complete at-one-ment.
The stroke taught her that she has the ability - the choice - to turn to that place at any time with a simple, simple, simple thing - you've heard this before - but are you doing it!?
First, notice, pay attention, be observant of what you are thinking and what you are feeling. And when you are thinking and feeling anything less than peace:
Come back to present moment awareness.
Notice - stop - breath - and come back to present moment awareness.
This returns us to the Kingdom of Heaven, the place of peace, because it connects us with the God of our Being - who only lives in the present moment.
Charles Fillmore wrote in the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary: "Breath is the inner life flow that pulsates through the whole being. ... When any man is inspired with high ideas he breathes "into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7)."d
Try it for a moment. Just take a deep breath and bring yourself fully present here!
So, your first piece in your spiritual armor is to remember Jesus' words: The Kingdom of Heaven is within - it is in the right hemisphere of our brain. And we can access it any time we want through BREATH and present moment awareness!
2. FOR MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT
2. For My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light
Jesus said: "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."e
That's an interesting thing for a man who was hated by the powers that be and who was physically crucified to say, isn't it. Perhaps these words of Jesus are so compelling for that very reason!
Chopra suggests that with this statement, Jesus is speaking from an exalted level of consciousness, in fact using the voice of pure Spirit saying: "Be at one with me. If you do, your struggles will end." In the East, this is the promise of yoga.
I love digging into the etymology of words - the origin of words. The Sanskrit word "yoga" means "union with God." "Yoga" is also the root for the English word "yoke."
It's not a stretch to hear Jesus saying: "Union with God is easy, and my burden is lightened."
He is giving us a profound promise in these few words -- he is really telling us that life becomes more effortless as we move more and more and more into God-consciousness. The more we walk consciously aware of our at-one-ment with God - the burdens of the world are lifted, they are lessened.
I tell you, carrying the burden of the world on your shoulders is a tiresome job! And I know many of you are carrying it right now. But, with this simple statement, Jesus assured his followers that God will open the way and remove obstacles.
And I absolutely know that this is true. I have found this statement to be very, very powerful for me in my life:
God makes a way where there appears to be no way.
So when you encounter a troubling situation, sit back and remember your union with God - and allow God, Spirit, to take over, even in a small degree. Wait and see what the Universe has in mind. You will be surprised at how powerful this can be once you dedicate yourself to doing it.
And it allows us to . . . .
3. BE IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT
3. Be in the World, but Not Of It.
Jesus is asking for detachment, which isn't the same as indifference or passivity. This is an important distinction.
Chopra writes: "Through detachment you shift your allegiance away from the physical toward the spiritual. Since you are Spirit first and an individual person second, the world is actually in you. You are more real than the material world and closer to the creative source."f
We have the absolutely perfect opportunity to secure this building block in our armor now. Our state is on fire. People are without power.
How can you be "in this world, but not of this world" around this? You be in this world by being a conscientious, well informed citizen of this country!
And then you "be not of this world" by relaxing in peace and knowing. Knowing that the prayer we have been praying -- that is circulating throughout our community and way, way, way beyond - and prayers similar to it are at work.
We relax in knowing that the absolute highest outcome not only for California and the United States, but for the WORLD is unfolding right now.
Be aware of where the fires and power outages are but don't let it cause you grief and stress. God's in charge!!!!
It's been said that "Force is the sign of desperation." Letting go of the attachment to the desire allows the intelligence of the universe to bring about the highest outcome.
We rely entirely, habitually, on those things we can see and touch and explain. And we forget to rely on the spiritual good that inhabits and surrounds us all the time. We forget to rely on, and to express, the Divine power that never forsakes us.
There is always something far mightier and more reliable just in back of every outer experience:
The Infinite source of all life and all good.
We can train ourselves to rely on this. We can turn to God over and over and over again until we lift our consciousness to the heights where the works of God are revealed.
Unity minister and author Eric Butterworth writes: "When we actually believe that God is the only real power in our lives, we shall act accordingly, and form wonderful new mental habits. Less and less shall we allow ourselves to be swayed by distressing mortal influences. Our inner attention will be turned more to the omnipresent Divine good that is rightfully ours. We shall become more confident, happy and expectant. We shall ask for and expect peace where there is discord; health where there is disease; ability where there is inability; love where there is hate; joy where there is sorrow; guidance where there is question; knowledge and provision where there is lack; and a job to meet our requirements and skills. So stop trying to "make it happen," and let it happen. Stop trying to make money and let substance flow. Stop trying to make a demonstration of health, and let life have its way in you. "Let there be." It's a prayer that never fails. Let your prayer and meditation become a ceaseless, persistent effort to let go."g
So this coming week firmly anchor our first three pieces in your armor of consciousness. Remember to:
- Detach for a moment from this world or in the words of Jesus - experience being in this world, but not of it;
- Confirm your union with God knowing that the "yoke is easy and the burden is light" and
- Breath into the right hemisphere of the brain - moving to the Kingdom of God that is within.
aDeepak Chopra The Third Jesus
bTeach Us To Pray, Charles and Cora Fillmore p. 87
cMy Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.D
dCharles Fillmore Metaphysical Bible Dictionary
fDeepak Chopra The Third Jesus