STEPS ON THE PATH, PART II
This month we continue to look at how to respond spiritually to the outward appearances of breakdown and chaos currently going on in our world.
Sharon Janis wrote: "The study of spirituality goes deeply into the heart of every matter and extends far beyond the physical world of matter. Spirituality connects you with the profoundly powerful and divine force that's present in this universe."a
This month we are choosing to cooperate with the world on a spiritual basis by building our spiritual armor with 15 concepts taught by the Master Teacher Jesus, the Christ.
Two important ideas I want to reiterate from last week. First, we are not building armor in order to prepare to go into battle. Rather, the armor we are building this month is armor that will provide us with strength, protection and empowerment
Second, we are not building armor that is to be worn on the outside. Rather, it is built from the inside. It is an armor of CONSCIOUSNESS -- an internal structure of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values and attitudes -- that strengthen, protect and empower us regardless of the tumultuous winds that are blowing around us.
These 15 concepts, 15 statements (three each week) spoken by the Master Jesus are discussed in Deepak Chopra's book entitled, The Third Jesusb. This book particularly served as the inspiration for this month.
We are not going to backtrack each week because that would just take too long, but rather pick up where we left off the week before -- so today we are going to look at the 4th, 5th, and 6th concepts of Jesus with which we are building our spiritual armor - or we could call them the 4th, 5th and 6th STEPS ON OUR PATH to transforming into an awakened God consciousness.
These steps or concepts are found in the well-known Biblical statements:
"Ask and it shall be given"c;
"Forgive those who trespass against us"d; and
"Be still and know"e.
Before we look into each of these, here's a little Bible trivia for you - which of these statements did Jesus NOT actually say? ["Be still and know." That actually comes from the Psalms, and we'll get to why this one is in here in a bit.]
1. ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN
1. Ask And It Shall Be Given
This statement appears at Matthew 7:7 and it reads: "Ask, and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For whoever asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds, and to him who knocks, the door is opened."
I love what Emilie Cady - writes about it in Lessons In Truth: "The "shall" as used here does not mean in the future, but rather indicates a certainty of the action of divine law. Our part is to do the asking, seeking, knocking (that is, make the demand for some good) by use of affirmations, and by abiding in the consciousness of God as the source of all good. Then automatically the promises will be fulfilled for God's laws always work."f
Jesus' feeding of the multitude is a great example of the concept of "the ask."
At Matthew 14:15, the Scripture reads: "When it was evening, his disciples came to him and said, 'This is a lonely place, and it is getting late; dismiss the people so that the men may go to the villages and buy food for themselves.'"g
Two things happened here. First, the people made it known to the disciples that they were hungry and needed food. Then, the disciples relayed the information to Jesus.
In other words, information about what was needed was put into words and effectively communicated - that's the definition of "ask." If you want your needs fulfilled, you must make them known. This is a very important step in the creative process. Only the first step, mind you but an important one!
Then, there's a second one -. In The Third Jesus, Chopra refers to it when he writes: "The next time you pray for something, or simply desire it, go through the following steps. First, express the desired outcome to yourself clearly."h
We call the act of "expressing the desired outcome to yourself clearly" creating a "Mental Equivalent." It is the mental/emotional picture of what it is you desire to experience. We have devised a really easy way to know what your Mental Equivalent is -- Just answer these two questions in the "already done" mode:
How will I feel when this prayer is answered?
How will my life be better?
Chopra writes some significant and meaningful words when he writes: "The purpose of taking this attitude toward prayer isn't so that you can get more than you have in the past. As with every aspect of the spiritual path, the purpose of prayer is to overcome the sense of separation. In the state of unity that Jesus experienced, every thought brought a response from God. In the state of separation that his followers experienced, many thoughts seemed to get no response. This represented a breakdown of communication. To restore it required a new sense of self. Jesus repeatedly teaches that "you are in God, and God is in you." Gradually, we can begin to experience this Truth and one of the best ways is by observing how our prayers are answered."i
So, my friends, begin to be alert, aware and available for how your prayers are being answered and allow your answered prayers to be a pathway to the intimate connection with God that is your natural way to live.
2. FORGIVE THOSE WHO TRESPASS AGAINST US
2. Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
Another natural way to live is in a state of peace, harmony and love. And a sure-fire way to stay out of the natural place is to be in a state of unforgiveness - thus, prompting Jesus to include the concept of forgiveness in his most significant prayer - The Our Father or The Lord's Prayer - and Chopra to include it in one of his 15 steps to God consciousness.
In her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, Caroline Myss writes: "When we harbor negative emotions toward others or toward ourselves . . . we poison our own physical and spiritual systems. By far the strongest poison to the human spirit is the inability to forgive oneself or another person. It disables a person's emotional resources. The challenge then . . . is to refine our capacity to love others as well as ourselves and to develop the power of forgiveness."j
A psychology college professor once told each of her students to bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes to class.
Then, they were asked to take a personal inventory of every person, event or experience they had not forgiven. For every such thing, they were to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag. Some of their bags were quite heavy.
They were then told to carry this bag with them everywhere for one week, putting it beside their bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to their desk in their other classes, and at their desk at work.
The hassle of lugging this around with them made it clear what a weight they were carrying spiritually, and how they had to pay attention to it all the time to not forget and leave it in embarrassing places.
Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty smelly slime to the point that the students were more than glad and relieved when the professor told them to throw the bags away.
Isn't this a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain, resentment and heavy negativity! Too often we think of forgiveness as a gift to the other person, and it clearly is for ourselves!
You may say, I have tried to forgive, but I can't. That's not the truth. The fact is you THINK you cannot forgive because you have learned not to forgive, because you have spent a long time practicing not forgiving, and because, in fact, you have mastered the art of not forgiving.
But there was a time when you were a child that forgiveness was your instinct. Before you caught the mental disease of unforgiveness, it was effortless and natural to forgive.
We used to forgive others almost right away. If you see two children playing together, and they start to fight and hit each other, the children cry and run to their mothers.
One mother goes to talk with the other mother. Pretty soon, the two mothers are having a big fight, but the two children are playing together again as if nothing happened. Now the mothers are angry and will harbor resentment and hurt for who knows how long, but the children are just fine!
We are born with the innate capacity to love. Not just us but all of life.
Yes, we are born with the innate capacity to love, but we have LEARNED the opposite behavior, and we have PRACTICED it so much that now returning to love through forgiveness seems difficult, if not impossible.
But it IS NOT impossible and it IS essential if we are to build a spiritual armor of strength, protection and empowerment.
3. BE STILL AND KNOW
3. Be Still And Know
Our final element - for today -- is composed of words that actually came from the Psalms rather than from Jesus. They are "Be Still and Know . . . that I am God."
Chopra thinks Jesus implied "Be still and know that I am God" when he said "Abide in me as I abide in you."
He believes that this statement refers to the importance of the practice of meditation. And even though Jesus didn't specifically teach meditation, it has become an essential aspect of spiritual practice. Along with prayer, mediation is the principal way that we establish a link with God.
If we take meditation (or "be still") to be an isolated activity we do when you want to find an oasis of peace and calm, we miss the larger point. The purpose of meditation is to contact Reality.
There is no special benefit to silence per se. Rather, the mind's incessant activity distracts it from what lies below the level of activity. Silence is only one aspect and not the most important. At the source, you are connected to pure awareness, the wellspring of all intelligence, power and organizing ability. If you allow yourself to be still you can begin to observe these qualities at work, both inside yourself and beyond.
"Be still and know that I am God" refers to the practice of unfolding into a deeper reality than the surface mind was ever aware existed.
And "being still" really isn't something that can be talked about - it has to be experienced. So that is exactly what we are going to do as we wrap each of today's ideas together.
- Ask and he shall receive - purpose and mental equivalent
- Forgive those who trespass against us - make the conscious choice to live from your natural state of peace, harmony and love
- Be still and know - connect with God within through stillness.
So, close your eyes and take a deep cleansing breath.
Identify something to be forgiven and articulate in your own mind the purpose "I desire to forgive _____." Get a mental image or mental equivalent of how you will feel and how your life will be better when you have forgiven [allow space for this to happen]
Now in this clean, clear, natural state, simply rest - be still, feel the presence of Divine Love, light and energy inside you [pause and end in]
Be still, O Soul, and know. . . . .
Look unto the One and be illumined. . . . .
Rejoice and be glad, for Spirit lights the way. . . .
Lift up thine eyes and behold the face God, for It is beautiful to behold . . . .
Listen for God's voice, which will tell thee of marvelous things. . . .
Receive Spirit, for in This Presence there is peace. . .
Take council from Divine Intelligence, for in It there is wisdom. . . .
Be still in God and rejoice in this Love for evermore.
And so it is. Amen.
aSharon Janis is an author and video producer
bDeepak Chopra The Third Jesus
fEmilie Cady Lessons In Truth
hDeepak Chopra The Third Jesus
iDeepak Chopra The Third Jesus
jCaroline Myss Anatomy of the Spirit