STEPS ON THE PATH, PART V
Today we conclude our exploration of Fifteen Steps to God Consciousness (or 15 building blocks in our spiritual armor) as outlined in Deepak Chopra's book, The Third Jesus.
So let's jump right into our final three concepts. They are:
Abide in me as I abide in you;
Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them; and, finally;
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?
1. Abide in Me as I Abide in You
In this statement, once again, Jesus is referring to Oneness. The Oneness of the individual with God. But it is more than just about Oneness. It's about the conscious choices we make that come with the realization of our Oneness.
Let's take the second part of the statement first. He said, "As I Abide in You."
His statement "I abide in you" refers to the presence of the Christ Nature that is in all of us. The Christ nature is our nature. That is our spiritual truth.
And what is a Christ nature? A Christ nature is a Divine Nature. A nature that is the essence of wholeness, creativity, perfect unfoldment, abundance, peace, and love.
So, Jesus said this Christ Nature abides in you - already! It's there. You don't need to do anything to put it there.
But then there's the first part of the statement - "Abide in me." This is where Jesus is calling forth a conscious choice from us. Those qualities of the Christ need to be recognized and acted on.
In this simple statement, Jesus is telling us - look, you guys, you are already Divine so get with it and start acting that way!
Start realizing that that is your Truth and start living your life from that vantage point! Enough of this limited, small way of looking at yourself.
So this statement, this 13th building block of our spiritual armor says to starting acting like the whole and holy Spiritual Being that you are and make your choices in life from that vantage point!
2. For Where Two or Three Are Gathered in My Name, I am there Among Them.
Spiritual power increases as people gather together. In every tradition, people have worshipped together. There is the power of encouragement when others "get it." The "if you can do that, then I can do that" phenomenon.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same and as we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
That's the power of gathering together in spiritual community!
Then there is the power of support when others are going through struggles - equally powerful for both the one receiving and the one giving support.
3 What Does It Profit a Man to Gain the Whole World if He Loses His Soul?
These words of Jesus are a reminder to stay on the spiritual path, to remember what is real, what is true. To remember why we are here. We are each here for two reasons - one common to all of us; the other unique to each.
The common one is to return to our spiritual truth. To remember who and what we are - to remember that God abides in us!
That's why we are here. In this final building block of our spiritual armor, Jesus is telling us NOT to forget that.
Don't get so caught up in this world of form that you forget who you really are, because in the end who you really are is all that matters!
The second reason you are here is to express your UNIQUE gifts in your UNIQUE way. In a way no one else can. This is about how you show up in this world of form. And you can use this purpose to further the first!
So the 15 building blocks in our spiritual armor are:
The Kingdom of Heaven is Within.
For My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light.
Be in the World, but Not Of It.
Ask And You Shall Receive.
Forgive Those Who Trespass Against You.
Be Still And Know.
As You Sow, So Shall You Reap.
Resist Not Evil.
In My Father's House Are Many Mansions.
You Must Be Born From Above.
Do Not Worry About Tomorrow.
You Are The Light Of The World.
Abide in Me as I Abide in You.
Where Two or Three Are Gathered in My Name, I am There Among Them
What Does It Profit a Man to Gain the Whole World if He Loses His Soul?
If you wish to review or take these concepts with you, I have printed them out and you can pick them up in the foyer.
Now, today, is the first Sunday of Advent. This month here at Unity of Castro Valley, we are celebrating the outer holidays, but more importantly, we are celebrating the inner holiday, which is the birth of the Christ in all of us.
Today we are going to look at some earthly symbols of this Christmas season that have Cosmic meaning - more so than you even may initially think!
1. CHRISTMAS TREE
We are going to start with a ceremony that delves into the symbolism of the Christmas tree and all its ornaments.
You were all given Christmas tree ornaments when you came in. If you don't have one, raise your hand and someone will get you one. When I name the ornament that you have please come forward and place it on the tree.
Each year we, like little kids, eagerly await the trimming of the Christmas tree. But let's look behind the tinsel and trimmings to what they represent.
The TREE itself is a symbol. Its branches are ever green. They remind us that the life of God is eternal and is constantly being renewed in us. The tree, as we do, reaches up to a higher understanding of God. Its branches reach outward on all sides, as if to welcome all races of people and all creeds.
On the tree are strings of LIGHTS. How beautifully the colored lights glow, each symbolizing the Christ light. The many colors remind us that each of us expresses good in his own way, yet he draws his life and strength and wisdom from God, the source of all good. Even as Jesus Christ became the light of the world, so can we let His light shine forth through us to bless our world.
We place colored BALLS on the tree. So, now everyone who has colored Christmas tree ball ornaments come up and put them on the tree. Many colors are reflected from these shiny balls, yet the colors seem to harmonize. This is symbolic of the different races and creeds and nations and indicates that they can live together in peace and harmony. Jesus was born to point the way to peace among men. The Christ Spirit in all men will teach them how to solve their problems so that there will be justice and freedom for all.
Next we have a tiny ANGELS for our tree. So, now everyone with Angel ornaments come up and put them on the tree. The angel is a symbol of the Christ-like thoughts that help us to express more of the Christ Spirit. At Christmastime we can send angel thoughts or thoughts of good will to people all over the world.
Now we have toy HORNS to sound our Christmas joy. So, now everyone who has Horns come up and put them on the tree. When we hear the notes of "Joy to the World," let our hearts be filled with a deep abiding joy, the joy that comes to us when we love God and do His will.
Beside the horn we now hang a golden BELL. So, now everyone who has Bells come up and put them on the tree. For hundreds of years at Christmastime, the bells have chimed out the message, "Christ is born." "Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He's not born in thee, thy soul is all forlorn."
A BIRD perches on a branch of our tree. So, now everyone who has Birds come up and put them on the tree. It is the dove of peace, reminding us that if we truly want peace, we must let peace express through us. We must live peaceably with others.
Here are long strands of bright BEADS and tinseled CHAINS for our tree. So, now if you could put those on the tree. Does it not seem that the beads are smiles that lead from one person to another? And the links of bright tinsel represent the deeds of kindness that link many human hearts in understanding and love.
Now on our tree we place SANTA CLAUS. So, now if you could put those on the tree. Here is the Spirit of giving, all dressed up in a red suit. We can express the spirit of Santa Claus in our giving, too. We can send love and a blessing along with our gifts.
We place on our tree a tiny white LAMB. So, now if you could put those on the tree. The lamb is a symbol of innocence and purity. It reminds us of the Good Shepherd who told His disciples, "Feed my sheep." As modern disciples, shall we give spiritual food to those who hunger for a better way of life?
Our tree needs a crowning touch. At the very top we place a shining STAR. So, now if you could put that on the tree. What memories and thoughts that star brings to mind! We see the Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem, and we know that the light of the Bethlehem star still shines to guide men.
And now that the tree is trimmed, let us turn in thankfulness to the Father and know that: 'The star of God's light shines within each of us, to help us keep the Christmas Spirit through all the year.
2. THE HOLIDAY WREATH
2. The Holiday Wreath
Next, let's look at the holiday wreath. * Whether it's a wreath that hangs on your front door, adorns a church's foyer or serves as an Advent wreath on a coffee table . . .
* whether it's made out of real tree branches, artificial branches, pinecones or aluminum OR . . .
* whether it contains lights, bows, ornaments, candles or fruit. . .
. . . it maintains one consistent quality.
What is that quality? It's round! It's a circle! And the cosmic meaning of this symbol doesn't take a degree in rocket science to figure out, does it?!
The circle, of course, which represents, that which is never ending, never beginning, allness, fullness, eternality that is God.
* That which encompasses EVERYTHING.
* That within which EVERYTHING is contained.
* That from which EVERYTHING is created.
I love this definition of God: A circle whose circumference is nowhere and whose center is everywhere.
That's what the WREATH represents -- with one added dimension articulated beautifully by Joan Borysenko, in The Ways of the Mystic: "In holy moments we are aware that there is only One Mind in the universe, a Mind present in everything and everyone. We see beyond the illusion of separateness into the intricate web of life in which all things are expressions of a single Whole. You can call this web God, the Tao, the Great Spirit, the Infinite Mystery, Mother or Father, but it can be known only as LOVE."a
Fillmore in Talks on Truth: "Love is the drawing power of mind. It is the magnet of the universe, and about it may be clustered all the attributes of Being, by one who thinks in divine order."b
So the earthly symbol of the wreath represents the LOVE of God, Great Spirit, Infinite Mystery, which is the unending, eternal, energy from which everything is created and in which everything lives.
The next earthly symbol with a cosmic meaning is the candle.
3. THE CANDLE
3. The Candle
The candle, whether it sits in a Menorah, in a Kinara, or as part of a table centerpiece, emits light. It doesn't symbolize light, it is light! And so are you. Light in human form.
The wick, which runs through the center of every candle, could be thought of as representing the Spirit within you, the Presence of God found at the center of your being. That is the same for each and every candle. Every candle must have a wick or it isn't a candle.
The wax of the candle represents our physical form. Candles come in many shapes, colors, sizes and heights, as do we!
And, of course, the illuminated wick, which is the same regardless of the shape, size or color of the candle, represents the Christ Light that we all are.
I really love this passage from Fillmore in Twelve Powers: "Jesus of Nazareth found this inner flame and let it burn all through His body. It so lighted Him up that His presence warms all . . . men to this very day. But no one lives by reflection. You could not live a moment if it were not for this only begotten Son of the Father within you. So you cannot live and grow on the reflected light of Jesus of Nazareth. The only begotten Son of God must come forth in you as it did in Jesus. Then your life will be permanent, and the discords of the flesh will drop away forever; then will your Sabbath be revealed to you."c
So every time you see a candle, let it remind you of the spark of Divinity that is within you. Let it remind you of your Oneness with the Whole! Let it remind you that each and everyone one of us is the light of the Christ, the God!
4. THE HOLIDAY FOOD
4. The Holiday Food
Who has been to or hosted a holiday party so far this year? Who has plans to attend one or two or three? What's the common element of these parties?!
The buffet table of course! An abundance of great food in great variety. From sweet to salty, from substantial to pure fluff!
And that's our fourth earthly symbol with a cosmic meaning this morning.
The holiday food table reminds me of Fillmore's words regarding the parable of the Prodigal Son in Prosperity: "The next thing the father did for his returned son was to proclaim a feast for him. . . . . The Father gives a feast to those who come to Him for supply. He does not dole out only a necessary ration but serves the 'fatted calf,' universal substance and life in its fullness and richness."d
God's very nature is the nature of plenty, the nature of abundance.
And so rather than having the buffet table in front of you represent extra calories and fat, temptation to be avoided, how about if it represents for us the absolute abundance and variety in the universe that is always available to use. That is under our noses all the time; all we must do is choose.
Now I'm not advocating diving in with reckless abandon into the buffet table unless you're prepared to reap the consequences of that, but to look at it differently - as a symbol of the plenty that is always available.
5. THE GIFTS
5. The Gifts
When you see presents under the tree (or Hanukah bush), or as you are shopping for gifts for friends and family members - here's a cosmic way to look at them. What if every gift you see, reminds you to be grateful?
What a perfect symbol for gratitude because what do you say when you receive a gift? Sure - Thank you!
By suggesting using gifts as symbols of gratitude, I don't mean to suggest that you should expect to be thanked every time you give a gift - in fact the purist place from which to give a gift is a place of attaching absolutely no strings to it whatever, even the string of an expected thank you. That is truly giving unconditionally.
But I am suggesting that we look afresh at gifts as the symbol of OUR gratitude! Gratitude for all the blessings in our lives. What if every time you saw a gift, you said a word of thanksgiving for 1, 2 or 3 blessings in your life? That might give this holiday season some new depth!
Finally, our 6th symbol, is the man in the red suit himself - Mr. Secular! Santa Clause. What spiritual concept could he possibly symbolize for us this morning?
Well, let's think about it for a moment. When an innocent child, one who believes in Santa, writes out his Christmas list and mails it off to the North Pole, or when she sits on Santa's knee at the mall and delivers her requests, what is her mindset after that is done?
Isn't it one of trust that the requested item will absolutely be delivered on the prescribed morning?
What if we used Santa Claus as the symbol for trusting the Universe!? To have the innocent faith of a child?!
Fillmore wrote in Prosperity: "If you say and believe, 'I have faith in the substance of God working in and through me to increase and bring abundance into my world,' your faith will start to work mightily in the mind substance. . . ."e
What an interesting way to look at Santa Claus, isn't it? To view him as a symbol of innocent faith. Faith in Universal Good, faith in the working of the law, faith that the Universe is always, always, always conspiring for our good! Now that's a cosmic twist, isn't it?
And so this morning, I invite you to see each of these symbols of the season in this new light. I invite you to give these new cosmic meanings to these trappings of the holiday. If we do this, we would have a wonderful new perspective on this time of year, wouldn't we?
Think of the shift in your consciousness . . .
1. If every time you saw a WREATH you paused to think of the all-encompassing, all-creative, eternal love of God;
2. If every time a CANDLE flickered in your direction you were reminded of the spark of Divinity that you are;
3. If the bounty of the HOLIDAY BUFFET table takes you to the conscious awareness of God's great, everflowing good;
4. If every GIFT you see, purchase, receive or give reminds you to walk in gratitude; and
5. If every time you see a SANTA CLAUSE or hear a HO HO HO, you remember to trust God just a little bit more.
That would be pretty transformative, wouldn't it? Well then, let us, this morning, be so transformed!
aJoan Borysenko, The Ways of the Mystic
bCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth, p. 55.20
cCharles Fillmore Twelve Powers, p. 119
dCharles Fillmore Prosperity, p. 63
eCharles Fillmore Prosperity, p. 50