How to Pray

Prayer
The great Walter Lanyon winnows the wheat from the chaff:

In an amusing article which appeared in the London Express, George Bernard Shaw says: “Lots of people pray for me; and I have never been any worse for it. The only valid argument against the practice is the Glassite one that God knows his own business without any prompting.”

Is prayer, then, a futile thing? Certainly anyone who acknowledges the fact that there is a God will likewise grant Him the intelligence to run His universe without any prompting, and also will allow that it is reasonable to believe that no amount of begging or beseeching is going to make him alter His plans.

Yet we are admonished to “pray without ceasing,” but we are also told how to pray and how not to pray. “Be not like the heathen with vain repetitions.” Words will not accomplish anything. Prayer must be something deeper and finer than telling God what He is and what He should do. Prayer is a conscious recognition of the eternality of good, here and now.

Any prayer that beseeches and begs God to do a thing is an open acknowledgment that the Creator has forgotten or overlooked something that is very necessary of accomplishment. The more we beg God to be good, the more we show forth our ignorance of His eternal nature.

Jesus prayed the unceasing prayer of the isness of the kingdom when He said, “It is done,” before the sense-man could see that any change had taken place. Again He said, “Thank You, Father,” indicating that He knew the finished works already existed.

We are told to “enter the closet and close the door.” Turn from the appearances of things and close the door of the senses. When we close the door of the senses, we shut off the testimony of the senses. We do not do this by effort, but by the contemplation of the isness of God and His universe, and so completely fix our attention on Him that the door to the senses is closed without effort or struggle.

“Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, believe [be firm] that you receive [present tense] them and you shall have them.” “Desire is not something to be worked for, but is the thing in its incipiency pressing towards us for expression.” Again we see the acknowledgment of the finished thing which is given to us before we ask, and while we are yet speaking. This would all be impossible if the thing or desire did not already exist in the kingdom of the Real. How could you believe that you receive a thing if it did not already exist?

No man who prays the prayer of acknowledgment will look for a sign. Remember that the “signs follow,” not precede. Looking for results only indicates a state of doubt and fear, and has nothing to do with the real consciousness, which is yours for the acceptance.

“Arise and shine” indicates that you can do both of these things and that you can glorify God for ever and ever, when you realize that glorifying Him is simply acknowledging His perfect universe here and now. “Stand fast,” then, girt about with the armour of right-mindedness with the two-edged sword turning in all directions, upon which is inscribed, “It is done.” “It is done.” What matter though the whole circumstance world offer testimony to the contrary? The storm may sweep over your house and rage without the portals of your universe, but you are founded on the rock and shall not be moved and the storm will soon spend its fury. Its fury will only last so long as it finds anything in you which accepts fury without.

Praying without ceasing is a present possibility. It is an open acknowledgment that “all is well” because God can and does run His universe without help or aid, or even suggestion. The great use of prayer is that it brings us into line with the facts of Being. We get into the universal rhythm and are carried on into our expression of peace and joy. The song of freedom is on our lips, the song of the Giver. The Giver gives without thought of return. He pours out His joy on all mankind. He does not seek to change anything, but His coming brings out hidden beauties, as the sunlight shows forth the glories of a new day — and lo! all is changed.

When man comes to recognize in prayer an opportunity of allying himself with God, he understands how “all things are possible with God,” and if possible with God, possible also to the expression of God.

Not the words uttered but the motive back of them will determine the result. He who prays constantly for self will have few, if any, of his prayers answered. Self-seeking is unnecessary when man takes his place in the universe of all good. He becomes a steward, a distributor of the gifts to all mankind.

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?” the Master asked. Why waste more time trying to piece together past conditions and failures? “Come out from among them and be separate.” Why fondle the cocoon which has given up its butterfly or the shell which has been left behind the flown bird. “Come out from among them.” Go forth into your new universe, resplendent and joyous, for you are the son of a King.

“Let us pray,” used to be a very somber and doleful thing, despite the fact that we read, “The people of God are a people of joy.” Even Jesus came “that your joy might be full.” This all seems to indicate that prayer should be a joyful acknowledgment of good and not a mournful beseeching and begging.

“Arise and shine.” Approach the Throne of Grace with the smile of freedom; the acknowledgment that God runs His universe perfectly and that you, the son, are merely taking up your place in the “body of Christ Jesus.”

If you are praying for things, remember the admonition, “Consider the lilies and the ravens.” All the effort to make God see how poor you are and how needy your case is will not alter the fact that you have a lesson to learn from the lilies and the ravens who “let” things come into expression and do not constantly worry and storm about the lack of them. How effortlessly the lilies grow and reach perfection and come season after season in all their glory, in all their freshness and beauty.

“He gives His beloved rest” — rest from the hard struggle you have made to get things. A glorious light suddenly surrounds you and shuts out everything. You are wrapped in adoration in the presence of the all good, and you are ready to hear and to understand: “My grace is sufficient for you.” Sufficient is enough. Why worry about signs? Why worry about things? Why worry about circumstances? “My grace is sufficient for you.” That is enough. Claim your “sufficiency in all things” and rest, and you shall see that though heaven and earth shall pass away the Word shall remain. You are that word, which was “let” into expression.

In a recent play the question was asked, “Who made the devil?” The answer was “God,” bringing out the natural deduction that if God made the devil, then God must be using him for His own ends.

“Awake thou that sleepeth.” Reclaim your lost Garden of Eden and dwell there in peace. “Ye shall be in league with the stones of the field,” even as Job has said — one in all and all in one — God in everything and everything in God and the blessed rest that comes from knowing consciously: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

“He giveth his beloved rest.” You are the Beloved of God.

Not how I was taught growing up… but much more in alignment with my sense of how it should be done… which is something along the lines of becoming completely absorbed in the Spirit, surrendered, abandoned and given over… as in true communion.

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The Way It Works

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I’ve spent a lifetime — 45 years as of the 21st of this month — butting up against the issue of “success,” only to take two steps back before sliding sideways, all the way to the comfort zone that is my insulated existence.

I’ve maxed out my cards several times, ending up in credit counseling the last time around. I started out with $35,000 in student loans, and now, twelve years after graduation — despite making payments along the way — the principle has grown past $45,000.

I’ve lived in crappy apartments, roomed in party houses in the university district, and depended on well-to-do housemates in order live in the occasional cush crib. I did own a home once, for a year or so — then let it go on a take-over-payment basis, so I could uproot my life in hopes of greener pastures. I’ve had three cars die on me, carted away on a wrecker when various apartment managers couldn’t stand looking at them any more.

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We’re talking about a static existence here, at least where the issue of finances is concerned. That I continue to have my physical health (knock on wood) is a good thing, because after all this time, I still exist one paycheck away from homelessness. (Okay, maybe two paychecks… and then we’d probably figure something out with the family… but you know what I’m talkin’ about.)

The thing of it is, I could never fully sell my soul for the mighty dollar bill. I couldn’t go the career route; couldn’t put in 70 hours to fatten the wallets back at the Home Office; couldn’t see putting an end to my wild years for the promise of the Golden Years, when I could easily step off the curb and be run over by a bus tomorrow.

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I always wanted to “beat the System,” and to this day, I continue to look forward to such a thing happening, whatever it means. Lottery? Anonymous million dollar donation? Rich uncle I never knew I had? Publish a novel, sell the movie rights, watch it break all box office records?

Meanwhile, I still live by the rent check, still cook at home to save on food costs, still walk to work and ride the bus downtown. I still buy my books used and sell them back at a quarter the price so I can buy more (worse than going to the library, which is a flat zero cost). I don’t consider traveling to any of the places I’ve dreamed of — India, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Europe — and always stay at Motel 6 on cross-country drives, which come every few years, if at all.

I still wear t-shirts I obtained in high school.

Get the picture? We’re talking about a severely limited prosperity consciousness. We’re talking about a negative outlook. We’re talking about a belief system that’s going nowhere fast, closing itself off from all the luscious goodness that used to seem possible, back before The Routine set in….

So I’ve been looking into the situation for a few years now. I’ve studied my beliefs around things like success and financial empowerment. I’ve asked myself, “Is it more spiritual to be poor?” I’ve also asked myself, “What is this System that I keep railing against? Is it written somewhere that money only comes when I’m doing something I don’t want to do? Must I go through my entire life wishing for something that was available the whole time?”

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Eventually — during my years as a clerk at the local metaphysical bookstore, where we had a pretty beefy Prosperity section — I discovered the New Thought Movement, which was all the rage during the first half of the 20th Century and comes down to us largely through the Unity Church and the United Centers for Spiritual Living (formerly known as Religious Science, or Science of Mind). Some still, silent part of me recognized a truth that says, “Michael, the circumstances of your life are a direct result of the patterns in your mind and heart. What you think, feel and believe becomes manifest in your surroundings. Let go of the conditioning that has led you to a state of dissatisfaction, ponder what you truly desire, and offer what you truly desire to That which shapes life according to the Word.”

Perhaps easier said than done, but this simple realization was enough to initiate a process that continues to this day, several years later. Yes, I still wrestle with lifelong conditioning. Yes, I still find myself operating according to discredited and harmful beliefs about money, empowerment and freedom within the world. These time-stretches, however, have shortened considerably. My willingness to seek support and guidance from others who’ve been working on this longer than I have has grown, as well. There are Principles to learn and integrate. Entrenched attitudes are in need of deconstruction and overhauling. Meditation, study, online courses, affirmations, Grace over meals, mindfulness, recognition of and unification with the One Mind — there’s so much to do, and yet the old ways have led to nothing but a prolonged diversion from the life I thought I came here to lead, so what is there to lose by subjecting myself to a total and complete spiritual makeover?

So, I’d like to offer some links and snippets from some of the better New Thought websites out there. I want to show how, in my search for a better belief structure around money and financial empowerment, I found that my lifelong passion for unification with the Divine has been good practice for the most powerful techniques for invoking a meaningful, satisfying… and yes, prosperous existence.

First off, we have the Rev. John Adams (a Unity minister),

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running the Golden Key Ministry — the “Golden Key” being a metaphor given by the great Emmett Fox, way back when. From the Golden Key website:

If you are seeking peace, prosperity, love, healing, enlightenment, you’ve come to the right place. We are here to help! Powered by Love, helping people through prayer, positive ideas and inspiration, this has been our passion since 1974.

Founded on the principle of the Golden Key, this global prayer ministry is dedicated to lovingly and positively supporting you in your quest to live a happy, healthy, peaceful and abundant life. We’re here to help!

On this site you’ll find well over 100 pages of real spiritual food to nourish and enlighten your soul, and enrich your life. It’s available for you 24/7 and at no cost.

Next comes one of my personal favorites, Swami Kriyananda (aka J. Donald Walters),

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who was a disciple of the great Yogananda. Besides being a compassionate and eloquent spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda has written one of the most straightforward and practical guides to financial freedom, called Money Magnetism:

“Deceptive in its simplicity and brevity, this little book has the power to effect great changes in the lives of its readers. With an entirely unpretentious and sincere style that shines through every word, Walters relays what wisdom he has gleaned from his own personal experience.”
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“Money Magnetism will help you take charge of your life. True abundance—of both the material and spiritual kind—can be found through the wisdom of this small but powerful book.”
—John Ernst, Richland Financial Services


Charles Fillmore
,

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who co-founded (with his wife, Myrtle) the Unity Church, is another excellent guide to changing our beliefs and attitudes toward money:

The superconscious mind within you discriminates among the kinds of food you assimilate, controls your digestion, your breathing, and the beating of your heart. It “doeth all things well,” and it will help you do this important work of directing you in the thoughts you should hold and the ones you should cast out. As you develop this mind within yourself you will find that you can gradually turn over more and more of your affairs to its perfect discrimination. Nothing is too great for it to accomplish, nor is anything too trivial for it to handle with perfection and dispatch. This mind of the Spirit will guide you in perfect ways, even in the minute details of your life, if you will let it do so. But you must will to do its will and trust it in all your ways. It will lead you unfailingly into health, happiness, and prosperity, as it has done and is doing for thousands, if and when you follow it.

It is just as necessary that one should let go of old thoughts and conditions after they have served their purpose as it is that one should lay hold of new ideas and create new conditions to meet one’s requirements. In fact we cannot lay hold of the new ideas and make the new conditions until we have made room for them by eliminating the old. If we feel that we cannot part with the goats, we shall have to do with fewer sheep. If we insist on filling the vessels with the bad fish, we shall have to do without the good. We are learning that thoughts are things and occupy “space” in mind. We cannot have new or better ones in a place already crowded with old, weak, inefficient thoughts. A mental house cleaning is even more necessary than a material one, for the without is but a reflection of the within. Clean the inside of the platter, where the food is kept as well as the outside that people see, taught Jesus.

Old thoughts must be denied and the mind cleansed in preparation before the affirmative Christ consciousness can come in. Our mind and even our body is loaded with error thoughts. Every cell is clothed with thought: every cell has a mind of its own. By the use of denial we break through the outer crust, the material thought that has enveloped the cells, and get down into the substance and the life within them. Then we make contact with that substance and life which our denials have exposed, and by it express the positive, constructive side of the law. When we consistently deny the limitations of the material, we begin to reveal the spiritual law that waits within ourselves to be fulfilled. When this law is revealed to our consciousness, we begin to use it to demonstrate all things that are good.

Another favorite is Joel S. Goldsmith,

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discoverer of the Infinite Way and a true American mystic if there ever was one:

The secret of harmonious living is the development of spiritual consciousness. In that consciousness, fear and anxiety disappear, and life becomes meaningful with fulfillment as its keynote.

The degree of spiritual consciousness which we attain can be measured by the extent to which we relinquish our dependence on the external world of form and place our faith and confidence in something greater than ourselves, in the Infinite Invisible, which can surmount any and every obstacle. It is an awareness of the grace of God.

There is a specific practice which will aid in the attainment of this spiritual consciousness. It is a practice which can be carried on throughout the day as the world crowds in upon us, reminding us that we need this or desire that. To every such insistent demand, let our answer be: “No, no. This is not what I need or want. Thy grace is my sufficiency, nothing else — not money, not marbles — only Thy grace.” Let us learn to hold to that resolutely. If the need seems to be railway fare, rent, clothing, housing, or health, let us steadfastly acknowledge that our only need is His grace.

Our work may require greater strength, greater knowledge, or greater ability than we seem to possess, or there may be greater demands made upon our purse than we can meet. Instead of accepting this apparent lack, let us remember, “He performeth the thing that is appointed for me…The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me,” or some other scriptural passage. The human belief may be that there is a physical, mental, moral, or financial demand made upon us greater than our ability to fulfill; but the very moment we turn to that He that is within us, recognizing that He performeth that which is given us to do, He perfecteth that which concerneth us, a weight drops off our shoulders, and the sense of personal responsibility lifts.

Finally, of course, I can’t leave this post without providing a little Ernest Holmes,

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who explained The Way It Works as well as anyone ever did:

We are surrounded by an All-Seeing, All-Knowing Mind, which is One and runs through all. The belief in the dual mind has destroyed practically all philosophies and religions of the ages, and will continue to do so until the world comes to see that there is but One. Whatever name is given it there is but One. It is this One that creates for us, whatever we believe. Our thought operative through this One produces all our affairs. We are all centers in this Mind, centers of creative thought activity. There is nothing which appears in the manifest Universe other than an objectified thought, whether it be a bump on your head, a growth on your foot, or a planet. It could not be there were it not made out of Mind, for mind is all there is to make anything out of. Whatever is made is made out of it. Nothing exists or can exist without a source from which it springs.

We are not dealing with a negative as well as a positive Power—not two powers but one; a power that sees neither good nor evil as we see it. It knows only that it is all, and since it is all, it creates whatever is given it. From our limited standpoint we often think of good and evil; not realizing that, as yet, we do not know the one from the other. What we call good today, we may call evil tomorrow, and what we think to be evil today, we may tomorrow proclaim as the greatest good we have known. Not so with the Great Universal Power of Mind; It sees only Itself and Its infinite ability to create.

To the thinking person this will mean much; he will see that he is no longer living in a limited universe, a world of powers, but that he is immersed in an Infinite Creative Medium which, because of Its Nature, has to create for him whatever he believes. Jesus understood this, and in a few simple words, laid down the law of life: “It is done unto all people as they believe.” This is a great thing to keep in mind. It is done unto us; we do not have to do it, for it is done unto us of a power that knows itself to be all there is. Could we even believe that some material mountain would be moved, the power is there to do it. Without this belief there is no real impulse for the Creative Mind, and we do not get an affirmative answer. We must realize more clearly that this Great Power has to operate through us.



So… have I become insanely rich? Do I live in the home of my dreams? Do I have to “work”, or does money flow through my life by virtue of me doing whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want?

Well, not so fast.

There are some intermediate stages that one needs to traverse on the way to living one’s life according to Principle.

At this point, I’m working on learning how to give, even from what I sometimes consider to be an impoverished reservoir of goods. I’m working on feeling gratitude for the miracle that is my life — for the things I already have, which include (in no particular order) a personal book library do die for; a wife who is my love bird and my spiritual co-cosmonaut; a slack work schedule that opens up time for the better things in life; a rigorous and skillful contemplative practice, taught and supported by an amazing teacher who found his way into my life at precisely the right moment; another teacher, Rev. Gloria, who sees far more of me than I seem able to recognize, at least some of the time, and who knows exactly what to say when I need it most; a house over my head, affordable and private, spacious and comfortable, in a beautiful neighborhood in one of America’s garden spots; a family that loves me; and a strong sense that I’m on the right track for me, which is something I didn’t have for the longest time.

The idea is (and I believe it to be true), if we can see just how much goodness we already have in our life, we are then able to glimpse those things that would amplify it, expand it, and bring even more meaning to it. If we see how Spirit has already blessed us, we may “grok it” that there’s more where this came from. Slowly, by letting go of a mentality built on lack, need and insufficiency — by replacing it with a constant recognition of abundance and goodness — we make room for an expansion of our lives along the lines of our true nature, of our deepest desires, and of our spiritual “mission” in this existence.

It starts right here, right now, and it continues to challenge us as it gradually (yet thoroughly) integrates itself into the fabric of our lives.

It’s happening.

I can feel it.

And it is good.

Metaphysical Treatment

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Charles Fillmore, American mystic….

Thanks to commenter Michael (a different one) for sharing his experience of healing through a power beyond his conditioned range of resources. I’m talking about a personal union with Christ, and one man’s road back from the depths of suffering. Check it out here.

Michael offered two scriptural references from the Gospel of John, and I thought it would be interesting to see how Unity founder Charles Fillmore interprets these passages (in this case, from his book Mysteries of John). This is sort of how I now approach the Bible, always looking for the “inner” meaning behind surface words and themes. I hope to be able to do this sort of thing without referring to someone else’s take, but for now, why don’t we all open our minds to what Fillmore has to offer?

The first verse is John 3:8. Fillmore lumps it in with the preceding verses, and I’ll transcribe his entire interpretation here:

3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born anew.

8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The Pharisees refused to be baptized by John. They did not consider that they needed the repentance that he demanded. They thought they were good enough to take the high places in the kingdom of God because of their popularly accepted religious supremacy. Many people refuse to deny their short-comings. They hold that they are perfect in Divine Mind and that it is superfluous to deny that which has no existence. But they are still subject to the appetites and passions of mortality, and will continue to be until they are “born anew.”

The new birth is an uncertainty to the intellectual Christian, hence there has gradually evolved a popular belief that after death the souls of those who have accepted the church creed and have been counted Christians will undergo a change. But in His instructions to Nicodemus Jesus makes no mention of a resurrection after death as having any part in the new birth. He cites the ever present though unseen wind as an illustration of those who are born of Spirit. The new birth is a change that comes here and now. It has to do with the present man, that he may be conscious of the “Son of man,” who is the real I AM in each individual. “And no one hath ascended into heaven, but that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, who is in heaven.”

This chapter of John contains some of the vital truths taught in Christianity: the evolution of man from natural to spiritual consciousness, and the incarnation of Jesus Christ as the divine pattern for all men who are seeking the way of life.

Christianity teaches the complete law of evolution as compared with the partial exposition of the law made by Darwin and associates. Christianity describes God as Spirit creating by a process comparable to the mental processes with which we are all familiar. “God said,” and thus God created that which was to appear, God planned man and the universe, and through His word projected them into creation as ideal principles and immanent energies acting behind and within all visibility. But we should remember that Spirit could not emerge from the formless into the formed without creating relations, which necessitated laws operating through man and all things as essential factors in an orderly universe. Thus even God becomes subject to His laws or commandments. God the universal Spirit first appears as spiritual man. The next step in evolution is the appearance of the idea of spiritual man in the natural or Adam man. This man was primitively identified with an infinite capacity for expansion. When he recognizes his identity as being that of his source, Spirit, he expands in divine order and brings forth only good. When he deserts his spiritual anchorage and gives attention to external experiences and sensations, he falls into a world in which a diversity of results obtain that he calls good and evil. Thus man eats “of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” In these few words is summed up the fall of man from an Edenic state, where he had the constant inspiration of creative Mind, to a consciousness of matter and the desperate struggle of personality for existence.

The natural man must evolve into the spiritual. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”

We are told here that “the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.” World chaos results from the lack of spiritual light. We may plan peace and achieve it, but if this peace is not based on divine law, evolving love, and that law incorporated into the pact of peace as well as into the minds of those who sign that pact, we shall have no permanent peace.

Wow — that last bolded line could be the theme for this blog, dontcha think?

In his story of rescue through Christ, commenter Michael (according to my insight, maybe not so much his own) chose a conscious communion with Christ, who, just as in my own childhood experience described in the previous post, appeared to him as an actual person, rather than a character in a book. To me, this is spiritualization personified, and Michael is an inspiration to all who seek the Source of their existence.

Now… John 15:26… and again, Fillmore lumps this verse in with surrounding verses, followed by his metaphysical interpretation:

17These things I command you, that ye love one another.

18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

21But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

22If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

23He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

24If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

25But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

26But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

27And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

The Comforter or Holy Spirit is the law of God in action, and when thought of in this way it appears to have personality. From the truth the Hebrews got their conception of the personal, tribal God.

The functions ascribed to the Holy Comforter or Holy Spirit or Spirit of truth imply distinct personal subsistence: He is said to speak, search, select, reveal, reprove, testify, lead, comfort, distribute to every man, know the deep things of God, and He can be known by man only through his spiritual nature.

(See John 14:25-31 for further interpretation.)

Again, there’s this notion of spiritualization leading to deliverance from fear, from unknowingness, from annihilation in the Void — which is to say, the deeper we descend into our transformative journey to full union with Infinite Spirit, the more obvious our challenge to keep moving forward, to keep diving deeper — until, at a certain point, we have no choice to but fully, absolutely surrender to God, despite our gravest suspicions that death (or worse!) may result.

In a sense, we do die… but are reborn as spiritual beings, firm in our knowingness that Life cannot die, and that it does, in fact, flourish in and through us forever.

Spiritualized

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C.G. Jung, winding down the years….

Regular commenter Hawk recently brought up a subject worthy of its own post:

I just was reading pages 275 – 288 in C.G. Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and found his comparisons of Indian thought and Christianity very interesting. If you have any reactions or thoughts regarding Jung’s insights here, it would be helpful in my own process.

Little did I know the intensity of what would follow, as I began to read this passage from Jung’s autobiography (easily one of the twelve most influential books I’ve ever read, and one of the few to which I return periodically), which has led into several Internet as well as personal conversations, not to mention a synchronistic series of written teachings from varied sources. Let me provide one slice from Jung, quoting from page 277:

In Konarak (Orissa) I met a pandit who obligingly offered to come with me on my visit to the temple and the great temple car. The pagoda is covered from base to pinnacle with exquisitely obscene sculptures. We talked for a long time about this extraordinary fact, which he explained to me as a means to achieve spiritualization. I objected — pointing to a group of young peasants who were standing open-mouthed before the monument, admiring these splendors — that such young men were scarcely undergoing spiritualization at the moment, but were much more likely having their heads filled with sexual fantasies. Whereupon he replied, “But that is just the point. How can they ever become spiritualized if they do not first fulfill their karma? These admittedly obscene images are here for the very purpose of recalling to the people their dharma [law]; otherwise these unconscious fellows might forget it.”

I thought it an odd notion that young men might forget their sexuality, like animals out of rutting time. My sage, however, resolutely maintained that they were as unconscious as animals and actually in need of urgent admonishments. To this end, he said, before they set foot inside the temple they were reminded of their dharma by the exterior decorations; for unless they were made conscious of their dharma and fulfilled it, they could not partake of spiritualization.

This brings to mind the concept of the Fool’s Journey, which comes from Tarot lore and embodies the idea of the Fool card, which is said to depict all 22 major arcana cards in the life-journey that they represent. In other words, the Fool starts at zero (the number of his card), heads out through 21 stages of archetypal growth, only to return to zero. Those 21 stages of archetypal growth include such images as the Devil, the Lovers and Death, each of which has something to say about the need to pass through the fleshly experience of existence, complete with its erroneous beliefs and its misguided passions, until our karma is played out and we return to the spiritual recognition of our Divine essence (the Universe or World card, number 21, which stands for the panentheistic notion of God in everything, everything in God).

So, in order to pass through the doors to the Holy Sanctuary, one must pass through fleshly existence and all that it entails.

This brought to mind a prominent feature of my own spiritual biography, which I’ll reproduce here:

During spring of 1967, before my fifth birthday, I passed through a phase that lasted about three weeks, during which I sat cross-legged on my bed, facing west through a window that looked out on our back yard. Through what little Bible study I’d managed to accrue, I had formed an intimate bond with Jesus, considering him to be physically present not only when I prayed, but as I went through daily life. We would hold long conversations, walking side-by-side like best friends who’d known each other for two thousand years.

Jesus was present as I sat on my bed one morning. An energy grew inside my little body, filling it with bliss and happiness. Somehow, I knew just how to work with the energy, until “I” outgrew the house, the neighborhood, the city, state, continentÉ the planet. Then I popped out of the physical dimension completely, and was met by several presences that felt like “home,” who nonverbally “reminded” me of many things I’d known before this birth. It felt like I was being infused with sacred information, “catching up” on something that I’d worked long and hard to obtain. I moved in and out of these vibrational states every day during this time. Familiar beings accompanied me on these inner flights, like a family that had sent me into human form for some collective purpose; I was “reporting” back to them, and they were filling me in on my mission objectives, as well as teaching me what I would need to know during an arduous stay in this world. The experience was one of becoming reacquainted with that part of me that extends backwards and forwards through time, such that I merely had to acknowledge what I already knew. The specific information that emerged did not remain in my conscious mind for long, however, as I was a four-year-old boy who did not normally have the language to process these things.

Once, my mother burst into the room and saw me sitting there – I could see her clearly with non-physical eyes – and she quietly backed out, clicking the door closed. She never mentioned this or any of the other episodes to me.

As the final session drew to a close, the presences who’d supported this process gave me a little mantra that I could say at any time during the ensuing years, which would give a hint of remembrance to the states that I’d experienced. The mantra, “I Am Me,” looks innocuous enough now, but at the time, it triggered something deep and primordial, not to mention fascinating. I would ponder the “I” by itself, then the “Am,” then the “Me,” noticing that each could be experienced separately and as a single presence, such that I “traveled” in and out of individual awareness as if hitting a light switch. I knew that I was being acclimated to individual identity, but the mantra allowed me to access the unitive presence whenever I wanted throughout the “barren” years that would follow these experiences.

They (the guiding presences) suggested that they would leave me to a worldly existence for about 30 years before rejoining my spiritual emergence. During precisely 30 years without ready access to the energy that visited me in those early days, I would periodically recite my mantra in order to briefly experience sensations that bridged across many, many lifetimes, and in this way I could let go existential anxieties that may have inhibited the process that would greet me when those 30 years passed.

Those 30 years “in the desert” fulfilled many of the Fool’s Journey requisites, as depicted in the major arcana cards. I’m talking about what we all go through in our own way: coming of age, leaving the nest, getting into all sorts of trouble, getting out of all sorts of trouble (hopefully), developing all sorts of self-destructive beliefs and behaviors, dealing with them, replacing them with either different forms of the same, or brand new, more constructive beliefs and behaviors that lead toward wholeness, healing and, ultimately, reunion with the Divine.

So my wife and I spent this morning having “church” in the living room. We fired up some matte, slathered butter and jelly onto some toast, and sat down at our Japanese table under the picture window — gentle rain outside, pattering the roof — and I opened the Bible to Ecclesiastes, planning to look up in Charles Fillmores Metaphysical Bible Dictionary terms that we encountered in this most poetic and achingly anguished Old Testament book. Here’s an example, taken from Chapter Two, verses 17-26 (TNIV version):

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For people may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to others who have not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 People can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

While I don’t have the Bible Dictionary with me here at the coffee shop, I can put into my own words the metaphysical meaning that Fillmore attributed to Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes means (metaphysically, according to Fillmore) “experience,” which (in my words) is the working out of karma that we must accomplish before becoming “spiritualized.” Fillmore says that experience is by far the best sermon, because we cannot just fall asleep in the pew while the preacher drones on (sorry, Hawk!), but must “face the music” that life’s ups and downs dish up. Eventually, experience leads us into the Dark Night of the Soul that the author of Ecclesiastes seems to have reached — and which St. John of the Cross so beautifully described while shivering in a Carmelite dungeon oh so many years ago. Fillmore says that worldly experience is what leads us home to the remembrance of God, and to the extent that we are able to merge our seemingly separate existence with the ever-Presence of God, we may eventually transcend the pain and suffering (see Ecclesiastes above) associated with attachment to worldly things, and know that we are One with the Source of all Good.

To bring things absolutely full circle in terms of my current unfoldment, I now know from experience what the Buddha meant in the last of his Noble Eightfold Path (Right Absorption), which was/is his “middle path” away from the realm of suffering and into the extinguishment of worldly attachment: each stage of meditative absorption (jhana/samadhi) brings the meditator into greater and greater at-one-ment with the Universal I AM (my words, stolen from many great mystics)… and the absorption itself melts away our illusory attachment to gaining succor from worldly things and conditions. In other words, he/she who works with meditative absorption works with God’s transformative Presence to gradually eliminate “wrong view,” replacing it with a saturation in “right view,” which is to live life in communion with the Infinite.

That’s my take, and apologies to everyone for hitting you with such a long, involved, meandering post.

I am, on the other hand, anxious to get Hawk’s take on the Jung material exampled above….

Nothing to Sneeze At

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I get a little uncomfortable when folks deny the efficacy of the Law of Attraction, choosing to make a joke out of something that, when looked at in depth, is self-evident. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one:

I was watching the “Bill Maher Show” on HBO last night. They were making fun of the movie “The Secret”. They were saying how the message in the movie is “you can have everything you want if you just visualize it” (ahaha, funny).

[…]

Visualizing regularly what you want to achieve is only the first step! If you visualize regularly, you will start seeing more clearly various opportunities that, if taken, would align your life toward your goals. That’s because your goals are much clearer! Here is the key: once these opportunities appear in your life, you must take them! This means hard work! Determination! Little or no hesitation! Visualization helps in this regard because it makes you feel like you already achieved your goals, and it eliminates the hesitation that often gets in your way.

If, as a skeptic, you can’t accept that these opportunities are brought to you by the “universe” as a result of your visualization, just think that these opportunities would have been there anyway. Visualization just allows you to see them, and allows you to promptly respond to them with a higher degree of confidence that you wouldn’t have otherwise. That edge and that determination is what can make you much more successful, and push you further.

It is all about points of view. Don’t discount the power of visualization just because you do not believe that visualization actually changes reality. That is more of a detail. In the end it doesn’t matter!!

So take that, Bill Maher!