Friday, January 6, 2017

Epiphany


e·piph·a·ny
əˈpifənē/

noun: Epiphany; noun: epiphany; plural noun: epiphanies
  • the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
  • the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.
  • a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
  • a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
The commemoration of Epiphany is the re-presenting of the manifestation of Christ to the world - symbolized by the Magi - typecast as the Wise Men from the east. Astrologers; most likely Persian mystics. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition it is also the celebration of the blessing of the waters. Which, in metaphysical terms, expresses the physical transformation of reality from a state of separation and duality from God - to a unified reciprocal reality where Christ's baptism in water - not only blesses Jesus Christ - but also blesses the water. 

The one who is holy cleanses the unholy by touching it. God and creation become one.

To me - the meaning of Epiphany is the revelation of divine love in our presence. We are not aware of its presence most of the time - it's like breathing. This is why in traditional meditation emphasis is made on being mindful of the breathe. The breathe is the divine expression of God - it's how Adam became a living being or soul. (See Genesis 2:7)

Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas and was historically a very significant calendar event. We have forgotten or simply allowed its significance to fade over time. It seems out of context in today's society. However, like all rituals and ceremonies it is not the actual calendar placement that makes it significant - it is holding to its meaning.

Love came into our world - not as something new - but as a timeless focused human being that expressed the fullness of God. The unknowable became intimately acquainted with us in a time and place but for eternity.

Despite circumstances and appearances that cause us to doubt and perhaps lose hope - the presence of divine love has not faded. The light of divine love has forever eliminated the seemingly absolute power of darkness and evil. Evil has no ultimate reality; like darkness it is  overcome by even the smallest glimmer of light.

We need not fear - we need not feel alone - we need not be dismayed. Epiphany; in the timeless presence of Christ has happened once and forever.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Year - Old Truth

No apologies - no stunning revelations - no real surprises.

I'm beginning 2017 as an Episcopalian. A decision I started to make in late October/early November has come to resolution.

2016 was a horrible year from a social perspective. The incredibly divisive presidential campaign, the exposure of gross mishandling of justice in so many cases involving blacks, gays, bi-sexuals, transgenders, immigrants, woman and almost every social group that stands outside the designation of white and male.

The world of the arts and entertainment also lost too many to death through cancer, old-age and substance abuse.

When the incredibly disheartening news that Trump had won the election via the Electoral college and not the popular vote, I, like so many, became despondent and depressed about the uncertainty of the future in the hands of an ego-maniac and political party that seems bent on restoring the "old order;" a fictitious utopia that exists only in the jaded memories of  ultra-ultra "so called" conservatives. A view of the world that included no struggling minorities, an invisible lower class, vote-less woman and a clear and distinct division between the "haves" and the "have nots."

The weekend following the election I decided to attend the Episcopalian church in our neighborhood that I'd attended earlier the year when they had held a church congregation meeting to talk about possible solutions to racial violence. It had been good to talk through the issues in a non-judgmental diverse community gathering. So I sought a place to vent my anger and fears about the future.

The church was welcoming and extremely encouraging; offering creative insights and positive suggestions for healing and making a positive impact in what promises to be difficult political times.

I have continued to attend the church, and met with the Pastor, or Rector, after Thanksgiving, to both tell him my story as well as confirm my observations about what appeared to be the Episcopal "Way."

He shared with me the philosophy and theological interpretations of the Episcopal Church in general and the unique approach of his particular church.

I'll try to summarize what I heard from him and what I've discerned from my studies of the church.

According to "The Episcopal Handbook":

The Episcopal church is a "place that welcomes random questions and eccentric personalities."

It's made up of a "peculiar" people whose spiritual "arc" bends more toward boundless hope and a reasonable faith than hardened surety and entrenched absolutism. Convictions are solid, but questions are welcomed.

Episcopalians are known to look more for possibility over peril, imagination over anxiety, and dreams over danger.



The Rector of my local Episcopal church confirmed these assertions and added that in his local version they did not claim certainty of doctrine as much as a honest heartfelt investigation of reality as it is. This is refreshing to hear in a time when Protestant Christianity has become generally identified with a conservative political agenda that sits in judgement on those that appear to push back against the flow of the "acceptable."

The local church has a mission statement that stands in context with the general Episcopal view of society and spiritual truth.

The vision of my church is clearly stated:

"We seek to become a community that mirrors the radical hospitality practiced by Jesus. We do that in five ways:

  1. Praise God
  2. Serve Neighbor
  3. Nurture Faith
  4. Invite All
  5. Connect Lives
The church is a community:

  • that identifies as both progressive and rooted in tradition;
  • that celebrates a rich diversity of races, economic statuses, cultural backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations;
  • that is strengthened and deepened by each individual's story, honoring both faith and doubt, hopes and concerns.
The last sentence above is what "sealed the deal" for me. A place where both faith and doubt are balanced against each other cannot help but be a healthy, human community.

Speaking again of "eccentric personalities" mentioned earlier. I found out that among a list of famous and prominent Episcopalians was the actor/comedian Robin Williams. He coined this wonderful observation about the Episcopal Church that I'll conclude with:

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being Episcopalian (according to Robin Williams)
10. No snake handling.

9. You can believe in dinosaurs.

8. Male and female, God created them; male and female, we ordain them.

7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.

6. Pew aerobics.


5. Church year is color coded!

4. Free wine on Sunday.

3. All of the pageantry, none of the guilt.

2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And…the number one reason for being an Episcopalian:

1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Monkey Manifesto



A Proclamation For The Common Denomination of Humanity


We should strive to eliminate from our lives the habits and social conditioning that smother life in us, and cause us to drain or extinguish life in others.

Our expressed religion should be that which affirms the goodness in everything and everyone.

There should be no condemnation for anything that affirms, or is, part of the one life that is all of us.

The only things we are justified in hating are those things that block the fullness of life in each of us – and that sense of hatred should not engender violence, but rather foster a strong desire to find a way to transform those things, feelings, or beliefs; in our own emotional and physical environment first, then in others.

We must never have higher moral expectations of others for achieving levels that we ourselves are honestly unable to reach or maintain.

Our lives should be about adding weight to the solution and not to the drag of the problem.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Expanding the Finite

A foundational principle of "The Science of Mind" is that we are able to receive from the infinite goodness and  supply of the Universe only to a level that is in proportion to our capacity to accept it.

Ernest Holmes teaches that the Universe is not a duality. There is not a Physical Universe, and a separate Spiritual Universe. He writes:

"The Spiritual Universe should no longer be divided against Itself." p. 286

In reality, he teaches, the Spiritual realm of thought held in consciousness can manifest as matter - as real substance, and as an intentional thought-create a cause that will manifest a physical effect.   


"Thoughts are Things."

With this understanding it is seen that the Master's prayer to "give us this day our daily bread" is not a limiting of the size of the loaf that we can have - but rather a demonstration of the principle that we must determine our own capacity and develop an intention of expansion.

Holmes writes: 

"..we can expand the finite but we cannot contract the Infinite." p. 287

This principle can be seen clearly in nature by how water finds its own level. In the same way, if we expand our capacity to receive by opening up the channels of our consciousness - both the receiving and the giving ends - we will grow in both capacities. An important aspect of this same principle is that the inflow and outflow must be balanced. We cannot expect to receive more if we are not prepared to give more.

The Infinite life of the Spirit is available to us - it is not withheld as punishment - or expanded as some sort of future reward. It is here now - we need only open ourselves up to that which already is available.

The ultimate confirmation that your consciousness is growing in application of this expansion principle is when you experience the truth of this scripture:


 "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive."
- Acts 20:35 (KJV) 

 By thinking affluently - we can become prosperous.

Gratefully receive - Generously give.

The Beatles expressed this well:

"...The love you take is equal to the love you make.." - "The End," Abbey Road

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Consciousness of Wholeness


Today's reading from "The Science of Mind" is an example of an affirmative prayer for transformation of consciousness - often referred to as a "Treatment" in New Thought terminology. 



"I know there is a Spirit in me which unfolds Itself to me; and I know that this Spirit—or Infinite Wisdom and Divine Love and Perfect Law—enlightens my consciousness and awakens within me, within the personal, the knowledge of Its meaning, the realization of Its Presence, and the power of Its Law. I am conscious that this Universal IT is an ever-present Being to me and to every man, because where the Universe personifies, It becomes personal. Therefore, there is within me an immediate Presence, the Infinite of the finite self, all-knowing, all-wise, and forever perfect. It is this Real Me that I seek to vision in my thought, that I seek to embody in my consciousness. It is that ME that cannot be sick, knows no lack, has no limitation, never suffered want, and cannot experience fear." - p. 554

Ernest Holmes teaches that true prayer is an affirming process; an acknowledgement of that which is real in God's mind; the ONE MIND of the universe.

Our level of consciousness is out of alignment with reality. Holmes discovered the timeless truth that reveals that our  sense of "sinfulness," our sense of "falling short" of perfection, is due to the holding of false belief in being separate and disconnected from God.  

We are conditioned by our ignorant perception of reality. 

We falsely believe that God's personal presence is unobtainable; that our consciousness is limited by our apparent separateness.

By affirming the actual truth - that Spirit is within us in totality and that we are the "individualization" of infinite Divine Spirit - the "personification of the Universe," we can open up our minds to the very consciousness of God. In reality, there is only ONE MIND - ONE CONSCIOUSNESS, we have divided it by our lack of understanding. 

The Bible tells us:


"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV) 

We cannot trust our own understanding of reality but we can trust and lean into the understanding of God in every situation or circumstance.

God is the Source of ALL good and has given us a "sound mind" that we might employ it to lean into the reality of God's ways; to simply allow God's vision to be our own. 

The simple truth is this:


1. God Loves Me (You, Us)
2. God is Guiding Me (You, Us)
3. God is Showing Me (You, Us) the way.

- Source - Affirmation by Rev. Gaylon McDowell, 
Bodhi Spiritual Center, June 19th, 2016


Friday, July 8, 2016

Free From Sensitiveness



Today's reading from "The Science of Mind" is an affirming meditation that serves to work on the elimination of fear and sense of unworthiness that we might hold as reality, and replace it with joy and love.


From time to time we are at odds with the true nature of our mind. We stumble into the trap of believing that we are limited to our own estimations of our abilities - we confuse the flaws in our character with the nature of our soul - which is in perfect harmony with the boundless being of God and Divine Spirit.





------------------------------------------


FREE FROM SENSITIVENESS

My feelings cannot be hurt.

No one wishes to harm me, and there is nothing in me that can believe in any separation from the All Good.

I perceive that I am free from all people, and I cannot be harmed nor mistreated.

I have such a sense of unity with all that the circle is complete and perfect.

I love my friends and they love me, and that love is in, and of, God, and cannot be marred nor hindered.


I am filled with joy and love, forever.

I am filled with joy and love, forever.

I am filled with joy and love, forever.

--------------------------------------------


To be filled is to have no room for anything else - no room for doubts, fears, hesitations, disappointments, and dis-ease of any kind.

I am not my feelings - but my feelings can be used by the indwelling Spirit to create change.

I am not my sickness - but my sickness can teach me about healing that I may give it to others.

I am not alone - but my solitude can be a boost to my prayer life.

Joy and love forever. The true nature of the divine in boundless joy and love. God is not the giver of joy and love - GOD IS LOVE. I only need to be open in heart and mind to perceive and receive it. All appearances in the physical world that are not in harmony with joy and love are false. They have no power unless I accept them as real; my belief in disharmony is the fuel of suffering. By re-focusing my beliefs and intentions in the direction of good I am able to change the very world. 

And so it is......

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Not on Bread Alone




In the foreword to "The Science of Mind," - Dr. Jean Houston, Ph.D says:


Dr. Jean Houston, Ph.D

"If I were to state the essence of the teaching of The Science of Mind, it would be that the "Highest God and the innermost God is One God." The core of each human being is the "Original Creative Genius of the Universe."
We are, therefore, the lensing of Godstuff on Earth, the focalization of Eternity in time. Consciously or unconsciously we direct the flow of Universal Mind into form." 



The reading from "The Science of Mind" for July 3rd covers several teachings of Jesus from the Gospel of John.


"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
- John 5:19

Commenting on this verse Ernest Holmes writes:

"Here is a lesson in the practical application of the Science of Mind. As the subjective state of thought becomes unified with goodness and love, it automatically reflects these in whatsoever direction the thought goes. The tendency of this inner thought sets the tendency of the outward life." - p. 475

This observation brings to mind the passage in Proverbs 4:23:
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life"
 In Biblical language the "Heart" is the seat of emotional thought or intelligence. So what this verse is suggesting is that we keep watch over our thoughts and feelings, for out of them we manifest our reality.

The second teaching is based on John 5:26
"For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;"
Once again, the emphasis of "The Science of Mind" teachings are on the solid belief in One Life, Mind or Spirit. We partake of the divine nature of God and therefore share in this One Life, Mind or Spirit. When we speak and act in conformance of this consciousness then we express life, power and action and create reality for ourselves and others.

Holmes writes:

"Just words, without conviction, have no power, and just conviction, without words, will never stir up latent energy. There must be a combination of the two to make a complete thing." - p. 476

The next teaching is based on John 6:27
"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. "
The "meat" that Jesus refers to is of the spiritual kind - for spirituality in Jesus' view is the food, or "bread of life." 

Holmes writes:

"More people are starved spiritually and intellectually than physically. A full stomach will never appease an appetite for learning, nor can a loaf of bread satisfy the inner craving for reality. The whole being needs to be fed - bread and meat for the body, knowledge and wisdom for the soul, atmosphere and consciousness for the Spirit." p.476

Our lives are to be lived in complete integration of body, mind, and spirit. We "cannot live on bread alone," but through the interaction of thought and action; of inspiration to actualization we become whole - HOLY beings. With the transformation of our thoughts we can animate the life of God within us. Our purpose can be realized.