Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Principles of Religious Science


“We need to know with scientific certainty that there is a Consciousness and a Power in the Universe that responds to us definitely, directly, and dynamically. Each individual must arrive at a place in his own consciousness where this contact is so immediate and so dynamic that if every other living soul denied it, he would still know.”

― Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind

ONE GOD

I believe in GOD, the LIVING ALMIGHTY; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent CAUSE. This ONE manifests ITSELF in and through all creation but is not absorbed by its creation. The manifest universe is the body of GOD; it is the logical and necessary outcome of the infinite self-knowingness of GOD…

EVERYTHING IS SPIRIT

I believe in the incarnation of the SPIRIT in all beings and that every person is an incarnation of the ONE SPIRIT…

PERSONAL IMMORTALITY

I believe in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding…

HEAVEN ON EARTH

I believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us and that I experience this kingdom to the degree that I become conscious of it…

PERSONAL FREEDOM

I believe that the ultimate goal of life is to be a complete emancipation from all discord of every nature, and that this goal is sure to be attained by all…

UNITY OF ALL LIFE

I believe in the unity of all life, and that the highest GOD and the innermost GOD is one GOD…

PERSONIFICATION OF GOD

I believe that GOD is personal to all who feel this indwelling PRESENCE…

PERSONAL REVELATION

I believe in the direct revelation of TRUTH through the intuitive and spiritual nature of humanity, and that any person may become a revealer of TRUTH who lives in close contact with the indwelling GOD…

UNIVERSAL LAW

I believe that the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT, which is GOD, operates through a UNIVERSAL MIND, which is the LAW OF GOD, and that I am surrounded by this CREATIVE MIND which receives the direct impress of my thought and acts upon it…

SPIRITUAL HEALING

I believe in the demonstration of HEALING through the power of this MIND…

PERSONAL POWER

I believe in the control of conditions through the power of this MIND…

GOODNESS OF GOD

I believe in the eternal Goodness, the eternal Loving-Kindness, and the eternal Givingness of LIFE to all…

SELF DETERMINATION

I believe in my own soul, my own spirit, and my own destiny; for I understand that my LIFE is GOD.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Century - New Thought


A month before the world changed on September 11th, 2001, I was on vacation in New York with my family.

Being an early riser and compulsive spiritual seeker I got up early on Sunday morning to attend a church service at Avery Fisher Hall across the street from our hotel. I think I'd seen a poster or flyer about it in the hotel lobby. It was a service of the Unity Church of New York City.

I was surprised to find that Les Brown was the guest speaker at the service that morning. Les is a perhaps better known as the husband of singer Gladys Knight - but he is a prolific writer and one of the greatest motivational speakers of all time.

Les spoke on the practical spiritual application of Psalm 23 - it was so inspiring!

At the end of his talk he introduced, to an enthusiastic crowd, the spiritual director of Unity New York - Eric Butterworth; Eric was 84 years old at the time, physically old but still nimble of mind (he died two years later).

Eric spoke for about 15 minutes and I wish I could remember what he spoke about. But what I do remember is having the real sense of being in the presence of a spiritual giant. He led a meditation where he asked us to close our eyes and repeat the word "ONE" intentionally and slowly.

I wanted to stay after the service and speak with him - but the crowd was too large and I had other commitments.

After the service I remember rushing to Barnes & Noble on Broadway to buy a copy of his last book; "The Creative Life."

I was profoundly impacted by being in the presence of this man. However, the tragedy of 9/11 happened and I lost my footing a little and began to wander off in search of comfort in more "traditional" approaches to religion where I could "coast" for awhile. 9/11 injured my faith a little - and drove me off course.

It's been almost 16 years since I attended that service - but the subconscious impact of hearing Eric Butterworth is greater than time and even more profound than the words that he spoke on that day.

A few weeks ago, while journaling, I thought about some of the spiritual highlights of my life and the memory of New York 2001 came to mind and I became aware that I had been influenced deeply in my soul by that encounter. So, I began re-reading some books by Eric Butterworth and felt the spiritual warmth that only comes from the deep heartfelt experience of recognizing the truth that already lives within, buried beneath misguided habits and beliefs accumulated over years of institutional interpretation and manipulation.

So....to net this out..... I began to dig out and find all that I could about the principles of New Thought and Religious Science; the roots of Eric Butterworth's teachings.

I stand amazed. After over 45 years of spiritual searching, and thousands of hours reading and researching almost every religion and philosophy under the sun - I have found home.

I researched various New Thought and Religious Science meetings in the area and last weekend I visited the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago. Now, not only have I found home - I've found the local address!!!

I felt welcomed at Bodhi - they teach about practical ways to be like Christ. Not the easy salvation message of the Evangelical community; but the streetwise, all accepting reality of the life and daily living example of Jesus.  I'm sure that I'll become a regular at their services. They pray - not the prayers of "sinners." but rather the affirmations of the loved and empowered beloved Children of God.

Bodhi proclaims:

There is one, ultimate, loving energy that is present in all that exists.

And so it is!!!

This blog will be devoted to exploring the practical teachings of New Thought and Religious Science as I apply their principles to my life. Enjoy the ride......I know I will.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Acedia: Spiritual Apathy

"Acedia is a state of listlessness or torpor, of not caring or not being concerned with one's position or condition in the world. It can lead to a state of being unable to perform one's duties in life." - Wikipedia

I'd read about Acedia before. It's a condition that is often associated with the solitary spiritual life of monastics and hermits. It has often been confused with slothfulness - but, more recently, it has been "diagnosed" among those who live in an environment with reduced human contact, or among those who rarely interact with others.

I never thought of myself as a solitary mystic in classical terms - but I have to admit that much of my spiritual life, as such, is kept very personal and I rarely share my thoughts about spiritual matters except in this blog, or in my personal journals. Hence: the solitary spiritual life.

Acedia is a horrible condition. I'm not sure I'm over it - but last weekend I felt its full impact. I was listless, sleepy, achy, very disheartened about a lot of things in my life. My job, my spiritual practices, my household tasks. Everything seemed empty of meaning.

On Sunday afternoon I wandered over to Promontory Point and sat by the lakeshore and read some Psalms and from a little book of thoughts and meditations written by Henri Nouwen. It helped a little.

During a moment of clarity from within the cloud of despondency I began to consider that perhaps my Acedia was coming as a symptom of my TM practice, as a purging of negative thought patterns from deep within my subconscious mind. TM does a good job of reaching into the deepest crevices of the the subconscious mind and dredging up all the negativity so that is can be dissipated. The analogy I've heard Maharishi use is that of stirring up the dredge at the bottom of a still lake. The mind becomes calm during meditation and the stored deeply sub-conscious emotions and fears rise to the surface.

This explanation seems logical to me - and being aware of that possibility has helped me regain a little more focus and energy in my day to day life.

It definitely seems that practicing TM is having a cleansing effect on my mind and this will only have a good outcome and will release my mind from any negative conditioning that has accumulated over my lifetime..

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sanatana Dharma:The Perennial Philosophy



Since I re-started my practice of Transcendental Meditation I've found that my emotional life has become more calm and my mind is less agitated by small things. I've been more open to letting things go and I'm less concerned about the "correctness" or "orthodoxy"  of my spiritual life. The Bible has become a book again, and not a divine oracle!! Christianity has lost a lot of its shine, and I find it difficult to relate to the image of God or Jesus that is portrayed by most Christian teachers and writers. I don't view this as a negative by the way. I think Christianity needs to be reformed yet again. With more focus on developing the mind of Christ and less emphasis on the worshipping of Christ.

So, TM has become my salvation from this world. Not a religion, but an experience that has ACTUAL impact on my life. Of course, TM does engender some concepts that lead directly to ancient Vedic knowledge and the application of Vedanta Philosophy.

In my early days as a spiritual seeker - I discovered a Sanskrit term: Sanatana Dharma, which in some scholarly circles is identified as the original term for Hinduism. Literally translated Sanatana Dharma means "Eternal Truth," or "The Truth that holds everything together!" It's not Hinduism - but rather the same truth that underlies all religions prior to interpretation and classification by the human mind.

Sanatana Dharma - The Eternal Truth, I've always liked that term; it goes to the very core of the foundation of truth -  the precursor to all religions and philosophies if you like. 

If I have to claim allegiance to any "brand" of the truth - I would say that Sanatana Dharma is my preference.

Sanatana Dharma refers to that which is unchangeable and constant behind all interpretations and definitions of the truth. The reality beyond any belief system.

One of my favorite descriptions of Sanatana Dharma comes from Aldous Huxley's brilliant introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God, translated by  Swami  Prabhavananda  and Christopher Isherwood: 


The Minimum Working Hypothesis

"At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines. 

First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness--the world of things and animals and men and even gods--is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent. 

Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known. 

Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if  he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit. 

Fourth: man's life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground." 

This Perennial Philosophy can be applied to all spiritual paths and traditions - it is the pathless reality behind all human interpretation and definition.

One of the results of the practice of Transcendental Meditation is the ability to perceive the Divine Ground that Huxley speaks of in his writing. The Divine Ground is seen as the boundless consciousness that is beyond relative existence - the source of all thought; the origin of all perceived individuality. That which exists as the single source of all diverse life and expression throughout creation. It is our natural state and quite normal, while at the same time, mysterious and boundless. There is within it the combination of humanity and divinity. 

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi refers to the Divine Ground as Being:

"Man lives in the sanctuary of God. His life is in love, in bliss, inwisdom, in God-consciousness. He lives in the realm of universalexistence. He moves on earth and he lives in the land of God, in thedivine ground of Being far above human vision and far beyond humanthought………."


Experience shows that Being is the essential, basic nature of the mind; but, since It commonly remains in tune with the senses projecting outwards toward the manifested realms of creation, the mind misses or fails to appreciate its own essential nature, just as the eyes are unable to see themselves. ”

― Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and the Art of Living

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Beginner's Mind


“I  discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color--something which exists before all forms and colors appear... No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.” 
― Shunryu Suzuki
To hold a belief tightly is to fall prey to your own ignorance. Beliefs are what divide us from one another.

I have tried to hold beliefs of various kinds throughout my life - through holding them I thought that I might attain some state of happiness or peace within myself. I clung to the idea that in order to be fully alive as a better human being I would have to find something outside myself that could come into me and change me.

A lot of Buddhist practices are this way. They teach the way to happiness or enlightenment is through a path of practice - as if happiness is a skill that can be learned or remembered. Christianity, Islam, Baha'i and other religions all profess a means of attainment of God-consciousness, or God-realization; referring to this state as a kind of union with divinity. But, the truth CANNOT exist anywhere in time. It cannot be located anywhere other than right here and right now. The truth or reality is always present. Reality is the wholeness of existence happening each moment as now.

But, I have realized that all religions fall short in their expression of the indescribable - as would be expected. All human communication falls short of expressing the divine.

The divine is non other than THIS - the very ALLNESS of everything. Moment by moment the divine reality that is the very BEING of life unfolds itself through diverse manifestations of itself. Endless expression through diversity is the very nature of the divine that is ONENESS itself.

Beneath the surface of life expressed through time is the timeless reality that is Being; the very source and existence of all consciousness.

Awareness of this timeless, formless reality occurs in meditation. Not as a progressive unveiling - but rather as a constant presence that is constant, unchangeable. It defies words to define it. It simply IS.

I have abandoned formal belief systems in preference for complete openness - Faith.

Faith is the complete trust in the nature of reality. To have faith above belief is to look at all things with a "beginner's mind;" a mind that sees things as they are with no interpretation based on prior conditioning.

Faith is not a belief in the hope of truth - faith is the complete willingness to accept all that is, on its own terms with no interpretation, as full-on moment by moment experience.

Self-denial is considered to be an important part of happiness. There is no greater self-denial than to deny that there is any permanence to the character that I claim as me beyond the integrated life that is ALL OF THIS happening right now.

Bye Bye Belief - Hello Happiness

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Conscious Freedom

Photo from DeviantART
This post is going to be written in a rather unformatted “stream of consciousness” format - because the thoughts are coming too fast for me to think about organizing and potentially losing them.

Suddenly, without any warning while meditating, I became very aware that I did not need to accept anyone else’s interpretation of the truth unless I choose to. I say this without arrogance because along with this awareness came the parallel idea that I already knew the truth about reality.

I have been a spiritual seeker all my life. Seeking to adopt someone else’s interpretation of reality because I wanted to avoid the responsibility for making decisions in my own life.

Since I started practicing Transcendental Meditation outside the boundaries of an institutional belief system I am perceiving the depth of consciousness that exists beyond that of my daily awake self. It is through this practice that I have become completely comfortable in knowing (not believing) that all is consciousness.

ALL THAT EXISTS IS CONSCIOUSNESS

I no longer worry about what happens at death. Obviously I’m not comfortable with the idea of separation from this existence, but I’m not afraid of it anymore; as some kind of darkness, place of punishment, or place of reward. Death is just a return to the primordial sea of consciousness from which everything appears. I don’t just believe this - through my meditation experiences - I actually know this, in the same way that I know my name or history. It’s a real understanding about reality.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that I’ll adopt some weird Vedic name, or that I’ll start claiming to be enlightened and seek fame on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday.” No, this is just the way things are and everybody can know this for themselves.

Knowing how reality works does not make someone special - it is very ordinary.

There are no “descending masters,” or “ascending humans that become god-men,” all of that is just fantasy. There is just consciousness experiencing “itself” as expanding awareness.

No religion is necessary. Religion is always an interpretation of reality. A “boxed lunch” approach to life.

There is no God because God is not different than consciousness - nothing is outside consciousness. To be unconscious is to be conscious of unconsciousness. Consciousness is a continuum of experience. Some people have open awareness of the boundless nature of consciousness, others do not. This does not make any difference to their status on the level of being.

To be totally aware of the connectedness of all things within consciousness is not a gift - it is the actual reality of things. The gift is losing all of the things that hinder the experience; religion, philosophy, conditioned belief, prejudices, concepts, …. all of that must go.

ONLY YOU - NO OTHERS

Religion is not needed because anything that religion can teach is already known when you realize the underlying reality of Conscious Being. There is no need to be told to “love your neighbor as yourself” because you become aware that your neighbor IS yourself. There is no need to be told to “do no harm to others,” because you are aware that there are no others - there are only appearances of consciousness as other beings.

The idea that we are separate individuals that need to preserve ourselves is an illusion. We are all in this together - there are no higher beings, no Buddhas, no Avatars, they are merely appearances in time that reflect what we all are forever.

This is not a belief system that I have adopted - it is the end of belief. I have exchanged belief for experience. Meditation is the only “path” that eradicates the need for a “path” of any kind.

We are all here together. There is no division. We appear that way because it helps us navigate through this life and gain the experiences necessary for our growth in consciousness. We have a purpose but if we think it’s about us as individuals we have more to learn.

There is no evolution apart from the evolution of consciousness. All of this is so that we can “see" how it all works together. The narrower our perception of reality - the narrower our awareness of the nature of it.

To embrace a particular set of religious beliefs may give us a sense of security - but it must ultimately be transcended. For reality is beyond beliefs - our beliefs do not shape reality, they only shape us into an expression of our interpretation of reality.

This experience may fade - but it is not emotionally founded or conditional on something I’ve read. It’s this now - existing as it is.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A New Beginning

THE WAY TO NO WAY

It's the beginning of a new month - the signs of Spring are beginning to manifest everywhere and with this new life comes an enthusiastic view on renewing my passion for personal transformation.

It's been said many times in many different ways -There is no path to enlightenment because enlightenment is nothing more than realizing that this is all there is. Yet, still there is a proliferation of teachers with methods that an individual can adopt in order to attain something that appears to be missing from our consciousness. What is actually missing is the awareness that there simply is nothing that can be added. In fact, the very act of seeking enlightenment is what prevents the realization of it!

This is potentially a hopeless situation - and many Advaita "non-teachers" will admit this and leave you feeling very despondent. The hope of fulfillment that is promised through seeking truth descends quickly into a kind of neurosis that has no cure.

In my personal story I am irrepressibly drawn to read the words and study the methods of these "teachers" in hopes that I will somehow find a way to experience what they claim to have experienced and achieve the wholeness that I sense is missing in my core. I have glimpsed the non-dual reality that they describe - but it quickly fades and the individual that I believe I am returns in full force.

THE DISCIPLINED NON-APPROACH

However, having experienced a glimpse of unicity, with a lingering resolve to return to it, I do not want to give up the fight. Instead I choose to live out the story of my life by continuing to follow a disciplined approach to becoming enlightened - knowing full well that there is no destination or goal other than the appearance of progression.

So I will apparently choose to meditate - not to attain anything, or with the purpose of gaining anything new or achieving a higher state of consciousness. For that will happen naturally, regardless of any path or belief system if I let go of the very idea of progressive realization.

TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION 

A few years ago I took up the practice of Transcendental Meditation. I had wanted to learn the technique for a long time, but I did not have the financial means to afford it, and/or the various belief systems that I've held onto over the years precluded me from the practice. But these days I'm comfortable with TM as a means of satisfying my "sweet tooth" for seeking without all the baggage that often goes along with it. TM is LIKE spirituality - but is not overtly religious in that there is no compulsion to sign-on as a member of the organization behind it. There are no promises of heaven beyond an improved outlook on life, nor threats of eternal damnation for not practicing.

This past few days I've been re-reading Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's introductory book to TM that he originally wrote in the very early '60's "Science of Being and Art of Living." It's actually quite profound on the subject of Advaita Vedanta and was actually ahead of its time given the spiritual climate in the West in the early '60's - this book, and the Maharishi's personal impact on the Beatles and media in the mid to late 60's may have seriously contributed to the consciousness revolution that occurred at that time. My early days of spiritual seeking involved the reading of an earlier edition of this book - and at the time I didn't realize its profundity and took a more conservative approach to self-realization, through various religions and generally more traditional spirituality.

Although I don't subscribe to a lot of what I'd call "superfluous paraphernalia" that is supplemental to practicing TM - I see a lot of value in the practice as a means of stilling the mind. Stilling the mind - to me is the foundational principle behind all spiritual practice - all who have experienced transcendence - even the hardest line Advaita and Neo-Advaita "philosophers" have practiced meditation at some point in their "apparent" journey to liberation.

The principle behind TM is solid - here's a few quotes from Maharishi that illustrate the pointing to that which I'd call Non-Dual awakening:

"Underneath the subtlest layer of all that exists in the relative field is the abstract, absolute field of pure Being which is unmanifested and transcendental. It is neither matter nor energy. It is pure Being, the state of existence."
- "Science of Being and Art of Living," Pg. 5
"The unity of Beingness, without undergoing any change in Itself, assumes the role of the multiplicity of creation, the diversity of Being. The absolute assuming the role of relativity, or unity appearing as multiplicity, is nothing else but the very nature of absolute Being appearing in different manifestations. That is why, while the absolute is eternal in Its never-changing status, the relative diversity of creation is eternal in its ever-changing nature."
- Ibid, Pg. 18

The physical and mental benefits of TM have been well-documented, so there is no need to mention them here. However, from a personal level the biggest benefit, to me, of the practice of TM is that is helps to transcend thought and experience the pure nature of absolute Being. All of my fears, doubts and mental barriers to self-understanding are rooted in my thinking, which is at the mercy of my emotions. Through TM I believe I can separate my thinking and my emotions and learn to express my life from the level of pure unchanging Being. A place where I do not exist in limited form.  

FADING GLIMPSES

I confess that I have glimpses of true non-dual existence - but they fade quickly into an overwhelming sense of individual suffering where I am confronted with my resistant ego that always seems to want its own way and deny that things are as they are. This is the dualistic barrier that I hope to overcome through the regular practice of TM.

So, beginning again, so to speak, in a new month; a new spring - I will seek nothing but the enjoyment of practicing TM. Knowing that it will not change reality, but simply practicing that it may somehow re-open the door to a reality that I've already seen, and keep me awake in the love and grace that it reveals that I may take it with me everywhere.