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Monday
May232016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 96

 

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James and Joseph), and the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Matthew 27:45-56

 

The terror of immense shadows that was falling on [the Lord] is his shrinking in horror from such enormous devastation. The more devoted a person is to the heavenly qualities of love, the more horror that person feels on seeing the end approach—the Lord most of all, since he was moved by divine and heavenly love itself....Light stands for truth and the shadow for falsity. The light also stands for the Lord because all truth is from him, and the shadow stands for the hells because all falsity is from them. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows me will not walk in shadow.” (John 8:12) And, “Walk, as long as you have light, to prevent the shadows from overtaking you, because whoever walks in the shadow does not know where to head. I have come into the world as the light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in shadow. (John 12:35, 46) The light stands for the Lord, the source of everything good and true. The shadow stands for falsity that the Lord alone dispels. The lies being spread during the [church’s] final days, called shadows here, or at least referred to in the phrase “terror of immense shadows,” were represented and symbolized by the shadows that fell on the whole earth from the sixth hour to the ninth [during the Crucifixion], and by the fact that the sun was shadowed over at the same time, which represented and symbolized the dying out then of love and faith (See Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44, 45). Secrets of Heaven §1849

 

Likely you have been troubled by the effects of a lie you believed. You believed someone’s word. You believed your efforts would bear fruit. You believed your car would make it to the gas station! But then there are troubles caused when you believe your own lie. “He won’t notice,” you have said to yourself. “She won’t care.” “I am right, and that is what is most important.” “If they really knew me, they would hate me.” “If he wins, I will lose.”

Such thoughts cast a shadow on your entire life. The sunshine that is unconditional love for God, other people, and yourself, is blocked for a time. And it is difficult even to recognize that you are in the darkness. Every fumbling effort feels like the next good choice that will improve the situation. And so there is the next lie, or the next argument you can win.

And now consider what was going through the merely mortal mind of Jesus Christ as he suffered the physical and spiritual pain of his torture and final temptation battle. Now, it is true that there are people who have held firm to their principles of goodness and truth and the light while suffering tortorous pain, even unto death. That is remarkable, and not to be discounted. The testimony of revelation and our experience, however, is that Jesus was not one of the few remarkable people in history to die a martyr.

It is the internal, spiritual suffering that sets Jesus apart as unique. When any of us mere mortals suffer the internal torment of the battle between good and evil, while it feels like our own suffering, it is, in fact, God’s divine love that is under attack. Jesus Christ WAS that divine love in body. His suffering was that very battle itself, waged in his mind. He is unique in creation being the embodiment of divine love. So the conflict was actually happening in him at that moment. And all the work he had done in his spiritual development, his glorification, or union of the Human and the Divine, came down to this single moment.

On the cross, he felt all alone. His supporters had fled (and the women standing afar off were powerless). He had been mocked by the very people he had wanted to see transformed. The rejection really was a failure to complete his mission. His death really was an end to his ministry and any chance of being a light of love to any more people. How could he stay on the cross (which he knew he could escape from) as he considered what he was about to give up?

But his mind was not all alone. In the higher reaches of his mind, he heard the wailing of his own voice as he cried out “My God! My God! Why have you left me all alone!” The divine love within, which was his soul, heard his own physical voice, and immediately there was a spiritual space for a new realization, a new perspective. Immediately, the divine love for the salvation of all humanity, up until that moment hidden by the shadow of the lie that he had failed, broke through the fog of physical and mental suffering, and dispelled the darkness.

He saw the lie, was freed from the lie, and so able to let go of the lie. In so doing, he “gave up his spirit,” as some translations put it, or “let forth the spirit.” He gave up the body, with its affiliated thoughts and emotions, that could not but hold on to the last vestige of the lie that he had to do more. He realized how to be more. Indeed he realized that he is being divine.

The implications for us are clear. Our bodies, and the lower mental faculties tied to our physical senses, cannot but believe lies (or illusions, if “lies” is too strong a word for you!) about itself and its existence. God created it this way so that we really, for real, can actually let go of our small, materialistic, selfish self, in favor of holding onto our eternal, connected, whole self. The process is dangerous. We can fail – indeed we fail many times before figuring it out. Failure is thus the way we learn. Every time we confront the lie, using the love that flows in – that informs us that we are loved and can love unconditionally – we let go of the source of our suffering. Every time we cry out, and hear our suffering, we create a spiritual space in which it is possible to have a new perspective. We are free to choose to let go of the suffering and hold on to the eternal love flowing into us from the divine love itself.

Jesus Christ has accomplished the basic task; and he can now reside in our hearts, as he has promised. Every moment we recognize his presence there, he is alive in our hearts, dwelling with us, and we with him.

 

Monday
May162016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 95

Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry his cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers divided his clothes among them by casting lots. This fulfilled the word of the prophet: “They divided my garments among themselves and cast lots for my robe.” Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened above his head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked him. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way. Matthew 27:27-44

 

“All of us have to do our part and move closer to God. The closer we come to God, the more God enters us, which is his part [of the process].

“The union itself [between the Lord's divine and human natures] was completed by the suffering on the cross, because this suffering was the final spiritual test that the Lord went through in the world. Spiritual tests lead to a partnership [with God]. During our spiritual tests, we are apparently left completely alone, although in fact we are not alone – at those times God is most intimately present at our deepest level giving us support. Because of that inner presence, when any of us have success in a spiritual test we form a partnership with God at the deepest level. In the Lord's case, he was then united to God, his Father, at the deepest level.

“From the points just made it is clear that it was not the Lord's divine nature that suffered, it was his human nature. And then the deepest union, a complete union, took place.” True Christianity §126

 

 

Our spiritual growth includes struggling with our lower nature, our ego, our selfishness, our materialism. We begin this process by noticing that inclinations we feel, the motivations and desires that come to us, the thoughts that pop into our consciousness, support our lower, merely natural desires. So the suggestion is that you use your imagination to consider that these feelings and thoughts are coming from a source other than your own mind and heart, but from the unseen, but demonstrably real, powers of darkness. Swedenborg experienced this power, called it “evil,” and identified “evil spirits” as the means by which this malicious power influences us. Here is a powerful description of the process as Swedenborg experienced it.

“Anyone who is being tested is unsure of the end. The end is love, and love is what evil spirits and evil

demons attack, throwing the end into doubt. The more love the victim has, the more doubt they cast. If the cherished end did not become doubtful, even to the point of despair, there would be no struggle. Certainty about the outcome comes just before victory and is a part of victory.

“Few people know much about these challenges, so let me explain briefly here. Evil spirits never fight against anything but what we love. The more passionately we love something, the more bitterly they fight it. Evil demons combat anything good that touches our hearts; evil spirits combat anything true that touches our hearts. As soon as they become aware of something we love, no matter how small, or smell out anything dear and pleasing to us, they immediately attack and try to destroy it. In the process, they are trying to destroy the whole person, because our life consists in what we love. Nothing could possibly give them more pleasure than to destroy us. Nor do they ever stop trying (even if it takes forever) unless the Lord drives them away. The malicious, deceitful ones worm their way into our core loves, stroking them and so awaking us to them. Once they have done so, they immediately set out to destroy what we love and consequently to kill us, by a thousand bewildering means. 

“They do not fight by arguing against what is good and true. (That kind of fight is useless, because if they were beaten a thousand times they would continue to stand firm, since there is no end to the supply of arguments undercutting goodness and truth.) Instead, they pervert what is good and true, setting it aflame with the fire of appetite and delusion, so that for all we know we share their appetites and delusions. They also seize on some unrelated pleasure in us and feed the flames with it. In this way they very deviously infect and molest us. So skillfully do they work, as they spread their contagion, that if the Lord did not help us we would inevitably believe them.

“They level the same attack on the devotion to truth that forms our conscience. As soon as they detect a trace of conscience, no matter how imperfect, they take our misconceptions and weaknesses and shape them into a fog of emotion, which they use to block and distort the light of truth; or else they torture us with anxiety. Another device they use is to train our thoughts on a single issue, with no letup. They fill it up with crazy notions and at the same time secretly tie our cravings into the insanity. They have countless other underhanded methods as well, which could never be described intelligibly. Little of this reaches our conscious awareness, and only in its most general outlines; and it is our conscious awareness of right and wrong (our conscience) more than anything else that these evil spirits take the greatest delight in destroying.

“These few details—very few—give some idea of what it is like to be tested; in general, the nature of our trials matches the nature of our love. This in turn indicates what the Lord’s trials were like: the very fiercest of all. A trial is as fierce as the love is large. The Lord’s love was to save the whole human race—a love that burned intensely. So his love comprised every desire for everything good and every desire for everything true, in the highest degree. This is what the hells all fought against, employing the most malevolent tricks and the most poisonous venom; but the Lord still conquered them all decisively, by his own power. Victory carries with it the consequence that malicious demons and spirits no longer dare to do anything. Their whole life depends on being able to destroy things, but when they sense that their victim has what it takes to stand up to them, they retreat as soon as they attack. The same thing happens when they near the first threshold of heaven; fear and horror immediately seize them and they rush away as fast as they can go.” Secrets of Heaven §1820

There is a powerful tool and strategy described here. Cultivate a mindful watch of your thoughts and feelings, and you will begin to see the negative thoughts and egotistical feelings, and in seeing them for what they are, you will be able to resist their influence. In this way, his love and wisdom are influencing our minds and hearts, we are “closer to God,” as he dwells in us.

.................................

Reflections on the personal application of the symbolism of the story of the crucifixion.

We collect and believe many falsities that seek to destroy the power of truth by the tactic of mocking the truth. Such falsities do not have any real substance with which to confront the truth. We are created with the power to give meaning to what we learn. So, we can see the truth and experience its power and yet continue to so alter its expression in our minds and speech that, while calling it “King” we are actually depriving it of any power in our hearts, indeed, mocking it by feeling the power as if it is our own, believing the truths to be our inventions, (which is how we are designed to have and experience the truth), but without the concomitant acknowledgement that it is in fact God’s truth and power.

Such devaluing of the Divine truth does not remain hidden for long. Soon the very symbols of human failure – weeds of thorns sprouting, and weak reeds (the dead stems of once thriving plants) – are used to spit back into the face of the Divine love its offer of the water of life, even that used by the body for its living, the saliva. You can watch this happen to others often. But can you do the necessary preparation to be able to observe it ion yourself? Can you look in the eyes of one you love and see the hurt you just perpetrated when you dismissed their pain, ignored their need, stole their delight, diminished their value? Have you practiced non-judgmental self observation of your emotions and thoughts enough to be able to see through your defenses to the actual intentions, the real source of your behavior?

When you do, you will see the fear, the anger, the grief that actually propels your defense of your little self when you resort to mocking, dismissing, demeaning the one you love. It is an exercise of a power you certainly have, but used to harm instead of to bond. It is a horrible perversion of your human capability.

Bearing one’s cross is something we do internally, unseen by others. However, when we fall into a wretched state of life by devaluing the Lord’s truth, and mocking it in our speech and actions, and begin to suffer, we are spurred to begin to do the work of repentance. Eventually the burden we bear will be seen by all as we try, with stumbling steps, perhaps bleeding from the wounds, walk the walk of truth and love. It feels, and looks, like we do not have access to those truths as part of our consciousness any longer. It feels like there is another part of us, even foreign to us, bearing the burden of the impending death of that perverted part of us.

And so a death of part of us approaches. It is a bitter tasting draught. As we lose the protective covering of our hypocrisy, we see there is in fact a whole truth within that has been maligned, crucified. We see its wonderful true nature, its royalty. And we experience the path to seeing and loving this royal nature within that includes our suffering a sense of loss of life, albeit a false life, a small self, an impure ego.

The development of our self is not achieved by putting aside the struggle to assert our spiritual nature over our natural nature. The process proceeds by our abiding through to the end of the struggle, when our merely natural nature “dies.” It becomes the servant of my spirit, completely under the sway of the spiritual principles of goodness and truth. A resurrection of a new self is about to happen.

 

Thursday
Apr282016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 94

Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him. Jesus replied, “You have said it.” But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”

 

Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” And all the people yelled back, “His blood be on us and our children!” So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. Matthew 27:11-26

 

[Swedenborg experiences a beautiful sight in the spiritual world.] There were wreaths as of laurel, green and fresh, placed in a very beautiful order, and moving as though they were alive. They were formed and arranged in such a way that their beauty and unity, and the feeling of bliss flowing from these, defy description. They ran in a double series spaced a little distant from each other and extended quite a long way with ever varying beauty. This was plainly seen by spirits, even by evil ones. Then another sight followed, which was still more beautiful, holding heavenly happiness within it; yet it was only dimly visible. Young children were playing heavenly games which filled the mind with feelings beyond description.

Then I spoke to the spirits [who had recently come into the spiritual world] about those sights and they confessed that they had seen the first as clearly as I had done, but not the second except so obscurely that they could not tell what it was. This gave rise to anger within them, and after that gradually to envy, when they were told that the angels and young children had seen it. I then was allowed to experience with my senses their feeling of envy. Their envy was such that it not only caused them extreme annoyance but also agony and interior pain, and solely because they did not see the second sight as well as the first. They were consequently led through different kinds of envy until they experienced pain in the region of the heart.

While they were passing through this state I talked to them about their envy. I said that they might have been contented with having seen the first vision, and that they could have seen the second as well if they had been good spirits. But this too merely roused their anger, which increased their envy to such an extent that after that they could not bear the faintest recollection of the experience without feeling pain. The states and the successive stages of their envy, together with the degrees of it, the increases in it, and the varied intermingled feelings of distress in mind and heart, are indescribable. In this way I was shown how much wicked spirits are tormented by envy, even when they see from afar the blessedness of the good, or indeed when they simply think about it. Secrets of Heaven §1975

 

It is a powerful and moving moment when Jesus looks the high priest in the eye and says nothing in response to his hateful accusations. Jesus did not speak to the priests because they were attacking him from envy, a negative attitude, with the goal of diminishing his power, and pronouncing his speech false. So Jesus responded in the best way possible by remaining silent. He did not need to prove himself to them. His power and mission were not threatened by them.

A good person, one who is open to learning from others, who wishes to collaborate, and who does not have an agenda which drives them, may be perplexed by the way some people are able to protect themselves when being attacked by being silent and not responding. We want them to defend their goodness and truth! Can not two conflicting ideas be set side by side and assessed, perhaps by seeing them in use? But no, the simple, wise person will instead step back. They will move out of the fray, and await the revelation of the truth which will come organically as the envious attacker exposes their own weaknesses and fears. If we attend carefully to the spirit of the attacker, we will, with the target of the attack, receive a warning in our mind’s eye, as if there was a quiet voice, perhaps a dream, telling us to beware entanglement in some convoluted argument designed to break our spirit, and rob our power and our joy. So learn from the attitude of the silent One, who did not stoop to feed the negative energy that seeks only to destroy that which threatens its power and glory.

How do we explain the existence and persistence of the emotion envy? What is its role in evolution and our spiritual development? Every emotion has a useful expression as well as a malicious expression. Consider how anger can lead to the protection of an innocent person, or can destroy innocence. Or how sadness can create a bond between two people, or make one person feel condescended to. Or how fear can provide adequate warning of danger, or can paralyze with anxiety? Does envy have such multiple purposes? Can my envy positively spur me into action? And if so, how do I harness that positive expression and avoid the negative expression?

Envy is necessary for our natural and spiritual development. The physical world necessarily includes scarcity, suitability, and drive for improvement. And so the seed will sprout where the environment fits its nature; it will seek out the food, water and warmth it must have to grow, and it will crowd out other plants to get those scarce resources. It is clear that humans are doing the same things. And so we look for the mate (or the school, or the job, or the neighborhood, etc.), who will offer the best chance of thriving; we will seek all the resources we can at minimal effort necessary; and we will adapt as best we can to gain the greatest advantage. None of this is evil or merely materialistic. It is the way God created all species to thrive and reproduce, ultimately populating heaven with angels.

Yet we know, since the proverbial fall of humankind, that envy inevitably becomes hostility. When we remain merely natural, materialistic, hedonistic, and selfish people, we, like the high priest, will react to a threat to our power, or challenge to our authority, or an apparent grab for our resources, with anger and actions that seek to destroy our competitor. When unnoticed, and eventually unchecked, envy will lead us to murder, if not the body, then the spirit of our fellow human being. How very sad.

We can avoid the progress of envy, as Swedenborg so clearly described it, by noticing when we become distressed at a negative assessment of ourselves in comparison to others. It is vital to note that making the comparison is a good idea, and that recognizing our lack or failings is a good lesson. Our challenge is to be able to hold the insight and the lesson in the context of our spiritual growth.

To live in the blessings brought to us by the emotion of envy requires that we learn to live with an attitude of gratitude for what we have; that we develop a sense of abundance of everything we need, and perhaps a sense of having all we even want. We can come to realize, through a considerable amount of work over time, as the scientists who can watch the brain react to challenges realize, that our joy at achieving our goals is heightened by collaboration. We can come to live as though we are indeed all in this together. And then the influence of evil will not infect the powerful, positive effects of our normal, ubiquitous emotion of envy.

Jesus is a model for us in this story. Yes, there is a lot going on in this story beyond the lesson of managing envy. Yet, if envy is no longer filling our heart, then the Lord Jesus Christ can be there, feeding us the delight of an eternal life, an abundance of all that is good and true, and a community so tightly knit there will never be any distress in our relationships.

Monday
Mar142016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 93

 

Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah [32:6-9] that says,

“They took the thirty pieces of silver—
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
and purchased the potter’s field,
as the Lord directed.” Matthew 27:1-10

 

“Thirty" denotes what is so little as to be scarcely anything. This passage denotes that they placed no value on the merit and redemption of the Lord. Secrets of Heaven §2966

Lord's Divine constitutes the Church with a person. For the Church does not hearken to anything except that which is the Lord's own. It is the good of love and charity, and the truth of faith, that constitute that which is called the Church. For it is well known that all good comes from the Lord and that all truth comes from the Lord. Good and truth that come from a person are not good and truth. From this it is evident that the price of redemption a person sets is determined by the measure of their receptivity. Secrets of Heaven §2966

 

 

Our eyes give us the ability to quickly make decisions for our self preservation. It is physics and biology. Light reflects off of objects, and the beams are manipulated by our eyeballs, which send electrical stimulations to our brains. We see something and we test it (often by putting it our mouths!) and decide what its value is to us. For instance, food quickly becomes the most valuable object and sensation. This process creates structures in our brain that both provide for our cognitive function, and are used by our cognitive function, to create hierarchies of valuation. As we learn about the world around us, we establish a valuation system based first on our physical needs, and later based on our psychological needs, and finally based on our spiritual needs.

We develop our psychological hierarchy of value by creating structures in our mind that use our sensations for information only. We develop the ability to decide the meaning of the sensation. We actually assign the meaning in an effort to not merely survive, but thrive – to be successful in our endeavors to have power and a sense of well being. We create a more mature, sophisticated hierarchy of value.

We are then ready to develop our spiritual hierarchy of value. We create structures in our mind that use the meanings we have created as information only. Based on that information about the meanings of sensations, we develop the ability to assess the value we have given to what we believe by seeing those beliefs – those meanings – as subject to a still higher, or perhaps deeper, influence that we experience as our own but not originating in our own thought. This is precisely parallel to our experience of assigning meaning to our sensation, using a valuation system that we have created. For instance, we might have a moral objection to how a person uses their power or their words to manipulate others, even though many other people do not make that moral judgment.

Our mature spiritual belief system, and its collection of meanings and structures, is possible because of the power of God’s divine love and divine wisdom. “For it is well known that all good comes from the Lord and that all truth comes from the Lord.” His design for our spiritual development is a progressive, organic, and complex process of valuation, driven at first by physical needs, later by our psychological needs, and finally by our spiritual needs. The three exist together, and are all necessary for a person born on earth to actually become human. At every step, while we experience an ownership of the love and wisdom, and while we experience self-direction through every stage, actually it is God’s creative inflow of good and truth that is underpinning the process and establishing the rules that produce the consequences of our actions we experience.

The entire living organism that is eventually a human being is set on this course of development from its conception. Every single human being, ever existing, through the present day on earth, has this opportunity. If we wish to participate in the process to its fullest extent, we must actively participate in the valuation of our sensation, and the valuation of the meaning we give to those sensations. And we have to open our spiritual eyes to the light and warmth that is God’s truth and love.

So we are encouraged to take small bits of experience and test them against how our sensations and invented meanings value them, and then test that experience against how God’s love and wisdom value them. By choosing to position what God has said is the value higher in our hierarchy of values, we experience the greatest freedom, which is to intentionally and actually choose to believe, and to act on what is, now for us, good and true.

Another way to describe it, is that we are to live gratefully in a certain paradox. We are encouraged to hold our current beliefs lightly and to watch our ego carefully. And we are to hold fast onto our will for goodness and our understanding of truth and to assert heavenly values in all our work. This is the tension that is human life. And sometimes, like Judas, we make a mistake, and give value to a belief or action that in fact hurts us and others. While we are not to commit suicide because of such mistakes, Judas’ story alerts us to the impact of our mistakes. Something may die in us. That is sad. But we will rise again, with a new wisdom and a new sensitivity to the divine love.

Let us embrace the tension created by our position between sure judgments and flexible attitudes, knowing that by so living, the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in our hearts, in his love and wisdom, and supporting and assisting us in our search for authentic usefulness and purpose.

 

Tuesday
Mar012016

Having Jesus in Your Heart 92

 

Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end. 

Inside, the leading priests, the elders, and the entire council were trying to find witnesses who would lie about Jesus, so they could put him to death. But even though they found many who agreed to give false witness, they could not use anyone’s testimony. Finally, two men came forward who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They answered and said, “He deserves to die!” Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him, jeering, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who hit you that time?” Matthew 26: 57-68

Behold, He is coming with the clouds (of heaven), symbolically means that the Lord will reveal Himself in the literal sense of the Word and lay open its spiritual meaning at the end of the church. Someone who knows nothing of the internal or spiritual meaning of the Word cannot know what the Lord meant by His coming in the clouds of heaven. For He said to the high priest who was adjuring Him to say whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, “As you have said.... I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63, 64, Mark 14:61, 62) The clouds of heaven in which He will come mean nothing else than the Word in its literal sense, and the glory in which they will see Him, the Word in its spiritual meaning. The reality of this can hardly be believed by people who do not think of the Word beyond the sense of its letter. To them a cloud is a cloud, and so they believe that the Lord will appear in the clouds of the sky when the Last Judgment is at hand. But this idea collapses when the meaning of a cloud is known, that it is Divine truth in its outmost expressions, thus the Word in its literal meaning.

Now because, after the glorification of His humanity, the Lord became the embodiment of Divine truth or the Word even in its outmost expressions, He said to the high priest that thereafter they would see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven. Apocalypse Revealed §24

 

How do you react when you are told that God is omnipotent? My ego, my sense of self, resists. I seek an explanation for my experience of my own power, which I sense very clearly and specifically. I can reach, and grab; or push away. I can take a deep breath or hold it until I lose consciousness (and the primitive, non-rational part of my brain takes over from my mind’s choice). I can speak, and comfort. I can speak, and harm. I act and it results in a new beauty. I act and it results in a new ugliness. Like the High Priest, I scorn the outrageous claim of an omnipotence outside of my own power. God has given me even the ability to notice when I am using my power for evil. But I will fight to maintain the ownership of the power, knowing that it is the only way that true good is done on the earth.

So let us put aside for the moment the obvious challenge to political and priestly power that Jesus was making, which gave the Council of leaders the very real right to put this blasphemer to death. Focusing only on the politically and morally charged atmosphere that existed then will distract us from the personal lesson. And our hindsight condemnation of the Council, knowing as we do that Jesus was indeed God incarnate and so was not a blasphemer; and knowing that the Gospel writer had his own political agenda (even if directly inspired by the Holy Spirit); frees us up to deflect the condemnation of our own egotistical and merely naturalistic attitude of righteousness. We are able to focus on the point: our individual resistance to the omnipotence of our God.

Further, we know that Jesus was a unique individual whose conception and glorification are a mystery. We know he began life with special abilities, grew to manhood performing a mission of becoming the accomplishment of the prophecies of the Savior, which included the sublimation of his merely human ego to the divine love itself, leading to his martyrdom and unification with the divine, the “Father.” Thus he actually, (although not literally), became both the omnipotent power of the divine, and its expression in our understanding – the “clouds” in which the sun and its light are made observable – by our finite minds.

All this leads to this realization: there is a part of me that is designed to resist any claim of omnipotence outside of my self. Like the High Priest, I will use the power of my sense of self to disdain any claim upon me, and rally all the intellectual and emotional support I can to kill it. In fact, I spend my life, doing good deeds, noticing my inner faults, putting aside the lust for power and material gain, only to discover that deep within is still a part of me that has built a psychological structure of support, and a network of ideas and emotions, “false witnesses,” that will work hard to destroy any infringement on my free will and independence. God created all humans with this capacity and tendency. In ancient parables it is described as the urge to eat of “forbidden fruit” which inevitably causes the “fall” from a perfect life.

The first challenge is to notice this part of our inner life and observe it without being paralyzed by self recrimination. This is an effort of many years that has its successes and failures. In our story, Peter illustrates our fluctuating allegiance. And yet, we can many times simply observe what is happening inside our hearts and minds. And we get angry at ourselves; we cry over our mistakes; we regret things we have done or not done. And then, we show up again and again, until we can actually sacrifice our ego for the sake of genuine goodness.

So the second challenge is to let go of the structure and network. It will feel like we are dying. It will feel unfair and unnecessary. But a thought will rise in our minds again and again: we are, in reality, powerless. God’s omnipotence is not robbing us of independent life. It is our own need to be right, our grasping for control, our holding onto power, which murder the living being within us that gains independence when aligned with, and connected to, all other life. 

And so we are asked to remain silent, acknowledging only the simple clear truth: God is all powerful, and incarnates his love and wisdom in our thoughts and emotions, thus revealing his glory. In illustrative language: The Man on “the right hand,” clothed by “clouds” in which his “glory” is seen as a magnificent golden glow with innumerable beams reaching the earth that is my consciousness.

When we participate in this process, including the inevitable fall from grace, and the fluctuating effort, and the poor success rate, we are there, even in the “Council,” counted amongst those who voted against the death of Jesus Christ. He is then – even in that moment before we are fully complete as a human – he is alive in our hearts, dwelling with us and we with him.