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Monday
Jul202015

Having Jesus In Your Heart 81

 

[Jesus says:] “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven. Only the Father knows.

“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left.” Matthew 24:32-41 

“[In the days of Noah, that they were] ‛Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage’ means a person’s [inner] state insofar as they made evil and falsity their own, and by doing this became joined to those evils and falsities....And that they were unaware of anything until the ‛flood came and took them all away’ means that [people] will not know that they have been swamped by evils and falsities because, on account of the evils and falsities in which they are immersed, they will have no knowledge of what the goodness of love to the Lord is and what the goodness of charity towards the neighbor is, nor also what the truthfulness of faith is. Nor will they know that truth originates in those forms of goodness, and that truth cannot exist in a person unless they lead a life filled with such love and charity. And what is more, they will have no understanding that it is what is internal saves or condemns, not what is external separated from internal." Secrets of Heaven §4334

 

 

The good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ is God incarnate. When he became the Divine Human by glorifying himself and ascending into heaven, he actually established the continual presence of his Divine Love and Divine Wisdom in all of life. We are affected by Divine Love and Wisdom unconsciously, consciously and as the energy manifested in physical matter. He is present always and everywhere, never to be separated from his creation by any resistance or rejection. The good news is that all humans have his presence available all the time, everywhere, in every stage and state of life.

As many commentators have pointed out, we see shifts in the human capacity for love in the centuries after both advents of Jesus Christ. This is good news. He is very near, even at the door of our consciousness. The human spirit is demonstrably capable of being regenerated, of developing an ability to feel joy in the presence of divine love and divine wisdom.

What is further wonderful is that we know precisely how the unconscious and conscious and physical presence of God works! Now, our feeble, finite and all too merely natural minds, cannot fathom God or the other side of the non-ratio between finite and infinite. But we can fully understand how we, as human beings, do become aware of the presence of God’s love and wisdom at any moment. We need not seek to stretch our understanding into the realm of the infinite. Not even the most developed human – the angels – can know the infinite processes, for only the Father – the Divine Love itself – can know. God wants us to be independent, radically free, rational forms of finite life forever. The good news is that our work is simple to describe. We are to speak and act in such a way that we notice, in and around us, what is new, young, tender, and appearing before us on its own accord.

The bad news is that achieving this awareness has significant barriers from our conception, through our early consciousness and skills development, and finally in the acculturation during our extended youth and adolescence. This bad news is not new. We have seen it in the remnants of the most ancient cultures. It is no surprise that Jesus Christ describes it. He delivers the bad news with a particular power and clarity, owing to his divinity. His challenge is not merely a tale of woe or fear-mongering, as we less wise people are too often limited to. He is speaking of the opportunity we have to enter into a relationship with him such that we do become aware of the unlimited, yet immanent, goodness and truth he has provided by his comings to us.

One more note before cataloging the items of bad news. By calling Jesus’ predictions of what is and will happen to people “bad news,” the intention is to first, normalize the circumstance. These warnings are for all of us, and describe the normal state of being before regeneration.

The second reason label this bad news is to separate our sense of self from the external circumstances. At our core, all human beings are in the presence of the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. We have an ability to distinguish this inner self from the external circumstances of our thought, our emotions, our speech and out actions. We now know how to do this. Our worlds, inner and outer, are flexible and indeterminate; but his Spirit, his word, is permanent – it lasts forever.

So, it isn’t really bad news; that is a language game to change our perspective, to help us change our relationship to the external circumstances that are barriers to our awareness of, and response to, the presence of the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom.. Because, in fact, even at the same moment as we see how fraught our circumstances are, because we have the capacity to do so as humans, we can see the presence of God in all circumstances, on all levels of life, because he is there!

So Jesus says that the common experience is that we are living as if in Noah’s day and all we know is that life goes on with a variety of pleasant and delightful experiences. And when something disrupts our lives, we are shocked and despair that our happiness was destroyed as if in a sudden flood. So there is the challenge. Jesus is saying there is another way to live our lives.

We begin by cultivating a different expectation of happiness in life. There are a number of movies and documentaries that will teach you how to do this. They echo the Word in making the point that happiness, or whatever language is used to describe God’s plan for our eternal welfare, originates in the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, and is experienced in our consciousness.

We have the capacity to be spiritual, not mechanical. This is not to be spacey, or always quiet. It does not mean we do not get angry, or sad, or afraid. It means we participate. That the circumstances in life do not become what drive us, separating us from an inner experience of the presence of God. We will not have our sense of self, our joy, swept away in a flood of selfishness, or materialism.

The second item of bad news Jesus gives is that our speech and activity do not themselves bring us into the presence of the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom. We can be doing the most basic, onerous tasks in life, as it were, “working in a field.” Or we may be doing the most evidently useful and immediately productive work, “grinding flour at the mill.” We may manifest evilness into our world, or we may manifest goodness. The actions will look the same. So there is the challenge. Jesus is saying that there is an inner quality of our work that actually makes the difference.

It is necessary that we are engaged in useful work in our lives here on the planet. We must attend to the most basic needs of the planet, all of its life, of our fellow humans, of our communities, of our families, of our selves. That is most often very basic work.

Stop and consider what what you have done in the last few hours of your life. You slept. You ate. You washed. You spoke. You greeted people. Looking back, you can experience a pleasantness, a blessing, reliving these moments. Jesus is asking us to experience the joy of those actions as they happen. Your heart and mind can be lifted into the sphere of heaven, joined with the good spirits, those on earth with whom they are, and the angels, and the Divine Love and Divine Wisdom, in that moment of intentional awareness of the happiness within the action. The happiness that you, as a human being, infuse into the action.

And now consider an action that you have intentionally cultivated over some time. Perhaps it is a way of acting; a talent at a craft; playing an instrument; honing the skills you use at your work. Consider the months or years of effort you have put into what you have now mastered. Are you happy in account of that work? If not, perhaps it is because you have not been aware of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom present in your efforts. If that work has made you happy, it is because of the presence of the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom. In both cases, Jesus is encouraging us to cultivate the awareness of that presence so that we are not left in the work, laboring away at what has become and onerous task, or striving for an achievement that seems always out of our grasp. We will feel stuck in the work, left behind in life.

Jesus Christ is giving us this wonderful opportunity to experience the presence of love and wisdom in your thoughts, in our feelings, in our actions, and even in the people and the world around us. His presence is already available to us. He is already eating and drinking at a marriage feast with us. He is in our hearts by means of his incarnation, glorification and second coming. It is now our work to become aware of his presence by means he has revealed. Let us make this gathering a church, in that we gather to support each other in our work.

 

Monday
Jul132015

Having Jesus In Your Heart 80

“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about―the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (Reader, pay attention!) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

“So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. Just as the gathering of vultures shows there is a carcass nearby, so these signs indicate that the end is near.

“Immediately after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. [Isa 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:10]

“And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world―from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.”  Matthew 24:15-31

“The faith that will perish in the last times is charity [the inner desire for the good of the Lord and others], for there cannot possibly be any faith but the faith of charity. He who has not charity cannot have any faith at all, for charity is the very soil in which faith is implanted. Charity is the heart of faith, from which faith exists and lives.” Secrets of Heaven §1843

“The Church does not exist with those who...foment inner hatred and like wild animals tear one another apart, violently rob one another, deprive one another of reputation, position, and wealth, and at heart deny whatever is holy. The Church does exist with people who love the Lord and their neighbor as themselves, who have conscience, and who turn away from all kinds of hatred.” Secrets of Heaven §1844

 

 

Once again, Jesus wants me to react. He is grabbing my attention. Surely, when his Apostles heard this speech, their hearts must have burned with a fear for the coming turmoil, and a passion for following their Christ even to death. Surely you have felt this about some circumstance in your life – some event you saw coming which might be trying, but would make life better. 

Jesus wants us to be awake and aware of what is coming not so we will be paralyzed in fear. That is not what happened to the Apostles. Rather, he wants us to prepare. This is a call to introspection, non-judgmental observation, and a resolution to take action to be loving honestly. I am encouraged by Jesus to judge what I see inside my heart as it is revealed by my reaction to the circumstances around me.

So follow along with this application of Jesus prediction to my inner life. When something precious to me is desecrated, my heart will burn with rage. So I look within to see, as precisely as I can, what is enraged. In the beginning of our spiritual maturing, our ego will be enraged, as  I tend to believe I have to fix the problem and so save the belief from destruction. But as I mature in my faith, I experience faith not as a collection of truths, but as a way of living motivated by love for the Lord and my fellow human being. 

Gaining this view of my heart and mind, filled with the truth and love of God, takes practice. Daily, I do the simple workout of looking at my heart, especially when it appears to me to be at rest. Spending a moment in this introspection every morning, establishing that base line, prepares me to read my excited heart. Is my ego being challenged? If so, striking out comes not from charity – the heartfelt desire to do good to my neighbor – but from a belief that I am right. Instead of lovingingly defending the truth, I am being defensive of my own self.

The fact is that the external circumstances of my life will never be in my control. And, to be very clear, those circumstances will never be changed by my inner work. This is so hard to live with. So, after practice, watching the signs as Jesus suggests, I observe myself as I compel myself to flee the inclination to react, leaving behind all my righteousness – the stuff of my ideas, the clothing of my pride, the unborn hopes I have been birthing. There is such a loss. It has appeared to my ego that there are so many solutions out there, in the world, in practical advice, in the application of some rules.

But all that is a false hope. It is striving against the evolution of my soul through temptation’s combat. My anguish is never relieved by chasing the next good plan until it sucks up all the available energy – like chasing a messiah into the desert. And just as all the usual power plays fail, just as the systems I have built and trusted fall apart, I will be able to see the true, saving truth. Even in the midst of the cloudy thinking and the muddled emotions, the healing Christ will appear. Instead of a flash across the sky, as brilliant as that may be, there will be a steady light growing from a dim, general glow, to a brightness in which I can see all there is to see.

The resolution of what ails the world will not begin with plans, rules, agreements. It will begin as an inner awareness to a commitment to love the Lord, and to love my fellow human being. From that faith in charity – from a desire to do good for the goodness inn my neighbor – will come the solutions we all are seeking. We begin, as Jesus has said again and again, from the life he gives us, from the love he implants in us. And to find that starting point, we will go through significant trial and tribulation. Old ways of being will be exposed, with difficulty and resistance. We will feel compelled to give up ideas we have cherished – not to substitute some other idea we don’t like either. But to open our hearts and minds to the love and wisdom of Jesus Christ .

It is when he is living in our hearts, teaching us through experiences of first letting go and then acting from love, that we will have our God in our midst, healing us and our world.

Monday
Jun082015

Having Jesus In Your Heart 79

As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, his disciples pointed out to him the various Temple buildings. But he responded, “Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”

Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the age?”

Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world on account of my name. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all peoples will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:1-14

 

“What we love we willingly seize, hold on to, and keep. Anything that supports our desires we likewise seize, hold on to, and keep. If something fails to support our desires, we have no interest in it; we discount and in fact reject it. The kind of affection we have [that is, what attracts us], however, determines how things multiply in us. When we have been reborn, our affection for goodness and truth develops out of an impulse for charity granted by the Lord. So any argument supporting a charitable affection is something we seize, hold on to, and protect, and we use it to strengthen the goodness and truth inside us.” Secrets of Heaven §1016

 

To get the full benefit of Jesus’ prophetic speech to his disciples requires that we make the effort to focus on the meaning of the allegory he is using rather than the predictions he is making. This is difficult for me because my thought immediately goes to current events and considers if the current wars, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, and climate change are fulfilling the prophecy. I invite you to put that aside and consider instead the import of Jesus’ words for you here and now, and his description of your present spiritual life, which is actually his concern.

I have come to believe that it is a mistake of the first order to miss the personal life lesson that Jesus is giving here, because I will miss a saving truth. I will instead make the very ordinary mistake and believe that the Lord is talking about someone else and their bad behavior and evil hearts. Or I will be caught in the mistake that what I believe heals me rather than what I do.

We have to go through a destruction of the belief system we have constructed, until not one idea is standing upon another. When the Lord says this, my first reaction is “Oh No! When?!? When?!?”

Jesus does all he can to assure us, while being realistic. It is going to be difficult. Something will have to die in us. We will have war within. On one side is righteousness about my beliefs – how they make me a good person. On the other side is the loving actions – the kindness, forgiveness and letting go, that are a living faith. The first leads to arrogance, the need to be right, and winning the war. The second leads to the discomfort of letting go of being right, of doubt about my rightness, and of loss of control and trusting in the Lord’s providence.

Continuing from above the observation of this process by Emanuel Swedenborg: “Some people adopt the principle that faith alone saves them, even if they have never done a charitable deed—that is, even if they possess no charity—and in this way they detach faith from charity. It is not only because they took up such a principle in childhood that they think like this. It is also because they imagine that if we were to claim charitable acts, or neighborly love, to be the essential ingredient of faith and for this reason lived devoutly, we could not help viewing good deeds as earning us credit. (This is untrue, though.) Accordingly, they reject charity and consider acts of charity worthless. They restrict themselves exclusively to the concept of faith, which is nothing without its essential ingredient—charity.”

There are attractions from our natural, lower, sensuous mind that are difficult to dismiss. If it feels good, it must be good, we easily say to ourselves all the time. Like illusions of our senses, especially of sight (is the dress blue or gold?), we have to deny what appears true. It seems to me that Jesus is telling me to hate myself. I will hear voices in my own mind deriding me, telling me I am stupid. Or saying it is impossible to be any different. That my life is cursed, and there is no escape. The threat of the death of pleasure and joy is constant and very real. It will take every effort to stand up against these false prophets, and put aside the thought that Jesus is asking me to hate myself.

Jesus’ warning is described by Swedenborg is this same passage: “When [a person] corroborates this principle [that acts of kindness are worthless] in themselves, it is never from a desire for goodness but from a desire for pleasure; they like being able to follow freely a life devoted to their appetites. The ones who use many arguments to defend the principle do so not because they love truth but for the sake of their own glory. They want to appear more important, scholarly, and profound than others and so to be elevated to the ranks of the influential and rich. So it is the pleasure afforded by their predilection that drives them. This pleasure makes them multiply supportive arguments, because, to repeat, the kind of affection we have determines how things multiply in us.

“In general, when the premise is wrong, only falsity can result from it, because everything conforms with the premise. As a matter of fact—and I learned about this through experience—those who confirm themselves in principles of this kind concerning faith alone, and who have no charity, lack any interest in the many things the Lord so often said about love and charity. They seem not even to see those statements.”

Instead of listening to the voices that preach a false God, Jesus is imploring us to be in action. If we will endure, being as good a model of a loving person as we can, he will protect us from all harm. He will give us a new enjoyment of ideas that are actually good and true. Every time we trust that Jesus’ Good News will make a whole new world for us, we will experience him and his love in our hearts, revealing the truth that will make us alive in a way we have not yet experienced.

Tuesday
May262015

Having Jesus In Your Heart 78

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers!
How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
And now, look, your house is abandoned and desolate.
For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say,
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37-39)

 

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. (Ps. 91:1-6).

Being covered by Jehovah's feathers, and putting one's trust under His wings, and ‛being hidden under the shadow of God's wings,’ and ‛trusting in the shadow of His wings,’ and ‛singing in the shadow of His wings,’ all stand for the protection and trust that belong to faith.” (see Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; and Ps. 63:7. (from Secrets of Heaven §8764)

People who believe that the Divine is at work in every detail of nature find support for a belief in God in many of the phenomena they observe in the world. They find much more evidence to support a belief in God than to support a belief in nature....All of us, if we want to, can use phenomena in nature to support a belief in the Divine; and we do so when we think about God, about the omnipotence God displayed in creating the universe, and about God’s omnipresence in preserving the universe. For example, when we see the birds that fly in the sky we can reflect on the fact that each species of them knows its own food and where to find it, and recognizes its companions by sight and sound. In fact it knows which birds among all others are friendly and which are hostile. Birds know the mating of their kind; they pair off with a mate, they artfully arrange nests, and in them they lay their eggs and brood over them; they know how long to incubate them; and when the time comes they hatch their young, give them tender love, nurture them under their wings, and gather food and feed them, until the young come of age and can take on those tasks for themselves. All who are willing to think about a divine inflow through the spiritual world into the physical world can see that inflow from these examples. If they are willing, they can say in their hearts that such knowledge cannot be acquired from the sun through its heat and light. The sun, nature's origin and essence, is nothing but a fire. The flow of heat and light from it is utterly dead. From this they can conclude that these phenomena are the result of divine inflow through the spiritual world into the outermost aspects of nature....Those who believe in nature and worship it use these and similar animal phenomena to support their belief in nature. Those who believe in and worship God use the same phenomena to support their belief in God. The spiritual person sees something spiritual in these phenomena, while the earthly person sees something earthly; everyone sees it in her or his own way. To me, these phenomena have been evidence of an inflow of the spiritual world into the physical world - an inflow from God....In the spiritual world I have had a chance to observe people who used phenomena visible in the physical world to support a belief in nature even to the point that they became atheists. In spiritual light it became apparent that their intellect was open at the bottom but closed at the top, because they had looked downward toward the earth in their thought rather than upward to heaven. Just above the lowest level of their intellect, the sensory level, I saw a kind of covering that was flickering with hellish fire. In some it was as black as soot; in others, gray like a corpse. Everyone needs to beware of affirming a belief in nature. Affirm a belief in God instead. There is no shortage of support for it.” True Christianity §12

 

 

The first 36 verses of this long chapter, Matthew 23, it is reported that Jesus harangues the leaders of the church for a wide variety attitudes, policies, behaviors and teachings that are all hypocritical. Underpinning them all is the normal human mistrust of all power that is not experienced as one’s own. This sensibility is built into the human condition to allow us to freely love God with our own power, our own choice, thus completing the circle of life that begins and ends in the Divine.

As we consider in order the Gospel of Matthew, and come to the conclusion of Jesus’ diatribe, we see him assuring us that hypocrisy is not itself a damning flaw. Rather, it is evidence of the possibility of our eternal joy in fulfilling our role in the circle of love. Hypocrisy is possible because we are human. It is not an aberrant behavior, even if it is a perversion of our Creator’s intention. It is present in all human beings. We are inevitably hypocrites because we are born with inclinations to believe falsity and love evilness. This is distinct from other beings we call animals, who are born with instincts that drive their actions. We are beings who can become spiritual, become honest, authentic, intentional, human beings, having integrity, by using the very abilities that allow hypocrisy, instead for the purposes they were intended.

In this speech, Jesus Christ calls out the dangers we need to become aware of. Indeed, he became incarnate, and able to walk among us, and talk to us in our gross language, precisely because there was a threat that human beings would lose our chance to become spiritual as we more and more freely and intentionally chose to love ourselves and our stuff more than God and others, because we feared the loss of power. By walking among us, as one of us, he could very effectively call out those who were abusing the very abilities that make us human. Indeed, this was a key piece of his mission.

Jesus spent a good deal of energy speaking more or less directly to the perversion of our ability to experience two distinct lives, two different feelings, two opposing thoughts. So we tend to experience reality as inner and outer; or good and bad; or feeling and thought; or compassion and judgment; or self and other; or me and God.

Jesus modeled the effort we can make to resolve the dichotomies we experience all around us, without being instinctually reactive to the fear of the loss of ownership of our power. Jesus asks us to learn how to stay present to the discomfort of having this tension exist in our hearts and minds. Our task is to trust love, and to learn wisdom. The human experiment is to love another by letting go of power, and the feel loved by receiving power. We all have been wounded when another lied to us, stole our spirit or sense of preciousness, wounded our pride. And so we are rightly afraid of so exposing ourselves in the future. We gather our feelings and desires in close to our breast, and cover them over. 

Jesus, as so many enlightened teachers before him, likens this human behavior to how a mother bird uses her wings to cover over her children. 

I invite you to pause here and think (or even write) about something precious to you that needs protection. It may be a love for something that you fear losing. It may be something new that needs to be carefully and gently nurtured – a new insight about yourself, a new attitude you are cultivating. Write about something that is dear to you that you want to hide from danger for a time, protected from the sunlight of others’ judgment, or even your own consciousness that may be too bright, hot and harsh for this gentle, nascent life.

We are invited to consider how wings are a symbol for the benefits of our trust in the Lord’s love. For instance, we are to imagine that the Lord’s love for us is always and consistently used wisely (which may not have been our personal experience!). His care for us is a welcoming into the sphere of protection that promotes only and always our well being. If I want to grow, if I want to develop spiritually, if I want to be healed of a spiritual malady, the Lord wants me to know that trusting his word will give me what I want.

Wings are a preservation and a defense. There is an infinite love that would shelter me, even me, with a parenting that is only the best of all that I have experienced, first and second hand. Wings are a shelter from the burning heat of the sun – the passions enflamed by my senses – that threaten to burn away all that protects my soul. Wings deflect the hurtful pelting of the rain – the ideas from others, and the powers of darkness – that may be the water I would drink, but are falsities that will shred all my good intentions. Wings are the shields hiding me from the sight of the predator – whose look is an arrow that will pierce my heart, as when I accept another's malicious judgment and condemnation

And now pause again and consider (or write) now your imagination of your trust in the Lord as the best parent. Write your imagination of your trust that the Lord will give you a satisfying delight in all your life. Write your imagination of your trust in, and so acceptance of, his teachings as all true, even for you, even today, and tomorrow. Write your imagination of your trust that the Lord’s love for you provides you a sense of a healthy boundary between you and those around you, and a secure attachment between you and those around you.

So here we can open our hearts and minds to view ourselves as God would see and love us: with simple caring, a non judgmental compassion. We can imagine the temple in Jerusalem that Jesus spoke of, as our core, our self, within us, the place where God is to live. And then, hold at the same moment, when so gazing upon the wreck we have made of our lives, and the wounds we have received, and the missing pieces of the holy furniture, the damaged sacred vessels, that we will be safe under God’s wings of love and wisdom. Safe to look, and see, without shame or despair, that the Lord is there with us, even in the desolation of spirit.

Whenever pleasure, delight, happiness, or joy are absent in this present moment, I know then that the temple within is damaged and empty. That I fear the loss of power. That I may think, feel or act with hypocrisy. And so I return to the shelter of his wings. I remember that Jesus Christ has been here as well, and that he can indeed rebuild the temple within me, repair its vessels and replace the furniture, that I may again worship him in my heart. He is in my heart, dwelling with me in that sacred place that I have chosen, according to my faith, as a safe place in which to trust the God who loves me.

Monday
Apr062015

Having Jesus In Your Heart 77

 

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed, and you decorate the monuments of the godly people your ancestors destroyed. Then you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have joined them in killing the prophets.’

“But in saying that, you testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead and finish what your ancestors started. Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?

“Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law. But you will kill some by crucifixion, and you will flog others with whips in your synagogues, chasing them from city to city. As a result, you will be held responsible for the murder of all godly people of all time—from the murder of righteous Abel to the murder of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you killed in the Temple between the sanctuary and the altar. I tell you the truth, this judgment will fall on this very generation.” Matthew 23:29-36

The relationship of the good of faith to good works is like that of a person's will (and consequent thought) to his face. It is well known that the face is an image of the mind, that is, of the person's will and consequent thought. If one’s will and thought do not present themselves in the face as their true image then hypocrisy or deceit, not the actual will and thought, are manifested there because that person then presents a different face from what they will and think. It is like every act of the body in relation to the more internal things of thought and will. The internal side of a person lives within their external by means of expression or action. If an expression or action does not agree with one’s internal it is a sign either that that act is not the product of their internal but a mere response to custom and habit, or that it is something untrue as in hypocrisy and in deceit. Here again one may see what is meant by the works of faith. Consequently anyone who professes faith, more so anyone who professes the good of faith, and yet denies the works of faith, and more so if he rejects those expressions, is without faith and, even worse, without charity.   From Secrets of Heaven §3934

[Of the many ills of society confronting us, deceit can be said to be the source of them all. And among the most irksome of all deceits is hypocrisy. My attention is caught by how much attention God saw fit to give to hypocrisy through what we have reported to us of the speeches of Jesus Christ. Matthew 23 has a unique, long diatribe against hypocrisy. So I have acknowledged the emphasis that the Gospel gives to it by reflecting on hypocrisy for the previous several installments. This is the last one.]

Many of the Pharisees, (maybe most of them?), really believed they were repenting of the evil deeds of their ancestors by building memorials to those murdered prophets. They then felt from the stain of guilt caused by association with the past sins of their church. But Jesus sees into their hearts and reports that all their public demonstrations were merely to make themselves feel good inside, and look righteous outside, so that the people would accept their policies as righteous, when, in fact, the leaders actually maintained their privilege and power through subtle, and at times obvious, intimidations, including the murder of Jesus Christ and his followers. Jesus’ insight is further strengthened by his accurate prediction that the leaders of the church would kill all the new prophets he was inspiring. It seemed as though the leaders were honoring the dead, but in fact they only intended to bring honor to those burying their victims!

This is the epitome of hypocrisy because their evil intentions of self aggrandizement, allied the good work of rectifying a past sin, worked to convince onlookers that their, actually false face, was the truth about their intentions.

The tombs they built represent the false persuasions we build up around the truths we wish to bury and so hide from view, all the while pretending we are honoring those truths.

So, for instance, I may tell you that I have successfully put behind me some evil desire and the false thoughts that supported it, showing my recent behavior as evidence of my work, and I may actually be lying to you, and even to myself! Sadly, addiction is an extreme example of this. I may be clean and sober, but I am showing this face simply to manipulate others so that, eventually, I will have another opportunity.

I should note that this extreme example of addiction is not the most pernicious hypocrisy in our culture, for it is really an illness of the mind rather than a free, conscious choice. The false face most of us want to put off does not cover a disease. It is worse than that. It covers a selfishness and materialism that will destroy our eternal welfare beyond any illness of our body.

Another ket point: there is no benefit in a cynical resignation to the generalization that we are all hypocrites. It is true that we all hold on to some false persuasions that develop in our infancy and childhood. That is absolutely distinct from developing and employing false principles to promote an evil purpose. Our task is not to try to stop being hypocritical (likely a vain pursuit), but to root out false ideas and evil intentions. And we do this through a number of steps that begin with attending to the conscious thoughts and wishes that propel our behavior. And Jesus speaks to these thoughts and wishes.

For instance, my face may at first show a dismissive sneer, however fleeting, in reaction to someone’s accusing words, which is the reaction of my ego that feels threatened. But as I strive to develop my authentic human being, I will interrupt that automatic impulsive reaction, and impose real kindness and truth on myself, making what I do and say accurate depictions of my true thoughts and good desires, even if they are not yet being my higher self, unattached to my ego.

There is new information from science that can help us understand, and so use this skill of noticing our evil intentions so that they do not produce a damning hypocrisy. There is a physiology to our human ability to think and say something we do not believe or love.

“The face is derived from the same substances that produce the brain itself. Cells called Neural Crest cells migrate from the developing brain into the developing face to make the muscles, bones and skin of the face. These structures in the face are unique from all other muscles, bones and skin of the body. The face essentially mirrors the brain. The face is also unique in that it develops while pressed between the developing heart and the Cerebellum, on organ of the affections according to recent science and the Writings for the New Church. The facial Motor Nucleus gives rise to the facial motor nerve which in turn carries all the signals for controlling facial expression from the brain.  Initially the Facial Motor Nucleus develops in conjunction with the Cerebellum. The Facial Motor Nucleus also arises initially mixed with the Vestibulocochlear Nucleus (The vestibulocochlear nerve is responsible for the sense of hearing and it is also pertinent to balance, to the body position sense). As development proceeds, these two nuclei separate from each other and move in opposite directions. While the sense of hearing is generally associated with obedience and thus of the will or affection, the sense of position or balance (DLW 144) is associated with a person’s primary love. So was it originally that these two nuclei were conjoined and then later, as the will separated from the understanding, that these also separated. Recent science suggests that humans, when stating a fact or a ‘Truth’ will initially show in the face that they are lying but that initial expression is so fleeting that most people never see it (see the TV show “Lie To Me”). So hypocrisy seems to be a rapid covering over of the initial true belief expression. The faster someone can come in with the false expression the more capable they are at deceit.”  (From a private email from Martin M. Echols)

Straight up deceitful hypocrisy - hiding what you actually think and desire - is relatively easy to catch in ourselves. Once you have begun to work on that form of hypocrisy, you will begin to see how your face is both the manifestation of your inner thoughts and feelings, and is at the same time a means for you to change your more subtle habits of hypocrisy. And this will lead to a revelation of the deepest source of hypocrisy, selfishness: "Anyone who considers the promotion of self as their goal, and not as a means to promoting goodness; and who wants to manipulate others to promote their own self, is being drive by evilness (see Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven §4215). If we are to use the word "evil," many thoughtful people, including psychologist M. Scott Peck (“The Road Less Traveled”), see this form of hypocrisy as the best definition of the word “evil,” and an appropriate application of it!

Jesus Christ is alerting us to the gift of our multi-layered constitution, and our responsible use of the abilities the physiology and spirituality we thus have as human beings. When Jesus Christ is in our hearts and minds, we will be making full use of those gifts.

 

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