There is one life behind all of life. Though imaged and named variously, as we say, there is one life, there is one beings-ness, there is one is-ness behind all life. And this is important because though that one life is imaged and named variously, as humanity comes to grasp the singularity of that which we image and name, our tendency toward hostility gives way to a curiosity.
“How do you image and name it in your tradition?” we might ask. And our tendency toward warring gives way to an honoring.
“Wow, I can totally see why you image and name it as you do,” we might admit. And our tendency toward separating gives way to a reaching.
“Maybe your tradition can enrich my tradition,” we might suggest.
There is one life behind all life and because of this, you are of it. You are of God. Whatever its nature is, your nature is.
And while there are those who would consider such a bold statement to be blasphemous or arrogant, I would suggest that the opposite to be more appropriate: that for humanity (particularly modern people, really – this is a pretty new paradigm) for humanity to claim that it can, somehow, exist outside of capital-E existence is far more problematic.
You know, we’re living in the wake of millennia of entertaining an out-there god of maleness, unpredictability and fickleness. What do we have to lose by considering an in-here god of life, wisdom and love? We’re living in the wake of millennia of entertaining our human fallibility. What do we have to lose by entertaining our divine possibility? We’re living in the wake of millennia of a collective low esteem. What do we have to lose by welcoming a universal inherent worth?
And if we can consider that not only is there such a singular ground of all being, and that we’re expressions of this singular ground of all being (along with all of life), we may consider that we are spinning our individual and collective experiences in accord with our cooperation or frustration.
If there is a singular ground of all being (let’s say, if there’s a divine flow), how might I be cooperating with it? Or, If there’s a divine flow, how might I be frustrating it?
In a sense, we are spinning our individual and collective experiences in accord with our relationship, if you will, with a divine flow that knows how to do life in general, and life as humanity in specific.
Said in more traditional language, in every moment you’re either following God or you’re fighting God.
It’s my belief that so many of the challenges facing humanity today are the result of our collective frustration of this divine flow.
Let’s assume that the universe has no favorites among its creation. Then wouldn’t human racism seem to frustrate? Let’s assume that the universe holds it creation to be worthy of incarnation. Then wouldn’t human cruelty seem to frustrate? Let’s assume that the universe knows how to provide for its creation. Then wouldn’t human greed seem to frustrate?
Jesus spoke to this when he cautioned against just storing up stuff and things on earth (or in this world of form). He went on to suggest through his grand series of affirmations (we call it the Lord’s Prayer, by the way) that the universe meets the demands of each day with daily sustenance.
What if you could trust – deeply trust – that the demands of that which is before you today have already been met? That you need not spend so much of your precious mental and life energy fretting and complaining and cavorting and projecting about some hypothetical world yet to come?
Let’s assume that the same universe that can demonstrate balance among spinning planets can demonstrate balance among varied species. Then wouldn’t human overpopulating, overbuilding, over-polluting, over-accumulating seem to frustrate?
Our purpose is to become the purest vessels we can become – in thought, in belief, in word, in action and in relationship – for a ground of being that knows what it’s doing; for a divine flow whose wisdom and grace would be made visible through our right relationship with it.
If you – in thought, in belief, in word, in action and in relationship – don’t like how you’re expressing that ground of all being (maybe you think you’re frustrating the divine flow), you can change.
You have tools, practices and technologies to support you. And while they include prayer and meditation, affirmation and denial, service and study, I would suggest that tools, practices and technologies expand to include anything and everything which seem to lift you into a state of higher consciousness.
If nature lifts you, nature becomes your prayer.
If music lifts you, music becomes your prayer.
If exercise lifts you, exercise becomes your prayer.
If beauty lifts you, beauty becomes your prayer.
If art lifts you, art becomes your prayer.
Prayer, then, is any technology which seems to lift you into higher states of consciousness. And higher consciousness isn’t best likened to a vacation spot you visit every September, but a permanent home you inhabit every day.
Now, from what I can tell (and I’m only 56 years old so I might change my mind), from what I can tell, I think such a lifting does two things. I think higher consciousness lifts us higher as individuals and calls us closer as peoples. Higher consciousness ever beckons individuals to grow and peoples to soften; it seems to challenge the countless excuses we make for our individual smallness and the endless arguments we make for our collective separation.
Ultimately, higher consciousness seems to say you are more than you have believed yourself to be and that we are one.
That’s why we – at Unity in Lynnwood - embrace those from all faith traditions, you see. All authentic faith traditions offer invitations to lift into higher states of consciousness and we get that.
And that’s why we at Unity in Lynnwood - embrace those who claim no faith tradition whatsoever, without any suggestion that you should be otherwise! Higher states of consciousness are not exclusive to what we call a faith tradition. Life itself offers invitations to lift into higher states of consciousness.
In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that the call to higher consciousness doesn’t rise from our faith traditions so much as our faith traditions rise from the call to higher consciousness.
So, in the end, let it be said that you’ve found an intentional spiritual community that believes your soul’s work can be accomplished in a temple, in a synagogue, in a mosque, in a church, in a forest, in a concert hall, in a good book or in a long overdue hug with a loved one.
So God is. I am. I express. I pray. And finally, I do.
Essentially, Unity would say that for as much as you might enjoy a really good Sunday service, for as much as you might enjoy great music, positive words, empowering thoughts, paradigm shifts, great people, an overdue forgiveness, a quiet moment – for as much as you might enjoy all of that – it will do little for you unless you find ways to make it real in your life. Unless and until you do that, church is best considered as something of a spiritually themed, amusement park.
In other words, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” Simply going to a certain church doesn’t change you. Simply parroting a rote creed doesn’t change you. Simply adopting an empty ritual doesn’t change you. Even uttering the best affirmations and denials written by the most enlightened beings don’t change you.
Unless and until you let them change you.
Unless and until you do that, you’re just standing on that same busy corner praying as flamboyantly as you can instead of going into your closet, closing that door and doing your personal work.
So, the obvious question becomes, “Well, just how do I do that?” And while we’ve suggested valid responses such as prayer, meditation, affirmation, denial, service and study, I don’t think we need to be so limited, predictable or (dare I say it) even so highbrow.
How about you get up in the morning asking, what person needs to be acknowledged by me today?
And how about you get up on the next morning asking, what possibility might be entertained by me today?
And how about you get up on the next morning asking, what tension might be softened by me today?
And how about you get up on the next morning asking, what separation might be removed by me today?
And how about you get up on the next morning asking, what position might be abandoned by me today?
And how about you get up on the next morning asking, what progress might be celebrated by me today?
In other words, how about you get up every day asking, “How might I become a vehicle for the elevation of individuals and for the unity of peoples today? How might I become proof of the possibility that I am more and that we are one today?
That’s how you make it real. That’s how you make it practical.
That’s how you repurpose your time in church from something of an amusement park for spiritual entertainment to something of a charging station for all souls who would go forth to share something of their restored, renewed, revived, rejuvenated, revitalized and reinvigorated light with our world.