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  • Dr. Richard

Paradox


I think matters of spiritual truth are often paradoxical. And I wouldn’t be alone in this idea.

In the Christian tradition alone, we’re asked to consider that we are to lose if we would hold, that we are to yield if we would conquer, that we are to serve if we would reign. We’re asked to consider that we are to become fools if we would be wise, that we are to become humble if we would be exalted, and, of course, that we are to die to the old if we would be born to the new.


The inauguration of the ministry of Jesus launched with more suggestions of paradox which associate the poor with heaven, the mourning with comfort, the meek with authority so forth.


It was in the writings entitled “The Gospel According to Matthew” in which Jesus is reported to have taught that it’s those who lose their lives who find their lives.

Wow. Paradox, indeed.


It was in the poem credited to St. Francis that we find the words: "Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

Yes, I think matters of spiritual truth are often paradoxical.


The Rev. Howard Caesar suggested an example of paradox, albeit in different language, that the idea of getting a thing, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of lacking the thing. In other words, the idea of getting money, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of lacking money. The idea of getting love, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of lacking love.


Said more plainly, the idea of getting, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of lacking. The idea of getting, at the level of consciousness, places it (whatever it is) out there.

So conversely, the practice of giving a thing, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of possessing a thing. The idea of giving money, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of living fully funded and sufficiently supported – It’s an affirmation that the soul assignment that you accepted upon your grand death/birth experience into human form came complete with an operating budget ample to every facet of your soul assignment.


And the idea of giving love, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of possessing love; it’s to grasp that you are a complete package – a whole self, sent here to contribute something of your inherent value to life, an attractive magnet drawing other complete packages – other whole selves, sent here to contribute something of their inherent value to life. You are a complete package – a whole self, whose very essence reaches before you to invite other complete packages to share your journey!


There’s your affirmation for today, then. It just appeared as if by magic, right there in the middle of a spiritual monologue: I am a complete package – a whole self sent here to contribute something of my inherent value to life.


How’s that feel for you? Let’s just be with that for a minute or two – eyes open or eyes closed – it doesn’t matter. I am a complete package – a whole self, sent here to contribute something of my inherent value to life.


The idea of giving love is to turn from any stale belief that you are something of an empty well in search of something or someone to fill you up. It’s to turn from that stale belief that you are something of a half (set forth on a planet-sized obstacle course dotted with a few billion souls) to search for that one elusive other half that you might finally realize your wholeness.


Besides, in your heart of hearts, are you really willing to say that you’re looking for half a person? I don’t think so.


So, said more plainly, the idea of giving, at the level of consciousness, is an affirmation of possessing. The idea of giving, at the level of consciousness, places it (whatever it is) right here.


A consciousness of getting is a consciousness of lacking.

A consciousness of giving is a consciousness of possessing.

Paradox, right?


And we, as metaphysically-minded folk, would suggest that it’s what happens at the level of consciousness that matters most.


I think it was the great teacher, Ernest Holmes who expressed a similar idea this way, “Change your thinking, change your life.”


I think it was one of my heroes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who expressed a similar idea this way, “Life happens from center to circumference.”


And it was Unity’s Charles Fillmore who expressed a similar idea this way, “You must become the thing you would draw into your experience.”


All you really have to do is watch the simple egg for a few days and you’ll get something of a really good sermon; for it would teach all who have eyes to see that new life emerges just fine when allowed from within; but that new life doesn’t emerge just fine when forced from without.


And this is why I do what I do for a living. I’m in the business of supporting an awakening world through an awakening people.


And this means that I’m in the business of supporting an awakening world by challenging those attitudes, those beliefs, those expectations, those perceptions – that consciousness – that would have us continue in any patterns unworthy of the Rabbi’s promise of life and life abundant. And make no mistake, this is exactly what he was teaching. Life and life abundant right now, on earth, as humans. He was far less fascinated in life after death, and in our modern conjurings of heaven and hell as geographic retirement destinations, than normative religion would have us believe.


Perhaps it could be said that I’m in the business of supporting a kinder world by encouraging a kinder people, in that order. I’m in the business of supporting a healthier world by encouraging a healthier people, in that order. I’m in the business of supporting a more compassionate world by encouraging a more compassionate people, in that order. I’m in the business of supporting a more responsible world by encouraging a more responsible people, in that order, and so forth.


So from paradoxical teachings that would encourage us to lose if we would hold, to yield if we would conquer, to serve if we would reign; to paradoxical teachings that would encourage us to become fools if we would be wise, to become humble if we would be exalted, to die to the old if we would be born to the new; to a paradoxical teaching that would encourage us to change the within if we would change the without (to address matters of consciousness if we would address matters of how we might become the best crew we can possibly be, soaring through space on the surface of a blue-green marble) there seems to be something of a common theme and it goes something like this: common sense might be the way of the world; but it’s an uncommon sense that’s the way of the spirit.


I think spiritual paradox suggests that where we would approach life in accord with the predictable tendencies of race consciousness, we might do well to pause and make room for something of an uncommon sense to come forth.


Where we would approach life in accord with the loud opinions of the mindless masses, we might do well to pause and make room for something of an uncommon sense to come forth.


Where we would approach life in accord with the habitual rantings of our own histories, our own probabilities, our own small ideas, stale narratives and low expectations, we might do well to pause and make room for something of an uncommon sense to come forth.

I think were Jesus – as a teacher of parable and paradox – among us today, we might expect questions such as this: what is that right answer that you just know is the right answer because it’s the right answer? And are you willing to pause and make room for something of an uncommon sense to come forth?


What is that approach, that strategy, that tactic you assert again and again and again in some situation in hopes that the results will finally change? And are you willing to pause and make room for something of an uncommon sense to come forth?


What do you imagine to be taking your power here? And are you willing to pause?

What do you imagine to be compromising your peace here? And are you willing to pause?

What do you imagine to be beyond your capacity to accept here? Are you willing to pause?

What do you imagine to be beyond your capacity to release here? Are you willing to pause?

How do you see it? How do you see them? How do you see you? Are you willing to pause?

What do you imagine to be true here? And are you willing to pause?


It was Carl Jung, the great mind scientist, if you will, who was noted for consulting with the “wise old man” within. And I quite love this. I love it because it seems to me that paradox rises from those courageous enough to measure assumptions, habits, beliefs, attachments against the counsel of the “wise elder” within. Paradox rises from those courageous enough to forgo the common sense of the world for the uncommon sense of spirit.

“Are you willing to pause?” we hear again and again and again.


And paradox rises from those courageous enough to say, “Yes.”

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