I don’t remember the source but there was one who likened matters of higher knowing, shall we call it, to the eruption of a volcano; that when we have a spiritual awakening, an elevated outlook, a transcendental awareness, the experience is made of fire! And if you’ve ever had such an experience (and I hope you have) I imagine you’ll agree that this is a pretty good description.
When we have a spiritual awakening, an elevated awareness, a transcendental experience, it’s made of fire!
But what happens is that as the fire rolls down the mountain (I might say that as we begin to describe the experience and record the experience and preserve the experience for those having filters and biases and certain tribal tendencies of their own) as the fire rolls down the mountain, the spiritual awakening tends to cool into dogma and doctrine. And as the fire rolls down the mountain, the elevated outlook tends to crust into exclusivity and elitism. And as the fire rolls down the mountain, the transcendental experience tends to harden into positionality and partisanship.
Not only do our human conjurings and imaginings and descriptions fall short in their attempts to capture God, they present some real issues both individually and collectively. Humans seem willing to go to any lengths to assert and to defend their conjurings and imaginings and descriptions.
And make no mistake: that is what’s happening. We war to assert and to defend our conjurings and imaginings and descriptions of God. I might go so far as to say that we war to assert and to defend our stories about love and truth instead of becoming people of love and truth. You gotta love people.
It’s a rather absurd problem when you hear it put that way, right? We war to assert and to defend our stories about love and truth instead of becoming people of love and truth.
And perhaps this is the gift brought by the mystics of every tradition. The mystics are those who have clamored to the top of that cosmic mountain for their own spiritual awakening, their own elevated outlook, their own transcendental experience.
And I might suggest that this is exactly what every enlightened soul has tried to get each of us to do. All words captured, all teachings written, all practices shared, all rituals offered, all poems uttered, all prayers – are ultimately pointers, encouraging each of us to clamor to the top of that cosmic mountain where we might come to know a God above the confines of dogma and doctrine, a God beyond the commonalities of exclusivity and elitism, a God above the comforts of positionality and partisanship.
Said another way, while the world of organized religion is teeming with people eager to get tidy answers from leaders, and while the world of organized religion is teeming with leaders eager to give tidy answers to people, I say welcome to Unity. Welcome to Unity where we extend ourselves, not as authorities or intermediaries, but as still more pointers, encouraging you to clamor to the top of that mountain to rediscover fire.
It’s a rich and ironic thing I do for a living, really: every week, I find creative ways to tell you that what we call God is the infinite potentiality behind all (that’s Unity first tenet), and that you are an emanation of that infinite potentiality, of all that God has been intuited to be (or Unity’s second tenet).
There are at least two articulations, you see, one being that God produces as a human might produce a widget. Another being that God emanates as a tree might emanate an apple. And we in Unity, of course tend toward the second articulation. Humans (and all other expressions) are emanations of God.
The exhausted idea of having to earn one’s way back to God is a mythology both arrogant and cruel. It’s arrogant to consider that you can stand outside the All-ness we call God and it’s cruel to imagine that anyone else would, either.
This is what it means to be of the image and likeness. You are an emanation of all that God has been intuited to be!
Every tradition has offered its own articulation of this idea: We come from an infinite potentiality. We will return to an infinite potentiality. In the meantime, we delight in an illusion of finite limitation.
And here’s the deal: even in the midst of the illusions, there’s something in us that remembers the higher truth of that infinite potentiality from which we emanate. And those who remember most clearly become our avatars, our gurus, our Buddhas, our Christs. In fact, I might say that it’s the avatar in you, the guru in you; it’s your Buddha nature or your Christ nature that is doing the remembering.
You see, it’s not so much that we enter into an altered state of consciousness when we live from God awareness as it is that we enter into an altered stated of consciousness when we live from human awareness! To put on these suits of skin and explore the grand illusions of separation and limitation is to enter into an altered state of consciousness.
To be a human is to be programmed. To be human is to be programmed by parents and teachers and experiences and media outlets and song lyrics and social media influencers and beyond and beyond and beyond.
And so strong is this programming that you can experience an entire world that isn’t as if it is; and you can experience an entire world that is as if it isn’t.
If you are deeply programmed that life is out to get you, there’s something in mind that will seek to prove that it is.
If you are deeply programmed that life is out to bless you, there’s something in mind that will seek to prove that it is.
If you believe in enemies on every corner, there’s something in mind that will seek to prove it.
If you believe in angels in every moment, there’s something in mind that will seek to prove it.
As I’ve said before, there’s something in mind that will seek to prove that it’s right. Whether or not it’s right. We are a “told-you-so” species.
We take a teaching such as, “It is done to you as you believe,” and we imagine Jesus as something of a motivational speaker teaching us about luxury vacations, when I often think we would do better to imagine him as something of an earthly grandmother, cautioning us about the activities of mind.
“It is done unto you as you believe. So, look out.”
You might see what’s happening here and think one guy is delivering one message, but I can quite promise you that there are as many guys delivering as many messages as there are people doing the seeing.
This conversation will end with some offended and others affirmed, some enraged and others empowered – largely from words which were really spoken by someone who doesn’t really exist.
This is today’s challenge in addressing matters of ageism and ableism and genderism and racism. We’re no longer having a conversation about the few blatantly living from hatred. We’re having a conversation about the many blindly living from programming. And while it’s progress, it’s harder. It’s harder because we’ve traded a devil we can see for a devil we can’t see.
To be a human is to be programmed. And the thing about the world’s programming is that it’s rooted in the world’s wisdom. And the world’s wisdom is seldom very affirming.
So, if one interpretation of Unity’s third tenet is that our inner worlds somehow inform our outer worlds, one interpretation of Unity’s fourth tenet is that we can change our inner worlds. We can overwrite the programs of a fearful world. And tenet four says we can do this through prayer.
Eric Butterworth spoke to this when he said, “Startling as it may sound, it doesn’t make any difference to God whether or not we pray, but it makes a lot of difference to us. Prayer is not a matter of conquering God's reluctance, but of attuning ourselves to God’s eternal willingness.”
So, I would suggest prayer to include anything and everything which seems to lift you into states of higher consciousness. I like to call it high-mindedness (and you know when you’re in high-mindedness. I won’t mess it up with words).
Tenet four would say that if nature lifts you, let nature be your prayer this week. If music lifts you, let music be your prayer this week. If exercise lifts you, let exercise be your prayer this week. If beauty lifts you, let beauty be your prayer this week. If art lifts you, let art be your prayer this week.
So, every week, I find creative ways to tell you that God is the infinite potentiality behind all, that you are an emanation of that infinite potentiality, of all that God has been intuited to be, and that yours is to spend a little time remembering that.
It was Unity Cofounder Myrtle Fillmore who spoke to this (and I won’t get the words exactly right) but she said, “You are here to discover your divine essence and to express that divine essence in our world.”
How’s that for a job description? You are here to discover your divine essence and to express that divine essence in our world!
Every week, I find creative ways to tell you that you don’t need me. And then I invite you back so I can tell you the same thing again.
Every week, I find creative ways to tell you that you are so much more than you have come to believe yourself to be. And then I invite you back so I can tell you the same thing again.