Spirituality 201

     Why study a subject that so many Christian believers have labeled as New Age, Esoteric Teachings, Mysticism or non-Christian?  Many individuals today find themselves confused about what to believe.  It is as though they are wishing, “If only I possessed the correct belief system, I would have joy and peace.  My cares would vaporize.”

     We tend to look outside ourselves for what will bring us the treasure we want.  We assume that “Divine guidance” will appear by accepting certain beliefs, attending a worship center or being involved in some form of mission work.  While these avenues of discovery are life enhancing, they will not replace the need for people to do their own inner homework.

     Jesus taught many concepts that enable people to rise above their environment, challenging relationships and undesirable experiences.  People can become victorious over such circumstances by living energetically and creatively.  When Jesus shared his thoughts about forgiveness, for example, he told his listeners what they must do if their desire was to be liberated from the tyranny created when their thoughts and feelings became obsessed with anger, resentment and revenge.

     What Jesus did not teach is how to achieve the results that forgiveness provides.  He said, “Follow me.” That directive is extremely helpful and important.  He also said, “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)  While these teachings have a ring of authentic, they do not give students the structure or behavior pattern that creates the “peace” that letting go of hurt will bring.

     Spirituality 201 is not designed to teach you what to believe, but to give you more tools for understanding the invisible forces that underlie our human experience.  Technically, such material is frequently called the study of Metaphysics.

     Most of what controls our thoughts and feelings is invisible.  For example, we cannot see perceptions; we can only observe the results of having them.  We cannot see the hurt generated from being rejected, but the result of our emotional response to it is often quite visible.

     Metaphysics teaches that first we must have a certain perception before the idea that we are being rejected can enter our consciousness.  By changing how we perceive, a day will arrive when it might not dawn on us that we have just been rejected.  This skill would be extremely liberating for those suffering from what they call low self-esteem.   How many people remain pigmies because 32 years ago a significant person said, “You will never be good enough.”   Why do people elevate the opinions of others above their own?

     By learning more information about the invisible forces that impact us, we may gain more control over our environment and ourselves.  There are several forms of control.  One type is the strong desire to oversee our destiny. We want control over our relationships and vocational pursuits.  We want control over our external world.

     Certain amounts of such control are necessary for our well being.  This desire is ingrained in many of us.  Yet if this form of control is the only frame of reference we energize, it can evoke powerful hostile responses when our desires are denied.  We will find that life most definitely bring us numerous experiences that are beyond our capability to manage.

     The most important type of control is the kind we exert over ourselves, i.e., our feelings, our responses or how our thought patterns either serve us or sabotage us.  The quality of our lives will be determined by how we perceive.  The initial patterns we set for the way we perceive tend to become stronger with age and increased reinforcement.

     Jesus taught us to love, which is another way of his instructing his listeners on how energy must flow in their relationship to all people and circumstances.  Our creative energy must flow away from us in a variety of creative forms.

     This love response does not mean that we must conquer all desire, a belief long held by the early ascetics, but rather to learn how to recognize the role of our desires as we begin the initial process of assigning meaning to what we believe we need or cannot live without.

     Recognition of how we perceive allows us to choose the quality of our energy in most instances.  Having this knowledge will help us modify our outbursts, knee-jerk reactions, obsessive relationships, secret sexual liaisons, hostile attitudes toward our siblings, parents, work environment, etc.  These are among our most primitive responses that the uninformed accept as natural and blindly choose not to move beyond.

     By choosing not to evolve, people frequently become encased by their unrecognized belief that, “This is my identity; this is who I am.”  No other life form on earth has the ability to stunt their growth through the use of their energetic thoughts and feelings.  Our specie has mastered many techniques that have the potential to prevent our evolution.

     Spirituality 201 has been designed to challenge and hopefully expand our current belief systems.  Remember truth does not depend on what we believe or think about it; truth merely is.  Today, as in no other previous century, we have the opportunity to move beyond the literature that has traditionally inspired reverence and loyalty because others before us decided that it was of Divine origin.  Taking this step means that people must face their fears of swimming against the currents our traditions and ancient heritage have established.  It means pursuing our understanding of life’s meaning and purpose with the same intensity that drove early physicians to discover invisible organisms that were toxic and destructive to the human body.  It means holding up to the light what is sacred, taking the grain and with the breath of gratitude, blow the chaff away.

     Out of respect and humility, we recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.   They preserved the Scriptures.  Later writers based their insights concerning the created order on the thoughts of their ancestors.  We owe much to our past.  Yet it is doubtful that any of those ancient authors would have declared their words sacred.  They were merely giving written testimony to their understanding of God, as they perceived it to be.  If they could speak today, they would encourage us to do the same.

     No vocational discipline has continued to take its expertise from ancient sources of authority, as have our world’s great religions.  What physician, for example, would practice medicine from 3,500-year-old texts?  What engineers would build bridges using designs employing stone arches?  What armies would engage enemies because great military victories were once won through the use of catapults or bows and arrows?

     As we expand our thinking about God and the nature of humankind, insights will emerge that have remained dormant because of our insistence that truth lies only in interpreting the theology of early writers.  It takes courage to be part of a movement that takes students of life away from past ideologies and into a future that is as uncertain as that of the early writers.

     All life-saving, metaphysical insights first appeared as heresy before they became “the gospel” whether they came from Siddhartha, Jesus, Muhammad, Martin Luther or some other enlightened master.  Yet we need to awaken to the reality that our best religious understanding is still in its infancy.

     Many of the world’s academic thinkers, and the movers and shakers of the world’s societies have moved on.   They have continued their journey without the guidance that once came from their religious teachers.  Many of the world’s leaders will no longer accept beliefs that make no sense to their systems of logic.  Nor will such ancient beliefs have any bearing on equipping them with knowledge of how to love their neighbor or create a future where all people have the opportunity to flourish.  Yet many of them still hunger for finding meaning and purpose in a world where change is the only constant.

     Religious bodies remain locked in their struggles over orthodoxy and have grown painfully silent on answering the cries of humanity for guidance and understanding.  Our world community is expanding to include every religious belief system imaginable. 

     People, whose life-orientation is linked to Judaism, Islam, Christianity or any number of other forms of religious thought, have become exceedingly mobile.  Religious cultures are coming together whether we are prepared for it or not.

     We need to learn that successful communities, i.e., ones where peace and harmony reign, have to do with our skills of spirit not a commonly shared religious belief system.  God will not save our physical world. God does not need to do that.  God will not make people become good neighbors.  God has already provided that potential when each of us was born.  The created world is perfect for what it was designed to do – be the laboratory for our spiritual evolution.

     The potential to love or to fear is in all of us.  The power of choice concerning which path to take remains ours, not God’s.  At creation God’s Will was revealed.  God said, “Creation was very good.”  We are here as a result.

     Spirituality 201 will point to our need to energize higher forms of consciousness, which must translate into creative, loving behavior if it is authentic.  While there is plenty of room in the world for intellectuals whose only gift is to pontificate with idle speculations that sound pious and sacred, we do not have to listen.  In fact, no one needs to heed any of the words that are written in this course.  Life is a series of choices and adjustments. Jesus once taught that many would come and say, “Lord, Lord and make claims that the Kingdom of God is here or the Kingdom is there, but they will not be correct.”

     This course may help some of us to understand that our beliefs are made visible every moment we live even though we may think otherwise.  We communicate through the perceptions we energize.

     If we wish to grow, we must first ask ourselves, “What is it that I must leave behind? What masks of security must I surrender?”  We simply cannot enter tomorrow with all our accumulated baggage of yesterday still in tact.  We must learn to pack light.  When Jesus said that only a few would find their way that should be a wake-up call.   What he did not say is that eventually we all do, but in God’s time.

Enjoy the course.