Any course in Spirituality involves material that has been circulating for thousands of years.  We navigate in a world where most of our symbols have their roots in our material experience. Even so, when someone very close to us dies, we want to believe that their lives continue in some other realm.  We reason that a loving creator would not allow us to incarnate into our solid forms only to have our energy dissipate into non-existence because, in our ignorance and haste, we did not use good judgment in many of our choices.

     People of faith believe that when we transition, we will assume another form that is different, i.e., one that more resembles pure energy.  Even though we hope for these outcomes, there is part of us that wants the departed to remain deceased.  A number of people are not keen on having them appear or communicate to them unless such an experience comes packaged in the safety of a dream.

     When such an experience does occur, e.g., an out of the body experience or communication with someone who has died, individuals become highly motivated to find answers for what just happened.  No one can take the validity of their experienced away from them with rational explanations.  Often a paranormal experience places people on a path they would never have pursued on their own.  Such an experience transformed Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul.

     The majority of people in our diverse society are wedded quite securely to their roles as material beings roaming and navigating in our physical world.  We more religious-minded people, however, enjoy our expressions of praise to God as we share with God our thoughts of gratitude.  We are at peace placing our hope, faith and trust in a world we cannot experience with our physical senses.  “A loving God,” we presume, “will take care of us.”  We reason, “God who provides for us here will provide for us in any environment.”

     We revere the Scriptures enormously for their insight into the unfolding saga of the Jews’ relationship to God.   The Christian church incorporated this history into its own theology by suggesting that Jewish history was preparation for the interpretation of what happened through the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.

     To seal the truth as unwavering orthodoxy, the scrolls were labeled as being divinely inspired -- a claim that was made only by a limited number of New Testament authors.  There is informed scholarship that suggests that these claims were later inserted into the text to solidify the claim that God wrote the Scriptures, a belief that is unshakable even today in the minds of many Christians.

     For those who hold on to this truth the question that is seldom addressed is why God stop dictating.  Has God given us the last word?  As our minds have progressed and matured, certainly God would not become limited in communicating to humanity unless religious authorities had a stake in creating a gag-order for God, decreeing that nothing further can be added to the divine revelations found in Scripture.

     Spirituality attempts to pierce the veil of the material world in order to understand the deeper meaning of our existence.  The Christian Church has attempted to encourage its believers to understand God’s plan for salvation.   Such a belief has grown from the Church’s understanding that we are fallen creatures whose soul’s are in danger if we do not repent, accept Christ as our Savior and accept God’s merciful forgiveness.  Many follow this belief pattern and have given their lives to its validity.  Who could complain about these saints whose lives have become exemplary models for the rest of humanity?  If their beliefs have made their lives authentic, sensitive and compassionate, they have found what works for them.

     There are others who have recognized that all of us perceive differently, that we have gifts and abilities that are uniquely ours. In fact, a greater reality is that we are one-of-a-kind beings.  No one ever before existed with our unique blend of intellect, emotions, spirit, motivational zeal, optimism, energy levels or genetic predispositions as we have.  No one will ever have our unique combination of traits in the future.  This uniqueness is why people perceive very differently and why individuals are on differently levels of consciousness.

     The early Christian priesthood demanded conformity and got it because others believe they possessed and could use the power of God.  The early Church Councils gathered and codified the sacred books and saw to it that they were preserved in Latin, a language known mostly by the priesthood.  Gnostic texts such as those found in Nag Hammadi library near Alexandria, Egypt in 1945 were discounted by Church Councils because they did not fit the mold for truth that had been established.

     Today, however, there truly is religious freedom in Christianity.  People have opened their eyes to possibilities that were not permitted in former centuries.  Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Scriptures – The Message -- has soared in popularity because it has helped countless people graduate from being confined by the mythology that the King James or Authorized version is God’s sacred word.

     We are now free to build on the Scriptures or to abandon them completely.  The only guidance that should govern our quest is to learn how to express ourselves by extending our loving energy patterns.  When we can do that without the fear of violating the Church’s orthodoxy and dogma, we will be doing exactly what Jesus did when he rose above the teachings of his parent religion.

     The scales of justice always hang within each person.  No one can pretend to be what they are not.  Equally, our potential to be extremely powerful creators cannot be hidden either.  The length of time it takes to make that discovery and make choices that accelerate our evolution is totally in our hands. Jesus once taught, “The gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.” (Matthew 7:14)  Truer words were never spoken.  Spiritual growth is an infinite process that continues indefinitely whether we are in solid forms or have transitioned into ones of pure energy.  We either perfect our creative abilities or we engage in delay.

     We are free to develop our own crystalline structure as each grows from within.  We can create forms that have never materialized on the earth.  We can create music that is a specialized language recognized and appreciated by each culture.  We can describe spiritual patterns with words that resonate with the experiences of others.  The issue is not who is right and who is wrong. Only those who understand a particular spiritual frequency will resonate with others living near that same frequency.

     God will not be saddened or disappointed because of our desire to stretch beyond all known limits of knowledge.  Just as we want to reach God, however we define this creative energy pattern, God attempts to pierce the barriers we have constructed that prevent new ideas from being formed and becoming accepted as the new mythology.   Regardless of what others think, believe or feel, we can be at peace knowing that we live in total freedom to soar to heights of spirit that others may have to wait to reach.  Like every skill humans beings have learned to use, the ones who harness the skills of spirit will have mastery over aspects of life, the existence of which others may still deny.

     I will conclude with a parable that was written by Richard Bach in his book, Illusions.  His words summarize the difference between the people who know the ocean and those who clutch their cup of water believing that they have all the divine wisdom there is.

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.  The current of the river swept silently over them all - the young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks on the river's bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current is what each had learned from birth.  But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging.  Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going.  I want to let go, and let it take me where it will.  Clinging, I will die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said, "You are a fool!  Let go, and that current will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than from boredom!"  But the one heeded them not, and taking a deep breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current against the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.  And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger cried, "See a miracle!  A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!  See a Messiah who has come to save us all."

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more a Messiah than any of you.  The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go.  Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."  But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again, he was gone.  And they were left alone making legends of a Savior.

     Until another time when we gather again, keep probing, keep asking the challenging questions, keep pushing back the known horizons, keep listening to others with a compassionate spirit and above all else, keep balanced in how you make judgments.  Not everything is as it appears.

     Please keep aware that you are a being of light that will defy all definitions used by others to label you.  They do not know you. Knowledge of you is not important.  What is important is that you realize that others are beings like yourself that are somewhere on their own individual path, a path that will eventually lead to the same destiny that you seek.  With that knowledge, be at peace that everyone’s life is evolving on a schedule none of you can determine.