Monday, March 31, 2008

The Truth About Myself

"Dear God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. Amen." - Macrina Wiederkehr

In his book, Happiness Now!: Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST, psychologist Robert Holden quotes the prayer by Macrina Wiederkehr: "Dear God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is." Dr. Holden writes, "[This prayer] offers a perfect example of how to remember and reconnect to our true, unconditioned Self."

Many of us were taught that we were innately flawed and that without divine intervention we were doomed to lives of despair and depravity. And so we would go to confession, or pray for revival, or beg God to have mercy on us, or ask Jesus to save us from the consequences of our sinfulness. Such theology may have been in some ways cathartic, but mostly it provided a low image of human nature.

I have come to believe that our true nature is beautiful and wonderful and divine. Ignorance of our potential may keep us from being all that we are meant to be, but at our core we remain loving, joyous, beautiful expressions of the perfect, infinite Source of all life.

I'm not interested in saving people from their wickedness; on the contrary, I want to help save people from the lie that they are innately wicked! Salvation, in my view, is liberation from self-loathing, fear, and degradation. Salvation, then, isn't about being rescued from who we really are; salvation is about waking up to who we really are. Our real, unconditioned Selves are perfect, wonderful, and divine. Mine is a higher view of human nature than I was taught as a child, but I have come to believe that it is a healthier one.

Today, I invite you to pray with me, "Dear God [Abiding Peace/Inward Light/Infinite Wisdom/Perfect Love/Spirit of Life], help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is." My suspicion is that if we will really believe in our beauty, we will manifest it more often in the world. As we live in the power of our glorious truth, the world around us is bound to benefit. "Help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is." Amen.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Reflection

Easter Reflection by Pastor Durrell Watkins

“What should Easter mean to us?... It should point the way to the ascended consciousness…Jesus gave us the perfect example of the Resurrected Life and the [Christ] Consciousness—Oneness with the [Divine].” – Lucile Frederick

Whether with family dinners or Easter egg hunts or concerts in the park or church services…many of us celebrated yesterday the newness of life that Easter represents. And this spring season is a perfect time to keep that celebration going, reminding ourselves that renewal is always possible for us.

I think it is a mistake to make Easter an historical event. It has to be more. The story of the hero who cheats death and is raised to new life is an old and often repeated tale. Elijah escaped death by being taken to the heavens in a whirlwind. Osiris was torn to pieces, but was later returned to wholeness and raised to new life. Hercules sacrificed himself and was raised to eternal life among the stars. The Phoenix would plunge to its death and from its own ashes rise again to new life. Stories of the deity or hero who escapes death or returns from it are many.

Rather than trying to dismiss them all, and rather than trying to prove one of the ancient resurrection stories are “true” while the rest are not, it could be that all of them are trying to get at something true and relevant for us. Perhaps these stories about a renewed, resurrected life are telling us what Confucius taught, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.”

Life has meaning, and its significance lasts beyond the years of mortal existence. Our significance, our dignity, our ability to cling to hope can raise us up when we fall, and can remind us that we will be raised up after the final fall. Night is followed by morning. Winter is followed by spring. Failure is followed by second chances. Death is followed by new life.

Of all the resurrection stories, I remain partial to the Christian version. Jesus’ resurrection retains special meaning for me because it isn’t just about him. It involved his friends, his followers, his community, his admirers and devotees. His isn’t just a story about a hero who rose to new life…that wouldn’t be an original story at all. His is a story about a common person, a carpenter, a rural peasant who rose to greatness as a teacher, healer, and prophet and who spent his life giving others their dignity back. When he was executed, people still found their hope and their dignity in stories about him, and they continued to experience his power and grace beyond his execution. He lived in them, and they lived better as a result.

Jesus’ resurrection was a tool for lifting up others. As people insisted that they experienced him beyond Golgotha, they somehow found courage and hope in the face of their own challenges. Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just one more super-human performing one more incredible feat…Jesus’ resurrection was a symbol of empowerment for people who needed to be lifted up in their own lives. And it worked! And apparently, it still does.

An average person with access to divine potential: That’s a story that I can put to use in my own life! A person who is raised to new life after being put down by mighty forces: That’s a story that I can put to use in my own life. The Easter narratives remind us that the power of life cannot be killed, and that significance of a life well lived cannot be diminished. Jesus as an example of the Resurrected Life and the Christ Consciousness is something that is powerful because it isn’t about one person long ago; it’s about what is possible for all people at all times. I hope the power of the Easter message will bless us all throughout this season of renewed life.

(c) Durrell Watkins, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Divine Breath

“Are you looking for me?...When you really look for me, you will see me instantly – you will find me in the tiniest house of time…What is God? [God] is the breath inside the breath.” – Kabir

The book of Genesis begins, “In the beginning…a mighty wind swept over the waters.” That driving force, that Creative Breath, that divine Spirit moves in the ancient creation myth and as the Wind or Breath moves, creation starts to take shape. It’s a poetic rather than historic or scientific image, but it still suggests something
wonderful about ultimate reality. God is the breath inside the breath, the wind inside the wind, the energy within the energy…the source and substance of All That Is. We aren’t talking about a deity in the sky, a cosmic judge, a divine warrior, a super-human…we are talking about movement. This “god” is a verb more than a noun. This “god” is experience more than subject. This “god” is “is-ness,” the path and the journey and the traveler: one-in-all; all-in-one. Everything is part of this “god” and “God” is more than the sum of Its' parts!

“God” may not be a meaningful word for you as you consider the meaning of life. But language is a human tool…”God” is our word. We made it up, and we can make up some other word. It doesn’t matter what we call ultimate reality. The Web of Existence (to which we all belong) can remain nameless or It can have a thousand names. The
search for meaning is where meaning is found; that is, God is the search for God. Whatever path we take, whatever name we use, as long as we are asking the questions and remain open to possibilities, we are in the flow of spirit, the divine Breath; we are in communion with the breath inside the breath.

May Indomitable Hope/Abiding Peace/Unfettered Joy/your Higher Power/the spirit of Life/Goddess/God…the symbol of your search for meaning and purpose and wholeness, be your comforting companion and source of strength today and every day. When we seek, we will find! The search is itself divine.