On the road of experience, I'm trying to find my own way.
Sometimes I wish that I could fly away
When I think that I'm moving, suddenly things stand still
I'm afraid 'cause I think they always will
And I'm looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I'm looking to know and understand
It's a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I'm almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I'm deep in despair
(John Denver, Looking for Space)
“You true soul’s yearning, we say, is to be embodied in the Christ manifestation.That is the true soul’s journey for all men. The times that you stand in now offer the opportunity for a rising, for an escalation of consciousness in a way that has never been possible on this plane. And the choice that each one of you makes to incarnate at this level supports all of mankind in doing the same.”
That first sentence contains all the Truth we will ever need. But is some ways the statement also embodies Paradox we live in. We know the truth of that first sentence, but then immediately my mind kicks in send says, “Okay, fine, but how do I do that?” You see, we have come to this crossroads fairly often, and it is the one we refer to as the ‘personality self attempting to become the Divine consciousness.’ Now the personality or the ego self can be blessed, can be sanctified can be raised to a higher level of vibration, but no matter what we do with it, it is never going to be the essence of Who We Are. So it is not going to transform itself into the Divine consciousness.
This is not to deny its role in our continuing journey. As we have said many times before, the personality or the ego consciousness is the lens through which the Divine shines through in its own unique way.
Now there are beings on planet Earth where this shining through happens automatically and with ease. These beings are called babies. They are not conscious of their process, but the lens through which the Divine shines through is so clear at this moment that there is very little that is blocking the light. Soon, however, the process of life begins with a lens becomes “dirty” or fogged with judgement, fear, blame, and self-doubt. All of which are not necessarily created from within, but come from outside of ourselves, and yet we are responsible for taking it in and thinking it is the truth. Then comes the continuing evolution of our earthly trip-- a realizing that there is something I have missed; I've somehow become lost “myself” along the way. No matter what metaphor or story we might wrap around that forgetfulness, it is also the beginning stage of our remembering. Some people mistakenly think then we need to literally become a baby again. When Jesus Spoke of becoming as a little child he was speaking on many dimensional levels one was returning to innocence, Another aspect that we are emphasizing here was coming to a conscious awareness of our divine nature. The big difference here is that the child is not consciously aware of itself as this unique expression of Divine Light, whereas the responsible and functional adult can bring this truth into their awareness and consciousness.
Also as we have stated before as we evolve in this awareness we realize that our thoughts and our actions affect all beings all creation. When I raise my vibration I raise the vibration of all.
“We must say this one more time for the reader who becomes frightened when we speak of the Christ manifested. The Christ, as we describe it, is simply the aspect of you, seeded by your Creator, that seeks realization as you. And the Divine Self you are, you must trust, knows his own path, knows her own path, and may know more than you know as you sit in your chair deciding what things should look like.”
A good bit of our study this morning came about through the exploration of the difference between judgement and discernment.
We've all become familiar with what we might call the negative energy or lower vibration of judgment. Now this is not a judgment about judgement, it is simply an awareness that the process of thought which produces judgment is also a process or an energy of lower vibration. The reason for this is that judgement, by its very nature, reinforces a sense of duality and anything that reinforces a sense of duality automatically produces a sense of separateness. As we have learned so often through our own life experience, a sense of separateness leads us into anger, fear, isolation and sometimes even helplessness. All of which are lower vibration states of mind.
That is one level of what we might call the lower energy that surrounds judgment. If there is good there has to be bad, if there is left there has to be right, if there is up there has to be down, if there is joy there has to be sorrow, if there is love there has to be hate, etc. Notice what Francis did in his wonderful prayer. He named one side of the duality and owned it, but did not dwell on it. He did not try to deny or erase it, but his open-hearted prayer asked that this energy that I might be using producing lower vibration or resonance might be transformed to a higher vibration a higher resonance.
Let us take a simple example. If I am angry about something, probably nine times out of 10 if not 10 times out of 10, if I look closely and honestly enough I will discover that something I love is actually being threatened or I think it is. Now we could choose to stay in this lower vibration mindset of anger and fear with the mistaken notion that somehow or another it is keeping me safe, or I can put my energy, gratitude and open heartedness intp that which I love. Granted, to the personality self this feels quite vulnerable and it is! To my ego and the personality, my small self, being open to the light and grace feels quite exposed. Just notice how my ego responds to that statement from A Course in Miracles “In my defenselessness my safety lies.”
Now we can make that into a struggle or we can realize that our soul is being called to move beyond or move past these petty attachments that do nothing except to produce more anger and fear.
The other level of energy surrounding judgment is what Jesus spoke of when he spoke about when he said, “Judge not and you shall not be judged.” It is the same sort of energy that we are expounding on in the Lord's Prayer when we pray that we might be forgiven as we forgive those around us. In reality it cannot happen any other way. If I am lost in anger and blame at my brother or sister, then there is no way that I can be open to a the higher vibration of forgiveness and release. It just can't work that way. It is also a reflection of that wonderful perception of Merton when he said “The arrow with which I shoot my enemy has to pass through my own heart first.”
Jesus also explained how easy and seductive it is to point out or focus on what I think is wrong about somebody else and miss what I need to work on myself (because that is all I can work on anyway.) He spoke about trying to “remove the speck from my brother's eye while neglecting the log that is in my own.” Or this other marvelous image when he warned the Pharisees about “straining at gnats yet swallowing camels.
I too struggled with this one about judgment and discernment. It seemed as if everything had to be a judgment one way or another and when I heard the word “discernment” and people attempting to describe to me what that was, it sounded as if I was just playing with words. Later I found out there is a truth here. Again, that goes beyond the personality or the ego self. Discernment has to do with inner wisdom, inner knowing and inner listening and because of that it requires focus, concentration and practice because these are not gifts that we are used to using. We are much more comfortable with a list of rules and laws. It seems as if we if we rest on inner knowing and inner listening and are left to our own devices then “How can we be sure?
And then of course we are called into trusting or learning how to trust our own inner knowing, our own inner wisdom. All through these works that we have been studying, there are some truths that we continue to come back to. One of them is this whole sense of inner knowing. We might not have any outside proof and yet we all sit with this dilemma of knowing that we know and thinking that we need to reinforce that knowing. So we all show up on Sunday morning, all of us somehow knowing that we know, and yet thinking we need confirmation that what we already know is real, is true, is okay. And believe me I find myself there as well. What is fascinating, however, is that at the end of our 45 minutes together, we all seem to be resting in that place of peaceful knowing. Will we forget? Will we be sidetracked? Probably, and yet we can embrace the forgetfulness with love just as well.
And then someone asked “Is it possible to live without judgement?” That's a real kicker isn't it? I recalled a couple of things that can offer us some reflection on that question. The first one was the opening lines of a Zen poem called the Hsin hisn Ming.
It begins by stating: “The great way is not difficult for those who have no opinions.
When Love and Hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make one distinction however
and Heaven and Earth are set infinitely apart.
In the biblical story of what is sometimes called “Jesus and the woman taken in adultery.” After all of her accusers leave, he asks her “Does anyone condemn you?” and she replies “No one Lord,” and he says, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way.” This is a marvelously beautiful simple story because not only does Jesus notice that all of the external accusers or holders of judgment have left, but, in the light of his love and forgiveness, the woman does not even condemn herself and because of that is blessed and encouraged to move on with her life.
Here is an additional thought to ponder: We can observe without necessarily judging.For instance, we could have observed that the person standing next to me as being quite tall. I had that experience this morning when Jim and I were talking. I was looking up while he was looking down. There was no judgment there, however, it was simply an observation. Now, interestingly enough, my observation called for an adjustment in my action. I had to choose to look up to look in his eyes just as he need to choose to look down into my eyes.
Now it would have been different if I was standing or sitting next to someone and held on to the thought this person I am sitting close to is really fat. The language seems familiar or similar to what we said a moment ago but you see how quickly and observation can turn into a judgement. What I am suggesting here is that observation does not have to turn into judgment but often times it does because we have been trained that way. A “cleaner” observation would be recognizing that the person I am sitting next to is “really big.” No judgment, just observation.
Is it possible to live without judgement?
First, we will emphasize--what creates the highest good for ourselves and all creation is affirming the POSSIBILITY of this being true--in this case, through my willingness and intention, the possibility of life without judgment.
This morning I had an experience of what A Course in Miracles calls a “holy instant.” In this moment of quiet meditation, as we closed our process this morning, there was a quiet and a spaciousness that was essentially devoid of judgment. There was no this or that or good or bad or right or left or up and down or black or white. There just IS.
I would encourage each one of us to help create those moments of ISNESS. As we have said many times before, they do not need to be dramatic. They could be as simple as playing with the cat or raking leaves or listening to a good piece of music or a book or a movie or a piece of poetry or being hugged or wrapping ourselves in the warm memory and experience of being with another that we love and who loves us. Not only are those moments priceless, they are also free of judgment and free of negative vibration.
What we are referring to as discernment here is what is also claimed as a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is not a written down rule or law. In fact, the actions or the responses that I might be called upon today might be different than the ones I am called upon tomorrow.
Discernment is inner knowing, inner listening and, what we might call, inner guidance. In its simplest terms it is being open to The Knowing of what is best for me right now in this moment, in this situation. I certainly have free will to follow this prompting of the Spirit or to go with what I think is the most logical explanation or direction (what my thinking mind or ‘habit’ behavior might tell me. Sometimes they might be the same, sometimes not.
There have been many times when I have worked with people as a psychologist or spiritual director when I have been totally stumped about what to say, what to ask you or even what the next direction might need to be. Often times, I have prayed, “God I don't know the answer. Show me the way; give me the words to speak.” Inevitably the words, even though they might not have made complete sense to my intellectual mind, have turned out to be exactly what the other person needs to hear.
Another example of discernment was expressed in class this morning. For instance, if I felt the need to speak to another person, to point something out to them. Then I felt needed to be heard, not just for my own sake but for theirs as well. That instead of simply trying to frame what I thought would be the best presentation in my thinking mind, I might begin to apply the Buddhist principle of Right Speech which ask the questions “Is it kind; is it true; is it necessary?” And after passing through those filters to notice what is left in terms of my expression to another.
Now I realize there are going to be times when we might not hear that inner voice or it might seem to be in conflict. Any of those times it might be advisable to do nothing, to let go of the demands of the mind, to do only what is necessary in the moment.
Also, since many of us, myself included, have not been overly involved in taking care of ourselves. When we are asked to do something by another, we might automatically respond, “Yes” perhaps because we think we should, because we don't want to be disliked, perhaps we just do that out of habit. Saying “Yes” is fine, but if it happens to be to the detriment of my own physical, spiritual, mental, emotional well being, remind me to look at that again.
I understand there are also times when we need to stretch ourselves, to go beyond our self-imposed limitations, and at the same time there are going to be times when we need to say “No” when we realize that we need to take this time for ourselves to heal to grow or to nurture.
You see there is no rule here. There's no little book that will give you the nice neat little answers or judgments that will make it either right or wrong, good or bad, this or that. Discernment is much more than a middle way, it will lead us and will guide us but it will not tell us what to do we are the ones who choose.