Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
Phil Richardson was talking about mastery. He reminded me of something Michael Beckwith once said: What we need is not ascended masters. What we need are descended masters.
Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”? Of course most people are walking around, not really quite aware that that is what’s going on. We have these “spacesuits,” these physical bodies that allow us to be here on Planet Earth. And for many people, the sense of identity is altogether to do with the spacesuit. So we live in an earthly world, an earthly environment. We live in the space-time continuum. Many people have a sense of identity that doesn’t go much further than that.
But, at some point in a person’s life, they may come in touch with a reality that transcends their immediate earthly experience. If that happens, it sets up an internal tension, or conflict, as they touch the ineffable. It’s thought to be a very beautiful thing to have a spiritual experience, and it is. But when you have a spiritual experience, it brings conflict into your life. Because there is a challenge to your current life that is implicit in that experience. For most people, that earthly life has its challenges anyway. But at least they are familiar!
Usually it takes becoming uncomfortable enough that a person is willing to look for something else. A person has to be willing to look up, in a spiritual sense, to a new answer for their life. Often, that happens when a person realizes that they can’t work out all the factors in their life all by themselves and, no matter how much the furniture is rearranged, it doesn’t bring happiness or fulfillment. A person realizes that happiness isn’t available on that basis.
So a person turns to a reality that transcends the space-time continuum. That may put in an appearance because they read a book, meet a person, take a program of some sort. But in whatever way, the person touches another reality, and that’s uplifting. Yet it also brings conflict in a person’s life, because while there may be an openness to an eternal reality that has been touched, it tends to go away pretty quickly unless a person is willing to accommodate that reality in their life. It goes away unless the person is willing to challenge the set of beliefs that they are holding. You really can’t have infinite possibility in your life, and the sense of freedom that that brings, if you have a very well established path that you’re treading.
So the desire to experience something transcendent and joyful, right in the presence of one’s everyday life, puts some demands on a person, because you can’t continue to have that in your life without changing, without being willing to accommodate it. There can be an internal battle because of this—the battle between the person’s emerging experience and the experience the person has had previously. The person’s gut-level beliefs about themselves and their world will be challenged, along with the emotional patterns that have accompanied those beliefs. In the process, the person is likely to struggle with their relationship to whoever evoked this new experience.
So here are two possibilities: 1) An earthly-oriented person is having an earthly experience, or 2) An earthly-oriented person is beginning to touch a spiritual experience. If a person on a spiritual path is willing to engage fully with that heavenly experience, they begin to find that it is very natural to them. They may discover that it’s true, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and not the other way around.
Of course, it is difficult for most people to negotiate between the spiritual and the earthly without doing a lot of bargaining. Do you ever find yourself doing that kind of bargaining? A person may, in essence, ask of their new experience, “Will you please fit into this way of doing things that I’ve grown accustomed to? Will you please let me do the same things I’ve been doing but just let me be happier when I do them? Will you please let me retain these very good beliefs about myself and my world? Can I have everything I want of my spiritual experience and still keep these really good beliefs, these really virtuous beliefs?” Generally speaking, people aren’t holding on to beliefs they think are bad. In their own eyes, all the beliefs that people are holding on to are virtuous beliefs; otherwise they wouldn’t be holding on to them.
To accommodate all the people who wanted to be here today, we have reoriented the room to accommodate more chairs. Usually we use the room lengthwise, with the speaker at the window to my right. There was a lot of discussion among a number of people about the decision to do this. There were differing opinions on the matter. Phil Richardson gave a lot of thought to this decision, along with Ruth Buckingham. Finally, this morning, they made the decision to reorient the room.
I am sure that all concerned could think of a lot of reasons why this service this morning would have been a lot better had we oriented the room the way it usually is. For some, it may have taken a willingness to endure their own self-recrimination for having done something bad or wrong. In fact, I wonder how many times Phil was sitting there in his seat, before we began service this morning, telling himself, “We really should have done it the other way—we’re not doing it the right way.” Or if not Phil, maybe somebody else had that thought. Isn’t that often how it goes when you make a change? When you do something fresh and new, you not only have to endure everybody else telling you that you’re a little crazy, you have to endure you telling yourself that you’ve really done it wrong and that you just might be a bad person for having done that.
So we get a chance to listen to those voices in the head that tell us those things, and then consider, what’s really true here? Am I listening to my jailor, who keeps me in prison? Or am I listening to that spirit that sets me free and sets my world free?
If you find yourself in the position of realizing that you are a spiritual being having an earthly experience, and you have at least a sense of the potential of mastery that you could be bringing to your experience, so that you could be a descended master, you have some conflict on your hands. For one, you have your own capacity. That’s the first battlefield, if you will, and it can be a battlefield. You may say you don’t like that analogy, but at times that’s exactly what it is for most people. I don’t know how a person deals with their own capacity without in some way fighting that battle at times. The new emerging experience gets some pushback. You have to be willing to bring the authority of who you are as a spiritual being. You have to gather the strength that you have living in that place beyond the space-time continuum, feel the peace and the strength of that place, and say, “Hold on a minute. This is my house. This is my earthly experience. We’re going to shake things up around here.”
We shook things up very deliberately in our recent two-day intensive, Journey into the Fire. That’s part of mastery. Mastery requires that you shake things up every so often and be clear about who’s the master of your house. It requires that we ask, “What are these emotions for? What are these thoughts for?” Are our thoughts supposed to be running all over the place? There is a pattern of thinking that has peace in it, that has wisdom in it, that isn’t reactive to everything that happens that comes along, and that allows me to be present, allows me to bring something creative that’s free of the confining beliefs of the culture that I live in, and even of my own internal culture.
How about these emotions? Are you ready to shake them up a little bit? As the master of our house of being, how about saying to our emotions, “You want to come out and play? Well come out and play! You want to get a little reactive? Sure, we’ll run that feeling a little while and find out who is the master of it. Who’s the master of this anger here? I’m the master of this anger, and I’ll use the energy as I choose to use it, when I want to use it, and for what I want to use it.” How about whatever grief may be in our life? We have the capacity to say, “You don’t scare me. It’s okay. I can welcome this. I can let that run through me. You won’t overwhelm me; I won’t die from this. You can bring me whatever gifts you have to bring and whatever learnings. It will be part of my human experience, and that’s okay. It’s okay, because I’m a lot bigger than you. I can care for that experience of grief, however it comes.” That’s bringing mastery.
How much is joy our master? It may be a person’s master if they find themselves on a desperate search for joy or happiness. How about saying, “I don’t have to find happiness. I’m made out of that. I bring happiness to my world. I’m joyful because I bring it. I’m not addicted to my own joy”? I’m also not afraid to be joyful. In fact, I can be joyful just standing here right now! Joy is an expression, isn’t it? It isn’t just something that happens to us or somehow comes over us. It’s something we have to bring into the world through our expression, through our spirit, and through our spacesuit. Because this spacesuit isn’t just something that allows us to be here. It is something that allows us to radiate who we are in this space-time continuum.
People on a spiritual path are often looking for enlightenment, peace, tranquility or stillness. It is an interesting phenomenon, because what you find out after a time, if you really walk the spiritual path, is that you’re not an earthly being, looking for a spiritual experience. The truth is, you do live in a place beyond the space-time continuum that is peaceful. It is still in that place. That’s just who we are, that’s just where we live in truth. The other is a mirage, actually. It’s a mixed-up, confused experience that somehow lost track of what’s true. You can be in that lost experience, trying to be peaceful and enlightened, but it is ultimately unsuccessful on that basis.
Who you and I are is already peaceful and enlightened, and we have that to bring. Until a person has the usual paradigm flipped on its head, they will be hoping for something that will forever elude them, except in glimpses. A person may think, “If I meditate really, really, really hard, maybe I’ll get more of it!” But until a person comes to peace with the fact that that is who they are, and they don’t need to get it, they need to bring it—they have to be the descended master who brings it into the earthly experience—the spiritual experience will be continually a dream. As we bring the experience of the eternal, the spacesuit can have the experience.
So there’s conflict for someone having an earthly experience, trying to invite in the heavenly one. Actually there’s some conflict if you’re bringing heavenly experience into your earthly capacity or into your world. You probably know that in our history as humanity, anybody who has brought the heavenly experience into the earthly dimension wasn’t exactly greeted with flowers and kisses. The spiritual experience is challenging to the human experience. It’s challenging to the earthly oriented set of beliefs and emotions.
Do you know who it’s mostly challenging for? Good people. Because, by the way, the good people are keeping their service rooms oriented in the right direction. The good people know what direction their service rooms ought to be arranged, and they don’t get it mixed up, as we apparently have this morning. And, for the good people, that is very serious business.
So if you bring what comes from the undimensional, which is unlimited possibility, there is conflict. You are not being a good person. You ought to orient the room the other way. And so it is, in all ranges of human experience. So there’s conflict in that.
Are you willing to live with that kind of conflict in your life, the conflict that comes when you bring the spiritual into your world? It could shake things up, not only for you personally but for the people around you. It could be a challenge. Just you living there, in that kind of spirit, with that kind of attitude, could be a challenge to others. If you are not ready for that kind of challenge in your life, you are probably not ready to live and express from the eternal. If a person is not ready to have that kind of challenge in their life, it would be much more comfortable, in some respects anyway, to forget the whole business and go back to being a human person having an earthly experience. No more conflict! Or at least not that kind of conflict. Of course, an inner conflict tends to grind away subconsciously anyway, which is what gets a person started on their spiritual path in the first place.
There is a fourth place to be. That is to be having the heavenly experience and to understand that, while that experience has big implications for the earthly one, ultimately the heavenly experience is about more than the implications for the earthly experience, even though those implications are there. It is simply about having the experience it is natural to have. For instance, the transcendent experience isn’t actually designed for the betterment of humanity, per se. Now we can all imagine that if we lived in that experience there would be a better experience for humanity. But how do we know that it would meet the expectations of our current human experience? It just is what it is. As long as we’re trying to evaluate our heavenly experience according to what we think ought to be happening in the earthly experience, we’re probably not getting the whole picture.
Can you imagine, if you did meet God one day, that you would interview God as to whether God was prepared to meet all your requirements for your earthly experience? If the Cosmic All That Is walks in the door, would you ask, “Well let’s see, how are You doing on these political issues? How are You doing on these environmental issues? And where do You stand on this religious issue, by the way?”
We can trust that the Cosmic All That Is has it all in hand in its own way. As we live in that trust, earthly things have a way of sorting themselves out. That might be quite an experience, to live in the heavenly experience, not in relationship to what happens on an earthly basis but just to live there, and to let the earthly experience find its relationship to that—to let our own earthly experience find its own relationship to our own experience of the transcendent.
I’m probably getting theoretical if I go too far down this road, because I don’t know how close we really are to that experience. But I think it’s good to share the possibility, because it highlights how much there is a tendency to evaluate the spiritual in terms of the earth. It’s pretty hard to fit what is eternal in our systems of belief, which is what it ends up being—into our own sense of which way the room ought to be oriented.
There’s this interesting thing where we think something should happen that would serve the earthly experience, so we get all focused on that. And obviously there are things we need to do in the earth, so I’m not knocking that at all. But if it’s done to the neglect of honoring what’s happening from a transcendent perspective, that which would really be the earthly experience never gets a chance to get in, because you never really see the possibilities that are there. The person may see something, perhaps one possibility, and then may think, “If I work really, really, really, really hard on this one possibility, I’ll get it to work.” And it doesn’t.
There is irony in that what would really serve humanity, what would really serve Planet Earth, is to get off that long enough to entertain the transcendent. Do you think that there might be something in the transcendent that might be a blessing to us and to the whole earth? Jesus said, “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” There is something in the eternal for everything. But if you never tune in to that, you are living the hard way. In the end, you’re not opening yourself to the possibility of what would bring a blessing—in fact, exactly the opposite. How many circumstances do you see where someone is doggedly following a certain path? They are trying to create something good, but what you see is that they haven’t opened themselves to what would truly be creative in the situation. So if you see that for other people, maybe other people see that sometimes for you and for me. And maybe for you and for me there is wisdom in opening ourselves to what the infinite has in store, the infinite possibility of what could happen now.