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Sister- and Brotherhood

David KarchereThe words below are from the song “Because All Men Are Brothers,” recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and released in 1965. In some ways, it is anachronistic. I’m sure that Tom Glazer, who wrote it, meant to speak of both men and women. Yet he referred to us all collectively as “men” and “brothers.” You wouldn’t see that in a contemporary folk song. But nonetheless, the song evokes a passionate longing in the human heart for sister- and brotherhood. Here is the first verse:

Because all men are brothers wherever men may be
One Union shall unite us forever proud and free
No tyrant shall defeat us, no nation strike us down
All men who toil shall greet us the whole wide world around.

All of humanity has a common spiritual source. We are the offspring of Mother and Father God. We also have a common lineage. There are many strands to the human lineage, and yet together they make one cord, and at the core of that lineage is the ongoing nature of Love itself, the power of the cosmos at work. There have been infinite moments of activation by Love that have carried that line forward.

We realize that there are also many experiences in the human lineage that are very difficult and ugly, and some of those experiences have been carried forward, right up until this day. And yet, we find ourselves inspired and strengthened by the core of our lineage when we touch it. We have to push aside all that’s corrupt that surrounds that core—all that we don’t agree with and can’t accept. But still, at the core of the lineage is the very heart of the human story that we are a part of and that we are carrying forward. That heart propels us in this moment.

For each of us, there is our individual lineage that we are carrying forward. But I am now speaking of how we are carrying forward the whole lineage, feeling the power of Creation that is at that core. The heart of our common lineage establishes our sister- and brotherhood. When we are speaking from that heart, we are in touch with what Tom Glazer named in his song as the one union that shall unite us, forever proud and free.

Connection with the core of our common spiritual source requires both surrender and vulnerability. In the plain meaning of the words, they both imply something negative. If you are vulnerable, you can get hurt. If you surrender, you lose. What I am speaking of goes past the plain meaning of the words to understand something deeper.

When Lloyd Arthur Meeker was teaching Attunement Servers in the early 1950s, he taught that the individual has to surrender to the Creator if they are to know victory, and that as long as they are trying to establish their own victory apart from that, they experience futility. And so he said that an Attunement Server has to encourage a person to surrender to the Creator. But the moment they surrender, the Server is a witness to their victory. They are not treating them as a defeated person when they surrender. They are acknowledging their victory because it’s the victory of the source of the person’s own creativity.

The degree to which a person discovers the power in their own surrender is the most pivotal factor in a person’s spiritual unfoldment. It leads to vulnerability, which requires us to let down the ways that we have become emotionally armored. Most of us notice how people can become blocked emotionally in their relationship to others. But more importantly, in contemporary human culture, it is very common that people armor themselves against the source of their own life, and to the love and truth that are within them.

The picture of young David fighting Goliath is a picture of someone who knew that the best way to live was without armor. The story goes like this:

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour. 

But the armor and the armaments were so unfamiliar to David that he stripped them off and set them down. Instead, as most of us know so well, he faced the giant with no armor or sword, but with only five smooth stones and a sling. 

David was vulnerable, but nonetheless he was in his strength. He had surrendered to something within himself, and so on the basis of that surrender he knew courage. And I do believe that’s how it goes. The true surrender, instead of taking away our liberty and strength, gives them to us. We are honored by what we have surrendered to. And that brings up the other word, vulnerability, because in our surrender to Love, in our surrender to Truth, we’ve become vulnerable to these realities, acknowledging that it is a human tendency to fight off those things from within oneself—to resist letting the heart melt or the mind open.

I was searching for a word that might convey vulnerability that didn’t have a negative connotation, but couldn’t find one. So I came upon this phrase: Open to receive. Isn’t that what we’re talking about when we’re talking about vulnerability? If I am vulnerable to you, what I am really saying is that I am open to receive something from you.

It can be dicey between us as human beings because sometimes what we receive from other people seems hurtful. And so, there’s a learning process of how we open ourselves to receive from others without opening ourselves to be damaged. One thing we might learn as we go along is that even though there are things we receive that seem hurtful, they might not be damaging to us. It doesn’t feel good, and yet we are resilient as human beings. And when we’ve surrendered to the power that’s within us, those things that seem hurtful from the outside aren’t really damaging. Our surrendered and courageous way of being in the world is worth it and we haven’t been deserted by what we surrender to. That power is with us. We don’t need the old armoring because now we have the armor that is the radiance of Love and our presence in the world. The radiance of our love is powerful and strong. It holds us up and protects us.

Knowing that radiance from within, we can learn to tune in to what we can open to in each other. We tune in to what is creative, what is of the Divine. We have to do a good job of filtering out other factors and setting them aside. We’re not going to tune in to that! We’re going to set aside any destructive factors and tune in to the gift the person is bringing. Take it in. Be vulnerable to that, be open to receive it, and on that basis there can be a reciprocity that creates synergy between two people.

Surrendering to the Divine, we find that we receive. And what is our reciprocity upon receiving from the Divine? Isn’t it the experience that to the degree that there is receiving and surrendering, we love back? That is a form of reciprocity. If you have been loved, reciprocity can be simply loving back. Thank you, thank you, for what you’ve given me. And as you have loved me, I love you.

It is so natural to love the very essence and nature of the Divine, and we find that it is the power of Love that we have received. It is the wisdom of Truth. Yet it is also the Being of the Divine. We have received the Christ Spirit and touched the very Being of Christ.

Reciprocity is also paying it forward—passing on what we have received. Having received the gift that we did when we surrendered and opened up to receive, we have that to bring into the world in service. And we find that we’re in service to the Divine, not only by raising up our love to the Invisible and giving back in that way, but by being in service to the world. We’re serving Mother God by serving Her Earth and Her people. We are serving the Great Father by serving His people, our brothers and sisters. We are serving by paying forward what we have received. That takes courage, does it not, for any of us?

Love is a powerful force. It takes a person who is willing to be powerful to convey it, not in their own human strength but in the strength of the power of Love itself. And it takes courage to bring power.  

Tom Glazer’s song contains these lines:

 Let every voice be thunder, let every heart beat strong
Until all tyrants perish our work shall not be done
Let not our memories fail us…. 

 There is horizontal memory—an awareness of the past and of our human story. Yet the most important memory is vertical. It is an awareness of the vast scope of Reality that is beyond us as a human being, but nonetheless present with us now. It is an awareness of how much we are loved, how much we are needed by the universe, how much we are a part of the family of God.

Let not our memories fail us. We remember that the state of surrender is our primal state of being. And if Love would never impose, never oppress and never bully, then among beings who Love, surrender is natural, innate, implicit and safe. And even the thought of vulnerability goes out the window because there’s no urge to do harm. So where did vulnerability go? It is simply being open to receive.

I realize we live in a world where all tyrants haven’t yet perished, and so we’re not called on to open ourselves to tyranny. And yet, more and more, what we are finding is that we have a surrendered state to share with each other, and we are learning how to be in that surrendered state. We’re learning how, if someone is in a surrendered state with us, we do not take advantage of them. We do not push them. We do not oppress them. There is utter respect, and where there is an attitude of service we do not take advantage of it. We easily reciprocate, knowing our own surrendered state.

In the state of mutual surrender, we know the high honor of Divine Being, and relationship among the plurality of one Divine Being, and we begin to know that as a human being. Not all at once, but certainly we have the opportunity to cultivate that in our relationships with each other, and to let it grow and blossom. And then the sister- and brotherhood of humankind is not only a vision and a hope. It begins to be a realized experience, and we find we are carrying forward the lineage together.

Let all tyranny, large and small, from the household to the nation, perish from our hearts in this sister- and brotherhood. There is no place for tyrants in this heart. Let slavery at every level of the human experience be broken, as the truth of who we are sets us free, here and now, the whole wide world around. Because all women and all men are sisters and brothers.