Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
I was in a conversation recently when someone was trying to describe what they thought was special about Emissaries of Divine Light. They made some interesting points. My response was that the main reason this program that we have called “Emissaries of Divine Light” is special to me is because it’s my ministry. I hope others feel the same. That makes it pretty special, when you think about it. Our life and our service are special just because they are ours. We can respect that other people’s lives are special to them, but this is the life we have, whatever it is.
Have you learned to cherish your life, with everything that’s in it—all the problems and challenges, as well as the joys and the victories? Have you learned to cherish it just because it’s yours? When you stop and reflect on it, it is pretty amazing that this is the one we’ve got. Whatever is happening in it, it’s ours. We were given this life. When we stop and ponder that, there can well be a spirit of tremendous gratitude that somehow the universe, life, the Creator, put us in the middle of this life and gave it to us and said, “It’s yours.” It’s yours to make the best of, yours to have an experience and to allow that experience to be all of what it could be.
When we embrace all the parts of our life—the things that seem difficult and the things that seem easier and more joyful—when we are willing to embrace it all and relish it all, something different happens for us. There’s a sense of the specialness of what is happening, and even the sacredness of our life.
I have a carved wooden plaque in my office back home of the 139th Psalm. I think some of the psalms were probably of more recent origin—by “recent” I mean several thousand years! And some of them seem to carry a spirit of ancient wisdom that I think probably goes back long before that, even though they tend to be credited to King David.
So I want to ask if you could hear and see beyond whatever religious trappings are around this for you, and see if there’s a sense of the ancient wisdom that is present in these words.
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.” (Psalm 139:1,2)
When we accept this life that we have been given, and receive it deeply, we have a sense of being known and being held in a very large context. And we have a sense of knowing ourselves and our world, even as we are known by the Creator. It’s hard to know what is really happening in your life if you’re holding your life at bay. If there’s fear of our life that’s governing us, we hold it at bay. It’s a way of living, to somehow hold the factors in our life at bay and then be in battle with them. And you have to try to hold them at bay to be in battle with them.
We have the opportunity of receiving and accepting what’s in our life. As we do that, not only do we have a sense of being known but we end up being in the place of the Creator who knows. We know what we receive into our consciousness. And if we’re willing to receive our life with all the circumstance of it, and all the people in it, we find ourselves in the position of the Creator, knowing our world. That is what we’re here for, after all. We are made in the image and likeness of God, so that the spirit and the presence of the Creator could be here in our life, as us, knowing our world, providing a creative focus for it and letting our world know that it’s known by us—it’s known and it’s seen.
I invite you, in the time to come, to do a little experimenting. Experiment with what it means for you to receive deeply into your awareness the people and the circumstances of your life, no matter how painful some of those things may seem to be. Your willingness to be present in calm assurance, receiving those things, will allow them to come flooding to you. It may be difficult to receive some of the people and circumstances of your life. You may have some tears in receiving them. You may have some fear to get over in receiving them. But as you do that, you know your world in a different way. You may be surprised at what comes flooding to you, and you may be surprised about what you know and understand about other people and about circumstances.
Speaking for myself, I’m not by nature a person who is involved in gossip. This has meant that when there was a piece of hot news coming through the grapevine, I have typically been the last to know. I don’t know where you are on that scale. Some people seem to know all the latest gossip. But there is a different level of knowing what is happening in our world. So for me, despite finding myself out of the loop on the rumor mill at times, I have found over the last years that there is all kinds of information that comes flooding to me. I’ve pondered that—why does it happen?
It manifests, for one thing, in the form of people telling me things. But it also manifests in other ways that don’t require anybody telling me anything. My way of understanding this experience is this: If you are willing to know what’s happening in the world, you end up knowing. And if you’re willing to stand in the place of the Creator, accepting your life and all the factors in it, those factors come home. They come home to you.
That can seem like a lot sometimes. The world we live in has all kinds of discordant factors—all kinds of trouble in people’s lives, all kinds of trouble in the world. The idea of receiving all that into conscious awareness and into the range of our feeling perception can seem overwhelming.
My experience is that there’s a lot that seems difficult, but it doesn’t actually touch or change who I am. It may seem like a threat, whatever it is, or something that would just crush you. But it doesn’t. Empathy and connection to the people and events of my world don’t overwhelm me. There is the stable core of being. I’ll read a little more of the psalm:
“For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether….
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
“If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
“Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:4,7-10)
“Thy right hand shall hold me.” The right hand is a symbol of radiant expression. Most of us act primarily with our right hand. That line says to me that, no matter what happens, there is the radiant expression of life to bring to that circumstance, to bring blessing, to bring creative direction. And in bringing what we have to bring to the factors that are in our life, we are held in that radiant current.
“If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
“Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” (Psalm 139:11,12)
That’s interesting: “The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” How about for us? How about the darkness that is present in our world? How do we do with that? Do we meet it as we meet the day? And how does our life change if we’re willing to move in both the night and the day with confidence and assurance?
“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
Remarkable language! “Curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” What’s being said there? The psalm is referring to our own creation as a living soul, and there are all kinds of magical things that go into that ongoing process. And isn’t that what we’re talking about this morning: what it means to be a living soul in the midst of our world? You can’t be a living soul unless you’re willing to embrace your whole life and all that is in it.
The usual human approach to living is to say, “I want the good stuff”—right? I want the good stuff; I want the stuff that makes me happy; I want the people that make me happy. I want fulfillment in that way.” If we saw a child doing that, we’d be perfectly understanding. That’s probably just what the child needs to be doing. But as a lifelong strategy it doesn’t work very well. As understandable as it is that people are that way, to be a living soul you have to be willing to accept all your life and everything that’s in it, and bring the right hand of the Creator into it. You have to bring the radiance of who you are into it.
But for most people, that would take some kind of leap of faith; an assurance that in doing so, you will be held, you will be okay—you won’t be devastated by whatever it is that’s in your life. You have to believe that you are such a powerful being, such a strong being, that you are such a rock that it won’t matter—that you won’t be overcome. You have to believe that about yourself. If you don’t believe that, you’re going to be shutting your world out. If you believe about yourself that you are the rock of being in your world, it’s all right to welcome your life and all that is in it.
So I’m saying that this is what your world needs, and this is what our world needs—a person and a body of people who bring the rock of being into the middle of that world. It does require that we cease the attempt to corral all the things that make us happy, because it is that attempt that makes us weak. Our desire to have the things that make us happy, whether we deem them to be spiritual things or material things, people in our lives, or whatever—that desire makes us weak. Because with that desire, we’re afraid that we’ll be receiving things that don’t make us happy. That desire and fear takes us out of being the living soul who we are, out of being the rock for our world. And out of that place, it is hard to know our world and receive it and bring into it the steadiness that it needs, the steadiness of the Creator.
I wrote this sentence as I was sitting at the beginning of service: “I created you.” Can we hear the tone and spirit of the Creator who says, in essence, “I created you,” in the mystical ways that the psalm spoke of? We have the opportunity to bring that spirit into our world, because we are in a very important way creating our world, and even the people in it. “I created you, O world of mine.” I am the voice of the Creator in my world.
I believe that is ours to do, each of us individually, whatever is in our life. I don’t know all of what that is for you, but I have the confidence that you have that spirit of the Creator to bring. It is good when you can feel pride in your creation. But I’m going to bet all of us have been in situations where, for whatever reason, we felt shame over our creation, what it was. Perhaps it was something we had done, or something that was created in our name. Or perhaps it was simply that someone was thinking about our creation in a way that was shaming of us. Have you ever had that experience? It can feel like it is devastating. I don’t think it really is, but it can feel that way. Here is this that I love so much, that I tried so hard to give my finest to, and in the view of someone else it came out wrong. Owning and taking pride in our creation has that risk.
It’s part of having a life. If you have a life and you own your life, you run those risks. Somewhere along the line, I think we just have to decide it’s worth it, because the alternative is not very good: not having a life—sleepwalking in some way through our life, walking through life in an artificial kind of way, without the depth of who we are being fully present.
Our world is waiting for the spirit of the Creator walking in the midst of it in human form. That is why we are here. That is the fulfillment of our life, and it brings the possibility of the fulfillment of our world.