Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
Now is not the time for balmy mists
And gentle rain.
Now is the time for thundering torrents
Too long have we slumbered in dreams of mediocrity…
Whiling away the precious hours of our sacred mission…
Caught in languid eddies
Of meandering thought and hapless feeling.
Now shall we speak
In the LOUD voice of Angels,
Casting aside the impotent whimpers of cynicism.
Now is the time to light the fires of heroic memory…
Proud Warriors, with taut muscles,
straining at the gate.
For THIS is the day when numberless legions of light
Gather across the land…
Absolute and Resolute in mighty purpose,
To claim this world
“To claim this world for God!” I think for some the word “God” is probably a stumbling point. To me it’s a very general word for the world of cause that we cannot see. Do you believe in things you can’t see? I think it’s pretty clear that there are causative elements in our life that it’s pretty hard to put your finger on. It’s pretty hard to attribute what’s happening to this or to that. There is the invisible world of cause, and there is the world that we live in day by day.
There are times when we believe that we are going to do great things. What I have found is the truly great things aren’t done by me or by you. There is something for us to do, but what is truly great and wonderful comes into our lives from another place. It comes into this world because we do what is ours to do. It’s pretty important to know the difference. It makes us strong to be humble, to acknowledge what is ours to do and what is not.
Recently I’ve come to believe that my purpose in life is to preserve God’s opportunity—to preserve the opportunity for invisible cause to act and do something wonderful in this world. If you had asked me about that ten years ago, I might have thought that was a fairly meager description of life purpose. But I have come to see that it is the Invisible that acts in any kind of meaningful way, and our role is to create a context in which the Invisible can be present and through which the Invisible can act. When I ponder that responsibility I come to see that we have much work before us. What we do matters greatly. The difference between our building and acting, and failing to build what is ours to build and to do what is ours to do, is great. We make a great difference on this planet in that way.
This relates very much to what we as the International Trustees of this program came to as our first spiritual priority, something that we want to keep uppermost in our thoughts in this year. It was this very simple imperative: “Build the tabernacle.” So what is a tabernacle? Very simply put, it is a dwelling place, and most particularly a dwelling place for the spirit of God.
This coming week is the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, which is known as the Festival of Booths, or the Festival of Tabernacles. The holiday is to celebrate the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years, where they built small, portable dwelling places, as well as a larger tent arrangement that was referred to as “the tabernacle.” There are physical things to build so that there may be a dwelling place. I’m so thankful for this Dome. I love coming into this building with its great expanse over our heads.
But the most significant part of the dwelling place that we have to build isn’t physical. It’s the atmosphere and feeling of what we share with other people. It’s the energy of what we share with other people that ultimately provides the dwelling place for the Invisible, so that what is otherwise unfelt and not apparent to us can be felt and experienced. It can be made real to us, not just because we build buildings. It’s made real because it’s shared between us, and it’s shared between us because of the quality of what we build. That building is dependent on our attitudes, on our contribution to each other and on our collective work.
A few weeks ago, Steve Short spoke about what he referred to as the “collective heaven.” The collective heaven is the tabernacle. It’s what we share in common with other people—the people close to us, the people in our community, and ultimately with people around the world. Steve quoted a popular song from Roy Orbison: “Anything you want, you got it. / Anything you need, you got it. / Anything at all, you got it.” That’s an attitude that builds collective heaven, that builds the tabernacle.
So there are attitudes that build and there are attitudes that destroy, and there are actions that build and actions that destroy. Most of the action that builds or destroys is not primarily about the outer form of what is done. But most of what creates a dwelling place for something beautiful and wondrous to show up is in the spirit and attitude in which it is brought.
It’s clear that in the body of humanity at large there have been things that have taken away from creating something wholesome that would welcome the experience that people are looking for. This is certainly brought to issue through the financial crisis that we’re in. And “crisis” is the right word. I think most of us would acknowledge that this crisis wasn’t created out of nothing. It wasn’t born out of the selfless service of people around the world. That’s not why it’s happening. There is something else at work in human experience.
As human beings, we can create a context in which the Invisible can act in the human world. If there is a God, there are the sons and daughters of God. The Bible itself has numerous references to the sons of God, and those references certainly don’t relate just to Jesus. If God is the invisible creator, the Son of God is composed of human beings doing the work of building the instrument through which invisible God can be present and God can act. Thankfully, the Son of God is at work in human experience, and there is something at work in human beings across the globe that is essentially creative, that has a creative focus. There are wondrous people around the world doing the work of the Son of God. This is not a matter of religious practice or belief. People who are carrying on the work of the invisible Spirit aren’t necessarily Christians. Anyone who is building something wholesome that allows the true potential of humanity and of the planet to be revealed is part of the body of the Son of God of whom I am speaking.
“For THIS is the day when numberless legions of light
Gather across the land…
“Absolute and Resolute in mighty purpose,
To claim this world
If we have the opportunity to allow that spirit to come to focus in and through us, there is also a spirit and action which destroys, which ultimately brings calamity. In human minds and hearts there is a competition going on. Either way, the creative process is at work. There is no way in the world that destructive activity wins in the end, for the very simple reason that destructive activity destroys itself. But still, we have a choice in how we participate.
I noticed in the poem Carol spoke of “casting aside the impotent whimpers of cynicism.” Yesterday in a session some of us were participating in, the question came up as to whether in our container, in our community, in what we share, is there room for the honest skeptic? Some of you who have been to Emissary classes may remember that the man who founded the Emissaries spoke about the virtue of the honest skeptic. If we welcome skepticism it means we’re thinking people, among other things, which is always a good thing. There are some spiritual circles where it seems to me you’re invited to park your brain at the door before you go in. This isn’t one of those circles. For the work we’re doing in this container, we need strong-minded people, not weak-minded ones.
Where there is truly a strong-minded person, they see what the truth of things is, and they honor and acknowledge the truth when it’s present. So if this is a container for honest skepticism, let me bring my own dose of skepticism into the mix. Where there is an attitude that continually eats away at things, continually criticizes and accuses, that refuses to acknowledge the truth that is present, I’m a little skeptical. Is this honest skepticism, or is this a case where a person has allowed the Destroyer to be active through themselves?
Or perhaps there is some kind of battle going on: Let’s see, do I do this, or do I do this? And a person can be creating with one hand and tearing down with the other. That’s not very productive. We could do that as a community of people. We could be building on the one hand and tearing down just as quickly on the other. And by the way, most of the building and destroying has to do with the spirit and attitude in which a person speaks and acts, not the outer form.
So let us be truly skeptical, honestly skeptical. And skeptical for what purpose, and to uphold what value? Is our skepticism creating wholeness? Is that really where it’s going? If it is, great—let’s be skeptical. Let’s examine our own hearts and what we’re doing collectively. I see skeptics that are headed for destruction. Some skepticism breeds only more skepticism, and more cynicism.
What is it that we have to bring to each other that would build something wonderful? Steve spoke of one attitude, which is “Anything you want, you got it.” I am here for my friends. Particularly I am here for my friends around the mission that we share in common. My belief is that I incarnated as a part of this angelic throng that Carol spoke of, to fulfill an angelic purpose. I didn’t incarnate on earth with you to let you down, because my belief is you incarnated for exactly the same reason. We didn’t incarnate on earth to stay strangers.
So for me, what do I have to ante up to this great mission, this great tabernacle? What do I have to ante up to my friends? That contribution, that offering is our fulfillment. “Proud warriors with taut muscles”—I love the image.
I mentioned two things in that: our mission and our friends. I do believe that’s the right order. I can promise a person that if they try to serve their friends before their mission, they will fail in the process. It might be an appealing thought. For a leader, it’s very tempting to be a man of the people. I can promise any leader that they will fail at being a man of the people if they are not first a man or woman of God—a man or a woman whose first accountability and responsibility is to build the tabernacle. That’s ours to do, that’s our side of the covenant. I have no doubt that God will fulfill God’s part of the covenant. Our side of the covenant is to build the tabernacle.
If we do that, we have the wherewithal to serve our friends. If there is no tabernacle, no home, how could we serve anybody? Where the tabernacle is present, what comes from God nourishes and sustains and comforts and supports everybody, and we have the privilege of acting in the name of that spirit with our friends. If you get that wrong, if you try to serve your friends or yourself first, you end up with a financial crisis and all kinds of other crises. There is not enough to go around on that basis and there never will be. Without the building of the tabernacle, it’s every man for himself, and every woman for herself.
It is seductive to serve other people first. It seems so good to be helping family and friends and loved ones. It leads to a mad grab for money. That’s where it goes. It’s pretty clear out in the financial markets that that is exactly where it goes.
How about for us? With the resources that we steward, whether it’s money or anything else? When we make job one keeping everybody happy, it’s a good recipe for disaster. There’s never enough to go around.
I trust that as a spiritual community we see how the hard issues that are at work out in the world are at work real specifically with us, and that we have choices for which we are responsible. We’re responsible to be conscious about the choices we make and to see the values that we’re upholding. We’re responsible to see what we’re believing in and what we’re willing to be skeptical about.
NICK GORDON: The tabernacle of God is with men. That’s gender inclusive, by the way. And to me, that’s safe, sacred space, free from violation. The Destroyer is not allowed in. And that takes extreme discretion. There is habitual listening to the voice of the Destroyer. The media propounds it, all kinds of mediums propound that. But there is the voice of the Creator, of the tabernacle, of sacred space.
And as you say, there’s room for the honest skeptic, but the honest skeptic is only honest because he’s humble. That’s gender inclusive too. He’s humble to bring change through his skepticism, but also to be changed. And to me, that’s a form of confession. Maybe the honest skeptic is actually confessing something. In some cases it is the voice of the Creator, and in some cases the voice of the Destroyer. Extreme discretion allows oneself to perform the mission.
And the mission is the building of the tabernacle—safe, sacred space, free from violation. But there’s something to be done in that safe sacred space that’s free from violation. And it can only be done because it’s safe and it is free from violation of the Destroyer, where the voice of the Creator, the action of the Creator, and the power of the Creator is released.