Today, on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the victory and the devotion of Jesus. He walked a devotional path. He didn’t halt or hesitate on that path. And it is rather remarkable that we have a record of that, and even a very personal glimpse of his experience, revealed in the record in the Gospels. He clearly knew what he was devoted to. Even though the path he walked was perilous and included great pain, nonetheless he walked it in victory and in love.
What does it mean to live a devotional life? Almost all people have touched the ineffable. They have touched the highest love in some way in their life, a reality that is transcendentally beautiful, that cracks the heart open and stirs the soul. You can find teachings about the signs of having had an experience of spiritual awakening on the Internet. I guess you’ve got to know the signs to know if you’ve had one. But I think it’s a rare person who actually hasn’t.
It’s said, Seek and ye shall find. When we seek the highest love, what’s worthy of our devotion, when the heart truly is allowed to have its greatest longing take over the human experience, we do find that highest love. And then the question becomes, What do we do?
A devotional life is a life of service to that reality, a life of honoring it, of making a place for it in one’s own personal life, and then letting it live in the world. The ineffable is in all people and in all things. So, if one truly is in service to that reality, in devotion to it, one is in devotion to all people and all things—not in some kind of personalized way, but still expressed as a person and shared at a human level.
I had occasion the last couple of days to reflect on my own experience of this. I was a young man of eighteen, and I had been searching rather desperately. And I began to open to what was offered through Sunrise Ranch and Emissaries of Divine Light. I was living in Connecticut but connecting with Sunrise Ranch before I ever visited here. And I ended up going to a one-month program in the Catskills, in New York, the last two weeks of which were taught by Martin Cecil, who led the Emissaries. During the last hour of the last day, I had an experience of a full-on encounter with the highest love. They had shared an audio recording by Uranda called “Meeting My King.” It included these words:
The vastness of His love, the wonder of His patience, all of the things that enter into it—I cannot begin to describe them all. But He is a KING of Kings. Those who serve with Him never wonder, “Now do you suppose that He’ll back me up, that He’ll help me see this through, meet this situation?” There is stability. We never think, “Perhaps the King will have some vagrant fancy this morning and turn things upside down.” No, we can depend upon Him, and He acts as if—in relationship to some, at least—He can depend upon them. It is a good feeling. If we can depend upon Him, then He should be able to depend upon us; and if we are ever to know how true it is that we can depend upon Him we must reach a point where He can depend upon us, and make it stick. We never wonder if He will have power enough to do what needs to be done, if He will be patient enough, or if He will love enough. Those who serve with Him and are aware of Him know that He has the power; there is no question but what it is His kingdom. They know the power is there. They do not go forth from His court wondering, “Now do you suppose it can be done?”
If He gives a commission, as He has given one to me, for instance, it never occurs to me to waste any time wondering, “Do you suppose it can be done?” If the King said to do it, well then we just do it. That is all. And no ifs, maybes about it. We just do it. How? Well then, that is our business; it is my business. Do you think He tells me every turn to make? No, if He gives a commission it is given, and then, in this instance, it is my business.
Uranda, in his own way, shared his devotion and the reality to which he was devoted. On that occasion, Martin spoke following the recording, and I couldn’t even tell you what he said.
There was a doorway that went from the meeting room directly outside. It was autumn. At the end of the hour, I stumbled out the door, and I buried my face in a bush and just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed over the beauty of what I had touched. I knew my life would never be the same because of what I had encountered and known. It would be hard to describe what it was. Spiritual awakenings aren’t easily described. I could simply say that I was aware of being in the court of the King.
That experience left me to think about the rest of my life and how I could live it in service to what I had touched. If you are truly searching for something and then you find it, the only integrous thing to do is to embrace that finding and what it brings you to. If you touch the highest love, what else would you do but be in devotion to that?
I honestly feel sorry for people who haven’t discovered what it means to live a devoted life; to live devotedly with another person, to be devoted to one’s world—not only the great big world out there but the most immediate world that one lives in. And to be devoted to one’s own creative work.
Real devotion is unconditional. If it’s not unconditional, it’s not devotion. Of course, how things work out depends a lot on the circumstance and other people. What devotion looks like is different in different relationships and in different circumstances. But while the outer form of it can change, underneath, in some way, it is all the same.
I have learned that about my own life. In some very important way, every place I have lived is exactly the same. I’ve lived in the middle of Manhattan; I’ve lived at a hot spring in California; I’ve lived for the past twenty years at Sunrise Ranch. It is all the same: it’s my world, and I’m devoted to it. The people in my world are my people, and I am devoted to them. Like the next person, I can feel disappointed, angry, disillusioned, and even betrayed. But I am living a devoted life, and no matter what happens, that is not changing, and nothing will change this with respect to any person or circumstance.
That is the Easter story. It is a story of victory in a very specific way by one who carried the highest love into the world fully. He lived love. He taught love. And in his devotion, he showed us what a life of love is. He showed us the victory of devotion, the victory of love.
This highest love is what binds us all together and connects us all if we allow it to do so. He spoke of this on two occasions. I’d like to share some of that with you. Speaking as the highest love, he said this:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)
The personalization of that might be to abide in Jesus. But when you realize who and what he was speaking for, you realize he was speaking about abiding in the highest love, speaking as the highest love. He also said:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Without the highest love, we flounder.
Later, in what is spoken of as the Prayer of Intercession, he again spoke of the highest love—what he spoke of as his Father—and then spoke of how that highest love was extended in the world through him and how it connected those he touched and brought all those that had been with him together in the vine, as he put it earlier. He said this:
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. (John 17:18-20)
That would be us.
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:21-24)
I trust these words have become transparent for us all, no longer enshrouded in religious belief or dogma, but seen simply as the words of reality. There is one life; there is one love. There’s a design and pattern to reality, a structure of reality. It has a center—the God Center—on earth. It has a focalized essence on earth, and it has a focalized essence that is in the invisible, and it is all one reality. Our devotion is to allow that essence to live in our own life; to give it form and embodiment, never with a claim of any kind for ourselves, though with the pride that is natural when you bring the highest love into the world.
I know that if any person touches that love in my presence, it all goes back to that day when I was an eighteen-year-old. They are touching through me what I touched on that day. And they are touching what I have given my life to, which is to be a transparent embodiment of that. And I’m not making any claims here; I’m just speaking about my life of devotion. I believe it is a worthy goal to commit oneself to: to transparently embody in all things the highest love, and to create a world where that love can live, where it can be felt and known and made manifest.
Of course, that ends up taking us all. And how would we do it as human beings? As some kind of human conspiracy or human togetherness? No. Only because the true vine is present, known in our awakening and in our devotion to it, and consequently, on that basis, our devotion to one another.
Many of us see Easter as a story that’s symbolic for humankind. It portrays how humankind has gone into a state of consciousness and a state of function that is like being dead in a tomb. In the case of Jesus, that tomb proved to be a womb, a surround in which the forces of Love itself were at work, deep within his human soul. Love brought resurrection and emergence from that tomb, which had proven to be a womb, into the light of morning.
May we be that rebirth ourselves, for all humanity. May we emerge from the tomb that we have been in, into the light of day, which is the light of the highest love. I’m not waiting for you to do this, though I’m desirous of doing it together. This is my commitment, my devotion. And if it’s yours too, we are doing it together, unconditionally.
So good to feel the victory of Easter, the victory of life, emerging out of the tomb. This experience is emphasized in this time of physical isolation for so many people around the world, this time of sickness. Yet we are here to declare something else in the middle of all that. We declare our own devotion. Ultimately, while it comes in different flavors for us all, there truly is only one devotion that unites us all, that brings us all together. It’s not Christianity; it’s not any religion or spiritual path per se. There’s only one devotion that truly unites us all. It is devotion to the highest love, to reality and the pattern of reality, the shape of reality, the tone and spirit of reality. So let us each open more fully to that in ourselves and in each other, and be there as that in our world.
I invite you to raise your hands with me. Allow to come to mind a person or a situation in need in the world today, and magnify your own devotion to the highest love and to your world, bringing the highest love to that person or situation. And it may be that you reach a point of completeness with them and move to someone else or some other situation. Just let that flow easily and naturally as it does through this time of prayer and attunement.
O great God above, we feel your very heart, your very spirit, your nature, your nobility, your splendor, your love. We melt in your presence, connecting so deeply with you, and taking our own place, strong and true, in answer to you. Our answer to your love is our own. Our answer to your light is our light. We meet you in our stature as we see yours, and take fully our appointed place here in the world. We are not here for nothing. We are here for you. In your stead, we are here. And you do not have to be here because we are.
We shine our light, our love, our upliftment, our care, our surround, and with people of this common devotion and service everywhere we know the one love, a higher love, which calls us to service, each in our individual ways and then all together. May the world know that this is not a tomb. This is a womb of life in which the things of the Divine are being born all the time. And they are being born through us as we know and remember the highest love, your love, your reality, that weaves us all together and holds us all together as one.
As we transcend taking things personally—and living as a divided people, constantly fractionalizing, separating and dividing—we transcend that in thy love to know the power of your love that holds us all together, and the very pattern of truth that shows us how we belong together and how we fit together and how beautiful we are together. May this current of Attunement do its perfect work, bringing resurrection and life, and life more abundantly. So may it be. Aum-en.