Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
We have set ourselves on a mission, along with people around the world associated with this program we call Emissaries of Divine Light, and along with many other people who share what is our greatest passion. That mission is to allow to appear in the visible world what’s in the invisible, to allow to be heard and seen what heretofore hasn’t been able to be heard and seen. Said in other terms, our mission is to allow the reality and truth of what people all over the world hope for and dream about to be present with us and with them. That doesn’t come in the form that people want it or expect it. But the reality of what is hoped for and longed for is available. When we are functioning creatively and in communion with the Invisible, those things that are longed for by people everywhere, which have been largely unseen and unheard, can put in an appearance.
When we first catch a glimpse of this purpose and first set ourselves to it, we’re in the unhappy position of being unable to fulfill it on the basis of all we’ve learned thus far in our life. We are certainly unable to fulfill that dream on the basis of human strength. That’s not altogether obvious in the beginning. But it becomes obvious that while we have the capacity to handle what is here and now, there is no way we can fulfill all of what we’re here to do without radical prayer—without a heretofore unknown level of communion and openness to an inner reality. In the end, we have to let go of the arrogance that we could do it our way or that we could do it out of our own strength.
The strange paradox is that if we don’t apply our best thinking and our greatest strength to the task, we will probably never learn that it’s not enough. That is one of the values of giving all that we have—we find out that it’s not enough. How would you know otherwise?
So giving all that you have has the blessing in it of finding that it’s not enough, and that from you, from me, there is radical prayer, radical openness that must be present if we are to fulfill why we are here. I suppose there is another solution, which is to more or less turn the other way and fall asleep spiritually. But that isn’t much of an answer. So we have to come to terms with who we are, beyond this three-dimensional world, to discover how we are creating in this world. We must come to terms with that if we are to have the capacity to let the world we are creating be all of what it may be.
So part of radical prayer is to ask ourselves: Who am I being that’s making this world as it is? And from where am I viewing the world? What is my perspective? What is my stance? The unconscious state that is so prevalent around the world ignores the individual’s own role in creating their circumstances and blames it on someone else. Of course, in that blame, what’s hidden from the eyes of the person who is bringing the accusation is their own role in creating what has been created. We’ve probably noticed that about others from time to time. In the accusation, what is left out is the place from which the accuser themselves is looking at their world. That is apparently off the table. But, in reality, we can’t take it off the table. We can choose to be unconscious of our part in the creation of our world, and apparently most people have chosen to be largely unconscious of the place from which they’re viewing their world, and the influence that they, themselves, have on that world.
So a primary factor in the unconscious function of people that prevents them from fulfilling their true purpose in life is their own tendency to accuse, thereby losing consciousness of what they themselves are creating. Another range of unconsciousness relates to the great tendency to see the world in terms of “us and them.” While there is in many people some shame around the fact that this is how the world is viewed, this way of looking at the world is practically universal.
While it is true at a spiritual level that we are all one, at the level of physical reality that’s not true. You are you and I am me. And together we are us and they are them. Is it possible that this is exactly how things should be, and the important question is whether we will be conscious of how we think in terms of “us and them,” and work with that dynamic creatively? Who are the “us,” and how do I get to be part of it? It does seem to be the nature of the physical world that there is me and you. In that way there is distinction. There are ranges of our experience where there is you and there is me, and where there is us and there is them. For spiritual people, perhaps well-intentioned people of all kinds, the experience of “us and them” may be frowned upon, but it is an unavoidable reality of our life.
I propose that it’s more beneficial to be conscious of how we live in a reality of “us and them,” and watch ourselves do it, and do it deliberately in a way that’s creative, as opposed to pretending it’s not going on. How about a sports team? “Us and them” is at work in competitive sports. There’s us, our team, and there’s the team we’re playing against: them. In that context, if there’s good sportsmanship, that works pretty well. If you watch a high-performing basketball game, it is remarkable what can happen because of the “us and them” dynamic. Hopefully, at the end of the game, they shake hands or hug to acknowledge that the “us and them” is held in a larger oneness. It is just a game being played at a certain level of reality.
But there’s something creative to be accomplished in the game if it’s played well and played by the rules—and, if the players know who the us and them should be in that situation. There are occasions where players view members of their own team as “them.” That doesn’t work so well. The “us and them” is this team and that team, not players on the same team.
If we are conscious and deliberate about “us and them,” we find that in every case there is something creative that can come out of that dynamic. But if we are fighting with people who should be with us, and unaware of our boundaries with people who should, at some level, be separate from us, discord and destruction ensue.
I was speaking with a friend not too long ago. I was describing a situation, asking for this person’s perspective. Using a hockey analogy, he said, “Well, it sounds like someone is high-sticking a player on their own team.” That doesn’t make for good hockey, and it doesn’t make for a creative dynamic in living when we act unconsciously around “us and them.”
I’d like to read something from the world of sports. This is from Pat Riley’s book, The Winner Within. Pat Riley was coach of the Los Angeles Lakers while Magic Johnson was running the show. So he knows something about high-performing teams. He went on to coach the Knicks and wasn’t quite as successful over there. But he described something in what I’m about to read that I have never heard described so well, so I’d like to read it for you. It’s about two players, Xavier McDaniel and Anthony Mason.
“Xavier was an emotional, driven-to-dominate forward—tough and muscular—and his disposition was to dominate his opponent. Anyone who fits that description is also a very territorial individual. You can bank on it.
“As it happened, we also had a like-minded first year player already on the team, named Anthony Mason. Mace grew up on the tough streets of Queens, and from the instant the two laid eyes on one another, it was obvious that something was bound to happen. Each knew the other’s reputation. Through the introductions and preliminaries that began training camp, the two men seemed to be circling one another.
“Our first workout began with a no-contact rebounding drill. It was just supposed to be a way to teach technique. As chance would have it, McDaniel and Mason got paired up. Then, suddenly, eighteen minutes into my first practice as a New York Knicks coach, all hell broke loose. We had a full-blown two-man riot on our hands. McDaniel pounding both sides of Mason’s head. Mason was answering with furious, lunging blows. It was one of those traveling fights: they collided under the basket, fought their way over to the sideline, then ricocheted out to the middle of the court. It finally ended as a draw.
“And that was it. For the rest of the season, McDaniel and Mason were true teammates. Once they understood that they were both fierce competitors who wouldn’t back down from intimidation, the dispute ended. They respected each other. They were ready to join their strengths for the Knicks. They were ready to declare their innocence.
“Let me explain what I mean. There’s a tremendous difference between innocence and naïveté. Some people never figure it out. Being naïve means failing to understand or acknowledge the threats to your personal territory and it’s pitiful. Most people get over being naïve very quickly, but then they go to the opposite extreme, to an exclusive focus on Number One, to playing the angles and going for the end run. They calculate before they give.
“Being innocent means understanding territory and knowing that each player has his space and then putting it aside for the good of the team. The Xavier McDaniel/Anthony Mason story is about suppressing territorial ego. It’s a positive choice. You make it for your own good too, because trying too hard to be clever in defending your turf makes for short-range thinking. The greatest infighters, the leading self-servers, always find a way to stab themselves with their own daggers more deeply than they ever cut an adversary.
“Innocence is about trust in a team—it’s an attitude! Doing your utmost for the team will always bring something good for you. It means believing that everything you deserve will eventually come your way. You won’t have to grab for it. You won’t have to force it; it will simply catch up to you, drawn along in the jet stream by the forward motion of your hard work.”
People learn things in the intensified environment of a sports team, and there is a profound message in what Pat Riley is saying here. There is a faith in believing that success and fulfillment will follow you in the jet stream. It is from many perspectives an irrational faith, a stupid thing to believe. And yet, in the context of basketball, the team can’t work unless people believe it.
The same is true of life. A person’s life doesn’t work unless they have what seems to be the totally irrational belief that if they give of themselves, without thought of reward, something good will come of it. That’s not naïveté—that’s innocence. But it’s also something else: wisdom. And wisdom is saved for the innocent.
So let us be the truly innocent. And let us inherit the wisdom that we can only inherit in innocence, in a state of radical communion and prayer. As we are in that state, we can say, as the psalmist said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23:6) There is that which is truly good that is born of innocence—not the immediate goodness that a person might grab for, but the larger goodness of the creative process; the pleasure and fulfillment of our purpose in incarnating in human form to create a new world.
What is your definitions of “spirit”?