Summary of talk offered Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014
Are you happy today? Were you mostly so this past week or past year? Why not? Was it the news, your family, your body, your age, your job or lack of one? I think of God wanting us to be happy and joyful. God resides within us as such, light, joy, and peace. God, or whatever your name for it, even can assist us to be happy and peaceful during times of loss and trial. In the famous Bible passages of the “Beatitudes,” it has Jesus saying those are blessed or happy who are meek, poor in spirit, those who even mourn, hunger for righteousness.” How can that be? One of the modern translations of the past century translated the word “blessed” for “happy”.
The word “blessed” comes from a word meaning “in the Word”, which could be translated as “remembering we are One with God as God’s Child.” “In the Word” means to me, “Feeling the presence of Oneness.” I have witnessed people dying of scary diseases, or losing jobs, health, spouses, children, and yet find an inner peace and sense of hope and victor. How? By sensing God with them, Immanuel’s meaning. Yes, we are in this world of mortality and death, but not of it, as the Bible says.
If God wants us to happy or joyful and we are or cannot sense it, then we probably are still be asleep or “dead” in our illusions of reality. We have lost our identity. We are then living and thinking not a Divine reality but our own reality which is a dream. The purpose of Lent and Easter could be a time to evaluate our ideas of God. So much Lent seems to be a groveling penance in how bad we’ve been, given silly promises to be better “next year.”
Last month I was getting my hair cut at my wife’s Salon, called “The Bliss Salon” (don’t you just love it?). Sitting a couple chairs to my left was an older lady talking about her goals for Lent. This year, like every year, she goes to confession to confess her sins and to get ready for Easter Mass. Her hair stylist commented, “Oh Linda, you know you’re not a bad person, I wouldn’t consider you a sinner at all!” But the lady replied, “Well, I admit I am pretty good but I do have a few faults, especially one; I enjoy frequent porn movies. So I like to confess to a priest during Lent before I begin again after Easter.” After we laughed in surprise at her honesty, someone asked where she goes for confession. She replied, “Well last year I went to one in Lackawanna and as I left the priest asked for my phone number, wanting to call and take me out for coffee. I couldn’t go back there”, she said as laughter erupted again. Then she added, “This year I am thinking about going down to St. Franny’s in Athol Springs. I hear the priest who takes confessions is pretty deaf.” After more laughter her beautician said nodding toward me, “You better watch it; a minister is sitting just two chairs away!” Before the lady could offer a response I assured her, “I have enjoyed your confession stories very much and will use them this Sunday.”
Easter, though, is about awakening anew to the God, Spirit or Mind within us. What is this Mind or Idea like? As I have said, I think of God, Spirit, It as love, peace, joy, endurance, changelessness, and unaffected by opposites in our world of opposites. How much do we emulate or manifest these characteristics? How much do we forgive ourselves for failures and begin anew? Or do we imagine or project our God image as projected in the same way? We can find proof for such variance in Scripture verses. “God changed his mind” we read. “And God became angry, or upset, ventilating his wrath!” How do we reconcile such opposites? Were not these minds projecting onto their God image? As Voltaire said, “God created us in His own image, and then being kind, returned the favor.”
Be careful using the Bible. It was composed over many years by various men who tampered with, modified and rewrote many times. It wasn’t until the 4th Century of our era when a collection of letters were gathered together and put into a book called presumptuously, “Holy Word of God.” We know many if not hundreds of other letters were deleted, burned or left out from just a few prior centuries.
How would you react and live if someone told you Great Peace, Love, and Constant Joy was the heart of your True Self? How would you react if told when you and I throw hissy fits and get into deep pouts and depression, we are asleep and in a lunatic illusion? We’d probably react with more anger and depression. Waking up is very hard to do.
A few years ago there was a movie titled, “Awakenings.” It was a story of a man who had been in a coma or catatonic state for over 30 years. He became afflicted by the “Encephalitis Lethargica” epidemic which broke out in 1917 following World War I. Some believe it was linked to the strand of “Asia Flu” which spread throughout the world. The disease remains today in parts of Africa when people are infected by a virus from the Tsetse flies. Today the disease is known also as “Sleeping Sickness”. Over 5 million people died from the epidemic nearly 100 years ago, but several went into a deep sleep. In the 1960’s, there were still 60 some survivors alive but in deep comas until a doctor named Oliver Sacks, decided to try giving a new medicine called L-Dopa.
When Dr. Sacks gave the new medicine to patients in New York City, many awakened for the first time in over 30 years. They arose and began to walk, eat and respond as they had in the 1920’s. Some sang songs they knew then as children or young adults, another resumed dancing. All struggled to awaken, however, to a completely different world around them. Parents and loves ones had long since died. The whole world became so different for them some asked to go back to sleep. The doctors finally ceased giving them needed medication and allowed them to return into sleep until they died. A movie was produced in 1990, “Awakenings”, winning many Oscar nominations, depicting the struggle of one man who tried to “awaken”.
When we awaken to our True Christ Selves, we may have the similar struggles adapting to the new world we see. The idea I am Divine, an Eternal Spirit, connected as One with all that is God in others can feel overwhelming. We find it very difficult to see and act differently. We are so accustomed to anger, rage, judgments, streaks of euphoric hours and days only to return to a mostly bipolar existence. We can’t break out of our normal insane, crazy world. Our egos, our false selves, would rather go back to sleep, destroy ourselves than awake to Love and Joy.
The Greek word for Resurrection means “to awaken.” This is the essence of the Easter story of Resurrection. It’s not about a body walking literally out of a grave after 3 days, or 30 years, it’s about awakening to the Eternal Christ Self, the God Self whom we are. “To as many as receive this teaching, to them God gives the power to become the Children or Sons of God”. (John 1:14) Can we handle this new liberation and identity? Can we release death, complaining, stress, hatred, and ideas of specialness? It’s tough. I’ve been working on it all my life, more so the past 30 years, but at times I feel a long way left to go. I like getting pissed and angry! I like holding grudges and judgments against others. It’s so hard to just be, to be in the here and now, living without judging or damning, but accepting and letting it go.
Where do I start with my “awakening process,” recognizing my inward Divinity? By observation and awareness without damning or beating up on yourself. Become aware of your fears without judging them. Don’t fight, judge or even change them. Just understand they are part of your time/space “programing,” they are not your Divine Self. Begin today to practice anew. Get up in the mornings and take time to observe, listen and accept without judgment. And as you befriend your fear, anger, and judgment on others, you will begin so see them drop away as useless and counterproductive. This is how a person grows and evolves.
A true scientist learns by observation with an open mind. He doesn’t study something with his or her ideas fixed in the mind. No, he or she studies carefully, patiently, each day learning something new about their observations. In time, in years, he grows to know it well, much better as to what it is and still might become. So with you and me; if we stop judging and trying to fix others but begin to stay focused on ourselves without judgment and with plenty of forgiveness. It will change us and the world around us as well.
Become like flowing water, coming down the mountain, heading toward the sea. It makes no plans, it designs no special way, it just follows the flow of nature. And after years it leaves behind a beautiful scene, a comforting, kind place to visit. So with you and me; let Spirit Nature lead you wherever and let it become and be what it was meant to be. Leave others alone except to observe your reactions to them and what they do to you. And if you do not respond in love and kindness, forgive yourself and return again to begin awakening anew.
Waking up becomes a lifelong endeavor, growing and growing until the River finally overflows its banks. I long to be that, to myself first, and then hopefully to others around me until the day I return Home.
From “The Psalm of Life” By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tell me not, in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers, and things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul.
Summary of talk offered Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014