Intersect 2-12-15

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, click Part 3
Often, here we undertake our search for love out of fear. We’re afraid to be alone, sovaldi to die alone, to be alone with our thoughts. We’re afraid of people, because we’ve been taught to distrust everyone. Entertainment reinforces the notion that everyone is out to get us. Business people and politicians are portrayed as ruthless, power hungry jerks who will stomp on everyone on their way to the top of whatever heap they’re climbing. We’re seldom reminded that climbing to the top of the heap still leaves us at the top of a heap—a smoking, smoldering, steaming, stinking pile of heap.
 
I think our popular media shows a disproportionate amount of the worst of us. If aliens are watching our broadcasts, they’re probably staying as far away from us as possible. We are spreading our fear throughout the universe, like a plague. Discontent with destroying our planet because we’re too afraid of each other to share, we send electronic signals throughout the Milky Way, so the first impression another civilization will have of us is as a species that will shoot first and ask questions later. Worse, we might come and invade their planet, wipe them all out, and claim its resources for ourselves. Too bad the Native Americans didn’t have television before the Europeans arrived on the shores of the “New” world (which of course was only “new” from the European perspective).
 
But I digress.
 
There is only one way to overcome fear, and our idiotic idea that power, money and stuff can eliminate fear from our lives. We must concentrate on our spiritual evolution. We must consciously begin to think about what we are in a very different way. We’re more than meatbags. We are advanced beings of love, and as such we have everything we ever need or ever will need. It’s already been provided; we’re just too possessed by fear to see the abundance that’s all around us. We’re too blinded by fear to see that we are all human beings, all deserving of love, all capable of giving love. Fear is destroying our planet and our species.
 
As we make spiritual progress, we begin to realize that this constant desire and grab for money and power is an attempt to fill a primeval longing for love. Rich or poor, we long to feel comfort and security. We mistakenly think comfort and security come from wealth and power. That is a fear-fueled lie. The simple act of sharing bread with our neighbor brings more comfort and security than all the (stolen) money on Wall Street. Love conquers our fear of lack and limitation. Love prevents us from stealing what is not ours. Love helps us realize none of this is ours.
 
There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). In fact, the perfect love we experience when we begin to sense our Oneness with the Universal Consciousness that is God drives away all fear. Our intimate union with God is the only experience that can fill our ancient sense of longing, bringing us contentment and peace, once and for all.

Intersect 2-11-15

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, ask Part 2

I am worthy of God’s love because I AM God’s love.

Relationship specialists tell us that we can’t love another person until we first love ourselves. Most of us find this difficult to do, especially if we are leading the sort of intense, self-reflective life required of spiritual journeyers. Yet, part of our journey—perhaps even the ultimate goal of our journey, is to realize Oneness with God. Even intellectually, if we perceive ourselves as part of the Infinite Energy of the Universe, then we have an incredible, eternal love deep within our being. In fact, that eternal love is our being.

I am worthy of love because I AM love.

Yet, rather than thinking about infinite, eternal love as something real—something more than an intellectual ideal, we spend our days, nights, months and years looking for things to fill the gaping internal emptiness we so often feel. We look for cards, flowers and chocolates to make us feel complete. We buy new stuff and more stuff and fill our closets, but neglect our souls. We go searching for a physical encounter that momentarily satisfies us, but ultimately leaves us once again wanting—love, whose fleeting embrace is a figment of our imaginations, when we only imagine love can be given to us by another.

Our quest for love must begin and end within. It is not a selfish love, for love abhors selfishness. In fact, the key to loving ourselves is first admitting we are not our selves, but we are the physical being of an ancient, infinite, eternal force: Love. Like anything worthwhile, our search for true love, the love of God, takes time and patience. But once the recognition of Oneness “clicks” within us, suddenly a lasting partnership with another person becomes more viable—because in others we now see not only ourselves, but God. By realizing we are connected to God, we then realize we are connected to others. So romantic love follows Infinite Love, in a balletic dance between spirit and flesh that eventually encourages the whole world to dance to the love songs of God, and ultimately recognize that there is no spirit and no flesh, but only One.

Meditation: I am worthy of love because I AM love. Amen.

Intersect 2-10-15

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, diagnosis Part 1
Valentine’s day is fast approaching. I find it ironic and more than a little heartbreaking (see what I did there?) that the greatest power in the universe has been reduced to a single day of the year. We’ve neutered the mind-boggling idea of a love so strong it can change our world, into a commercial holiday about cards, flowers, chocolate and corporate profits. We have removed any sense of power from the very idea of love. Instead, love is about being unfulfilled and looking for love, only to have your heart broken. In our entertainment, love is unrequited. Love is cruel. Love stinks. Love is about sex. Love is about anything other than an actual change of heart, mind and soul.

Love should be about transformation. When we love, we are transformed. Where once our primary concern was our own well being, now we care more about the well being of another. Where once we only thought about our own education, career, home and material goods, now we are concerned about making sure the someone we love is getting everything they need to live a happy, love-filled life. Love has transformed us. Love urges us to transform others. Love demands we change the world.

The_Love_Tree-sm

The biblical authors understood that love is much more than an interpersonal power (although the power of interpersonal love should not be understated). They knew that love is the power that creates and sustains the universe. Love is God. There is no material reality without it first being loved into being. I know this sounds all cotton-candy fluffy, but I have been convinced for decades that the underlying structure of reality is a single energy source—God, and more than simply “God,” which conjures images of a giant bearded (white) man in the sky. Rather, God is consciously loving energy—so much so that this conscious love warps space-time into physical matter.

The Big Bang happened all-right, but thinking it was simply an explosion of physical debris that eventually formed the universes is short-sighted. Eventually, scientists will consider consciousness as an element on par with gravity, electricity and magnetism. Universal consciousness—Universal Love, is the missing link in a unified theory of everything. It was loving self-awareness that caused the Big Bang in the first place, the way love causes everything inside of us to explode when we meet our one-and-only. It is love that erupts within us when we have children, when we are touched by the lightness of being, and when we are compelled to feel compassion for children in war-torn countries or a homeless neighbor on Seventh Avenue.

Love is permanent. Love always surrounds us. Love is the machinery that fabricates us atom by atom. The gaping holes in our hearts aren’t caused by a lack of love, they’re caused by a lack of awareness of just how much love we are. God is love (1 John 4:8), and God is within us (Luke 17:21), so love is within us. We are love. We need search no further.

Meditation: Show me the love beyond my mind that hides within, so hard to find. Amen.

Intersect 2-9-15

Reconciling biblical contradictions
One of the recurring biblical discussions I have with people is about the seeming contradictions The Bible presents about the nature of God. Most of us in the progressive church tend to think of God as a loving energy source, perhaps even as the ultimate source of love in the universe. Certainly, the Bible is full of stories about God’s love for all creation. At the very beginning of the Bible, God looks at the universe and declares it good (Genesis 1:1-2:2). However, the Bible also often portrays God as a petty, childish, masochistic, sadistic, genocidal maniac, as Stephen Fry is only too happy to point out. How do we reconcile these seemingly conflicting ideas?

The problem stems not from the Bible itself, but from the ridiculously literal way in which we read the Bible (this is Stephen Fry’s issue as well—he’s too literal about the nature of God). Yes, the Bible is full of contradictions, because different people with lots of different ideas wrote it. It’s a philosophical treatise, not a history book. The people that wrote the stories in Scripture never intended for them to be taken literally. The stories are parables, filled with allegory and metaphor.

Unfortunately, interpreting allegory and metaphor requires a certain relationship to their setting and context. Two-thousand-years later, most of us have no relationship to the context of the Bible. How many of us know what a shepherd does, or how reviled they were in the ancient world? Without that type of knowledge, we can’t begin to understand the meaning of the Biblical stories. So, because most people don’t have the time (or inclination) to do deep biblical study, something curious has happened, particularly in America: People have completely lost their ability to read metaphorically. Somewhere along the line, people decided the Bible must be literally true—real history, real science, somehow a real revelation of and from God, written by God and infallible. When we read the Bible this way, we end up with irreconcilable dichotomies. When we read the Bible this way, we are doing something even the original authors and audiences did not even conceive was possible.

If we read the Bible as the beautiful creative work it was intended to be, these seeming contradictions matter less, because we can see a progress of philosophical thought (and sociological evolution) throughout the stories. This takes work in our modern world, though. First, as I stated previously, because our worldview is so different from that of the ancients, we no longer understand the metaphors used in the Bible. Second, we are a post-scientific, post-Einstein, post-Hawking, -Sagan and -Dawkins people. We are used to being presented with facts, which have been tested and re-tested to prove their validity. So when we read the Bible, one of the greatest collections of poetic parables ever produced, we imprint our literalistic 21st Century mindset on this deeply spiritual, non-literal work.

There are news articles about new archaeological finds that “prove” the gospel of John is true (even though a guy named John didn’t even write it). There are movies and specials about how the Red Sea could have actually parted due to a weather anomaly. These are pointless exercises that reinforce our ill-conceived and dangerous literal reading of the Bible. Who cares if these things ever happened? That’s not the point of any of the biblical stories. We have turned the Bible into a history or science book instead of a text that explores the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. So we misunderstand when the authors come to different conclusions, not granting them the same poetic license we grant Plato or Kant, or even each other when we too come to different philosophical conclusions.

Perhaps there lies the rub, though: We no longer understand poetic license, so we seldom grant it to each other. We’re intolerant of different opinions, especially about religion. I think this intolerant world could use a good dose of poetry and metaphor. Perhaps then we might overcome all the seeming contradictions that are slowly tearing us apart at the seams*.

Meditation: Read me a poem of love and tolerance, God who is all love and tolerance. Amen.

*That’s a metaphor, by the way.

Intersect 2-6-15

Tuning into the Christ frequency, seek part 3
The advances in nanotechnology have revealed a universe more harmonized than we previously imagined. This is important for those of us on spiritual journeys. We tend to think in terms of the “physical” world and the “spiritual” world. The “Parable of the Ten Virgins” is a warning about getting so caught up in the physical world that we miss the bigger picture. This is good advice but we’ve had this dualistic mindset about spirit v. physical for a long, long time. My molecular table story is meant to remind us that there is no separation of the physical from the spiritual. Everything is One, and everything is created out of One. The spiritual is the physical. The unseen is the seen. We can’t see the individual molecules in a table vibrating wildly. To us, there is a solid, stable table on which to place our stuff (which also appears solid, but is actually billions of wildly vibrating molecules). But everything solid and seen is created out of stuff that’s moving and unseen. Including you and me.

Jesus, as the Christ, represents the intersection of the seen and unseen, the harmonization of physical matter when it consciously exists with knowledge and acceptance of its engine of creation. Jesus is what humans look like when they are vibrating wildly with spiritual energy. We are changed. We become accepting and loving and inclusive. We are all the result of wildly vibrating molecules—the engines of God, and we all have the ability to become more consciously aware of our loving, energetic state of being.

Consciousness and being conscious play massively important roles in our awakening and tuning into the Christ frequency. Once we become aware of the idea that we are more than we have been led to believe, we can’t help but think about it. That simple act of awareness and consciously chewing over what it might mean to exist on a higher vibrational level speeds up our molecular being. Remember the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, how Peter, John and James see him shining like a bright, white light (Matthew 17)? If that isn’t a parable about vibrating at a higher frequency, I don’t know what is. Yes, traditional exegetes will say it is a resurrection story retrojected into the life of Jesus, but traditional exegetes completely miss the fact that the Jesus stories are parables about spiritual development—about human development, about, dare I say it, human evolution.

We are on a trajectory to an entirely new and transcendent human existence, one of peace, compassion, and universal acceptance of everyone as brothers and sisters; children of God all, God incarnate all, whether we call ourselves Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, or simply human being. But a new, more enlightened world requires our participation. We must work to break free from the old ideas that there is a single, limited way to God, that all dogs go to Heaven but lots of people go to Hell, and that our being is finite. The Infinite One is within us, and the more we become aware of God within, the more excitedly the trillions and trillions of molecules that make us who we are begin to vibrate, until we all glow with the white-hot love of the Christ frequency.

Meditation: Light me up, God whose light shines brightly from within us all! Amen.

Intersect 2-4-15

We are molecular machines
Way back in the 1980s, sickness  Eric Drexler wrote a world-changing book called Engines of Creation. His ideas were heavily influenced by the greatest, search and least-hyped, physicist of our era, Richard Feynman (please visit his website if you’re not familiar with Feynman—you will be enlightened). Feynman and Drexler posited that it was possible (and better) to create physical objects from the “bottom up.” Rather than cutting down a tree and whittling away and sawing pieces and assembling a table from that tree, we could manufacture a table molecularly.

A table is made out of wood, which comes from a tree, which is made out of bazillions of individual molecules arranged in a form that, to us, looks like a tree. This is the way everything in the universe is built: molecularly (and sub-molecularly, as it turns out). Planets, stars, flowers and blades of grass, eggs and chickens all have molecular structures. A Chicken isn’t built by taking pieces of Chicken from a giant Chicken tree, then assembling those pieces so they look and act like a chicken. A Chicken is built one molecule at a time, from the genetic recipe stored in DNA. Feynman, and later Drexler, theorized that humans should be able to build this way as well, and the age of molecular nanotechnology and molecular machines was born.

Today, we have engines and propellers and assemblers the size of one molecule. We can assemble primitive objects, and the advances in this field have already led to new treatments for Cancer and other diseases. Feynman’s theories and Drexler’s institutes have encouraged and financed an entirely new field of medical research and entirely new, molecular, engineering techniques. Some of our cars already have a reactive issue of nanoparticle paint, which helps it prevent cracking and fading in the sun. Some cosmetics are infused with nanoparticles. Panes of glass have embedded nanomachines that react to sunlight, polarizing and dimming the window automatically, no need for window shades or curtains.

These are all stepping stones to Drexler’s dream of molecular machines that self-build everything from mattresses to steak, to his dream that one day, the world would be able to create enough housing and food for every man, woman and child because everything could be built to order from the basic elements of all things, which are abundant in the universe. Visit Drexler’s website and you’ll see how molecular nanotechnology might be used to change the world. His latest book is called Radical Abundance. Sound familiar?

Is not radical abundance the very reason most of us are compelled to traverse this difficult spiritual path? When we read the great spiritual texts of our ancestors, do we not see people like Drexler who look at the world and think, “Wait a minute, everything is way out of balance. Why does the King have all the food and money, while the people starve?” This was Siddhartha’s (later called the Buddha) transformative realization, when he left the palace and saw people suffering. This was Jesus’ primary mission—not to convert people into Christians, but to end the inequity of a world he saw drastically out of balance. This is the dream of every scientist I have ever met. They’re not in it to make new things or to prove God doesn’t exist. They’re in it to learn more about how the universe works, and hopefully by so doing, change the balance of power in the world and provide abundance for the ever-growing numbers of human beings populating this very small planet, in this unfathomably large universe.

By realizing the spiritual and scientific worlds are working toward the same common, worthwhile goal, we take ever-greater steps toward creating the sort of world Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and thousands of others have dreamed of since the dawn of humanity: A world of peace and equality; a world where all our resources are distributed and shared equally. To get there, we need to have faith that God is continually revealing new ideas through reason and science. We must also become ever more aware that the molecules that are the engines of creation are in fact the creative molecules of the conscious mind of God. That moment of enlightenment will be the even horizon that transforms humanity into the likeness exemplified by the Christ (perhaps we should start calling him the Christ Buddha), who was so aware of his molecular oneness with God, that he has become indistinguishable from God. That is our molecular future, as well.

Meditation: You are my engine of creation, God who infuses every molecule of existence with consciousness. Propel me to act with love and compassion. Amen.

Intersect 2-3-15

Tuning into the Christ frequency, here part 2
Over the millennia, medical much has been made of the search for the “historical” Jesus. For a while I too got caught up in this madness, but I have come to the conclusion that searching for the “historical” Jesus is a fool’s errand. Jesus was a very common name in the ancient world, and if there ever was a single person on whom the stories in the Second Testament are based, any actual facts about that person have been long lost to the conflation of imaginative historical fiction and biblical literalism. So, I have concluded that trying to prove whether or not Jesus “actually” existed sort of misses the point of the stories, which were likely meant to be spiritual parables.

Now, if we want to talk about Jesus as a rebel who spoke against the Roman Empire, the historical context is important—but it still doesn’t matter whether or not the rebellious Jesus written about in the Bible was a single historical person, an amalgamation of many people of the era (as many scholars believe), or an entirely fictional character (as many more scholars are starting to believe). For our spiritual growth, for the intentional raising of our conscious awareness of the something more of existence, all that matters is the meaning of the Jesus parables.

What matters is that the Jesus in the Second Testament stories reveals a higher state of being. One of the best examples of Jesus as an example of the higher state of consciousness we are all capable of attaining is in Matthew 25:1-13, often called “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”.  Eckhart Tolle was one of the first people I know of to hint at the idea revealed in this parable. Once you read this parable form the perspective of attaining enlightenment, you’ll start to look at the other parables this way, then eventually, at every one of the Jesus stories as parables meant to help us achieve higher consciousness. Our spiritual journey is ongoing and participatory. We are asked to live these stories, not to simply read them. This is what happens in “The Parable of the Ten Virgins”—the main characters exemplify the difference between living in the sensory world (and being trapped by it), and living in the higher state of awareness Christ represents.

If you recall, at the beginning of this parable Jesus says something along the lines of, “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” Many people (too many people) interpret this to be about Jesus himself—he is the bridegroom the virgins are going to meet. But the bridegroom is not Jesus; it is a higher state of being, a higher level of the awareness of God within us all, all the time. When the virgins go out into the desert, they take oil lamps with them. Five of them only take their lamps. They are referred to as “foolish”. The other five also take jars of oil, and are called “wise”. It takes a long time for the bridegroom to arrive (raising our consciousness takes patience, practice, and yes, a long time!). When the bridegroom does finally appear, the oil in the lamps is running out.  Here, the oil represents our ability to be conscious of a higher state of being, and to have enough energy and patience to continue to strive to achieve a higher level of consciousness. Do we have enough “oil” to make it through this long journey to awareness? The five “foolish” virgins ask the others for some oil, but are refused and sent back into town. While the “foolish” virgins are away, the five “wise” virgins enter into the wedding banquet with the bridegroom—enter into the higher state of Christ consciousness that is inherently within us, and the others are shut out.

This is not a story about accepting Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior or being denied entry into Heaven. It is not about being “left behind” when Jesus returns to earth. This is a story about living into the higher state of being that is already within us all. The five “foolish” virgins represent the five senses, which too often keep us from accepting the idea there is more to living than what we can see, hear, taste, touch or smell. The five “wise” virgins represent humans who are constantly attentive to spiritual development. We work out our minds and we work out our bodies. Why are our spirits so neglected? I think at least partially because organized religion has told us we are not worthy. We can’t work on our spirituality, we can’t increase our consciousness, we can’t commune with God directly, because we are not Jesus, we are not special.

I think this parable proves that thinking wrong, and I think the authors of the Jesus represented in the Second Testament stories would be appalled at that thinking. Every single human on this planet is One with God. We are capable of so much more. We have the possibility to evolve spiritually, but it takes a conscious effort on our part, as shown in “The Parable of the Ten Virgins.” We have to participate in our spiritual wellness and the expansion of our consciousness. We must be attentive to the things of the spirit, as well as to the things of the world, because the two are intrinsically interwoven in ways we are only now beginning to understand. If we truly want to see the kingdom of heaven, the work begins, consciously, within ourselves.

Meditation: Make me conscious of my thoughts and actions, so that I have enough oil to get through this entire journey to Oneness with you, God who is my being, God who is all being. Amen.

Intersect 2-2-15

Tuning into the Christ frequency, recipe part 1
In our church, we begin each service with a period I call “Tuning.” This is a couple of minutes for us to quiet our minds and center our thoughts on actively tuning into the ever-present energy of God that permeates the universe (because God is the universe). It is a time for us to consciously experience our Oneness with God. It sets the tone and stage for our entire experience, which we call “Connecting with the Infinite “ rather than “Worship”. I don’t think God needs to be worshipped. That’s an idea from a time when people thought every disaster and every blessing was directly caused by a superbeing living on a mountain or floating on a throne in heaven.

Our task as spiritual beings is not to worship a superbeing—it’s to connect with the essence of the universe, God. That connection is transformative for both us and the reality in which we find ourselves. That transformation happens by consciously tuning into God, who doesn’t judge and doesn’t cause disasters, but rather, simply and patiently sends out love and invites us to connect. We are built to resonate with the love of the universe, the way a tuning fork is built to resonate at a certain frequency.

Tuning forks work by resonating at a constant pitch after they are set vibrating. It turns out that everything that appears solid to us is also vibrating at a certain frequency. The furniture you’re sitting on while reading this seems solid, but it is actually full of atomic particles vibrating at frequencies so high we cannot perceive them physically. The furniture is held together by a principle known as “intermolecular forces,” which is why your chair doesn’t suddenly melt into an oozing pool of goo. That’s also why we don’t melt into an oozing pool of goo, by the way. It’s also why we are capable of tuning into different frequencies. We are the physical construct of the frequency of God.

Humans are giant tuning forks. We have the ability to tune into the music of the universe, the voice of God, the being of God. Like everything else that exists, we are a mass of submolecular vibrating particles. Unlike many other things that exist though, we have the ability to consciously affect the frequencies at which we vibrate. There are many ways to change our vibrational frequency: food, alcohol, drugs. These are all temporary affecters of our tuning, though (and they all have the potential to be disastrously harmful, even kill us). There are better, more permanent ways to change our frequency and stay more tuned into the higher vibrations of the universe—the Christ frequency. Prayer and meditation are the obvious, traditional methods of tuning, which is why we begin church this way. Reading things that inspire us (and inspirational texts might be history and science as much as spiritual works), and perhaps most importantly, by serving brothers and sisters in need, are also powerful and permanent tuning techniques.

In seminary, I have run into resistance to the idea that humans can (and in fact are meant to) tune into the Christ frequency—you know, the way Jesus did. It puts some of the onus for spiritual development on us, and I am told that, ”Scripture makes it clear we are helpless and hopeless. Only God can do the work of leading us out of sin.” I think that is old-fashioned malarkey that misses the analogies the authors of the Jesus stories were attempting to convey. No. We are not helpless. That’s a copout. We are powerful, creative beings, and the Jesus stories show us just how powerful we can be when we are tuned into God, into the frequency that brings out and lifts us into our Christ consciousness. We’re so powerful, in fact, that we can topple abusive and oppressive institutions. We’re so powerful we can end hunger and homelessness. We’re so powerful we can completely change the world. And truthfully, all it takes, quite literally, is changing our minds. Yes, God does the heavy lifting, because it is God we’re tuning into. But we have to change the channel first, and tune into the ever-present broadcast of God’s love.

Meditation: I tune into your higher consciousness, asking for nothing other than to know I am connected, for it is through connecting that we change the world. Amen.