It’s been a tumultuous year, for sure. But all of the events of 2017, at home and in other lands, have served humanity in its awakening process. We are now searching, as a culture, more earnestly than ever before, to find a way to create a global community where our differences do not have to create divisions, our contrasts do not have to generate conflicts, and the variations in our beliefs do not have to produce violence in our lives.
We are beginning to earnestly seek to really create “peace on Earth, and goodwill to men, women, and children everywhere.”
The message at the heart of all the world’s great religions is beginning to be separated from each religion’s specific dogma, and is being reduced to its simplest form — inviting humanity to address at last the simplest question: Can we all just find a way to love each other?
The answer is, yes. We can find a way to love each other. We can find a way to share with each other that demonstrates our love. And we can find a way to create equality with each other, regardless of the color of our skin, our gender, or our sexual orientation.
We can find a way to be kind to each other, and tolerant of each other, regardless of differences in our political or spiritual beliefs.
We are capable — as a species, and as individuals — to love without condition. This is what the man whose birth we celebrate tonight showed us.
The man named Jesus . . . was graced to live in such a way that the possibility of Divinity expressing through humanity can never again be denied.
The message of this night is that we are all given that grace. We are all imbued with the ability to demonstrate Divinity through our Humanity. Jesus devoted his life to showing us that possibility, but he is not the only one to have done so.
Others, both before and after him . . . others, both male and female . . . others, both dark skinned and light skinned, Eastern and Western, known and unknown . . .have likewise used their lives to show us all our true identity . . .
. . . by demonstrating TO us all our highest possibility.
Not everyone has done it at the same level of perfection, but many have nonetheless shown us a magnificent aspect of being human.
Mother Teresa showed us such an aspect, creating with the power of her love a worldwide movement offering a multitude of free services to the poorest of the poor. Nelson Mandela showed us such an aspect, forgiving those who jailed him for 27 years, stopping a nation from falling into tumult, and bringing the invitation of reconciliation to our wider wounded world. And there have been others. Many others. People who have shown us that being Divine while being Human is, indeed, possible.
Yes many — many, other than Jesus — have demonstrated Divinity through their Humanity. So let’s use this time of year to renew our clarity: Divinity can be expressed by all of us — and it does not have to involve what we call world-impacting events. In fact, Divinity often is best expressed in the smallest of ways . . .
. . . in the thoughts we think, in the things we say, in the choices we make, in the actions we take every hour of every day.
Each of us brings Divinity to Humanity through the simple device of how we are being with each other. Our entire species evolves one kindness at a time. Thus, everything we DO is a “world impacting event.”
Now, the wonder of this time of year . . . the wonder of Christmas . . . is that is “brings on” just such kindness — just such evidence of our ability to express Divinity as Humanity. THAT’S what makes this night, and the celebration of this time of year, so magical!
Christmas seems to “bring on” a change in how people ARE with each other. A change in the energy of Life Itself. You can actually feel it in the air.
It’s so common an experience that there are even song lyrics that describe this . . . “City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas. Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile. And on every street corner you’ll hear: Silver bells, silver bells…it’s Christmas time in the city!”
That feeling is not something we’re making up. It’s not our imagination. You can feel Christmas in the air. We call that feeling Love. And it’s what makes this time of year not only “magical,” but important. Because at this time of year we are reminded of who we are at our basis . . . and that reminder returns us to ourselves.
To our TRUE selves.
Who we are at the core of ourselves is, of course, LOVE.
I know that may sound a bit simplistic . . . maybe even a little — what’s a word…? — “syrup-y” — but Love IS our basic component. We are all indescribably and incomprehensively loved by God — and that love is the stuff which fills our hearts and our souls, creating the foundation of our being.
Christmas reminds us of that, allowing us— giving us permission — to express the feeling easily. We tell perfect strangers that we hope they have a wonderful holiday.
We sit down with loved ones and break bread together — again — the way we used to.
We share gifts with each other, and it doesn’t even matter what they are, for it is in the giving of them and in the receiving of them — whatever they are — that our love for each other is announced and declared, demonstrated and embraced, once more.
Now the trick after tomorrow is going to be to keep it flowing; to keep it “in the air.”
The question is: How can we do that? Is it even possible?
I’ve been told that, Yes, it is. We simply have to decide to.
- Scott Peck wrote something remarkable in his book, The Road Less Traveled. He said, “Love is not a reaction, it’s a decision.”
Can that be true? What if love is not my response to something that you are doing, but my choice regarding what I am doing?
What if true love is not “predicated” on how you are being with me, but on how I am being with you — regardless of how you are being with me?
Golly, wouldn’t THAT be a fascinating thing . . .
The question I’ve been looking really closely at this Christmas season is this: Is it possible for human beings to just BE loving?
Is it possible for people to simply decide to set aside their differences, get past their “bad” moments with one another, and just “BE” a certain way?
My memory tells me that yes, not only is it possible, it can happen with a simple decision. Let me tell you a story from my childhood . . .
I lived in a home filled with raised voices and lots of bickering and arguing between my parents. Now and then there were even down and dirty, drag out fights. I mean, words that hurt, doors that slammed, and even a not kind gesture or two.
Once, my mom plopped a pile of mashed potatoes on my Dad’s head at the dinner table. Once, my Dad tore up, in a fit of anger, a fancy dress that he had purchased for my Mom.
Mom and Dad loved each other fiercely. And I think that adjective is not misplaced. So we learned to live — my brother and I — in a household that was forever on edge, always on the brink of some kind of explosion . . .
. . . except at Christmas time.
Every year, at Christmas, things seemed to inexplicably settle down.
Now, as an adult, I am sure that Mom and Dad just decided: “We’re not going to ruin Christmas by arguing and fighting and throwing things around the house. We’re just NOT.”
And you could see this decision WORK. To this day I can recall, as tensions would begin to mount, and just before you could expect my father to raise his voice, Mom would say . . . “Alex, it’s Christmas.” And Dad would just blink, and — just like that — he’d shift his energy and say nothing.
It worked in reverse as well. If it looked as if Mom was just about ready to let someone have it — not just my Dad, but even one of us boys — my Dad would say, “Okay, okay….c’mon. It’s Christmas.” And the air would clear, as if by magic.
This would go on from after Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s. Then, things would get back to normal. The household “truce” was over.
But I had actual PROOF in my own home that Peace on Earth, goodwill to men…and women…is a CHOICE.
That childhood experience left me with a burning question. I asked my Dad this question myself one year when I was around nine . It was the day that the Christmas tree was taken down and dragged out of the house.
That was always a sad day for me, because, you see, I loved Christmas. I was a very sensitive child, and I loved everything about this time of year…the Christmas tree, the sparkling lights, and the wonderful feeling in the air. Even as I love it today.
But now it was that time again, that sad day when the tree was taken down, and Dad was carrying it through the house and out the back door to the yard, for its cold, cold wait to be taken away and forgotten.
And this particular year I was affected even more than usual. I don’t know why, I just was. And so I asked my Father on his way through the kitchen, tinsel falling off the tree behind him, a child’s innocent question:
“Dad…how come, when the tree leaves the house, all the love goes with it?”
My Father stopped in his tracks, looked at me with an expression I never forgot, then said — as quietly as I ever heard him speak:
“I don’t know, Son . . . I don’t know.”
I understand now that all my parents had to do to keep the love in the air was to make the same decision every day that they made when the Christmas tree went up.
So today I am inviting myself — and each of us — to embrace “the feeling of Christmas” . . . and then to decide inside that this Christmas — Christmas 2017 — is going to last all through next year.
And all through our lives.
There will be times, of course…there may be moments here and there…when this might not happen, I know. We’re all human, and we need to be careful not to hold ourselves to super-human standards. But we CAN make a decision that all CAN be “calm,” and all CAN be “bright” more of the time.
Much more of the time…if we make a decision to allow the feeling of Christmas to be “in the air”…
Every. Single. Day.
And not leave the house when the tree leaves the house.
Is there no solution to the North Korean-U.S. standoff? Yes, there is. But the circumstance facing humanity today is that we keep trying to solve every major human problem at every level except the level at which the problem exists.
The problem facing humanity is not a political problem, it is not an economic problem, and it is not a military problem. It is a spiritual problem, and it can only be solved by spiritual means. It has to do with what we most fervently believe, and we will find it very difficult to change life on our planet if we are unwilling to change beliefs on our planet, because beliefs create behavior.
Chief among the beliefs that create our present human behavior is our belief in Separation as a fundamental aspect of life. This belief has its roots in humanity’s Separation Theology. A majority of human beings believe that some sort of Higher Power exists, but our Separation Theology holds that we are separate from this Higher Power. It is “over there,” and we are “over here.”
This wouldn’t be so bad if it began and ended there, but it doesn’t. A Separation Theology inevitably produces a Separation Cosmology: the idea that everything is separate from everything else.
And a Separation Cosmology inevitably produces a Separation Psychology: the idea that each of us is a unit separate from all the others.
And a Separation Psychology inevitably produces a Separation Sociology: the idea that every collection of these units (every family, every culture, every state, every nation, every religion, every party) is separate from (if not better than) all the others.
And a Separation Sociology inevitably produces a Separation Pathology: pathological behaviors of self-destruction, observable throughout human history.
We do things to each other than we would never want done to us, and we are capable of doing so because we see ourselves as separate from each other.
Changing our idea about this is a big order, admittedly. It is not nearly as big, however, as it used to be. We are more capable now of considering, embracing, and sharing ideas and understandings that would have been completely out of reach for our species just a few generations ago, given our our then-limited mental capacities and technological capabilities. But humanity’s collective mind is more mature now, and our technologies have expanded. We carry knowledge of the world in the palm of our hand, and we spread ideas around the world with the touch of a screen.
All we need to do now is change the ideas that we spread. All we need to do today is place into the global slipstream a new and spectacularly beneficial (and therefore, spectacularly attractive) meme for all of humanity to consider.
A “meme” is defined as an element of a culture or system of behavior that is passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation. So what we are talking about here is transforming society by nongenetic means. If we are not content with waiting for new and more beneficial behaviors to be passed from one generation to the next through the agonizingly slow process of mutation or adaptation, we can now opt for the blindingly fast process of imitation.
That’s where you and I can come in. If enough of us agree to be exemplars, models, embodiments for the rest of humanity of how all of humanity can experience itself peacefully if it chooses to, we could change the world in less than a generation.
What this would take, of course, is leadership. True leadership is not saying “follow me.” True leadership is saying, “I’ll go first.” We would have to be first to put aside our tribalism and our need to be “right” at any cost. We would have to embrace a spiritual understanding that we are not separate from each other at all, but emerge from the same essence and return to the same eternality; that we are part of a never-ending and ever unified energy flow, much as a wave is part of the ocean, rising, expressing, and flowing back to its source.
If enough of us at the grass roots level demonstrated such behaviors, our world leaders sooner or later would follow suit, because they know they need the support of those who follow them to stay in power. So the key question for us on this day is simple: What behaviors are we cheering on, and what behaviors are we displaying, encouraging others to imitate?
I invite you to undertake here a brief exploration of what I believe may be one of the most important questions of our time — if not the Most Important Question: Can we solve humanity’s problems using the same energy that create them? Not just for the purposes of intellectual exploration, but because I have a proposition to make to you before we are through.
As you know, Albert Einstein famously gave the answer “no” to this question. And I agree with him. Who am I to disagree with a genius of the ages?
Einstein understood that you can’t end someone else’s violence with violence of your own, you can’t end someone else’s anger with anger of your own, you can’t end someone else’s stubbornness with stubbornness of your own. He was very clear that you can’t end someone else’s resentment with resentment of your own, you can’t end someone else’s terrorism with terrorism of your own, you can’t end someone else’s verbal abuse with verbal abuse of your own.
The real question is not whether Einstein was right about that, but how to put his wisdom into practice within the human arena. We humans seem to know no other way to respond to incoming energy except with energy of “like kind.” So we do, in fact, respond to violence with violence of our own, terrorism with terrorism of our own, verbal abuse with verbal abuse of our own…and so on, right down the line.
We’ve decided that “two can play the same game” is the way to “win” — even though that exact strategy so often produces loss after loss after loss. We don’t seem to know what to go with that information. We don’t seem to know how to deal with that data. We have had a hard time, our species has, with looking at what’s right in front of our nose and doing anything about it.
As Conversations with God-Book 4: Awaken the Species says:
“If your objective is to live a life of peace, joy, and love, violence does not work. This has already been demonstrated. If your objective is to live a life of good health and great longevity, consuming dead flesh daily, smoking known carcinogens continuously, and drinking gallons of nerve-deadening, brain-frying liquids like alcohol regularly does not work. This has already been demonstrated.
“If your objective is to raise offspring free of violence and rage, placing them directly in front of vivid depictions of violence and rage during their most impressionable years does not work. This has already been demonstrated.
“If your objective is to care for Earth and wisely husband her resources, acting as if those resources are limitless does not work. This has already been demonstrated. If your objective is to discover and cultivate a relationship with a loving Deity so that religion can make a difference in the affairs of humans, then teaching of a god of righteousness, punishment, and terrible retribution does not work. This has already been demonstrated.
“Do you need any more examples?”
We don’t. We can see clearly that our tendency as a species is to look directly into the face of every evidence we could possibly hope to find, and then do exactly the opposite of what that evidence suggests is the best course of action.
The president of the U.S. and other world figures are facing this dilemma at this very moment as global leaders seek to find a way to peacefully deal with planetary events taking place in Syria, and now in North Korea, as well as in the United States, China, Russia, the countries of the NATO Alliance, and other nations across the map.
As everyone knows, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. military to strike an airfield in Syria from which that country’s government was accused of having launched a chemical attack on its own people. The Syrian government itself has denied that it did so. Whether it did or did not is not the question in this exploration. Serious as that question is, the prime inquiry here is larger than even that. The question here is whether, when any person or government suspects another person or government of aggression or attack, is the most effective and best response to be aggressive and attack back?
Ironically, this is the very question North Korea is answering right now. Its leader, Kim Jong Un, is accusing the United States of acting aggressively — and even of preparing to launch an attack on the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea).
The solution to these problems we are facing today as a civilization is two-pronged…and the difficulty is that we are approaching the solution as if it had only one aspect, only one approach that will work.
You can keep disciplining a child over and over again in response to misbehaviors, or you can use a two-pronged approach: Discipline and Discipleship.
The dictionary defines a disciple as “a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.” And if you wish to create a follower, you can do so with the force of your power or the force of your ideas. You can create someone who follows your orders or someone who follows your example.
The first approach, if used exclusively, rarely works, as it almost always generates resentment, rebellion, and revolution in the end. Both approaches, used co-jointly, can generate surprisingly positive responses, and, in the end, even uncommon loyalty.
The trick in all behavior modification is not simply to force change of an unwanted behavior itself, but to alter the stimuli that motivates all behaviors, wanted and unwanted.
When it comes to people and nations, what is being talked about here is not simply a battle of munitions, but a battle of ideas; not simply a competition involving conflicts, but a competition involving concepts.
We need to place before humanity a whole New Cultural Story, a complete set of New Notions about what it means to be human, what we are doing here on the earth, what our purpose and reason for existing is, and what we can do to actualize and functionalize all of that.
This is not something that today’s world leaders appear ready to fully comprehend or deeply understand — much less to implement. We have the ability — now more than ever with our instantaneous worldwide communication — to place these new ideas before our species…we simply do not have the will to do so. All of this has to do with our infancy as a species.
A lot of people like to think of humans as highly evolved. In fact, humanity has just emerged from its infancy on this planet. In their book New World New Mind, Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich placed this in perspective in one mind-boggling paragraph:
“Suppose Earth’s history were charted on a single year’s calendar, with midnight January 1 representing the origin of the Earth and midnight December 31 the present. Then each day of Earth’s “year” would represent 12 million years of actual history. On that scale, the first form of life, a simple bacterium, would arise sometime in February. More complex life-forms, however, come much later; the first fishes appear around November 20. The dinosaurs arrive around December 10 and disappear on Christmas Day. The first of our ancestors recognizable as human would not show up until the afternoon of December 31. Homo sapiens—our species—would emerge at around 11:45 pm…and all that has happened in recorded history would occur in the final minute of the year.”
We are, in fact, the children of the cosmos — and we are acting like it.
The challenge before humanity right now is that we are simply too immature to understand that eliminating violence as a response to violence makes sense. Conversations with God-Book 4: Awaken the Species makes it very clear that Highly Evolved Beings would never use violence in any way as a means of resolving differences. They have understood that differences do not have to produce divisions, that contrast does not have to produce conflict, that variance does not have to produce violence, and that proponents do not have to be opponents.
As humanity moves out of its childhood, we will no doubt let go of childish things. We will put down our toys (our warplanes, our missiles, our bombs), we will stop our screaming and our yelling, we will quit stamping our feet and throwing tantrums, and we will begin considering and adopting news ideas about what it means to be human that allow us to continue to be human without having to be inhumane in order to guarantee our ability to do so.
We can begin that process — that is, ordinary humans like you and I can inspire, ignite, and initiate it — by providing, in everyone’s life we touch, a striking example of what it means to be an awakened species. And, as well, by placing before humanity…idea, after idea, after idea…producing an evolution revolution all over this planet. Ideas the loveliness of which, the efficacy of which, the preferability of which, and the benefits of which will be so self-apparent as to magnetize the behavioral changes they invite, generating at last the so-long-hoped-for greeting card outcome: Peace on Earth, and goodwill to men and women and children everywhere, forever and ever, and even forever more.
That is my proposition to you. That is my request of you. That is my invitation.
It is the invitation God sent to all of us in Conversations with God-Book 4: Awaken the Species.
Now you may think this idea naive. You may label it unsophisticated or simple, childlike, and ingenuous. Yet I am reminded of Victor Hugo’s powerful insight: All the armies of the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come.
A Note from Neale: For the next several months this space will be used to explore — one-by-one — the messages, metaphysical principles, and spiritual meaning of the material found in the nearly 3,000 pages of the Conversations with God dialogues. This series of observations and interpretations is offered with my continuing disclaimer: I could be wrong about all of this.
CWG Explored/Installment #5: What causes transformation?
Much has been made in the New Thought Movement of the word “transformation.” It has been said repeatedly in New Age circles that personal transformation is the ultimate goal in life. Yet what is “personal transformation,” and how does one achieve it?
This is not always addressed in specific terms within the community of New Spirituality authors, teachers, and messengers — who tend to speak in broad general terms, such as “higher consciousness,” or “awareness.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and declare that in my own inner world — which has largely been created by the Conversations with God experience — the term “personal transformation” means the changing of one’s identity, or the embracing of a “new thought” about oneself, seeing oneself from this moment on as One with, and an expression of, God.
It is in this context that I have called myself, and every human being, a Singularization of The Singularity, or an Individuation of Divinity.
I have held the thought that a person who walks through the world holding the Identity of Divinity deep within changes the exterior experience of everyone else everywhere she or he steps, every room he or she enters, every space she or he occupies.
In my last entry here I said that if our entire species walked through this world holding such an identity deep within, it would produce Heaven on Earth.
The question is, what could cause our entire species to do so? Perhaps more to the point, what does it take to be “transformed” — or, as some have labeled it, “enlightened?”
So let’s look at that here. Let’s discuss this elusive magical mystical experience for which so many seem to be searching.
I’ll begin by observing that there is a pitfall here, and even a danger. The danger is two-fold. The first danger is thinking that there is something specific that you have to do in order to be Enlightened, and that if you don’t do it, you can’t be it. The second danger is thinking that there is only one best way.
Werner Erhard created Erhard Seminar Trainings (est) about 25 years ago or so, and the people who were involved in it were absolutely convinced that this was the fastest way to enlightenment. They began recruiting people to take est, and it was almost an urgent matter with them. And if you didn’t get the urgency, they would look at you and say, “You just don’t get it.”
I enrolled in the est program and I “got it.” In fact, I became so enlightened that I realized I did not need est to be enlightened – which really upset the est people, because they wanted me to take the next level and the next level of the training.
est was a program with multitudinous levels. Once you got into the program you had to almost extract yourself from it. And if you did get out of it, you were made to feel by those who were still inside it that you had done something desperately sad. Not wrong, just very sad. Because you just didn’t get it.
Many years ago Paramahansa Yogananda came to America with a technique for “self-realization,” which was his phrase meaning “enlightenment.” When you realize the Self, he said, you are more aware. You are more at peace with the world. You are internally serene, content, and able to experience Divine Presence in you, as you.
Now I want you to understand that I am not putting this down or belittling any of this. This is all very real, and that is why every person who has ever achieved mastery has wanted to share it with others. Human beings who are truly enlightened, truly aware (and there are many of them), experience at a deep level that most of us are operating from a place of pain, extreme suffering, emotional turmoil, physical dis-ease, and are, as a result, creating an entire world like that. Yet Masters know that none of this is necessary. You can overcome it, create yourself and your world in a new way. But first, you have to know Who You Are.
Paramahansa Yogananda knew who he was. He described himself as being enlightened. And he was enlightened. He was enlightened because he said he was.
Yes, I hate to break the spell, but to be enlightened is to say that you are. It is as simple as that.
A fascinating man named Maharishi surfaced a few of decades ago and he announced yet another path to enlightenment. His path was called Transcendental Meditation or, for short, TM.
Now, I learned a little about Transcendental Meditation and I learned it from students who learned it from other students who learned it from other students who learned it from the Master. And there is some sense of quiet urgency with some people in the transcendental meditation movement, because they will tell you that TM is a tool that can bring you to enlightenment in a very short period of time – and they want that for you.
There are many other programs as well. Many approaches, many paths, developed by many Masters. There is Dahn Hak and there is the Avatar Training and there is Lifespring and the list goes on and on. Which path, then, should we take?
God says, “No one calls to Me who is not answered.” The promise here is that each of us will be answered in the way that most effectively responds to the vibration we hold and create and carry in the center of our being.
Many people are inspired to this day by the man known as Buddha, and so have become Buddhists. It is, perhaps, good to tell the whole story of Buddha.
His name was Siddhartha Gautama. His father was the ruler of a large area who wanted to protect Siddhartha from any knowledge of the outside world. Siddhartha was kept on the grounds of the family compound, but one day he ventured beyond the walls because he wished to learn more of life. He gave up his riches and his whole family, left his wife and children and disappeared, to embark on his search for what was true.
Immediately he encountered people who were enduring much suffering. There was poverty. There was disease. There was cruelty. Siddhartha was stunned, and he knew, he just knew, that life was not meant to be like that. But what, then, was the truth? What was the path?
“What can I do?” he asked himself, and he underwent a series of extreme physical and mental disciplines of every imaginable sort, including fasting and prostration and self-denial. This went on for years. He sought out Masters and did as they told him. Yet nothing brought him the experience of enlightenment. It only brought him an arduous life and an emaciated body.
One day Siddhartha Gautama said, “I’ve tried everything. I’ve done all the physical disciplines, all the trainings, all the exercise, all the starvation, all the diets, all the fasting, and all the meditation. Now I’m just going to sit here beneath this tree and I’m not getting up until I’m enlightened.”
And there he sat, doing nothing. No exercises, no meditations, no fasting, no nothing. Now that is hard for many of us to do, because we think there is something we are suppose to be doing in order to be enlightened.
Suddenly Siddhartha said with a start: “I’m enlightened.” And people came to him and cried out, “What did you do? What did you do? Teach us, Master! You have become the Buddha, the Enlightened One. What is the secret? What did you do?”
And the Buddha said something quite extraordinary: “There is nothing that you have to be, do, or have.”
Imagine. After all that time. After the life he had lived and all that he did and saw. After all the luxury and then all the self-denial, after wearing a silk shirt and then a hair-shirt, after thoroughly satisfying his body and then starving his body, after no spiritual or physical discipline and then tons of discipline…after all that time, he realized it was not about doing or having anything and it was not about not doing or having anything. It was about the middle way.
It was about just living life, non-attached to anything in particular. Not attached to your luxuries and joys, and not attached to your poverty and tragedies. It was not about any of that. It can be if you want it to be. It can be if that is what suits you. It can be if that is your path, but it is not necessary to be, do, or have anything in particular.
The Buddha said, in effect, “I’m enlightened because I have realized that enlightenment is knowing that there is nothing you have to do to be enlightened.”
Isn’t that interesting? Think of all the effort that people are putting in, with years-long programs and trainings, only to find out that enlightenment requires nothing at all! You were “enlightened” when you came here, because you were Who You Were.
You were, are, always have been, and always will be, Divinity Expressed. You are Divine, and you simply don’t know it. Or don’t believe it. Or have forgotten it. Enlightenment is about remembering, declaring, expressing and experiencing Who You Really Are. That’s all that any spiritual master has ever done. Think of any spiritual master you wish to think of. That’s all that any of them have ever done.
So if you think there is a Path to Enlightenment that is the only path, the best path, the fastest path, you may suddenly find yourself feeling pressure, stress, a false urgency, even upset, and your ego may become deeply involved in convincing as many people as you can that the path you have found is the path they just have to experience.
Suddenly you will start acting not like a master at all, but like someone who is under a terrific amount of pressure and stress, because it will suddenly matter to you whether I “get” what you are trying to tell me.
If you are not careful, you even start having quotas or goals. You’ll have to get a certain number of other people to agree with you every week, or every month, or every year. And if you don’t meet those goals you will think that you have not done a good job.
And yet enlightenment, when it is all said and done, has nothing to do with what you do with your Body or your Mind. It has to do with what you do with your Soul. If you learn to love yourself and everyone else, and life itself, unconditionally, you will be “aware,” you will have reached “higher consciousness,” you will be “enlightened.”
In short, you will be transformed. You will be acting as The Divine. Because Divinity, in a word, is Love. Love without restriction, love without limitation, love without condition.
So this moment is the moment of your liberation. You can be liberated from your life-long search for enlightenment. You can be released from any thought that it has to look like this…no, no, it has to look like that…no, no, you have to get to it by this path, by that program, by the other process or activity.
You may still do those things if you choose to, but if you feel stressed about them, if you feel pressured by them, then how could they be a path to enlightenment?
So set yourself free today. Stop working so hard on yourself that you don’t even enjoy life anymore. Do what works for you, but make sure it brings you joy and harms neither yourself nor another. Enlightenment is enJOYment. It is the pouring of joy into Life.
Now here is one thing that I know will bring you joy. Spend the rest of your life giving people back to themselves, that they might love themselves, and know that there is nothing they are lacking, nothing they are missing, nothing they need, nothing they are not.
A sure way for you to experience that you are enlightened is to cause others to know that they are. That is the message and that will be the teaching of the New Spirituality. That is why Namaste’ has become such a powerful, such a meaningful and special, exchange of energy:
“The God in me sees the God in you.”
There’s nothing more to be done if we really mean that. Of course, if we are saying it because it sounds good, then there is a great deal more to be done. But if, when we say this, we really mean it…then the struggle is finished, the search is over, and enlightenment, transformation, is yours at last.
Today is a day that millions around the world celebrate in a way that honors the message of Christmas as it lives in our hearts. I’m going to ask your permission for me to be just a little more personal in my message on this day than I have been in the past.
I had an interesting experience about seven weeks ago that brought some things to light for me in a new way — in a far more impactful way — than ever before, and the thought struck me that there might be some value in my sharing with you here something that I’ve come to more deeply experience and understand.
On Nov. first I underwent open-heart surgery. It was a quintuple by-pass, and the doctors said that I tolerated the procedure well, and have moved thru my recovery extraordinarily well.
For all of this I’m grateful. But let me share with you what I have come to understand in a new way — first hand — as a result of what I experienced.
There’s nothing like having your heart stopped for 4 hrs, and its function performed by a machine across the room, to bring home in a very physical way, a very metaphysical message: You are not your body.
I’ve gotten very clear since Nov. 1st that my body is something that I HAVE, it is not something I am.
Of course, I have held it as my “truth” for years that — at my basis — I am not really a physical entity, but a spiritual entity engaging in a physical experience. But I have to tell you that I never translated that awareness into very real, here-and-now terms until I woke up after my surgery.
It was then that I understood empirically that my body is a mechanism — a tool used by the Essence of Who I Am to move forward its agenda. And that led me to some very deep thinking.
What is my agenda?
That is, what is the agenda of my Soul — quite exclusive of the agenda of my Body or my Mind? Because my Body and my Mind presumably HAD no “agenda” when my heart stopped beating for several hours and its work was being done by a machine several feet away.
That machine had no agenda. It was not conscious at any level. And if THAT machine had no agenda, then THIS machine (meaning, my body) has no agenda, either. They’re both just devices, designed to produce functionality in the physical world in order for the metaphysical part of me to do what it came here to do.
Yet what is THAT? And is anything that I’ve just said real? Or am I mistaken about all of this?
Believe it or not, 20 years after the Conversations with God experience, I still ask myself those questions.
I’ve been asked by interviewers over the years if I ever doubt my experience or the messages it has produced, and I’ve said the same thing to every person who has posed that question: “The day that I stop doubting is the day that I become dangerous… and I have no intention of becoming dangerous.”
Well, I may not be “dangerous” today, but I am more sure now than ever — as a result of my recent mechanical “overhaul” — that Who I Really Am exists, whether my body is functioning on its own or not. And Who I Am, exclusive of my Body or my Mind, DOES have an agenda. It is the same agenda of every spiritual entity in the cosmos — and of the Spiritual Essence from which everything has emerged.
It is my understanding that the whole universe, the entire cosmos in each of its dimensions, is filled with sentient beings, each imbued with the exact same desire — the desire to express and experience its True Nature and its True Identity.
If you look at every decision you have ever made…whether it was to take that job, or move to that city, or marry that person, or whatever it was…all of your choices, big and small, have been aimed at generating the same outcome: a direct experience of the best that life has to offer. Which is another way of saying, a direct experience of one word: Love.
For Love IS the “best that life has to offer. This much we know. This much we’ve all learned. Or, more correctly, this much we’ve all remembered. Because we all knew it as infants. We knew it when we came in. We’ve just had to remember it as we’ve grown older.
It’s our True Nature that we are remembering…and somewhere deep inside of us, we know that. We know that this is Who We Really Are.
That is the message of this day. My body is a mechanism, a tool, comprised of, containing, and designed to express and experience, the Essential Essence from which it emerged. And that Essential Essence is love.
This Body was made — we are all made — to love. Plain and simply, unlimitedly and unconditionally. And through this particular expression of Self, to know, experientially, Who We Really Are.
Today is one of those moments in humanity’s annual calendar when we stop everything else that we’re doing — all that we think is so important and so vital to our future — and return once more to the only thing that we came here to do: simply look at each other, look at ourselves, and love. And to expand, expand, and EXPAND in our ability to do that…until there is nothing else that we ever do…EVER
All of us here understand that this message is not limited to the essence of the Christian doctrine — hallowed and holy as that is to billions. This message transcends all religions, all believe systems, all spiritual paradigms, driving to the core of the human condition, and to the heart of the human experience — and able to heal both.
Both are now in need of healing, for sure — perhaps now more than ever in recent memory.
No one has to tell us that this has been a difficult year. The political machinations of the past 12 months — and the devastating physical violence that has been created by humanity and visited people’s lives across the planet — has awakened us to our own scary awareness of humanity’s often less-than-loving nature.
Our world has been divided right before our eyes, and so many of us are now searching, perhaps more earnestly than ever before, to find a way to create a global community where our differences do not create divisions, our contrasts do not generate conflicts, and the variations in our beliefs do not produce violence in our lives.
We are beginning to earnestly seek to really create what we say on our greeting cards: “peace on Earth, and goodwill to men, women, and children everywhere.”
In a sense, we have ALL undergone open-heart surgery this past year. For there are very few among us who have not felt as if we have been opened right down the middle by events both in our personal lives, and in our collective national and global experience.
Thankfully, we have moments like Christmas Day to help to heal that rending. Moments when the message at the heart of all the world’s great religions is separated from each religion’s specific dogma, and is reduced to its simplest form — inviting humanity to address at last the simplest question: Can we all just find a way to love one another?
The answer that moments like this bring us is, yes. We can find a way to love each other. We can find a way to share with each other in a way that demonstrates our love. And we can find a way to create equality with each other, regardless of the color of our skin, our gender, or our sexual orientation.
We can find a way to be kind to each other, and tolerant of each other, regardless of differences in our political or spiritual beliefs.
All we have to do is use our body, this tool we have been given, in a new way; to move through the world as the grandest version of ourselves; to become the healers, not the patient, in our own open-heart surgery, by-passing any blockages to the fullest expression of our most natural selves.
We are capable — as a species, and as individuals — of loving without condition. This is what the man whose birth we celebrate today showed us.
That man was graced to live in such a way that the possibility of Divinity expressing through humanity can never again be denied.
But it is important to see Christmas does not point to greatness achievable by only one person. We should not allow ourselves to be convinced that only one person in the history of humanity was capable of such things.
I am reminded of what was said by the very person whose life we celebrate today: “Why are you so amazed? These things and more shall you do also.”
The message of this day, then, is that we are all given the same level of grace. We are all imbued with the ability to demonstrate Divinity through our Humanity. Jesus devoted his life to showing us that possibility, but he is not the only one to have done so.
Others, both before and after him; others, both male and female; others, both dark skinned and light skinned, Eastern and Western, known and unknown, have likewise used their lives to show us all that we can live in a way which demonstrates our true identity, by demonstrating for us all the highest possibility of every human.
Not everyone has done it at the same level of perfection, but many have nonetheless shown us magnificent aspects of being human.
And WE have likewise shown it to others.
Yes, all of us have had what I call Moments of Magnificence, times when we expressed our Truest Selves in the fullest way, times when we were there for another, times when we touched the lives of even strangers in such a way that their faith in humanity, and their faith in themselves, was restored.
So let’s use this day to refresh our memory and renew our clarity about not just Jesus, but about ourselves. We are, each of us, wonderful. And we have, each of us, been wonderful, and acted divinely, in our lives. And there is not a one of us who does not try to be our Best Self in every moment.
This is our challenge, of course. This is the process that we call Evolution. And part of this process is the open-heart surgery that the Whole of Humanity has been undergoing.
So I see my own encounter with life last month as a metaphor for what’s happening with all of us during these days and times. And here is what this metaphor has shown me: What is occurring now is not an ending, but a new beginning. This is not an injury to the Body Human, but the start of our individual and collective healing.
Sometimes it takes what looks like an “injury” to instigate and promote healing, and to get our full recovery underway. And today I can tell you that our recovery IS underway.
Not only our recovery from the divisions in the world that have been created in these most recent times, but our recovery from the decades and centuries of behaviors that have led us to this place today, where we are seeing more vividly than ever before exactly what we as a species are doing to ourselves.
You can’t fix what you don’t see. You can’t “make better” what you don’t know is there. So when ugliness rises to the surface, when fear seeps through the lining of our armor, notice that it is the result of light having shined upon the darkness.
And so this is not a time for despair, but for repair.
And we have just the tool with which to undertake that repair. It is the promise of this day. It is the feeling that this special time imbues within us. It is the life and events of which this day reminds us.
All of this — if we capture the essence of this day in our hearts, and hold it there — can connect us in the most joyful way to the knowing that Divinity can be expressed by all of us. And it does not have to involve us individually and directly in what we define as “big, world-impacting, events.”
In fact, Divinity is often best expressed in the smallest ways. In the thoughts we think, in the words we speak, in the choices we make every hour of every day. Each of us brings Divinity to Humanity through the simple device of how we are being with each other. (And, by the way, with ourselves.)
Thus, how all of us choose to BE is a “world impacting event” that can change the events that impact the world.
Christmas reminds us of that. It allows us — gives us permission — to express our most wonderful selves easily. We say to everyone: “Merry Christmas!” We wish perfect strangers — we actually TALK to perfect strangers — and we wish them “happy holidays.” We sit down with loved ones and spend precious time together — again — the way we did long ago, far more often.
We experience being family again.
We share gifts with each other, and it doesn’t even matter what they are, for it is in the giving of them and in the receiving of them — whatever they are — that our love for each other is announced and declared, demonstrated and embraced, once more.
And what is most wonderful about this special time is the knowing that doesn’t have to end when this day is done. The love and the warmth we feel today can and will continue to be sent into the world by us, if we decide to a source of it.
Author M. Scott Peck wrote in his book, The Road Less Traveled, something worthy of taking note. He said, “Love is not a reaction, it’s a decision.”
It is because this is true that the highest possibilities for humanity still exist. When I know that love is not my response to something that you are doing, but my choice regarding something I am doing, the highest possibilities continue to exist.
Because this is true, one single person CAN impact the world. One single person CAN be the First Domino.
One single person CAN set the tone for others to follow. The question is not whether one person CAN . . . but where any one person WILL.
And that, it seems to me, is where the magic of this day can play its effect. The magical feeling of this moment can magically transform each of us into that One. Single. Person.
Each of us can be the one who chooses to carry forward, into all the days of the coming New Year, the magic of Love Itself — unbridled, unlimited, unconditional — as a personal expression of our True Identity.
We can make every day Christmas Day by making, every day, the declaration that Christmas invites us to embrace: That we will endeavor to use each of the moments of each of our lives to bring “joy to the world.”
I humbly invite us all to re-double our efforts to do so. I know that none of us is perfect. But I know that this day will carry a special meaning if we use this moment to commit to doing better than we’ve ever done before.
What a way to turn this into one of the best Christmases ever…by giving the gift of You, at your very best, to the world.
Merry Christmas, everyone!