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Metaphysical Malpractice

Posted April 27, 2013

Metaphysical malpractice is when you walk up to someone who is sick, broken-hearted or grieving and say, “How did you create this?”

Cruel! Thoughtless! Don't ever do that.

But what if you ask that question of yourself? What if you enlist a trusted friend to help you? You look at the circumstances of your life and with genuine curiosity and desire to grow, ask, “How did I create this?”

Because the fact is, our thoughts create our experience. It's a universal law that has been taught for thousands of years. Blather about the Law of Attraction may have become trendy and tiresome, but the ancient awareness that we are co-creators with God bestows on us awesome power and responsibility.

I hear the term malpractice bandied about more and more often. Apparently a generation of spiritual students is under the impression that asking how the law worked in any given circumstance is malpractice.

That's ridiculous. “How did I create this?” is a perfectly valid question.

Set aside whatever you believe about the Law of Attraction and just look at the way we live our lives. We constantly retrace our steps to figure out how we got the results we did. We learn by reviewing mistakes.

  • If you got a bad grade on a test, you probably went back over the questions to see what you missed.
  • If your doctor diagnoses a disease, you're likely to ask, “How did I get this? What caused it?”
  • If I botch dinner, I'll reread the recipe. Did I leave out an ingredient? Did I cook it too long? I might even ask a trusted friend, “Can you help me figure out what I did that made this so bad?” They're not cruel if they explore it with me.

We ask all the time how we created our experience with our actions. Why not ask how we created with our thoughts? It's part of a package of brave spiritual questions: What am I supposed to be learning? Where is the gift in this? Why is this in my life? Where is the good?

The idea that we're creating our experience doesn't appeal to most people. They prefer to think there is a higher power steering their lives, and their job is to go with the flow. Surrender. Even obey.

Yes and no.

Yes, we are surrounded and filled with divine power that can guide us or call us to greater expression than we imagined.

But all that power is expressed through our human filters, through personality, beliefs and degrees of openness. Think of a cake-decorating bag that squeezes out icing in the shape of flowers or stars. We're squeezing out bits of divine energy in the shapes we choose with our thoughts.

That's co-creation. We bring the divine substance of the universe into form by what we hold in consciousness, as individuals, as groups and as the human species. We are part of the process whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not.

Most of us are happy to take metaphysical credit for manifesting a new job or a boyfriend. But I get scolded about malpractice if I suggest the events in life labeled “bad” might also be our own manifestation.

Life hurts sometimes. If you listen to Rev. Ed Townley on our radio show about Revelation, life is supposed to hurt sometimes. We learn from it, grow through it, amass a lifetime's worth of wisdom through pain and conflict, as well as joy.

As a minister, I've been surprised how often people who are suffering ask me, “How did I create this?” Not in anguish, not to berate themselves. They really are open to understanding how the law works.

Yet while I maintain “how did I create this” is a valid question, I don't ask it for myself as often as I used to because so much creating is subconscious. Not just in the dark recesses of the shadow but the soul, the higher self, the parts of us we may or may not be in touch with.

My heart is creating as vigorously as my thoughts, maybe moreso. My soul is drawing to me what I most deeply desire and need for my life's purposes. That is what I surrender to.

   

Seeking Perspective

Posted April 21, 2013

Sad week. Difficult week.

The terrorist bombing in Boston. The factory explosion in West, Texas.

Last week was one of those times when it's easy to ask, “Where is God in all this?” And to wonder whether our insistence on positive thinking is grounded in reality.

I still believe the world and its people are overwhelmingly good. But it took me awhile to regain perspective, to work my way back to knowing that all is well.

I drew perspective from two resources: my background as a news reporter and my spiritual beliefs.

First the news…

On the rare occasions we have a bombing in the United States, I think of all the countries where this happens routinely on a greater scale. Pakistan and India had mass casualties from bombings just in the past few months. Israel and the West Bank, Iraq and Afghanistan live with it all the time. Military bombs are dropped, IEDs explode, havoc is wreaked any day, any moment.

We seem to reserve the word “horrific” for Americans.

News by definition is what's out of the ordinary. Three bombing deaths were remarkable because they are so rare here. Homicides rank 15th among causes of death in America. More people die of the flu.

Perspective.

We choose to take risks daily. We ride in cars, even though traffic accidents kill far more people than terrorists do. We eat cheeseburgers, knowing heart disease is the leading cause of death. We buy guns that kill 30,000 people a year.

Did you know 13 people a day die in the United States just doing their jobs? They go to work and never come home. Occasionally they are killed in a massive factory explosion, but more often it's an individual accident. Thirteen people a day. Somehow that's not considered “horrific.”

Of course, now we will hear calls for tighter security and more government regulation.

What are reasonable precautions to take? Should we batten down the hatches even further? Or could we acknowledge that death happens, that terrorists sometimes get through barricades, that fires break out and cause explosions? Can we simply choose not to be afraid?

This is where spirituality kicks in.

When we believe life is eternal, then death doesn't have to be a tragedy. We grieve, of course, sometimes acutely. But we know every aspect of the human experience is temporary.

When we believe all is well, that good predominates, we can see evidence everywhere.

With perspective, we can see what else happened last week. Millions and millions of people enjoyed the spring flowers, went to work, school, church, the grocery store. The vast majority were safe, unhurt, living their lives.

Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut on the space station, took a picture of Boston on Monday night after the bombing -- nearly 5 million people lighting up the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

From a distance, the city was alive, alight and at peace. You couldn't see that, on a few blocks of Boylston Street, there had been chaos for a while.

But even up close, good was dominant.

Thousands of people poured out their compassion to help in Boston and West, as they always do in emergencies, everywhere. First responders willingly put themselves in danger. Doctors and nurses mobilized a lifetime of training.

And the runners… the marathon runners crossed the finish line and kept running to Massachusetts General Hospital to give blood.

Perspective.

Bodies can be broken and hurt; they were not built to last. Life is what lasts. For three people in Boston and more in West, Life changed form last week. For the rest of us, the energy of Life deepened our human experience and our soul's growth.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” - Kurt Vonnegut

How do you make sense of these events? Share any insights -- please!


PS – For those of you who asked, West is about 120 miles from me up I-35. We call it West-Comma-Texas to distinguish it from the western part of Texas. The town was settled by Czechs and is famous for its kolaches. Like most Texans, I stop to buy some every time I drive through. Last week, the Czech Stop gas station and bakery was packed with reporters and refugees after the explosion.

   

Five Fingers, Five Laws

Posted April 13, 2013

The kids in my church are studying Principle One this month: God is absolute good, everywhere present.


It sounds simple, but it's a lofty and abstract concept. Adults usually get mired in conversation about the existence of evil and how God could possibly be “everywhere present” in a world with so much pain. Shoot, I made it so complicated, I had to write a book about it.

But when the children last Sunday briefed the congregation about what they're learning, they reworded the principle: God is.

That's it. Just God is.

I loved that! It's the short-short-short version of the Five Principles, the universal laws that are the synthesis of Unity teachings. It goes like this:

God is.
I am.
I think it.
I pray it.
I live it.

As far as I know, this Five-Finger Version of the Five Principles was invented by Rev. Cindy Bruce, now at Unity of Georgetown, Texas, not far from me. She said it's an easy way to remember the principles by counting them off on your fingers. Great shorthand.

But you kinda need to know what they're shorthand FOR.

God is — is the most obvious. God is all there is, one presence and one power, everywhere present. I think it takes a lifetime for this to sink in, to reach a true understanding that absolutely everything we experience, consciously or not, is an expression of the divine. Hard to imagine for some of the events and people we label bad or evil. But the human experience is not for sissies.

I am — follows naturally. If everything is God, then we are made of God-stuff, the image and likeness. If trees and sunsets and flowers and brown-eyed puppies are evidence of God's creation, then surely so are humans. I AM represents God as the ground of our being, the Christ within. I AM also has vast creative power, so we're careful about the words we attach to “I am ….” Are your words generally positive? Or are you declaring yourself to be sick and tired? Unworthy in some way?

I think it — is the Law of Mind Action, the creative power of our thoughts. The substance of the universe is malleable, and our thoughts mold it to take shape in our lives. In other words, we get what we focus on. Sometimes the focus comes from deep, unquestioned or even unconscious beliefs. These days, I'm convinced the more we can simply hold to the idea that everything is God, then whatever we are manifesting or attracting is for our good. At least good over the long haul.

I pray it — is the constant and conscious connection with the divine. Even connection is too dualistic a word to describe the way prayer immerses us in the presence of pure being, melds us with the light and love from which we were created. I pray “it” means I pray knowing God is and I am. That alone can be a meditation — God is on the inbreath, I am on the exhale.

I live it — is putting into practice what we know to be the truth of our existence: that we are divine beings who live and move and have our being within God and who hold tremendous power and responsibility as co-creators. Practicing principle sometimes means taking action, sometimes means loving from a distance, sometimes means minding our own business!

I don't know whether the kids hear all that in the Five-Finger Version of the Five Principles or realize how foundational these laws are to human existance But they will understand over time. We all will understand over time!

Which principle is speaking to you right now? Or challenging you?

I'd love for you to leave a comment here. Click the little blue number.
   

Life on the Back Roads

Posted April 11, 2013

When you're on a driving trip, do you ever take the back roads instead of the main highway? Just because it's more beautiful? More interesting?


True, you might end up behind a slow truck on a narrow, two-lane highway. You might have to navigate some dips and turns that are downright scary, or hazard a creek that has flooded the road. But on the back roads, you also might discover a special antique store, or an old-time cafe in a little town square, or a rusted pickup truck from 1955 just like the one granddad used to drive. And fields and fields of wildflowers.

Lately I've been thinking a “back roads” approach to life might explain why we encounter so many difficulties, despite our positive thinking and our affirmations that all is well. It is well. We just chose to take a different, less traveled, less certain route instead of the easy superhighway. For the adventure of it.

That could be the answer to “How did I create this?”

Or maybe the larger question is, “Does life have to be this hard?”

Yes and no. As we create and attract our experiences, choose our reactions, make decisions, try to follow divine guidance or forget it's available, we probably make life harder than it has to be. On the other hand, I believe we chose this human experience because it offered opportunity for soul development that apparently we couldn't get while living in the bliss of the non-physical realm.

Or maybe we wanted to practice merging the two — bringing our spiritual awareness to this dense, unpredictable planet and these cantankerous physical bodies — to see if we could hold onto higher consciousness. A peaceful spiritual being having a challenging human experience.

How's that working for you?

I'd like to refer you to Revelation, of all things. Last book in the Bible. The one with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, people being thrown into a lake of fire, Jesus riding on a white horse. It's downright hallucinogenic. DO NOT GO THERE ALONE.

Because it doesn't mean what you've probably heard it means.

I just finished the long-awaited book on Revelation by my friend, Rev. Ed Townley in Connecticut. In his view, all its colorful chaos is about the human struggle to merge with the Christ within.

Ed puts it in terms of the hero's journey, the mythological template that resonates so deeply in the human psyche. We humans have told the story over and over. Someone living a humdrum life is called away from home. He or she encounters wild, scary, never-before-imagined challenges but conquers them. And returns home (or stays in a new realm) far more awake and alive than before.

Dorothy leaving Kansas and navigating the yellow brick road through Oz to fulfill the deepest desires of herself, the scarecrow, tin man and lion. Luke Skywalker leaving the sand planet to battle the Empire and travel through the cosmos, meeting all sorts of human and non-human creatures that test him. Harry Potter being called to Hogwarts to develop his innate capacities for magic. Ed Townley sees Revelation as exactly the same story.

Ed and I have talked — quibbled, argued, debated — many times about the hero's journey and whether it dooms us to difficulty. If we believe our human purpose is to go out and slay dragons, then life HAS to be hard to be worthwhile. I have always objected to that idea, while Ed has argued that's the whole point. If all we wanted was spiritual bliss, we could have stayed Home.

He continues that argument in this book, and I have to say it's mighty persuasive in the context of Revelation. As he explores each passage, interpreting them metaphysically in terms of the battles we fight within and without, life's hardship does appear necessary to transformation. And if that's the case, then of course we chose it. We helped create it. In that sense, we wanted it.

Whether our particular challenges are around money, relationships, health or loss and grief, we knew the human experience would include challenges and we volunteered for them. Like going to school — not always easy or fun, but we wanted higher learning. Or taking the back roads — not as efficient as driving from point A to B without any challenge greater than changing lanes, but so much more interesting!

So next time you ask yourself, How did I create THIS? Maybe you just wanted to get off the interstate. And wherever you are, God is.






P.S. Ed Townley and I are going to talk about the Book of Revelation in a six-week series on Unity Online Radio. Well, Ed's going to talk about it. I'm in the Oprah role, asking him questions and throwing in my two cents. It should be fun. The live shows will start April 16 and be on Tuesdays at 6 pm Central, but you can always listen to the recordings later. His highly readable and truly interesting book is Kingdom Come: Understanding the Book of Revelation.
   




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