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The Meaning of Desire

Posted May 31, 2014

heart of desire


Have you ever run across a quote or snippet in a book that changed your outlook on life?

Something that re-ignited your wonder every time you read it again?

It happened to me again recently, and I want to share it, just in case it's as mind-blowing to you as it has been to me. (I'm willing to risk your thinking it is blindingly obvious and you can't believe I didn't know this.)

The book is Lessons in Truth by Emilie Cady, written more than 100 years ago to spell out the belief system of the New Thought spiritual movement in its earliest days.

I've read this little book a hundred times – in fact, I've been giving a Sunday series about it, if you care to listen – but this part exhilirates me every time.

She is writing about desire, trying to let us know desire is a good thing. It's okay to want more. In fact, that's how God communicates with us.

“Remember this: Desire in the heart for anything is God's sure promise sent beforehand to indicate that it is yours already in the limitless realm of supply, and whatever you want you can have for the taking,” Cady wrote.

That means whatever we want is not wrong!

Students struggle with this sometimes in my prosperity classes. People who are trying to be spiritual become uncomfortable with wanting anything. They suspect they should shut up and be grateful.

Some even believe poverty is more spiritual than wealth, or that self-denial somehow earns us points.

A lot of us were taught that whatever God's will might be for our lives, we wouldn't like it. We'd have to give up what we wanted and do something onerous.

To this day, the term “God's will” makes my knee jerk.

But here's the thing: God is all there is, the substance of all things. That means there is nothing we can desire that, at base, is not God.

God is the invisible substance all around us, waiting to come into form. And desire tells us it's there!

“The thing you desire is not only for you, but has already been started toward you out of the heart of God; and it is the first approach of the thing itself striking you that makes you desire it, or even think of it at all.”

The good is already yours, or you wouldn't want it!

Desire is God, or your inner spirit, pushing on the divine spark within you, trying to get you to be more, to expand.

Eventually you desire to be bigger, stronger, grander. And your wanting more good is God wanting to give you more good!

I don't mean the white-bearded God is sitting up in heaven planning to heap blessings on your head. All this is going on within you, where the divine expresses as you.

The point is, your desires are not separate from God's. God's will is exactly whatever excites you most!

“Desire in the heart is always God tapping at the door of your consciousness with His infinite supply – a supply that is forever useless unless there be demand for it.”

Ah ha! That's why Bible says: Ask and it will be given to you. (Mt 7:7) Before they call, I will answer. (Is 65:24) Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Mt 6:8)

The supply is just waiting for us to demand it, to claim it.

Don't worry about wanting the wrong things, Cady says. Don't worry about taking good away from someone else. You really don't desire your neighbor's wife – you desire the love or great sex you think is possible.

But you have your own supply. There is unlimited good for every human being, including you.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said if you know spiritual law, you know you cannot escape from your good.

Is this cool or what?!

No matter how many times I read it, I am thrilled to be reminded that God (the force of love, intelligence and order in the universe) not only wants my good and stands ready to provide it, but that whatever I desire IS my good.

My will is God's will. My wanting – and I mean the deepest, truest desires, not just whims – is my Higher Self prodding me toward my highest and best.

I love that! Do you love that? Tell me below.

PS – The magnificent Maya Angelou, who died last week, studied Lessons in Truth and talked about it a year ago in a conversation with Oprah. Here's the three-minute video. Get a hanky.

   

Three Reasons Why Spiritual Laws Don't Seem to Work

Posted May 24, 2014

Harry Potter


I've heard the lament again and again from people who are trying to practice spiritual principle in their lives:

“I'm doing everything right! Why isn't it working?”

Why don't I have a new job yet?

Why don't I have more money?

Why can't I find the love of my life?

Why can't I get well?

These are people who believe in the Law of Attraction, sometimes called the Law of Mind Action or the Science of Mind. They believe in the creative power of thought.

Not a new idea – remember, the Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”

The idea has gained new currency in the past century or so, and is now pretty mainstream. Even people who wouldn't call it spiritual or a law know about the placebo effect or the benefits of a positive attitude.

Bottom line, what we think matters.

But why doesn't it make a greater difference? What's going on when it doesn't seem to work?

THREE REASONS

I can think of three reasons spiritual law might not seem to work:

  1. It's all a bunch of bunk, this spiritual stuff. Life is random and senseless, and we have absolutely no control over what happens. Even if it all works out for good in the end, we have nothing to do with it. Random fate. Destiny. Victims. We've been silly to think otherwise.
  2. Spiritual principles do work, but we're working them wrong. We don't understand them well enough, and our deep, false beliefs block our good.
  3. Everything is working perfectly but mostly outside our human awareness. A Higher Self is directing the show.

I could make a perfectly good argument for any of these reasons and will, depending on the day you ask me.

Today, let's set aside No. 1 because it's too depressing to contemplate.

Most of the time, I will go with some combination of Nos. 2 and 3, which lands me smack in the paradox of creation and surrender.

CREATION

On the one hand, I do believe that we create our lives entirely. No half measures. We can't be in charge of some parts but not others.

You are the creator of your experience. You just are not perfect at executing it.

Ron WeasleyAnd it's easy to expect too much, too soon. Well-intentioned teachers have made it sound as if we can simply wish for what we want and it will come true instantly. It's theoretically possible, but many of us are fumbling through creation and might be grateful for the time delay before our imprecise thoughts take form.

What more often gets in the way when we try to attract our good are the edicts that have been handed down to us about what is possible and what is not, the fearful beliefs we have developed about money, love or health.

I used to think the beliefs were unconscious, but to my surprise, many people can name their limiting beliefs – that money is unspiritual, or love always hurts, or the body is weak. They know where their blocks are.

I wrote not long ago that awareness is cheap, awareness alone doesn't solve the issue. Change requires a shift in consciousness.

But can people really change?

Do they really want to?

Our minds are busy and complicated. Our wounds are many and varied. And that's just the baggage we know about.

SURRENDER

At the same time, more is going on within us than we realize.

I am the creator of my experience, but some of it is conscious and some of it is not. I'm in this human body on this dense planet trying to practice principles with only an inkling of understanding.

I'm grateful to know I have a Higher Self or Divine Within that not only is guiding me but is handling most of the work. The hard part is to let go and trust it. Hard for me, anyway.

Some people do nothing but surrender. “Whatever Spirit wants!”

To me, that's only half the picture. I still believe we have far more power and responsibility as creators than we have realized.

But one of the knocks against the Law of Attraction is that we can't know what's best for our lives. At the level of personality where we operate, we don't really know what to create for ourselves.

And that's true as well! We can't. We don't.

Who would knowingly attract a major illness or a sick child or a bout with bankruptcy or a broken heart? Yet how often do those episodes become the ones that changed everything for the better? They were the turns necessary to steer us to a happier place.

So we surrender to whatever power arranged them for us, to the power within that attracted or created them. We trust. We allow our good to come in whatever form it comes.

And when we don't recognize it as good, we reserve the right to complain: This Stuff Doesn't Work!

YOUR CHOICE

I guess we are just fallible humans who can (sometimes) laugh at our foibles. We take the steps we can see as the path unfolds before us.

I suspect most of us will only experience incremental change, and that might be all we want. Major transformation usually requires, well, major transformation. Dying to self. Laying down your life as you know it. Most people won't volunteer for that.

But maybe I'm wrong. How much change has occurred in your life as a result of your spiritual path? Did you knowingly create it or just surrender to it?

I'd love for you to share your thoughts below!

   

How Would You Label Yourself?

Posted May 17, 2014

rubber stampDid you hear the news a few months ago that Facebook now offers more than 50 gender categories to choose from?

No longer just male and female but androgyne, gender fluid, intersex, non-binary, transgender and even two-spirit. They fall into about a dozen broad categories.

And you may choose up to 10 gender descriptions for yourself!

Part of me loves this. It is open and affirming, expansive and accepting.

And part of me says: More labels! More ways to categorize and pigeonhole people.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LABELED

Maybe we humans always have labeled each other and are just making it more specific now. Better to call someone transgender than simply weird, ADHD rather than “holy terror,” or learning disabled instead of slow.

I think the more clinical labeling stems from a well-intentioned effort to cut people some slack if they are different and to help them if possible. We're saying there's a reason they are the way they are.

But is that helpful? Or is it just one more way to declare someone Not Normal?

THE LABELS OF OUR LIVES

Although I never gave a second thought to checking a box that simply says FEMALE, I have collected a string of other nuanced labels for myself, having filled out all sorts of surveys, assessments and instruments over a lifetime.

  • I'm INFJ on Myers-Briggs
  • Learner, intellection and connectedness show up every time I take the StrengthsFinder survey.
  • My Brainstyle is right-sided deliberator.
  • I'm a low-profile loner with a controlling streak, according to FIRO-B.
  • I avoid conflict if at all possible, says TKI.
  • I'm a Libra in western astrology, with the north node of my moon in the first house.
  • My Vedic ascendant is Sagittarius.
  • Oh, and don't forget Native Texan. An authentic and honorable label, no discussion needed.

Personally, I kinda like labels. If they are accurate, they make me feel seen and understood. They explain to the world why I am the way I am.

Other times, they make me feel there's nowhere to hide. And having labeled myself in certain ways for years, it might seem impossible to change.

BENEFITS OF LABELING

So I've been cogitating on all this, and as usual, I'd love to know what you think.

Many of my friends have a distinct allergy to labeling people. They want everyone to be accepted for exactly who and what they are. No judgments.

But I suspect sometimes we are less judgmental if we give something a name. Otherwise we are facing the unknown, and our typical human response to what's unfamiliar is fear or rejection.

Naming our differences might be a step toward acceptance. It broadens our thinking about what is possible and legitimizes heretofore unacknowledged ways of being in the world. I mean, who knew there were 50 ways to be male and/or female?

MAKE MORE LABELS?

I wonder where else we need to expand and clarify our thinking? In what other areas are we limiting our labels – thereby limiting individuals – without realizing all the variety that is possible?

Or do you think labels and categories are always damaging?

Has a label ever helped or hurt you? I hope you'll comment below.

   

How to Face Doom and Find Opportunity

Posted May 10, 2014


Just recently, I discovered a cadre of writers and teachers who believe climate change has already doomed the human race and that we now are in our final years.

They say the earth will be mostly uninhabitable within 40 years, maybe sooner. Arctic ice will have melted by the end of next year. And there's nothing we can do to reverse it now.

They call it near-term extinction. Humans will disappear like the dinosaurs. Soon.

Hmmmmm. I don't know what to make of their facts. All my life, I've heard dire predictions about the future that didn't come true or weren't as bad as imagined.

So I'm not trying to persuade you one way or another about climate change.

What If the End Is Near?

But it raises an interesting question: If we knew for sure we were in the final days of human life on earth, would we live any differently?

What would you change or leave the same? What would you start or finish? How would you handle relationships? Would you still recycle? Floss?

What would be the point of anything?

Did you ever read On the Beach? I read it as a teenager and never forgot it, a novel about people living in Australia after nuclear holocaust has destroyed the rest of the planet. They can only wait for the radiation cloud to drift south and kill them, too.

Some go crazy, some fall into despair. Many choose hedonism in response to fatalism, at least in the beginning. But over the months, they begin to reflect on life and death, love and dreams, and make meaning with the brief rest of their lives, even knowing the end will be sad.

(It was a movie, too, in 1959 with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner.)

Staying Conscious in Collapse

I ran across this idea that we are facing imminent extinction when I heard an interview with a woman named Carolyn Baker, a former psychotherapist and adjunct professor of history and psychology. Her most recent book is titled Conscious Collapse.

That is, staying conscious while our world collapses around us.

She comes across as a sweet, smart grandmother even as she paints a horrifying picture of devastation – widespread famine, oil and water running dry, the failure of the electrical grid, the melt-down of nuclear power plants. Life as we know it is on the brink, in her view.

So what is ours to do, she asks, as individuals and as a species? How do we deal with our own grief, and prepare ourselves emotionally and spiritually for a time of suffering? How do we provide comfort or leadership for others? How do we face heartbreak together?

Because here's the important point: This is just life!

No One Gets Out Alive

Regardless of what brings it about, we all eventually face our final days. In the meantime, we weather change, loss and difficulty. Life consistently presents us with situations we can't control.

Baker likens it to being in hospice, a time when there's nothing more to “do” except surrender to reality. Learn, feel and experience whatever is available to us, she says. Evaluate, deepen and treasure relationships. Appreciate simple joys.

After years of studying the imminent demise of humanity, Baker has arrived at this:

“What I will do is commit to a life of service, a life of creating extraordinary moments of beauty and love; I will immerse myself in nature, art, poetry, music, and really good stories. I will practice good manners with all beings; I will nourish my body with nutritious food and restorative movement. I will make every attempt to practice gratitude as often as humanly possible in one day, and I will give from the depths of my soul all of the love I can muster -- to the earth and to every living being.”

Our Choices Every Day

That's probably what we all would do, if we truly believed the end was near. So why not live with love and gratitude anyway?

We might not all die physically in the coming collapse, she says, only our way of living. For those who remain, this experience will be like a rite of initiation, calling us to greater maturity.

Those who navigate through turbulent times will play a role in nothing less than human renewal.

And that is true of any turbulent times in our lives. If only we can remember to look for the gifts and opportunities.


PS -- If you're interested in learning more about near-term extinction (!):

   

The Relationship Path

Posted May 3, 2014

May we agree that relationships are the graduate school of spiritual growth?

I've always known they are hard work, consistently prompting us to use our tools of patience, forgiveness and compassion. Every single day.

But I never thought of them as a complete spiritual path unto themselves until I read Cynthia Bourgeault's book, The History of Mary Magdalene, and talked about it last Sunday. Recorded here.

She believed Jesus and Mary Magdalene were on a spiritual path as beloveds, elevating their consciousness through committed relationship. The very idea was later squelched by the church's exaltation of celibacy, she writes.

Do you believe there is such a path? That our dealings with other people might be the primary means we have chosen to expand our divine awareness?

More than meditation? More than prayer and meditation, or reading and taking classes, or going to speakers and workshops?

Does the hard work of grappling day-to-day with someone in your life count as spirituality? Even with the occasional eye-rolling, yelling or door-slamming?

I suppose it makes sense. Whether it's a romantic couple, parent and child, or even work partners, we know relationships force us to grow – emotionally, psychologically and spiritually – whether we believe we asked for it or not.

Often they challenge and vex us more than anything else. More than money. More than health.

Mary Magdalene and Jesus might have been committed beloveds, but I give the relationship award to parents and children.

No one is more vulnerable than a parent to hurt, fear, rejection or disappointment. No one at times is more angry, worried or defensive than a parent, and at other times overjoyed, satisfied or amused.

No one is more invested in another's life.

Whether your child reminds you of yourself or just the opposite, I am assured by parents that all your stuff is in your face from the moment your child is born. Your buttons are pushed. Your wounds are exposed.

Yep, that's pretty much the definition of a spiritual path.

The path can be just as intense for the children, although they may be less aware they chose it.

Sometimes I think we spend our entire adult lives getting over childhood. Our parents' words and actions are logged into our very cells, triggering feelings and behaviors we can't always explain. We aptly call it “baggage” and might carry it all our lives.

Ram Dass said something like, If you think you're enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.

Even if you grew up in a happy home, someone at some point in your life is bound to be a challenge.

So why keep opting for relationships? Why not find solitude on a mountaintop?

In one of the Bible's strange little stories, Jacob wrestled all night with an angel. Even after the angel knocked Jacob's hip out of joint, he wouldn't stop the fight. “I will not let you go unless you bless me,” Jacob said.

What an odd demand to make in the middle of a fight!

But that's what our wrestling with each other is about, isn't it? The anger, jealousy and fear. The thrills, laughter and pride. The struggle to keep an open heart yet set boundaries, tend to another's needs yet mind our own business, to take action or not, to speak up or not.

Back and forth, up and down – we are holding out for a blessing. Insisting on it. Won't let go until we get it.

The obvious question is: What constitutes a blessing?

Is it peace and harmony?

Is it the other person's doing what makes you feel good? Doing what you think is best?

Is it accepting others just the way they are?

Could even the battle scars and painful memories count as blessings?

When the angel finally blessed Jacob and departed, Jacob said, “I have seen God face to face.”

That is the very meaning of Namaste. As we encounter each other, the divine meets the divine.

What's the greatest blessing you ever received from a relationship? I hope you'll share with me in the Comment section below.

   

Now for the Hard Work

Posted May 3, 2014

iris


After Easter I always feel a sense of -- not emptiness, exactly -- but a question mark, a gap. What now? What's next?

I can check off Easter for another year, as I imagine you can.

  • Have I wrestled with the meaning of the resurrection stories? Check. (And frankly for me, the meaning is different every year.)
  • Have I seen the pattern of crucifixions and resurrections in my own life? Yep. Loss and recovery. There is always a new day.
  • Have I renewed my belief we are divine, life is eternal and we are all here on earth to express that universal energy? Check, although I question some of God's unique and distressing human disguises.

So now what?

The above list is pretty exciting stuff, but what do we do with it? How exactly do we live in the knowledge that we are spiritual beings passing through a human experience?

The people who had been following Jesus were at a similar loss after Easter. They pretty much went home and resumed their regular lives.

Peter was one of the first to say, Well, back to fishing. Back to Galilee. (John 21 for the whole story)

The guys on road to Emmaus walked home from Jerusalem assuming Jesus' story had ended with his crucifixion. (Start with Luke 24:13)

According to the ancient stories, all of them were thunderstruck when confronted by a presence they recognized as Jesus, in whatever form. They felt his spirit. Maybe they even saw him. Somehow they realized death is only a physical transition and not the end, not for any of us.

We realize that, too. But what should we do about it? Finish up with Easter and just go back to fishing?

I'm asking another of those questions I can't answer. Maybe because it has to be answered by each person individually. Maybe because I just don't know.

But I think it's worth contemplating.

What is mine to do with the knowledge and awareness that human beings are divine and eternal?

The disciples pretty soon became apostles (teachers on a mission) and went out to spread the message. Is that ours to do, to take whatever we think we've learned about the fullness of our humanity and share it with others?

What is calling you? Is it enough just to feel good about your divine self? Should you participate in a spiritual community, or is walking in the woods enough to experience the Presence?

With Easter, we have celebrated once again that we are divine and that Jesus showed us what is possible for human beings when we are fully aligned with God.


We will practice that alignment all our lives … but then what? What are you called to do with your spiritual awareness?

I hope you'll cogitate on this question in the comment section below.

   




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