May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings remember who they are. As I was listening to Phil, I was reminded of doing our Sunday class by Zoom, doing a book study group on Tuesday with Zoom, and a couple of other things. One of the things I've become aware of is that I've given talks before with very small groups of people that I thought were supposed to be a larger group of people. So, I was kind of ready for the energy to come out. Then, it wasn't there. I've given talks in a radio studio where there's only been one person in the sound booth, checking out the timing and making sure no mistakes were being made. In both of those circumstances, I used to find myself working really, really hard to make a connection with the people.
I feel your energy. You feel mine and it just builds on one another. I was not only curious, I was a little bit uptight about wondering what was going to happen with my Sunday school class, my Tuesday night group, or Sunday morning, doing a sermon here at Unity. What I began to discover was that I had to tune into a different level of awareness, kind of beyond my five senses, but there's an energy that's being formed there. It kind of goes back and forth. It's not just by itself. We're not just talking to a bunch of empty pews. You are here. Some of you are going to be listening to this a couple of hours later, or a day later, or two days.
Does that mean it's two days old? It means on a metaphysical level we are here with you right now. There is no past. There is no future. There is this moment. So, what I encourage people to do a lot of times is before we get started on a group like this energetically is just close your eyes for a second and get a sense of all of these other beings that are part of this particular celebration. Even though they're not physically present, we can know that they're there. We can know that we are connected. It would be foolish to say, I don't miss it. I do miss that.
I also know there's been a very deep learning on my part here that stretches me and says, “Now, Gerry, what are you going to need to hear? Go do that right now is you need to go beyond what your five senses are telling you and get into the connectedness that already exists you and all these other beings. Then you can extend it even further if you'd like to, but just know that that presence, that you're sensing beyond what your emotions might be able to tell you to notice that's real.”
I was struggling for a while to get a sense of what was going on with me the past couple of weeks, or maybe even longer than that. I was writing a letter to my grandson, Finn telling him a little bit about what was going on in my life and what I was feeling; not why I was feeling, but just that I was. What came to my awareness was kind of a surprise, although it shouldn't have been, it came with all of the other stuff. The isolation, wearing a mask, doing this, and doing that differently. Not being able to do some things that I really enjoy doing. Simple things like just hanging around the bookstore or having a cup of coffee at Starbucks with some friends. What I became aware of was that along with all of the things that were going on with me was a deep, deep sense of sadness.
I discovered as I talked to some other people about this, we are all grieving in some ways. We're grieving the big things, as well as the little things, but sometimes the grieving and the sadness can get you to go so hidden behind anger and fear and boredom and outrage and other emotions that we can't see it. I didn't know that. If you don't know something's happening with you, then you can't do too much about it.
One of the things that I noticed with myself is that I'm somewhat addiction-prone. Fortunately, I've been in recovery for some of the real major ones, but I still got some other ones that are waiting in the wings. What I noticed is that my addictions are really very ripe for covering up feelings that I don't want to look at. So give me some more ice cream, give me some more pizza, or give me some more sleep or give me some more, whatever it is. So, I don't have to feel what it is I'm feeling.
However, I’m going to need to be honest with myself. I really need to be honest with you. So, here it is. I'm sad for Black lives taken senselessly out of fear inequality. I'm sad for those who have allowed their anger and their outrage to turn into violence. I’m sad for those who seem to know violence as a way of being heard. I'm sad about the heartbreak and the helplessness experienced by so many who have been touched by this disease either directly or indirectly. I'm sorry for all those who have been put in difficult or sometimes impossible situations that are beyond their control. I'm sad for all those who are grieving like me, that don't even realize they're grieving and have become a victim to their heaviness and their despair that goes with helplessness and victim consciousness. I'm sad for all those beings who have forgotten the truth of who they are. I'm sad with the realization that I have helped create a world of violence and equality that racism and all other forms of prejudice ever remain hidden in my own heart. Up until now, the list is probably endless, but the list is probably a lot longer than that one too. I'm not bringing that up just to beat myself over the head with a stick.
What I'm suggesting when those things came to me, was that, okay, this is the stuff that's up for me that needs to be worked on. It needs to be healed. It's calling to be healed. It's not looking for blame now or looking for shame, not looking for where that came from. My mother that it came from, or my father, or from my heritage. You know, two generations don't matter. What am I going to do with that lovingly? How am I going to learn from it? How am I going to squeeze it dry? So I don't need it anymore. I mean, we've all done that too. We've all taken some things that have covered up fear or other things in our lives. We've probably realized that they're not serving us anymore. What we've done is we probably stayed with it and stayed with it and stayed with it until we recognized all the way through our being. I don't need that anymore. Maybe I never did, but I came to the realization. I no longer need that now. I can release it with love and let it go because it's taught me a lot. It has, they all do.
When John the Baptist came, walking out of the desert, wearing his camel hair with some locusts and honey probably stuck on his suit, his major message was repent. You know we immediately messed that up. It's amazing what human beings can do to a spiritual principle. When we're locked into fear or blame, shame, and guilt, we immediately took repent. I mean, there's something wrong with me. I've done something wrong and I need to make it somehow make it better. But I really don't know how. So I guess I'm going to have to go to somebody else to let me know how to make this better. Repent simply means take a look at how you're thinking and change it because you're not thinking clearly, you've forgotten who you are. That's simple. Repent. Think this again, you are not your thoughts.
You are not your mind. You're not your past. You're not your history. You're not your heritage. You are more than that. You are a divine being that somehow or another gotten hidden behind all of this stuff. Remember what repent means, remember who you are. Peacefulness, love, the expression of truth can sometimes be really nitty-gritty, kind of like mother Teresa, holding a dying leper in her lap, over an open sewer in Calcutta. Most of us aren't going to be called to something like that. Here's my challenge to realize in the practice. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage to not hate those who are acting hateful. I'll say that again. It takes a tremendous amount of strength and courage, not to hate those who are acting hateful or stretch it to where it really belongs to love those who are acting hateful, to recognize those who are acting hateful. Them acting hateful; that's not who they are. They might not think it, they might not know that what has ever been cured or changed with hatred or revenge or outrage.
Despite everything. The power of love and forgiveness are the only powers that work. Am I willing to work with that? Am I willing to live with that? Am I willing to accept that? Am I willing to pray without? Am I willing to love that? Even if the results don't show up in the next hour, the next day, or the next 10 years, I must find the love within myself before the world is going to change. I can do all sorts of work out there. It's nothing. Unless the work in here amounts to something, we've all heard that a million times. Yet right now, I think in our history and our racial consciousness, it becomes even more important. Transcending, going beyond our feeling nature, going beyond our personality. So going beyond who we think we are is not about denying anger for our separateness. It's asking for the grace to see things differently, to allow whatever it is that you're struggling with, whatever it is. I'm really wrestling with allowing it to be transformed in my mind, into my heart, and not to be transformed in the formula that I think ought to be transformed in. Not what I think is right and good, but that it might be transformed for the sake of all beings. I don't know what that's gonna look like. It doesn't matter whether I know what it's going to look like or not.
Can I see this through the eyes of Christ? Does that amount to asking for anything and everything? My little personality self that gets so lost in fear and separateness and anger and outrage is looking at what's going on in the world right now as being a crisis. In fact, I tuned in the news a couple of days ago, and one of the banner headlines that was supposed to cover everything said America in crisis, and of course my little personality went, yes, that's right. So how easily my emotional self, my personality self gets drawn into feeding my outrage and feeding my fear and being right and my own self-centeredness in the sense of feeling crisis. What do I get out of holding on to a crisis? Continuing brutality, fear, outrage. I mean, I can get into a fight with somebody about wearing a mask. How ridiculous. You remember years ago when, when 7/11 and convenient markets got started, they used to have a sign on the door, no shirt, no shoes, no service? Nobody complained about that. They just accept that as being a reality.
What happened? Is it a crisis or is it waking up?
Is it waking up now in spite of everything that's going on to claim my power as a divine being? It doesn't deny the pain or the difficulty I might be feeling on a human level, but when I cling to my fear, can I see what's happening?
It's getting me deeper and fear cannot fight. Fear. Fear only gets deeper into fear. So the more I am afraid, the more I am using my fear as a form of protection, the more afraid I'm going to be in terms of alignment with my divine being in terms of awakening. Can I recall the words that said, "Do not be afraid, little flock I'm with you all days, even to the end of the world?" Do I believe that? Can I work out of the divine self that looks at that as being the truth?
I mentioned in the beginning, how connected we really are. If we were only to realize that no matter what you look like, no matter what your behavior is like, that the desire of your heart is the same as mine. You might not have had the opportunities I've had to define the yearning of my heart a little better. You might not have the means at your disposal that I have, that doesn't give me the right to judge you, but I am liberated by my anger and my fear with unconditional love. Starting with me, what I began to realize energetically was that when I'm in anger or fear, that shuts me down, you can feel it. You can literally feel your heart closing up. I can.
What I realized though, is when I hold you in anger and fear, I'm shutting you down as well. I'm kind of putting you in a box and energetically, even if you don't know this consciously, energetically I am kind of putting a freeze on your growth. I'm holding you in anger, fear, shame, guilt, blame, whatever, because that's what you deserve. We all know what it's like to know that we are loved. Even if we are not in the presence of that person, even if that person is thousands of miles away and isn't even saying anything. We can sit down and say, I'm going to think, I'm going to feel, I'm going to allow myself to be in the presence of my beloved. And I'm just going to take, we all know we're affected by that. I don't know about you, but I know it if I'm walking into a room of people who can't stand me, I know that's hard to believe, but just imagine that, okay, I'm walking into a room of a whole bunch of people. They don't have to say anything. They could all be laughing and smiling and patting me on the back. But I know something's different here. I'm affected by that. Now you can say, well, you can choose not to be, but I'm not there yet.
I am affected sometimes by other people's negative energy, especially when it's directed in blame, shame, and guilt. Now, imagine this, take that a step further, which I did in my meditation last night. I realized that if I put you in a box with negative energy, with blame, shame, guilt, fear, projection, whatever you want to call it, not only do I put you in a box and prevent you from growing, but I am also wishing you pain and suffering. When I realized that it just went right into my heart.
I've been granted a fairly decent level of consciousness. Would there be any being on the planet that I would desire to be in pain, that I would desire for any reason to be in suffering? And I had to step back from that and say, no, my God, I don't want that. I don't want to do that to anybody. I certainly don't want anybody to do it to me. And I began to realize that on an energetic level, my dislike of you or my hatred of you, even when you do what you say, how you say it, how you do it is, is not only putting you in a box. It is putting you in suffering. It is putting you in pain - is putting me in pain - obviously, but it's putting you there too. Is there anybody on earth that I will want to do that too?
I said, no, God, please take this from me. And every time I am reminded of that judgment, every, every time I'm reminded somehow or another to put you in a box, not only reminds me what that does to me, it reminds me what it does to them as well. Thomas Merton put it beautifully when he said "The arrow, which with I shoot, my enemy has to pass through my own heart." My personality says, well, I still get a chance to shoot my enemy. And you do, if you want to shoot the arrow, which with a shot, my enemy has to pass through my own heart first. Would I ever desire that really for me? Would I ever desire that for you? I'll close with one other quote from Scott Peck that I've mentioned before, a number of times in the Road Less Traveled. He defined love as being "the ability to stretch oneself for one's spiritual growth or the growth of another."
My question to myself and to you as well, is how do I need to stretch today? What's calling inside of me, might be something to let go of, might be something to practice more deeply? How am I being called to stretch, to love myself, to love you as well, to love all beings in a way perhaps that I haven't done before? In a way of openness, in a way of compassion, in a way of truth, the ability we all have the ability to stretch oneself for one's own growth or the growth of another. May all beings be at peace. May, all beings be free of suffering. May all beings remember who they are.