December 1, 2012
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44)
When I first discovered Unity, my primary exposure to spiritual matters had been through the lens of traditional Christianity. As you know, this approach is based on the notion that the individual is separate from God and that Jesus, who offered himself as a sacrifice for the human transgressions that caused us to fall away from God in the first place, provided the means through which we could reunite with God in the afterlife. From this perspective, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as a personal savior is the one and only means of securing unity with God. The object is to be saved from the condition of being eternally separated from God.
The Unity philosophy took an exact opposite approach by saying the individual was already one with God, that God was within, and that I had the ability to turn within and develop a conscious relationship with God, not in the afterlife, but right in the midst of the life I was living. The development of this relationship would have the effect of dissolving all conditions of lack and limitation and essentially transform my life “on earth as it is in heaven.” Needless to say, this new approach was a thrilling alternative to the one I and most other people had grown up with.
I have since defined these two approaches as paradigms, the first based on the idea of separation and the second based on oneness. Traditional Christianity as a whole rests on the paradigm of separation while New Thought, of which Unity is a part, rests on the paradigm of oneness. Each paradigm sparks its own line of logic and its own methods for achieving its objectives. Though there are those who state that the objectives of all religions are the same, the motives that fuel the different approaches are dramatically different. This is because the paradigms held by each are in complete opposition to each other, a subject, no doubt, for another article.
While it can be said that those who have embraced New Thought have also embraced the paradigm of oneness, it can also be said that many still practice a paradigm of separation. If you think of these two paradigms as a “field” as mentioned in the above parable, the field contains the treasure; it is not the treasure. The field represents the paradigm of oneness, the entire philosophy that is based on the notion that you are a spiritual being already one with God, your all-sustaining, all providing Source. It’s one thing to purchase the field and quite another to unearth the treasure hidden in the field.
At the time I discovered Unity, my “possessions” consisted of a philosophy based on a paradigm of separation. In order to “buy” this new field, I had to “sell” all that I had. In other words, I had to let go of all the logic that follows the core assumption that I am separate from God. I, like all who have embraced New Thought as their primary path, can say that I have successfully done this. In joy, I have sold my separation-based possessions (ideas) and I have purchased the paradigm of oneness field. My approach to life is now based on the notion that, despite any appearance to the contrary, I am one with God.
However, I have made another important discovery: owning the field is not the same as unearthing the treasure.
The discovery of this difference comes to all who attempt to experience their unity with God through meditation. When we close our eyes to be still, we find our minds are busy thinking about present, past, and future conditions. Like the spokes of a wheel, these conditions revolve incessantly around a hub, a personality center who is often frantically trying to call upon God to resolve its many issues. While we are in a new field—our paradigm and our methodology has changed—we have yet to unearth the real treasure hidden in this field.
In her book, Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady addresses two distinct audiences: those who are ready to purchase the field containing the hidden treasure and those who are ready to actually unearth the treasure. Roughly speaking, the first 7 chapters are about how to go about purchasing the field (paradigm of oneness), while chapters 8 through 12 address actually unearthing the treasure. The audience that is interested in purchasing the field are those who are seeking to apply the inner-oriented spiritual principles to make the conditions in their lives better. The audience that is seeking to unearth the treasure is that smaller group whose interest has moved beyond generating more “loaves and fishes” to experiencing and living out of their true spiritual core. Like Jesus, this second group has come to the realization that I of myself am nothing, that their eternal, spiritual core identity is a perpetual expression of the ever-expanding activity of God. Their interest is now in letting Thy will be done. With the first audience, intellect, though spiritually enlightened, reigns. With the second audience, intuition rather than a spiritually enlightened intellect reigns.
The genius of Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure is found both in its simplicity and in its applicability to both the purchasing of the field (leaving behind the paradigm of separation) and unearthing the treasure once we have taken possession of the field. The act of selling what we own is the process that Cady refers to as denial. To sell something is to release it in one form, convert that form into the universal substance of cash, and then use the cash to purchase something else. In the realm of mind, denial is the release of an idea and reinvesting the energy (cash) in a new idea. So we deny (sell) the old idea of disease and affirm (purchase) ideas of wholeness. We deny appearances of lack and affirm the truth of infinite supply. We deny appearances of chaos and affirm divine order. This is the method by which we purchase the new field containing the hidden treasure. Purchasing the field, however, is not the same as unearthing the hidden treasure.
Unearthing the treasure requires the selling of only one possession: the self residing as the hub of the spinning wheel. When we close our eyes with the intention of experiencing our oneness with God, we are confronted by this “hub” attempting to resolve its endless list of issues. We find it mulling over present conditions, remembering the past incidents that generated present conditions, and worrying about what will happen if we don’t get things changed. Getting things changed is the primary concern for this little hub self, the object of all its denials and affirmations, and its single interest in developing a conscious relationship with God. It is this generator of frantic groping for this or that resolution that we are to sell.
With the process of unearthing the treasure, the act of denial now becomes a letting go of that hub of urgency that would have us running “to and fro” for peace-instilling resolutions to life’s myriad events. Because most people only have a vague grasp of the nature of this hidden treasure, it is not in “joy” that they sell the senses-driven self that is the hub of urgency. And until we truly understand the value of this hidden treasure, we should probably avoid the practice of meditation as a means of Self discovery. Attempting to meditate without the joy of knowing the value of the hidden treasure will only prove to be a source of endless frustration. It’s better to focus on purchasing the field and then focus on unearthing the treasure when we truly understand its value. We do not, however, want to abandon the understanding that we desire more because we are more. With all of our getting, we do not want to forget that the “more” that we are is the true objective of our spiritual quest.
My observation is that the Unity Movement as a whole is tending toward a devotion to teaching people how to “buy the field”, to generate with greater ease the loaves and fishes that make up a prosperous and healthy life. In contrast, it is clear that our founders were primarily interested in teaching people how to “unearth the hidden treasure”. They well understood the need to first purchase the field, but they were not at all shy about advocating the mystical awakening.
Our device-addicted society and the world community has become so senses-oriented that it seems the benchmark of the hidden treasure has been dumbed down to the accumulation of shiny plastic objects that go beep in the night. Now, more than ever, Unity needs to revive its mystical doctrine of discovering the hidden treasure. In our attempt to adapt to a “changing world” we want to take care that we do not sacrifice the illumination of a human need that has not, and will never change.
January 24, 2012
A Paradigm of Oneness: Part 4
There is a widespread perception among religious advocates that humanity is living in a fallen state that began with Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God. According to this perception the consequence of this “sin” is the condition of separation, illustrated by the first couple being cast from the Garden of Eden. This assumed separation is a powerful belief that is reflected throughout all aspects of religious architecture, art, music and the commonly held theology of sin and salvation embraced as a defining element by most mainline Christian sects.
The new paradigm of oneness begins with the recognition of unity between God and the individual. Understanding this unity puts us in the position of having already received the life, love, power and intelligence of God. Our acceptance of this truth allows us to begin now to express more of these divine gifts as healthier minds, bodies and more prosperous conditions without fear that we need to first earn the approval of God. As expressions of God, the question of approval becomes a moot point.
Because so many people have been influenced by the old belief that we are separate from God, there are many challenges associated with transitioning from a separation-based faith to a oneness-based understanding. We need to discern the difference and become aware of the times we are attempting to put new wine into old wineskins, of seeking to apply principles of unity while inadvertently holding the old belief in separation.
While separation from God is our perceived condition, oneness with God, our ever-sustaining Source, is our actual condition. In receptive stillness, open your mind to the truth that you are already one with God. There is no need to create a relationship, to reach out to something that is away from you. See yourself as an empty vessel being filled with the light and pure life energy that is God. The only condition is one of accepting receptivity of this living gift that is yours for the taking.
January 16, 2012
A Paradigm of Oneness: Part 3
Our understanding of God plays a major role in the way we think of ourselves. The paradigm of separation causes us to live life trying to measure up to the expectations of a god we do not understand. Those living by this paradigm are vulnerable to control by guilt and shame and they seek to maintain a standard of behavior they assume will be pleasing to God. Those who do not adopt a religious or spiritual approach may still see themselves as incomplete and spend their lives seeking to address feelings of incompleteness by stockpiling things, positions and relationships they hope will give them the sense of completeness they crave.
Shifting to the paradigm of oneness we begin to see ourselves as spiritually whole, expressions of the Creative Life Force, and we have simply forgotten who and what we are. Our focus turns from outer to inner directed, an approach that holds as key the process of self-discovery. We begin to grasp that our desire for wholeness and abundance of all good is really an intuitive message rising from our inner depths, the voice of our native soul.
To know thyself is to know God. Paraphrasing Emerson, each individual is an inlet and may become an outlet to all there is in God. Such a statement is impossible to grasp from the paradigm of separation. From the paradigm of oneness, however, we understand that by turning our attention within and opening our minds and hearts to the inner fountain of life welling up as an eternal spring of divine energy we become channels through which this energy is expressed, temples of the living God, as the apostle Paul phrased it.
Emma Curtis Hopkins said, “The highest is the nearest.” It only makes sense that God, our eternal source of life, love, power and intelligence is accessible and ready to spring forth through us in ways that express healing, prosperity and right action.
You are God in expression, a manifestation of the Creative Life Force that brings all things into being. Hold this thought and you will see yourself as you truly are.
January 13, 2012
A Paradigm of Oneness: Part 2
“When we have broken our god of tradition, and ceased from our god of rhetoric, then may God fire the heart with his presence.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Much of the old paradigm of separation requires various ways of influencing God’s behavior and attitudes. The paradigm of oneness involves understanding and cooperating with God as the Creative Life Force that is unfolding through us. God is infinite Being whose characteristics are life, love, power and intelligence. God is omnipresent and accessible to all people at all times regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof. As we open ourselves to God as a living presence we find a warm and loving companionship, steady guidance, and inspiration that leads us to the establishment of inner and outer conditions that allow for unlimited expression of all that God is.
Emerson points to the all-important process of examining our understanding of God, to determine whether it is actually ours or if our views are simply those that have been passed down to us through others. In her book, Lessons in Truth, Emilie Cady makes this important statement:
I cannot reveal God to you. You cannot reveal God to another. If I have learned, I may tell you, and you may tell another, how to seek and find God, each within himself. But the new birth into the consciousness of our spiritual faculties and possibilities is indeed like the wind that “bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8). The new birth takes place in the silence, in the invisible.
Spend time in quiet listening. God, at the center of your being, is present and accessible to you now. Be still and know.
January 10, 2012
There are two streams of spiritual thought based on completely different premises. Jesus compared these to old and new wineskins:
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved (Matthew 9:17).
Then as now these two streams of thought have at their heart a trinity of values, the starting point of all logic that follows. These core values consist of 1) the understanding of the nature of God, 2) an understanding of the nature of the individual and 3) an understanding of the nature of the relationship between God and the individual. Whether you consider the spiritual convictions of an individual or the theology of an entire religious denomination, grasp the perspective each holds of this trinity of values and you have the key to their spiritual logic as it applies to the range of subjects explored in this article.
Traditional religious thinking, the old wineskin, is based on a paradigm of separation between God and the individual. We are born in sin (the fall of humankind) and in need of redemption if we wish to gain eternal life. The purpose of religious thought and practices is to guide us into salvation, a uniting with God in heaven, an event that occurs after the death of the body.
In contrast, the new wineskin thinking (which is not actually new) is based on a paradigm of oneness; unity with God. From this view, the challenge is that the individual has become senses-based and has lost the awareness of their unity with God. The objective of the new approach is to awaken to the truth of our oneness with God in day-to-day living.
Many who are drawn to the new way of thinking still carry elements from the paradigm of separation. This mix of old and new interferes with or cancels out entirely their attempts to implement the new concepts. In other words, they are attempting to apply the principles and logic of the paradigm of oneness while unconsciously holding on to a paradigm of separation.
The challenge to each person is to become aware of this dual trinity of core values and challenge themselves to take a deeper look at their understanding of God, of themselves and how they see their relationship to God.