The Value of Man

“And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.'” (Mark 12:41-44)

In the transitory material world, the value of a man or woman is based upon how much he has amassed. Yet, in the Spiritual World, the value of a man is based upon how much of what he has amassed, he has given to those in need. We are all here to contribute what we have, and who we are. What is expected of us is dependent upon the level of evolution of our souls. A young soul is here to contribute to building of material structure. Young souls translate the spiritual concepts into material form. They immerse themselves in the material world, without them, and all of their apparent superficiality there would be no material world from which the spiritual may emerge. All life is symbolic. A caterpillar represents the soul. The cocoon symbolically represents the material world and the ego. The young soul dissolves into ‘both’ while here on the earth. Remember the cocoon is hard, and it is dark. The caterpillar is lost to itself inside of the cocoon, however, for a time in the beginning it is also safe.

Without knowing why, the young soul is drawn to the material world so opposite from its spiritual origin. Just as the caterpillar is compelled to leave the world of the familiar to create and enter the cocoon. They build the ego structure. The young soul learns to depend upon the material world and all that it has to offer. It learns to be greedy, lustful, and all of those non-spiritual drives that form the walls of the ego structure. Once the young soul has mastered the material world, the ego has no more to learn and so it has no more to give to the soul. The cocoon is complete. Now the soul, once enclosed by the ego must consume the knowledge of the ego and transform the material back into the spiritual and the ego back into the soul. At which point, it becomes a butterfly free of the world. As the young soul begins to find it is no longer nourished by the world as it had once been, it seeks that which is higher than the world. On this part of the journey the soul seeks spiritual nourishment, and still guided by the ego, it seeks this in the world that it knows, the world outside of the self. Thus, it sees God outside of itself. It only does what it knows to do. It recreates spirit in form. It worships God in the image of man, a superman – but still with the feelings and emotions of man, of a father creator. It has not yet seen the world for what it is, but it knows that it needs something more than it sees, or at least above the world that it sees. In order, to reach the God that is above the world it creates religion as a stairway up to that God.

As the process continues, the soul becomes immersed in emotional situations desperately seeking fulfillment of the need to merge, to fully feel at one with something that it does not yet understand. Severed from the ability to identify and merge with the things of the world, it now hungers to identify as one with another. Through the pain and suffering of this part of the journey the soul matures. It begins to find that nothing and no one can satisfy its ‘hunger’ or its ‘emptiness’. Nothing outside of itself can reach into the emptiness within itself and fill the growing void. Again the soul seeks God, but now it can no longer be a God that ‘communicates’ from without nor ‘dictates rules’ from without nor ‘has a home’ without. It must find God within – hear the voice from within and become filled from within. Now the soul finds itself betrayed by the world, betrayed by its things unable to find another soul who can fulfill its expectations and nonetheless, forsaken by its religion. Then, certain of God, certain that what it needs can be found, the mature soul begins to change the direction of its quest from without to within.

Finding less and less value in what it posses, it begins to give. The more that it gives, the better it feels. Without knowing it, the soul has begun the process of turning form into spirit – material into spiritual – and as it does this it finds itself nourished and ‘made full’ in a way that it could never have imagined. The mature soul begins to see beauty, miracles and perfection in the spirit of the world and the spirit of each living spirit on it. And so it releases its attachment to having, and to holding and finds its only joy in giving and sharing. Miraculously, the love, respect, self-worth and value that the soul has spent lifetimes seeking in the world are found in an ever-flowing Source – the God Self within. Diamonds are hidden within coal. The greatest joy in the world is hidden within our fear. Why do we not give more? It is because we fear not having enough.

Once I had a job where I worked very hard. I did my job and my manager’s job. When it came time for the end of the year review, the person in charge of giving out the raises gave me a $2000.00 a year raise and gave him a $5000.00 a year raise. When I complained, he told me that although looking at the amounts it seemed that his raise was greater than mine, if I looked at the percentage increase in his income compared to the percentage increase in my income I would see that my work had been given much greater value. At first, I thought it was a really good line. However later I realized that it was true in everything. In the marketplace, money is money, and one hundred dollars does not buy as much as one-thousand. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. However, when it comes to giving, the value lies not in the face value of the gift, but in how much of what you have to give, you want to give to a person – or to the world.

We live with God within us: we are of God. When we give, to whomever we give, we are expressing how much we care – how much of ourselves have merged with our Spirit and how much of ourselves are yet with the world. That amount has no figure on it, there is no great sum that shows how giving and loving a person is, there is only a great percentage of what we have. If a person has only a penny and selflessly gives that penny, it becomes a mustard seed and grows not only in the works it performs but in the heart and soul of the person who gave it. If a person has a million dollars and gives one thousand to others, the gift will supply its market value and little more. It has little spiritual energy, and it will end up taking more from the giver than it gives. When you give all that you can to those in need, you will be given more than you can contain in love and self-worth.

Contrary to all of your fears, what you give is returned to you ten-fold because you gave beyond what your ‘worldly self’ could release, and you placed your God before the world. No one ever needs to know what you did, nor does anyone need to praise what you did, because the praise flows from within and the gift grows nurtured by Spirit as do you. Here is a true story:
A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was “too crowded.”

“I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by.

Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class.

The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.

As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump.

Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School.” For two years she had saved for this offering of love.

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion.

He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.

But the story does not end there…

A newspaper learned of the story and published. It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.

When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.

Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000.00-a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.

When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300.

And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.

Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russel H. Conwell, author of the book, “Acres of Diamonds”.

As a soul matures, it finds that all that it clings to and becomes addicted to, in the world, only makes it emptier and hungrier. The emptiness and hunger is only satisfied by letting go, and giving. This turns matter into spirit. It turns what is transitory into what is permanent. The soul learns that only by emptying can it become filled, only by giving can it receive. Then happiness is replaced by joy and the journey to find self-esteem and self-worth finally ends.

Finding Peace, Finding Heaven, by feeling middle C

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. “ Genesis 1:6-8

Faith is knowledge, far greater than belief, it is the knowledge that we are no alone; that we are never  vulnerable, and that there exists no adversity greater than the power we have behind and within us to overcome.  This knowledge is imprinted in the soul.  It is the power that causes everything on earth to grow up, despite the enormous pull of gravity to prevent that.  Faith is the core of the soul.  Fear, is the knowledge of the ego that it is temporary, that it dies to the dreamer when the dreamer awakens.  The ego is not a bad thing, its connection with the material world keeps the body alive.

The soul does not fear nonexistence, because it knows that whether it is has solid form like ice, or flows like water, or even dissipates into the air, like steam, it always is itself.  The soul knows only faith, the ego knows only fear.  And we come in as vessels to learn from the interplay of both.  Every light, peaceful, steady, uplifting emotion emanates from faith; love emanates from faith.  Every painful, hateful, heavy emotion, including greed, judgment, selfishness and bigotry, comes from the survival mechanism of the ego which is fear.

We incarnate (enter meat) in a physical body with physical needs and physical proof that we will not be here long if we do not meet the needs of the physical vehicle.  Faith is intangible,

I know so many people who live their lives in a state of anguish. Drowning in emotions, in fear of never being happy, in sadness when life disappoints seeing disappointment as a sign that happiness is not to be hoped for. Most of the people I love are prisoners living behind invisible bars that no one can see. The bars consist of open wounds, which no one can see. Life is like an ocean, sometimes calm, and other times the waves are relentless.

Ocean waves

For many life feels like a walk at the edge of this ocean while it looks so beautiful,  the reality of it is more like waves of salt water on invisible open wounds . Those who live with these wounds, feel them to be safe. Just as a person who has spent most of his or her life in prison, finds it safe, becoming repeat offenders committing crimes to return to prison. A place others might find to be the equivalent of hell. They find safe because it is the hell that they know.

There is something else about emotional pain, it creates a strange sense of being fully alive. Living is feeling. Feeling reminds us that we exist. It really does not matter what we feel, but as long as we feel, whatever we feel, we know that we are alive. When I lost my store I went into the abyss of depression. I felt abandoned by everyone I had been there for. I felt alone, unloved, unimportant, and most of all invisible. The only thing that surrounded me, and in the strangest way, validated my existence was my suffering, and I grew to need my suffering. I forgot that I did not have to suffer to exist. I had not realized that I did not need to crumble under the weight of my life to be worthy enough, deserving enough…of help.

So, when Prozac came out, many people who lived in constant suffering whether it was sadness or anger took this miracle medication and initially felt thrilled that the dark cloud that seemed to hover over them was gone. Yet, eventually they missed that ability to feel. Some people called it their “edge”, others just felt numb. They did not really feel alive anymore. This made them stop the Prozac and eventually re-enter the depression battle. The thing with that antidepressant is that it veils the emotions in this dense fog. And frankly, when I thought about the middle way discussed by Buddhism, about being in the world and not of it,as mentioned in the Bible, I thought of Prozac. I thought of being without feelings.

Now, I have realized that the middle road does not mask feelings. I asked for something that I could equate it to, and what came to me was, the middle C on the piano, the “do” in, “do, re, ,me, fa, so, la ti” which has always been, to me, the richest note on the piano.  It is rich because it is where all the notes, all the feelings are equal in power, and equal in intensity. It is the point where high and low meet, even touch, but neither consumes the space. It is the point of pure balance. It is where sunrise and sunset are one., where the light sits on the deep.

At the lowest end of the keyboard, it is deep yet there is something unsteady about the notes, something rough.  At the highest end the notes are tinny they are weak.  The middle path, is full; it is not rising or falling, but knowing both.  It is walking on water not drowning in it, while still feeling the light of the Sun.  It is experiencing life while still being firmly planted in the Self.  It is middle C, where we begin and where we return.

Today we live in turbulent times, and they are not going to change.  We can allow ourselves to be thrown to and fro by the the rising and falling waves, or we can plant our feet firmly in the sand and allow the waves of life to pass through us, breathing them in and releasing them back out.  Life is out of our control, but living is not.  If we want to find joy, it is middle C.  We must travel the firmament – The Way, The Tao:

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.

Tao Te Ching

We Built A World For Our Egos, Now Let Us Build A Garden For Our Souls

Over the past seven or eight years, with increasing urgency, people have been asking me when things will go back to the way they were; when life will return to normal? We should not seek to once again walk that path that brought us here.  That is recovery.  We need to forge a new path, let us not recover, let us recycle the lessons that we learned from that past and create a New World, one that does not reach to scrape the sky but to touch the heart of Heaven.  Now is our chance to redefine what it means to be a human, and not an animal.

We are at the end of an age, imagine, lets say, one of those plastic bottles of Elmer’s glue that squeezes out. In the beginning, when it comes out it is smooth, tight, solid, dependable, it goes where it’s put, precisely and easily. But as the end draws near it may begin to slow down, requiring more force to get it out, but still, it comes. Once the end is reached, it comes out in jumps, starts, and sprays, it is almost impossible to direct, control, or depend on.

All of us alive today have been born at the end of this era, the Age of Pisces. The twentieth century was a critical century for mankind. The number 19 is a karmic number. It represents the needs of the self (1) versus the needs of humanity (9). This was the essence of the century, it highlighted separation from the whole, whether separation by race, religion, nationality, or economic status, we dealt with the loss of and the fight for human rights (9) throughout the world. We were forced to face our dark side. It first came to light with the Nazi’s and their attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. We have witnessed the Black people both in the United States, South Africa, and other counties being hung, killed, and treated as second-class citizens, we have seen many attempts at racial cleansing throughout this century and watched millions of people being slaughtered in tribal wars, and we have done nothing as Africa dies of AIDS. Nothing has been more open and in our faces than the issue of the rights of the few versus the rights of the whole.

We have been forced to see that there is a gap between the image that we held so proudly of ourselves as civilized beings and the reality of our darkness; we began to perceive our frailty, this has been our first unconscious inklings that perhaps, we could not trust ourselves or, for that matter, even life. It was the first, microscopic fissure in our façade. We began to speed up the pace of our lives: to get more life into a day, and more living into a life. Woman, after working in plants and doing the jobs that were previously held by men, began to feel that they could do more, have more, be more.

A generation of children was born into this atmosphere of dissatisfaction, and confusion. These children absorbed the emotions, existing all around them, into their souls; they observed the shattered image that man had once held with pride. Hidden in the closets were the skeletons of bigotry, hatred, and hypocrisy, which screamed out at them. This was a generation driven by an evolutionary intent to begin the process of exposing what was hidden by questioning the lies that had heretofore been accepted as natural. They came in to begin the dismantling of an age. They brought prejudice out into everyone’s faces to deal with; they insisted on civil rights, and woman’s rights. They demanded a world in which their parents had only pretended to live.

Aware that their parent’s generation had stood idly by, while Hitler massacred millions; made them commit to not just standing by and watching. They fought, peacefully, and violently, they lived hard and many died young: they were driven. Yet, it was also a generation whose strength was its numbers; that Vietnam thinned out badly, and whose weakness was its youth and its idealism. It made an enormous difference, but what it didn’t do, what it couldn’t do, was reach its goal; it could not create a beautiful world. It couldn’t do it because it ran up against a green wall of money and power. It believed that it knew the enemy, and the enemy was in front of it and had the power. So, it decided to regroup, go into the world to obtain the power from the enemy and change the world. Unfortunately, It did not know that idealism does not die, it transforms into cynicism. And when we get the power we become the enemy because the enemy does not have the power, the enemy is the power.

We, unknowingly, took the last step towards becoming the enemy…we turned our eyes to the power we needed to obtain our goals and through the power — lost sight of them. Power easily becomes Force. It is the ring in Lord of the Rings, and only those without desires can wear the ring, wield the power without being devoured by it. Our goals were full of God, but, when we turned to power and money, we became distanced from God. The light of God is a soft and eternally burning flame but the lights of the material world are like the lights of New York City at night. The man made lights are blinding, and make it harder to see the other lights, until they finally go out, by whatever means they go out — and they go out quickly; or they burn us out quickly.

The big lights are hungry, and greedy, they draw us in like moths to a flame, and so the closer we get, the more we want them, we become addicted until we overdose. The lights have become both stronger and stronger while the soft flame both harder and harder to find. Many of us joined the quest to put the ring where no one could find it. Few of us emerged untouched by the lure of the darkness that shines like neon lights. And by the time 1994 came along, we saw on television one million men women and children being brutally slaughtered in Rwanda, just as our parents had known about the Nazis and just as our parents turned a blind eye to the Nazis, we turned a blind eye to Rwanda…again, we did nothing. Since then, we have watched repeatedly as outbreaks of brutality and genocide have swept the world. As they might say in Star Wars, “The Dark Side is strong in humankind.”

Imagine being God. You have a garden that you created with love…into that garden you put the children who are the most precious to you. You provide them with everything they could possibly need. But they see something perhaps brighter and shinier than everything else and they turn away from what you offer them — and go to all that glitters. It is that old tree in the Garden all over again. We constantly create new kinds of shiny golden calves. Generation after generation of men and women are seduced, we bite the shiny apple, we worship the shiny statue while God looks on and sees His once beautiful garden all cut up, five of His children have ninety-five percent of the world locked up behind huge walls, while the other ninety-five of his children starve outside.

This is not the first time that He has watched us do this. The weak and oppressed unite to defeat the strong, then they in turn become the strong and oppress the weak; after the oppression becomes too much, again the weak unite and again the cycle starts over. The next step is that the stronger of those on the outside of the wall storm it and seize the resources…with the intention of sharing them among all, and then they decide to hoard rather than to share and then rebuild the walls once again; the persecuted becomes the persecutor they once defeated.

Part of our divine impulse is to create, it is inborn — if we cannot create we cannot survive. Yet, we are continuously being devoured by our creations because we keep falling in love with them. Or, we become so enamored with our own greatness that, reminiscent of Narcissus, we keep falling into our reflections and drowning. And in the image of Adam and Eve, we keep biting the apple. It is part of our nature and most of us sadly have been unable to rise above it.

The story of man’s birth, man’s temptation, man’s heroic effort to overcome, and defeat that temptation and his ultimate failure in doing so, leading to man’s final destruction by his own hand or because of his inflated belief in his own powers is his archetypal theme or perhaps it is a warning that has gone eternally unheeded, although it has been told in thousands of different ways from myths, to legends, to fairytales for thousands, maybe millions, of years. It has been repeated through the history of every mythological or historic civilization that has ever risen out of the hopes and dreams of the masses, and ultimately fallen tempted by the intoxication of power. Are we creating a new version of an old and repeated theme or are we writing a new one? Will we go down in history as the inhabitants of the lost Empire of America with legends told for generations of how we became too engrossed in our own power and destroyed ourselves? Or will we, through our actions, finally do something no other people have ever done; and bring the peace, that we have only dreamt of, to the world? Are we past the point of miracles?

The gift in this whole thing is that the story really never ends. It is a story that we are meant to relive, meant to recreate until we see, until we learn, that the ending is always the same. I believe that a large number of the souls here now, are the souls who have been in this school since Atlantis, some are here because they hadn’t learned the lesson at that time, others are here to help teach the lesson, and everyday new souls are entering who will be a part of the building process for the New Age. We are in that period of wandering in the desert, being tempted – tempted by power, tempted by money, and tempted by desire. At these times, like the Hebrews in the desert, Jesus in the wilderness and Buddha under the Bodhi tree we are tested, not to see if we deserve to enter the promised land, but to see if we are ready – if we have become the energy of love, unattached to the trappings of the world, or, if we still cling to the false gods of more money and more power and bigger and shinier things to own.

For that which guides them, the fire, will give them an illusion of truth, and will shine on them with a perishable beauty, and it will imprison them in a dark sweetness and captivate them with fragrant pleasure. And it will blind them with insatiable lust and burn their souls and become for them like a stake stuck in their heart which they can never dislodge. And like a bit in the mouth, it leads them according to its own desire. And it has fettered them with its chains and bound all their limbs with the bitterness of the bondage of lust for those visible things that will decay and change and swerve by impulse.” Jesus, ‘Book of Thomas the Contender’

Yet, it is all done with love, there is no judgment for not being ready. We just come back, and try again. We come back until we value only that which is worthy of value. This is the planet of choice, and we must choose whether we are rich or poor, healthy or ill, Black, White, Brown, Red, or Yellow. We all choose, love or hate, heal or harm, save or kill, or hold on or give away. It really is a matter of, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” These bodies are symbols of our journey, everything is just a symbol created for our journey, so spiritually, it is better to add up how much we are still holding on to, than it is to measure how much we give. What we give to others, to the world, we give to God, what we hold onto, well…let’s just say, that it is what we keep from God. The more we give to God, the more joy and contentment we receive from God.

The painting is by Paul Hampton Crockett