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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In the World, Not of the World

When I first began my conscious spiritual quest, I believed that if I meditated and engaged in other spiritual practices every day I would eventually become enlightened, transcend the cares of the world, and live thereafter in a perpetual state of bliss.  In fact, if I am totally honest, I held on to that dream until fairly recently.  I hoped that when I “awakened” I would no longer have to deal with the concerns of everyday life.  I have since discovered that awakening is not about escaping the world, but about living more fully present while in it and responding to it accordingly from a consciousness centered in divine nature.  This is evidenced beautifully in the story of Jesus’ life. 

My current series of talks is entitled, “Wake up with Jesus” and I am exploring the Jesus story as a metaphor for our awakening.  In Unity, we view Jesus as our Way Shower, one who exampled the potential we all possess to awaken to divine nature and respond from that divinity while continuing to live in the “nitty gritty” of life.  In other words, Jesus showed us what it means to be in the world, but not of the world.  His life experiences, albeit dramatic portrayals, are metaphorical representations of what we may encounter as we awaken and choose to live in the world centered in divine nature.

In the fourth chapter of Matthew’s gospel we are told that after Jesus received baptism, he was carried away into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit where he faced the temptations of Satan.  Satan first tells Jesus, who is fasting, to turn stones into bread to ease his hunger.  Jesus responds stating that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.   Satan then suggests to Jesus that he leap from the pinnacle of the temple to prove that God will save him.  Jesus chooses not to test God.  Finally, Satan encourages Jesus to worship him in order that he might be ruler over the entire world.  Jesus rebukes Satan.  He tells him that only God is worthy of worship and then tells Satan to leave.  Satan goes away and leaves Jesus alone.

From a metaphorical perspective, Satan is the personification of Jesus’ conditioned mind.  He is not an entity external to Jesus; he is the limiting thoughts that arise.  Jesus experienced this confrontation and so do we.  When we experience a shift in how we see ourselves, and awaken to a deeper understanding of our true nature; we are inevitably confronted with the myths, messages and beliefs of the conditioned mind that tell us we are something less than the awakened Christ.  We may even question the validity of our newly awakened state.  Unlike Satan in this story, the thoughts of the conditioned mind are not there to threaten us, or to possess us. They arise as opportunities for us to meet them, question them and release them. 

Only by our willingness to enter the wilderness of our own minds and encounter the temptations to discount our awakening experience will we truly be able to claim our truth and stand firmly in our conviction.  We can take solace in knowing that while it may seem daunting, it does not have to be a scary, painful struggle.  We can follow Jesus’ example.  He did not argue with Satan or attempt to do battle with him.  Instead, Jesus stood in his truth and chose not to give power to his conditioned mind.  He responded from a consciousness grounded in divine nature, and eventually Satan left him.  We must be willing to come face-to-face with our limiting thoughts and allow the truth to be revealed.  Then we can respond to them just as Jesus responded to “Satan” from his Christ awareness, from a level of understanding gained as the result of a newly awakened state.

As we “Wake up with Jesus” let us remain mindful that the world around us does not change as we awaken; our perspective of the world changes.  No matter how scary it may first appear, we are free to respond to whatever life brings our way from a consciousness centered in divine nature.  We are in the world, but not of the world.