As I write this, the news of the horrific shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando is swirling across all media platforms. It is Sunday morning, and many are attending services at New Thought spiritual communities. I am sure that there are calls for love, compassion, and to recognize that we live in a “perfect universe” and if we just keep our thoughts positive, everything will be okay.
We see social media messages like – “Prayers for Orlando” “Sending love to Orlando” and the like. We also see the anger and the woundedness of so many, and, of course, the reaction to this tragedy as an opportunity to promote some political agenda.
We see these same statements every time. Nothing seems to change.
How many times have we seen this? How are we to reconcile these statements of “perfection” with the events unfolding around us in the world? With terrorism, poverty, violence, war, as well as extensive corruption in government, business, and, yes, even in spiritual communities? Do we simply sit in meditation and do nothing? Do we “send our thoughts and prayers” to the victims over and over and over? Do we turn within and refuse to “give energy” to the tragedies of life? Do we even acknowledge that being a “victim” or the existence of anything called a “tragedy” are even possible from a metaphysical perspective?
“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it – what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.”
~ Carlos Castaneda
Castaneda speaks to the issue of using a belief in a spiritual teaching to wrap ourselves in a cloak of superiority. It makes us say things like, “I would never do something like that,” which is the opposite of “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” and it is a denial of the shadow elements of the self and the community. Compassion cannot arise within a consciousness of separation, especially when that separation takes the form of a false sense of superiority and unhealed shadow issues.
But New Thought principles include the idea that nothing on the outside changes until the related mindset is changed. As above, so below. As within, so without. So the first step is within, that is clear – it is what we do with that new mindset that is in question.
How do we approach the apparent conflict in seeing a “perfect universe” when all this carnage is happening? In a previous post on this topic (LINK), I wrote:
“I believe that everything IS perfect – but that perfection exists on the invisible side of life, the spiritual side if you will. On the physical side, in the process of manifestation, things get distorted as they move through our still-developing consciousness. So on the spiritual side, I have a perfect body; on the physical side, I have some aches and pains and I get diseases sometimes. In fact, NOTHING IS PERFECT on the physical side, because something that is perfect cannot change. Out of perfection, nothing new can be made. Everything on the physical side is subject to change and in a state of becoming, so my spiritual challenge is to clarify my consciousness so that a greater degree of the potential perfection on the spiritual side is manifest on the physical side.”
In the Science of Mind philosophy, we are told to “treat and move our feet,” meaning to do our spiritual practice to develop an inner knowing of some good and then to act in accordance with that knowing to bring it about. But there is some confusion about that last part – the acting part.
Some say that the acting part is simply to respond to the manifestation that results from the treatment, or visualizing, process. To them “moving your feet” means to step into the new condition that has been produced from the positive thoughts. That is one school of thought, as far as I can see.
A second school of thought says that the “moving your feet” part is essential to the actualization of the spiritual practice – part of a larger whole. This quote from actor Jim Carrey speaks to this school of thought:
“I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”
~ Jim Carrey
The paradox of practicing The Science of Mind or any other New Thought philosophy and having the world around us seem to be totally unaffected by our spiritual practices is nothing new. During Dr. Ernest Holmes’ lifetime, for example, there were two world wars, crime, corruption, illness, natural disasters, and more. We can glean some things from his writings and the biographies written about him. His approach seemed to be to do spiritual mind treatment (affirmative prayer) about the big things, like the world wars, and, on more than one occasion to treat and then act on the more local things. Perhaps is has to do with the fact that when we go within, we can create an atmosphere of relative safety and clarity, but when we engage with the larger world, we have no such capacity. We have to endure the chaos resulting from ignorance and fear. But where is our work to be done?
There is the story of his acting to send a young woman who was working in a brothel in Los Angeles back home to Kansas by sneaking her out of the brothel, giving her money and putting her on a bus (LINK).
As New Thought students, sometimes we are taught to “let God do the work” and sometimes we are taught that “Spirit can only do to us, what it can do through us.” These two ideas are not incompatible to the more advanced student. Letting God do the work means that when we bring our consciousness into alignment with our deepest wisdom, we will know what to do. Then, we need to do it.
“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.”
~ Ernest Holmes
I am in agreement with that school of thought that says that we in New Thought need to be encouraged to act on our spiritually developed beliefs. We have to trust that those actions will be consistent with the principles of all the New Thought teachings – love, compassion, and practical spiritual approaches to issues.
It begins with those who teach – the ministers and teachers. This quote from Rob Bell speaks to this idea:
“The sermon is an art form that needs to be reclaimed. It’s the original guerrilla theater, somewhere between a recovery movement, a TED Talk and a revival. This art form has been hijacked in our culture. For many people, the sermon is how you build bigger buildings. But the sermon is about the sacred disruption.”
~ Rob Bell (LINK)
Sacred disruption – the idea that you bring spiritual awareness into an area where it is not known or where it has been forgotten or abandoned. This idea speaks to the “treat and move your feet” concept from New Thought, because it speaks to spiritually motivated action to bring positive qualities to something. And the idea of disruption refers to the introduction, by example, of a spiritual idea – one that will turn people away from the older idea of less quality. Sacred disruption encourages us to fully engage with the world around us – to get into the midst of things.
We can see examples of disruption by a superior idea in the business world, with companies like Uber, AirBnB, and Google. While these are in a competitive arena, they are illustrative of what effective disruption can do to improve services or products.
What Rob Bell is saying, and I agree, is that spiritual disruption can bring a spiritual idea to a situation as well. It beings with a teaching, when it then taken by others into the arena. A positive, spirit-led disruptive idea, such as compassion, expressed in the arena, has a powerful possibility of generating change. Think of the power of the acts of forgiveness generated by some Amish after a shooting of their children (LINK).
What kinds of sacred disruption can New Thought bring to bear on the challenges of the world? And how can we do so to create #aworldthatworksforeveryone? And how can we do so to co-create The Beloved Community?
As always, your comments are welcome.
Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard