Posted in God, Healing, Jesus, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Jesus Saves? Saves us from What?

an excerpt from this week’s Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Meditation newsletter:

Jesus-heals-leper

Pope John Paul II once said, “If there is a hell, I can’t imagine there is anyone there;” and the Catholic Church has officially removed purgatory from the books. If God loves us so much that no one is condemned to hell and if purgatory doesn’t even exist – what is it we need saving from? Life as we know it – that’s what! Jesus didn’t come to open the doors to a heaven that is already guaranteed, he came to help us survive the human condition and he did this by teaching us about love, and healing us from the inner (and sometimes outer) obstacles to knowing that love…..

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Posted in church, Death, guilt, Jesus, Oneness with God, Raised Catholic, sin, Truth

Re-Framing Jesus’ Death

Jesus died for our sins?

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week.  On this day, Passion Sunday, we reflect on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, juxtaposed against the heightened tension around his teachings, his eventual trial and death by crucifixion. Having been raised Catholic, this was the time of year when we were vigorously reminded that, “Jesus died for our sins,” as we stood with heads bowed, striking our breasts in self-flagellation while chanting mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Jesus was portrayed as the sacrificial lamb that was sent here to be slaughtered in reparation for our sins.  While I have found personal comfort in praying with Jesus through his trial, crucifixion and death (allowing myself to experience the reality of Jesus’ suffering, thereby finding in him a companion in my humanness) I cannot reconcile the God of love that I have come to know with a god who would send his own son to die.

Was it really necessary?

While I acknowledge that the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection and eventual ascension ushered in a dramatic shift in the spiritual evolution of our planet, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if humanity hadn’t gotten in the way of the amazing message Jesus came to reveal.  It seems to me that Jesus could have been raised from the dead and ascended into heaven without the violence of the crucifixion.  Jesus crucifixion seems wrong, untimely and unnecessary.  While God revealed a higher good in Jesus’ untimely death, I have a hard time believing it was really part of God’s plan. I often wonder if God thought, “Darn it, they missed the point again!  I send them prophet after prophet after prophet to help them understand how much they are loved and instead of receiving my love, they turn against my prophets in fear! When will they learn?” As a result of these quandaries, I have a really hard time upholding the idea that Jesus died for our sins – at least not in the way it was presented to me growing up.   Instead, I have come to approach Jesus’ cruel death by crucifixion from another perspective.

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Another Perspective.

The turning point for me was diligent prayer and meditation on John’s gospel, and at least a million viewings or listenings of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEzEROSj11Q

In Jesus Christ Superstar, in the scene of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, we hear the following exchange:

Pilate:  Then you are a king?

Jesus:  It’s you that say I am.  I look for truth and find that I get damned.

Pilate: But what is truth?  Is truth unchanging law?  We both have truths.  Are mine the same as yours?

In John’s gospel, Jesus reveals the truth that he proclaims will set us free (John 8: 32) – the truth that he came to know within himself and the truth he lived by and tried to share with others.   Jesus came to know the truth of his Oneness with God in love (John 17: 17-23). Through this Oneness, Jesus found the remedy to the fears that are the cause of our sinful behaviors and the path toward our spiritual freedom.  This is the “I Am” truth that Jesus discovered.  This was the truth he tried to help others understand. Knowing, cultivating and embracing this truth is what saves us from the fears that are the ultimate cause of our sins.  So, yes, we can say that Jesus died for our sins, but not as a consequence of our sins, but for the sake of the truth that will heal us from our sin.

The Truth that kills

This truth that Jesus believed, the truth in his Oneness with God, is a dangerous truth.  It is because of this truth that Jesus was killed because it is a truth that seriously threatened the religious and political authorities of his time. If people find the God within and find peace in their Oneness with God and are no longer controlled by their fears, how will the outside perceived political and religious authorities be able to control and manipulate them? If people have found their Oneness with God, then what need do they have for an institution to intervene with a fickle god on their behalf?  If we are truly One with God in love, then what need do we have of the sacrifices and observances that have been put in place to appease an angry God or earn our way back into God’s good graces?  Jesus came to know and taught of a God that loves without condition – who loves us without merit and whose love does not have to be earned, neither can it be denied.  And to the religious and political authorities, a people who believed in their inherent goodness, who knew they were loved beyond measure and who could reason, discern and exercise truth for themselves, was a dangerous lot. It was ultimately his insistence in this truth that got Jesus killed, the truth that frees us from our sin.  As such, I prefer not to say that Jesus died for our sins. Instead, I prefer to acknowledge that Jesus died for the truth.

How would your life change if you believed that you were One with God in love?

How would your life be altered if you believed in your inherent goodness and that you are not only loved without condition, but that you are love itself?

How might your Holy Week observance change if you saw Jesus’ death as a consequence of standing in the truth of love instead of in reparation for sin?

 

Posted in Empowerment, Lessons

It’s Not Enough to Be Saved

As I was reflecting on this week’s scripture passage from Mark’s gospel, the following words hit me between the eyes:

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

In the spirit of Imagination/Contemplation, I immediately thought of how these words might apply to me and to my own Divine calling. Not to say that I am Jesus, but to say that I/we are called to be like him in love.  The reason the Jesus story matters is because it invites us beyond the smallness of our human egos to the great love that dwells within and then seeks to be known through us.  Jesus came to save us from ourselves – from the too small self that is ruled by our fears, unhealed wounds and unhealthy societal conditioning – so that the God-self within us can shine.  Like Jesus, we are both fully human and fully Divine and we are here to unleash the inner Divinity that is imprisoned by all those things formerly mentioned.  This is what Jesus did for himself and then tried to teach others, and which we are now called to do.

In the words above that bore a hole into my brain, I heard the calling of my own Soul – looking out over the horizon of humanity I felt deep compassion for all of humanity’s pain. I felt the struggle.  I saw humanity’s pain and woe.  I heard the cries and moans of complaint over all the difficulties and challenges of the human condition.  And I felt their/our longing – the deep, empty, vacant longing for that which we cannot name – the longing that some have called “for God” and what others have described as “home.”  The longing to be reunited with what we have lost – not even knowing what it is we have lost.  It is the common pain of the human condition and I felt in every fiber of my being.  We are all lost sheep just trying to find our way home.

And in the midst of the pain that I saw in the ocean of humanity, I felt my own pain. I remembered discovering that pain and finding the fleeting relief of this pain in my intimate relationship with (that which I call) God.  I remembered finding enduring relief of that pain in coming to know myself – all of me.  My personal pains, losses, struggles, traumas, betrayals, places of brokenness and imperfection.  I found it in every rejection I had suffered and in finding my way beyond that suffering.  I remembered and in the remembering – I re-membered myself.  I put myself back together piece by piece by piece by re-locating every lost part of myself and welcoming myself home.

And then I saw myself helping those sheep find their way home because now I knew the way. This is what Jesus modeled and what he calls us to do – each through our own unique gifts. Some will be healers.  Other teachers.  Still others civil leaders, artists, craftsman, advocates, workers for justice, etc. etc. etc.  We are each uniquely gifted to be a vessel of Divine Love in the world and in Re-membering ourselves we are then called to lead others home.

This is who we are. This is what we are called to do.  It is not enough to simply call Jesus our “Savior” and “Our Lord.”  In fact, we don’t even need to consider Jesus either of these things to find the kind of salvation that Jesus brings.  Jesus saves by showing us the way to our true nature as One within ourselves, with the Divine and with all of creation, and then he asks us to do the same.  Just like he did with the disciples.  Jesus didn’t offer to feed the 5000 hungry people…..he empowered the disciples to do it.  He asks us to do the same.

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Find your own way home through our online courses and one-on-one mentoring.

Posted in Death, Spiritual Direction

Oh Death

Borrowing from a popular song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydrtF45-y-g) :

Let’s talk about death baby

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be

Let’s talk about death…..

As it has been said, there are two things that are certain in the human experience: change and death.  We have spoken at length about change, but we haven’t spent much time on the topic of death.  Death is certain and every day of our lives is a slow (or quick) march toward that death.  We cannot avoid it – our own death or the death of those we love and care about.  While death is certain, and could simply be viewed as an ordinary part of our human experience, it is also our greatest fear.

As we fear and resist change, so too do we resist and fear death. It may not be death specifically that we fear, but the inability to control, when, how and with how much pain (physical or otherwise) we experience death.  We also fear that which comes after death – if anything.  And perhaps more than the “if anything” we fear the possibility that this life might be all there is….that there is nothing waiting for us on the other side of death.  From a rational, objective, scientific perspective, we have no way to prove what there may or may not be after death.  What it there’s nothing!?

 

Every religious institution has its own beliefs about death and what comes thereafter. Some suggest that this life is all there is.  Others preach the ever-evolving wheel of karma and that we return to this life over and over and over until we have worked off that karma so as to earn enlightenment or nirvana.  Some suggest the purpose of the human journey is to grow spiritually and that we return until our eternal Soul has completed its growth.  Others suggest a place of eternal damnation.  Others suggest a place of eternal reward.  Some used to suggest there were places in between (limbo or purgatory), but both of these seem to have been eliminated in favor of heaven or hell.  Others believe in a hierarchical afterlife where only the very special chosen ones will receive the fullness of the heavenly reward.  The beliefs that human beings have developed around the idea of death are endless.  No matter which of these is true, we have no control over when death will come for us or how that death will happen (unless it is by our own hand)…..and this scares the hell out of most people.

Until it does not. In the Christian tradition, we are told that Jesus came so as to conquer death…..:

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  John 3: 11-17

God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,  and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1: 9-10

 

…but what was the death that Jesus conquered? Jesus did die…(at least that’s what scripture and Christian doctrine tell us).  If Jesus brought eternal life, it is not an eternal life on this human plane.  Christianity then goes on to tells us that in his death Jesus guaranteed eternal life for “all who believe in him.”  But what about the rest of the world?  Are only Christians saved?  I very much doubt it. I personally believe we are all saved, but not in the way that has anything to do with a heavenly reward, or lack thereof.  Instead, it is not physical death and the “what comes after” that Jesus saves us from.  Instead, Jesus came to save us from that which prevents us from LIVING while we are right here, trying to get through this thing called life (Cue Prince).  Ironically, the way we make it through this human experience is to face down and move through this which we fear the most – namely death.

 

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Shamanic support for endings in your life.
Posted in Authentic Freedom, Jesus, Raised Catholic

New Hope, New Vision, New Church – Part 2

Today’s blog looks on in hopefulness over the actions of the new pope, Francis,  and  continues the explorations of how the Catholic Church might embrace a spirit of reconciliation and reform.  (See Part 1 here)

samdamiano

If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus?

If, in an effort to create reform and thereby reconcile themselves to the millions of Catholic who have left (either because they no longer felt welcome by the Church, or found in it relevant to their own lives), the Catholic Church should change its position on original sin, the first question that comes up is, If there’s no original sin, then why do we need Jesus?  Didn’t Jesus come to save us from our sins?  From an alternative perspective on original sin as core wound, the answer is yes and no.  Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sins, but not in the way that we have formerly been taught.  If we understand the core wound, the false perception of separation from God as the consequence of choosing the human condition, then at least as long as we are in this body, we will mostly see and experiences ourselves as separate – separate from God, from ourselves, from creation and from each other.  In this state of perceived separation, we feel alone, abandoned, afraid.  Jesus came to save us from the pain of this perceived separation.  In Jesus own process of human development, cultivated through years of study and prayer, he came to understand that this perceived separation is just that…only a perception… and that in truth, we are ONE with God….always have been and always will be…we just temporarily forgot.  Jesus learned that through a process of prayer, contemplation, ritual, devotion, worship and service that we can REMEMBER this Oneness with God and in that connection, be freed of the loneliness and fears that plague us and that ultimately result in our non-loving actions.  So yes….Jesus did save us from our sins…..by reminding us that God is love, that we are made in that love and that we are never separate from that love.  Then, he showed us how we too could remember the joyful contentment that comes through the recollection of that love and that by living in that love, our non-loving actions are no longer necessary.  This is how Jesus saves us from our sins.

What did Jesus teach us about remembering this Oneness?

Pretty much everything……but in my book, Authentic Freedom, I condense it down to seven spiritual truths:

  • God meets all of our needs in abundance
  • We are each uniquely gifted to embody, reveal and share God’s love in the world
  • There is nothing outside of us that can prevent us from being the person God created us to be
  • God is love and we are made of this love.  This love cannot be denied, neither does it have to be earned
  • The truth (or our oneness with God) will set us free, as will the expression of the personal truth(s) that God reveals for us
  • All wisdom, knowledge and understanding are available to us in our connection with God and is revealed to us in a time that is in our highest good
  • We are one with God, and therefore never alone

Through Jesus’ teachings, in parable, in experiences of healing, in modeling compassion and justice and in the fact that prayer was the center of his life, Jesus showed us how to live these truths.

But what about earning our way into heaven?

That’s just it.  If we believe that God is love, that we are made of this love and that this love does not have to be earned and cannot be taken away, then there is no heaven to be earned.  Yes, in death, we will have the opportunity to return to full recognition of our Oneness with God, and we might call that heaven, but, this experience of returning to Oneness in our death does not have to be earned.  The good news, however, is that we do not have to wait until we are dead to get a glimpse of this heavenly abode because what Jesus taught us about the kingdom of God/heaven is that it is at once within us and all around us.

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’  For behold, the kingdom of God is within/among you.”     

Luke 17: 20-21

And then, Jesus gave us a formula for connecting with and remembering this place of joyful contentment within ourselves:

When you pray, go
into your inner room, close the door and pray to *Abwoon in secret.  And Abwoon who sees in secret will repay
you.  Abwoon knows what you need
before you ask.  This is how you are to pray.

Matthew 6:6

While we do not have knowledge of the exact methods of prayer Jesus used, these readings hint at one who has embraced a contemplative path.  Jesus went off by himself to pray, and went into his “inner room” where he found his connection with God.  This is the model that Jesus invites us to follow if we are to remember this Oneness for ourselves and live in the love that Jesus came to know.  In the Catholic tradition, we are fortunate for the men and women who came after Jesus and who developed formal practices of contemplative prayer that support us in this remembering.  As the Catholic Church moves forward in reform, I think that after leaving behind the doctrine of original sin, a reclamation of the contemplative practices of the Church and sharing them with the laity would be the next best step.  After that, let’s talk about reforming the sacraments as supportive of our recollection of God’s love instead of the way they are currently taught – as tickets we must purchase if we ever hope to enter into God’s loving embrace.

copyright Lauri Lumby 2013

* Abwoon is the name Jesus gave to his experience of God.  Abwoon can mean Father, and it also means much more than that.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Healing, Reiki

The Benefits of Using Authentic Freedom with Reiki

Reiki is one of many modalities of energy medicine incorporating hands-on-healing or the laying on of hands for the purpose of supporting the body in returning to its natural state of wellbeing. With knowledge of the Authentic Freedom process, a Reiki practitioner can greatly enhance the benefits of a traditional treatment, both for their client and for themselves.

Reiki, hands on healing, laying on of hands, Reiki and Authentic Freedom,

How Reiki Works

Using light, non-invasive touch in conjunction with the energy centers of the body (chakras), Reiki supports the body in releasing blocks to wellness and in returning to its natural state of energetic balance, thereby supporting the body in returning to its natural state of wellbeing. When the life force energy (Ki) is flowing freely, the body will reflect this in healthy vitality. Stagnation in the life force energy manifests in illness and disease.  Knowledge of the chakras, along with their physical correspondences assist the Reiki practitioner in identifying where the body’s Ki (life force energy) is not flowing so they may further assist their clients in releasing these blocks. Reiki works not only on the physical, but also on the emotional, mental and spiritual level – acknowledging that the source of many states of dis-ease is related to issues on these deeper levels of experience.  In traditional Usui Reiki training, the practitioner is taught the standard protocol for hands-on-healing with the invitation to know and trust that whatever healing is appropriate for the client’s highest good will be taken care of on any of the aforementioned levels.

Read my response to the Catholic Bishops’ prohibition against Reiki HERE.

Integrating Authentic Freedom with Reiki

Authentic Freedom adds an additional layer to the support a Reiki practitioner may offer their clients. Authentic Freedom provides knowledge and tools for working with clients on the deepest spiritual level – most often the truest source of emotional, mental and physical imbalance.  By supporting clients on the spiritual level the practitioner is going straight to the source of dis-ease.  Additionally, knowledge of the Authentic Freedom philosophy provides the practitioner with tools they are able to share with their client which the client may then employ for on-going healing and support.  This approach saves time and effort in the healing process while supporting the client in the experience of enduring change.

How Authentic Freedom Enhances Reiki

Using the seven chakras as a point of reference, Authentic Freedom has identified the seven spiritual fears/wounds which are at the heart of many (if not most) emotional, mental and physical states of dis-ease. When a Reiki practitioner is able to support their client in tracing back their physical, emotional or mental symptoms to the corresponding spiritual fear/wound, awareness takes place and the first layer of healing is accomplished.  Identifying the true source of imbalance (or as I call it, “naming the demon”) is the first step in authentic healing.  From that point, the Reiki practitioner supports their client in letting go of this fear through hands-on-healing.  With Authentic Freedom, however, the healing doesn’t end with the table treatment.  Authentic Freedom includes a wide variety of mindfulness, meditation and creativity practices which the Reiki practitioner may prescribe for their client so that they may continue and deepen the healing on their own.

Incorporating Authentic Freedom with Reiki accelerates the healing process by getting to the deepest source of imbalances while providing the practitioner and the client with tools for on-going and enduring healing and support.

To learn more about the Authentic Freedom process, read my book Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy or enjoy the benefit of personal instruction in this protocol through my online course.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, church, Forgiveness, God, Jesus, Oneness with God

“God” Does Not Save

I am going to bet that a whole lot of people are going to be either offended or frightened by a blog that suggests that “God Doesn’t Save.” Bear with me here…..I promise there is a happy ending!  🙂

Yesterday while working through some specific areas of trauma – healing and releasing them through a protocol called “Brainspotting” (under the supervision of a licensed therapist!), I had a staggering realization:

God did not save me, rescue me or support me in the most traumatic experiences of my life:

God did not step in and save me from being raped.

God did not save me from years of emotional abuse.

God did not protect me against betrayal.

God did not step in when the self-appointed inquisition harassed me, wrote evil letters about me, lobbied our local priest and bishop against me.

God did not step in while the Church broke my heart and refused to stand up for me, defend me or have my back when I was challenged, harassed and abused by the fearful few.

God did not step in when I found I had no choice but to leave the Church.

God sat back and did nothing.

Even after I had given my heart, my soul, my mind, my very being to God, dedicated my life to God, I got nothing back. I got nothing but pain for all I had given to God.

“I gave it all to God and got nothing back.” THIS is the very definition of co-dependency.  We give, give, give, give and get nothing back.

THIS is the “God” most of us have been brought up to believe in. A “God” who is “out there,” separate and apart from us.  This is a “God” who needs our devotion, our time, our attention, our worship.  This is a “God” who is fickle – who gives to those who have pleased “HIM” and takes from those who don’t.  But even worse, this is a “God” who takes even, or perhaps especially, from those who give.

god-monty-python-holy-grail

This is the “God” who sacrificed his own son. This is the “God” who let his chosen one be condemned, ridiculed, and crucified on a cross…..why?  “For the forgiveness of humankind????”  Let’s be honest, this is a ridiculous kind of God!  What kind of God kills his own son?  I’ll tell you what kind of God – one who is made in the image of “man” kind – specifically the unholy masculine (not to be confused with the holy masculine) aspect of humankind.  This is a God who was created by patriarchal, hierarchical institutions for the sake of their own power and control – institutions who created a God who is to be feared so that they could use this fear to manipulate their followers – a God who looks more like fearful, vengeful, fickle, jealous, angry humans than the God that Jesus spoke about who is LOVE.

So, no, God does not save – at least not the God who is the “old man in the sky,” out there who wants us to bow down to HIM and then just maybe “HE” will give us what we need to survive.

“God” does not save…..but love does.

God did not save me from rape, but love did. Love supported me in my grieving.  Love guided me to help and support.  Love allowed me to forgive….most importantly, love allowed me to forgive myself.

God did not save me from years of emotional abuse. But love did.  Love allowed me to find healing and support.  And again, love allowed me to forgive.

God did not save me from the Church who broke my heart, but love did.

God did not rescue me from the hands of the fearful minority or from the priest and bishop who had been poisoned against me, but love did. Love allowed me to heal.  Love allowed me to create a new home for myself.  Love allowed me to stand in my own truth regardless of the condemnation.  Love allowed me to be obedient to love.  And love allowed me to forgive.

So while I gave and gave and gave to “God” and got nothing in return, LOVE was there all along, supporting, guiding, healing, transforming and bringing me safely to exactly where I need to be.

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This LOVE is not “out there” hanging out among the clouds or in some heaven light years away. This LOVE is not sitting on a throne of gold locked behind some pearly gates.  This LOVE is right here inside of me, and this LOVE is right there inside of you.  This is the LOVE that you are and the LOVE that Jesus came to know within himself and wanted everyone else to know.  This is the LOVE that is our true nature – that holds the knowledge of our life path, the path that will give our lives meaning and purpose.  This is the LOVE that tells us what is right and what is wrong, what is true for us and guides us toward that truth.  This is the LOVE that compels, guides, and leads us toward the many opportunities in our lives for growth, healing and transformation.  And this is the LOVE that helps us find our way through the devastating and painful experiences of the human condition to the new hope and new life that is on the other side of the disappointment and loss.  This is the LOVE that leads us toward those who will support us in this love and this is the LOVE that helps us to recognize them when they arrive.

LOVE is what saves, and if you choose to call this LOVE “God,” (or “Goddess”) then let it be so!