Posted in Authentic Freedom, God, Oneness with God, Spiritual Formation, The Divine

How “God” Isn’t God.

An excerpt from the Authentic Freedom Weekly Lesson.  Full content available for Basic – Premium Members.  Learn more HERE. 

“He is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive.”

Lk 20:38

God:  The big “G” word.  So much evil has been done in the name of an “on behalf” of “God” that I am hesitant to even use this word.  At the same time, we don’t have another word in our English language that describes that which cannot be described.

When we look beyond the patriarchal interpretation and manipulation of “God” to the mystical Jewish tradition of which Jesus was most certainly a part, God is understood as this:

  • Ain-Sof: Ain-Sof is the Hebrew word meaning “No-Thing.” Ain-Sof is the limitless Nothing out of which all of creation was brought forth.  Ain-Sof is empty, nothing, void; but at the same time, it holds infinite possibility.  Every possible thing, idea, creation, image, etc. etc. etc. is present within the void.  This is the Source of all that is, and is what existed (or didn’t exist) before the BIG BANG ignited the unfolding creation of the universe.  Ain-Sof would be the highest understanding of that which we might now call “God.”
  • Emanations: Because this Ain-Sof cannot truly be grasped by the human mind, “God” distilled/constricted itself so that it could come into material form.  In the Kabbalistic tradition of Jewish mysticism, these progressively distilled emanations of the Divine are represented on the Tree of Life as the Sefirot.  These are the various aspects of the Divine that are involved in the bringing forth of all that is:  Keter (Light), Chokmah (Wisdom), Da’at (Knowing), Binah (Understanding), Chesed (Mercy/Compassion), Gevurah (Severity), Tiferet (Beauty), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Splendor), Yesod (Creativity), Malchut (Creation/The Word). 
  • Formless, Faceless, Nameless: The ultimate Divine cannot be named, has no form and no face or image can capture its infinite nature.  While human beings continue to create God in our own image, God cannot be contained by our limited perceptions or experiences.  In the Hebrew tradition, this truth is lived out in the titles that are used when referring to God, never daring to utter God’s only name which has been described in four Hebrew letters which illustrate the power and majesty of the Divine.  Titles like “Adonai” or El-Shaddai are used out of respect (and fear/awe) of the nameless, faceless Source.
  • Masculine, Feminine and Everything in Between: In the articulation of the Divine Emanations as described in the Kabbalah, the actions of the Divine are defined in terms of “active” or “receptive.”  These Emanations have been given masculine (active) and feminine (receptive) names to distinguish their active or receptive principles.  Those along the middle column (Keter, Da’at, Tiferet, Malkuth) are neutral as they are that which comes forth out of the balance between the active and receptive principles of life.

In short, never in the Hebrew tradition has God been exclusively male – this interpretation is simply a distortion of the patriarchal culture out of which Christianity emerged.  Therefore, Jesus’ understanding of God was not exclusively male.  He is quoted as having called God “Abba/Father,” though it is just as likely he also called God “Amma/Mother.”  While this cannot be proven through scripture, we do know that Jesus found himself to be ONE (John 17: 6-26) with God and in that Oneness, found great peace, contentment and joy.  This “Oneness” Jesus called “Malkut,” inaccurately translated as “Kingdom of God.”  From the perspective of Jewish mysticism, Jesus fulfilled the emanation of the Divine within him by attaining “Malkut” – Oneness with God and the fulfillment of the purpose of the human journey.  This is what Jesus tried to teach his disciples.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, End of the World Prophecies, Inspiration, Spiritual Practices, The Divine, The Seven Deadly Compulsions, world changes

Waking Up in the New World

Today’s blog is for EVERYONE.  The world is changing, the universe is changing, the sun’s poles are flipping, and in the midst of all this change, we get to decide…….old world or new world?  The choice is up to us.  Today’s blog explores the consequence(s) of staying in the old world and the Why and How we might choose the new world instead.

"Wake up!  Wake up!"
“Wake up! Wake up!”

Old World

The old world is the world that the human species has been living in for the past 5000 or so years.  It is a world rooted in patriarchy which elevates the masculine principle while demonizing the feminine.  It is a hierarchical world in which decisions are made from the top down by those in power, and usually in not very loving ways.  The old world is one that manipulates through fear and intimidation.  Power, control and wealth are TAKEN by the few while the rest suffer in silence, made mute by their feelings of powerlessness.  The old world is one in which the seven deadly compulsions reign – gluttony, lust (power-over), wrath, envy, greed, sloth and pride and where “success” comes through ceaseless striving, manipulation and force.  Unless you exist within the (less than) 1%, the old world feels constricting, painful, fearful, limiting, and your life is therefore defined by feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, impatience and longing.

New World

The new world, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of what we have known for the past 5000+ years.  The new world is rooted in love, known by peace and lived out in harmonious cooperation.  The new world is neither patriarchal nor matriarchal, but is instead rooted in egalitarianism – where masculine and feminine (and everything in between) are valued as unique and equal.  Decisions are made through collaboration and arrived at through consensus and are made to meet the higher good of the all.  In the new world, each and every person is valued as uniquely creative expressions of the Divine and are honored for their own unique giftedness and empowered to contribute their part in the betterment of the world.  In the new world, all that we have used to separate will fall away and all will be honored as sacred and unique.

Continuing to Choose the Old World

Because we have been gifted with the power of freewill, we may continue to choose the old world.  We can continue to choose anxiety, constriction, longing, impatience, frustration and for many….failure.  For some, this will indeed be their path.  For those who were placed on this planet to envision and help support the creation of the new world however, continuing to choose the old world will only lead to their demise. If you have been gifted with a vision of the new world and feel called to help make it happen (lightworkers, wayshowers, starseeds, indigo children, crystal children, rainbow children, galactic federation of light, ascension, kundalini), the Universe will conspire in your favor to make this happen.  If you have been gifted with the vision of a new world – and feel called to help make it real and if you are facing your own demise or coming against one obstacle after another after another, your relationships are a sea of conflict,  or you are seeing the world you have tried to create crumbling in your hands, there is a reason for this.  The harder things get for you, be assured that the more the Universe is trying to wake you up to your vision and your call.  As such, if the world you are living in is filled with conflict, struggle and catastrophe, you might want to reexamine your choices.  Perhaps you have been unwittingly choosing the old world instead of the new.

Choosing the Old or Living in the New?

The hardest thing in the world is choosing the NEW world because all we have known and been taught is how to choose the old.   Old habits die hard.  Choosing the old world or living in the new are distinguished from each other in  a number of ways.

The old world is:

  • ruled by the ego
  • where decisions are made in fear
  • known by a constant inner state of anxiety
  • characterized by striving and pushing to “make things happen”
  • known by the quest for power and control
  • where people feel limited, constricted, ignored, insignificant, unsatisfied
  • defined by separation – gender, orientation, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, race, etc.
  • rife with conflict, struggle, suffering, discord, etc.

the new world is:

  • ruled by the Divine within
  • known where decisions are not made but arise naturally out of our connection with the Divine
  • where life is allowed to happen and to unfold in a gentle, effortless way
  • known in generous sharing and equal participation
  • where people experience a life that is fulfilling, rewarding, sustaining, abundant, life-giving, joyful, peaceful and loving
  • defined by oneness

Living in the new world is made possible when we commit ourselves to the following:

  • A disciplined spiritual practice (which I define rather widely) through which we take time aside to be quiet, listen for and be open to hearing and believing the voice of the Divine within us.
  • Disciplined attention to and healing of one’s own fears, compulsions, projections, etc.
  • Management of our shadow.  When we confront our own demons, we stop projecting them on to others.
  • Exploration of our own unique giftedness, followed by the cultivation and generous sharing of these gifts in an environment where are gifts are readily and enthusiastically received and where we experience the abundant fruits of our labors.
  • In a nutshell – disciplined attention to our own journey of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical growth.
  • And finally…..LOVE.  Loving ourselves first so that we may then reflect love to others, igniting in them the spark of wanting to remember the love that they are and setting them on the journey as outlined above.

Choosing the New World

Choosing the new world is not an easy task, primarily because in choosing love we have to overcome 5000+ years of conditioning, not to mention our own fears and inner resistance.  However, if we have been gifted with a vision of the new world, along with the call to make it happen, we don’t really have a choice – unless, however, we want to continue to live in misery.  Please note, that this is true not only for individuals, but also for institutions which have also been gifted with this vision and this call.  The call is the same – “Wake up, Wake up”  It is time to awaken to your call and time to bring forth the new world.

Posted in God, Inspiration, Raised Catholic, The Divine

Why Mary Rocks

In the Catholic calendar, today is the Feast of the Assumption – the day that all Catholics give honor to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Today’s blog examines why Mary is important, not just for Catholics, and why we all need a Mother God.

Divine Mother

For 2000+ years, Catholics have lived a truth that all human beings know but might be afraid to admit.  Catholics, in our reverence toward Mary, are living the truth that we all know – We need a Mother God.  Yes, yes, yes, I know that technically Mary is not considered to be God, neither is she counted as equal with God, but in practice, Catholics really do treat Mary as if she were God.  And yes, I know that the whole Mary thing is one of the reasons other denominations have a problem with Catholics, accusing us of worshipping idols (Mary, the saints, etc.), and that the Institution of the Church defends the reverence offered to Mary as differing from the worship we offer to God.  But again, in practice, Mary really is treated as if she were God….or at the very least, a Goddess.  I do not think this is a bad thing.  In fact, I believe that the reverence offered to Mary in Catholic practice is healthy and an intuitive reflection of a much deeper knowing – the knowing that we all need a mother, more specifically, we all need a mother God.

The Death of the Goddess

In Riane Eislers books, The Chalice and the Blade and Sacred Pleasure, she examines the ancient cultures of the Middle East and Mediterranean, specifically the transition from a egalitarian culture to patriarchy.  In this shift from egalitarianism, the co-equal images of the Divine as God and Goddess were violently overtaken by a single, warring God, primarily resulting in a shift from a peaceful and harmonious culture to one that became ruled through fear, power and intimidation. We see evidence of this shift in the Hebrew scriptures as the Goddess is demonized (Eve, the serpent, the fruit, Asherah, feminine practices, etc.) and systematically obliterated to make room for the single male God who is frequently portrayed as vengeful, wrathful and jealous.  As the Goddess was destroyed, so too was the sacred honoring of the feminine as women became lesser citizens, oppressed instead of being honored as co-equal and co-creators with their male companions.  The good news is that while human beings try to make things go their way, God has other plans.  As such, the Goddess has never really been destroyed, she has remained in the back recesses of our consciousness, waiting to be reclaimed so that as a species, we can experience the peace and harmony that naturally results when we honor the sacred in all aspects of the Divine and in all human beings – male and female.

Mary, Our Mother

We intuitively know that God cannot be only male.  But more than this, we LONG for images and experiences of the Divine that reflect our highest natures.  And what could be more reflective of our highest natures than an image of God that is nurturing, caring, loving, tender, kind, ever-present, soft, attentive, affectionate and looks at us through the eyes of adoration as a loving mother would?  I believe it has been the Goddess as a loving mother, hiding in the back recesses of our consciousness, that has ultimately driven Marian devotion.  It is for this reason that I not only accept, but embrace all the muss and fuss that goes with the Catholic tradition of giving honor and reverence to Mary, not only as the mother of Jesus, but as the Mother of us all.  It isn’t a mistake that in the Catholic church, Mary’s official titles include:  Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix, Source of Salvation, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, for even though the Institution would protest, in their heart of hearts, they know we need a mother too!

Some Mary fun:

So, just for fun and maybe to help you in your own reverence to Mary…or whatever name you give to the Goddess within, here are a few of my favorite Mary songs:

Breath of Heaven – Amy Grant

Ave Maria – Bach

Ave Maria – Schubert

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Empowerment, The Divine

A Good Old Fashioned Spiritual Butt-Kicking

Tired of Speaking Sweetly
 (by Hafiz)

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

 
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
 
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
 
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

 
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

 
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

 
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

 
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

 
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

 
From: ‘The Gift
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

In this work by the Persian poet, Hafiz, we see depicted the spiritual butt-kicking aspect of God.  This piece beautifully represents the way in which the Divine spirit within us provokes, urges, nags and compels us to pursue our deepest and most authentic truth.  In bold, assertive images, the Divine tears from our grasp all those things that stand in the way of us being and living as our most magnificent, gifted, amazing self.  And….we have all felt the power of this energy:  When we feel inspired to accomplish a task and will not be stopped until it is complete, when we experience the anxiety within when faced with perceived obstacles to our creative expression, when we feel the fire within building when we feel as if we will explode if we do not act on or speak our truth.  This is the spiritual butt-kicking aspect of the Divine compelling us out of our complacency and into the world of our most authentic truth.  Unfortunately, as Hafiz also reminds, most of us turn and run the other way when we see this face of God approaching. 

 

 
Posted in Gifts of Contemplation, The Divine

God in our Hearts

Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:

the old things have passed away;

behold, new things have come.

And all this is from God.

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

These were the words that confronted us last night in the gathering of the Authentic Freedom Contemplative Community.  At first glance, these words may offend our ecumenical sensitivities.  And yet, if we are able to look beyond the temptation to perceive this as just another attempt to create separation by belief and denomination, we can get a glimpse of the universality of this message.  As one of last night’s participants observed, “When you receive God into your heart, you and your life are forever transformed.”  I could not possibly have said it better! 

 

Whatever we ultimately want to call it, when we allow God – love – peace – joy – contentment into our hearts, our life is forever transformed.  All the old things fall away – our fears, our false perceptions, our prejudices, our resentments, our judgements.  With the love of God residing in our hearts, we see with new eyes, hear with new ears and perceive the world through acceptance and love.  Compassion, rather than judgment rules our lives.  Even those things we formerly perceived as “evil” we now understand to simply be “unripe”,  (“Bisha”, the Aramaic word usually translated as “evil” in the Christian scripture is more accurately translated to mean “unripe”.)  and acknowledge the invitation for patience as that which is unripe comes into maturity. 

 

Accepting the love of God (here represented as Christ) into our hearts is the intention and purpose of the contemplative life.  Every time we come to our spiritual practice, we are saying “yes” to that invitation to allow God to reside more fully within our own beings.  It is as if we are watering the seed of God that is waiting to be born within us so that we can come to our own spiritual maturity, loving, compassionate and free.  How are you watering that seed today? 

 

 

Posted in The Divine

Naming the Divine

What is in a name?  As Shakespeare has said, “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.”  As such, is it even necessary for us to give a name to that undefinable experience some have called God?  In the gathering of the contemplative community this week, we explored the nature of God’s name and through the wisdom of the Hebrew writers, a clue to the ineffable nature of the Divine is revealed.  In the story from the book of Exodus where God appears to Moses in the experience of the burning bush, Moses asks God:

“But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”

“I am who am.”  Four little words that speak volumes.  The Divine simply is.  As much as we attempt to name, define, categorize the Divine, it cannot be defined.  Meditating on this simple phrase, “I am who I am” reveals to us the vast, infinite, ever revealing truth of that which some call God and invites us to set aside our societal or religious conditioning and preconceived notions of what we understand about the Divine. 

The Hebrew people understood this truth and communicated this through the name that they assigned to God.  YHWH.  The name of God is composed of three Hebrew letters:  Yod, Hey and Vau.  The meanings of these individual letters are significant in revealing the Hebrew understanding of the Divine:

Yod– signifies creation itself and all of the metaphysical processes through which creation unfolds. Yod on its own stands as an important symbol of the Creator.  According to tradition, that which is to come was created through the utterance of the letter yod. 

Hey –  According to Hebrew tradition the physical world in which we now live was created through the utterance of the letter Hey.  Hey represents Divinity

Vau – symbolizes humanity and the restoration of justice.  Vau represents completion, redemption and transformation.  It is the letter of continuity uniting Heaven and Earth. 

(source:  http://shekinah.elysiumgates.com/hebrew.html)

Putting this all together, we can see the vast experience that the Hebrew people had of that which they understood as “I am.”    They understood the Divine as the Source of all that is and all that shall be.  They understood the Divine as perfection and the Source through which peace and harmony are brought into being.  They understood the Divine as beyond us as well as among and within us.  They also understood the on-going revelation of the Divine.

Jesus echoes these sentiments when he called God, Abwoon.  While Abwoon may be translated as “father”, this is an incomplete understanding of this word.  In his groundbreaking work, The Prayer of the Cosmos, Neil Douglas-Klotz reveals the broader translation of the intimate word, Abwoon:

  Abwoon is the source from which the breath of life flows and is present in all forms of vibration and light

What this reveals to us is that in both the Hebrew and Christian traditions, the Divine is understood as being far more than what we can possibly imagine and by its very nature defines description, definition or categorization.  The Divine simply is and all we can do is be open to the infinite number of ways in which the Divine may reveal itself to us. 


Posted in The Divine

Defining Divine?

Last night during the gathering of the Monday Contemplative Community, one of the participants posed to me a question that left me silent and struck terror in my heart and in my mind, “Lauri, would you please define for us the divine?”  My mind immediately went into a tail spin as I felt all eyes looking to me for the answer to the ultimate unanswerable question.  An exasperated and helpless, “Oh God,” was all I could manage as a response. 

This morning, after a good night’s sleep, I feel a little more focused and while I cannot begin to venture a response to that question, I can offer some observations about the Divine and how we understand this experience, state, being, in our lives.  If there is anything that the contemplative path has shown me, it is that the Divine, by its very nature, defies description, definition, categorizing, etc.  Even Merriam- Webster recognizes this truth in their own lame attempts to define the word divine.  This is what Merriam Webster offers as their definition of divine: “of, relating to, or being God.”  Quite frankly, this is not helpful.  So, where do we turn in attempting to comprehend the nature of God?

Fortunately, there are many resources through which we might attempt to understand the Divine.  Theologians have attempted to define the Divine.  Belief systems have been constructed upon specific “understandings” of the Divine.  Scripture may provide for us some clues.  Then we have the creative arts which attempt to define the Divine through music, architecture, art, etc.  While all of these vehicles may provide hints, what we are still left with is someone else’s understanding of the Divine. 

Where this ultimately leaves us is with our own personal experience.  This is the approach to the Divine that is favored by contemplatives, aescetics, gnostics and mystics.  While we may begin with some of the resources listed above, we cannot begin to understand the Divine until we have been open to our own internal experiences of God.  This is the ultimate goal of the contemplative path – to be open to receiving a personal experience of the Divine so that we can begin to know God and in knowing God, come to know ourselves.  What mystics and contemplatives have revealed to us is that this knowing is intimate, personal, unique and vastly infinite.  In other words, there is no end to the ways in which the Divine can reveal itself to us and that the revelation of the Divine is ongoing and never ending.  We can never come to know God fully for God continues to reveal God’s self to us in limitless and infinite ways.    So in the end, I guess my response to last nights question is this:  The Divine, by its very nature cannot be defined.