Posted in Forgiveness, Lessons, Spiritual Practices, Truth

The Truth Cannot Stay Hidden

This weekend, I had the profound confirmation of a theory to which I have long-subscribed – the theory that no matter how hard one tries, truth will not stay long hidden. Truth always finds its way to the light where it can be readily seen by those who have the eyes to see, bringing justice to situations where untruths otherwise prevailed.

In this particular case, I was well aware of these truths. Although the revelations of these truths would have provided me with much vindication, I had kept silent about these truths for the sake of others who might be hurt by them.  These truths had been the cause of much pain in my own life, truths that the human part of me wanted to shout to the world as a way of “getting back” at those who had hurt me.  Instead, I chose silence, knowing and trusting that these truths would eventually find their way to the light for those who needed to know in a time that was perfect for them.

justicepixabay

And this is exactly what happened. The truth came to light bringing healing and closure where neither were previously thought possible.  In addition, the way in which these truths came to light brought empowerment for those, who through their own observations had intuited these truths.  The revelation of these truths brought great validation for me in having taken the “high road” in choosing silence and trust over revenge. It also served as a great reminder that no matter how hard one works at disguising, denying or avoiding their truth, truth cannot be hidden for long and the deceiver will always give themselves away, if not directly then by slips of the tongue or getting caught in an outright lie.

This is the advice I offer to students and clients who are faced with similar situations of untruths – where harm has been done to them, and they want to take revenge on the “other” by telling everyone the truth. I say, “Wait.  The truth will win out in the end.  Those that need to know will find out if and when they need to.”  This weekend’s experience proved my theory true.

Choosing silence, trust, and a patient heart allows us to turn away from the human desire for revenge and toward forgiveness practices – those practices that free us from the resentment, hurt, sense of betrayal, anger and hatred that we might otherwise harbor against the other. Here we are able to free ourselves of the pain of the hurt while not causing harm to another.  Choosing this path gives us freedom.

As I also advise my students and clients, “Karma is a bitch.” While I do not believe in a punitive God, I do believe in (and the human part of me takes great comfort in) the law of cause and effect.  What you put out to the world will come back to you 100-fold.  If you (intentionally) cause harm to another, that harm will come back to you.  If you betray another, you will be betrayed.  If you are a liar, you will be deceived.  If you cheat, you will be cheated, etc. etc. etc.  There is comfort in knowing that we reap what we have sown and for those who sow deceit this is what they shall reap.  Truth, on the other hand, always wins.  Choose truth.

Posted in Being Human, God, Inspiration, Mystics

The Mystic as Grump – Guest Blogger John Backman

A big thank you to guest blogger, John Backman, for this contribution to the discussion on contemplatives and mystics.  (See John’s bio, etc. below.)  In this post, John highlights the mystic’s drive toward “making things right,” and the grumpiness that comes over us when things just aren’t right.  Right on John!  🙂  And just for fun, here’s a little music to accompany your reading! 

John Backman
John Backman

The Mystic as Grump

Apparently I am a mystic. I know this because I am cranky.

This is not your basic cranky: the kind that comes when the house is a mess (again) or I spill food on my good pants (again). This is more of a restless cranky—a vague sense that something is out of order, has burrowed under my skin, and needs to be fixed.

I felt this occasionally during our daughter’s teenage years, when I’d suddenly find myself resenting her for no reason.  Something about her manner had transgressed my personal boundaries, though I didn’t know what or how. My wife thought I was imagining things. Yet over the next week or so, the issue would slowly crystallize, and we’d all see it. Daughter and I would talk it through, we would both change our behavior as needed, and for a while, at least, the world was right again.

I feel this at work too. Something is amiss—perhaps there is an issue no one sees, or the gap between what we say and how we act is hurting our effectiveness, or no one is picking up on hidden resentments between employees. It hasn’t taken shape yet, but still it unsettles me. I might say something, but no one else seems to notice. I move through the world bitchy for a while. Then another person notices it, and then another; before long the problem becomes visible, and together we make it right.

There’s something in here about justice, and something about the canary in the coal mine.

You might know the canary story. To test the air quality in the mines, coal miners would carry a caged canary with them. Since canaries are even more sensitive to toxic gases than humans are, they would die when levels of those gases reached dangerous levels. Hence the birds served as an early-warning system: if the canary was still singing, keep mining; if not, get out.

In her series on mysticism, Lauri points out that “the mystics are kind of a living barometer, forever measuring the sorrow, pain, joy and ecstasy of what it is like to be human.  While it often feels like a rollercoaster ride, there is a purpose to the living barometers that mystics are.” The purpose, she writes, is to lead the world to love. And that is true.

But there is something else as well. When I read the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, I can’t help noticing that this God is zealous for making things right—for justice, to use the biblical term. “Making things right” can take many forms: clearing up a conflict between father and daughter in a way that both can grow…penetrating the veil of niceness in a worship community to address the long-standing pain beneath…opposing a political leader as he moves from popular icon to ruthless oppressor.

So maybe part of being a mystic, who strives to live in the heart of God, is sensing—early and often—when things go out of whack: that delicate tipping point between in-balance and off-the-rails. Maybe the voice of the mystic is designed to sound the alarm, to sing like the canary in the coal mine.

Apparently this is not a new idea. After drafting this article, I ran across a blog post from Keswick House Publishers about the research of Elaine Aron  into highly sensitive people. The post included a paragraph whose last sentence struck me with its synchronicity:

“Being sensitive carries its own set of perks, not just for the person him- or herself but to society at large as well. Many highly sensitive persons are artistic and creative, and because they are so attuned to other people’s emotional states, they can be excellent caregivers, perceptive therapists, and thoughtful friends. They may also serve the role of the canary in the coal mine.”

Sensitivity comes with the mystical territory. Maybe this brand of crankiness does too. Perhaps it reflects the passion of God for uncovering what is out of balance—and making it right again.

About the Author

John Backman, the author of Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart (SkyLight Paths Publishing), writes extensively on contemplative spirituality and its ability to help us dialogue across divides. As a blogger for Huffington Post Religion and an associate of an Episcopal monastery, he has written articles for numerous faith-based publications, both progressive and conservative

Posted in Christ Consciousness, church, Jesus, Raised Catholic

Jesus the Psychologist..Keeping Jesus Relevant

Today’s blog explores Jesus and his teachings as a mode of psychological and spiritual development through which we are empowered to become self-actualized and through which we are able to be freed of the obstacles which prevent us from reaching our full potential as human beings. (isn’t this the goal of psychology afterall?)

divine-mercy

We’ve killed Jesus a second time.

It saddens me that in our quest for intellectualism and individuation, Christianity has somehow become irrelevant and Jesus seems to have been thrown out with the bath water.  Because, when we look past the sins of the Institutions (sexual abuse, sexism, discrimination, power and control) and pierce through the veil of dogma, what lies behind it all is an example, as well as a model for psychological and spiritual development that can be beneficial to every man, woman and child.  Instead, Jesus lays dead at our feet while Buddhism, Yoga, Kabbalah and Paganism become the fashionable and intelligent paths to enlightenment.  While I acknowledge all these paths as holy and sacred and as valid means through which we can develop and grow as human beings, I contend that we are missing a HUGE opportunity by ignoring or worse yet, demonizing, Jesus and the gifts that he brings.

Jesus as the model

When we read scripture without the threads of dogma obscuring our view, what we see in Jesus is a man who came to understand the fullness of his human potential and who lived that out as freely as was possible.  In fact, he lived his actualized self so well that he got killed for it.  Examining Jesus’ life through the lens of psychological and spiritual development, what we see is:

  • a man committed to his spiritual practice.
  • who came to develop a deeply intimate and personal relationship with that which he called “Abwoon” (God).
  • who found healing, comfort, restoration, inspiration and guidance through this connection with his higher self.
  • who, through a process of formation and discernment came to understand his unique giftedness and how he was called to live that out.
  • who overcame the inner obstacles, temptations and fears which might either prevent him from living this path with humility
  • who learned and practiced the gift of spiritual obedience.
  • who learned to surrender to and trust the Source that was guiding him.
  • who was able to stand freely and without compromise in his truth, even to the point of death.
  • who was a force for change and a voice for justice – ministering to and speaking out on behalf of those who had been ostracized by society.
  • who challenged the laws that provided priviledge to some while infringing on the rights of others.

From the psychological model, Jesus was a man who became self-actualized, who reached the fullness of his human potential and who left behind a collection of example, stories and teachings which show us how to do the same.

Jesus as the teacher

Jesus did not go up on a mountain, become fully actualized, then stay there in silence communing with God and playing with invisibility and levitation. Instead, Jesus lived his potential in the midst of the human race and taught others how to reach the fullness of their own potential.  Jesus accomplished this through his example, and also through his teachings. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those writers who attempted to capture Jesus’ model and message in the scriptures that have been handed down to us, as well as those that did not quite make the cut (many for obvious political reasons!).  Again, looking past the Insitutitons’ attempt to doctrinize Jesus’ model of psychological and spiritual formation, these are some of the tools Jesus left behind to help us in our own journey toward self-actualization:

  • practices of meditation and prayer which help us to quiet our minds so that we can be open to the higher intelligence that speaks to us in the silence, that guides us, moves us, inspires us, comforts us, heals us.
  • stories which teach us about the call to justice, that speak to us of the importance of compassion and forgiveness, that heal us from our own fears and woundedness, that remind us of our own unique giftedness and the call to share those gifts in the world.
  • The beatitudes – pithy statements that demonstrate for us the natural results of our potential – as we grow toward our human potential, we are naturally poor in spirit, merciful, working for justice, etc.
  • stories that remind us that first and foremost….we are loved….more than that….we ARE love and that the purpose of the human journey is to remember that love.

Raising Jesus from the dead.

In honor of Holy Week, I am extending a challenge.  I am inviting us to set aside the wounds we may have experienced at the hands of religious institutions (special emphasis for my Recovering Catholic brothers and sisters.), to look beyond the veil of dogma and to restore Jesus to his rightful place as psychologist, spiritual director, healer, teacher and guru.  As we celebrate the miracle of Easter, the day that Jesus was first raised form the dead, let us allow for ourselves the Second Coming of Christ and give ourselves permission to know Jesus anew and to look at his example and teachings through new eyes.  And my prayer is that through the light of  Christ, we might see the truth beyond the words.

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Authentic Freedom

Embracing Divine Generosity

As we move and grow along the spiritual path, we grow in our ability to live out Divine virtues of temperance, fortitude, mercy, compassion, generosity, enthusiasm and humility.  Today, we explore the Divine understanding of the virtue of generosity and how we are called to live that out.

 

An Honest Day’s Pay for an Honest Day’s Work?

Let’s say there are two co-workers.  One works full time, the other half time.  They are performing similar tasks, with a similar level of responsibility and in theory should be working in the same pay scale.  Imagine that you are the full-time employee and one of your co-workers the half-time employee.  One day you are discussing wages and it comes out that the half-time employee is actually getting paid for their 4 hours the same amount you are getting paid for 8.  How would you feel?  A little put-off, miffed, maybe even ticked off.  Would you want to storm into your bosses’ office and point out this injustice, asking that your either your co-worker’s wages be reduced, or yours be increased?  I’m thinking yeah.  This is the story that Jesus told his disciples as a way to explain the generous nature of our God, and the generosity we are invited to embrace in our own lives.  (Matthew 20: 1-16)

Divine Justice

One of the points that Jesus was trying to make is that God’s justice is NOTHING like human justice.  Specifically, Jesus is speaking of “The Kingdom” (See my book, Authentic Freedom, Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy for more on “the kingdom”).  What he is trying to tell the disciples is that GOD IS GENEROUS, unconditionally loving and that “the last will be first.”  In other words, the judgments we want to heap upon our Creator and our idea that “the kingdom” is the exclusive right of a specific religious (or political, or gender, or orientation, or race) group, or determined by a predetermined set of “laws” and that some are outside the “kingdom” and a lucky few are inside.  Jesus turns the tables on the disciples’ beliefs and on the beliefs of anyone that would care to listen.  In this story, even the part-timer who only showed up for the last hour of the workday, still got the full day’s wages….God is GENEROUS!  God does not withold.  All experience the benefit of God’s generous love.  EVERYONE gets to have the FULL experience of “the kingdom.”

Our Call to Generosity

After we are done heaping all this judgment on God and expecting God to dole out the rewards of the kingdom based on people’s “good works”, special merits, earned indulgences or simply because they belong to the “right group,” we are invited to recognize that what we are doing is projecting our own human stinginess on to God.  WE are the ones who judge.  WE are the ones who withold.  WE are the ones that decide who is good, bad, virtuous, sinful, deserving of love, undeserving of love.  What Jesus reminds us is that God’s ways are not our own.  HOWEVER…..we are invited to grow in our ability to set aside our human pettiness and work toward allowing our own thoughts and actions to be more God-like.  Through this story, we are invited to take a look in the mirror.  Where are we witholding our resources (money, time, gifts, talents) or jealously guarding them for only those we feel are deserving?  Where do we cling to our resources (money, time, gifts, talents), fearful that if we share them or give them away that our own needs might not be met?  Where do we allow the fears that “there is not enough” or “I have nothing to contribute” (The first and second spiritual fears as outlined in Authentic Freedom) to keep me from trusting in a Divine that will meet of our needs and that we are uniquely gifted and called to share those gifts in the world?  Where do we allow these fears to keep us from sharing what we have and who we are, because we are afraid there won’t be enough for ourselves at the end of the day?  DIVINE GENEROSITY invites us to let go of these fears….to freely and generously share who we are and what we have, trusting that even in this, all our needs will be abundantly met.  Countercultural…to be sure!

Where do you find yourself withholding your gifts?

Where are you indulging the fear “there is not enough?”

How are you being invited, today, to be generous with your resources and in the sharing of who you are?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com