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.”
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.
For anyone raised in a traditional Christian household, Heaven is considered to be the Kingdom of God and what we spend our lives trying to attain. If we are good enough -follow the Ten Commandments, do what Jesus told us to do, be like Jesus, then maybe – only maybe – we might get to go to heaven when we die. Heaven is the place of eternal peace, somewhere “up there” (in the clouds or something) where we get to see those who died before us and hang out with the angels and saints. But if we aren’t good enough, we will be cast into the fiery pits of hell where we will suffer for all of eternity.
This threat of eternal damnation is the weapon used by institutional religion to mold us into a people afraid. We are afraid of the jealous, wrathful God whose love we have to earn and which can just as quickly be taken away. We are afraid for all the ways in which God will punish us in this life when we misbehave. We are conditioned to believe that every moment of suffering and pain is God’s way of punishing us for things we don’t even know we did. I mean – for real – this version of God has been punishing all of humanity since the beginning of time for Adam and Eve’s disobedience. We’re being punished for something we didn’t even do!
This is how institutional religion gains its control – by putting us in an ever-anxious place of fear and trepidation – looking over our shoulder for any wrong we might have done, shaming ourselves over that misdeed, and then doing everything we can to make ourselves right with God. We go to mass. Give money to the church. Fast. Abstain from life’s pleasures. Oh wait…..it sound’s an awful lot like Lent – the 40 days set aside in the Church calendar in which we are expected to make ourselves right with God.
But here’s my question – if we believe in the God that Jesus taught – the one of unconditional love and mercy – then where and how could we ever have gone wrong with God? The answer is that we cannot. God loves us no matter what. At least that’s what Jesus said. Jesus spoke of a God who loves without condition; who seeks mercy not sacrifice; and who is forever standing at the gate with arms wide open waiting to welcome our return. And there is no question about our return! There is no other place that we can go after we have completed this human experiment but back to the Source from which we came. That Source is God. At least that is what we’ve been told.
BUT we don’t have to wait until we die to be in the presence of eternal love. Even in the perceived separation of the human experience, we are never separate from God. Jesus said so!
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One of the ways that Authentic Freedom Academy supports self-actualization and personal empowerment is by providing nourishment and support for psycho-spiritual development. The Authentic Freedom Virtual Church and accompanying Agape’ Meditation newsletter is one way we accomplish this goal. Each week, subscribers receive access to the meditation newsletter and video lesson – centered on the non-dual teachings of Christ. Below is a sample of what you might expect to receive as part of subscribing. To learn more, go to our Virtual Church page and Subscribe!
June 14, 2015 – Eleventh Sunday Ordinary Time
Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
MK 4: 26-34
EZ 16: 22-24
PS 92: 2-3, 13-15
2 Cor 5: 6-10
We Know Not How
This week’s gospel speaks to us of the kingdom of God – its abundance and fruitfulness. The same could be said of ourselves and the fruitful outcome of our life’s journey – its purpose and how we are called to find fulfillment within ourselves and in service to the betterment of the world.
The seed provides the perfect metaphor for the journey of our Soul. The seed bears deep within itself – invisible to the eye – something that says what the seed will be when it grows up. A sunflower seed has no choice but to become a sunflower (or squirrel food). The same is true of an acorn, a wheat berry, an apple seed. The seed, when given the proper protection, nourishment, water and light, has no choice but to become that for which it was made. Once the seed is planted and the resources it needs provided, the seed simply becomes its purpose. This happens of its own accord – and not because someone “made it happen.”
This is also true for us. Deep within ourselves is something invisible, yet concrete, that says who God intended us to be when we come into our own ripeness. We, like the seed, need the proper environment, nourishment, safety, support, water and light, to become that for which we were made. Once this is provided (often by our own hand), and we are willing to plant the seeds to make this happen….it happens on its own. Again, not because we, or someone else, made it happen. Coming into our own fruitfulness is the natural consequence of giving ourselves what we need to not only survive, but also thrive.
What is the seed in you that is trying to be born?
What can you do to provide safety, nourishment and support (ie: boundaries) for your own becoming?
Spiritual Practices – The Seed Inside of Us
For this week’s meditation, you will need some relaxing (or energizing) music, two blank sheets of paper and some crayons.
Begin by setting up a work area. A place you can comfortably engage in meditative art. Have everything in the space that you will need to complete this meditation.
Put on the meditative (or energizing) music. (I like Violin Concerto in D Minor by Bach) Listen intently to the music, allowing yourself to feel its movement – the rising and falling of the music, tempo changes, listening for the individual instruments, etc. Allow the music to inspire your soul.
While you are feeling the music, imagine a seed. Be open to whatever seed presents itself to you.
With your paper and crayons. Draw that seed.
As you continue to listen to the music, reflect on the seed. What is significant about the seed you chose? Is it large, small? What does it produce? Is it abundant in its production (like the mustard seed) or does it produce something rare? Reflect on how you are like this seed.
After this portion of the reflection feels complete, on the second sheet of paper, draw a picture of yourself growing out of the seed. What are you becoming? Draw this.
In Authentic Freedom, we focus our attention on the kingdom of God within us (Malkuthakh), and how it is known by a state of inner peace, contentment, compassion and joy. While we may not experience the fullness of the kingdom until after we depart this life, Jesus came to teach us how to experience the kingdom here and now. One part of enjoying Malkuthakh is to become the person God made us to be. Each and every one of us is uniquely gifted and called by God to experience fulfillment in our lives through the use of our own unique gifts – both for our own enjoyment and in service to the betterment of our world. The work of this begins in childhood through the environment provided by our parents, teachers, ministers, etc. Yes, we sometimes have to undo that which was not supportive of our Soul’s development. As grown ups, however, we now have a choice. It is our responsibility, for the sake of our Soul and for the purpose of our own inner contentment, to create and uphold the environment in which our Soul’s purpose can finds its fruition. This begins by naming and claiming our needs and setting boundaries around these needs. In doing so, we are preparing the soil in which the seed of our Soul may take root and grow. Then it is our job to feed and water it. And finally, it is our task to GET OUT OF THE WAY and let our seed grow in the way and time that it needs to….all according to God’s plan.
How are you preparing and environment in which the seed of your Soul may take root and grow?
“The temple of the Lord, which you are, is holy.” This week’s Agape Meditation Newsletter, supplement to the Authentic Freedom virtual church, explores the love of God that dwells within us. What are the implications for our lives if we really believe that it is GOD living within us?
Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter
Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
1Cor 3: 9c-11, 16-17
EZ 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12
Ps 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9
JN 2: 13-22
YOU are God’s temple.
The temple of the Lord, which you are, is holy.
“The temple of the Lord, which you are…” Think about it. YOU are the temple in which God dwells. Think about it. While God may dwell outside of you, God also dwells within you. Paul recognized this. Jesus taught this. “The kingdom of God is within you.” What are the implications of this in your life? If you stopped thinking of God as outside of you and BELIEVED that God is dwelling within you, how does that change the way you think, and act, and believe? How does this alter the course of your life? How does this influence what you believe about yourself? Paul is very clear on this question…..YOU ARE HOLY. Think about that!
Spiritual Practices – Creating Your Temple
For this exercise, you will need a blank sheet of paper and a box of crayons.
Read the scripture slowly and meditatively.
Reflect on the implications of this scripture.
Repeat the phrase, “The temple of the Lord, which you are, is holy,” over and over in your mind. Reflect on what this phrase is saying to you.
Imagine what the temple that you are, with God dwelling within it, looks like.
Draw the temple that you are with God dwelling in you.
In Authentic Freedom, we take to heart Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God – specifically that this kingdom dwells within us and seeks to be made known through us, in our everyday lives. We recognize the kingdom of God dwelling within us when we have experiences of peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment and when we have opportunities to experience compassion and love. We are NEVER separate from the kingdom of God that dwells within us. When we are afraid, however, we forget the kingdom of God that dwells within us. This is the consequence of the human condition – to sometimes forget the love that dwells within us.
Jesus came to remind us that we are never separate from God, but that, in fact, we are one with God and there is nothing that can separate us from that love. He also recognized the consequence of the human condition and that sometimes (often) we forget this love. Jesus then, through example and instruction, taught us how to remember the love of God that dwells within us. We remember this love through our spiritual practice (meditation and prayer), creative endeavors, in service to others, and in nature. We also remember this love through our interactions with others. There is no limit to the number of ways in which we can remember the love of God that dwells within us.
What are you doing to remember the love of God that dwells within you?
How are you mindful of the love of God that seeks to be known in and through you in service to the betterment of the world?
As I write the Authentic Freedom Christmas message of hope for 2013, all I feel is love. And isn’t this appropriate? Why else could we possibly be here in these flesh suits if not for the purpose of learning how to BE love and for learning how to LOVE? And isn’t this the very reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place? Because somewhere around 2000 years ago, in the tiny town of Bethlehem, a child was born who came to understand the Love that he was and who desired to teach all of humanity how to know this Love and how to be this Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. The reason Jesus was born and what he hoped to teach us how to be. Or as I like to say it, “Jesus came to help us to REMEMBER THE LOVE THAT WE ARE.”
Jesus, through the spark that was born within him and through a lifelong journey wrapped up in contemplation, meditation and prayer, Jesus came to remember his origin in Oneness with God. God, he came to understand, was LOVE. Jesus then went about teaching us how to know this truth within ourselves – to remember the love that we are and to enjoy the peace, freedom and contentment that comes from living in this state of Loving Remembrance. And Jesus wasn’t alone in this remembrance. Mary knew. Joseph knew. Elizabeth knew. Many of the disciples knew. Most certainly Mary Magdalene knew.
My Christmas message then, is about LOVE! My wish for you is that you know love. That you know, without a doubt, the magnificent, glorious, expression of the Divine that God seeks to be through you. That you know, at the deepest core of your being, the Presence of this Love and that you know that you are the very nature of LOVE itself. That you come to know the uniquely creative way in which God wants to experience the human condition THROUGH YOU and that you know the peace, joy, contentment and fulfillment that comes in realizing this gift, and that you are free to find the fullest expression of this gift. That you come to realize that the WORLD NEEDS YOU….that only you can bring the unique gift through which God wants to be known in the world and that each and every one of us needs your gift. And that you realize that in being your gift and sharing it in the world, the world becomes a more loving, compassionate, peaceful and harmonious place. My Christmas wish is that you come to know what Jesus came to know and that through you, the vision of the kingdom that Jesus saw can now be made manifest in our world.
And finally, a heart-felt THANK YOU! Thank you for being born into this world. Thank you for being the unique expression of God’s love in the world. Thank you for being love and for being loving. Thank you for making the world a more loving and harmonious place because of the LOVE that you are. And thank you for the work that it takes to know this love – overcoming fear, transcending resistance, being willing to dive deeply into the wounds of the past so that they may be healed and released. And thank you for flying on wings of eagles, uplifted in the love of God so that you can be the glorious magnificence of who God made you to be!
All love, all peace and all joy to you and yours this Christmas and always!
A message on the strange times we are in and on the hope of birthing a new world. I dedicate this to my children and the other young people who will ultimately bear the consequences of this current transition.
These are strange times with all the conflicts going on in our world, most obviously the failure of the US government to do its job, thereby forcing a shutdown. In addition to these outward signs, people have been sharing with me, personal feelings and experiences of disproportionate anxiety, depression, restlessness, impatience, anger, rage and the feeling as if their world is in a complete state of chaos and overwhelm. I heard it described as if we are riding a rollercoaster of unexpected and unpleasant (for many) happenings. The people who might call themselves sensitives, or just plain “spiritual” seem to be feeling all of this even more acutely. As spiritual people, we are compelled to wonder, “What does this all mean, what is the purpose in all of this and what can we learn?”
In a nutshell, what we are experiencing is the death throes of the hierarchical and patriarchal cultural and sociological paradigm in which we have been imprisoned for the past 5 – 10, 0000 years. If any of you have ever witnessed a death, you know what that looks like – extreme anxiety, depression, restlessness, bursts of anger and impatience, physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual discomfort. This is ultimately what we are experiencing both on an individual and collective level. Hierarchy and Patriarchy, and every structure built upon these models of leadership are coming to an end. And, those invested in these kinds of power structures are desperately clinging to the life they have known and are resisting the release of what has, up until now, given them the false sense of power and control. As the shields, which have carefully guarded government and corporate structures founded on corruption and greed, are falling away, the American people (and the world) is saying, “ENOUGH!” Our job, in the midst of this, is to let the old order self-destruct (which it is doing at a rapidly increasing rate) and be ready to step in to re-create a world that is based in something more life giving.
How to Manage the Dismantling
As I see it, there are two levels to this dismantling: 1) One that is personal and 2) one that is collective. Here is how we can support this dismantling, both within ourselves and within the world around us.
1) Personally: For each of us personally, the dismantling is about undoing the parts within us that are ruled and manipulated by fear. It is about identifying the parts of ourselves which are feeling anxious, depressed, restless, angry, sorrowful and which might even be experiencing these sensations physically. In short, our fearful/egoic self is dying, right along with the fearful/egoic parts of our culture. A portion of this personal dismantling also includes a life-review of sorts. All those unhealed wounds within us or things we have suppressed or ignored seem to be finding their way to the surface in order that they may be named, healed and released. The simple formula for participating in this dismantling is to imagine your fearful/egoic self as a separate individual. Visualize this part of you and HOLD IT in love and compassion. Thank it for enduring the suffering of the human condition and project thoughts of healing and release to all it has carried for you so that it may ascend to a place of peace.
2) Collectively: For the world, the dismantling is the same – allowing the fearful/egoic parts of our human community to die. And, the practice is the same. HOLD the world in love. THANK it for bearing the suffering it has born for the sake of our fear. Project thoughts of healing and release to the broken, fearful, hurting and wounded parts of our world so that they too might ascend to a peaceful place.
This part of my message is specific to those who have identified themselves as healers, lightworkers, lightwarriors, Indigos, Crystals, peacemakers, lovers, etc. Whatever name you call yourself, you have been aware of a special call within you to be a vessel of love and healing in this world. You have a special job. Because of the gifts you have been given, you are especially skilled in transforming fear into love, ignorance into wisdom, confusion into insight, hatred into compassion. You all have your own unique way of bringing love into the world, you are now called to step forward and do what you know you have been called to do. Additionally, I have heard many rumblings about the healers coming together. I’m not sure, exactly, what that means, but let that invitation ring in your heart and guide you toward what that might mean for you.
Way showers and Pioneers Get Ready
And, now is the time for the way showers and pioneers, the millenials, post-moderns, Gen-X’ers and Gen-y’ers to GET READY! As the outgoing power-hungry hoards have accused you of being “slackers,” (which we all know has never been true!) this is YOUR TIME to shine!!! You were born with the knowledge of what the new world needs to look like, and you were born with the vision, gifts and passions to make that happen. Of course, the old regime first needs to fall away. But GET READY….because the new world is YOUR world and will be crafted by your hands, your vision, your wisdom and most importantly, your compassion. You are the most loving and compassionate generation yet to be born on this planet and as the old world falls, you will be the ones bringing the new world to life! Get ready….your time is very, very near.
A Vision of the New World
Of course, no one can predict exactly what the new world will look like, especially since it will be the generations behind me (at 48) who will grow the roots of the new world. For my generation, we are merely the seed planters and the bridge. My sense is that the new world will look nothing like what we have previously known. The new world, will not be ruled by fear or power over, but by love and cooperative collaboration. Perceived separations will fall away and we will come to see how we are ONE, while honoring what is unique and special among us. We will learn to be STEWARDS of our planet, not rapists. We will honor the planet for the gifts it gives us and we will treat her with gentleness and kindness. We will learn to grow crops organically and without harmful and deadly chemicals, and we will see that there is enough to feed every mouth on this planet when we emphasize the growth of living foods. In a spirit of unity, we will ensure that every person is fed, housed, clothed, kept safe, provided with adequate medical care and a quality education. We will honor cultural differences, while finding the love between us. The world will be governed by peace, harmony, love and compassion. We will learn that when we come together in love, there is enough, all of our needs are met in abundance, we will find our own unique gifts and discover meaning and purpose in sharing these gifts for the on-going betterment of the world, we will find support for who we are, we will know love, the value of honoring our own truth as well as the truth of others, we will find direction in wisdom instead of fear and we will discover that we are never alone. Too big of an order? I don’t think so. In short, we will discover the kingdom of God among us and we will walk in peace.
My prayers and blessings to you as we witness the death of what has been, in anticipation of the birth of love.
Lauri Ann Lumby