The Sermon on the Mount is the first major presentation of the teaching of Jesus. This sermon presents, in a condensed, encoded form, the basics of the entire spiritual program Jesus was presenting to the people of his time. This was not a new teaching or a revolutionary new religion. What Jesus was teaching had been around for close to 200 years in the Gnostic and Essene communities. The sermon is given in its encoded form because it is being presented to the general public. Jesus reserved specific explanations for small groups which were formed of people desiring a deeper understanding of spiritual things.
The Sermon on the Mount is broken up into the following sections:
The sermon begins with a statement of specific things in encoded form, now known as the beatitudes. The King James Version presents these as follows:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The poor in spirit has a specific historical reference. The Essene community was part of a large network of religious groups throughout the Middle East and Egypt. Individual groups adopted different names, but the movement shared a large amount of principles and practices in common. One of those practices was the pooling of resources as community property. Private ownership of tools, property and money was not allowed. When a person joined one of these communities their personal property was held separate for a period of one year. During that time the person was housed, clothed and fed from the community resources. The person was also expected to work in the community in exchange for the basic needs of life the community provided.
During the first year the basic spiritual theology was taught, but a great number of details were withheld as to how the theology was actually implemented in more advanced study and practice. At the end of the first year the person was asked to make a decision to stay or leave. If this life was not a good match for the person they could leave and their personal property was returned to them. If they decided to stay, their personal property was added to the community stores and was no longer theirs. This practice is reflected in Christianity today through a vow of poverty taken by priests and a number of other clergy in the faith. The poor in spirit refers specifically to members of these communities who have renounced the possession of personal property in their quest for spiritual enlightenment.
The spiritual training proceeded in three phases. The first phase was general theology presented during the first four years of residence in the community. After this time people were usually sent out on missionary work to spread the theology to the general public. Most of them were not knowledgeable about the advanced information taught later in the process, so they could not reveal restricted information to people outside of the organization. Missionary work would last for about two years during which time they were observed to see if they were holding strictly to the theology and practices of the community. Upon completion of the missionary work, if they had performed well and kept to the teaching, they were invited into the next higher level of spiritual work. This was the level of discipleship and is characteristic of the close followers of Jesus.
Discipleship lasted for an indefinite period of time and progress beyond that level was dependant on demonstrating a high level of mental and emotional purity. The Kingdom of Heaven is a state of consciousness defined by living in the presence of God. This is an inner state of experience and has nothing to do with a place people believe they go to when they die. The goal of living in these communities was to attain this state of living in the presence of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, in this lifetime. The teaching, practices and support provided by the community were all geared to bring about this experience within the individual. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven is the coded statement of what the communities offered to any who would join them and follow the theology and practices being taught.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
The heart of the discipleship program is the work of inner purification of our thoughts and emotions. No one among us has come through life without regrets and guilt over the things we have done or the things we should have done and didn’t do. The discipleship program is also the inner journey of self-discovery. During this process a detailed, ruthless examination of our inner thoughts and feelings is required. This will, at some time, bring us to the darkest point of our lives. Many refer to this time as the long dark night of the soul. This is one of those times in life when we are moved completely to tears. We mourn for what we have done and the pain and injury we have caused to others. We may also mourn for the things we should have done and did not do. The pain we have caused others comes back to us strongly and clearly at this time. Where we can we need to make amends to the people we have hurt as long as doing so will not cause further harm to them or another person. Where we cannot, the inner forgiveness process will complete the task. In either case the peace of God will come to us and we will be comforted.
Just this much alone will bring us closer to God. The deep abiding peace we experience from going through this process will be with us for the rest of our lives. If this is all we accomplished it would be well worth the effort we put into it. But there is so much more we can enter into and experience.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
The meek is another term, like the poor in spirit, used for these spiritual communities. We have to keep in mind that this was an area under military occupation. Tribute, in the form of taxes, was being extracted from the people. The land that was theirs in previous generations had been taken from them. The people were no longer free, but were subject to foreign rule. They were now paying rent on land they should have owned. Whenever there is an occupying force like the Roman army, you also get a multitude of spies and informers, people seeking favor with the authorities by providing information on other individuals. It was not safe to speak openly about many things. This is another reason why Jesus spoke in parables to the general public.
The foundation of freedom is control of the land and natural resources. When individuals or groups of individuals like the spiritual communities own the land and the natural resources on the land, they are free of outside control. The people become self-sufficient and can stand on their own. Take away control of the land and you take away their self-sufficiency and their freedom. You make them dependant. This is how an army of occupation maintains control, by controlling the land and the natural resources on the land.
The people of Jesus’ time had memories of freedom and the struggle involved to gain that freedom. The Maccabee rebellion was still in their mind, just as the revolutionary war and the civil war is still in the mind of Americans. It had only been about 200 years since the time of Judas Maccabee and the stunning victories over the armies of the Seleucid kings placed in control of the area by Alexander the Great. Some of the communities were in favor of military action against the Romans. The Dead Sea Scrolls include the War Scroll, depicting an armed battle against the Kittim, the Roman army of occupation. Others did not advocate violence but sought peaceful means to get control of their land back from Rome. Either way, return of the land to the people was a hot topic of discussion.
In essence, Jesus is saying these spiritual communities will eventually get control of their land back. He does not advocate violence, but clearly sees that a truly spiritual base will be required to unify the people before control of the land can be returned to them. He tells us that of myself I can do nothing, but through the power of God, all things are possible. We have a modern day story of just such a struggle. The non-violent movement of Gandhi in India that resulted in the removal of British occupation from that country. The power of people unified in a spiritual base can accomplish amazing things.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Righteousness can be describes as right thinking, right feeling and right action. But that does not really give us a functional definition we can relate to and understand. Righteousness is also the experience of the presence of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. In this state everything is right, the way it should be. Even if things in our personal life are not the way they should be, there is a feeling that this is correct in God’s plan for our life.
This author recently spoke with a lady who had just been fired from her job. She was experiencing the presence of God in her life and being fired was not disrupting that experience. Quite the contrary, she was seeing being fired as part of God’s plan for her life. There was a sense that everything was right in her life. She was aware that she needed to get out and find another job, but the experience of being fired was not weighing her down. (She subsequently found a temporary job that was “right” for her based on her experience and interests. The job also unexpectedly became permanent). Even though she had been fired, she was still connected to God. In fact, the desire to move deeper into the Kingdom was stronger than ever. This deep desire for more of the Kingdom is the hunger and thirst for righteousness.
We begin our spiritual journey from a theoretical point of view. We believe there is something more to us than we have come to believe in the past. We begin to believe that we too can experience the gifts of the spirit on a spiritual journey. But the underlying drive for spiritual growth is often a feeling of emptiness, like something is missing. This too is the hunger and thirst for righteousness, but it is too early in the process to clearly identify what it is and where it is leading us. As we progress on our spiritual path, the hunger and thirst become stronger and easier to recognize. Once we are experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven on a more regular basis, we recognize the hunger and thirst as our desire for this closeness to God, this 100 percent full conscious contact that Jesus was experiencing. In the end, the hunger and thirst for righteousness is our desire to go home. Back to the love and security of God from which we were created.
In the Gospel of Thomas (saying #28), Jesus laments that people do not see that they came into the world empty, and they seek to go out of the world empty as well. None of them are thirsty. Now they are drunk (intoxicated by the ego). When they have shaken off their wine, then they will repent. Jesus clearly sees that when people have shaken off the intoxicating effect of the ego, they will repent. The word repent comes from the Greek word metanoia, which is spiritually related to the word metamorphosis, meaning reformation, transformation and transfiguration. To repent is to change our mind, but to do so in a way in which we are reformed, transformed and transfigured. The spiritual implications are clear.
This emptiness we feel in life cannot be filled with possessions. No amount of wealth can fill the emptiness within the soul. The ego tells us the answer is out there in the world so we go out in search of happiness and fulfillment. In the end we come back to ourselves and ask, “Is this all there is to life, just more things?” The answer is yes, and no. Yes, this is all the ego has to offer, more things. And no, there is more, much more, but only the spirit within can bring us into the more, into the presence of God. By changing our awareness and consciousness from being ego centered to being spirit centered, we have reformed our thinking and entered upon the path of transformation that leads to transfiguration. In this process the emptiness of the soul is filled with the presence of God, the spirit within experiences its fulfillment and we become whole and complete. We awaken and come into our own as a spiritual being, standing fully and completely in the Kingdom of Heaven.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
In the ancient Egyptian ceremony following the death of a pharaoh, pharaoh’s heart is symbolically placed on the plate of a balance and a feather is placed on the other plate. If pharaoh’s heart is lighter than a feather (free from guilt, anger and resentment) then pharaoh is entitled to enter the afterlife. If pharaoh’s heart is heavy then he cannot enter into paradise.
This ceremony is the outer representation of a basic spiritual principle. Jesus tells us that it is what is in our heart that is important. An evil man brings forth evil from his warehouse, which is his heart, and a good man brings forth good from his heart. As a man is in his heart, so is he. The heart represents our inner emotional nature. If our heart is filled with the lower fear based emotions then our ego is being fed and it is in control of our life. The ego is into control, power, manipulation and separation. If our heart is filled with the higher love based emotions then our spirit is being fed and it is in control of our life. The spirit is into freedom, empowerment of the individual, support of others, oneness with God and the unity of all of mankind.
The currency of the ego is judgment. Judgment is what the ego deals in every minute of every day. Nothing is exempt from the judgment of the ego; nothing is sacred. When the ego is in control constant comparisons are being made and judgments are being rendered. We are better than some and not as good as others. This is why the ego wants things. Possessions are the outward showing of a higher status and position in the world. A collection of high value possessions demonstrates an important ego, separate from all the other lesser egos in the world. Is this why kings and queens have the finest things? To demonstrate they really are superior to everyone else?
Wealth and power are not the only things to which the ego is attracted. Anything exclusive will do. This is why we have private country clubs and all the other things that are for members only. Many outward expressions of religion have adopted this same mentality of exclusiveness. Being saved and going to heaven while the unsaved are going to hell is very attractive to the ego. It maintains the elite status in the mind of the holder. Going out and saving more souls only intensifies the feelings of importance and accentuates the separation between people. It’s always us versus them, good versus evil. The overriding hallmark of the ego is separation, and it is this separation from everyone else that separates us from God as well. This is the judgment; that we are separate from God, and as such really are in need of salvation.
The currency of the spirit is mercy. Mercy is what the spirit deals in every minute of every day. Nothing is exempt from the mercy of the spirit. It is freely given to all. No qualifications, no conditions and no judgments are ever attached to real mercy. It is the extension of God’s love, which is unconditional. Mercy heals the wounds to the soul and spirit, restores sanity to the mind and calms the raging storm of our emotions. Mercy heals the separation between us and other people, just as it heals the separation between God and us. Mercy unifies us; gathers our common strengths and overcomes our common weaknesses. Mercy fills the gaps in our needs and frees us from the judgment of our own ego. Mercy is the hallmark of the spirit within and the evidence of God’s love flowing through us into the world. Our mercy is the demonstration of our salvation and our connection to God. Blessed are the merciful: for the love that comes from God has replaced judgment, and they are free at last.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
Our emotional nature, not what we believe, is the key to our spirituality. The goal of the discipleship program was to cleanse the mind and heart; to become pure in heart. This is a condition that will take different amounts of time with different individuals. It is not predictable based on time. There are indicators, which can be used to estimate the level of progress toward this purified state. A person becomes more loving, merciful, gentle and kind. The concept of a self, of me and mine, subsides and ceases its activity. A person becomes less concerned with himself or herself and more involved in supporting others and their quest for truth and God. The body takes on a much less important role and the loving spirit within rises to prominence in everything the person does.
This purified state of mind and emotions is described as being a virgin. It is a state that applied to both men and women and really had nothing to do with a person’s state of sexual experience. The teaching of Jesus is esoteric, meaning inner. It always refers to inner things and processes, not the body or outer conditions. Attaining this virginal state was required before the ceremony or initiation into the apostleship program, the highest level of spiritual development.
The ceremony or initiation is referred to as the mystical marriage. A man becomes the bridegroom with God as the bride. A woman becomes the bride with God as the bridegroom. During this process the Holy Spirit enters and joins with the person’s spirit. Following initiation is a process of spiritual transformation where the merged spirits of the person and the Holy Spirit bring forth a new level of spiritual being. This is the Christ, the fully awakened and empowered Spirit within. This bringing forth of the new spiritual being within is referred to as being born again, or being born from above. The process is described as the birth of Christ and is presented as the birth of Jesus in the Bible.
Matthew 1:18 (RSV) reads, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.” This is how the story begins, and right away we have a footnote that explains, “Other ancient authorities read ‘of the Christ.’” When the substitution of ‘Jesus Christ’ for ‘of the Christ’ is changed back, we have “Now the birth of the Christ took place in this way.” Now we are talking about the raised up and empowered spirit within, not a physical person. Christ is a title, the recognition of a highly elevated state of consciousness, which we now refer to as the Christ Consciousness. The communities described above as the poor in spirit were in the business of bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven in the individual members and creating Christed beings as an end product. Jesus was not the one and only Christ. Every graduate of the apostleship program had the same 100 percent full conscious contact with God that Jesus was experiencing.
Mary, the wife of Joseph, is an example of this process. “When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;” This refers to the awakened and empowered spirit coming forth in her and not a physical baby. This is a child of the Holy Spirit, a Christed spiritual being, not a body. The early Christian church with their perspective of male supremacy, can only conceive of a physical child when it comes to a woman. To admit that women were equal spiritually with men and could become Christed beings would have been absolutely abhorrent to the early Christian Church.
Remember, these communities were specifically created to bring about this high spiritual state in as many people as possible. So we need to take a closer look at Joseph and Mary. In Laurence Gardner’s book “Bloodline of the Holy Grail” (Element Press) Pg. 35, the concept of Joseph as a carpenter is explained, “The word translated into English as ‘carpenter’ represents the much wider sense of the ancient Greek ho tekton, which is in turn a rendition of the Semitic word naggar. As pointed out by the Semitic scholar Dr. Geza Vermes, this descriptive word could perhaps be applied to a trade craftsman, but could equally well define a scholar or teacher. It certainly did not identify Jesus and Joseph as woodworkers. More precisely it identifies them as men with skills, learned men, who were masters of what they did. Indeed, one translation of the Greek, ho tekton, relates to ‘a master of the craft’, as may be applied to modern Freemasonry.”
Jesus was constantly referred to as ‘Teacher’. Could his father have also been a teacher, a spiritual teacher? In the outer form of religion we are lead to believe that the spiritual nature of the teaching of Jesus is a result of his being the only Son of God, or in some cases, God himself. But what if Jesus grew up in a family of spiritual teachers, a family highly placed in one of these special communities, a family of Christed beings? Would this change our perception of who Jesus was? If Joseph were a graduate of one of these communities, it would only make sense that Mary, his betrothed, would also be a graduate. And what do we have? Mary was with child of the Holy Spirit. Mary had gone through the entire process of discipleship, on to apostleship, and was becoming a Christed being herself.
The apostle level is where the full 100 percent conscious contact with God is perfected. This is where we see God. This is the level of experience where Jesus tells us “The Father and I are one.” Jesus is not the only one to have this experience, it is open to anyone who will go through the same process he went through, which is why he told people to follow him and did not ask them to worship him. He wanted us to follow him through this process and become a Christed being, just as he had done. This option is still in place. We can still follow the teaching of Jesus, cleanse ourselves of the ego, become pure in heart, and see God for ourselves.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
Who are the peacemakers? Is someone a peacemaker if they stop two people or two countries from fighting? A peacekeeper is a better description of someone who stops others from fighting. They are keeping things peaceful, at least on the surface. But the underlying anger and hatred is still there. The people are not really experiencing peace. A peacemaker makes peace within himself or herself. We have control over three things in our life; our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions. We have control over nothing else. We cannot create peace within another person, only within our self. Creating peace within our self is a process of resolving the inner conflicts, something over which only we have control.
This is the work of discipleship: resolving the inner conflicts in our mind and heart. As we do this, we come into the peace that comes from God. This is different from the peace we experience in the world. This is the deep abiding peace that passes all understanding. In the early stages it comes and goes. The more of the inner conflicts we resolve, the longer the peace stays and the deeper it becomes. Then we come to the stage in our development where the peace never leaves us. We become firmly rooted in the peace and serenity of God, unshaken by the events of the world.
During this same process we become closer to God. We really begin to realize we are intimately connected to God and the spirit within us is the same as the substance of God. We begin to associate ourself with the spirit within and with God, not with the ego and the world. We see ourselves as being in the world, but not of the world. We become born of God, not born in sin. God becomes the parent figure in our lives and we become the children of God. In this same process we come to see everyone else as we see ourselves. We are all children of God.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
There is no question Christians have been persecuted for their beliefs. The practitioners of every religion have been subjected to some level of persecution at some time, so this is not an unusual statement from the outer perspective. But since the teaching of Jesus is esoteric, an inner teaching, what does this persecution have to do with our mind and heart? And why is this persecution done for righteousness sake if righteousness is the presence of God, the Kingdom of Heaven?
This persecution appears in two different forms in the discipleship process, which is also why it appears in two of the beatitudes. The first persecution is an inner process. The ego stands in the place where the presence of God should be. We persecute the ego within ourself to diminish and eventually eliminate it from our consciousness. As we do this, the presence of God takes its place.
Our intention is the guiding light in this process. If we simply empty out the ego, anything can take its place. In Matthew 12:43-45 (RSV) Jesus tells us “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” By emptying out the ego for the sake of righteousness, for the sake of the presence of God, we are inviting God to come in and fill us with His presence, peace and love. This way the house is occupied when the unclean spirit returns and there is no place for it to enter and dwell.
This emptying out process is critically important in the cleansing of the mind and heart. Imagine purchasing a house, and when moving day arrives you find the house full of someone else’s furniture and belongings. How can you move your things in and make it your home when it is already full? The same principle applies to consciousness. How can we bring the presence of God into our lives when our mind and heart are already filled with the things of the ego? We cannot. Just as in the example of a house full of furniture and someone else’s belongings, as we clear out a closet, the space can be filled with the new belongings, and once a room is cleared out, it too can be filled with the new furniture. Step-by-step the old can be removed and replaced with the new.
This is how the persecution of the ego proceeds. One issue at a time is addressed and resolved. The space occupied by that issue in our consciousness is then filled with the presence of God. One by one, the tools and weapons are taken away from the ego until nothing remains. The ego has been persecuted out of existence; it has nothing and it is reduced to nothing. When the ego no longer exists and we have filled ourselves with the peace, love and joy which come from God, we have entered into the Kingdom of Heaven and have become one with God. We have transcended the world and graduated as a mature spiritual being ready to take our place in the spiritual fabric of the universe which is God.Back to top of Sermon
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
How do we know when the ego has been emptied out and the Kingdom of Heaven has taken its place? If we live in a protected and supportive environment like a monastery, convent or temple, the ego can remain undetected, acting covertly within the individual. This was also the problem facing the spiritual communities 2,000 years ago. How do you know when the inner process of transformation is complete?
A test was devised to make that determination. By this time the individual had spent many years in the community growing, maturing and moving deeper into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is their life now, nothing of their previous life remains. The person is brought into a private room without notice or preparation. They are accused of all kinds of things falsely, told they are being expelled from the community and they are a disgrace to everyone around them. You can imagine the stress and confusion the person would be going through. Having spent a large portion of their life dedicated to this community, being accused of evil and disgusting things, which they have not done, would be the ultimate injustice. If there were any fear, anger, guilt or resentment left in the person, now would be the time for it to show.
That, in fact, was the whole purpose of the test; to see if there were any lower, negative emotions left inside the person. If the person responded only from love, with gentleness, kindness and respect they were deemed to be pure in heart and were immediately taken into the apostleship program. They would not return again to the community until the initiation and transformation process was complete. Failing the test would mean remaining at the disciple level from that point on. This was a time-honored process used for centuries. All prophets of God in the Old Testament went through the same training, the same emptying out, and the same test of persecution. All were pure in heart and had become one with God.
Jesus is telling his disciples to rejoice when this happens to them; the leaders of the community are recognizing the disciple’s spiritual growth and are doing this because they believe the disciple is ready for the apostleship program. Great is their reward in Heaven for they are moving on the perfection of the spiritual state, the full 100 percent conscious contact with God. When Jesus says “be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”, this is what he is talking about; the perfection of the spiritual state in the apostleship program, becoming one with God.Back to top of Sermon
“Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Salt and salt of the earth have some interesting meanings. Salt, in addition to the obvious meaning, also means that which purifies, preserves or corrects. Not worth one’s salt means not worth one’s wages or sustenance. Salt is the Latin root for salary or monetary compensation. Salt of the earth refers to a person or persons regarded as the finest, noblest etc. Salt of the earth people are honest, moral, responsible and dependable.
Jesus recognizes the common people as being basically honest, moral, responsible and dependable. In the eyes of Jesus, these are people suitable for spiritual growth. Jesus generally avoids the wealthy and powerful and speaks to the common people. He has a history of teaching spiritual truths to people of lesser social standing and is accused of teaching tax collectors and prostitutes. Jesus has recognized the wealthy and powerful are well convinced their lives are working and are not in need of change or correction. Many people like tax collectors and prostitutes are convinced their lives are not working and are open to change and correction. These are the people Jesus is seeking.
“You are the salt of the earth” recognizes the basic honesty, moral strength and dependability of the people wanting to learn more about true spiritual growth. “But if the salt have lost his savor” refers to people who have lost their honesty, integrity and dependability. “Wherewith shall it be salted?” Here Jesus questions how a person’s integrity can be restored once it has been squandered or lost to the world. “It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Once a person looses their integrity and morality it is very difficult to engage in spiritual growth. In most cases there is no desire for spiritual things, only more of the worldly things, which have cost that person their integrity in the first place.
Our salt of the earth nature can be re-established, but it usually comes only after hitting bottom and coming to the realization of how much damage and injury we have caused to ourself and to others. This hitting bottom can be compared to being trodden under foot of men. This is the story of the prodigal son and is the foundation of twelve step programs across the globe, which we will explore in more detail later in this work.
Spiritual growth requires an honest assessment of the issues within us and necessitates becoming responsible for our thoughts, feelings and actions. No excuse or rationalization can be tolerated, for any defect in our integrity will deny us the fullness of the kingdom of Heaven.Back to top of Sermon
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”
The most common interpretation of John, Chapter three is that Jesus is the light, which has entered the world. In the outer experience of religion the difference between Jesus and ordinary people is accentuated. In that view, Jesus, as the only Son of God, is the only light in the world. Ordinary people cannot be the light. Yet Jesus is telling the assembled crowd that they are the light of the world. How can this be?
The light is not an individual person, but rather the living spirit within each and every one of us. The light is the God substance from which our spirit is made. The light is the source of everything that lives and nothing lives without it. Plants, animals and people all have this light of God within them. For those who are sensitive and can see auras, even rocks have a small amount of this light in them. The light of God is in and of everything. From this perspective there is nothing that is separate from God.
“You are the light of the world” calls attention to the light within each of us, and challenges us to change our perspective regarding our perception of our self and our place in the world. We have come to accept that we are of little value in the world. But if the light of God resides within us, how does that change our view of whom and what we are? How can we be of so little value when the single most important thing in the world, the substance of God, resides within us?
In Matthew 10:29-31 (RSV) Jesus tells us, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” In this and many more verses, Jesus is trying to get us to see that we are of greater importance than we have believed. Our value is not determined by the opinions of other people; God who has created us and placed within us His very substance, His own Spirit and nature determines our value.
“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” As we grow spiritually the light of spirit shines brighter within us. This is something that we cannot hide. It shows in our face, in our actions and in our character. Just as a city on a hill cannot be hid, so too is our spirituality there for all to see. The light of spirit is not something of which we need be ashamed. This is the substance of God, it is your real self, who and what you really are: not some fake person other people may want you to be. You are a personalized creation of God, a child of the divine. The spirit within you was perfectly conceived and perfectly created. You were not born in sin, you were born of God; the living light of spirit, the God substance within, is proof that it is so. Any imperfection we may see is in our bodies, in our thoughts, feelings or our actions. This is not who we are. We are not our bodies, our thoughts, feelings or our actions. We are divine spirit and we must let our true nature, the loving nature of God, shine through.
Spirit manifests not only in our thoughts and feelings, but also in our actions. As the emerging spirit transforms our thoughts and feelings, we must have the courage to allow the spirit within to transform our actions as well. This will be uncomfortable in the beginning. We are not accustomed to doing loving things for others. What will they think of us? How will they react? We really don’t know. People expect us to be the way we were. Whenever we change, some people are not going to like what is happening, even if the change is for the better. Changing our thoughts and feelings is relatively safe; we are not confronting other people. But changing our actions will disrupt relationships. The balance we have established with others will be upset and we will feel pressured to return to our old ways. But the power and light of spirit is so important that we cannot afford to keep it hidden. If we do not have the courage to change our actions, the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be fully established within us.
The process of change must be complete if we are to leave our old world behind and enter into the presence of God, and that means our actions in the world must also change.Back to top of Sermon
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, ‘Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.’ Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The use of “jot” and “tittle” leads us to think the law Jesus is talking about is the Law of Moses. The “jot” and “tittle” are small marks in the Hebrew language used to indicate vowels. The ancient form of Hebrew was a written language of consonants only. The “jot” and “tittle” were introduced into the written language shortly before the time of Jesus to clarify which vowels were to be used.
Jesus and his disciples are accused of not washing their hands before eating and of working on the Sabbath. Both of these are relatively serious violations of the 613 Laws of Moses. How can Jesus be the fulfillment of the Law of Moses if He is not following the Law? It becomes clear to us that the law Jesus has come to fulfill is not the Law of Moses, but some other law. If that is the case, what is this other law? Looking at the life of Jesus, and taking His teaching as a whole integrated system, the concept that emerges is the perfection of the spiritual state. Based on His teaching, the law Jesus came to fulfill is the Law of Spiritual Perfection. This law can be stated in the following terms:
This is the same process all of the prophets have used and it is the basis for all of the spiritual communities that were spread out over most of the known world at that time. The fulfillment of the Law of Spiritual Perfection is what brings us into the higher consciousness known as the Kingdom of Heaven. The process of spiritual perfection is a gradual one. The Kingdom does not wait for the last vestige of the process to become complete before manifesting itself. Rather, the Kingdom comes in small increments as we grow spiritually. Each step is rewarded with a little more of the Kingdom. The important part is to keep working on the whole process, so when the process is complete, total oneness with God is achieved. If a part of the process is not taught, or followed, then total oneness with God will not result.
Whoever does not teach the complete process will be considered the least in this higher state of consciousness (the Kingdom of Heaven). Whoever teaches the complete process and practices the whole of it, will rise to the highest level in oneness with God, and will be regarded as the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The scribes and Pharisees were very practiced in the Laws of Moses, and yet this did not bring them into this experience of the Kingdom of Heaven. A person’s righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the strict following of the Laws of Moses; otherwise, he or she will not experience the kingdom. The Law of Spiritual perfection leads us into the Kingdom of Heaven.Back to top of Sermon
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca’ [fool], shall be in danger of the council. But whosoever shall say, ‘Thou fool’, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the alter, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way. First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
Anger is one of the stronger emotions used by the ego. Anger feeds emotional-based energy to the ego and produces nothing usable by the spirit. The spirit within cannot grow or function in an environment of anger. Through anger, the ego becomes stronger and more firmly in control of our life. This is one of the choices we face when we embark on our spiritual journey: we must choose love over anger; we cannot have both. By allowing anger into our life, we lock ourself out of the Kingdom of Heaven and condemn ourselves to the tyranny of an out-of-control ego.
There are some conditions where a demonstration of anger is appropriate. This why Jesus included the qualification “without a cause” in this statement. There is a difference between living in anger and a demonstration of anger. When Jesus chased the moneychangers out of the temple, this was a demonstration of anger. Jesus is not allowing the anger itself to become part of Him or His consciousness, but He is using it for the effect it has on other people. Jesus does not hold on to the anger. It is just a demonstration, a performance, which is put on to create an end result. There is no real anger within Jesus, only love. As such, the demonstration of anger does not disrupt the experience of the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas real anger will quickly destroy any semblance of peace, love and joy within, and the experience of the presence of God will stop immediately. We have been given free will and it is up to us to choose what will be in our heart: anger or love.
“Raca” or “Thou fool” are representative of all denigrating comments that are made about people. Like everything else, this is not about specific comments, but the thoughts, and more importantly, the feelings we have about others or ourselves. This type of comment is demonstrating what is in our heart. As Jesus tells us, “it is not what goes into our mouth which defiles us, but that which comes out of it; for what comes out of our mouth proceeds from our heart.” If we make these comments, or even think the thoughts, we are not seeing everyone as part of the oneness; but seeing them as separate from us and from God. When we have the love that comes from God in our heart, we see everyone as a child of God, fully connected to us, God, and all of creation. Jesus mentions these comments because they demonstrate the lack of God’s love in our heart.
Notice that Jesus instructs us to resolve any conflict with others, represented by our “brother”, before presenting ourselves to God (at the alter). This is an important aspect of spiritual growth. The general focus is on changing our thoughts and feelings, but if these changes do not become reflected in our actions, then it is not a real change, but an act that is put on for the benefit of others. We want the love within us to be real and the anger to be an act, not the other way around. There is no real benefit to living in anger and pretending to be loving. The love must be real for the Kingdom to be real.Back to top of Sermon
“Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way [on the way to court] with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, ‘Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.’”
Conflict resolution is both an inner and an outer process. The existence of outer conflicts is representative of holding on to inner conflicts. These inner conflicts are issues we hold against others and are used by the ego to manipulate and control us. These inner issues are taking the place of the presence of God in our lives, and must be removed for the full presence of God to be experienced. The peace, love and joy that come from God is restricted or blocked by any form of conflict, resentment or bitterness. Only by removing every last remnant of the conflict are we free from its effects. Until then we are held captive by our own thoughts and feelings related to the conflict. We are imprisoned by our own resentment and bitterness, and will not be set free until all of it is resolved (“till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”)Back to top of Sermon
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shall not commit adultery: but I say to unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”
These are sayings that are difficult for people to understand when viewed from the outer perspective. What difference should it make what our thoughts or feelings are if we don’t act on them? Our entire code of social and legal behavior is based not on what we think, but on what we actually do. Why is this different? Jesus is teaching us about the Kingdom of Heaven, living in the presence of God in our everyday life. In order to accomplish this, we have to live and function from a higher set of standards. If we want to stay in the experience of the world, the standard of the world will serve us well, but if we want a higher experience, the Kingdom of Heaven, then we must adopt a higher standard.
For a man to look upon a woman and lust after her is normal for the world. In order for these thoughts and feelings to take place, the man generally has to see her as something that is separate from him. This is exactly what Jesus is pointing out; all of the things Jesus is mentioning require the person to view another person as being separate from them. The thought and feeling involved is not the cause of the problem, the concept and the point of view of separation is the real issue. As long as we are viewing others as being separate from us, we cannot live in the Kingdom. The presence of God is about oneness, the interconnected nature of everything in creation. To see anything as being separate is to deny the Kingdom and the presence of God.
While Jesus is referring to body parts (if thy right eye offend thee), we must remember that spiritual teachers often use outer images for inner processes. The right eye represents how we see things – our inner perception. If we perceive others in the world as being separate, we need to pluck that perception out of our consciousness and cast it from us. The left hand represents ego-related actions, while the right hand represents spirit-related actions. “If thy right hand offend thee” refers to our spiritual or religious related actions that are offensive to (not compatible with) the Spirit and presence of God. While many actions are considered normal in the world, they are not compatible with the presence of God within and need to be changed. Only actions, which are compatible with the love that flows from God, can remain with us if we are to fully experience God’s presence in our life. The greater the degree of compatibility, the greater the presence of God will be.
Our incompatible perceptions and actions are part of the “whole body” in the world. The world, in turn, is full of pain, suffering and distress. The world can therefore be considered a form of Hell. In essence, we do not enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a “whole body”, for this would include the ego, and the ego is not compatible with the presence of God. We enter the Kingdom egoless, and missing the attributes of the world. In the view of the world we are no longer a “whole body”. In the view of God we have cut away the limiting factors of the world and made ourselves compatible with the presence of God, and through our union with God have become “whole” spiritually. There is a correlation between “whole”, in a spiritual sense, and “Holy”. To become one with God is to validate our divinity and the true nature of the spirit within. We are born of God, created out of God substance, and are destined to overcome the world. Our divine nature will not be suppressed forever.Back to top of Sermon
“It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
In the Middle East during the time of Jesus, women were considered little more than personal property. A man could divorce his wife by publicly declaring “I divorce you” three times. But without a written divorce decree, the woman was socially considered to still be married, but without a home or any means of support. She could not legally remarry or have a new relationship without risking being stoned to death for adultery. This situation forced many women into lives of prostitution, abuse, disease and early death. Jesus was dedicated to changing the social structure and improving the lot of women in life. Jesus taught the higher spiritual principles and practices to women as well as men, so anyone who would do the inner work could enter into, and experience, the Kingdom of Heaven.
The point Jesus is making is that we are all children of God. Women are no exception. The spirit resides in all people, male and female alike, all creeds and all races. Every living person is a child of God, created out of God substance, loved and cherished by God for all of eternity. No social situation or personal opinion will ever change that fact. As long as we hold any other person in lower esteem than we hold ourselves, or anyone else, we have blocked the Kingdom of Heaven from our lives. We cannot fully enter into the Kingdom of Heaven as long as we hold anyone as being separate from us or from God. The Kingdom of Heaven is a kingdom of oneness; there is no place for separation.Back to top of Sermon
“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shall perform unto the lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great king. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
People make all kinds of promises. We grow up making promises. It used to be “cross my heart and hope to die”, now it’s “pinky promise”, linking pinky (little) fingers. In the time of Jesus it was “I swear by heaven above”, or “I swear by Holy Jerusalem” or “by the hair on my head”. Swearing on your mother’s grave was also popular. All of these things are efforts by the ego to manipulate others. Spiritual growth is a process of self-discovery and inner unification. During this process we sort out all of the things of the ego and discard them, leaving only the things of the spirit within. Manipulation and control of other people is gradually abandoned, along with the promises. The spirit deals only with “yes” or “no”. Either it is, or it isn’t. It’s a true or false decision. “To thine own self be true” is another statement of the same principle.
It may take many years for the transformation to become complete. The key to success is persistence; if you persist, you will succeed. Spiritual growth seems like some wild and exotic process, and in many ways it is, but the root of real spiritual growth is getting to know our self. What we find are true things and false things, and things that are a mixture of truth and falsehood, all thrown together. A great deal of the process of self-discovery and inner unification is really sorting out the true from the false, keeping the true and discarding the false. At first it seems like an easy task, but over the years we have accumulated so much information, opinions, conclusions and personal theories that the task can feel overwhelming. Add to this the emotional investment we have in certain things and it really is a difficult task. It will help if we keep in mind that the most important things in our life are the things that have taken the most work. Spiritual growth will take more work than anything else in your life, but it will become the single most important and valuable activity of your entire existence. Everything the world has to offer pales in comparison to living in the presence of God, becoming one with God and all of creation. The process hinges not on promises, but on “yes” and “no”.Back to top of Sermon
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee – turn not thou away.”
“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” is a reference to Hammurabi’s Code. Around 1780 BCE the King of Babylon set down a Code of conduct, carved in a large stone near the center of the city. It was the first publicly written code and was quite extensive in nature. The code is recognized by the principle of whatever you do to someone else will be done to you. Rabbi Hillel states the premise in a slightly different wording “Don’t do to someone what you don’t want done to you.”
Scholars believe that Jesus restates the same principle in positive terms in the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Hammurabi’s Code and the statement of Rabbi Hillel are reactive, and are characteristic of the world of the ego. The form Jesus uses is proactive, and when taken in context with the rest of the sayings of Jesus is firmly placed within the world of spirit-based thought, feeling and action. The first example Jesus uses is “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” The Code of Conduct of the time allowed you to do to someone else what he or she has done to you. But Jesus is advocating something remarkably different. He is saying let’s stop the cycle of aggression and violence, let’s make ourselves love-based, doing good to others first. Jesus recognized that great changes in society begin with small changes in the actions of individual people. The only reliable way of changing the world is to change it one person at a time.Back to top of Sermon
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your bretheren only, what do ye more than the others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
To love our neighbors and hate our enemies is to keep us divided. It always comes down to an “us-versus-them” mentality. Anything that keeps us separated from each other also keeps us separated from God.
I had an interesting experience. I was working with a gentleman on an engineering project and he came to a point where our differences in religion were no longer tolerable to him. I was unceremoniously thrown out of his work place and told repeatedly that I was going to hell. I could not in good conscience abandon him. He needed things I was in a position to provide and he had no other assistance for his project. We live out in the country where services and resources are limited.
There were parts that were still needed so I volunteered to get them in. Slowly he accepted the help he needed, mostly because he had no other real options. At all times I treated him with the respect, kindness and gentleness that all children of God deserve. Gradually his attitude changed. It took about a year and a half, but the relationship has changed significantly. In place of an adversary, I now have an ally. In place of an enemy, I have a friend. Where there was anger in his heart, at least some love now resides. Not everyone will respond this way, but some will.
Jesus understood that this was an inner process. It was designed to create change within the individual. Jesus also knew that an act of love is contagious – it can be passed from one person to another and in doing so, love can reach out and touch the heart of another person, transforming them in the process. Loving your enemies, blessing those who curse you, and doing good to those who despise you is not really intended to change them. The point is to remain within the flow of God’s love, for in that flow we are not only blessed, but also transformed.
If we pay attention, we will recognize that God treats all of His children equally. The sun shines on all, both good and evil, and the rain falls on all as well. It does not matter what religion they follow, what race they are, or what the color of their skin might be; they are all held equally in God’s loving arms. God’s love is the standard. As we work toward the perfection of the spiritual state, we must adopt God’s standard as our own. We must love all children of God as He does. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This is the law of spiritual perfection. It is the perfection of the spiritual state within, and the perfection of the love for all of God’s children.Back to top of Sermon
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen by them: otherwise ye have no reward of your father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doist thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But when thou doist alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.”
When we need to advertise our spirituality to others, it is only a show of the ego, meant to impress others. When our spirituality is for show, it is not real, and we derive no real benefit from it. We can appear to be spiritual, or we can be spiritual. When our spirituality is real we do not need to make a show of it. Our loving actions, our kind and gentle attitude, and our respect for others are the demonstrations of our spirituality. Without these, there is no spirituality. Either we are love-based or we are fear-based. Being love-based is of the spirit, and comes from God. Being fear-based is of the ego and comes from separation from God. Our thoughts, feelings and actions demonstrate, moment-by-moment where we are based: in God and God’s love, or in fear and the ego.
Our spiritual growth is done in private, not in public. Most of our friends will not be aware of the inner work and transformation going on inside of us. If we are advertising what we are doing, we are defeating the purpose of our spiritual growth. This is a personal thing, between you and God. We do our work in private, in secret, and the results, our spirituality, will be demonstrated in the world openly through who we have become: a loving, kind and gentle person.Back to top of Sermon
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
There is a still quiet place, deep within the center of our being. Rather than a physical place, this is a place in our consciousness, a state of being. This state functions as a bridge between the outer world of ego, with all its hassle and turmoil, and the inner world of spirit, with its peace and serenity. From this place we can see both worlds. This is the place attained through meditation and prayer. Here we can relate to the things of the world, but we also have a channel to God at the same time. In this place we can access both the problems we face in life and the guidance of Spirit which we can turn into solutions to resolve our problems. This is the place referred to as “thy closet”.Back to top of Sermon
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.”
Many times prayer is seen as the process of asking God for something. Like a child, we repeat our request over and over hoping that the repeated requests will result in the granting of our desire. In other cases, the repeated prayer is simply a means of focusing the mind on a single end result, thus channeling the energy of God into that specific form. Either way, God is perceived as separate from us, someone to be persuaded or cajoled into granting a request.
Jesus is trying to get us to see our relationship with God as something very different from the perception of the outer form of religion. He is trying to get us to see that we are part of a much larger family, the family of mankind, and that we are all connected. He is teaching us that there are techniques and perspectives that can break down the barriers between us, bringing us into this experience of oneness, which is the kingdom. The Lord’s Prayer is a statement of this very process.Back to top of Sermon
“After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our father which art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
It may help us to get a different view of what this prayer means by starting at the end and working our way back to the beginning. There are two different states set forth, the last one presented will be the first examined. “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.” This is the kingdom of heaven, which we have been discussing. This is the end we seek: oneness with God.
The other state is represented by “Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil:” This is the state of the world, where suffering, death and destruction come to each of us. No one is exempt. Every physical body will suffer, die and be destroyed. These are the two worlds: spiritual and physical, eternal and temporal, spirit-centered and ego-centered.
What we seek is not the duality and separation of the lower section of the Lord’s Prayer, but the oneness and unification of the upper, or higher, part of the prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” This is the state of grace, of oneness with God, which we all seek. What stands between, and acts either as a barrier or as a bridge, is forgiveness. “And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is the act, and practice, of forgiveness.
The practice of forgiveness unifies the inner fractured nature of the ego-based personality, centering it on the foundation of the spirit within. As this practice progresses, everything ego-based is dismantled and discarded, so in the end, only the spirit remains. All of our consciousness becomes spirit-centered. This is the end effect of “Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.”
What emerges is our true personality, not the false personality of the ego. In this new personality there is no anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, envy, resentment, bitterness, guilt, pride or greed. We emerge into love, kindness, gentleness, politeness, understanding, respect and compassion. As we clear out the workings and tools of the ego, we are making room for the presence of God in our lives, which enters and fills each and every place we have emptied out. In this way we are gradually filled with the presence, peace, love and joy that come from God. Through these experiences, we fully and completely enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.Back to top of Sermon
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
This is the single most important statement in the Sermon on the Mount. It is also the most ignored. The outer form of religion may focus on the sacrifice of Jesus as the means of removing sin and being forgiven by God, but here, in Jesus’ own words is the clear, unequivocal statement of how we gain God’s forgiveness. Let’s place it in context with its related segment from the Lord’s Prayer, changing debtor to the trespass version for consistency.
“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This is the same principle in leaving our offering by the altar if we have anything against another person. Forgiveness of everyone and everything leads us to a pure heart, and the presence of God. Every little bit we hold back is a place within us where we cannot hold the presence of God. Complete forgiveness of others and of our self results in the complete presence of God within. It’s that simple, and that powerful.Back to top of Sermon
“Moreover when ye fast, be not; as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”
The outer form of religion gradually becomes an outer show of piety to impress other people. The inner form, which we can identify as spirituality, is private and not intended to impress other people. Spirituality becomes a process of inner transformation and self-unification. If our focus is on the outer form, we will miss the blessings of the inner experiences and connection to God. We will have traded the Kingdom of Heaven for the approval of other people, giving away the eternal for a fleeting and tenuous boost to our ego. Once we understand what is really at stake, supporting and feeding the ego becomes extremely foolish at best, and totally self destructive and depraved at the other extreme.
By focusing on the inner path and supporting the spirit within with love, the peace, love and joy of God begins to flow through us, transforming us in the process. In time, the inner transformation becomes obvious to others around us, and the reward we have received from God is clearly seen.Back to top of Sermon
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
We have come to be so focused on the ways of the world that we forget, or do not perceive, that it all must come to an end. There is nothing in this world that will not be taken from us. Moths will consume all of our fine clothes; the metal things will rust, and our jewels and gold will be carried away. Nothing will remain.
As for our spirit: the lessons we learn, the love we share and the peace we experience will all remain. We will carry those with us forever. The closer we become to God, the more of the experience we will retain. We are all familiar with the treasures of the world, but what are the treasures of heaven?
We can begin to get a feel for what these treasures are by talking to an elderly person and asking them what they treasure most in their life. There may be some things of the world that are important to them, but many times what is treasured the most is the love they shared with someone special. The memories of good times, the intimate sharing of thoughts and feelings, the trust and faithfulness of the ones we love are the most valued of life’s experiences. Also highly valued are the humorous events that remind us of our humility, and the “humanness” of those around us.
It should come as no surprise to us that these are the same qualities we experience as we move into the presence of God. The love, the joy and the appreciation of just being human are as much a part of God as they are of life. It only makes sense; if God is the source of life then the inner things of life which we value the most would become more abundant the closer we come to God. And so it is. As the love that comes from God flows through us, we generate more of the loving memories, more of the intimate connections with other people and more of the humor and humility that we will value above the rest of the things in life. Above all else, it is the connectedness we value the most. The Kingdom of Heaven is pure connectedness: oneness with God and all of creation.Back to top of Sermon
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”
As with many of the sayings of Jesus, this is not about our physical eyes, but rather about our perception. If our perception is spirit-based and the ego has been dismantled and discarded, then our “eye” is single. We are not divided between the spirit within and the ego. We have moved out of duality and fragmentation, and into oneness and unification. But if thine eye be evil, if we are still locked into the ego, subject to the lower emotions of anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, envy, greed and guilt, then we are not filled with the light and love which comes from God, but rather we are filled with the darkness of the lower emotions.
Each of us has experienced enough of other peoples’ anger and hatred to know the dark reality of what the lower emotions bring. The pain and suffering of the world is a direct result of the expression of these emotions. The war, the murders, the inhumane treatment of people all over the globe is the direct result of peoples’ anger, hatred, greed and envy. To believe the ego is not the source of evil in this world is to perpetuate the pain, suffering and injury that damage us all. In assigning the source of evil to an external entity, we attempt to remove ourselves from the responsibility, which is rightfully ours. We are responsible for our thoughts, feelings and actions. We are responsible for the pain, suffering and injury to others, and we have the duty, and the ability, to stop it. By taking responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions, we naturally acquire the authority to change them.
As we move deeper into the Presence of God, and become more and more connected to the oneness, we also experience more of the pain and suffering of the world. It is a type of bittersweet experience. Finally, we come to know what the love that flows from God is for: to heal the suffering we find in the world. What good is light if it cannot dispel the darkness? What good is love if it cannot heal the soul? Indeed, this is what God has brought: the light does dispel the darkness, and love does heal the soul. We are saved from the darkness by the light, and we are healed and brought into oneness through God’s unconditional love.Back to top of Sermon
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mammon refers to a confidence of a social, or worldly, nature; figuratively that of wealth, personified; the deification of greed or avarice. It is power and social position, pride in one’s standing in the social order, or the driving desire to gain or accomplish the acquisition of power and control over others. This is the ultimate goal of the ego. So mammon is the realm of the ego and all it desires.
When we are captive to the ego, we despise the apparent weakness of the spirit. The respect, kindness, and gentleness of spirit is seen as weakness. It is hated and despised. We also despise people who appear weak. Strength and power are the standard by which we judge the people of the world. It is no accident that the predators among us are often the most respected.
So what does this portend for the future of the world? Is it really a hard and competitive world, or is it that way simply because we have imposed that standard? One of the things we learn along the spiritual path is that the world is interactive. It responds to our attitude and beliefs. When we are angry, the world brings us things to be angry about. When we are aggressive, it brings us opportunities and reasons to be aggressive. But the converse is also true. When we become loving, the world brings us opportunities and situations of a loving nature. We think that our attitudes are the result of the way the world is, and yet it may be the other way around; our experience in the world may be the result of our attitude.
When we shift our consciousness from ego-based to spirit-based, our entire experience of the world shifts along with it. The problem is that as long as we are sending out mixed messages, trying to serve both the spirit and the ego, we will get mixed results in our life. We will feel even more confused and divided. It is necessary for us to choose. We can live in the world of the ego, separated from one another and from God, or we can live in oneness with God and the rest of creation; the choice is ours to make.
We have grown up in a system controlled by the ego. If we are going to change that system, we are going to encounter a great deal of resistance. It will take persistence to overcome the effects of a lifetime of ego based thinking, feeling and acting. It is not an easy task. But it is the only one that leads to something real: living in the presence of God, with its attendant peace, love and joy. This is not an overnight process, but if we persist, we will succeed.Back to top of Sermon
“Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?”
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Soloman in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying ‘what shall we eat?’ or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or, ‘Wherewithal shall we be clothed?’ (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek) for your heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of all of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
This was the function of the spiritual communities: to provide the food, shelter and clothing which we all need, and at the same time provide the teaching and guidance for their spiritual growth. These communities, and others similar to them, were spread out over most of the world in the time of Jesus. They covered northern Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and Pakistan. In different faiths they appeared in Great Britain, India, China, and most of Europe. All with the same purpose: to provide the material needs of the people, so they could grow spiritually in a supportive community.Back to top of Sermon
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged. And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Understanding this principle is the key to initiating the inner transformation and awakening the spirit within. The currency of the ego is judgment, and the currency of the spirit is mercy. The ego may put on a show of judging others, but the final victim of the ego’s judgment is us. All of the comparisons made by the ego are judgments. “I’m better than you”, or “I’m not as good as you are” are all judgments. Ultimately, the ego is judging us, and in the end analysis, we will be found defective and judged harshly. Some outer forms of religion have incorporated the judgment of the ego and projected it onto God, making God the ultimate judge of mankind.
This is not what Jesus was trying to teach us. He taught that His God is a God of love and forgiveness, not a God of judgment and destruction. Many people believe that the New Testament replaced the Old Testament, but what they miss is that the God of the New Testament, the God of love and mercy, was also intended to replace the God of the Old Testament, the God of war, judgment and destruction. Paul tried to explain what this really means in Corinthians 13 (RSV). We will begin with the last line from the preceding chapter, “And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Love is not provoked. Love does not judge. Love does not condemn. If God is a God of love, then God is not provoked, God does not judge, and God does not condemn. This is the message of Jesus: God is love.
All judgment is of the ego, not of God, and not of the spirit within, which is the substance of God. If we are to change our consciousness from the ego over to the spirit within, then we must abandon all forms of judgment.Back to top of Sermon
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, ‘Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye’; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
The thing to be guarded against is letting the ego guide us on our spiritual path. There is nothing worse than an ego on a spiritual path. This comes from learning the spiritual jargon, buzzwords, concepts and principles without actually doing the inner work. After going through school, where everything is a matter of repeating information back on tests, we have come to expect the same process for everything in life. And yet, if we will pay attention, life gradually teaches us that an intellectual understanding is not sufficient. More is required of us in life. The same holds true of our spiritual growth.
The work of dismantling and eliminating the ego must be done first. Only after the ego is gone can the spirit within rise to its position of authority, and only then will our perception clear. We really don’t realize how badly the ego clouds and colors our perception until it has cleared under control of the spirit within.
The knowledge we gain about our spiritual path is not the objective. These are just tools. A good analogy is learning how to use a hammer to drive nails, a measuring tape to determine and mark distances, and a saw to cut wood. We think we have learned a lot when we master these tools, and may be anxious to show our new skills off to others. But when the objective is to build a house, the tools are clearly seen as a means to an end.
This is what we are trying to accomplish: gain enough skill with the tools of forgiveness that we can empty out the ego, have a series of spiritual experiences, and enter fully into the presence of God. It is the repeated experience of God’s love flowing through us that creates the transformation within. Spirituality is not a thing of the mind; it is a thing of the heart. A certain amount of understanding will come with the spiritual experiences, but the objective is not the understanding, but rather the inner transformation of spirit and heart.
We must go through the entire process before we will see clearly. Until then, our perception is faulty. We will see our own issues imprinted on the actions of others, and will fail to clearly perceive and recognize what is in the other person’s heart. Only the clarity of the spirit, without the interference of the ego, will perceive the truth.Back to top of Sermon
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Spiritual truths are generally not well received. It is necessary to perceive if the other person is open to new information before providing that information. The process of spiritual instruction is not a debate, nor is it a process of convincing another of the validity of what is being offered. Spiritual instruct is the process of teaching the use of basic tools, and allowing the student to work with the tools and see what they accomplish. As the student progresses, more questions will come to the surface. In asking questions, the person is demonstrating their openness and desire to learn.
The teacher must resist the temptation to flood the student with too much information. The flood of information is like trying to eat a month’s worth of food at one meal. It takes time to digest information, just as it does food. The best way is a process of planting seeds, or ideas, and waiting for the person to come back and ask for more. During this process, the student will become prepared to accept and comprehend the higher spiritual principles and truths. Lacking this process of feeding an inner hunger for more information, we are much more likely to start an argument, where not only will our wisdom be rejected, but we may become the object of personal attack.
The Gnostic path is not a process of convincing others of what we believe to be right. It is a process of feeding those who are seeking a closer relationship with God, without the fear and guilt associated with orthodox religion. Gnosis is about freedom, not about control.Back to top of Sermon
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Notice the complete lack of trying to convince another person. The idea is not to go out and spread a new teaching, but to respond to the inquiry of others. This is a system that is totally driven by the student, not the teacher. The student must ask for the teacher to give. The student must seek for the teacher to assist in finding. The student must knock; in other words the student must be persistent in gaining the inner experiences, which result in inner transformation before the Kingdom of Heaven is opened.
As pointed out in the Gospel of Thomas, one must continue to seek until they find, and once they find the inner truth, they will become disturbed. This is because the true spiritual path is not what the orthodox religions have been teaching people. It is different, and overcoming that difference by altering our beliefs to accommodate a new set of experiences is not easy. The new system is not based on belief, but rather on a series of inner experiences, where God reveals the true nature of our own spirit, and the true nature of God as well. The resulting inner transformation ultimately empowers us, but it first strips away the falsehoods and misperceptions. This is the refiner’s fire, which burns away all of the impurities, leaving only truth and oneness with God and all of creation. Nothing else will remain, for nothing else is real.Back to top of Sermon
“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
Jesus is using some interesting interplay with words. From the perspective of the world, we would certainly give our children bread and not a stone, a fish in place of a serpent. But as always, Jesus alludes to other things. Bread has a number of meanings and connotations. Manna, which comes from heaven, is also referred to as bread. And in Matthew 12:3-4 (RSV), “He said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?’” So Jesus is aware of a number of meanings for the word “bread”.
The same holds true for the word “stone”. In the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation 2:17 (RSV), Jesus says, “To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.” Here is our connection between bread and stone.
In the mystery school tradition, there was a substance known as the white powder of gold. This is a pure, non-metallic form of gold. In this state, it cannot be dissolved by normal chemical means, which is why it was referred to as a “stone” and not a metal. This is the white stone, the hidden manna.
There were two primary means of ingesting the white powder of gold. The first was to mix it with flour and make bread. This was no longer regular bread, but was referred to as the bread of the presence of God. The Essene community at Qumran, on the shore of the Dead Sea, was making the white powder of gold and mixing it in the unleavened bread. Each day the leaders of the Essene community were eating not just bread, but the bread of the presence of God. This is the other meaning of “give us this day, our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. On the worldly level, the level of ego, daily bread refers to the basic substances we need for our survival. But on the heavenly level, the level of spirit, daily bread refers to the bread of the presence of God, that which feeds the spirit, not just the body.
The question now surfaces: Why did the Essenes locate their community on the shore of the Dead Sea? Communities locate in certain places for specific reasons. Fishing communities locate in places where there are natural harbors, providing protection from storms and deep-water access to the sea. Commercial communities locate at the crossing of trade routes, where the transportation of goods is easily accomplished. Farming communities form where the land is generally flat and the soil is good for crops. So why did the Essenes locate their community where there are no fish, no trade routes, and little or no flat land with poor soil for growing crops? Almost everything the Essenes needed had to be carried in from someplace else. Why there?
The single answer is the Dead Sea has the world’s highest concentration of the white powder of gold in its water. The Essenes dug a three-foot wide canal from the Dead Sea into their community. You can’t drink the water; the concentration of magnesium sulfate is much too high. They also constructed a series of carved out “pools” with the means for letting fresh water into the carved out places. Why would they do that? There is a simple pH swing method using lye (produced from draining fresh water through wood ash) and vinegar (produced from the fermentation of grapes or apples), which will extract the white powder of gold from the Dead Sea water or salt. Archeologists have assumed the “pools” were for some sort of ritualistic bathing practice. But could they have been for the specific purpose of processing the white powder of gold?
Once the white powder of gold is mixed into the bread, why is this bread then referred to as the bread of the presence of God? For the answer we need to go back into ancient Egypt, to the formation of the mystery school and the Temple of Hathor.
In Laurence Gardner’s book, “Genesis of the Grail Kings” (Bantam Press, 1999, Pg 198-207), we find that Sir W.M. Flinders Petrie and his team discovered a site on Mount Serâbît in 1904. This site, known as Serâbît el-Khâdim, was dedicated to the goddess Hathor, and had been unused for over 3,000 years. Among the artifacts was “a metallurgist’s crucible and a considerable amount of pure white powder.” “Another cause of wonderment were the innumerable inscribed references to ‘bread’ and the traditional ayin hieroglyph for ‘light’ (the symbol is a circle with a dot in the center) found in the Shrine of the Kings.” This was also associated with a mysterious substance called mfkzt, which appeared in many places in wall and stelae inscriptions.
“What Petrie had actually found was the alchemical workshop of Akhenaten and the pharaohs before him – a temple-laboratory where the furnace would have roared and smoked in the production of the sacred fire-stone of the high-spin shem-an-na – the enigmatic white powder which the priests had called mfkzt.”
“In Exodus (32:20) we read that Moses took the golden calf which the Israelites had made and ‘burnt it in the fire, and ground it to a powder’. This is precisely the process of a shem-an-na furnace, and it is evident that the Egyptian priests of the goddess Hathor had been working the fire for countless generations before the priests of Aten became involved in the time of Akhenaten. It was, of course, Akhenaten’s great-great-grandfather Tuthmosis III who had reorganized the ancient mystery schools and founded the Great White Brotherhood of the Master Craftsmen.”
We now know that the mfkzt of the Egyptians is the white powder of gold, and the shem is also related to the conical shape of the bread mixed with the white powder of gold for the pharaohs to eat, enhancing their connection to the gods. The substance of the shem-an-na furnace is also known as the hidden manna (m-an-na) of the Israelites. Could the Great White Brotherhood of the Master Craftsmen be the same reference that we have seen with Joseph and Jesus as masters of the craft?
Also, in Laurence Gardner’s book, “Genesis of the Grail Kings”, (Bantam Press, 1999, pg 140), he states, “At Chartres Cathedral in France, the statue of Melchizedek, priest-king of Salem, depicts him with a cup containing a stone in representation of the bread and wine which he evidently offered to Abraham (Genesis 14:18). The wine, as we know, was representative of the sacred Star Fire, but the importance of the imagery is that the bread is held ‘within’ the cup, thereby signifying that the Star Fire was replaced by a substitute nourishment at the very time of Melchizedek and Abraham. The substitute was the white powder derived from gold, and this was the main ingredient for the original cakes of shewbread.”
“In ancient Egypt, the equivalent of shewbread was schefa-food, and this was always depicted as a conical (shem-shaped) cake. It was used to feed the ‘light-body’, as against the physical body, and the light-body was deemed to be the consciousness.” So here we have our connection to the spirit within. What we now know about the white powder of gold is that it does several things within the physical body. Small amounts can gradually increase our perception and expand our awareness. We now also know that the Essenes were mixing the white powder of gold into the bread they made everyday. The highest-ranking members of the community were receiving much larger amounts than the rest of the people, but it appears that everybody was getting at least some of this material. The loaves of bread had numbers placed onto them so each person got the loaf designated to them. This is how the dosage of the white powder of gold was distributed.
Larger amounts of the white powder of gold have a very different effect. This larger amount acts as an amplifier. If a person still has an active ego, then the ego is amplified and the person is further away from the spiritual than before. This is why there was so much emphasis on becoming pure in heart. The large amounts of the white powder of gold were not administered until the person demonstrated that their ego was gone. Only then was it safe to use the larger amounts of the white powder of gold. This initiation with the white powder of gold was done during a 40 day fast, and marked the transformation of the person from a disciple to an apostle. It took approximately 9 months for the transformation to become complete. This relationship with the 9 months of gestation for a baby may be one of the conditions that prompted the concept of being born again.
A person who made it through the entire process of discipleship, the initiation and the transformation to being an apostle was given a letter of authority by the head of the community certifying their training and the successful completion of the entire process. These letters of authority are precisely what Paul was complaining about. True apostles had letters of authority – he didn’t. Paul went through the typical four years of initial training in the community and was sent out on missionary work. Paul failed the missionary work by not holding to the original teaching. He was subsequently not invited into the discipleship program and never completed his training or transformation to a true apostle. Paul claimed a status he did not earn.
The 40 day fast of Jesus closely approximates the initiation into apostleship within the Essene community. Jesus received his training and apostleship initiation within the mystery school tradition before he came to the Essene community. A demonstration of his master level was needed for him to be accepted as a master teacher in the Essene community. The initiation of the 40-day fast with large amounts of the white powder of gold were that demonstration. During the fast, Jesus was tested for his purity and strength of character. Following the initiation, he was accepted as a master teacher.
Properly used, the white powder of gold enhances our perception and awareness and amplifies the effect of the spirit within, significantly increasing our natural abilities. It also clarifies our connection with God, intensifying the oneness and conscious contact with God. Understanding the process, it is no wonder Jesus said “I and the Father are one.”
The serpent has been the symbol of the mystery school system from the beginning. To be gentle as doves and wise as serpents is a direct reference to the mystery school system. The mystery school was the equivalent of today’s universities, teaching different languages, mathematics, and sciences such as basic chemistry, physics, astronomy/astrology, plus the healing arts. Advanced spiritual studies were included along with studies in psychology, politics, history and human relations.
The symbol of the fish can be equated to the education needed for basic trades and commerce. The serpent equates to an advanced education, far above the level generally available in most of the world. From the perspective of the world, we would give our children the bread and the fish, but from the perspective of the mystery school system, the wise parent would give their children the consciousness and awareness of the white stone and the wisdom of the serpent. These are gifts much more valuable than gold.Back to top of Sermon
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”
The Golden Rule is the rewording of an older saying of Rabbi Hillel; who taught his people not to do anything that they would not want done to them. But rather than acting as a prohibition, Jesus put the saying into a proactive mode, instructing his followers to do good things for other people if they want good things to come to them, “for this is the law…”
So many people are waiting for their good to come to them without sending anything out. “Someday, when my ship comes in,” becomes the expression of waiting for our good. But how many “ships” have we sent out? And if we haven’t sent any “ships” out, how many of them can come in?
The “ships” we send out into life are the sum of our thoughts, feelings and actions. With “positive thinking”, we are at least beginning to see that there is a connection between the interactive universe and us. The assumption is that if we can straighten out our thinking, the rest will follow. This is not necessarily true. For we all harbor ill will within our heart, in one form or another, and until we change the contents of our heart, what we send out into life will only partially change. The law Jesus spoke of is the interaction between our thoughts, feelings and actions and the universe. We don’t have control over the universe, but we do have an effect, and we are the primary recipients of that effect. In this way we can experience the direct results of our connection to God and the interactive universe. How else are we to learn, but through experiencing the consequences of our choices and our actions?
Once we “get” the connection, we can start altering our thoughts, feelings and actions, paying particular attention to the changes in our experience of life as it comes to us. Much to our surprise we may find we have “ships” coming in after all. We always have had, we just didn’t want to recognize we were receiving what we were sending out.Back to top of Sermon
“Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
A true spiritual path is not easy. It requires the development of discipline. Not the discipline imposed on us by an outside source, but the much more difficult practice of inner discipline, self imposed, and cultivated by the spirit within. Doing what is beneficial for our own mind, heart, body and soul.
World religions are built upon millions of believers, because believing is easy. This is the wide gate that leads to destruction because believing is a function of the ego, and not of the spirit within. Believing places the responsibility for our salvation in the hands of someone, or something else. We may claim that salvation is ours, but words do not make it so. The narrow way, the straight gate, is the way of inner truth, inner transformation, and inner purification of mind, heart and body that leads to living in the presence of God and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Once the experiences of the presence of God begin coming, there will be little doubt that this really is the way to true salvation. Belief is not required. The direct experience of the presence of God and the love that flows from God through the heart will teach us everything else we need to know about God. When gnosis comes, belief is dropped because we see with the eyes of experience how worthless it really is. Belief is intended as a beginning, a place to start. If we cannot believe there is a spirit, a living light, the substance of God within; how can we begin the process of transformation? How can we enter into that which we cannot see without the belief that it is actually there?
The main purpose of this book is to offer the initial belief that each of us can enter fully and completely into the presence of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, just as Jesus described it. Without that belief, no one would invest the time and energy in the inner work and inner discipline necessary to enter into the Kingdom. Faith replaces belief, which comes not from more believing, but from actual experience in the presence of God. Without that actual experience, without the knowing of gnosis, there can be no faith, and there will be no inner transformation.Back to top of Sermon
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
People are easily distracted and misled by the words of others. What we have as a reliable indicator of the true character of a person is not their words, but what they actually do. Jesus describes what a person does as their “fruit”. The actions we take are the best reflection of what is in our heart, for we will not vary from that which we truly feel within. A good person brings forth good deeds, for there is love in their heart, and their actions are created out of that love. An evil person brings forth evil deeds, for there is anger, envy and greed in their heart, and their actions are driven by those emotions. Once we come to know a person they cannot hide what is inside their heart, over time the primary emotions within a person make their appearance, and we discover what really drives them.
Religion offers an opportunity for an individual to gain control over a large number of people. Just because a person becomes a leader of a religious group does not automatically elevate them to being a good person. Sometimes the opposite is true: a person of a predatory nature is attracted to religion for the power over people it provides, and the access to large amounts of money, provided by the faithful. We have had some interesting revelations about the character of some of our more popular televangelists in recent years.
We need to be mindful of the real character of the people in positions of leadership. Trust is not something we should give easily. Trust needs to be earned, not by rhetoric, but by deeds. This is one of the reasons James speaks so intently about doing good deeds; the deeds of a person demonstrate their inner character. This is also the primary problem with just believing; belief is an expression of words, which deceive. Actions are an expression of inner conviction, feelings and faith.
Both words and actions can be used to deceive. Words are more often used because it’s easier to speak than to do. Short-term actions can also be used to deceive. When we look at actions over a longer period of time we get to see more of the real character of the person emerge. This is why trust needs to be earned. By getting to know a person over an extended period of time we can determine their true character. What a person does reflects what that person is within. As a person is in their heart, so are they.Back to top of Sermon
“Not everyone that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord.’ shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’”
We have learned that flattery and adulation can be effective tools for getting ahead in the world. This is where the desire to worship Jesus comes from. The desire to call upon His name for all the things we do in the outer form of religion is little more than flattery and contrived adulation. This is not what Jesus asked us to do. Jesus asked us to follow Him, to do what He has done, not to worship Him. In Matthew 19:17 (Oxford), Jesus says, “Why callest thou me good. There is none good but one, that is, God.” Jesus states that only God is good and worthy of our worship. This is a clear statement on the part of Jesus that He does not want to be worshipped. What Jesus wants us to do is to follow His teachings, use the forgiveness process, become pure in heart and enter into the presence of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, just as He had done. This is how He comes to know us; through our spiritual growth and our entrance into the same level of consciousness He has. Isn’t this how we know our best friends: through a shared consciousness? And isn’t this how we “know” the author of a book; through shared ideas, concepts, points of view, and a shared consciousness? This is the same thing. Jesus comes to know us as we bring our consciousness in line with His.
If all we do is flatter and use adulation and worship, we are attempting to manipulate and impress Him. This is hypocrisy. It is insincere and is iniquity in the eyes of Jesus. No wonder He says He doesn’t know us! How could He?Back to top of Sermon
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell and great was the fall of it.”
Building our house upon the rock is building our consciousness upon the spirit within. The spirit has eternal life, and can be compared to bedrock, which is solid and will not be destroyed. Building our house upon the sand is building our consciousness upon the ego. The ego can be compared to sand, which is ever shifting, changing and easily destroyed.
The ultimate storm we face is the process of death. In that process, the physical body is removed and the ego loses its source of energy. Any consciousness attached to the ego will fade and be lost forever. Only the consciousness built upon the spirit will survive. This is the primary choice we have: to build our consciousness on the rock of the spirit within, or on the sand of the ego.Back to top of Sermon