A Spiritual Exercise

by Roger Hathaway, first written in July 1996

        You have a mental capability that, if you are like most people, you seldom or never use. It is your spiritual mind. This mind is not necessary for the mundane concerns of daily life, like food, career, family, finances, etc. Consequently, unless youíre one of the rare rebels who live in defiance of this world, you may not have exercised it at all. So, if you will read this article, slowly and thoughtfully, in a quiet place where you arenít disturbed, then you will experience an awakening of that part of your mind that is your direct channel to God. This is a very serious matter, and I hope you will choose to do this for yourself. The busyness of life and noises of the world, like loud music and traffic and TV, overwhelm our minds. We become accustomed to a grayness and confusion and a sluggishness that make our lives as miserable as one walking alone along at night along a country road in a cold rain. Since teachers and preachers donít know any better, we accept dreariness as the norm for our lives. Of your four minds (natures), which are the extensions of God in yourself, your physical nature gets the most attention. Your emotional nature is second, being the essence of relationships to others. Your intellectual (rational) nature gets the least exercise, and your spiritual nature gets none. Thatís typical of most people.
        So, here is an exercise to awaken that part of your mind which will turn your darkness into light. You will open up some windows in your mind that might surprise you. Iím confident that you will be pleased that you put forth the effort. You can begin by pausing to ponder who you really are in Godís eyes; and what is God. Take a moment to ponder how Godís program really works and how you fit into the program. On this earth stage which He has prepared, and with a script which He has outlined, what is your role as a player? Are you just an accident of nature or do you have a purpose? Does your life have any value? These are the eternal questions of philosophers. Answers are not always easy, but there is a great pleasure in thinking about such things. So, letís take the spiritual mind for a little walk here. Instead of thinking of our world as being material and finite, letís think of it as spiritual in nature, like it is made up of thoughts rather than materials. Let yourself become relaxed and kind of dreamy. Release the worldly thoughts and anxieties, and permit a different part of your mind to do whatever it wants to do. Donít try to control or direct it because your lesser minds donít really have a clue how to do that. A spiritual person learns to let the Spirit of God take over; he learns to yield to that kind of guidance without any specific expectations. So, relax and think of this world as nothing but a dream you are having.

DREAMING
        Your life is just a dream and you are the dreamer. This is the premise we shall play with here. You are not only the dreamer, but when you look into a mirror, the person standing in front of the mirror is also being dreamed, along with the image in the mirror. Which one is the real you? If you imagine that everything is a dream, then your physical self is nothing more than a figment of your own imagination, like all the rest of the world that appears to be real. All just figments. Illusion. Delusion. Hallucination. Chimera. Apparition. Fantasy. Mirage. Phantasm. Vision. Fabrication. Maya.
        To actually contemplate such an idea seems like some nonsense fantasy, doesnít it. What value is there in wasting time getting so unreal. What evidence could support such a notion?
        Not much! No, there isn't much basis for such a proposition. This is just an exercise. Amazingly, we can all agree very comfortably that it is our senses which prove the reality of our world and the things in it, including ourselves. And we would all pretty much agree on locking up any nut who runs around saying he is not real, but is just a figment of your imagination. What we are talking about is simply this: that you perceive reality through only your own eyes but you cannot really prove that anything is REAL outside your own perception of it. You might perceive material hardness and others might agree with you, but it is still only your belief in the proofs that you have, nothing more. You cannot even prove that others perceive things the same way as you do; you only perceive that they do. You cannot even prove that you exist; you merely perceive that you do. All you have, ultimately, is your own perception, and how reliable is that? We know everyone perceives differently; it is well-known that there are as many descriptions of an event as there were observers of it. If you accept this hypothesis for the sake of this exercise, then you are imagining that the real you is something outside and separate from the flesh and bones which you identify with. You are imagining that everything is unreal, just a hallucination.
         So, sit back and assume that the entire universe is just a figment of your imagination, and see what happens. Nothing out there has a separate existence from your imagination. Your senses are lying to you, so they can't provide valid feedback. You are left with but one thing, your spiritual mind. You have just awakened it. Ask yourself if there isn't some knowingness that remains in your quietness after you have released everything else? Ah, yes. That little spark of knowingness is the seed of the real you, your divine nature, your Godness, your higher-self, whatever you want to call it. And isnít that a warm and lovely feeling to get in touch with your real self! If you will find some little time aside from your daily activities to sit quietly and ponder these ideas, and be open to your own insights, then you will find your own path. It is you, alone, who can make personal contact with truths of God that are beyond this world. No person can tell you the truths which are right for you at any given time. All that I can do is tell you that your own insights are valid for you and that you benefit from recognizing your own rights to your own truths. It isn't really a hallucination that you seek, but it is to touch God.
        One feels apprehensive at first, reaching for some undefined and unknown thing called God. And it feels a little scary at first to find that the path doesn't go out there toward Him but rather goes inward into your own thoughts. We have been taught and conditioned to believe that OTHER people have truths to teach us and our job is to learn them. But when you have turned inward and awakened your divine spirit, then it becomes obvious that no teacher could ever communicate such wonderful, divine, Godly, spiritual understandings. No ritual could ever put you in touch with your inner self in this way. No priest or preacher can ever stand as mediator between you and God again.
        When you step inward and find your inner-self and discover that the real you is not a material thing like a body but is rather a beautiful spiritual mind, that day is your birthday, your most important birthday. It isn't important that you know any fixed calendar date for that spiritual birthday but that you simply continue to awaken and grow as your own new self. And it doesn't matter any more whether the world is real or not. It only matters that you have yielded yourself to this knowingness that your spiritual mind is awake and you might yet become the real you.

NEXT STAGE OF THE DREAM
        Okay, now let's get into that dreamy-state where things can change unexpectedly and it all seems okay. Now, let's say that you are dreaming this life that you think is real; letís say that you haven't really lived several years but merely dream that you have. You are only dreaming that you have gone to school as a child, studied books, learned history and arithmetic. You are only dreaming that you were born into a certain family, live at a certain location, have certain friends, and know a certain world of continents and oceans and governments and events. You only dream that you have adopted a certain lifestyle, that you have a certain physical body, and that you are limited to living in a time structure where one moment follows another. You have supplied yourself with teachers (in that dream) who have convinced you that everything is real and not a dream. Still, some part of you wants to believe there is something yet outside the dream, something unknown, something which attracts you and for which you yearn, something more real. This yearning feels like a spiritual attraction, and there is some feeling that makes you think the puzzle of this dream can be solved with the help of that indefinable spiritual-whatever.
        Along with dreaming your physical existence, you have also dreamed a strange story which is supposed to explain real truth, but it is confusing and while you want to believe it you just don't understand it. The strange story is written in a book called the Bible and tells of events that take place over thousands of years. Within your dream, youíve been taught that those years were real and the people and events were real, and that you should learn those stories as historical facts, believing that it was all real. But something within you isn't satisfied that the Bible is just a historical record of people and events; you feel that, if the Bible is valid, it should be more meaningful than what the simple preachers are saying. So, let's try putting that strange story in more dreamlike form. Since this is your dream, let's imagine that you are creating that Bible story in your dream as a symbolic depiction of your own personal story. We are just going to play with a spiritual notion here. Let's assume, like in any dream, that some characters of the Bible symbolically represent yourself while others represent psychological situations with which you are struggling. Those people and events are just your own little exercise of existing in a limited reality, - along with some indefinable relationship with your true self who is doing the dreaming. We will take a look at the theme of the Bible history in this light. Imagine that the major Bible characters are all you, yourself, first as a perfect creation who then lost that perfection to become a worldly adult. You spend your life attempting to correct that loss by becoming an innocent child again. You fail at that more than once, and finally succeed. Itís all a dream; you are the dreamer and also the dreamee.

ADAM & EVE: You, Man: Adam, the real you, the dreamer, the divine self, somehow began to BE at some ancient time. You were complete and whole, having a perfect nature which knew a oneness with God perfectly. You existed in a state of beingness where you knew no strife or hunger or fear or estrangement from anything. The garden of life provided everything and you communed with God as naturally as thinking your own thoughts. You, your thoughts, your life, and your dream were all one with God, with no separation. You lived in a garden of delight. Gen 2:15 calls Eden a garden of delight. Eden represents your perfect beginning. Your bliss was complete and you knew nothing else. Actually, for you there was nothing else - well, maybe one little thing: you could possibly differentiate if you wanted to. That means you had the potential to see some thing as separate from yourself, as though it really existed on its own and not as a figment of your dream. It was possible to deny your oneness and see things as differentiated - one from another, good from bad, right from wrong, etc. What that offered was an opportunity for you to be a sovereign whereby you could control other things and relate to them with some risk. You could play with ideas of confirmations and rejections of whatever you choose. You would be like God, knowing both thesis and antithesis.

THE FALL: Well, not having known any enmity, or even any understanding of conflict between good and evil, you wouldn't suspect the disastrous consequences of your action if you choose to differentiate. And there it was before you, a wonderful temptation of recognizing yourself as unique, as a specific entity, different from other entities. You played with the idea of being a self who might even rule over other things. This is the temptation of being a god, yourself. This can only be possible if you differentiate your self from All-That-Is. What was it that you wanted most to see as separate from yourself? Answer: your own feminine nature! You were complete in your perfect self, androgynous, having both the masculine and feminine natures in harmony. The temptation was to experience a dynamic relationship between genders. So, you permitted the feminine part of your self to be separated from you, with Godís help, of course, but God wasnít something separate from you at that time. Suddenly, you had a wife, and with her you enjoyed the Garden of Delight in a state of heavenly bliss. You were two separate persons and still immortal. But there is a natural law for immortals: no propagation! If immortals never die, then they cannot reproduce because the planet would soon be carpeted with immortals. Both of you knew the law, for you were warned even before you were separated. Unfortunately, that forbidden-fruit was too tempting for your feminine counterpart, and she yielded to the one who ruled the negative forces, the very lord of evil himself. Then she came to you, and you partook of her, too.
        Suddenly, the garden was different. Hunger became a new experience; the power to defile and destroy came to mind; and you found you had lost the natural beingness that had been yours. You knew differentiation; you knew good from evil; you knew shame from natural beauty; and you found yourself outside the garden in a world which lives with shame and evil. That Fall represented a change in consciousness. That change was traumatic to the perfect Man which you had been, and youíve landed in confusion and conflict. Whatever God really was, you felt forsaken by Him. You certainly learned that evil is something you didn't want, and suddenly your life was full of it. Instead of blissful oneness you were suddenly left to survive by your own willpower. The use of an individual's WILL is a substitute for God; it replaces the humble stature of yielding to God and the perfect life of going-with-the-divine-flow.

THE FLOOD: Well, that which started as a dream turned into a nightmare. Your life has become a miserable hell of grief and hard-labor, and you know the world as all wicked. So, you will try to drown all the evil, all those wickedness that you have come to know. But you can't so easily separate them from your self. Actually, your first priority is to save your very self instead of letting it drown in this great baptism. You haven't understood yet that it is the very identity of an individual self that was your original mistake.
        Remember, dreamer, that this is your dream, that you are here explaining how the real you got into this mess. You just can't seem to get it corrected, no matter how hard you try. And you have tried, and tried, haven't you?

ABRAHAM & ISAAC: As Abraham, you are part of this world as a limited and corrupt-conscious-ego-person. You feel defeated and hopeless and grow old with nothing of value except a spiritual yearning to begin again with God, anew, undefiled. Youíre willing to do ANYTHING to correct matters, and to reclaim that oneness which you lost. But, you are weak, and from your impatience and your concern with worldly lineage you take action on your own to produce an offspring who will carry your legacy into the future. Alas, your first child is illegitimate, one belonging to the earth, so you release it to the world. You mellow with age but it takes a long life to learn how to yield your life and your hopes to your estranged God. Finally, you produce a legitimate son, an offspring from yourself, a product of your own loins, something akin to that feminine character that was long ago separated from your loins, as Adam, into a separate helpmeet. But isnít that where the problem of differentiation began? Here, God offers you a possible solution; if you will kill that offspring which is separated from yourself, then that will prove your willingness to be undifferentiated again. So, you offer your son, Isaak, as your sacrifice. Ah, here is the key to your return to that Oneness which you seek. God, of course, intervened to spare that child, but accepts your faith as your valid offering. Hebrews 11:1-3 says, ďFaith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By this your ancestors were given approval. By faith we understand that the worlds have been created by Godís Word, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.Ē [Note: you see here that our visible world was not made from particles of matter, but from thought, a Word - perhaps like a dream.] The dream doesnít end here; you arenít suddenly restored to that Garden, but you have been offered a method by which you can work toward that return. In payment for your error, you must die to this world; let it go; hate it (as Jesus says), and push it away from you. You canít have this world of differentiation and also have that Oneness which is non-differentiation!
        Within a couple generations after Abraam, when you ran short of food, you went willingly back into the World (Egypt is always symbolic for World), the entire family with you. Your favorite alter-ego, Joseph, became a world official in charge of provisions. The world seemed like a good place, and things went well for a while. Eventually, bondage to that world became intolerable and you sought to be free from it again. You led your people out of that bondage into a spiritual wilderness where provision depended on God alone.

A CONTRACT WITH GOD: God likes your faith, and offers you a gift, a contract which can restore you to perfection, if you can keep it. You think you can do it, so you agree to His terms, and you, as the entire family of Israel, shout at the foot of Mt. Sinai, ďall this we will do Perhaps this will restore you to that Garden of Delights again. But the very first rule seems impossible! It has to do with placing other gods before the one eternal God, and that is a matter of differentiation; that means you would have to stop seeing your self as the unique person who acts as a god over your own life. Ohhh, too difficult! You donít know how. Despair.
        Reluctantly, you do turn to God, yielding to His care and following Him across a vast spiritual desert. But, your worldly self complains, is fearful, untrusting, and wants God's blessings for its own earthly satisfaction. That kind of worldly focus always brings a hard lesson. This time, it is that the worldly self cannot go to the promised-land (symbol for heaven); it must be left behind. Only the perfect, innocent, inner-child of the real you can return to the promised land of oneness with the Father again. Lacking any other hope, you set up rules as a religion to practice. You make Godís Law into your religion. You had already violated that Law Contract, so itís too late to keep those rules now. But, drunk with confusion and frustration, you seek satisfaction through laws, guilt, and punishment, no matter that it gains you nothing. Instead of striving for the glorious oneness, you settle for flagellation.

         You adopt RELIGION as a mind-set which limits you, locking your self into a state of misery and negativity that is opposite that of the happy beingness which you seek. Life is a hellish nightmare of guilt and punishment. God even despises your sacrifices and your rituals. Again, youíve earned the separation from the oneness which you seek. Lost and forsaken, youíve nothing more to lose; so, just give in to the inner-spirit child who is the real you, and yield to the Fatherís will. When you do that, a new scene opens in your dream, and you appear as a perfect, innocent, child who will never seek worldly gratifications over the spiritual goal.

CHRIST-CHILD: Your divine nature is more clearly presented in your self as Jesus, because you know God as your Father and His Spirit as your real empowerment. This is you, dreamer. Youíve anguished and despaired and felt destitute. Now, maybe God can do something with you that He never could before. You are an innocent child, totally trusting your Father. This is you as the baby who was born into this life some few years ago on your birthday, the baby who trusted your parents for protection and life in those first weeks. This is the real you that God is reclaiming. He came ďto seek and save that which was lost.Ē As an innocent baby, born perfectly as an offspring of God, your Father, will you turn to the world for security or satisfaction when things get tough? Will you compromise your oneness this time in order to enjoy differentiation?

CRUCIFIXION: The world of parents, teachers, preachers, peers, society, and government persecutes you, oppresses you, restrains you, scorns you, teaches you lies, and attempts to kill and bury you. But no tomb shall hold you anymore! This time you are able to maintain the oneness. This time you are willing to hate this world. You know that you must release this world, even DIE to it. Your human self must die, in consciousness many times, and finally physically. It is this self that must yield to the eternal Father and cease to function separately from Him. The world is but a dream and cannot be saved for heaven any more than your worldly ego can attain heaven. For any person who is truly on the path to the eternal Father, this worldly life is just an exercise of daily yieldings and dyings.

RESURRECTION: It works! It really works! You released your attachments to the world, even your attachment to your own identity. You released your ego personality; you let it all die. You found your way back home again by reversing the differentiation. You forgave all the evils that you had imagined in your dream; that is - you forgave yourself for perceiving them. You just yielded to that oneness with God that you first knew as Man, as Adam.

ASCENSION: You certainly donít want to reclaim the world and evils that you have released, so you are now free. Freedom is a higher dimension of consciousness, a heaven reality without such estrangements as make up this world, a reality not so dream-like but real in ways that the world cannot yet comprehend. World is a lower dimension of consciousness than heaven. You, as the prodigal son, left the pig pen of this World to return to your source. It's all a mind-play in which you disconnect from one level of conscious awareness to a higher one.

So, there is the story of your dream. This is but a skeleton outline of it. But this gives one a whole new approach to the study of theology. Instead of logical systematization of scriptures and the conscious effort at memorizations, and practices of rituals, you find your own personal path Ė through yearning and intuition and love and yielding and contemplation and self-examination. You can reclaim your innocent inner-child by freeing it from the world where it has been imprisoned. We can reclaim child-innocence by examining ourselves as corrupt-adults, and by accepting Godís total forgiveness. We can yield the adult to its demise while giving the inner-child the victory. This is the ultimate rebirth. As a child reborn, then we can know the joy of welcome into that Promised Land toward which we walk.

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