There are many kinds of prophets and many kinds of prophecy. Each of these prophets and these forms of prophecy are understood in different ways when they are seen through a different cultural lens. But remember that the way the prophecy is seen is like the artistic patterns in the ceiling of the mosques, where there is what appears by way of its color and is represented in the visible spectrum by color, and then there is the underlying geometric patterns which is like the divine order, the structure underneath the final representation.
When Jesus meets the woman at the well and he says to her that he can give her living water, he is really speaking of giving her or helping her experience greater awareness of the consciousness that exists of God. His own being, fully saturated with Christ-consciousness is the gift. So when he says that he is the gift, we must understand that we are being given the gift of consciousness.
2015-243 There was a very strong relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. In some ways this relationship is difficult for others to understand, but here are the essential things to know. First, that the relationship between them, the purpose was for each in their own spiritual growth and realization. This is true for all relationships, but what was special about their relationship was the realization of this by both.
Hanukkah is a celebration that commemorates the victory that restored the Temple in Jerusalem to the Hebrew people about 150 years before the time of Jesus. Part of the story is the miracle of the oil used to keep the flame representing God's presence burning in the Temple. The story resonates with me even though I travel on my spiritual journey in a different tradition.
There are lots of clues in the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible on how to answer this question. Jesus calls us into relationship with many references to love: love of God, love of neighbor, to love as he loved us, to love those in need as a means of loving him. He speaks to Peter after the resurrection and asks him three times if Peter loves him, each time with a different emphasis on the word love. Jesus uses parables to show how this love works: how the shepherd goes out to find the one lost sheep; how the Good Samaritan helps the wounded traveler. If we study these examples, look carefully at our lives, especially our experiences of loving and being loved, and think through questions about love at a deep level, we will begin to see and understand the following three things about God's love:
God's love is unconditioned. I'm not talking about unconditional here, that's next. Unconditioned means it is pure, without anything attached to it, such that when we receive it we are not predisposed in any way by that love that limits our freedom. We are made from God's love and it holds us.
God's love is unconditional. That means that there are no external requirements we have to meet in order to receive God's love or participate in God's love. We do not have to follow any rules or fulfill any unstated promises. We can even turn away from God with complete freedom. We can receive this love and live within its care for eternity. There is no limit to our capacity to receive this love.
God's unconditioned and unconditional love are Grace.
This love is our life and the truth of everything within which we live, this love and truth are the fabric of the universe, from the most ethereal and numinous to the most mundane and material. We have the freedom to choose how to live within this continuous process called life, love and truth.
There are no guarantees in this process of living we call life. We may experience pain, suffering, happiness, sadness, death, anger, fear, all kinds of emotional highs and lows. Our choices make a difference, but our choices primarily matter in how we respond to people and to events in our life that happen to us like aging, illness, material well-being, injustice, forgiveness, or lack of forgiveness. We produce our own suffering. No matter how much we would like to blame the external circumstances of our lives for our pain or failures, our happiness or joy, in the end it is our internal sense of who we are and our understanding of our purpose as human beings that determines our destiny.
There are two primary ways in which we experience the unconditional and unconditioned love of God and become channels of God's love. Here they are:
When we choose to actively give unconditional love. We can ask ourselves as we enter into any relationship, "How do I express unconditional love in this relationship?"
When we understand that love is expressed through our work and the fulfillment of our purpose.
I can't begin to explain to you the meaningful changes that will occur in your life if you learn how to love unconditionally and approach your relationships and your work as an expression of love. The reason is that this sets in motion a process that is unique to every individual. How great it is if we can hold that kind of love for each other, for our families, our friends, our adversaries, for the world!
This is not an invitation to be a doormat, or disregard the consequences of things we know that do not serve us like aggression, oppression, abuse, etc. We do have to learn that love has discernment, love learns how to choose for our own well-being and for the well-bering of those we care for, but for the moment, just think about what living this kind of love could mean for you, for me, for all of us. Can we imagine the potential, the possibility?
[A sermon delivered at Arlington Community Church in Kensington, CA on October 18, 2015]
I have a part of me I call the Immovable Me. The Immovable Me emerges when I feel the need to be right about something. This “being right” can cover a wide range of situations. I don't think I need to give you any examples here because all of you know what it is like to be around someone that “knows everything” or has “experience” and they talk with a certain kind of assurance that might start out as authoritative, but soon becomes overbearing.
The immovable part of me uses whatever it needs in the moment, so the story can change or different facts can be emphasized or de-emphasized, or even ignored if necessary. It is the desire and attachment to “being right" that is immovable. Are you with me?
This Immovable Me resists change or persuasion and is not capable of being moved emotionally. When I am in this mode I might think I am being consistent, strong and principled. Unfortunately it usually comes across as condescending, arrogant, and self-righteous.
There are lots of consequences of this kind of behavior. For instance, “being right” often does not recognize the validity of another person's experience. There is no curiosity about why another person might believe what they believe to be true. There is no true empathy—remember that part about not being moved emotionally? The Immovable Me chooses to forget or hasn't had the kind of human experience that recognizes suffering.
The person that is always right rarely gets an honest answer from an introvert or someone that doesn't like to debate the issues. He never sees the vulnerable side of another person because they fear him and don't trust him with their feelings.
There is another part of this Immovable Me that is also important to understand. This Immovable Me, left in place for a long time, develops a story that protects this self-image of being “right.” I know I am not alone in this. All I have to do is look at the news and I can see lots of politicians, businessmen, educators, and leaders that want to be right; they are sure they are right and they can craft a convincing story to prove to you they are right. The more we get invested in these stories the harder it is for us to change. We deny our effect on the environment, we deny our role in injustice, we blame those with a different story for causing problems with the story we want to perpetuate out of self-interest. We sometimes even call this story of self-interest the truth.
But even beyond these problems, this attachment to “being right,” is a difficult spiritual problem. Over time, as this internal process goes on, we lose touch with our identity; we lose touch with our essence as a human being. To keep the story going we eventually have to perpetuate a lot of denial. We deny other people’s feelings, their experiences, and we deny our own feelings. All of these denials eventually become a denial of our essence and our purpose as human beings.
In 2003 I had an experience that psychologists would describe as a form of spiritual emergence; a transpersonal experience. I involuntarily went into an unconscious state. Stelli was with me. During the time I was unconscious I started speaking. I didn't know this, Stelli had to tell me. Later I entered into this unconscious state during meditation. I didn't always know when it would happen. Even later I developed the ability to enter this state of consciousness intentionally. Stelli started recording the things I said during these sessions that we call “the readings.” The readings have provided me with information on stages of spiritual growth, the life of Jesus, meditation, different levels of spiritual consciousness, and dreams.
To say that I never saw something like this happening to me just does not say enough. You can imagine trying to integrate this Immovable Me who wants to “be right” with these experiences. How can I say what I think is “right” if I am unconscious and I don't know what is going to come out of my mouth? I became very adept at refusing to acknowledge what was happening to me. I used denial, I avoided talking about it by explaining it or rationalizing it in different ways, I even used a kind of faux acceptance by pretending that I understood it to avoid coming to terms with what it meant.
This is why the text from the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John is so important to me. Think about the story that unfolded. There are so many people around Jesus that “need to be right.”
There is Judas who betrays Jesus. What story did he tell himself in order to believe in what he did? Peter denies Jesus three times. The Jesus that Peter sees after his arrest is suddenly very human, very vulnerable, and living out his life in a way that Peter cannot imagine. Jesus’ confrontation of authority has taken on an entirely tone. Jesus is not the person Peter thought him to be and perhaps he denies this “new” Jesus because he now sees a side of Jesus he does not recognize. He wants to hold on to the previous story he believed to be true about a god-like man with incredible power. I sometimes wonder if Peter was telling the truth from where he stood. Only later, after everything unfolded before him was he able to understand that the story he told himself about Jesus was wrong. His regret might come from his fear and lack of loyalty to Jesus—those are certainly the most often expressed reasons—but I have often thought that he had to question himself about what he really believed about the events of his life during those years with Jesus.
Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responds by asking who told him to ask this question. Jesus functions like a mirror, reflecting back to Pilate Pilate's own process. Jesus will not be defined in ordinary ways. He says something very interesting: “For this . . .” Now lots of interpreters of the New Testament believe Jesus is referring to his reign as the Son of God, the Messiah, and as the King of the Jews. But he has already dismissed these as the statements of others. So when he says “For this . . .” he means by that what he is about to say: “For this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” This is an interesting and very powerful statement of his purpose.
Jesus understands his own essence, the essential part of all human beings. This essence, God, God’s being and presence, these together are the central fact of his life. He is not willing to deny this fact.
This way that Jesus shows us in this moment, standing before Pilate, expresses how important it is for us to be true to those most essential parts of our being, to the central “facts” of our lives, no matter what they are, whether we asked for them or not.
Just think for a moment about what it means to deny a central fact of your life, or for another person to deny a key part of your identity. Either way, when we deny ourselves or when others deny us, a part of us is marginalized. Think of the amount of denial and marginalization that occurs due to skin color, or sexual orientation, or gender, or religious heritage, or body type, or because we drew a line in the sand, made it a border, and use it to keep people apart. This eventually leads to us denying our humanity; we deny what it means to be a human being. We deny the suffering around us and we lose our ability to have empathy. Eventually, if we take more steps in this direction, we learn to justify violent behavior that inflicts suffering on others and we don’t see the moral implication of the oppression, subjugation or enslavement of other human beings that support our “way of life.” We lose the possibilities and opportunities to love each other and to be loved for our unique qualities, for our gifts, for our way of seeing the world. This denial gradually shuts down our curiosity and appreciation for things that enrich our lives and we lose the ability to learn new ways to experience love.
It has taken me awhile to accept this gift of channeling, but it is now the central fact of my spiritual life. I cannot say that it is a gift without difficulty, but I understand it better with time. I have had to set aside the desire to “be right.” I have to work to not get caught up in stories that protect my self-image or that protected a false understanding of myself. I have to be open and accepting in every moment, trusting that in every moment, what comes through me will be a gift. I’ve learned to appreciate that I don’t own the truth; the truth is something that owns me.
Bishop John Shelby Spong of the Episcopal Church said, “God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist. I honor my tradition. I walk through my tradition. But I don’t believe my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.”
I think often of this statement. It reminds me that words place boundaries on our concepts and feelings, boundaries that don’t exist inside of us, and these same word-boundaries limit our ability to communicate with each other the meaning of God in our lives. I often ask in prayer for “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” as Jesus sometimes says, so that I can discover the good in every moment, discover what I can learn in the moment, and discover some part of myself in the world that I observe. This process of discovery, for me, is a journey inward as well as outward; seeking relationship with God as God can be discovered inside of myself and outward to discover all the ways that I can find God in my relationships. I see and understand the world and other people as teachers, teachers that can hold me, nourish me, and reveal God to me, so that I can take my place and fulfill my purpose in the fabric of all Being. Our minds, guided by the spiritual traditions we embrace, lead us to God, in an infinite number of ways, in ways that are uniquely matched to the uniqueness of our being, a way so inclusive that the infinite number of ways all resolve into the One God.
I have come to understand that this kind of inclusivity is a threatening idea to many people. They prefer a God that judges and condemns, so sometimes my teachers are harsh and unforgiving. They prefer that I am excluded from the Heaven that is in God. As if that could truly happen. I am reminded of a story from the Hindu tradition about Krishna. Krishna comes upon a group of milkmaids and multiplies himself so that every milkmaid has a partner to dance with. The moment a milkmaid believes that Krishna is dancing only with them, he disappears. Our understanding of God works in a similar way. As soon as we believe we have God to ourselves, that we are the only one to know God, that only we are God’s chosen, we “lose” God. We are never truly separated from God’s love for us, but our selfishness can obscure our experience of God, and prevent us from manifesting for others the love found in our experience of God.
2014-001 You will see over time that the projection into space is so strong for human beings because it corresponds to the inner space of the person. The dark recesses in space are like the darker places in the being. It might be helpful to think of the person as the intersection of these two universes or worlds, however words are used to describe them. This is why the constellations that are used in astrology so often conform or correspond to the constellated parts of a person on the interior. In these spaces, just like by the river in Titusville and on the beach in the ocean, Jeffrey is able to feel this intersection. And if he wanted, these would be the spaces that prompt the opening of the channel in his body and mind. In these ways the exterior world corresponds to the interior planes and rivers, the sky, that Jeffrey travels inside of himself. It is in these kinds of spaces where the rocks, mountains, trees, the water, are all present, where the surface of the earth has been cut open, where the wind has blown sand and soil, these places were favored by Jesus because he found the open space in the mountains to feel like a spiritual home. It is true that every person can listen for God in any place and time, but it is also true that in these physically imposing and awesome spaces, that one can hear the voice of God in the wind or in the stillness. These spaces also can feel exposed and too open, almost as if every direction that is open leaves one without a sense of direction. But it is in these spaces that a human being feels more naturally able to turn inward, and it is in this kind of retreat, not from the world, but from what people call civilization, that it is easier for the soul to connect to the primal sources of energy and life, and of an expanded consciousness.
[The text above was transmitted during one of Jeff's channeling sessions that we refer to as “the readings.” Excerpts begin with the year in which they were given, followed by the paragraph number. All transmissions are transcribed by me, his wife, Stelli. For more information or to schedule a private reading, please contact Jeff directly by clicking here.]
Self-worth and self-esteem come from knowing that our life, our consciousness, and our material existence come from the eternal life, eternal consciousness, and eternal material of the Universe—in other words, from God. We are no more and no less than any other human being. Our soul is intimately connected with the Soul of all creation. We can experience this in a numinous, awesome way where we are overwhelmed by the immensity and power of the Universe—God. We can also experience this in an intimate and very personal way through Jesus Christ. Such is God’s ability that God can manifest though any being. God can be expressed in any human being. This innate capacity of human beings to manifest God is a gift we have all been given. There are a multitude of things that get in the way of manifesting God—our own selfish desires being the principle manner we obscure this ability. What a narrow path we have to walk! We must recognize this immense, inherent, innate essence of unlimited power and value, yet at the same time we must recognize when our selfish interests become so inflated the God part seems very small—almost non-existent. How easy it is to bounce back and forth from each extreme! It is no wonder that spiritual literature is full of both possibilities—that we are nothing and that we are everything. Jesus captures this condition perfectly in the parable of the lost sheep, Luke 15:3-6.
So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.”
We are so easily lost, yet so valuable that the whole of creation moves to help find us, and the fullness of love found in God is expressed through joy.