When I was 19, someone asked me a question that had a profound effect on my sense of self and my spirituality. I was at a Christmas party when Jack Horton, the deacon of St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, turned to me and said, “What does it mean when I say to you that God loves you?” I didn’t have an answer for Mr. Horton, but I felt the question resonate within me in a way that I could not comprehend at the time. Perhaps Mr. Horton thought I would look to the Bible or call upon my Episcopalian heritage to find the answer: something along the lines of “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). But he didn’t qualify the question, and he didn’t suggest the direction I might choose to find an answer.
I did begin searching, at first in my Christian heritage, but my encounters with various forms of Christian theology were disappointing, and as much as they spoke about Jesus, they seemed to miss the point of his teachings and failed to see the opportunity and potential in his essence as a human being. I also wanted to know what other spiritual paths had to offer: from Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Sufism, Baha’i, and other approaches to God and spirituality. At the University of Florida where I attended college, I read many books about religion, psychology, and spirituality. I visited and took part in classes offered on campus and in the Gainesville community. My search included a desire to understand spiritual experience, so in the spring of 1973 I studied and was initiated into Transcendental Meditation. I also studied the readings of Edgar Cayce and began a lifelong process of recording and interpreting my dreams. The writers who spoke to me were wide-ranging in their thought: Carl Jung, Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Merton, Yogananda, Krishnamurti, Alan Watts, and many others. Eventually my experiences and my search led me back to the forms of Christ-centered thought that were inclusive in spirituality, that saw a different context for the life and teachings of Jesus, and that incorporated much of what I found valuable in non-Christian traditions. The beauty of the many expressions of God and spirit were inspiring as well as reassuring, and I never felt as if I strayed from my purpose, or God, if I simply searched for the truth.
Mr. Horton’s question has remained at the center of my theology and my process of understanding God. More than anything else, it created a context for my personal journey that has never changed. What does it mean that God loves me? What are the qualities of that love? How is that love expressed? How does God’s love differ from other forms of love? Is human love an expression of God’s love? What does Jesus have to do with God’s love? What do other religions and philosophies have to say about God and love? What does my understanding of God’s love have to do with anyone else?
I can answer those questions now for myself and I share them with people whenever they ask. My answer begins with an analogy: As a father, I understand how I love my children, and most people, even if they are not parents, can imagine what the perfect love of a parent might mean. For me it means that no matter who my child is or might become, no matter what path they choose in life—regarding work, education, lifestyle, partnering with another person, anything—I will love them, even if they wound me, intentionally or unintentionally. My love for my children is unconditional. There are no requirements for them to fulfill to receive my love. This love will not prevent me, or them, from getting hurt or from suffering. My love, as I know love, leaves them completely free, and that freedom includes the possibility that they deny my love. There are no assurances, nor requirements, that they love me in return. This love is unconditional. My love for them means that I will be there to help them in the best way I know for the circumstance. My love for them also honors the truth, so it will not enable self-destructive behavior, and it will never be withdrawn under any circumstance. I will stand by them, or I will stand ready, never leaving the relationship, even if it means that the only thing I can do is witness their life and process.
Now, if I can imagine this kind of love—and I have to imagine this perfect love because as a human being I am not always able to express this kind of love—I can imagine the perfect love of God, and I can understand God as a perfect expression of this love. My theological process, my learning about God and the ways that I am in relationship with God makes me question any understanding of God that is less than this kind of love. A god that is judgmental, jealous, or exclusive, that requires anything of me in order to love me, is less than what I understand God to be. Why would I worship or seek relationship to a god or a kind of love that is less capable than the love I give to my children, and much less capable than the kind of love I can imagine? There is something inside of me that intuitively recognizes perfect love, and that part of me intuitively moves toward this love.
There is so much more to understand about this love and God. This book, The Revelation of God in a Human Being, explains some of the ways that love and God are found in ourselves as well as the ways love and God are revealed to us in our relationships. Our purpose is to know this love, and to express this love in a multitude of ways. To fully know this kind of love it must be expressed, so this book is also about the ways that we can grow and learn to express this love. Now you know why Mr. Horton’s question became so important to me, and why I tell my story about his question, because this is the context from which I understand so many things about my life and my spirituality, and it is the context in which every part of this book should be understood.
Two difficult things I have had to learn were how to look at the unpleasant and dark aspects of my character—my dependencies, addictions, attachments, fears, anger, and desires—as well as the positive aspects of myself, such as my unique purpose and contribution to the well-being of humanity, my knowledge, my wisdom, and my gifts. For a long time I was focused on the many ways that others would not let me be myself, but the truth was that their influence on me was so much less relevant than the ways I found to subvert or hinder my own progress. My greatest fears are related to my own feelings of self-worth, my self- esteem, and the possibility that what I want might become true for me.
On my journey I discovered many “failed” spiritual teachers. There were some who had multiple sexual relationships with their students, some committed fraud, some were taken advantage of by people around them, and some had nasty habits or addictions. In other words, many of them were not so far along the path as they would have liked us to believe. It would have been a natural reaction to discard what they had to say about enlightenment or spirituality, but I found that I had to look at these “failures” in a different way. I knew many of their teachings to be valid, so to discard the truth seemed foolish and more of a reflection of my own ignorance. Many teachers face a difficult problem: they know they are not perfect, yet they understand profound aspects of the truth. Do they remain silent because they know they are not perfect? Perhaps some of them have actually placed the truth above themselves and they express that truth knowing that they will be exposed. I admire their attempt because it takes a strong person to accept a role as a spiritual teacher knowing that their own weaknesses will become visible and subject to critical review. I am not excusing immoral behavior because I recognize that immoral and abusive behavior has to be confronted. Truth must be expressed and valued in ways that protect potential victims. What I am saying is that we must recognize the complexity of spirituality and revelation because as human beings, we have a tendency to objectify people, to put them up on a pedestal, and to focus on who they are in place of looking carefully at ourselves.
I bring this work to you understanding the complexity and contradictions that exist in me. My gifts, in many ways, have proven to be beyond my conscious understanding. When my gifts arrived, or were uncovered, they did not come with a warning label or admonition that I had to be perfect, though I will admit that I have felt pressure to conform to my own ideas of how holy, spiritual, learned, and humble a spiritual teacher should be. Somehow, I never seem to get there, yet the gifts remain, the information continues to come, and the urgency to record and share the material continues inside of me. It has taken me many years to learn how to accept things about myself that were contrary to what I believed to be my authentic self. Sometimes I have to think of what I learn about myself as something like new clothes. When I first look in the mirror the clothes don’t always match the ways I see myself, but then, gradually, I see with different eyes how they might actually express who I am in an important way. I am reminded of the wounded healer—how the healing is not always a cure, and how a broken vessel can still contain all that is essential to fulfill its purpose.
Much of the content in this book is channeled text—coming either from sessions that I refer to as “the readings,” or from periods where I go into an “awake-altered” state of consciousness during my writing process. During the readings, I enter into an unconscious state and my wife, Stelli, transcribes what is communicated. Excerpts from the readings are indented and contain the year in which they were given, followed by the paragraph number (e.g., 2015-124). Text in parentheses is typically a question asked by Stelli, or her response to a posed question. The channeled text from my awake-altered state does not reference a year and paragraph number, but much of the content and tone is indistinguishable from the readings. In both types of channeled messages, sometimes there is a single voice that comes through, and other times there is a collective voice and use of the word “we.”
2011-57 You have asked before about why there is the use of the word “we.” You must know that there is collaboration in heaven. You must know that the Christ, even though his voice is a voice of authority, many things are done with those that attend to him as well as attending to all spiritual matters. And so, though we speak, we speak in harmony with the voice and the will of Christ. These things you must come to know gradually in order for them to be fully understood.
Most external texts included in this book are from the New Testament and refer to Jesus. This is primarily a result of my heritage and aspects of the mystical traditions within the broad river of Christ-centered spirituality that resonate with me. I could have used other texts because there are many parallel texts in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism and other traditions (see the Appendix for additional references). The fact that I use biblical texts in no way invalidates or diminishes other texts with the same meaning or intention.
In my opinion, to take any text, especially a text like the Bible, and try to reconcile it as a single, unified voice or perspective on God and spirituality leads to numerous spiritual errors. I believe it is best to approach these texts as the personal revelation of the author, even if they appear to have a broader application. One text cannot be elevated over another in anything other than a subjective manner that basically says, “This expresses how I think and feel about the subject and it confirms my experience.” The best texts have respect for life, respect for the individual experience of human beings, put nothing between the person and God, and recognize that the essence of life, truth, and love within a human being are intimately connected to God’s presence within us. We are created out of God’s own being, and to know our true self is essential to knowing and understanding God.
The best texts also contain an element of flexibility that allows us to enter into the mystery of God. This is different from saying “I accept this because it is God’s word and I don’t have to understand what God intends” whenever we find something difficult or offensive. A text that is viewed as a hard and fast rule without compromise or the possibility of questioning usually breaks under the pressure of difficult human circumstances. These approaches to religious texts frequently create false dichotomies similar to “you are either with us or against us.” This interpretive perspective denies the possibility that there are other choices and other ways to approach difficult life situations, and in a sense denies the potential that exists within God.
When something offends my sensibility or my experience of God, I have no problem discarding it. Seeking the revelation of God within us does not mean that we should deny our experience or deny the gifts of reason and intelligence we have been given. We all use unique gifts— gifts of devotion, gifts of reasoning, gifts of curiosity, gifts of physical discipline, gifts of intelligence, gifts of patience—in the pursuit of truth, and we need not fear truth, because all truth has the same source as the life that exists within us: God. I believe you should look at the text of this book in the same way. I am sharing with you a personal revelation in the hope that my experience and writing are of help to you on your path. If anything impedes you, discard it and move on. My intention is to facilitate your journey.
How to Use This Book
There are two important perspectives to hold while reading The Revelation of God in a Human Being in order to properly understand the model of consciousness that is presented. First, we as human beings tend to organize our experiences in an orderly sequence. This chronological ordering, if applied to the levels of consciousness that are explained, or if used to understand the stages of spiritual growth, will not give us a true perspective on how consciousness unfolds and works in our lives. Human beings do not progress through consciousness and stages of spiritual development in a sequential, easily identified manner. There are many parts of our being that are in process. Some parts function at what we perceive to be low levels of spiritual understanding, and some parts function in what we perceive to be high levels of spirituality. Sometimes we rest in these parts of ourselves for long periods of time; sometimes we get just a taste or a glimpse of something greater, and then we mourn the loss of that special feeling or moment when it leaves. Later we learn that what we have measured as “low” turns out to be deeply important and “high.” Measuring our progress for the sake of identification is more of an ego-directed activity that takes us out of a higher state of awareness and generally results in a blow to a positive side of our self-esteem and self-knowledge, a blow by the ego that is an attempt to assert control. Trust that there is a higher awareness at work inside of you.
Second, similar to our attempt to order our experience, we tend to see everything in a direct line of causality. In other words, we see a linear progression of events where one event causes another. Then a subsequent event occurs and we experience our reaction to this event. This linear expression of causality, which we create, eventually fails to help us understand how our lives unfold and what role our free will has in our experiences. This is one of the reasons that a process called “reductionism” fails to bring resolution to understanding how the sources of our life are connected to the events of our life. No matter how far back or how deep we go, there is always something on the other side of the earliest events that we discover, and our infinite regression, moving backwards toward what we identify as a cause, ends up going nowhere. Our being is a complete system that functions as a fully integrated entity. Underneath the functioning of this system is a multitude of self-concepts and information based on an incorrect understanding of our being as separate from God. Once we begin to see the unity of our being and the oneness of God, we extricate ourselves from a myriad of false spiritual and psychological systems that control us. It is at that point of discovery that we start to understand our role in creating our life circumstances, the freedom we have, and the state of freedom in which we exist, and the relationship we have with the energy, life force, love, and truth—all part of the oneness that is God.
Several ideas have already been offered (and more examples will follow) about what to keep in mind while reading this book and learning how to engage in a committed spiritual practice. A few reminders are listed here for ease of reference.
- A full understanding of love is essential to understanding God.
- Spiritual progress is an uneven, non-linear process, and sometimes trying to measure spiritual growth can be a trap.
- We are complex human beings, and self-knowledge about our identity and purpose is critical to choosing how to live our lives.
- We have to be willing to look at the unpleasant sides of who we are because many of our deepest lessons come from deconstructing the way we see other people and the world.
- To truly understand Jesus, we have to remove the context and understanding created by institutions and people that knowingly and unknowingly use false systems of authority to control others.
- Once we are able to see Jesus in a different context, we can see the ways his personal process can help us to understand spiritual growth, and we can see how his authentic expression of truth and God can become the basis for our own expression of love, truth, and God.
- Each person carries within them the essence of God and the ability to claim and use personal authority in life. This authority and the freedom to use it are the foundation from which spiritual growth occurs.
- While many things appear separate and distinct, there is an underlying unity to everything in the universe that connects all of us to one another and to God.
These ideas and suggestions create a context for understanding the rest of the book and are important to remember because this book is about revelation, illumination, and advanced stages of spiritual growth, which are the result of advanced spiritual practices.
The Revelation of God in a Human Being assumes you have a meditation and prayer practice that is already an essential part of your life. If you are seeking a way to learn to meditate then you should consider using my earlier book, The Book of Oneness (Munnis, 2014) to learn meditation and to make it part of developing a spiritual practice. You can still find this book meaningful or helpful if you are just reading it for information, but much of what is learned and experienced is only learned and experienced in conjunction with a deep-rooted spiritual practice. Reading this book for information only will not help you to understand the more subtle elements of revelatory or illuminated spiritual experience.
While meditation and prayer may seem like simple practices, I can assure you that they are not, and in fact connect us to immense spiritual power—power that is easily underestimated. We see and hear about meditation in so many places today: television, radio, the Internet. We hear how it helps us to focus and reduce stress, how it has medical benefits, or how it helps us intellectually. The potential benefits of meditation have been packaged in ways such that meditation has found its way into schools and businesses where administrators and leaders seek people who can teach meditation to employees in order to increase productivity and employee well-being, or to increase standardized test scores. Meditation has the potential to do all those things, however, these uses of meditation function at a very basic level, and barely touch upon the true meaning and value of meditation. Meditation has a way of bringing people to growth in consciousness, one way or another.
Here, in this book, is a very direct way of moving forward in life that is connected to our purpose and essence as human beings. Approaching this part of our inner life is dangerous when we are ego driven, power driven, or hungry for material well-being. True humility and truthful self-assessment are necessary because these are elements of self-knowledge that do not always follow the ways of the world. Indeed, we can easily get lost if we do not understand how our desires, our attachments, and our behaviors are connected to the ways we live our lives. Hopefully the knowledge and wisdom here, along with the example of Jesus, bring us to greater understanding, truth, and love. Working with dreams and other methods of experiencing and understanding the unconscious side of our being is also essential. A basic understanding of psychology, with some understanding of theology and spirituality are important, however some of the terms we use in this book have a slightly different meaning than the commonly understood concepts. This is especially true when seeking to understand distinct things that have been considered to be the same—for example, the mind and consciousness, or the origin of the mind and consciousness, or how the mind and other components of consciousness work together. This is a very important area where a committed meditation practice can help us to put the pieces together.
2014-109 The information in this book deals with the struggles of the person, whereas The Book of Oneness works on the practice that must be maintained to help facilitate growth. In a sense you will see one book as the practice, one book as the application in life beyond the practice, where the practice bears fruit. There is a danger to being too inward directed or too outward directed. So the application and the seeking of relationships is what avoids the danger of being too self-centered, even when you are trying to center on God.
Using this book in a group process is recommended. We are connected beings and elements of this book explain that interconnectedness. Other people relate to us in two important ways. First, they can function like a mirror, reflecting back information about ourselves in a way that can be helpful to our growth. Second, sometimes we see things about another person that they cannot see about themselves. Seeing these things presents us with an opportunity to express the truth, when asked, and to find ways to reveal love or to be compassionate with the truth. Both of these aspects of relationship carry with them some danger, especially if they are used in selfish, controlling, or manipulative ways, so caution is advised. In a group setting there should be great emphasis on supportive and facilitative processes that validate personal experience and the understanding that judgment and criticism are to be avoided. Most people are far more self-critical than others could ever express. The process of self-discovery is scary enough without having someone try to tell you what you need. That kind of process seldom results in helpful and meaningful growth for the person sharing their journey. My experience has been that every person in a group has deeply meaningful wisdom to share no matter their age, appearance, or life circumstances. This wisdom can be accessed in a supportive and caring environment.
What to Expect
I can tell you now what will happen in general terms if you study this material. The world will change because you will change. At some point you may think that every thing and every part of you is falling apart. Ideas, symbols, and the frameworks you have used to make your way in the world will also change. Things you believed to be true will no longer be true. There are times you will feel like you have no direction and are without something to use to steer yourself in a meaningful direction. Do not be afraid. You have been holding on to many things that no longer serve you, and letting go of them will be hard. But, you will find that the other side of those things—your new destination—is far better than anything you could have imagined or wanted for yourself. You will emerge stronger than ever, spiritually healthy, and you will discover that there are many new ways to express and experience love. You will feel as if life is just beginning because you will feel as if you have been made new. And this will be true. The specifics, the things unique to you, are waiting to be discovered, and no one can go there but you.
Many of the teachings in this book have multiple levels that are only accessed through more than one pass through the material. Other levels of meaning and awareness are achieved after several periods of learning, applying what is learned, and then, more internal processing. All of the content is suitable for contemplation. Some things that seem unconnected or random will find their place when other things are learned, and they will end up finding their place together. You are likely to have many “aha” moments on the way to understanding the whole picture. Be patient, and don’t be afraid to go slow and enjoy the process.
2015-002 Every person goes through a process of deconstruction when they remain on the spiritual path. It is only those who are not on a spiritual path who seem to be constantly in the constructive mode, and even this word “constructive” is very deceiving. The human mind is constantly constructing the world in which you live, and the world that is constructed obscures ultimate reality. So the process of deconstruction occurs in order for the being to be able to see this ultimate reality. But for many, the deconstruction does not go far enough, and when this occurs, the attachments remain and the being very quickly reconstructs all the barriers to true spiritual illumination.
2015-003 There is also the problem of comparison: comparing where one sits in relation to someone else, and the feeling that wherever one sits is not as good as where others sit or exist. This is especially important for Jeffrey because his life does not sit well when he sets himself in relation to others. These judgments are based on long-held patterns that are inherited from the material world. You can see that he does not sit well anywhere, meaning that, in comparison to his peer group, he seems strange and hard to understand because he does not value many of the same things in comparison to the groups that come behind him or from other generations. His chronological age makes him appear different. His whole life doesn’t match with any part of life around him, and so he seems outside every group. There are times when this feels bad, but the reality is that it is good, because what he has to offer is not what is ordinarily offered to others. There is a very deep wisdom that is available, even though it is not always appreciated. He will find many different ways to express this wisdom to different people, to different groups, but with what we described earlier, it is that foundational part of what becomes manifest that precedes what becomes manifest. This is connected to the creativity of the human being, and there are few who will want to seek out this knowledge, this ability, and the understanding of how to properly use this strength and power in the world.
I hope that this book helps you to remove any barriers in your life that prevent you from fully accepting and loving yourself, and from experiencing complete illumination and the full revelation of the one true God that is intimately connected to you, God that is your essence and one with you. May you grow in knowledge of love and learn to express that love without limit.
Table of Contents Chapter 1