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Thu, December 21, 2017

Route 91

By Gard Jameson

Living in Southern Nevada, I was close to the tragic events of October 1st.

58 human beings were mercilessly murdered in a senseless act. Hundreds were wounded. Two of my students were among the injured. One friend was fleeing for her life when she saw a man bleeding profusely from his gunshot wound. She stopped, applied pressure and saved his life.

Whether it was the Texas A&M shooting back in the 1960s, the Sandy Hook shooting, the Columbine shooting, or Route 91, these events leave us in a state of shock and trauma. Who could kill children at school? Who could murder concert attendees?

Our image of God becomes monumentally important when events like these take place. If we imagine God as withholding love, mercy, and ministry in moments like these we do God a great disservice. And, yet, the Baylor University study on the image of God shows that the vast majority of people believe that God is either authoritarian, critical and/or distant, not interested.

Only as we courageously venture to the inner recesses of our soul do we discover, in certainty, the God of all creation to be eternal in Unconditional Love, universal in Unfailing Mercy, and infinite in Matchless Goodwill. As we approach the end of a year, 2017, that saw such tragedies, that witnessed the advance of global warming and its effects, that wondered at nations daring to suggest the option of nuclear war, are you willing to rededicate yourself to the God, who loves you, uniquely, and without conditions, who cares for your personal welfare, like no one else ever could, and who in ways mysterious, ministers to you, even now???

As we open our hearts and minds to this God of Galaxies, we discover a renewed enthusiasm to run the good race of faith, to let people know through our lives that love governs the universe, that mercy is the air we breathe, and that unselfish service is our pathway to freedom. Are you willing to give God your time by consenting to God’s Presence and Action in your life? Are you willing to affirm the Supreme Values of existence, by being transformed by those values?

Are you willing to express matchless goodwill with every step of your being?

“Of God, the most inescapable of all presences, the most real of all facts, the most living of all truths, the most loving of all friends, and the most divine of all values, we have the right to be the most certain of all universe experiences.” (102:7.10)

May your life be an expression of such certitude! Shalom, Peace, Salaam!

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Mon, April 17, 2017

Compassionate Living

By Gard Jameson

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." ~ Dalai Lama

"Who does not want happiness for others and for ourselves? If so, see me after class."

Those are the words that I share with my students at the University of Nevada in the first week of class. The answer is obvious; and yet, how many of us know how to practice compassion?

In his book, The Compassionate Life, Marc Ian Barasch shares:

"I've come to admire the metaphoric elegance of a tree: donating free oxygen, running on solar energy, sheltering all creatures, making a quiet, tenacious display of life's generativity. People have always gathered beneath trees to parley and to palaver, to picnic and to play. Every faith has a Great Tree rooted in its narrative. I imagine each sapling we plant as a resurrection of hope, an emissary to the future. A tree seems an apt emblem of the interdependent, ecology-base global order so many are working to bring to fruition."

Marc provides illustration after illustration inviting us to live the compassionate life, from generous spirits who practice compassionate living every day of their lives to those who would donate an organ to a perfect stranger, we see how life can be lived in transforming fulfillment.

I was a Certified Public Accountant for 25 years before taking a turn in the road, now teaching philosophy, and doing community engagement work. While I was a CPA, I encountered many very well-to-do clients who were, to put it kindly, "miserly givers." Invariably, I observed lives of quiet desperation and non-redemptive suffering. When asking one wealthy client about their philanthropic intent, I was told: "I don't do philanthropy." With divorce and a child suicide in the resume, I could only feel compassion for the ignorance of his plight.

I have often thought, wouldn't it be lovely to send all of these clients a copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and advise them just to watch the last scene of Old Scrooge opening up his window, requesting the purchase of a big turkey for Tiny Tim's family, and following through with an offer of health and well-being for Tiny Tim and the entire family?

There is a joy inherent in human existence. Our happiness is rooted in that joy. If we could but open the windows of our hearts and minds to take in the powerful spirit that comes with a compassionate and giving soul, we would never close that window again.

If we could see that it is our nature to be selfless, compassionate givers, more so than to be selfish, miserly takers, we would do everything in our power to commence the journey down the path of kindness. On that path, we would learn from many good souls along the way. We would see the height and breadth of those great trees all along the path, providing refuge to all who would take shelter.

In Buddhism, "The Three Jewels" signify three great refuges, three great trees:

1) the first being the awakening to our own compassionate Buddha, divine nature,

2) the realization that there are universal practices of compassion that can help guide our way, consisting in greater generosity, greater patience, greater diligence, greater discipline, more spiritual practice, leading to greater insight, and

3) the appreciation that there are fellow travelers on the path of kindness, and that we would do well to associate ourselves with such fellow travelers.

I invite you to fully engage the path of kindness. I invite you to take shelter from the storm that is this world, under the great Tree of Compassion, a tree that not only shelters but provides the oxygen needed to skip down the path. One of my fellow travelers, Wayne Teasdale, taught me that Contemplative Practice leads to Contemplative Action. May you be blessed by the joy, the peace, the love that comes from such practice. And, may you become a blessing to many, breathing in other's suffering, breathing out lovingkindness.

Easter, 2017

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Fri, February 17, 2017

The Most Highs Rule

By Gard Jameson

"No matter what blunders your fellow men make in their world management of today, in an age to come the gospel which I declare to you will rule this very world." (143:1.4)

At the 2015 Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City there was shared the story of a Russian officer who was given a message that might have set off a nuclear war between Russia and the West in the Fall of 1983. He shared that he heard a voice that clearly directed him not to pass the message along to those who might have initiated such a conflagration. He also shared that he did not know what would get him into more trouble with his superiors, not passing the message along or hearing voices. That story has been documented with actor Kevin Costner, The Man Who Saved Civilization.

On the night of September 26 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov was on duty at Serpukhov-15, a top secret command station in dense forests south of Moscow. His job was to analyze satellite data that would detect a pre-emptive nuclear first strike from the USA – a prospect that in Soviet minds at least, was not unrealistic at that time.

Just three weeks before, the Russians had shot down a Korean jet liner with 269 passengers on board, including a US Congressman and 60 other Americans, after wrongly suspecting it of being a spy plane. The incident pushed East-West tensions to their highest since the Cuban missile crisis, and prompted Ronald Reagan's infamous remark that the Soviet Union was an "evil empire." 

So when, at 12:15 am, the bright red warning lights started flashing and a loud klaxon horn began wailing, indicating a missile from West Coast USA, Petrov and his colleagues feared the very, very worst. "I saw, that a missile had been fired, aimed at us," he recalls. "It was an adrenalin shock. I will never forget it." 

Could it be a false alarm? Petrov asked his colleagues manning the satellite telescopes for "visual confirmation." But with the atmosphere cloudy, it was impossible to say. And besides, the computer said no. As the monitor in front of him showed first one, then two, and then eventually five apparent missile blips, he was forced to make a decision.

Either America was starting World War III, in which case Russia had to respond immediately and overwhelmingly, effectively wiping out the world. Or he could tell his superiors that the mighty Soviet Union's early warning system was malfunctioning, and hope like hell that he was right. With the blips on the screen getting ever nearer to Soviet soil, he had 15 minutes to make his mind up. Seldom had the fate of the world hung more in the hands of one man.

Can you imagine the scene? Can you imagine an angel or some divine personality, whispering quite clearly into his ear: "do not relay this information?"

The World has found itself in similar situations a few times, the Cuban missile crisis in the 1962, a technical malfunction in Omaha, Nebraska in 1979, and there have been other such events.

The night before the third debate between the Presidential candidates last Fall, I made the mistake of telling my class that we would meet, not knowing that all other classes had been dismissed that evening. The rest of the building was empty. So, instead of class I told my students that we would talk about "other things." I asked: "How many of you trust our economic institutions?" Not one student raised their hand. I asked: "How many of you trust our political institutions?" Not one student raised their hand. I asked: "How many of you trust our religious institutions?" Not one student raised their hand.

We have made a mess of things. It may indeed get messier. Humans have an enormous capacity to make a mess. We have lost our way, at all levels.

In the midst of such messiness, we retain the capacity to commune with divine reality, to know that the divine rules our hearts, that the divine rules all the kingdoms of men and women, and all creatures.

In the midst of all the messiness, why should we not commune with divine reality? To know that the divine does rule, not only in our hearts, but also this very world. Why should we not?

We learn from Jesus's life that:

"He well knew that each age must evolve its own remedies for existing troubles. And if Jesus were on earth today, living his life in the flesh, he would be a great disappointment to the majority of good men and women for the simple reason that he would not take sides in present-day political, social, or economic disputes. He would remain grandly aloof while teaching you how to perfect your inner spiritual life so as to render you manyfold more competent to attack the solution of your purely human problems.

"Jesus would make all men Godlike and then stand by sympathetically while these sons of God solve their own political, social, and economic problems." (140:8.17,18)

We are each called upon to enable character growth, the expansion of wisdom and compassion within our soul in accord with our willingness to consent to the Father's will, present in our conscious awareness in this moment, now. All it takes is your consent. Do we take seriously the urgency of the present moment? Do we dare to commune with the Eternal Presence of Infinite Love? If you truly care about the issues of this world, I invite you to join me in such communion. Won't you join me?

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Thu, November 24, 2016

Spiritual Character

By Gard Jameson

Character counts! During the recent cycle of political engagement, I was privileged to read David Brooks' The Road to Character. What I have learned from both experiences is that character, the quality of our soul, is important as we move toward responsibility, toward leadership, toward the Divine.

He speaks of two personalities residing within each of us; that split should be enough to cause us to submit to the Divine Therapy. The first personality is attracted to pleasure and self-seeking happiness. The second personality, rooted in the Divine, is the only aspect of ourself that is capable of soul satisfaction and sustainability. This second personality seeks the way of wisdom and worship, the way of service and love. The first personality is "restless" and "fearful."

Using a number of great characters of history: labor rights advocate Frances Perkins; advocate of the poor Dorothy Day; advocate of discipline and self-mastery General George Marshall; civil rights advocate Philip Randoph; spiritual advocate Augustine of Hippo; and others, Brooks helps us to understand the attributes of real character. One of my favorite fictional characters, played by Gregory Peck, is Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. There was a person of tender kindness and moral strength, a person made of both steel and velvet!

Brooks proposes the Humility Code:

1. We don't live for happiness, we live for holiness

2. A proper self-appraisal goes a long way toward deeper humility

3. Self-inquiry also reveals the splendor that resides within each of us

4. In our struggle, we discover that humility is the greatest virtue, and that

5. Pride is the greatest vice

6. Once basic needs are met, the struggle for character, against sin and for virtue, should be the theme of our existence

7. Character only emerges as we courageously confront our shadow, our inner demons

8. What leads us astray is our emotional reactivity, anxiety, anger and fear

9. Humility is not achieved in a vacuum; other people and a Higher Power are necessary to the journey

10. We are all saved by grace, by uninvited, unearned acceptance

11. The courage to confront our weakness comes from calming the voice of our ego, by quieting the "restless" self, by being still and knowing something greater than ourselves

12. Wisdom, the crown of real character, is a function of meekness and modesty, humility

13. To find our character, our soul, we must find our vocation, our calling, our unique gift that no one else in the universe is capable of answering or offering

14. The true person of character leads "along the grain of human nature rather than going against it"

15. Finally - such a character may never reach the history books, but such a person is an embodiment of "unity of purpose," pursuing a worthwhile unattainable.

In speaking of character, Brooks identifies "pride" as the chief stumbling block, the voice that says: "I am self-sufficient, great and powerful."

"Pride can come in bloated form. This person wants people to see visible proof of his superiority. He wants to be on the VIP list. In conversation, he boasts, he brags. He needs to see his superiority reflected in other people's eyes."

There are also the proud persons who have low self-esteem.

"They feel they haven't lived up to their potential. They feel unworthy. They want to hide and disappear, to fade into the background and nurse their hurts. We don't associate them with pride, but they are still, at root, suffering from the same disease. They are still yoking happiness to accomplishment… they tend to be just as self-centered, only in a self-pitying and isolating way rather than in an assertive and bragging way."

Probably my favorite vignette in the book is on Augustine, one of the Fathers of Modern Christian Theology. Augustine noted in his autobiography,

"'The older I got in age, the worse I got in emptiness," noting that "our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee."

Is it any wonder that the very first beatitude of Jesus was: "Blessed are the Poor in Spirit..," the humble!

May you find within yourself that divine spark of wisdom that ever leads the humble soul toward the shoreline of real character! Bless you and your journey!

Happy Thanksgiving,


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Mon, September 12, 2016

A Weekend with Richard Rohr, Franciscan

By Gard Jameson

Just finished sitting with Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan. He is one of our living luminaries, who helps thousands to navigate the waters of spirituality, His topic this weekend was on the Trinity, a daunting subject made most enjoyable by his affable presence. His new book, Divine Dance: Trinity and your Transformation, is focused upon the question of the meaning of the Trinity.

What he makes clear at the outset is that all religious language about Deity is by necessity metaphorical or symbolic, not literal. Using Kuhn's notion of a paradigm shift, he suggests that it is time to jump into the sea of such a shift religiously, recognizing that most of our images of God are archaic and no longer functional, recognizing that many of our youth are fleeing the God of our Fathers! Why? Because of the static, imperial, monarchial, patriarchal image associated with that God. That image of God is a dualistic image, creating not only heaven but also hell, not only saints but also sinners. Such a dualism leaves the mind confused, uncertain and in a state of fear. Not attractive to the searching soul.

Among Richard's many great points is that: if God is love, then there is no room for Hell and the punishing judgment of sinners. Have we fallen short of the glory of God, for sure, does God still love us unconditionally, for sure! Such a realization requires unity consciousness, an awareness of divine unity.

In the evolution of consciousness, dualistic or binary thinking is the lowest level of thinking. Such thinking splits the world into good and evil, good people and evil people, saved people and unsaved people, our tribe and them! Richard points out that Jesus never spoke in such terms, that his great stories are all about "sinners," at least those viewed as sinners by the orthodox tradition.

The Trinity as an image suggests that the essential point of all creation is that we were created for relationship. Within the Trinity there is a movement of divine energy and of respect that infinitely values "the other." He used the image of a Water Wheel of Love in speaking about the Trinity. He reminded the audience that God is met in our deepest subjectivity; God is not met as an object or as an "It!" All real relationship occurs in the deepest recesses of subjectivity. Within that space there is a self-emptying, a humility, that establishes room for the relationship, the inflow and outflow of God's love.

Those who resist that Water Wheel of Love are oftentimes the very people who should be encouraging its movement within the institution of the church. "We become what we behold," he said. When we behold God as an emperor, like the old Roman emperor, then that is what becomes of us and our institutions. There is an unsatisfying restless search for power that is never fulfilled. The institutional image of a hierarchical pyramid must shift to an eternal circle, a Water Wheel of Love. In that circle we are transformed by God's grace.

He suggested that we look for the prayers and hymns in our Abrahamic traditions that begin with "Almighty God" and realize that such an image can at best be only half true. We have missed the "All Vulnerable God" and the recognition that it is in self-emptying and vulnerability that we discover the subjective reality of the most objective fact in the universe. The cross is the powerful symbol of the vulnerability of God.

Consistent with all mystical teaching, the idea is that God can only be known by loving, by the movement of the Water Wheel of Love through our hearts and souls. For this reason, a contemplative practice is vital to the spiritual journey, emptying ourselves to make room for this inrush of love.

He asked us to look at the basic building block of life, the atom, with its three elements, neutron, proton and electron, dancing around each other to give rise to all physical substance. From Acts, he quoted Paul who suggests that in God "we move and live and have our being." He spoke of the impersonal, transpersonal and personal nature of God in which all creation adheres. Within these three realms there is a movement of divine energy that creates, sustains and upholds existence.

When a paradigm shift begins to occur there is an opening of "awe and wonder," what Einstein called the basic religious emotion. Rohr clearly shared that mystery does not mean "unknowable;" it means eternally knowable! The question is whether we have put ourselves in the current of the Water Wheel of Love, or are we resisting! Instead of "transactional religion," he called for "transformational religion" that puts us in the flow of God's love. This is the basic template for all existence. But, unlike other species, humans are able to resist this flow.

As we look around, we see still see a predominantly "tribal consciousness," low level consciousness that keeps seeing "good guys" and "bad guys," "republicans" and "democrats," "good" and "evil." Such thinking leads to narcissism and ego-inflation. "Compassion is the only proof that you've met God," he said.

Referring to our Biblical illiteracy, he suggested that we adopt a hermeneutic or interpretation of the Bible that empowers an evaluation based upon Jesus' gospel: God is love. In the New Testament, the only time Jesus quotes the Book of Leviticus, the Book of the Law in the Torah, is the positive injunction to love our neighbors as ourselves. He never quotes the many, "Thou shalt not"s. As well, in the gospel stories, he is never upset with sinners only with those who are proud and unwilling to acknowledge their limitations.

God suffers with the sufferer. We read in Study Group today: "The endowment of imperfect beings with freedom entails inevitable tragedy, and it is the nature of the perfect ancestral Deity to universally and affectionately share these sufferings in loving companionship." (110:0.1) Those who do not experience suffering suffer from superficiality. The quest to ignore suffering is the quest of ignorance. Compassion only emerges through our ability to share in the suffering of our humanity.

In the Kingdom of God "there is nothing to earn or lose," he suggested due to the incredible depth of God's love. If God is love, then there has to be at least two in relationship. The supreme joy comes when the basic formula of three emerges. God is love, the Son is mercy and the Infinite Spirit is ministry. The supreme joy of two parents is in the child, the third. For that love to be experienced a contemplative self-emptying is required, a movement through disorder to a reordering, a metanoia, of our existence.

When we experience a humiliation, through anger, anxiety or fear, it is a lesson to be learned about the Trinity, an opportunity to not resist the Water Wheel of Love. So, when you are moved to anger, anxiety or fear, know that you have a choice, to embrace and be embraced by the divine Trinity, or not! Be thankful for the wonderful lessons you are learning to shift and dance!


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Sat, August 20, 2016

Sacred Listening

By Gard Jameson

Are you a good listener?

What does it mean to be a good listener?

How do we cultivate the sacred art of listening?

Listening is the clearest display of our communion with God. A bad listener does not enjoy the intimacy that is available in God's Loving Presence. A good listener has the capacity to be in ever present communion with the One who has created us.

Listening is the only real sign of respect that one person can show to another.

We all have met good listeners and feel the connection that they made with us through their capacity to listen well. It made us feel respected when we were listened to.

In the wondrous pages of The Urantia Book we are told that Jesus was a "charming listener." (171:2.4) It is written that Jesus "listened with interest." (167:2.4) He always listened "attentively." (164:2.3) And, not just "attentively;" he listened "attentively and sympathetically." (127:5.5) Jesus provides the premier example of what it means to be a good listener, as he listened "carefully" (127:2.2) and "with patience." (146:3.1)

How could Jesus be such a good listener? Because he truly cared for and respected the person to whom he listened. That respect was the result of his vision of each person as an infinitely beloved son or daughter of the Eternal God of all existence!

What can learn from Jesus? We can ask the hard question: am I good listener? If not, what can I learn from Jesus that would improve my capacity to be a good listener?

We can see that he listened with interest, attentively and sympathetically, carefully and with patience. That is a tall order for our small, but growing minds and souls!

Our minds are forever distracted, forever impatient, forever inattentive, waiting for our opportunity to jump into the current of conversation, without having really listened or respected the person speaking. We are afraid we will lose our thought. We are afraid that we will not get to share our wisdom. We are afraid.

Imagine the Creator of our Local Universe listening to you as Jesus listened. What possible response, but to seek to emulate his ability to listen. For in truth, God listens to us in that manner every moment of our existence. How should we respond?

As the beings we are, we are ever so prone not to listen attentively and sympathetically, not to listen carefully and with patience. Agree?

In the last, perhaps most important point in Jesus' discourse on prayer it is written that:

Jesus taught his followers that, when they had made their prayers to the Father, they should remain for a time in silent receptivity to afford the indwelling spirit the better opportunity to speak to the listening soul. (146:2.17)

Our listening should allow for silent receptivity. Whether it is in our prayer or worship, or in our conversations with others. We should allow that critical moment of silent receptivity, without which we have not adequately listened to the person speaking to us, or, more importantly, we have not adequately listened to the indwelling Presence of God. The two are connected. As we allow silent receptivity, we demonstrate respect for the other person and we also allow for the wisdom of God to speak to our own listening soul.

Jesus went on to teach that:

The spirit of the Father speaks best to man when the human mind is in an attitude of true worship. We worship God by the aid of the Father's indwelling spirit and by the illumination of the human mind through the ministry of truth. Worship, taught Jesus, makes one increasingly like the being who is worshiped. Worship is a transforming experience whereby the finite gradually approaches and ultimately attains the presence of the Infinite. (146:2.17)

Thus, the supreme commandment of the universe, to be increasingly like God, is best approached in silent receptivity, in an attitude of true worship. When we listen attentively and sympathetically, with care and with patience, we are stepping into the domain of worship wherein we are transformed by God's indwelling and gracious Presence. It all begins and ends with sacred listening.

Now that is something worth listening to!

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Sat, October 31, 2015

The Parliament of World Religions Salt Lake City

By Gard Jameson

Sometimes one receives the gift of a vision. Recently, over 10,000 people gathered in Salt Lake City to celebrate the unity of our diverse faith expressions. Many of those people had a vision: how the world is meant to be, unified by our values, motivated by our ideals, acting upon our aspirations. (

There were many voices of inspiration singing together for the time we were together in Salt Lake City. Three voices that resonated so clearly were the voices of women, the voices of the indigenous people, and the voices of hospitality.

A Women's Assembly gathered thousands of women to celebrate the feminine, and the emerging voice of the feminine within our culture.

This voice is a powerful one of hope and wisdom.

Indigenous traditions from all parts of the planet gathered to speak their truth and the growing appreciation of a deep quality of wisdom and guidance within these traditions. The grandmothers of many of these traditions provided presentations. The audience was told clearly: when you are ready to listen, we have the answers to the problems that you now face.

The hospitality of the event was palpable. The Sikhs served Langar, a meal of hospitality, every day to all the participants. Their kind spirits and compassion touched every heart. Everywhere one turned, there was the balm of smiles of compassion. Every tradition on the planet was represented and expressed hospitality.

Karen Armstrong, the author of the Charter for Compassion, shared that compassion is not a luxury, but a necessity. And, that compassion is not a word, but an ideal in action. Communities all around the planet are signing up to become compassionate communities. I welcome you to taste the vision at the next Parliament.

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Mon, March 03, 2014

Let Freedom Ring!

By Gard Jameson

From the Ukraine to Myanmar, from Syria to Tahrir Square, people’s voices are rising up in their search for freedom from fear, tyranny and oppression. In this search for freedom, there is a reflection. What does freedom mean?

Jesus says: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!”

What is it that we shall know?

Is it that democracy is a better form of government than autocracy?

Is it that “republicans” are better than “democrats”? Is it this or that?

“The mortal dilemma consists in the double fact that man is in bondage to nature while at the same time he possesses a unique liberty — freedom of spiritual choice and action. On material levels man finds himself subservient to nature, while on spiritual levels he is triumphant over nature and over all things temporal and finite. Such a paradox is inseparable from temptation, potential evil, decisional errors, and when self becomes proud and arrogant, sin may evolve.” (111.6.2)

We are spiritual beings with a human legacy. When we become fully aware of the limitations of our human legacy, of our emotional attachments, of the instinctual urges and drives that dictate our attitudes and behaviors, we discover a possible path toward our inherent spiritual status as the beloved of God, without duplicate in infinity, irreplaceable in all eternity.

The first step toward spiritual freedom is the honest recognition of the human condition, its gifts and its limitations. With that recognition comes the choice to take the path of humility or humiliation. Without humility the humiliation of experience will eventually cause a reflection, that pride does come before a steep fall, personally and collectively, that self-centered freedom is not freedom.

This is the beautiful legacy of Gandhi, King and Mandela, that the way of truth is a way of non-violence, of justice and of mercy. The way of truth is contemplative connection with greatest power of the universe, the Source of divine love. Out of such love the values of civilization are forged, day by day, year by year, decade by decade, the values of truth, beauty and goodness.

In this season of Lent, may you recognize that the greatest sacrifice would be your attachment to the emotional instability of anger, fear and anxiety, and your simultaneous commitment to a practice of worshipful communion with Divinity and service to Humanity. May all those who yearn and work for such freedom be blessed, as, in truth, they are!

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Tue, September 03, 2013

The Highest Joy

By Gard Jameson

One of the easiest misunderstandings on the planet is the distinction between joy and pleasure. Joy is an attribute of an internal state of awareness that emerges from within the consciousness of the participant, while pleasure is a fleeting awareness emerges from some external input. Joy lasts; pleasure disappears quickly. Blake reminds us that joy is not something that can be controlled or manipulated like pleasure. Joy is a spiritual reality. Blake writes: “He who binds to himself a joy does the winged life destroy, but he who kisses the joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise.”

The greatest quality of joy or bliss is associated with communion with those spiritual realities that indwell the human person. All the pleasures of the world cannot compare with the bliss of worshipful communion. It is in that communion that one experiences the unity and interdependence of all things and beings; there is no greater joy than this realization. It is our sense of separateness and isolation that leads to a quality of alienation and suffering. It is when we ask, seek and knock on the door of Divine Presence that it suddenly opens, pouring forth a wave of joy and blessing.

Hafiz asks the question, “O wondrous creature, by what strange miracle do you so often not smile?” If joy is inherent in human existence, as it is, then why is that we so often do not smile? It is our birthright, the precious gift of the Divine Presence; how could we not open that gift every morning?

“With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things,” writes Wordsworth. Our perception of reality is altered by the presence or absence of joy. Joy is the precursor of wisdom, which sees to the core of all things and beings.

Joy is the clear sign of the Presence of God. When somber holy men and women approach, beware! Without joy there is little capacity for relationship. Joy opens the heart and the mind so that there can be a perception of the divinity within all things and beings. So, what are you waiting for, claim the joy that is your birthright!

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Fri, February 08, 2013

Immortal Diamond

By Gard Jameson

The Immortal Diamond

I want to welcome you to 2013! As a friend who is a leading Mayan scholar exclaimed:

"I am so glad December 2012 is behind us!" The end of the Mayan calendar, as is true of every calendar, is the beginning of a new calendar. In early January our local community was treated to a visit from Richard Rohr, a significant contemplative voice within the Christian tradition. Richard brought our community a message of hope, that there is an Immortal Diamond that indwells all of us, our True Self.

So much fear and anxiety dominates our psychological landscape, signs of the False Self. Fears like the end of the world, the end of our lives, the end of our health, the end of our paycheck create ongoing sources of anxiety. Ours is to commit to the contemplative life which slowly but surely dismantles those fears and anxieties, defuses the False Self. "Peace," "Fear not" and "Be of Good Cheer" were the bywords of Jesus to everyone he ever greeted, suggesting that our fears and anxieties are without foundation.

Richard Rohr suggests that most people don't have emotions; their emotions have them. They are controlled by the emotions of fear, anxiety and anger. I liken those emotions to the medieval torture device known as The Rack. The most primal emotion is fear; that is The Rack, which tortures and confuses many a soul. The Rack works by pulling the body in Two Directions, just as Anxiety pulls toward the Future and Anger pulls toward the Past, dislocating the psychological wellbeing of the individual. This dislocation does not allow us to be Present to the Presence of God. God is only known in the Present Moment. If we are chained to the future and the past, the Present Moment becomes an elusive butterfly. The Greek word, psyche, literally means "butterfly;" our very soul eludes us!

Richard suggests and The Urantia Book affirms that "the goodness of God fills all the gaps of the universe, without discrimination or preference." Such goodness perfumes God's love for us and is unconditional, available in every Present Moment. "There is a Truth that lives within us that will be with us forever" (2 John 2). Most of us know little of this Truth, this Love because we unwittingly permit The Rack to continue to dislocate us from God's Presence.

We need a new "motherboard" in our soul. We have inherited both a Reptilian and Mammalian brain that perpetuates the legacy of emotional instability. It is time to become truly human, with the realization of our divine potential. It has been shown that meditation and contemplative prayer literally fires different parts of the brain that lead to a quality of coherence.

Richard made clear the scripture, "What I want is mercy and not sacrifice." He underscored how many are tortured by images of God that require sacrifice before mercy can be bestowed. In particular, he made clear that the Atonement Doctrine is a heresy by suggesting that God required Jesus' death before loving salvation could be bestowed upon humanity. "Most notions of sacrifice largely appeal to our False Self.... Jesus came to end sacrificial religion itself," not by being a sacrifice, but by demonstrating God's unconditional loving Presence.

The ropes of The Rack are a "literalism" that is "the lowest and least level of meaning." Such literalism ties us to childish and, often, idolatrous understandings of scripture. Not until we begin to move to the allegorical, the affective and the contemplative dimension of scripture does the true meaning of scripture emerge. The allegorical displays deeper and deeper qualities of meaning. The affective appreciation of scripture leads to a moral response that engages us with the world and the people around us, with a desire to perform the divine will in real service. And, the contemplative appreciation of scripture engages a quality of silence that allows us to be authentically present to the Divine Presence in scripture, in the world, and, most importantly, within ourselves.

I invite you to recommit yourself to a Contemplative Life, an inner world illuminated by communion and worship with the Divine Presence, leading to an engagement with the outer world that is dedicated to doing God's will in loving service to humanity and to our planet!

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