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 For what shall I give thanks?  And in what manner shall my thanksgiving be expressed?  Most often, when we think about what we are grateful for, we focus on that which we have – materially.  We are grateful for our home, our health, our work, and our abundance.  We give thanks for our family, our friends, and our spiritual community.

 In metaphysics we are taught that these outward appearances are the demonstration, whereas, mysticism teaches that outward appearances are actually the effect of the demonstration.  In the mystical realm, there is only one demonstration: the realization of God’s presence and grace; the recognition of God as individual being; the conscious awareness of Oneness.  This is the demonstration. 

 In the stillness and silence of my soul, I realize God as the very nature of my being.  And in this realization of God as my being, all that the Father has is mine.  I then experience the “added things” in whatever form is required in the moment.  God knows what I have need of.  Therefore, the true demonstration is the realization of Oneness and then how that out pictures in my life is the effect of that one demonstration.

 Therefore, in giving thanks, I have the opportunity to lift my consciousness out of the material realm and into the spiritual realm.  This is a transformative spiritual practice.

 Let us consider a fruit tree for a moment.  The fruit is the effect of the Law of Nature, a Principle of Life.  The fruit is temporary, it comes and it goes.  But the Law of Life that creates the fruit is eternal and changeless.  We can use the fruit and we can enjoy the fruit, letting it come and letting it go, because we know that back of the fruit is the Invisible which produced it. When our gratitude is for the Invisible Spirit which produces the fruit – be it in the form of money, health or perfect work – we lift ourselves into an atmosphere of realized truth.

 When I am grateful for things or conditions, I am focusing my attention on that which is temporary, the effect.  When the focus of my gratitude is on that which I consume or acquire, I perceive myself as a consumer, an acquirer.  This perception reflects a sense of separation from God… which completely limits my good.  I am viewing my good as being outside myself and when I attract it to myself, I am grateful.

 Yet, behind our good, behind all form, is the Spirit which produced it. So let us be grateful not for any particular form of good, but for the Spirit underlying that form.

 When I focus my attention on the Spirit of God that underlies all things, I perceive myself as a spiritual being, having infinite supply.  I and my Father are one.  In this awareness, I am naturally lifted into the experience of gratitude… for gratitude is something that God expresses through me… like love, peace and joy.

 For what shall I give thanks?

  • That I have achieved some measure of God realization
  • That the kingdom of God which I have sought has been found within myself
  • That the door of spiritual consciousness has opened and revealed God as the very nature of my being
  • That the activity of God is the only activity of my life
  • That the Principle operates in every situation
  • That the Spirit of God is revealing Itself as harmony
  • That God is, I am

 God is. I am.  This awareness elevates me into the bliss of gratitude, of Oneness.

  In what manner shall my thanksgiving be expressed?

  •  I embark upon a program of daily gratitude not for things, but gratitude for God as the only substance, form and activity. 
  •  When I do feel grateful for a thing or a condition, and it is natural that I will, I have the opportunity to use that feeling as a trigger to consider the truth that is back of it.  What spiritual truth makes this that I am experiencing possible?
  •  I do want to express my gratitude tangibly.  When I give or receive money or when I take food or drink, I have a moment’s recognition of the Infinite Source, which is also the Infinite Source of my being.  
  • It is also important to express my gratitude to individuals through whom my good comes.  God is individual being.  It appears as individual you and individual me.  And so in expressing my gratitude to an individual, I am expressing it to God.  My awareness of this deeper truth lifts me out of the human scene and into the spiritual realm.
  •  I can express gratitude for any teacher or experience that brings God’s presence to my mind; this deepens my realization of Oneness.
  •  In humble gratitude for the work that pours out through me, I acknowledge that it is the Father within who doeth the works.
  •  The sincerity and earnestness I give in communion, meditation, contemplation, and prayer is a measure of my gratitude.
  •  Most importantly, I dwell in, contemplate, what I have… spiritually.

 I can’t help but live in gratitude as I realize the presence of God, and behold the grace of God unfolding as my life.

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Over the years, I have found Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith’s Stages of Spiritual Development helpful.  These stages represent the evolution of consciousness:

TO ME:

This is victim consciousness.  I feel powerless.   I am unconscious, unaware, and most of the action I take in my life is a reaction to what is happening to me.  I believe I am separate from God, and that this God is testing, rewarding and punishing me.

BY ME:

I wake up.  I learn that God is a creative principle, and is operating within me.  I discover that there is a law that I can use to create change and I use this law effectively.  I feel powerful.  Affirmative prayer, visualization, and affirmations are powerful spiritual practices in this stage.

THROUGH ME:

I have learned to establish dominion over my life and I experience harmony in the various areas of my life.  I sense there is more to life than this.  I let go of control, surrender to God, and let it use me.  I become an instrument.  At this stage I prepare myself to receive the Grace of God through Practicing the Presence, meditation and visioning.  Affirmative prayer and other practices are still appropriate at this stage.

AS ME:

I release any remaining sense of separation and rest in the realization of Oneness.  Jesus was in this stage when he said, “I and my Father are one.” In this stage I am instantly made free; for to know God aright is life eternal.  I no longer have to go anywhere mentally to reach God.  I spontaneously live in the awareness of the Presence and behold God’s grace unfolding.

These stages are not linear.  We move back and forth between them.  As we become a witness to our own thoughts and actions, we can identify which stage we are operating from at any given moment.

As we develop spiritual consciousness, we notice that we are hanging out more often in the Through Me and As Me stages.  This is where we let go of our own agenda, make conscious contact with the Divine, and allow God’s grace to unfold.

Practicing the Presence is a living experience that continues throughout the day.  Refresh your soul by using everyday activities as triggers to rest in the Spirit.

This program is adapted from an exercise outlined in The Alchemy of Awareness by Lorraine Sinkler.  Build your practice each week by incorporating the previous weeks’ practice.

Week One

Every morning, upon awakening, contemplate the nature and activity of God.  “This is the day the Lord has made.  God is.  I am.  I am living by grace today.”

Week Two

Pause at every threshold you cross and remember, “The presence of God goes before me to prepare the way and to be the love that greets me.”

Week Three

This week, after crossing each threshold, add, “The presence of God remains behind me as a blessing.”

Week Four

When going to your particular job, and each time you begin a new task, remind yourself: “God brought me the work of this day, and the Presence within performs it.  It is the Father within who doeth the works.” This brings the awareness that the work being done is not the work of a person: it is divine work.  Become an observer, a witness, a beholder of God in action.  Learn to watch your higher consciousness doing the work as you.

Week Five

See through the human appearance to the Divinity at the core of each and every person.  Each time you come in contact with a person, silently affirm, “I recognize you as an individual expression of the One; perfect, whole, and complete.”

Week Six

Before eating anything, silently express gratitude, recognizing, “God is the spiritual substance of this food.  God is the spiritual substance of ALL form.”

Week Seven

Every time you enter a car, remember, “God, divine Intelligence, is the mind of every driver on the road.”

Week Eight

Each time you find yourself waiting (in line, at the doctor’s office, on the phone) close your eyes and silently affirm, “I am here.  I am available.  I am listening.” Be still.

It only takes a second to bring to conscious awareness

the power and presence of God.


Lorraine Sinkler writes: “Human beings are in the deep slumber of humanhood, and whatever leads a person consciously to remember the presence of God serves as an alarm clock to awaken him and keep him awake.”

Every day each of us awakens in the morning, we walk through doorways; we go to work or participate in some in sort of activity.  We have contact with other people; we eat; we drive; and we wait.  These are activities that we are already doing.  Let’s use them as triggers, as alarm clocks, to bring to conscious awareness the presence and power of God.

It is your conscious awareness of Oneness that will lift you into the spiritual realm, refresh your soul, and transform your life.


WHO AM I?

My friend Pamela recently posted an entry on her blog titled: Wayne Dyer: On Ego & Intention. http://potentialwithin.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/wayne-dyer-on-ego/ She refers to the acronym he uses for EGO – Edging God Out. This past August, I had the great fortune to hear him speak. I was attending a conference in California and during the week I was there, Dr. Dyer was filming a movie on the grounds. He was not on the program, yet very graciously addressed our group one evening. Dyer described the ego as: a false self, an illusion, a belief system, the cause of all problems, an idea about who we are. Following is a summary of the three main components of the ego:

  1. I am what I accumulate. I define myself by that which I own. Consequently, the more I own, the better I feel about myself. And, the less I own, the worse I feel about myself. This results in the never-ending pursuit of more and better matter. It also contributes to how I judge others and their worth. The problem with this belief is that if I ever lose what I have… who am I?
  2. I am what I do. I identify myself with the work that I do in the world. “I am a teacher.” “I am a student.” “I am a mother.” I also judge others’ worth by what they do. What happens when I can no longer do what I do? I may have an identity crisis, feel worthless… who am I?
  3. I am what other people think of me. This puts my identity in the hands of others. It results in people pleasing. I am constantly motivated and affected by the reactions and opinions of others. I look outside myself for validation. What if they don’t like me… who am I?

Each of these beliefs results in Edging God Out. I am identifying with form, with an effect. Every form is temporary, including me. So if I am not what I own, and I am not what I do, and I am not what other people think of me, then who am I?

If I were willing to take this question into the silence, and contemplate it, I would discover, over time, who I am NOT. And in discovering who I am NOT, I would begin to realize who I AM. Being open to the question, “Who am I?” creates an opportunity to become less identified with the ego and more in touch with that which is eternal and changeless. This results in more peace, more harmony, more joy, more love and definitely a more meaningful life.