Teachings/Lessons

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By: Author John Van Auken

A Lite Heart...

An Ancient Egyptian Teaching
by John Van Auken

    One of many wonderful scenes in ancient Egyptian art is “The Judgment,” sometimes called “The Weighing of the Heart.” It appears in the papyrus scrolls of The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The scene shows a deceased Egyptian named Ani being led to the chamber of his judgment. The god Anubis, the underworld guide, brings Ani before a huge scale. On one side of the scale, Ani’s heart is placed in a jar. On the other side of the scale is the feather of the goddess Ma’at. Observing this weighing of the heart are various other gods. Thoth (Hermes, to the Greeks) stands nearby with Ani’s Book of Life in his hands, ready to inscribe the outcome of this weighing. Horus, the god who was immaculately conceived by Isis to save the world from Egypt’s satan, waits to see if Ani’s heart is light enough for him to lead Ani out of the underworld through Osiris’ chamber and on up into the heavens. Isis and Nephthys stand behind Osiris, who is seated on his throne. All await the outcome.
    If one’s heart were heavy with regret, unfinished Earth business, or the pull of selfish desires, then the ancient Egyptian - in this case, Ani - could not enter the heavens. A beastly creature would eat his heart, and he would have to return to Earth to get a new heart, one light enough to rise into heaven (presumably by reincarnating and living a better life than before).
    Do we have light hearts? Or are we carrying around a lot of unresolved issues, unfulfilled desires, the weight of broken dreams and promises, or whatever is weighing on us? The Edgar Cayce readings tell the story of an Egyptian high priest named Ra Ta who, at a very old age and in decrepit condition, was able to rejuvenate himself and live another one hundred years in order to work on the building of the Great Pyramid of Giza. When Cayce was asked how this priest rejuvenated his aged body, he answered: “through the casting aside of the years of toil and strife through which the body of Ra-Ta itself had passed.” In order words, by letting go of the things that had aged him. We tend to hold on to our pain, our suffering, our sacrifices, and our regrets. All of which age us and weigh our hearts down. Forgive and forget is a much healthier prescription.
    Such rejuvenation was not done in one day or in one thought; it took Ra Ta seven years to fully rejuvenate himself. It will likely take us as long.
    When in deep trance attunement to the Universal Consciousness, Cayce was asked to give some light on the word heart. He replied in this fashion: As in the physical body the heart is considered the source that impels life to all portions of the body. In that sense, then, one seeks God’s help in creating a pure heart, a pure soul, a pure purpose in body and mind, that one may bring life, light, understanding, to those contacted -- as does the heart to the body. The heart is used to signify that purpose, that intent, that life. It represents an entity, a body, a mind; an imaginative being that through the conscious and subconscious or soul forces brings life to all contacted. As in: “Create within me a pure heart, O God, and RENEW a right, righteous, holy spirit within me.”
    In his teachings about actions and reactions, he encourages us to achieve a light heart by helping the hearts of those we meet and share life with be lighter: “Keep thy smile of encouragement to others; for it lightens the heart of many.”
    In a reading for a member of one of his groups, Cayce gave this insight and encouragement about keeping our light shining: “Thy light hath gone out before the darkness in the lives of many. Keep that light burning in thy own heart. Grow not weary in well doing. Let thy heart open to those things that bespeak the closeness of His walks, His talks with thee. Thy light of love and faith and hope and thought will not lose its reward in Him. For whom He loves He comforts, every one.”
    A light heart, both in weight and luminescence, is an important part of our personal spirituality. How do we achieve such? The answer is by being often in prayer, meditation, and doing good for others.
    In his parable of the seeds of the word of God sown along the roadside of life, Jesus says that the seeds that fall “in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience.” A good heart in patience is the important point here. Letting go of what weighs our hearts down is achieved with patience. We cannot jump straight out of our present condition into our hoped-for goal. We proceed from where we are to that goal, step by step, little by little, day by day, one situation at a time. Whether we have a week to live or many years, today is the time to begin to lighten and enlighten our hearts and the hearts of those around us. Cayce commented that “some grow old gracefully, some tolerantly, some fussily, and some very meanly.” The key factor may well be patience.
    In the Egyptian scene, Ani’s heart is indeed lighter than Ma’at’s feather, so he is allowed to enter the Paradise of Osiris, Isis, and her sister Nephthys and then on to the higher heavens. Let’s lighten our hearts and the hearts of those we contact.

From Karma to Grace...

The Power of the
Fruits of the Spirit
by John Van Auken

    Today, those of us seeking our own personal spirituality are especially aware of the influence of karma and grace. Let’s explore these two forces, and let’s begin at the very beginning.
    In conceiving us, God, Creative Forces, gave us the gifts of individual consciousness and free will. With these we were to come to know ourselves to be ourselves, and yet choose to be one with the Whole (God, others, and ourselves). Only with independent consciousness and free will could we choose to be God’s companions and co-creators. Yet, these powers are often compared to a two-edged sword, because they can lead us towards heavenly oneness or towards hellish selfishness. Each of us has to learn how to bring our mind and will in closer harmony with God’s. But learning implies mistakes, and mistakes with the mind and will can be very harmful.
    Therefore, before the two great gifts were given (consciousness and free will), God established a simple but universal law: whatever we do with our mind and will comes back to us, not as punishment or retribution but as education and enlightenment. The law is intended to help us appreciate the effects of our individual thoughts, words, and actions upon God, others, and even ourselves. We recognize this law when we say, “What goes around, comes around.” In the scriptures it is written: “As you sow, so shall you reap”; “With what measure you measure, so shall it be measured to you.” Even proof-oriented scientists observe that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is the law of action and reaction, cause and effect, the law of karma.
The law is unavoidable and immutable. Jesus teaches that not one jot will be erased from it. How then can any of us recover from mistakes? How are we to learn, if every misuse or abuse brings reactions? Are we now trapped in a tangled web of karmic backlash to our past actions, words, and thoughts? Cayce’s readings teach that, “God has not left us without a way.” That way is grace.
    Grace is that wonderful spirit that imbues every fiber of our being when we practice the fruits of the spirit: kindness, patience, understanding, forgiveness, love, gentleness, fellowship, and long-suffering. Cayce says that “against these there is no law.”  But he says “doubt, fear, avarice, greed, selfishness, self-will; these are the fruits of the evil forces. Against such there is a law.” Obviously we want to choose grace over karma.
    Jesus calls us to “learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” The meaning is that a built-in grace already exists in this exacting law of karma. Here’s how it works: The law is absolute, right? Yes. Therefore, what we do or think comes back to us. Then, if we begin to understand mistakes by others, the law -- always at work and never compromising -- reacts with understanding toward our mistakes! If we begin to forgive others, the law reacts with forgiveness for us. And, best of all, if we forget the misuse or abuse by others, then ours is forgotten, too.
    This is the deeper meaning behind Jesus’ words “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Few of us could sacrifice enough to make up for all our mistakes, but having mercy toward others who have misused their gifts brings mercy to us. The law is absolute. Therefore, jots of understanding, forgiveness, and forgetting come back upon us as we give them out to others. It is perfect. It is simple. What we give, we receive. The law is filled with latent grace waiting to be released.
    Do we seek forgiveness? Then, we must give forgiveness. Seek understanding? Then, give understanding to another. If we want our sins forgotten in the Mind of the All-Knowing, then we need to forget what others have done to us. Let it go; release it. Stop holding onto little spites, hurts, and bitterness. They weigh us down, limiting our ability to grow closer to heavenly consciousness. Ancient Egyptians weighed the heart to see if it was light or heavy. A heavy heart caused the soul to sink into the underworld, but a light one allowed the soul to rise through the heavens. Cayce explains that the High Priest Ra Ta rejuvenated his body by “casting aside the years of toil and strife through which the body had passed,” 696-1. In other words, he let go of the things that had aged him. By letting go, we may release ourselves and others from the heavy burdens of regret, disappointment, self-doubt, and guilt. Just let them go! Shake them off, get up, and get going again. But for this to work, we must also do it for all those we meet -- allowing them to be freed of their burdens and our judgments.
    Most of our opportunities to grow in grace will not be with strangers, for the hardest to forgive are those closest to us: parents, siblings, spouses, children, coworkers, and friends. These relationships bring the greatest challenges and opportunities each day. And, we may also think that the greater opportunities for soul growth concern life and death issues, but they more often concern little everyday situations. The very next person that walks up to us brings potential grace. To release this grace, we simply have to use our God-given mind and will to choose to interact positively.
    However, we can take this too far, allowing others to do whatever they wish despite their influence on themselves, others, and God. Tough love is as much as part of the journey as understanding. Sometimes, we help our loved ones, friends, and coworkers more with loving truth. Jesus did not ignore Peter’s errors, but called him to rise to a higher level.
    Karma and grace go hand-in-hand, because the law is so perfectly crafted. Grace is the rosebud on the thorny stem of karma. The blooming of this bud is dependent on our present use of free will and mind. Cayce taught, “God is Law, and the Law is Love.” The disciple Peter wisely observed that “Love covers a multitude of sins.” The disciple John taught that “God is love; and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Cayce asked us all: “How can it be then that you do not understand God loves you?” Sensing our questioning reply, given that our lives are not always happy, he stated: “Why do you suffer? It is mercy, it is justice to your soul! For those things that are cares of the flesh and of the Earth cannot inherit eternal life. Hence life alters, life changes in the experiences of individuals through their sojourns in the Earth, and thus you learn your lessons, even as He; for though He were the Son, though you are His sons and daughters, yet must you learn obedience through the things that you suffer.” Karma is a teacher. Freedom comes with responsibility. And oneness is not achieved without cooperation. Obeying the law of love is required.
    Let’s live in grace by applying the fruits of the spirit each day.

Our Body is a Temple

An Ancient Secret
about Our Bodies
by John Van Auken

Secretly, we are minds and souls inside physical vehicles for a temporary incarnation. We've come from out of infinity into to a finite world using the laws of Nature. But our true nature is celestial and our bodies are secretly composed to help us become aware of this forgotten truth.

    The disciple Paul asked in 1 Corinthians: “Don’t you know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” and “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God?” In 2 Corinthians he comes right out and says it plainly: “We are a temple of the living God; even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’”
    The disciple John hints at this when he recounts in his gospel an event when Jesus was in the great temple in Jerusalem and was asked to show the people a sign. “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The people at the temple said, ‘Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he spoke of the temple of his body.”
    From Edgar Cayce’s attunement to the Universal Consciousness, he too saw and taught that our bodies are more than physical vehicles for living in this world. Here are five brief excerpts:
    “Know that your body is the temple of the living God; there you may seek communion. There you may seek counsel as to the choices to be made, the directions to be taken.”
    “He has promised. ‘If you will but open the door of your consciousness, of your heart, I will enter and abide with you.’ This is not a fancy; this is not hearsay. You may experience such. For it is the law, it is the way, it is LIFE itself!”
    “Seek and you shall find. Not without but from within. For in thine own temple He has promised to meet you.”
    “All that you may learn of the Father God is already within self. For your body is indeed the temple of the living God, and as you meet Him there you may gain in your own consciousness the satisfaction of walking and talking with Him. When these consciousnesses are yours and you are one with Him, then indeed may you see that the kingdom of heaven dwells within.”
    “This is a promise to you, to each soul; yet each soul must of itself find that answer within self. For indeed the body is the temple of the living God. There He has promised to meet you; there He does. And as your body, your mind, your soul is attuned to that divine that answers within, so may you indeed be quickened to know His purpose; and you may fill that purpose for which you entered this experience.”
    Years ago, when I first read these teachings, I would sit quietly and go within my temple. With my physical eyes closed, I would scan inside my head with my mind’s eye, looking for God. I would begin conversations, and then sit silently, listening for a response. In those early days it was like sitting in a dark, empty room by myself. There was nothing in here but me. If I began to perceive a response, I would not know if it was some aspect of me or truly God speaking. Now, many years later, I cannot close my eyes without feeling the nearness of a vast inner universe of life, information, creativity, and God. In preparing to write this article I spent some time recalling how I went from sitting by myself to awakening to the heavens within. It is true that if one seeks, one will find; it’s a matter of seeking long enough. And it was a long journey, with some side trips that led nowhere. But, through it all, there was a thread that I can now see in hindsight. There were spontaneous moments of enlightenment, of direct contact with God, and of knowing the truth. Sustaining those proved more difficult than expected because outer life was more integral to inner growth than expected. If I stopped living the fruits of the spirit in the outer life, the inner life dried up. But the inner life is the ultimate, eternal life, and it is only lived by going within the temple of the body and awakening to it.
    There are two excellent ways to enter the temple within: deep sleep and deep meditation. A good biblical example of deep sleep producing a vision of the life within would be Jacob’s dream of the ladder to and from heaven. You’ll recall that upon waking from deep sleep, he said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate to heaven.” The place of deep sleep and illuminating dreams is indeed the house of God and the gate to heaven. A good biblical example of deep meditation producing a vision of the life within would be John’s description of how The Revelation began. John tells us that he “was in the spirit [in deep meditation, caught up in the spirit] on the Lord’s day and I heard and saw and was told to write.” In this issue, let’s explore how the body, the temple, is arranged for spiritual activity.
THE EXPERIENCE
    I am often asked to describe what it feels like to open centers and raise energy, and to be in the presence of God. The Ineffable is just that, ineffable. Even God ordered Old Testament seekers to make no images or utter any name for Him. Additionally, I’ve found that people are quite unique in their wiring and perception. Some are more visual. Others are auditory. And some are tactile or kinesthetic, feeling more than perceiving. Some are conceptual; they know. Frankly, I could find no difference in the profoundness of their spiritual experiences. For me, it began with feeling the Presence and the energy, then developed into knowing, and eventually became visual. But I have a friend who began seeing before he could feel. I recommend that you seek and practice and allow yourself to discover it as it comes to you.  You must have some faith that it is there and in the beginning you’ll need to be inspired (that helps lift you into the Spirit).
SECRET STRUCTURE
    Many of the body’s major systems may be used for both physical and spiritual activity. For example, the seven major endocrine glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream to keep the body running optimally are also a physical portion of the seven spiritual centers or chakras that can affect major changes in our vibrations and consciousness. The central nervous system, so vital to living in the three-dimensional world, is also a portion of the kundalini pathway that can raise our vibrations and help us perceive beyond three dimensions.
    Much of this was known in the sacred and often secret temple schools of ancient cultures around the world. For example, the staff carried by the god Mercury (also known as Hermes by the Greeks, Thoth by the Egyptians, and Enoch by the Hebrews, and who Cayce said was an incarnation of “the Word”) remains today as the emblem of modern medicine (the caduceus). But few really know its intended meaning. It is an excellent emblem for physical healing, but it also contains the metaphysical structure of the body for spiritual flight, flight with the messenger of the gods, Mercury, into the heavens and the presence of the Most High God (see diagram on the front page).
    An important but often forgotten teaching in several ancient temple schools dealt with the movement of the life force in the body. It was taught that when the life force flows downward and outward through the body’s structures, one becomes fully incarnate and conscious in this world; when the life force flows inward and upward through these same structures, then one moves beyond this reality and becomes conscious of the heavens. If both flows are made to circulate the life force, then integration occurs, and the person becomes whole, both human and divine. Cayce and other sources teach that this is accomplished by using the breath. The Taoist teacher Liu Hua-yang wrote: “There is a turn upward toward Heaven when the breath is drawn in. When the breath flows out, energy is directed towards the Earth. In two intervals one gathers Sacred Energy.”
    Edgar Cayce’s readings affirm these energy flows and encourage us to work at entering the temple within and raising the life force in order to draw closer to God and receive His/Her counsel and comfort, and ultimately to become one with God. In the process, we are to channel that light and love into this world, into our lives and the lives of those we interact with each day. This, according to many spiritual teachers and schools, is the primary lesson to be learned in this incarnation: know and love God completely and channel that light and love into this life’s daily opportunities with others. Entering the temple, raising the energy, enlivening the spiritual centers, and uniting with God are not necessary to living a spiritual, loving life. But, if one wants to experience the whole of God consciousness and eternal life, then one needs to raise the body’s vibrations and experience higher states of consciousness. Moses could not ascend the mountain and meet God face to face until he first gave water to the seven maidens and raised the serpent off the desert floor -- symbolic of enlivening the seven spiritual centers and raising the kundalini energy.
    Let’s explore the body’s secret structure and some of the techniques for finding God within us and channeling the light and love into our lives.
SPIRITUAL CENTERS & THE LIFE FORCE
    The concept of spiritual centers can be found in the art of antiquity, from glowing globes on people’s heads in Egyptian art to third eyes on the bodies (even on the palms of hands) in classical Asian art.
    The first formal mention of spiritual structures within the human body, including energy centers and pathways, appears in the Yoga Sutras, c. 300 BC, written by Patanjali (pa-tan-jah-lee). He revealed six centers and a seventh luminescence that occurs around the top of the head. These centers are depicted in two ways: as chakras (literally, spinning "wheels”) and as padmes (literally, “lotuses”). Therefore, one may understand that the spiritual centers are both energy vortexes that generate movement as they are stimulated (as a spinning wheel) and enlightenment complexes that unfold as they grow in wisdom (as an opening lotus). Cayce correlated these centers with the endocrine glandular system in the body. He also said that there are twelve (1861-11), but seven are of importance here. Whenever we find seven people, places, or things in a classical story, we may correlate them with the seven spiritual centers. Cayce’s most famous example of this is in his interpretation of the Book of the Revelation. He correlates the seven churches, seals, vials, and plagues to the cleansing and opening of the seven spiritual centers within a seeker’s physical body (for more on this, see my book Edgar Cayce’s Amazing Interpretation of the Revelation).
    Patanjali also identifies three pathways in the body. Two are an interwoven double helix called ida and pingala, often represented by double serpents (as in the caduceus). The third is a single path, the sushumna, beginning in the lower pelvic area and traveling directly up the body to the top of the head. These pathways correspond to the body’s two nervous systems: the sushumna to the central nervous system, with its spinal column and the brain, and ida and pingala to the deeper autonomic nervous system, with its woven nerves that begin in the lower torso and ascend to the brain. These three pathways act as one. The energy flows through them simultaneously.
    The endocrine glands along this pathway are, in order from lowest to highest: gonads (testes in males and ovaries in females), cells of Leydig (named after the doctor who discovered them, located in and above the gonads), adrenals (located on top of the kidneys), thymus (located in the upper chest), thyroid (in the throat), pineal (near the center of the brain at the top of the spinal fluid canal), and pituitary (just above the back of the roof of the mouth, behind the bridge of the nose, tucked under the frontal lobe). In order as chakras they are: the root, navel, solar plexus, heart, throat, crown, and brow, or third eye. Many modern books and teachers list the crown as the highest and the third eye as sixth, but Cayce instructs us otherwise, as do many of the more classical texts and images. For example, in ancient Hinduism the kundalini pathway is symbolized by a cobra in the striking position, not straight up. In mystical Egyptian and Mayan art it is a winged serpent in the striking position. In Hebrew and Christian mysticism it is the shape of the shepherd’s staff. The energy flows along a path that is like a question mark (?), not like an exclamation mark (!). Cayce says it flows up the body to the base of the brain, then over to the center of the brain and the crown of the head, and then on to the forehead and the great frontal lobe of the brain and the third eye.
    Cayce states that the navel and the crown centers have a powerful magnetism between them. He says that the crown is always ready to illuminate and elevate, but that individuals must open the navel center before they can begin to transcend and transform. He calls the navel center the “closed door” and the crown the “open door.” Some Eastern texts call them the “lower gate” and the “jade gate.” Reconnecting these two centers is key to restoring our connection to the divine within. Here are three Cayce excerpts on this:
    “This was from the flow of emotion from the kundaline center or the Lyden (Leydig) gland, to the ones in the center [pineal] and frontal portion of the head [pituitary]. This is nothing to be fearful of, but keep the emotions better balanced.”
    “Second sight, or the super-activity of the third eye may come whenever there is the opening of the lyden (Leydig) center and the kundaline forces from same to the pineal.”
    “We find that there has been the opening of the Lyden (Leydig) gland, so that the kundaline forces move along the spine to the various centers that open with this attitude and these activities of the mental and spiritual forces of the body.”

A Lesson on LOVE

Here's a physical, mental, spiritual perspective on love...

by John Van Auken

The disciple Paul says that love is “the greatest.” Jesus lists it as the top commandment, summing up the works and teachings of all the laws and prophets. More songs are written about it than any other aspect of human experience. Let’s explore love – scientifically, philosophically, spiritually, including some of Edgar Cayce’s insights from the Universal Consciousness.
    From a scientific point of view, love is a combination of evolutionary forces and biochemistry. Evolution’s unswerving drive for survival of the species has grabbed onto human bonding because the weaving of pairs of individuals into interdependent units increases the reproductive success of the parents and the survival rate of their infants. The evolved body is also loaded with powerful chemicals to help ensure the success of the bonding. The “love chemical” is phenylethylamine (PEA). When this is released in the brain of any human, he or she will feel uncontrollably amorous, romantic, and “turned on” by the person who is the object of these feelings. Follow this up with a little oxytocin (often called “the cuddle chemical”), and you have the lovemaking sensations of relaxed satisfaction and attachment. For the relationship to endure, however, endorphins must be released in the brain. If they are, then the love relationship endures.
    Psychologically, love is dependent upon childhood caregiving. Much research has documented three bonding orientations in children that carry over into adulthood. Using their terms, the three orientations are: secure bonding, ambivalent, and avoidant. If childhood care is consistent, comforting, and offers a safe base from which to explore the world, then the child grows into an adult that has a secure orientation toward bonding, which results in trust, lasting relationships, shared intimacy, and the ability to work out conflicts through compromise. If the childhood care is inconsistent, creating doubts about the caregiver’s availability and the safety of the base from which to explore, then the child grows up to view him- or herself poorly and be-comes preoccupied with keeping his or her romantic partners close at hand and firmly committed. If the childhood care needs are repeatedly rejected or the caregiver is frequently upset or violent, then the child develops avoid-ant patterns and grows up to either look down upon or dread any hints of emotional intimacy.
    From a philosophical perspective, love can be categorized into three major types, using the Greek words eros, philia, and agape. Eros refers to love that is passionate, intense, and sexual, even erotic. However, Plato held that eros really seeks transcendental beauty, but human beauty reminds one of that transcendent beauty. Philia love is fondness and appreciation of the other, beyond self. It is friendship, family loyalty, community ties, love for one’s work, and the like. Agape love refers to God’s love for His/Her children and to humanity’s love for one another. Agape love does not seek anything in return for its expression. However, agape love has an ethical standard and may therefore impartially determine another’s warranting love – something we acknowledge today as tough love, meaning a love that calls the other to higher levels of behavior. In the New Testament, written in Greek, many of the “love” statements use the word agape.
    Throughout the Bible, love is most important and powerful. When we think of power, even spiritual power, we rarely think of love. Yet, from Genesis to the Revelation, the Bible indicates that love evokes the highest, most godly of powers and actually is the nature of God. Love brings us closest to our true, divine nature – our angelic nature. Many biblical passages teach that of all the things a person can learn and do in this world, nothing reflects Godliness more than love. (Love’s power is developed further on page 4, Giving of Ourselves.)
    The two greatest commandments are found in the Old and New Testaments. The first is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37:
    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
    The second commandment is found in Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:39:
    “You shall love your neighbor [plesion, meaning a ‘close-by person’] as yourself.”
    The disciple Paul’s famous love statement is found in 1 Corinthians 13:13:
    “Now abide faith, hope, and love [agape], these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
    Paul describes love beautifully: “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
    Peter’s love advice is in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all things, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”
    John wrote in 1 John 4:7-12: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love .... If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”
    Edgar Cayce gave over two thousand readings teaching spiritual seekers to live, think, speak, and abide in love. Here are his comments to four different people:
    “Let the beauty of your joy, in manifesting the light and love as shown in the Christ-Spirit, that makes for the new song in your heart, keep you in your daily walks of life.”
    “Let others do as they may, but as for you and your house, you will love the living God. Know His love is sufficient to keep you. No matter what may be the trial, His love abides, and He is not unmindful of your prayers.”
    “The beauty of your life rises as a sweet incense before the altar of mercy. Yet it is not sacrifice but peace, grace, and mercy that we would manifest among the children of men. For God is love.”
    “Keep your paths straight. Know in whom you have believed, as well as in what you believe. For the love as passes understanding can, does, and will make your pathway brighter. Keep in that way.”
    Jesus presented love on levels, identifying the highest love in this often quoted passage: “No greater love has a person, than to give up his or her life for another” – not literal death, but giving up self’s desires for another’s. It is thinking more of what another may need than what self may want. Cayce said that Jesus had a secret prayer that he repeated to himself, “Others, Lord, others.” This kept the Father’s power that flowed through Jesus on the right track – not glorifying himself but revealing the Light and Love that flowed through him – God’s love, our Father’s and Mother’s love. Selfless loving is the ideal – giving, caring without expectation of getting something in return. Yet, this must not be self-destructive. No one could accuse Jesus of being a doormat of self-deprecating love. He often radiated a tough love. Those around Him often needed truth, justice, and a clear position on God’s ways, not tolerance or pampering. Jesus cared so much for others that he would not let them remain in their darkness or misunderstandings. Yet, he never condemned them. Rather, He called their mistakes to their attention. He also showed a remarkable sense of their inability to handle the full truth, choosing to be patient: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” John 16:12.
    A mature love requires that we “rightly divine and divide the truth.” Cayce often referred to this teaching, as in this example:
    “First, study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman not ashamed, rightly divining - or dividing - the words of truth; that is, giving proper evaluations to the material, the mental, and the spiritual relationships, the economic, the social, the orders of things in their proper form. Be not hasty in decisions but know that the answers may come from within,” 189-3.
    In our personal search for spiritual understanding, nothing will empower and illuminate us more than love. But its way is subtle, gentle, choosing to work in the background, quietly. Its workshop is in our own hearts and minds; its testing ground is in everyday life and everyday relationships. Prayer and meditation can enhance our ability to understand and practice love in daily life. Supplicant prayer followed by a rising sense of entering into God’s presence, and abiding there in loving at-onement, will yield our better self. This loving presence will be in little things throughout the day – little things that usually only God and our individual soul know.
    These loving experiences often leave us humbled but happy and content. Marriage, parenting, friend-ship, work, and self-esteem all improve when love is carried in one’s heart and mind.
    God truly is love. And abiding in God’s love is transcending, lifting us beyond our normal perspective. “Seek ye first His kingdom (Love), and all else will be added to you.”

 

Visions of Heaven

What Do We Know about Paradise?

by John Van Auken

      We humans, in our many cultures and religions, from the East to the West, have always told tales of a special place called Paradise. The word pairidaeza has its origins in the Avestan language of Zoroastrian teachings, meaning a special “enclosure.” In Greek, para­deisos means a unique “park.” Many equate these words with the original “park,” the Gar­den of Eden, that special place where God walked and talked with us. On the cross, in his final moments, Jesus referred to this place when he told the thief who was dying next to him, “This day you will be with me in Paradise.”

      Paradise – the word means so much to us. It is a place of supreme happiness, extreme beauty, and endless peace and safety. It is where the righteous live after life on Earth. However, in strict Christian teachings, it is actually an intermediate place for the departed souls of the righteous awaiting the final resurrection of the dead unto eternal life with God and Christ. Somewhat surprisingly, Cayce’s readings support this interim view of Paradise. When he was asked what Jesus meant by his statement to the thief on the cross, Cayce answered: “The inter-between; the awareness of being in that state of transition between the material and the spiritual phases of consciousness of the Soul.”

      The recent phenomenon of “Near Death Experiences” (NDEs) has added to our under­standing of the “inter-between.” Most who have had NDEs return to this world more loving, peaceful, and unafraid of death. Their ex­perience in the inter-between affected them profoundly, mostly as to their outlook and attitude toward life. Most all of them said that once out of their bodies and in a semi-dead state, they felt joy such that they did not want to return to life on Earth.

      Buddhists have a concept that also appears to provide for an interim paradise. According to some of their key teachings, nirvana, ultimate bliss, is of such a nature as to render the experiencer useless in this world. It is a heavenly state so far from Earthly reality that there is no connection to Earth life. However, they describe a bodhisattva conscious­ness, literally meaning “enlightened existence,” as an interim state of consciousness of advanced spiritualized beings who have chosen not to pass into full nirvana, but to continue in the round of rebirths in order to help souls that remain on Earth. Cayce appears to support this view of “Paradise Consciousness” when he answered a request for him to suggest a doctor who could carry out the treatments by responding: “There are those in Paradise who may work with these suggestions....” Doctors from Paradise? That’s new source of help in times of need! It reminds me of that biblical teaching that God commanded his angels to watch over us and to guard us in all our ways, so that we don’t stumble as we seek to learn and become all we can be.

The Kingdom of Heaven

      As Jesus taught the woman at the well, the kingdom of God is within us, and Jesus likened it to many things: to seed that a man sowed in his field, to the leaven that a woman kneaded in three measures of meal, to a treasure hidden in a field, to a pearl of great price, to a net cast into the sea (see Matthew 13). Jesus said that one who has been made a disciple of the kingdom of heaven was like “a householder who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Cayce adds: The kingdom of heav­en is attained through “the consciousness, the awareness of the activity of the spirit of truth in and through us, as individuals.” He explains that “the individual does not go to heaven, or paradise, or the universal consciousness, but it grows to same; through the use of self in those things that are virtues....” Living in virtue and giving aid to others brings that happiness that is associated with the kingdom of heaven. It is a growing thing, like an unseen seed planted in good soil or unseen leaven kneaded into bread dough.

      There is an implication in the Cayce teachings that as long as we are incarnate – in the body – we cannot fully realize or maintain a completely conscious connection with the kingdom of heaven. It’s somewhat akin to the Buddhist idea of nirvana being so alien to this world as to be impossible to sustain while actively functioning here. In one of his readings, Cayce said the spiritual entity and super-consciousness are “a thing apart from anything earthy,” and can only be experienced by lifting oneself up into higher awareness. He explains that “the earthly or material consciousness is ever tempered with material conditions; the super-consciousness partakes of the spiritual forces principally.” He says that “we find only projections of subconscious and superconscious ... in our dreams and visions,” unless we lift ourselves “into the superconscious forces,” which are the higher spiritual forces. Nevertheless, there is a connection between our earthly selves and our godly selves because the superconscious is affected by and helps affect our spiritual development, which occurs while we are incarnate in the Earth realms and physical life. (see 900-16)

Heaven on Earth?

      According to many teachings, we may actually know “heaven on Earth or in the Earth, or in flesh.” Cayce says that this is the “destiny of those that are willing, who have had their minds, their bodies, their souls cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.” What does this mean and how does one do it? By doing as the Lamb of God did, that is, living the example that He, the Christ, professed: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to me, but my Father which is in heaven.” Heaven? Where? Within our hearts, our minds; the place where truth and the life forces flow like a river through us!” In the Revelation a “new heaven” and a “new earth” are spoken of – these are secret terms for a new consciousness and a new body. As the life forces flow, our mind and body become as a temple for heavenly spirit. Cayce says that “as the desires, the purposes, the aims are to bring about the whole change physically, so does it create in the experience of each soul a new vision, a new comprehension. Is this not a new heaven, a new earth?”

Heaven: A State of Mind or Place?

      Some of us wonder if heaven is a state of consciousness rather than an actual place. Some point to Jesus’ comments to Mary Magdalene in the garden after His resurrection, “Touch me not, for I have not ascended to my Father.” Cayce explains what was happening here: “Some would say this indicates that the heaven and the Father are somewhere else – a place of abode, the center about which all universal forces, all energies must turn. Heaven is that place, that awareness, where the Soul – with all its attributes, its mind, its body – becomes aware of being in the presence of the Creative Forces, or one with same. That is heaven.”

      How do we become aware of being in the presence of the Creative Forces or in oneness with them? Most all the ancient teachings contain instructions of how we may realize this while living our lives actively in this world and avoid becoming a hermit or recluse. The answer is to budget some time for our soul and spirit. That’s it! Out of a 24-hour day budget some time to venture inward, into our deeper heart, mind, and soul. Feel the essence of our life, its origin, its subtle but vital presence within us. The eastern teachings use various terms for this, but fundamentally they teach that we need to move out of being into non-being, out of our finite, individualized physical nature into our infinite expansive universal essence! There are as many techniques for doing as there are souls! But, here’s a simple one: get quiet, release all of our earthly concerns and vibrations – just let them fall away for a while, we always take them back up again when we are done. Then, using our imagination, visualize and feel ourselves shifting into a more expansive oneness with infinity, with that source and sustainer of all life. It’s vital vibration. It’s a subtle feeling of life at its purest condition within us. When you catch even the slightest sense of it, connect with it! Allow it to imbue your soul, mind, and body with its transformative powers. Allow it to give you intuitive wisdom. Allow it to revitalize your mind and body. If you budget time for this, then over time you will become fully aware of it and one with it. Then, you are both human and divine. You are both finite and infinite. You are both mortal and immortal – for your mind and soul will consciously live on beyond your body. You can also become a channel of this life-giving essence and vibration to others is you choose or find yourself in an opportunity to help another.

      During these budgeted times of withdrawal from this world and awakening to realm of being and consciousness beyond this world, will experience paradise and even the vast planes of heaven. √

 A DEEPER VIEW OF MEDITATION

by John Van Auken

The Mount of God
Our bodies are the temples of the Living God. The way to spiritual breakthrough is found in God’s teachings from the Mount to Moses and the people. One of the first teachings was to build a new temple, a portable one, with an outer court, inner court, holy place and a holy of holies. In this temple God promised to meet them, face to face. This temple represented what would eventually be understood as the human body and mind. The outer court (the physical body), the inner court (the spiritual man) is approached through the mental body (the holy place) and on to the holy of holies, where the Father/Mother may speak as though face to face.

Another major mount experience comes when Jesus ascends the Mount with his three disciples and is transfigured. In this vision in the Mount, the law and prophets were represented in the physical, the mental, the spiritual: in Moses (physical), Elijah (mental), and the Christ (spiritual). If you recall, during the transfiguration the disciples saw Moses and Elijah with the transfigured Jesus. Each represented an aspect of the path or way to spiritual breakthrough. Moses led the way out from the lower self’s control (symbolized by Pharaoh and the captivity in Egypt). Moses then struggled through the desert to the Mount of God where he learned from God directly, face to face. However, Moses ultimately could not enter the Promised Land, as the physical self does not inherit the Kingdom. Therefore, the mental self (symbolized by Elijah) seeks God throughout the earth but does not find Him in the earth; not in the lightning, earthquake, fire or wind. It is not until he backs up to the mouth of the cave (enters within his deeper consciousness) and hears “a still, small voice” within his own head that God comes fully into his consciousness. Finally, the spiritual seeker through the Immanuel experience (God among man) realizes the flesh and the mind as filled with the Holy Spirit. Human and Divine are one, consciously one, face to face.

“For the body is indeed the temple of the living God, and He has promised to meet thee there, in the holy of holies, in the Mount within.” says reading 1152-2. And in 882-1, “‘There I shall meet thee, in the Mount of thyself.’ For thy body indeed is the temple of the living God; there He may meet thee as ye turn within. There ye may find the greater understanding; for He hath not left His children empty-handed; for He has prepared the way.”

Meditation, deep meditation, is one of the primary means by which we make contact and begin the transfiguration process. In reading 707-6 we have, “Rememberest thou all that has been given as to the manner in which the individual finds self? Did Moses receive direction other than by the period in the Mount? Did Samuel receive other than by meditating within his own closet? Did David not find more in meditating within the valley and the cave? Did not the Master in the Mount and in the garden receive the answers of those directing forces?” “Why, ye may ask, did the Master love to be in Galilee when the house of the Lord His God was in Jerusalem? Why did He love to be alone in the Mount?” [3357-2]

Going to the Mount of God, which is ultimately within us, is the manner by which we find God-consciousness. It is not simply silent meditation, but is an ascending meditation, as going up on the Mount implies. Spiritual Breakthrough requires that we raise ourselves into the Universal Consciousness and the Great Spirit.

Here is a fascinating vision into that original experience on the Holy Mount, Cayce describes it in his reading 440-16: “They had seen the Lord Jehovah descend into the Mount, they had seen the Mount so electrified by the presence of the "od" of the people and "ohm" of the Omnipotent to such an extent that no living thing could remain in the Mount or on same, save those two [Moses & Joshua] who had been cleansed by their pouring out of themselves to God, in the cleansing of their bodies, in the cleansing of their minds.” Cayce’s reference to the “od of the people” refers to a term coined by Reichenbach (1788-1869) to explain an unseen force in nature that manifested itself in magnetism, hypnotism and light, called the “odic force.” “Od” most likely derived from the Greek word hodos which means path or way, and is used in such modern electrical words as anode and cathode. Cayce use of the word “Ohm” is most probably referring to the term coined by one of Reichenbach’s contemporaries, Georg Simon Ohm (1789-1854). This term is a measurement of electrical resistance. However, the way Cayce uses the term in the readings is not like this at all. He is clearly equating the ohm force directly with electrical energy.

Therefore, we could translate this Mount experience as, “the magnetism of the people’s hearts and minds seeking God so long and so hard had attracted the Omnipotent to descend upon the Mount, and It brought with It the powers of the Omnipotent, powers which destroy as well as enlighten (the Ohm of electricity).”

In meditation, the Mount and the Holy of Holies are in the center of our physical brains working through the pineal and pituitary glands. These are also in our minds that through our physical brains. Once the glands are spiritually stimulated, then the mind rises and expands to higher understanding and perception.

Meditation: A Way to God Consciousness

We must be clear that meditation is an altered state of consciousness. It is not a method for getting our normal consciousness to feel better. “You don’t have the meditation because ... you want to feel better, but to attune self to the infinite!” We must set our normal, everyday selves aside and allow our deeper, spiritual selves to attune to the Infinite. This is perhaps the most fundamental and yet the most difficult requirement of meditation. But it can be done. The body, mind and soul are interconnected in such a way that certain actions will automatically lead to “the magic silence” and the awakening of our better selves.

Actions that Lead Inward

We have two nervous systems. One (the Central Nervous System) we use mostly for our outer life -- for acting consciously in the physical. The other (the Autonomic) governs those functions such as breathing and digestion that are taken care of without our conscious participation.

What do these two nervous systems have to do with successful meditation? When we quiet the outer system and do something to stimulate the inner system, we are setting aside our outer selves and actually activating our souls. For example, let’s sit down and stop using our musculo-skeletal systems. Let’s reduce our sense-perception by closing down our five senses -- close our eyes, stop touching, listening, smelling and tasting. This quiets the outer system and the outer self. Now, let’s take hold of some part of the inner system that the soul has charge of and let’s alter it. The most popular one is the breath. The autonomic system, under the control of the subconscious mind and soul, is in charge of and directly connected to the breath. If we start changing the breath, we cause the soul and subconscious mind to become alert to the changes. This is an action that leads from our outer selves to our inner selves, and ultimately to an altered state of consciousness.

Physical Changes

Now we know from the research done in the ‘70s with TM meditators and others, that the body goes through many changes during meditation. As researchers Wallace and Benson discovered, meditation causes measurable physical changes. “There is a reduction in oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide elimination and the rate and volume of respiration; a slight increase in the acidity of the arterial blood; a marked decrease in the blood-lactate level; a slowing of the heartbeat; a considerable increase in skin resistance; and an electroencephalogram pattern of intensification of slow alpha waves with occasional theta-wave activity” (Wallace & Benson, 1973, p. 266).

Reading 5752-3 expands on the wonderful changes: “Meditate ... in the inner secrets of the consciousness, and the cells in the body become aware of the awakening of the life....” The cells of the body become aware? According to the readings, every cell in the body has consciousness, and that consciousness may be raised or lowered. The reading goes on, “In the mind, the cells of the mind become aware of the life in the spirit.” The cells of the mind, life in the spirit? Interesting concepts, aren’t they? “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must do so in spirit....” Then, if raising the consciousness leads to awareness of “life in the spirit,” it leads to life with God -- the Great Spirit. The wonderful thing about this whole process is that we activate it by entering into the magic silence.

The Magic Silence

For those of you who are just beginning with meditation or who have always had trouble meditating, let me spend a moment to describe this very simple yet effective way to meditate. Then, as you progress with it, you can move on to Kundalini Meditation. The Magic Silence method is a simple yet powerful way for anyone to get into meditation -- especially beginners and those who have difficulty meditating.

Using a combination of an affirmation and a mantra, coordinated with our breathing, we can enter into the magic silence. Let’s use a modification of a line from Psalm 46, “Be still and know God.” In order to fully succeed with this affirmation/mantra, not only do we need the power of the words, we must also take hold of the breath and create a breathing pattern that arouses the soul. It works like this: “Be STILL” [inhale slowly while feeling the word “still” and then exhale slowly] “and "Know GOD” [inhale slowly while feeling the word “God” and then exhale slowly]. Once you begin to "feel" the reality of these word "Still" and "God", let the breath go on automatic and abide in the feeling. If anything distracts you or feel you want to go deeper into the words, then repeat the deep inhalation and exhalation while saying the phrases. Keep the breath relaxed yet under your control.

If you are in the “stillness” or the “Godness” between the phrases, remain in it as long as your consciousness holds there, breathing gently and evenly. If your consciousness wanders, then bring it back by saying (in your mind) one of the phrases and re-engaging the deep inhalation and exhalation cycle.

    The silent periods while feeling the power of essence of these words and their meaning are the more important parts of this practice. The phrases gather and direct the consciousness, and the spaces of silence are golden, or as the readings say, “magical.” So, as long as you are silent and still, stay there; don’t feel a need to move on to the next phrase or to continue repeating the phrases. Abide in the powerful stillness and godliness.

This method of combining an affirmation/mantra with breathing will bring even the weakest meditator into a deep stillness and a heightened sense of Godness.

To move deeper, add three “OM’s” on the end of the last phrase: “Be STILL [feel and breathe], and know GOD [feel and breathe], OOOMMMM [feel and breathe] OOOMMMM [feel and breathe] OOOMMMM [feel and breathe]. This can be out loud in the beginning and then silently in your mind as you go deeper. When chanting the OM incantation aloud, remember that true chanting is an inner sounding, not an outer singing. (You can hear what this inner resonating sounds like on my audiotape “Tips on Meditation.”) Keep the sound resonating within the cavities of your body. Beginning with the abdominal cavity, rising to the pulmonary cavity and then on into the cranial cavity, let the sound carry you deeper.

I’ve taught this method to people who have never meditated before, had them in a deep silence for twenty minutes, and watched them coming out of it with that wonderful glaze in their eyes that results from an altered state. Their outer self is moved, yet uncertain as to exactly what has happened. But they know they have just meditated well. I’ve also had people who had tried meditation for years with little success come out of one of these sessions with the biggest smiles on their faces -- victory at last!

Keys to This Method

There are three keys to this method. First, the power of the words “still” and “God,” and their effect on us. Second, the connection between the breath and the soul -- allowing us to arouse our souls by taking hold of the breathing pattern. Third, the spaces of silence between the words while breathing. These spaces grow longer and longer as one practices. Eventually, an hour’s meditation is easy (and recommended in the readings). According to the readings, and many other sources, the silence is in itself transforming. One need not “do” or “hear” anything when in meditation. Abide in the silence and it works its magic.

Now I would like us to look at another area of the total meditation picture. I would not recommend going on to this next practice (kundalini meditation) until you have practiced the Magic Silence method with much success, and feel you are ready to go deeper. As with medicine so it is with meditation: one person’s poison may be another’s cure, and activities that may be harmful at one stage in life may be quite helpful at another. You have to judge what is best for you now, and continue to evaluate your readiness as you progress.

It may appear contradictory to say that silence is in itself transforming and then to describe another form of meditation in which inner activities are used to effect greater transformation, but such is the case with the Cayce readings, and other sources. The explanation for this is that the manifold nature of full enlightenment and transformation is such that contradiction and paradox are elements of any method. After all, we are dealing with celestial beings in terrestrial forms, spirits in flesh, gods who are also human, eternal beings in temporary manifestations. Paradox and contradiction are bound to be a part of any process that attempts to resolve or integrate these.

Furthermore, as we progress with our development, we naturally become more able to handle complexity and intricacy. We become more aware of and participate in the many aspects of the Godhead, the Universal Consciousness, with all its diversity.


 

John Van Auken

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