© Jackie Porter 2007
Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
July 29, 2007

In his recent book The God Delusion, esteemed Harvard scientist. Richard Dawkins declares that God does not exist. God is just a big delusion.

And he is partially right, declares Neal Donald Walsch, author of Conversations With God. "The god we have learned from childhood and has been a comfort to millions, the man with the white beard, somewhere in the sky, keeping an eye on everyone does not exist." He calls this God in the sky, YESTERDAY'S GOD' and that fits for me. This was my God yesterday and he is gone.

Mr. Walsch then asks the question, "Should we care? should we care whether God exists or not?" I realize that I do care.

Mr. Walsh goes on to say, "If the whole of humanity should ever take God as a total delusion and non-existent then we will have lost our greatest asset and our greatest tool and our greatest advantage as we step into the 21st century." What is this tool and this asset?

Sam Harris in his book, The End of Faith calls passionately for an end to blind unreasoned faith which he says threatens our very existence. I notice also toward the end of the book, that he says that there is "clearly a sacred dimension to our existence and coming to terms with it could be the highest purpose of human life."

So, what is this "great tool" and where is this "great asset"? And how do we "come to terms with this dimension of ourselves that is sacred"?

It was St. Paul, a teacher in the early Church and author of much of the New Testament, who encouraged the early Christians to Put On the Mind of Christ.

I want to suggest to you today that the great tool which these authors point to is this practice, Putting on the Mind of Christ and of course, we could as easily say putting on the Buddha mind, which enables us to access this asset which is our highest potential, non dual consciousness, our own sacred Self.

I can imagine that many of you were turned off when you read what I am going to be talking about today. I think a good many of you are here because you have left the dogma of the Christian religion in some form. I am not going to be talking today about accepting Jesus or Christian beliefs. I am going to be talking about the Mind of Christ as a particular level of consciousness, one which is available to everyone. While it is rarely attained, I believe it is important to see that it is the potential of our evolving consciousness and indeed our Highest purpose.

Though St. Paul suggested putting on the mind of Christ, he did not leave any clear instructions on how to go about doing it. I want to share with you how I stumbled along with no map, which has made this subject so dear to my heart. I will share what I have learned about Putting on the Mind of Christ.

My earliest memory of church is standing in the front row of Sunday School in the First Methodist Church in Missouri and singing my heart out, "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam." I was 5 years old. I had a mission. I knew it.

And I found it poignant to find myself back on a Methodist campus [now that we are holding services in Cole Hall]. On our first Sunday at lunch with them their pastor Allen and I sang this old song together.

At age 11 I asked to be baptized but balked when I learned that they would only put a few drops of waster on my head. The next year age 12, I found there was a church down town which practiced immersion and I was baptized, took Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and felt called to serve Him always.

My dream of going to college was fulfilled when I was given anonymously a 4 year scholarship and I set off to Phillips University, a bible college to study. I now could learn some things on my own which I could ask no one else:

Why didn't the dove descend on me when I was baptized? And how on earth could you love an enemy? I couldn't even love my brothers most of the time.

I always had a hidden idea that ministers knew a secret that they did not want to divulge to their parishioners. What Jesus knew and taught transformed people, healed people, but I didn't see it happening now. I studied Koinea Greek, the New Testament's early language which I was sure would afford me the ability to decipher some of the secrets. But like everyone else around me, I gradually settled for knowing that this man Jesus went about doing good, he healed the sick, preached to the people about the Kingdom of Heaven which was available to all but most people thought impossible to attain, and asked us to love God, ourselves and each other, including enemies. Still a tough enough assignment. I gave up being a minister . Women were not so encouraged in the 1950s and I graduated as a Director of Religious Education.

I served a church, married my college sweetheart John (you know him).

I was a dedicated 1950s wife and birthed four children, worked in the PTAs and served the church with a firm faith that I was Christian, meaning that Jesus was my teacher and confidant and God was my father. I joined the culture.

And then those turbulent 60s and 70s hit, Chris has reminded us of the impact of the flower children. Our lives were very disrupted. Every belief John and I had was opened and questioned. The church was torn with inner dissention and we began to see our old beliefs as not relevant in our lives anymore. We left the church and distanced ourselves from the God in the sky.

Almost immediately, we found Creative Initiative Foundation where we were challenged to change. A Stanford professor and his wife founded this group to raise consciousness and "save the world" if enough people would become engaged in this process. It's interesting that San Harris and others are now suggesting this same strategy.

We were introduced to inner psychological self-exploration and we also marched in the streets in Sacramento to stop nuclear power plants.

I went back to school, finished a Masters program to teach school. Then John was recruited to take a position in Vancouver BC so we left our Walnut Creek home, family, friends, the many support and growth groups we belonged to, and moved to Canada.

It was in this transitional out-of-country, "unchurched" state that we faced the death of one of our sons, James. I had given up my belief in heaven as a real place and was not sure what I believed about God (where he was or if he was) and not sure at all about life after death. Our son was in a coma with no chance for survival. My earlier belief system was gone and I felt bereft.

I have since learned that when the ego is vulnerable and you are in the position of "not knowing", the archetypal images of spiritual energies can break into the psyche and I experienced this. I have shared this before, but you have to know, I have never been a Catholic, in fact was staunchly Protestant. But the Virgin Mary came and stood with me at James' bedside early in my vigil. Just before he died, I had a vision of Christ who told me that there is no death. I was lifted up into a very high euphoric state, which lasted a long time. It was a strange place to be when most people, including myself, thought I should be grieving. These experiences were strange and awing, disconcerting and inspiring all at the same time. They made no rational sense at all and I could not share them.

We moved back to California and I found a new graduate school offering a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology. It was a fledging school in a fledging field. I didn't really understand "transpersonal" and they had a hard time defining it, but I felt that I was in the right place.

My experience with Mary deepened and I opened more to the Great Mother, beginning a long journey into the Divine Feminine.

I studied Buddhism, Sufism and learned the Hindu metta practice and the chakra system. I studied the tarot and began to learn the Enneagram while it was still secret esoteric material never published. I found the great Christian Mystics Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich and Meister Eckhart. As I integrated my own experiences, I began to believe that all people are mystics potentially.

I was in the library of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology reading No Boundary by Ken Wilbur when I slipped into my greatest awakening experience. I was in an altered state for days.

Ken Wilbur is a philosopher who in 1977 published his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness. It was a MAP, a new map of psychological and spiritual development, describing how consciousness evolves in every human being from physical birth to Christ Consciousness or Buddha Hood. The mind of Christ on a map. You cannot imagine how excited I was.

Wilbur laid out his map of the development of consciousness integrating the knowledge of the Eastern mystical traditions with the developmental psychology of the West. You have to realize that these connections were very new in the 70s.

Ken Wilbur has gone on to publish many books on this subject, his latest and most comprehensive is Integral Consciousness. This is an enormous subject but this morning I want to give you a very brief view of the nine levels through which our consciousness evolves. I am sure you will recognize some levels you have already experienced and hope you will find some resonance for your journey. I have taken this material from several of Wilbur's books and from Putting on the Mind of Christ a book written by Jim Marion, a former Jesuit priest who used Wilbur's map to understand his own journey.

St. Paul explained these spiritual gifts to the early Christians who developed them and urged them not to compete with each other in the gifts but to go further and put on the mind of Christ.

But it was not to last. A hierarchal church authority gradually took over the church, enforcing the rules and roles of the mythic structure. All physic abilities became suspect. Tens of thousand of persons were persecuted if they demonstrated any psychic abilities, burned at the stake by the thousands - Joan of Arc comes to mind. I found an interesting writing of St. Clement, an early church mystic and author writing in Alexandria 100 years after Jesus death: "Much of the early teaching has been lost. The church now devotes herself solely to producing good men. In olden days she claimed to do much more than that, training which lead to a direct experience of God."

(I believe that this is the secret that I thought all ministers withheld from me. Turns out they did not know it.)

It is not and never has been easy to explore spirituality beyond conventional levels. But it is now safer! And there is some help. The contemporary new age movement is reviving interest in spirituality and exploring our inner selves. Even our HMOs are offering meditation and Yoga and other help.

I hope this brief glimpse has shed some light on the evolution of consciousness in the spiritual journey which we all undertake. I hope also I have offered some reassurance of the existence of the Divine and that we can find It within us. It is a call for each of us to grow and develop our consciousness. Our very existence may well depend on a large number of people seriously making the inner journey.

It is recorded that Jesus said: "The Kingdom of God is in each one of you. Know ye not that you are gods?"

Meister Eckhart said: "God is always waiting to be born, we must all give birth to God."

Attributed to the Buddha: "All beings are born enlightened but it takes as lifetime to discover this."

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