UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660 360-696-0996
An Understanding Heart
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
February 14, 2021
All Rights Reserved
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m sitting here looking out at all the snow through icicles hanging from my window. If we were having church, Tapestry would be singing the song “Solitary Snowflake” and some love song. We usually get snowed out when Tapestry (our singing group) is scheduled to sing in February. The good news is that I don’t have to contact the radio and TV stations to cancel services! I pray that you are all safe and warm on this weekend of love. I hope you enjoy reading this lesson as much as I did writing it. Love, Bernadette
Jesus said, “God is Love and we must worship God in Spirit and Truth.” You are a spiritual being on an immortal journey; a personal odyssey to rediscover your own innate goodness and power as a child of God. Everything visible and invisible is an aspect of one loving Spirit whose only desire is to be known by you and to be made known through you.
You are a child of Love. Affirm that truth: “I am a child of love.”
You have been created for one purpose and one purpose alone and that is to be the mirror image in the outer world of form of all that God is in Spirit. Every step of your life whether you judge it good or bad, easy or hard is a step toward developing an Understanding Heart and the fulfillment of your heavenly purpose, which is to bring love, peace and unity to all of your earthly experiences through the expression of your indwelling Christ.
The root of all of your seeking is a desire to know, love and serve God by expressing more of what God is into visibility and usefulness in the physical world of form. You seek harmony because God is Divine Order. You seek health because God is life. You seek prosperity because God is love. You seek not because you have a need to fill but because God has something to express uniquely through you. God has a need to be known through you. You do this as you focus your mind and heart on God and the quality of God you want more of in your life during times of prayer and meditation. You do this by I.D.’ing yourself with that quality using an affirmative prayer such as: “I am an expression of God’s unconditional love and life.”
Speak the words of the ‘Prayer of St. Francis’ and then repeat them in the silence of your own being to plant the ideals of the prayer deeply in your consciousness so that they continue to actively guide your life after your prayer time is over.
“Lord! Make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
May every word of love you speak today find someone to wrap itself around and comfort in Divine Love. For it is in the nature of the All Loving One that we pray and take loving action. Amen.
An Understanding Heart
In his book, Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore dedicated an entire chapter to "The Development of Divine Love." In it he said, “There is one thing that you can do which is more important than anything else you can do in your lifetime, and that is to become more loving and like Solomon, to develop an Understanding Heart.”
He goes on to say, “We are created to be channels of Divine Love and each one of us has the power to bring forth all of God's love. The love between a husband and wife, or a parent and child or between friends in the physical world is a diluted form of love as it is meant to be and any love that you have experienced in your lifetime is just the tip of the iceberg.”
He continues this idea on page 51, “The love of God must be felt in the heart. It cannot be described and one who has not felt it can have no concept of it from the descriptions of others. But the more we talk about love, the stronger it grows in consciousness and if we persist in thinking loving thoughts and speaking loving words, we are sure to bring into our experience the feeling of that great love that is beyond description—the very love of God.”
Love is not an emotion. Love is a Divine Principle. Love is a Spiritual Law. It has no consciousness of good or evil or pure or impure. It is the glue that holds everything together and it pours itself out in great oceans of living magnetic power to be used by whosoever will.
The body part through which man receives love from Divine Being is commonly thought to be the heart. The heart, however, is but the visible expression of an invisible center of consciousness. You discern that you have a heart through use of your five ordinary senses, but it is your eternal soul which discerns the inner faculty through which you may express an attribute of Being. By his word, man calls his spiritual powers into activity, that through them he may manifest more of the goodness of God.
The expression ‘his word’ is a referral to affirmative prayer and the Law of Mind Action, “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.” The power of the ‘word’ is more than just the words that come out of your mouth. It’s a reference to the thoughts you predominantly hold in mind.
For just a moment, imagine that Jesus Christ is standing in front of you. There is a deep eye-to-eye love connection between you and Jesus. He tells you that he came to you in this moment so that you can ask him one question and that he can only stay long enough to answer it. So, what will your question be? What question would result in an answer that would remove all of your past hurts and all of the anxiety about life? What question would result in a concrete answer that you could base the rest of your life on; an answer that would put all of your doubts and fears to rest forever and that you could pass on to your children as your legacy?
Now, a part of you may resist the idea that Jesus could or would bother to come across time in order to do this. You may doubt that this could even happen in your deepest meditation. So, ask yourself this question first: “Do I believe that God in some way, always answers my questions and prayers?”
In the gospels there is a story about this exact thing happening to a Scribe. In the time of Jesus, a Scribe was someone who copied documents. Scribes didn’t teach or express religious doctrine like the Pharisees. They wrote down verbatim whatever someone said or did without personal interpretation or elaboration of any kind. Scribes made exact copies and by their very nature they did not have questioning minds. Every person, place and thing in the Bible is a metaphysical representation of some aspect of you and me. So, what in you is like a Scribe? What is the metaphysical meaning inside of you (and all of us) being taught by Jesus through this story?
A great help to unraveling this mystery is another of Charles Fillmore’s books called “The Metaphysical Bible Dictionary.” It gives this definition of a Scribe. “A Scribe represents the thoughts that come to us from the outer world. A Scribe mind looks only to the outer or material world for meaning and interprets everything literally including the teachings of Jesus and the rest of the Bible. A Scribe mind doesn’t think for itself. It is content to copy the thoughts, lifestyle and religious beliefs of others. A Scribe mind looks only to the world of form for the cause and solution to all of its problems the source of its financial support.”
In the time of Jesus, Scribes were writing down the history and religion of the Jewish people for the first time as dictated by the Priestly Sacrificial Cult of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Scribes were writing down a version of history that was very different from the Oral Tradition that had been passed down for generations by the people who lived in the regions outside of Jerusalem. The ancestors of these people hadn’t been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. They hadn’t been immersed in another culture and influenced by it. When the Priestly Sacrificial Cult said that only those who had gone into exile and returned were the true Jews it angered the people in the northern area around Galilee like John the Baptist and Jesus. They believed the Priestly Sacrificial Cult was teaching false concepts and making demands on people in ways God would never do. The Temple Priests also borrowed myths and legends from other cultures, changed the names and places and claimed the stories were their own factual history. They instructed the Scribes to write it down as they dictated it. They also introduced the concept of good and evil, darkness and light as opposing powers, a hierarchy of angels, the story of the Fall and they adopted the customs of the Persians such as animal sacrifice and charging money for their services. Needless to say, this resulted in widespread disharmony, infighting between different sects of Judaism and alienation.
Before a Scribe began his work each day, he would dip his pen in ink and at the top of the page he would write, "AMALEC." He would then cross that word out, hold his pen upright and say, "I am writing the Torah in the name of its sanctity and in the name of God and in Its’ sanctity.” The Scribe would then read a sentence, repeat it aloud and then write it down. Every time he came to the name of God, he would say, "I am writing the name of God for the holiness of His name." If he made an error in writing God's name, he had to destroy the entire sheet of velum or papyrus he was using and begin again. After the Scribe finished copying a particular book, he would count every single word and the letters it contained. He would then check his tally with the count for the manuscript he was copying. He counted the number of times a particular word occurred in the book. He also noted the middle word in the middle of the page he was copying and compared that to the original text. The copy must look identical to the original in every detail.
By making these careful and exhaustive checks in the outer, he hoped to avoid any mistakes that might happen and inadvertently alter the content, accuracy and truth of what he was copying. Scribes had to be very patient and detail-oriented people with an unquestioning quality of mind. They did exactly what they were told to do.
The Gospel of Mark tells a story about this. So, a Scribe sees Jesus teaching and talking to people in the temple during Passover week. As he listens to Jesus’ words, he hears a very different history of the Jewish people and a very different message about God than what he has been copying. With his own ears, he hears Jesus talk about God’s forgiveness, love and provision for all of his children. With his own eyes, he sees Jesus radiating Divine Love and healing people with Divine love. He’s drawn forward like a magnet until he finds himself standing before Jesus and looking right into his eyes.
The story is found in MARK 12:28-34. “And one of the Scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another and seeing that Jesus answered them all well, he asked Him, "Which commandment is the first of all?"
Now the commandments were something Jesus and the Temple Priests really argued over because Moses had allegedly given the Israelites 10 commandments but over time the Temple Priests had expanded those 10 into 713 commandments.
The Scribe knew all 713 of them. He could list them. But he wanted to know: “How do I live all of 713 of these commandments?” That was his one question as he looked into the eyes of Jesus. Which of all these laws is the most important? In other words: “Which will make my life better if I live it fully?”
And Jesus answered him, "The first is, ‘Hear oh Israel: The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Now, the word Israel is a combination of three words: Is for Isis (divine feminine), Ra for the Sun God (divine masculine), and El for Elohim, the feminine unspeakable name of Creator God. In the time of Jesus, you could be stoned to death for the crime of speaking the unspeakable name of God, even if you did it in your own home. These three words were combined to form the word Israel which means “seeker of God.” Now, Israel (a seeker of God) represents a person seeking to express spiritual consciousness and to experience the Promised Land.
The spiritual journey in a nutshell is the shifting of our consciousness from the instinctual consciousness in the darkness of Egypt which demands an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, to self-consciousness or self-awareness of the level of mind we are choosing to live and act from, to Christ consciousness. To be an Israelite means that you are in a state of self-consciousness or self-awareness inside of your human mind of God as the only presence and power.
When you keep Jesus’ first commandment, "The first is, ‘Hear oh Israel: The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” you make all your choices, actions, reactions centered in God and enter the Promised Land. You are no longer seeking God; you have found God. You no longer live a life of victimhood bond by the Law of cause and effect or karma, you live a life of according the Law of Grace. There is only God. There is only good. Supply and Demand are two sides of the same Presence and Power. It is not a matter of going out and ‘looking’ for something. It is a matter of waking up to what is right where you are for where you are is Holy Ground. Enlightenment is but a recognition not a change at all. Why wait for Heaven or the Promised Land. It is within you right now for God is within you right now and you are within God right now. By keeping Jesus’ first commandment we heal the separation we created by thinking physical matter was apart or other than God.
The Aramaic word Jesus used that was translated as ‘HEAR’ means “to look deeper.” When you are arguing inside your mind or in the outer, this is saying: look deeper with your spiritual consciousness and find Oneness.
Let me paraphrase what Jesus is saying to the literal, obedient, not thinking for her or himself Scribe Mind: “Our God isn't a God of a thousand different moods. God is One – and the one expresses in and through you when you are in a low time of your life or when you are in a high time in your life same way, as love.”
Love is the cosmic glue that joins and binds everything in the universe together as one. In the gospels, the disciple who represents divine Love is John. Within us it is this disciple power that sees God and good everywhere and in everyone and understands that since “I am created in the image and likeness of God I am inherently good and created to express love.” We were not created in original sin but in Original Grace!
Go back to your Bible and read the two creation stories in the Book of Genesis and you will see the difference between the two stories of Creation. The one the Temple Priests dictated of inherently sinful people who must do as they are told and to beg God through them for forgiveness and by giving money to the temple and buying animal sacrifices. The second Creation Story represents the Oral Tradition Jesus taught of a God of Love who created the Heaven and Earth and everyone and everything and with each step of creation: “God called it good.”
The expression Jesus used, “The Lord your God,” is an Aramaic idiom that means the “activity of the spiritual Christ Mind inside of you as the ruling thought of your consciousness.” The “The Lord your God,” refers to the spiritualized human mind whose primary thought is: There is only one presence and power in the universe, God the good omnipotent.” This mind uses this thought as the first commandment and as the foundation for all their choices and the foundation for their life.
Is Divine Love the primary or ruling thought inside your head? If not, what is?
Having a ruling thought is like having one window that you always look through regardless of what happens. Whatever you see through that one window is all that you see. Every time something happens, a Scribe Mind goes back and looks through that same window without question, without learning from experience.
So when Jesus says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”, he is actually speaking to all the levels of your being and the three levels of consciousness that are possible to express through.
He’s telling your mind that you must think with faith in both God and God in yourself – that is Peter. You must think with strength (Andrew) and power (that is Philip). You must think with judgment and discretion, that is James and you must center all your thoughts, your strength and your judgment in divine love – that is John.
The bottom line is that there are always only two choices and you will always pick one or the other. Your mind is going to have as its ruling thought either oneness or separation, as your primary feeling either fear or faith and your strength will be used to take you either in the direction of your Father’s house or deeper into the pig pens of life.
God did not make us robots. We are created in the image and likeness of God. We have free will and we express it through choice; even not choosing is a choice! You must actively choose to PUT GOD 1ST by choosing the “Lord your God’ as the ruling power of your mind.”
Jesus then gives the Scribe a second commandment which is: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.'
Do you love yourself?
The Scribe within you that has been taking meticulous notes and keeping score throughout your life may say, How can I love myself when I've made so many mistakes? It’s easy when you realize that you aren’t just some physical body created out of dirt and a worm of the dust. You are an eternal Spirit created out of star dust that is currently embodied. Your body is not ‘your body’ but the temple of the living God. It is to be the house of ‘the Lord your God’ and the vehicle through which a Christ consciousness expresses.
When you upgrade the ruling thought of your mind to ‘Love the Lord your God’ inside of you, then and only then can you ‘love your neighbor as yourself.” You can only give to another what you possess and all that you possess to give is the gift of your consciousness. Your gift of who and what you believe yourself to be. Your gift of your awareness of your oneness with God and all life.
“Loving your neighbor as yourself” isn’t just talking about someone who lives next door to you. It’s talking about having a commitment with your indwelling Christ to have the openness of mind to see God under each and every situation and within each and every situation and within every person who enters your life. It is seeing beyond the letter. It is being more than a ‘SCRIBE OF THE WORD’. it is to become the “Word made flesh.”
There is an example of everything I’ve been talking about in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. One day St. Francis was walking down a very narrow path. It had a rock wall on one side and a drop off into a deep canyon on the other. As he walked along, he was thinking about how narrow the path was and that there was no place to go if anything bad happened. Have you ever had thoughts like that drift into your mind? You are driving along a long lonely stretch of highway and start thinking ‘What if my car breaks down or what if I have to go to the bathroom?’
As Francis walked along that narrow path with nowhere to go, he began thinking his ‘worst fear thought’, What if I meet a leper on the path? St. Francis of Assisi like most people in his day was terrified of leprosy.
Can you guess what happened? Like Job said, “What I feared has come upon me.” He said that at first, he couldn’t believe his eyes, but yes, there on the path wrapped in rags, walking with a cane and limping straight towards him was a pale and ghostly leper. St. Francis said that he felt his heart shrink right inside of him. He stopped dead in his tracks searching for an escape route but there was none unless he ran back down the path the way he had come. Fear overcame him and he started to shake and shudder. He was absolutely terrified of contamination from this terrible disease.
Then, feeling ashamed of his small thoughts and unloving, fearful actions up until that point, he silently prayed and asked God to help him to go the extra mile. He prayed and asked for God’s love to flow through him and overcome his instinctual fear and it did. He said that he felt his heart expand with love and now rather than running the opposite direction, he turned toward the leper and ran up to him, then he threw his arms around the leper’s emaciated body, kissed his diseased cheek and blessed him. No words were exchanged, and he continued on down the narrow path. A moment later, he stopped and turned to look back and no one was there. Throughout the rest of his life, he was convinced that the leper was not a real physical leper but Jesus Christ himself who had materialized to test him and to challenge him to love all that he met, not just those who were easy to love.
Now, I'm not telling you to go out and kiss a bunch of lepers, that would be teaching you to become a Scribe. Just changing something that you’re doing in the outer isn’t enough to change the ‘primary thought or Lord of your being.’
In Mark 12:32 it says: “And the Scribe said to him, "You are right teacher; You have truly said that He is one and there is no other but He; and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
In Mark 12:34 we read: “And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.’ And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.”
Can you imagine how you would feel if Jesus looked at you and said that you are not far from the Kingdom of God? What an incredible complement, what an incredible feeling that would be.
Now Jesus could have talked all day long about the other 712 commandments. He could have made it difficult for the Scribe to understand like the Pharisees did to maintain their own power, but he didn’t. He made it simple.
Soon afterwards, Jesus was talking with his disciples about Scribes in general and Scribe thinking, feeling and acting. As recorded in Mark 12:38-40, He said, "Beware of Scribes, who like to go about in long robes and like to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, and who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers.”
In other words, you can know your Bible and quote it chapter and verse. You can carry it around with you or even sleep with it but if ‘the Lord of your being,’ your primary thought window isn’t a realization that the ‘Lord our God is one,’ that “the Lord our God is Love” and you are not loving in mind, heart, action and reaction, then as Paul said, “you are just a “clanging gong and a noisy cymbal.”
Gandhi once said, "If the crowd should ask an eye for an eye, all will be blind. People who do not see life through the perception of love and oneness are blind.”
After you die to this physical body, what do you want to be remembered for?
I‘ll close this talk with a poem.
By Eleanor Halbrook Zimmerman
TODAY is joy! My whole heart sings
As if it had been given wings,
Because a day so new and bright
Is spread before my wondering sight!
TODAY is peace! In quiet prayer
I lift my heart, and everywhere
I see God’s wondrous works appear
And feel God’s presence calm and clear.
TODAY is faith! I take my way
Sure, of God’s blessings all the day.
Content to trust the staff and rod
Of an all-wise, all-loving God.
TODAY is wealth, a wealth more gold
Than hands may touch, or heart may hold,
Because God does my hunger feed
By satisfying all my need.
No yesterday may cloud this hour.
No feared tomorrow dim its power
Today’s a kingdom that shall be
In God’s good grace, enough for me!
© Unity of Vancouver, 2004 All Rights Reserved.