UNITY OF VANCOUVER
“The Power of Light and Darkness”
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
May 17, 2009
All Rights Reserved
I invite you to look at the light of a candle flame as I talk to you for a moment about light & darkness in preparation for our meditation. When you take a light into the darkness the light does not overcome a power of darkness. Where the light is there just isn’t any darkness. There are not 2 powers, a power of darkness & a power of light. Darkness has no power of its own. If darkness had power, it would be able to overcome & snuff out the candle flame. But the candle has the power of light & no matter how strong the darkness, where the presence of the candle’s flame darkness gone.
Now I invite you to close your eyes & begin to seek the light by drawing your attention, inward to the point behind the brow & upward to the point at the top of your head, the seat of the Christ in you . . . & know God is the only presence & power active in your life.
Out of the darkness, light begins to glow just as morning dawns in a slow & gentle way. You are awakening from a deep sleep & emerging from the cave of guilt imposed upon you & perfectionism that has imprisoned you. You are God’s being, being & therefore a being of excellence. Spiritual growth is simply your awakening to the truth of who & what you really are so that you are aware of the creative work that God is doing through you to bring more light, love, & life into manifestation so that you can work with God to this Higher Will being is done in & through you by changing the way you view the world & everything & everyone in it & with this new worldview, commit to making wiser choices. Choices that come from a God-centered place within you rather than a fear based place.
All things flow to & from just one Source. & if there is inharmony, disease, lack of money, love or anything in your life, it is not a result of an evil power, it is a result of ignorance & will disappear as you turn on the light of your God consciousness. God is all there is & God is there to care for you & nurture you through all the changes of physical life. God is using you as a vehicle & extending a portion of itself from the invisible ocean of Spirit into the visible world of form.
As you know the truth, the light goes on & sets you free from all appearances of darkness. There is only God & God has declared all of its creation as good & only good. As these realizations of Truth take root in your consciousness, God as love touches every part of your life pushes out all the error ideas you have been taught in order to make you depended on someone or something outside of yourself. But God will not force more of itself into you. For more of God’s love to become a ‘living thing’, a demand has to be placed on it from you, just as you’d turn on a light & that energy must be received & given out through you. Just as you’d turn on a flashlight & direct its beam to light your path. Affirm: “I am a willing channel of Divine energy. As I receive God’s love, I give God’s love sending it out to touch everything in life. I have a blessing consciousness. & rest in silence receiving & giving God’s love.
God is the great healer. Affirm: “God’s love touches every part of my life & I touch everything in life with the love of God.” For so it is. Amen.
The Power of Light and Darkness
It's easy to say & difficult to live because of 2 things.
1st: While there is only 1 presence & 1 power, one of the characteristics of that presence is that is has an invisible side of pure energy (D. Chopra calls it the Field of pure potentiality) & a visible side of ‘form.’ According to physicists & metaphysicians, energy is dynamic & is in constant motion. It is either moving from the field of pure potentiality into form or from form back into the field through the process of aging, death & decay. To a superstitious or unaware mind this appears as duality. But its not 2 separate things. It’s 2 sides of the same thing.
2nd Because the eyes send ‘an image’ to the brain it tends to think in terms of duality. We seem to have a duel - thinking process: duel meaning two: good & bad; black & white; true & false; man & woman; right & left; right & wrong; positive & negative. But if you think about it, it is really the subjective judgment of the human personality that we’re talking about. Good is what I like & want to happen & move myself toward & bad is what I don’t like & don’t want to happen & move away from. Bad in my life is often what inconveniences me!
So, right away as human beings, we are faced with a problem to solve; how do we believe & more important how do we experience only one power, when our minds tend to think in terms of separation, good & bad; GOD & EVIL? The world religions attempt to help us solve this problem.
There is a great story in the Old Testament, Numbers 22. It is one of the world’s oldest world teaching stories (origin is not Hebrew but older) & gives us an insight that is spiritually very helpful.
The Israelites have come out of Egypt & have set up camp in the plains of Moab east of the Jordan & opposite Jericho, which they are claiming as "THEIR PROMISED LAND", the land Yahweh gave to them & the place Yahweh told them to go live.
There is only one problem with this. There are already people living there. People who, I might add aren't happy about the Hebrews eyeing their country & claiming that it’s ‘theirs by Divine Right’. In fact, they see it from a totally different perspective. They believe they are being invaded. King Balak of Moab sees the Israelites spreading out over the land, like a swarm of locust & knows what they have just done to the Amorites so he sends for a man named Balaam who has some local fame & lives in a country near the Euphrates river. The ancients believed there was great power in the spoken word. The King’s messengers are to say to him, 'I know that when you proclaim a blessing, people are blessed & when you pronounce a curse, they are cursed. King Balak knows he can’t defeat the Israelites with military power so he wants to hire Balaam to come & curse the Israelites.
In the Old Testament days there were a lot of rainmakers, etc. People made a living this way, but this is more than just divination & rainmaking for common people. When a King gets involved it becomes very dangerous & can get you killed. So, looking for a way out, Balaam wisely says, “I have to pray about this & ask God what to do & then I’ll tell you my answer.” & of course when Balaam prays, "God tells him not to put a curse on the people of Israel because they have his blessing."
So he tells King Balak that God told him to say ‘No.’ But King Balak won't accept “No” as an answer. & offers him more money. So Balaam says, even if King Balak gave me all the silver & gold in his palace, I can't disobey God even in the smallest matter. But they make him a 3rd offer & God tells him, “It’s ok to go but only to bless the Isrealites”.
So Balaam saddles up his trusty old donkey & heads out over the mountain, secretly hoping to find a place where God won't see him so that he can ‘curse’ the Israelites, get King Balak off his back & make some money. But of course, God knows what he’s thinking and has a different agenda.
As Balaam & his donkey are going up the mountain, “God sends an angel to stand in the donkey's way”. The donkey see's the angel, but Balaam doesn’t. When the donkey stops, Balaam hits it saying, "Get on you stupid beast."
The donkey, manages to squeeze around the angel & they continue up the mountain. Then the angel steps in the donkey's way, again where the path gets a little more narrow & again, Balaam hits the donkey who manages to move on this narrow path to get around the angel. But continuing up the mountain, they get to a place where the path is so very narrow & when the angel steps in their way, the donkey stops & lies down.
Balaam is very angry and hits the donkey such that & the Lord gives the donkey the power of speech to say, "Why are you hitting me? What have I done to you that you have hit me these 3 times?' Balaam doesn’t seem impressed that his donkey is talking & says, ‘Because you’re making a fool of me.” If I had a sword I'd kill you." The donkey says, "Am I not the same donkey that you have ridden on all your life? Have I ever treated you this way before? “No”, Balaam answered. “Well,” the donkey said, “Can't you see there is an angel in my way? " & suddenly God lets Balaam see the angel who demands to know why Balaam has beaten his donkey 3 times, when the angel has come to bar his way on a journey he shouldn’t be making in the 1st place.
“In fact the angel says, your donkey in its wisdom turned aside, if he hadn't I would have killed you & spared the donkey.” Balaam begs for forgiveness, realizing he was wrong to think he could out smart God. & the angel tells him to go ahead BUT “to offer only blessings.”
Balaam still tries to find a place where he can curse them & please the king but every time he opens his mouth only Blessings come out. Finally on his 3rd try he thinks if he stands in a place where he can only see a small part of the Israelites, he might be able to curse a part--but a blessing still comes out of his mouth. King Balak gets disgusted with him & sends him home. In other sacred scriptures we find that later Balaam was indeed killed for ‘divination & sorcery.
There’s a lot of wonderful material in this story but my point in sharing it with you today is that the word used in the story for the 'angel' that was sent down by God, is a word that actually means, 'adversary in the sense of a problem.' The Lord sent an adversarial situation into the life of Balaam, 'Why?' Because Balaam insisted on 'expressing duality' 'cursing & blessing’ when God said to confer only Blessings.
This core idea of one presence & one power was so strong in some ancient cultures that they couldn’t even conceive of a dark power, like Satan, being separate from God. The Greek Eleusinian tradition didn’t have a concept of an evil force at all. There was simply the way of nature, the seasons & cycles & everything that happens comes from that; that’s the spiritual reality.
But something happened to some of the Hebrews that didn't happen to all of them that changed everything. In 539 B.C., the Persians defeated the Babylonians. This was a major event for the Hebrews because the Babylonians were the archenemies of the Hebrews. They had conquered them & many Hebrews had been carried off into exile for 400 years. Then the Persians come along & wipe them out & befriend these displaced Hebrew people.
How would you feel if you were conquered & dragged off & then your enemy was conquered & wiped out by a more powerful force whose King then befriended you? What a great day!
So into the Hebrew beliefs crept this notion of duality, of a reality of a dark power, an evil power, that wasn't there before. There is now an adversary but the adversary isn't doing God's will & it’s a power separate from God & opposed to God's will. This becomes a part of the Hebrew theology of the Jerusalem priests & along with animal sacrifice that is what Jesus, John the Baptist & many others who had remained in Palestine & hadn’t been carried off & influenced by the Persians, were objecting to: the inclusion of ‘false texts & ideas’ into what they were forming into the Hebrew Bible. But the protesters weren’t successful & when Christians adopted the Hebrew Scriptures as the Old Testament, the idea of 2 powers made its way into the Bible.
Just how prevalent is the sense of the devil as opposed to God? Is that a new idea to you? No, not even to Unity people. Most of us were brought up with it. Most of us still believe it. Ask anyone who the devil is & they'll say someone opposed to God. I saw a recent survey that said that 70% of the people in the U.S. believe in the devil while only 45% said they believed in God. Think about that, it's kind of scary.
Is there evil in the universe? Is a snake biting a child evil? No. It just happens. It’s not good or evil. Is a bird falling out of its nest & being torn apart by a cat evil? No. It’s just the way of life. & That’s what the mystery traditions of ancient Egypt and Greece emphasized, the way of life; the way things are in nature.
Buddhism, which evolved from Hinduism, is strong in this regard while Hindus believe in good & evil but Hinduism isn’t a proselytizing force. They don’t go out & say, ‘line up with us or die & go to hell.” The goal of Buddhism is get to the place where you can see things as they are, not through the illusions, the Maya, the mental ties to material reality that cause us to form judgments such as that’s good & that’s bad.
The bottom line is this: Millions of people have suffered & died because a proselytizing religion adopted the concept of a good & evil force. How do we begin to turn this proselytizing way of being around in ourselves & in our culture?
Our culture seems to have a great fascination with darkness. We like the idea of good being in the heart of evil. It's like we are instinctively trying get back to the original idea that the ancient Hebrew people had. Luke Skywalker believes that in the heart of his father, Darth Vader, there is still good. We are all sitting there watching & rooting for it. We like the bad guys who are really good at heart. We like our heroes to be like Indiana Jones, a rascal who is scruffy looking but basically a really good guy.
I had the pleasure to visit the beautiful country of New Zealand & to speak in the Unity church in Auckland, Palm Sunday 1991. There are no dangerous wild animals, or reptiles there & scientists believe there has never been. A child could walk from one coast to another & never be in any danger, except from other human beings & the elements. In New Zealand, all the major birds never developed wings. They have little wings, but they don't really function any more. Why? Because food was so abundant & they had no natural enemies. This made their lives very easy. But the price they paid for this easy life? They lost the ability to fly!
We were created to evolve & keep moving forward to a greater good but human nature likes to settle in & become static so we need ‘an adversity’ or ‘a cattle prod’ to keep us moving. Without something pushing us to move forward we might just become a culture of morbidly obese, unhealthy people with atrophied muscles parked in front of a TV. or computer. Without challenges to overcome, we will never realize that we are spiritual beings & that ‘He who is within me is greater than he that is in the world.”
In the path of evolution, the species that survives is the species that can meet a challenge. The humans we’ve evolved from survived the big freeze because they moved!
Here are some interesting statistics. Traveler's Insurance company reports that 80% of the year's 52,000 highways deaths occurred in . . what kind of weather? Wet? Snow? Sleet? Ice? That's what I would imagine. But that wasn't the case at all. 80% of the 52,000 highway deaths occurred with clear skies and dry roads.
This may have a great deal to do with the fact that when the weather is bad & the streets are slick, people drive with more awareness. They put themselves "MORE PRESENTLY" into their driving. When the road is dry & the sky is clear, there is more of a sense of laziness. Do you see how even the bad weather serves our awareness? It makes us better drivers, statistically.
The ancient Goddess & nature cultures understood God as the creator & maintainer of the universe, but also knew that there is an aspect of God that is ‘adversary, challenger & destroyer.’ It seems contradictory, doesn't it? It sounds wrong. But it's not. When you understand that ‘God is All’, life makes more sense. It’s a lot easier to live without the ‘fear factor.’
Example: Gardens take a lot of work. You may use a shovel to dig up earth & as you dig, you upset many worlds. True, they are insect worlds & insect lives but you can see the relationship. You might even cut an earthworm or in half. You don't intend to, but it happens. Now, to those insects & that earthworm, “Was it good coming down, or was it evil?” Whenever we develop land to bring in business, industry, homes, we upturn ecologies. We change the land. We destroy a lot of life to do what we call good. So, is it good, or is it bad? I don't know, it depends on your point of view. Like the song says, “Sometimes you’re the windshield sometimes you’re the bug.”
The act of creativity itself is first an act of destruction: a blank white canvas is destroyed by the first touch of paint. When a blank piece of paper is put in your typewriter its purity is crushed by the very first letter you type. The very act of creativity takes something & destroys it to what it was & changes it to what it will be.
There's a sense of life needing to turnover, like we turn over the earth in our garden. The seasons change. Spring destroys winter & we're glad! You see the act of destruction is inherently a function of the universe. Is it evil? There are probably some who might think so. The coming of winter might appear evil to some, but it's really an act of a cycle of nature, a cycle of the universe. Is it evil or just God at work?
According to the story of Balaam’s donkey, God says to call everything a blessing but human consciousness wants to curse what inhibits our ‘income, health or joy.’ What we call it is up to us & our level of spiritual evolution. Are we going to fall victim to our own ignorance & call a room in which the light isn’t turned on evil? Or are we going to flick the switch & say, “This is just God bringing me a little further on a journey, a Hero’s Quest, revealing some new aspect of my life & myself I need to become aware of.” You either overcome this world with wisdom, love & faith or conform to it from ignorance & fear. Which is it for you? With free will, It's your choice. Your life is the result of your choices. According to the law of Mind Action, “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind’. So bless your body & get health, bless life & get more life.
I like to close this discussion a story from ancient India. Once there was a Prime Minister who was also a great teacher who believed that whatever happens is for the good; that God chose it for good. In fact, he always said, "Whatever God does is for the best."
The Prime Minister’s job was to travel around the land, talk to people & report conditions back to the King. For example: A man came up to him & said, “Oh, Prime Minister, my life was so great. I had a son & he had a wonderful income & supported me but then he died. What am I going to do for money now?"& when The Prime Minister said, "Remember, whatever God does is for the best." The man walked away, just shaking his head. A woman came to him & said, "I was barren, then I had a son, then he died. What am I going to do? & He said, “It's all, right, whatever God does is for the best.” She too walked away shaking her head. “What is with this guy?" Over time people really started to get irritated with his attitude & began to complain & gossip amongst themselves saying, “What’s with this guy? Why is he saying this? Is he nuts?
One day the King was at his royal barber getting a haircut & manicure. He was in the chair & fell asleep. While sleeping, the barber, while cutting his nails, accidentally cut his finger. It started to bleed profusely, everyone started yelling & of course the Prime Minster was called. When they told him that the king is bleeding, the Prime Minister said, It's alight; Whatever God does is for the best. Naturally, when the people heard that, they ran to tattle to the king. "Do you know what the Prime Minster said when he heard you were bleeding? He said, “Your bleeding finger was God's Will & it is for the best.” The King said, "He said that did he? Bring him to me! So they did. & The king asked him, "Is that true that when you heard I was bleeding you said, ‘whatever God does is always for the best? & the Prime Minister said, Yes!
In the meantime, the King decided to go out hunting. But since the Prime Minister was in jail, he went by himself into the forest where he was captured by an enemy tribe who believed in human sacrifice. They had been about to sacrifice a young boy, when they noticed that he was imperfect & they couldn’t sacrifice an imperfect body. So they let him go & went out to find another victim & found the King. They were about to cut off his head when they noticed that his finger was cut. They couldn't use him either since he was imperfect & so they let him go.
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