Now available! Click the image for more information.
By Ischa Lea
Recently, sitting, wondering what I might write about and figuring it would come to me, I decided to lay it to rest for a moment and turned on the tv just in time to see an older man holding on to a young fellow by his collar admonishing him, “I’m gonna get you to add another virtue to your list – how about telling the truth?”
“Wow!” I thought, “That’s what I’ll write about!”
The twelve virtues have been referred to again and again in many disciplines, being expressed also as the predominant energy of its astrological counterpart. Reflecting on the Sunburst teachings, one of the paths of conscious living happens to be Speech. Looking further, I realized that its counterpart among the twelve virtues is Honesty.
Thinking about this and focusing on the topic of “Telling the truth,” I realized that it takes great Courage to be truthful every day—before oneself, before God, and even more so before others. It takes Perseverance to continually practice being truthful. It takes Patience to offer with tender words the truth. It takes Humility to tell the truth, not caring in what light others may cast us for doing so. It takes Forgiveness and Compassion to honor someone who is being truthful, even if that truth may tug at our sensitive nerves. And above all, it takes great Love to be able to rise above the aftermath that truth often engenders.
In the following excerpt, Victoria Raynor writes regarding the great philosopher and mystic, Aristotle:
“He believed that the function of a human was to engage in an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.”
Reflecting on why certain companies, foundations, and spiritual organizations have endured, grown, thrived and gained respect over decades, one salient feature seems to stand out—that to the best of their abilities, they operated being truthful to their mission—to offer good products and services, operate in integrity, and take good financial care of all those upon whom their success depended. Respect for each other was key. People were more than workers or members; they were invaluable to the long-term survival of the whole.
As this New Year dawned, millions of people made new resolutions. It’s been said, however, that only a tiny percentage of resolutions are actually kept. Thinking about this, I realized that the reason might be two-fold: Firstly, that our old habits of thinking and behaving die hard. And secondly, that if we live truthfully in our lives, the very Universe would bend to our assistance, ensuring that our dreams, desires, and resolutions are fulfilled, bringing us more joy in our lives.
At Sunburst EarthLight Fellowship, a sacred seed ceremony was held to commemorate the dawning of the New Year and a new energy. Beautiful melodies filled the air as each participant offered into the fire the seeds of old habits, old thoughts and old desires. Prayers and seeds of new desires and good habits were also offered into the fire for divine blessings.
What an amazing feeling it was to release the old and bring in the new in such lovely settings, surrounded by loving soul travelers and filled with the blessings of Divine Spirit! How gratifying the thought that the New Year brings another opportunity for telling the truth, and living the truth.
Help me Oh Lord that in truth I may stand
‘Though tattered, worn, disappointed I may be.
I know that perfection yet a myth is to me,
But Lord keep me rooted in truth before thee.
May the good that I seek for myself of use be,
To all brothers and sisters thou hast sent to me.
Help me to carry out thy greatest command,
That with the same love, as for myself I hold,
I may take tenderly each brother’s, sister’s hand.
By Sharon Ray
Humility can be a hard thing for Americans to grasp. We’ve been raised in a culture that is competitive, where people are actually applauded for clearly “making their mark” as being better than others. We are raised to strive to be higher than, better than, and to shine brighter than others. The climate of competition leaves some feeling that they have more intrinsic value, and others feeling that they have less. Neither position is true, for the Divine lives in every heart. We are all equally, infinitely precious.
This culture of standing out from and above others is not an exclusively American phenomenon. It is a condition that exists all over the world. It is a human condition that needs the medicine of Humility which dissolves pride into love.
In a valiant effort to avoid self-glorification, often people will take the opposite stance away from pride: self-deprecation. We are all children of God, made in God’s image and likeness, and depreciating ourselves is just as false a practice. It is false to say, or even worse to believe: “I’m really not as capable or worthy as others. They shine and I’m dull. I can’t do the great things that others can do.”
Love, the Mother of Humility, takes neither of these two positions. Love cares nothing about being higher or lower, and wants only to be at one. Love wants communion, to be in relationship with others the way that the fingers on two hands can be interlaced. Humility, born of Love, knows that being higher is separation; being lower is equally separation.
Love lives in the truth. The truth is that we can all shine brightly—bright light is our very nature. Doing wonderful things is the Divine drive of the Soul. The important thing is to give all the credit to the Divine whom we are expressing. St. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? Let he who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Encouraging us to shine our light, the biblical book of Matthew says, “Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
So, let’s shine in the image and likeness of the Divine, and do great things to uplift this world, saying, “Thank You, God, for living through my life!”
Ultimately, Humility will be experienced by each of us through God-Realization, and we will perceive, experience, and rejoice that there is only One Doer. We will know, and say, “I Am. I Am. My body is this whole world. I’m not higher than; I’m not lower than; I am every being. One. There is only One. I Am that One. I Am that Love.”
Father–Mother Divine, help me to use this lifetime to uplift this world giving all the glory to You, the Divine Doer of All. I rejoice that we are One. We are the Love of the Universe. Amen.
By Sharon Ray
Our lives have been touched by the Divine. Yes, we have been touched, exactly like the lighting of a candle. Our candle has been lit, now we are the protectors and tenders of that fire. The flame that has been given to us is our most precious possession. We want to build that little flame into a blazing bonfire of devotion that will magnetize the Divine to us; and in that Unity we will feel what Norm spoke of as “God’s unbelievable love”. We will feel the Glory of the Almighty Creator who loves us more than we can imagine. Those who know, say, “God wants us a million times more than we want God!”
Sometimes on the Path I get discouraged. I think I’m not growing fast enough, or I think that for God’s sake, I should be enlightened by now. It makes me feel like giving up, except, I’m really lucky: I know that for me, there’s nothing to give up to; there’s nowhere else to go; nothing else worth pursuing. I know that the pleasures I’ve had can’t compare with the pleasure of attaining the One I am seeking. Those who know, tell us, “God is the most relishable!”
So, when I’m down, loyalty is up, and it says, “Redouble your efforts.” Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Results are found by forgetting about results and going on working for them.”
So, when I want to feel the touch of my Divine Parents, when I want to come closer to God, I have to practice loyalty and STAY with my Lord: I have to give my Beloved more of my time, in meditation, in doing the things that inspire me, in tuning into the Presence throughout the day, that Presence that is always here supporting us, and is always HERE for us, loving us. God is very loyal to US, because that loyalty is born of an intense Love; and as we fan the flames of devotion, our loyalty will grow until we can say with all our heart,
“Lord, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for You.”
Beloved Father, Mother God, teach me to be loyal to the path homeward, to do everything I do for Your sake, to never give up– having faith that you want to merge with me even more than I want to merge with You. Help me find ways to prove my love and loyalty to You by practicing virtue especially when it is most difficult. Help me find the daily quiet time I need to build my relationship with You, giving Your Presence my full attention. May my love for You grow until I can truly say, “Lord, there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for You,” Amen.
By Sharon Ray
One of the beautiful transformations that happens to us along the spiritual path is that compassion for and oneness with all things increases. We don’t have tunnel vision on our own needs anymore. Our scope becomes much wider and ultimately covers the whole world and everything in it. The feeling of Ahimsa (harmlessness), grows strong in us and we care about the health and welfare of everyone and everything, including the planet.
Driving into the Sunburst Sanctuary, I am often struck by how feminine the lines of the earth are, those rolling hills are so reminiscent of the female outline in all its softness. “Earth Mother,” the planet is often called for her loveliness and for all she gives to support and sustain the lives of all who live upon her.
Sunburst teaches that good “stewardship” of the Earth’s resources and refraining from waste are practices that belong to the virtue of temperance. Norman Paulsen, Sunburst’s founder, wrote, “If God is indeed all things, then all images should be treated with respect. With this in mind, waste not that which God has created. Be temperate in all pursuits.” When we love something we take care of it well. Love is the center from which temperance and all the virtues emanate.
I recently viewed a documentary on YouTube called, “The Overview Effect,” and it powerfully deepened my appreciation for and love of our Earth. In the movie, astronauts who have seen the Earth from space were interviewed. Their description of this life-changing experience is accompanied by footage of our lovely blue-green planet floating in space. The astronauts say that it is a moving experience to see the Earth from the rocket’s perspective where the background is the black sky of outer space. As the Earth turns, the ozone can be seen as a very thin layer glowing and hugging the surface of the Earth. One astronaut said that it struck him how “paper thin” the atmosphere is, and how sobering it is to think that this tiny layer “is all that protects every living thing from death.”
“The overview effect” is the name that was given to describe the transformational shift in perspective that so many of the astronauts experienced in space, where this feeling of unity and oneness with all life came upon them. They felt without a doubt that their individual self and the species as a whole is a manifestation of a larger Whole. They saw the Earth as an exquisitely beautiful, “living, breathing organism, extremely fragile.” It was seen that Earth is “an oasis against the backdrop of infinity,” and that everything we do on one side of the ecosystem effects the other side of it.
How important, and what a joy is the practice of temperance towards the Earth’s resources—not to waste or harm, but to choose wisely, realizing that Her welfare is in our hands. In thanks for all we are given, we can give back the gift of good stewardship!
Oh, Mother Earth, how lovely you are! Thank you for sustaining my life with oxygen, water, food, and for blessing my life with your natural beauty. Help me to be a good steward of your health and wellbeing, to be temperate and use only what I need, and to think of your welfare as I live and make my choices. Help me to find ways to make my life a healing blessing to you, dear Earth Mother!
by Sharon Ray
The equinox just passed on March 21st, and we are springing into the vibration of Aries, which is the virtue of Loyalty. This is a great opportunity to celebrate our love for the Divine, our love for the Path, and our Loyalty to both.
“Loyalty is the first law of God.” – Paramahansa Yogananda.
How loyal God is to us! He is never in another Universe, not watching us. From without and from within our Soul, our Father-Mother God watches us always.
The question is: With all the ups and downs of life, how can we keep our eyes on the Divine Presence always? How can we loyally stay connected to God? We are so conditioned to react to life’s circumstances, good and bad. It’s the practices on the Path that can keep us in the inner peace and joy that is the Presence of God within us.
The problem is what I call the Red Rubber Ball Syndrome. When I was a kid, we had these really cool red, rubber balls to play with on the playground at school. Some were so big you could hardly bounce them, and some were so small you could hardly hit them; but the medium sized red rubber balls (RRBs for short), were just right. You could throw them WAY up in the air, and you could DASH them onto the ground and watch them fly up again.
Life is like that. We let Circumstance hold us in its hands like a red rubber ball. When something good happens and we get the EXACT thing we have been waiting for, Circumstance throws us WAY up into the air with excitement. This is the “WOO-HOO!” of life. There is no dignity in this at all.
Then there are the times when we get exactly what we didn’t want, sometimes quite suddenly. Then what? Since the RRB is in the hands of Circumstance, Circumstance plummets us onto the floor until we are as red as a red rubber ball. This is the “BOO-HOO!” of life.
My car of 3 yrs—I still owe on it—was pronounced deceased. I cried, but then put my nails into the RRB. Reeling with all the unpleasant possibilities this predicament posed, I told myself to BREATHE and to find my feet. With faith, I put my situation in God’s hands and realized that one can actually live in the mystery of life with some acceptance of not knowing the outcome to every situation.
The solution to living in the WOO-HOO and BOO-HOO syndrome is: We must take the RRB of our inner experience away from Circumstance, and HOLD IT OURSELVES.
“Hold onto the center,” Lau Tzu proclaimed in the Tao Te Ching. If we are to escape the “WOO-HOO” and “BOO-HOO” of life, and loyally live in our center where God’s peace and joy abide, then we must put our foot down and say:
“I am NOT, going to allow Circumstance to throw me up and down. I’m going to live a life of dignity, in communion with the inner Spirit. I’m going to loyally keep my eyes upon the Light. If Circumstance brings me something very exciting or very painful, I am going to say the same thing to each. I’m going to say, ‘Peace. Hold onto the red rubber ball. Don’t drop the ball. Where is my breath? Focus on the breath. Okay, breathing, breathing. Where are my feet? Feet on the ground. I can feel my feet on the ground, and my breathing. Subtle joy, O subtle Divine joy! Only You, Lord! Lord, I am Thine! I am loyally ever Thine!’”