My Blog

Bypassing the Election

Headline today:  Trump Actively Discussing Radical Measures to Bypass Election Results. (Forbes)

I have voted in at least two election in which the results were contested. These involved recounting the votes assuming the loss was due to human error. This article suggested that the process itself would be contested throwing the selection of electors back to the states. In other words, if the members of the electoral college representing a particular state did not vote favorably for the Republican candidate, their votes would be discarded and the state legislature would have to come up with a new list of electors that would, presumably vote in favor of the Republican candidate.

I think this would basically turn us into a non-democracy. I never ever thought this would happen in my lifetime. I hope the headline reflects some kind of fake news, but the same was reported in five different publications.

Why Legislators Don’t Stand Behind Their Own Convictions

I haven’t written a lot about our current political situation. In the past I tried to speak in terms of higher values with the hopes that readers would search their hearts and make good political choices rather than tell them what they are supposed to believe or how to vote. But I feel the world getting increasingly dangerous and refraining from comment doesn’t seem the appropriate thing right now.

In spite of what I just wrote, I am not going to tell you who I plan to vote for or which party most aligns with in my beliefs. Rather, I want to talk about consciousness. I believe that how people view their world depends upon their level of consciousness.

In 2019, I read 6 books by worldwide teacher of the Way to Enlightenment, David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. It may seem a bit obsessive for me to indulge this way, but Hawkins answered for me a question that was gnawing at me: Why is it that people have such a hard time with change even when change could mean greater happiness? When I asked the question, I had in mind a couple of friends whose thinking was clogging them. I remember talking to one of them and it would sound to me like she perfectly understood and agreed with what I was saying. Then I would talk to her a couple of days later and I found her thinking hadn’t changed at all. I was baffled.

The cornerstone of Hawkin’s teaching is his Scale of Consciousness. He created a grid and assigned a numerical value to the way people look at the world and thus how they interact with it. People with a higher level of consciousness basically know themselves better and have the capacity to monitor their own thoughts and behaviors. Those at a lower lever lack this self-awareness and tend to buy into their thoughts as though they are true. They have a lesser control over their behaviors because they tend to react to whatever happens around them. A person with lower consciousness may not know why they do what they do. If they do something they or others perceive as wrong, they will get defensive, blame others, and try to justify their actions rather than acknowledge their error and learn from it.

My only hesitancy about Hawkin’s chart is that in the past, whenever I dealt with charts about one’s maturity or level of spirituality, I always put myself at the top. Needless to say, my Higher Power had to do some serious correcting on that. This time, however, I came to the levels with greater self-awareness and with it humility and a higher capacity for honesty.

I don’t want to explain the whole of Hawkin’s teachings, but I do want to focus on one aspect, the number value of the different levels. A creature at the lowest level, (probably a mosquito) would be 0. The highest would be pure enlightenment which he numbers 700-1000. Only Jesus is attributed to have attained the level 1000. I won’t argue with that. Each level is given certain charactersics which he puts under four different categories: God-view, Self-view, Emotion, and Process. I will discuss only the first category here. How people view God which effects how they view everything including themselves and the world.

At the lower levels, people tend to view God as vindictive, condemning, punitive, vengeful or indifferent. When people view God this way, they tend to be full of guilt and shame, apathy, hatred, fear and anger. Those at higher levels of consciousness tend to imagine God in a much more favorable light. They would use words like permitting, inspiring, merciful, wise, and loving. They tend to have a more positive view of themselves and others, and are more willing to make sacrifices for the good of others. They tend to use their reason and wisdom to solve problems while not always thinking they are right, so they tend to show more respect for others points of view.

Those at the lower levels tend to drain to world of energy. Those at the higher levels tend to add energy to the world.

What most interested me is the one I was looking for when I was first drawn to Hawkins, and that is the key or quality that shifts a person from the lower levels to the higher. I found that the quality is Courage. Many of you are familiar with the Serenity Prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the COURAGE to change the things I can.”

Watching the political landscape, I am struck by the lack of courage among people in office. This absolutely baffles me because it seems to me that it would take a lot of courage to run for office in the first place. But over the past several years, I have watched legislators cower under their party’s leadership, voting with them even when it would seem their values are in conflict. I ask myself, “Is being in office such a fabulous thing that you can’t imaging life without it?” That is what an alcoholic says when you suggest he should give up alcohol to save his marriage and his job.

People who operate out of a lower consciousness tend to be hateful, antagonistic, demanding, blaming, and full of fear. They have a desire for more of whatever they think will make them happy and then carry around a false pride because of what they have. They fear what might happen to them if they choose to do something other than what their tribe demands.

Humans are complex beings. As I think about myself on Hawkin’s scale, I know I am inconsistent and sometimes lose my bearings. I still drag around character defects that I’ve had for years. But I do know this: I see life from a higher place than I did in the past. I watch the interactions among my fellow Americans and Hawkin’s levels of consciousness seems to explain an awful lot to me. It doesn’t necessarily tell me what to do, however. I have chosen to just keep growing and share my insights wherever they may be useful. If I can help one person to rise above their own fears and anger, I feel I have shifted the world just a little bit.

The Story of Jesus and the Story of Us

Reading Richard Rohr’s book this morning, I find him addressing the very thing I did in my last blog, “Thoughts About Jesus”, April 13.  I would like to share with  you what he writes:

Insisting on a literal belief in the virgin birth of Jesus is very good theological symbolism, but unless it translates into a spirituality of interior poverty, readiness to conceive, and human vulnerability, it is largely a “mere lesson memorized” as Isaiah puts it (29:13). It “saves” no one. Likewise, an intellectual belief that Jesus rose from the dead is a good start, but until you are struck by the realization that the crucified and the risen Jesus is a parable about the journey of all humans, and even the universe, it is a rather harmless – if not harmful – believe that will leave you and the world largely unchanged.

I don’t like to debate with others about the literalness of the scriptures. I don’t believe that whether a person believes that the words and stories written in the bible are historically true doesn’t matter. On the other hand, how they apply or don’t apply the message behind the words and stories does matter. For example, Jesus taught us to love our enemies. Imagine, if you will, if everyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus actually loved their neighbor. “Though shalt not kill”. Jesus even held back the sword of a disciple who tried to save him from arrest. Look where that led!

Imagine such a world! Unless the words and stories of the scriptures are seen as eternally true, their historical truth doesn’t have much value.

 

Thoughts About Jesus – 2003

Sunday, April 13, 2003. The Journal of Judy Jeub:

“I’m not interested in going to mass this morning. The longest gospel of the year – Palm Sunday. With “the group” coming, we’ll read it then. That’s enough. I hate the crucifixion story. It is like listening to the news and hearing about Saddam’s torture of a prisoner or about “collateral damage”. The crucifixion goes on and on and on. I love hearing about the resurrection, but not Jesus’ resurrection. (Rather,) the one I witnessed in Guatemala. The construction of a composting latrine. The education of children from the ravines. An alcoholic taking his or her first step to sobriety. I love hearing about Pentecost – not the one with fire on people’s heads, but the one with fire in people’s hearts. The one that drives people to carry a sign for peace. The fire that makes a person jump into a river to save a life. The fire in a written letter to an editor. The fire of a passionate song for justice.

“I hate to hear about Jesus coming again…some day. “I am with you”, he said. At the judgment, we’ll see that he was there all along in the least of the brethren. He’s been here all along – the spirit of God in the poor, the lowly, the sick and dying, the wounded and grieving, the imprisoned. He’s here calling forth love, begging for fire from those with the power of Pentecost. He begs us to recognize Him. When people thrust Him into the future up into the sky, they lift their eyes above the real Jesus, there in the people.”

I wonder who that woman was that wrote that?

Rohr and the Universal Christ

It often happens that my book club will select a book that I have already read and I get to read it again. This time it is The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr. Rohr is a “globally recognized ecumenical teacher whose work is grounded in Christian mysticism.” I have read many of his books and follow his meditation reflection daily.

My understanding of Jesus has changed over the years. Much of this is maturity, I suppose, but also reading the works of mystics like Rohr. A rather startling statement Rohr makes in this book is that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. He says that as long as Christian’s have such a narrow view of Jesus, they are missing the most important aspect of Jesus’ message. He came to reveal not who he is but to show us who we are.

For a period of my life, I worshiped with a Quaker community. I could fill this page with reasons I have so much respect for them but the one thing that stands out for me is the belief that there is “that of God” in everyone. Rohr’s explanation of what “Christ” means to Jesus and to us, I believe, is this truth: we all possess or are composed of something of God. The story of Creation in Genesis 1 says that God breathed his OWN SPIRIT into his human creation. I believe that that which animates us is indeed God within.

I was taught as a child that God is everywhere but somehow I also was taught that there were gaps in where God is…namely, in those who were not yet saved. I no longer believe that. God is within all, just as Genesis says and the Quakers believe.

Rohr says that this presence of God within each of us has a name and that name is Christ. Christ dwells within each of us guiding us into loving thought and action. Christ is God acting in us, loving with God’s love.

Years ago I had an experience that I would like to share here. In my thirties, I was very interested in Jewish thought. I studied the Old Testament and read book after book about the history of the Jewish people and about their beautiful traditions. This is the time when our family began celebrating the Passover in our home. One time I was reading a book about the Holocaust, about the incarceration and extermination of the Jews including children. I can still remember where I was, sitting alone in my bed reading. The room was dark but for a lamp and the white pages of the book. Suddenly I could see the children being corralled into the ovens. I was stunned and tears began to flow so profusely that I was gasping. I cried out to God, “How could you let this happen?” Suddenly an awareness came to me, as though God were speaking to me. I realized the tears I was shedding were God’s tears. He was sharing with me his own pain. I believe that this was my first real experience of the Christ within and every time I find myself full of compassion, this continues to be so.

Rohr says that this Christ within always seeks connection and communion, never separation or division. I think of this as I watch the events of the world unfold, as I listen to the rhetoric of religious people and of politicians. The idea that God seeks unity and communion has become a measuring stick for me to discern that which is of God and that which is of the darkness. Sometimes I forget and get caught up in negativity. Just like anyone else, I want to find someone to blame for the pain in the world. This is when remembering becomes so important. Didn’t Jesus share the essence of his own mission, the reason he came to preach to the people of Israel? He said he came that all may be one just as the Father and he were one.

Peace Pilgrim Speaks

The title of my blog is “My Thoughts on Peace”and Peace Pilgrim is one of my peace-making heroes. I want to share these words with you today which if found tucked in my journal in 2002:

On predictions about the futures, she wrote: “Dwell only on the good things you want to see happen…through thought you create your inner conditions and help to create the conditions around you. We are all helping to make a great decision…the darkest hour is just before the dawn…everything out of harmony is on the way out. The darkness we see is disintegration of out-of-harmony things…eventually God will prevail…it is only how soon that is up to us.”

“Leftists are those who want to push social change faster than can it can naturally go. Rightists are those who want to keep things as they are or turn back the hands of the clock. Both believe in the false philosophy that the end justifies the means…the war philosophy. I believe that the means you use will determine the end you receive. This is the peace philosophy.”

“There is a magic formula for resolving conflicts. It is this: Have as your objective the resolving of the conflict – not the gaining of advantage.”

“Be concerned that you do not offend – not that you are not offended.”

“If you fear nothing and expect good, good will come.”

Let’s Look Together at White Privilege – 17

As I come to the end of this thoughtful and honest contemplation on the issue of racism, I realize that author Robin DiAngelo has moved to a very deep level. It seems to me that whenever I struggle with an issue, I eventually go there.

I just deleted the next three paragraphs. I don’t think I can put into words what is stirring in me as I come to the end of DiAngelo’s book. Even she, in her last chapter, talks about her own continued struggle to be free of what she calls white frigility. Understanding and teaching about racism has been her life’s work and seems to have sent her into deep soul searching. If racism causes people to know themselves better, to understand our common humanity, it is a useful tool. But our job is not to create problems that others may grow. Our job is to work inside ourselves to become more fully the loving persons we were created to be.

This has been a difficult journey for me, especially bringing closure. Since I started, Covid 19 has worn on our family and the political situation has gotten worse as we come closer to the election. There were days when I wanted and needed to blog about something else. Sometimes, writing my truth was difficult and I struggled with just how honest I should be.

I am grateful to those of you who joined in on the conversation. I appreciated your honesty and insight. A couple of you sent me articles that I hope to comment on in later blogs.

Thanks.