John 10:30; 37-38 30“The Father and I are one.” 37“Don't believe me unless I carry out my Father's work. 38 But if I do his work, believe in what I have done, even if you don't believe me. Then you will realize that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” At times our perspective is so limited that we cannot see clearly what is in front of us. We are too close, seeing things we think we see too clearly. We can live in false details as if they were real. I had a voice teacher that I respected greatly. She helped me sing more than any other teacher I had previously. At one lesson, however, she started accusing me of bizarre things: that I was talking to people behind her back and disrespecting her. Although I denied what she was saying, because it was utterly untrue, she was vehement and insulting. I never went back to her. The feelings about this incidence haunted me, until several years later I ran into another former student of hers. This student related that our teacher was ill with Alzheimer’s, which began about the time that I left the studio. What I thought were insults were actually symptoms of a mentally deteriorating disease. Although we can handle life experience, ‘getting it into the gut’, understanding it with personal awareness, is often difficult. Sometimes it takes a new perspective, a new paradigm to capture what is right in front of us. It is not easy to see the whole picture. To illustrate: A fellow, we’ll call him Pat, had gone to catch a train; it was April 1976, in Cambridge, UK. He’d gotten the time of the train wrong and was a bit early. So, he picked up a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. He took a seat at a table with the newspaper, coffee, and cookies. Sitting opposite him is another perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase who we will call Dan. He didn’t look like he would do anything weird, until he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it. What in our background, upbringing, or education teaches us how to deal with someone who in broad daylight had just stolen our cookies? We know what would happen if it had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know the drill. So,
Pat did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: He ignored it; stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do the crossword puzzle, and thought about what to do. Ultimately, Pat didn’t respond, but trying very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened, he took out a cookie for himself and thought, “This will settle it.” But it didn’t because a moment later Dan took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder for Pat to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice…” It just wasn’t going to work. Pat and Dan then went through the whole packet cookies of like this, each alternating eating one cookie at a time. It felt like a lifetime. Finally, when they got to the end, Dan stood up, exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away. A moment later the train came in, so Pat tossed back the rest of his coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper was his packet of cookies. The thing about this story is knowing that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last 45 years a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the same punch line. Pat’s awareness had grown. Although he had felt snubbed - really, he knew he had been slighted - he finally realized he was wrong; he had not been seeing the whole picture. Similar awakenings have happened to astronauts as they leave the earth for outer space. The first Arab astronaut, Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, participated in a space mission on the NASA Discovery shuttle on June 17, 1985. Upon returning he shared: “The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.” The big picture comes into view as we allow our consciousness to expand and accept what we are seeing; not fighting it or becoming fearful but allowing our awareness to embrace the new experience. This can bring answers to questions. Like many people, I lean heavily on science for finding answers to questions about the physical environment. Science has answered and continues to answer many questions about our bodies, the planet, and the universe. But it is limited in scope. It is devoted to examining what is ‘out there’ - outside the mind and spends no time pursuing the inner world of awareness. There is no scientific measure for morality, so science cannot help in the continued debates over assisted suicide, abortion, or ethical issues. Also, for a question or hypothesis to be scientific it must be falsifiable. For instance, it is easy to hypothesize that God exists but it’s impossible to measure or disprove the existence of a Creator. Consequently, it is not a question that science can, or should, even attempt to answer. These are other questions not addressed by the traditional sciences: What is consciousness? What happens after death? How do we know what we know? What does it mean to exist? Can love be measured? How does consciousness interact with matter and energy? For what purpose, if any, are we here? Some outspoken conventional scientists believe that we are biochemically determined robots, devoid of a mind, a soul, free will, or any spiritual connection. According to Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, “…your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Steven Hawking wrote, “It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law so it seems that we are no more than biologic machines and that free will is just an illusion.” Ironically, to write a book such as Hawking’s The Grand Design, or Crick’s The Astonishing Hypothesis, requires that the author be more than a biochemical robot with no soul or no free will; it demands more than a spontaneous regurgitation of elemental reactions tumbling randomly about a brain without intention. If not, then their books must be “mindless” accounts on physics, written by mindless individuals. This scientific robotic-biochemical paradigm, known as determinism, is contrary to anything spiritual. First, it absolves people of their own actions. “I did what I did because I was biochemically determined to do so.” There is no personal accountability under this philosophy. There are no such things as crimes or criminals, since those who perform these actions are merely flesh-covered machines robots making decisions based upon biological coding. They can’t help themselves. This deterministic philosophy taken to its extreme would allow for the containment of violence by committing genocide. If there is a country that is creating strife for others, simply eliminate them. Population control can be easily attained. According to this line of thinking ethical boundaries are not broken by killing, since humans are not real people with souls; their value is minimal outside of their benefit to society. But who would be making those decisions? If conventional physicists had political control, believing that humans are nothing more than automatons devoid of a soul, mind, or any intrinsic value … well, you can see how this philosophy might end badly for some of us. Any world government could embrace this scientific philosophy and justify heinous crimes against a specific population. We’ve seen something similar happen before. This goes against everything that we are taught by Christ and spiritual leaders. The mind, our consciousness, works by being translated through the brain, a biologic component of who we are certainly, but not the entirety of our being. We are spiritual beings primarily. The recognition of the existence of free will and consciousness is the foundation for compassion toward all living things. It is the core principle from which ethics spring. But unlike the physical universe, we gain a higher perspective not by going further ‘out there’, but by going deeper within with our awareness, through prayer, meditation, by being still. Just as the gentleman, Pat, in our story earlier transformed his perspective, we can do something similar in our spiritual lives. We can let go of what we have always seen, what we expect to see, what we think we know, and expand our perspective, relax our vision, and see something more … a bigger picture. Although none of us have been in outer space, we have the evidence by way of pictures of what the astronauts saw and what the Hubble Telescope captures. These images help us with our own perspectives of time and space. Similarly, not many of us have delved deeply enough into our inner dimension to embrace enlightenment, but we have the evidence from those who have made that journey. One of the common themes from people who have made the inner spiritual effort is exactly what Christ said: The Father and I are one. This feeling … more than a feeling… this awareness that we are one is something that the inner journey reveals. We are connected. We are spiritual beings and part of one family in Spirit. The closer we draw to God, the clearer we know that our prejudices are unfounded; our insensitivities are inappropriate … and that there is ‘only one Earth.” By taking a higher perspective we may develop insights that can help us with our daily decisions. For instance, if we experience dis-ease in some part of our lives, perhaps our cookies are hidden under the newspaper; we are not seeing the whole picture. Until our nation, and every nation, can look upon each other with compassion, recognizing that we are more than robots, but are Children of God, spiritual creations with an organic component, we will struggle finding peace and civility. It is my prayer that through God’s help, and our awareness of God’s Presence and Love within, that we can expand our perspective and look out through our biologic eyes to see unity among the disparate communities on this globe that we call home.