I’ve experienced a lot of fear in my life, particularly an existential kind of fear that my life is disintegrating and there is nothing I can do about it. It involves an irrational vicious circle that if I can’t stop worrying, the physical effects of worry could kill me. I’ve spent many years attempting to fend off this fear with the aid of psychotherapy, prescription drugs and other measures. It’s been an ongoing and exhaustive battle with fear.
But I’ve learned in recent years that it is futile and counterproductive to oppose fear. I’ve finally recognized the truth of this creative principle: Fighting against something simply gives energy to what you’re fighting against. So instead of seeking to ward off fear my strategy in recent years has been to welcome fear as a friend, giving it no resistance whatsoever, realizing that the emotional energy that empowers fear is the same energy that could empower love. In fact, it is the energy of love, only translated in my consciousness as something negative and threatening.
Jesus made a very accurate statement when he said that “Perfect love casts out fear.” To cast something out, it first must be welcomed in. Welcome fear in, embrace it with the arms of love. Then love, with its transmuting power, can lift the energy of fear to a higher level of perception and expression, in effect dissolving the fear and magnifying the creative power of love.
What does it mean to welcome fear as a friend? What does it look like? Well, I can’t open up my consciousness and show you what’s going on in there. It’s an invisible and very personal process. Suffice it to say that when I feel the emotion of fear coming on, I seek not to resist it in any way. I actually audibly say, “Welcome, welcome, come on in, I love you.” It is also helpful to repeat the words, “Let go, let go,” and then just relax my mind, body and heart into the oncoming fear, actually melting into it, confident that the core of who I am can accommodate anything.
In earlier years, my teens and twenties, I was seeking to manifest the life of my dreams, but my search came to an end when, at the age of 28, I linked up with the spiritual path that I am still on now. From that point forward, I have been living the dream. My dream is to contribute in whatever way I can to what I might call the spiritual regeneration of humanity or, to put it another way, the restoration of human beings to the state of human Beings, all for the purpose of saving our precious Planet Earth and realigning the Earth and humanity with the Universal Whole.
This is what “I really want to happen.” This is the vision I hold for the future. It is all I live for. Insofar as what I do contributes to the realization of this vision, I am happy and fulfilled. And I have the good fortune of living in a spiritual community that has this as its stated purpose, so obviously, there is a lot of support and reinforcement for whatever I do that supports the vision. This often requires me to make a “bold move” to magnify my spiritual service, such as speaking or singing a solo at one of our gatherings. It is impossible for me to get stuck in some kind of rut here. Every day has the potential to be an exciting adventure if you give yourself to it, and I give myself to it unconditionally.
My most memorable experience of things gone awry is probably my experience at the conclusion of a trip to Europe in 1962. A friend of mine and I spent some time in London and Paris, then took a train to Germany, where we bought bicycles and biked through the German countryside for several weeks. Then, in what was to be the climax of our trip, we took a train to Berlin and went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin, which was then under Soviet control. You can imagine what kind of thrill it was to go through the Berlin Wall!
But when we got back to West Berlin, we realized that, despite our careful planning, we didn’t have enough money to take a train out of Berlin and out of Germany in order to get to Paris where our return flight to the U.S. was scheduled. Momentary panic set in as we envisioned being stranded in Berlin for God-knows-how-long. My friend wired his parents for money, but until it arrived, we had to figure out how to survive for several days in Berlin on a few German marks. There was a restaurant that served split pea soup for 27 cents a bowl. I certainly got my fill of it three meals a day! During nights we stayed at a mission accompanied by the dregs of German society in living conditions that were absolutely deplorable. On top of this, one night I became very sick; I think it was the split pea soup.
I don’t think you could imagine the relief we felt when the funds from my friend’s parents finally arrived and we were able to buy tickets for the train out of Berlin. But the train didn’t leave until early the next morning, so the last night we slept on cold, hard benches in the Berlin railroad station. I was never so glad to see a train when it finally arrived and to leave Berlin and Germany behind. It took a lot of grit and guts just to see this through. We had to make some major changes in plans, but somehow by the grace of God we survived this ordeal and, incidentally, learned a lot!
As my good friend Dr. Misty Funk writes, “We can manage our emotions with love.” It is never productive to try to subdue our emotions, suppress our emotions or override our emotions with some kind of positive-thinking technique. I believe we are here on Earth to feel our emotions as deeply and completely as possible, because our emotions are one way of perceiving ourselves and our worlds; that is, they are, as relationship expert Margaret Paul says, “barometers” and provide very useful feedback that we can learn from.
On the other hand, we are not here to be controlled by our emotions; they are a factor to be taken into account, but they are not the final determinant of our behavior. We are properly under the control of that great reservoir of love at the core of our being. Operating from this point of centering, we can embrace any emotion, however negative, that comes to us, and let the power of love that we innately are use that emotion to advantage in bringing more love into the world.
I remember my days as a radio news reporter and news director when I had to concentrate very hard to compose a newscast in the midst of the hyped-up atmosphere of the radio station. There was the loud rock music blaring from the FM studio next to the newsroom, the police and fire monitor that I had to constantly listen to and the noise of the United Press wire service machine. It was almost overwhelming, but I managed somehow to focus, I think, by reaching into the depths of my spiritual centering.
A good friend and mentor of mine once told me that even when he is travelling in an automobile or an airplane, he has no sensation of moving; only the environment is moving swiftly by him. In other words, he was so spiritually grounded that this was his experience. Strong spiritual centering is the key.
If one momentarily has the sense of losing centering in the midst of a chaotic surround, then deep breathing or a few seconds of meditating on the eternal stillness within may deliver one back into this calm and creative space. Just consciously knowing that this still center is always available within can support the outer focus needed to manage any circumstance, no matter how disturbing.
Throughout my life I have endeavored to take good care of my body, giving it the right food and plenty of exercise. Nevertheless, I have been sick at various times. Most recently I developed a cold that just seemed to go on and on; in fact, it lasted more than a month. It was so frustrating to give my body everything I thought it needed to get over the cold yet see no dent in its demise whatsoever. Also frustrating was sitting at home day after day unable to do the work that I normally do, some of which is quite vital for the spiritual community where I live.
I actually found myself crying out loud to what I hoped was a sympathetic God: “Look, God, you know I’m doing valuable spiritual work here on Earth; can’t you do something to fix my body so that I can resume doing it? Of course, this did no good whatsoever, and I finally concluded that no matter how long it took, I just had to let my body heal according to its own timetable.
Moreover, I realized that when I surrender in this way to the healing process of nature, I am actually doing valuable spiritual work, maybe even more valuable than the work I would ordinarily do on the job. Part of that spiritual work involves vibrationally sending out a message to people all over the world who are experiencing the frustration of a bad cold or a similar malady: “I’ve let go to the healing process of life; so can you. Treat your body and yourself with compassion.”
Every time there is pain in some part of my body, I automatically ask the question: “What are you trying to tell me?” Over the years, I have become so in touch with my body that the answer very quickly comes, and I take appropriate action. Quite often the cause is not purely mechanical or physical but has something to do with stress.
For example, in my job as postmaster, when my Neopost metering machine and thermal printer are not communicating properly with my computer and I’m unable to mail packages, the stress I experience is accompanied by abdominal pain. When this happens, what I might call my Higher Self often suggests that I get out of the mail room and do something physical such as emptying the trash or cleaning the restrooms for the building I take care of. This simple physical work allows the body and mind to relax and recharge.
Every challenge along these lines opens up an opportunity to learn something, indeed to transform something. There was a beautiful statement that appeared in my e-mail this morning from the Shift Network: “Everything in your life is happening to you as a spiritual lesson, and you have a choice to take whatever comes your way and transform it into something beautiful.” Right on!
In the spiritual practice that I have been engaged in for many years here at Sunrise Ranch, we advise ourselves and others to “Give thanks in all things and in all circumstances.” There is always something you can give thanks for, no matter how difficult your circumstance may be. The creative process of life is always busy integrating, healing, transforming and bringing everything into alignment with the Universal Whole. And you can be confident this is true no matter what your individual experience is.
As for moods, when you feel your humanity beginning to disconnect from your divinity and producing the equivalent of a bad mood, simply take command and require your attitude and expression to reveal who you really are: a Divine Being that is not governed by moods. Just realize, God never has a bad mood, so how can you as a representative of God on Earth have a bad mood?
For the last forty-six years, I have been 40 pounds underweight for a person of my height. Some people battling obesity might consider this to be a blessing. But believe me, this condition certainly has its physical challenges, including a possible greater susceptibility to infections, dangerously low blood pressure and occasional adrenal exhaustion.
An internal conversation with God sometimes comes up for me: “God, why do I have this limitation? Can’t you see how it’s limiting the spiritual work I can do on Earth?” And God replies, “Jerry, don’t you see that a major part of your spiritual work is dealing creatively with this limitation? You are here on Earth not to be free from limitations but to be free in limitations.”
Here in the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community every Monday morning, there is a men’s meeting. There are usually about 15 to 20 men present and it’s generally an opportunity to check in with what’s moving in our lives and establish a right atmosphere among us for the work week. I always speak, sometimes at considerable length, and I’m always very concerned about how I’m coming across and what the others in the room think.
I’ll admit that at times I have been too concerned about what others think, and this tends to stifle what I really want and need to communicate. Courage is one the values we esteem here, and I often have to deliberately work to summon the courage to put myself out there regardless of what others may think.
On the other hand, what might be called community coherence is another value we hold dear. If what I offer is so off the wall that it tends to set me apart from the rest of the community in a negative and even destructive way, then I had best subdue my tongue and give whatever courage I think I’m feeling a rest. There is a “sense of the fitness of things” that needs to be honored for the sake of the community and our service to the world.