Saturday, July 6, 2013
EXALT, MAGNIFY AND GLORIFY A MORE PERFECT YOU!
Is there a problem in your life at present---perhaps an illness, a disability, a lack, or a limitation of some kind? Well, although there will always be a number of things that need to be done in order to be free of the problem, here is one very important thing that you need to do---see yourself as you would like to be.
In traditional evangelical Christianity it is said that Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection, conquered sin and bought for us a ‘robe of righteousness,’ such that, although we are all said to be dead in sins, if we repent and accept Jesus as savior and lord, God then sees us clothed in a robe of righteousness. We wear this robe, and God sees us so robed. Another interpretation of the foregoing is that when God looks at the person (you or me), God sees only Christ (God’s Son) in all his perfection, Christ himself being the robe of God’s own righteousness.
Well, all that is quite difficult to understand, and I am of the view that the interpretations set out above have carnalized and literalized in the one person of Jesus what is otherwise a most important spiritual or metaphysical truth of general, indeed universal, application. First and foremost, the Bible is a psychological and metaphysical document, despite what others have made of it. It’s all about how you can have an abundant life right here-and-now as opposed to your safely securing the eternal destiny of your not-so-immortal soul. It’s all about how you can discover, in this life, the wonderful ‘kingdom’ that can only be found within you. In the Hebrew Bible, this kingdom is called ‘Israel,’ as well as the ‘secret place of the most High’ (Ps 91:1), and in the New Testament of the Bible the kingdom is described as the ‘pearl of great price’ (Mt 13:46) as well as ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:27). This kingdom is a state of consciousness, filled with all those things we ordinarily associate with the idea of ‘God’---things such as power, vitality, wholeness, love, joy, hope, and peace. One more thing---this kingdom in you is ‘greater than that which is in the world’ (cf 1 Jn 4:4).
The truth is, there are always two ‘images’ of ourselves. One image is of us as we presently are, in all our imperfection, and the other image is of us as we could be, or as we would like to be. Now, if we want to change for the better, we need to envision ourselves as we would like to be. If, for example, we are sick in some way, or in bondage to some condition or state of consciousness, we should see ourselves as healthy or as free, as the case may be. There is an old Oriental maxim, ‘What you think upon grows.’ Of course, we may have to do a number of other things as well if we are to have any chance of achieving our goal or objective.
The ‘robe of righteousness’ is a bit like Plato’s theory of forms (or ideas). It is the ideal or the perfect---the spiritual as opposed to the material. We could not appreciate beautiful things unless there were a form called ‘beauty,’ and we could not appreciate goodness unless there were also a form called ‘the good’ or ‘goodness.’ Also, we could not talk about the sky being blue unless there were such a thing called ‘blueness.’ These ideals or forms are eternal (that is, unchanging), timeless, and paradigmatic, and, as I see it, the forms are expressed or instantiated in actual things and persons. Indeed, these ideals or forms are, in a very real sense, the efficient ‘cause’ of all the changing phenomena we see in the visible world.
We come to know these forms through the process of instantiation or exemplification in particular things. Perhaps it is more correct to say that particular things are known only through the forms that are instantiated in them. All creative and constructive ideas, visions, and possibilities point to the reality of these forms or ideals which exist, not on some supposed higher order or level of reality or plane of existence, but rather in and as things themselves---including you and me---in varying and ever-changing degrees of manifestation and expression. So, if sickness be your problem, the robe of righteousness for you is perfect health and wellness, and if bondage to alcohol or some other drug be your problem, the robe of righteousness is sobriety or clean time. Get the idea?
This robe of righteousness is said in the Bible to be a ‘garment of salvation.’ There’s another grossly misunderstood word---salvation. Now, the word salvation comes from the same Latin root as the word salve and refers to a healthy kind of wholeness. Salvation is not primarily connected with sin, which is simply a symptom of an underlying morbid condition. Sin means ‘missing the mark’ (as in archery), that is, not being all that we could be, and what, in truth, we really are. When a person is ‘truly saved,’ that negative condition is offset. In short, salvation is all about health and wholeness and not just holiness. Actually, the word health means wholeness or holiness. Yes, the words health, holy, hale, heal, as well as whole, all come from the same Anglo-Saxon root.
Each one of us ‘falls short’ (says Plato, as well as the Bible) of the ideal---that is, the perfect, unflawed, unchanging form. We may fall short in terms of our physical or psychological health, or we may fall short in terms of our conduct or behavior. However, whatever be your problem, first envision, and then continue to hold fast in your mind, the vision of yourself as whole, perfect, and free. You may presently be experiencing illness in your body or mind but know this---there is a part of you that can never be ill. What is that part? Well, it is the life itself in you and as you. Your body or your mind may grow old, but life itself can never grow old for it is birthless and deathless. I love these lines from Sir Edwin Arnold’s beautiful ‘translation’---or rather poetic version---of the Bhagavad-Gita (dubbed ‘The Song Celestial’):
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit forever.
So, see yourself not as imperfect and sick but in perfect good health, and hold fast to that vision irrespective of circumstances or appearances to the contrary, the aim being to induce a state of consciousness in which you become more fully aware of that which already is a reality, at least in the spiritual realm (that is, the realm of ideas). That, as I see it, is the true, inner meaning of the Bible verses that urge us to ‘glorify God in [our] bodies’ (1 Cor 6:20) and to ‘exalt the Lord our God’ (Ps 99:9). Then there’s the Bible phrase that says ‘magnify the Lord’ (cf Lk 1:46). I could go on.
In short, exalt, magnify, and glorify your sought-after objective, and affirm with feeling and conviction that which you know to be true about the ‘ideal’ (spiritual) you---for example, that you are strong, healthy, vibrant, energetic, and alive---and be prepared to do what is otherwise necessary to achieve your goal, ideal or vision. ‘In the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs,’ wrote the New Thought writer James Allen.
‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Prov 29:18).