In the quiet ambiance of deep winter's invitation to slow down and rest awhile, I'm often inspired to meditate on the legitimacy of my commitment to hearing His teachings and keeping His commandments.
Over the years, that inquiry has yielded a rich treasure of insight, comfort and redemption. Embracing the spiritual challenge of learning to "see" my world through the transforming clarity of His Gospel has been a painful, frustrating, eye-opening, grace-filled process. When my practice remains mindful and diligent, insight deepens regarding the role spiritual ignorance (a.k.a. cognitive foolishness) plays in filling my feeling nature with the dark brew of a misery that's optional.
The grace of that revelation alone seems worthy of extracting from each of us a fierce commitment to "loving" Him a little more dearly by "hearing" Him a little more clearly and "being" Him a little more sincerely.
Therein lies the challenge of embracing, authentically, the Path of the Master, Jesus. He calls us on our stuff. He doesn't let us get away with the dubious liberation of conceptual gamesmanship. He exposes our intellectual pretense and nails us to the cross of righteous intent and sacred action. "Pick it up and follow me!" He demands. "Document the sincerity of your love for me by keeping my Teachings with impeccable integrity!" He was crystal clear on that. He left no room to waltz.
Consider John 14:21 . . . "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." Now, John 14:24 . . . "He that loveth me not keepeth not my commandments." Any confusion out there about authentic discipleship? I wouldn't think so. And there we have it. The gauntlet is cast in His invitation to sincerely answer the question that keeps calling us out, "Are we 'keeping' or 'keeping not' His commandments?"
A candid response to that question may well reveal the next step in freeing our feeling natures from the mischief of unenlightened thinking. If our answer comes back something like, "I'm not sure," it's time to acknowledge that our relationship with His teachings may well be somewhat superficial. It's also time to honor that moment of scrupulous insight by choosing to commit to an earnest study of His liberating wisdom.
Of course, the toughest game in town is scraping up enough spiritual insight and integrity to answer the question with informed sincerity. I don't know about your experience in these matters, but when it comes to rating the maturity of my spiritual insight and the depth of my indoctrination into the Jesus ethic, it's a leadpipe cinch my tendency is to err in the direction of exaggerated compliance. "Keeping?" . . . "Not keeping?" . . . how do we tell?
Personally, I'm not even close to hearing the whole answer, but a few insights have come into sharper focus that help me determine when I am and when I'm not being faithful to His teachings. First, when I'm not, I'm not a very happy camper. When I am, I am. You can put that in the bank. Faithful obedience to the Jesus Way has its own reward. You'll be absolutely fearless. You'll know a peace that passes understanding . . . and you'll frequently have someone in your face telling you what an unrepentant wacko you are. Don't worry about that . . . it's perfect. And, when you're not being obedient you'll suffer . . . and that's perfect as well. Think of it as God's compassionate 2X4 reminding us that it's time to get back in synch with a spiritually informed point of view that sets us free from the bondage of unenlightened beliefs and values and the illusory sense of reality they promote.
A second insight that has emerged from exploring the diligence of my journey of awakening is an enhanced appreciation for the degree of emotional impact resident in a form of spiritual ignorance described biblically as "bearing false witness." What a player its turning out to be in the liberating process of understanding emotional turmoil as an optional, self-imposed condition. Let me tell you, folks, it's a revelation of spiritual law that cuts so deep into the fabric of our feeling natures it's scary to begin acknowledging how routinely I ignore its redemptive invitation and bury my serenity in disobedience to its iron-clad mandate.
"Bear not false witness" is an invitation to clarity and compassion, both for human self and human other. Ignoring it is one of the "top ten ways" to screw up a perfectly delightful earth life and turn it into gut-wrenching episodes of irrational hostility, groundless fear and intractable demagoguery. It works this way. "Bear not false witness" is a spiritual reminder to be impeccably clear and accurate in the choice of the THOUGHTS we use to describe that ever-changing flow of form and circumstance we call our Earth life. To ignore the law is kind of like taking a full swing at a golf ball in a small, tiled room. It's gonna get you.
Most of us sally forth day after day to encounter our earth world with a brain-mind, a "thinker," loaded with a program of beliefs, values and memories, capable of analyzing, interpreting, speculating, remembering, deducing, inducing, ad infinitum. Every tiny bit of stimulus brought to the attention of our brain-minds through our physical and intuitive receptors is instantly subjected to a process of cognitive identification and evaluation. Every sound we hear, every sight we see, every flavor we taste, every scent we smell, every surface we touch, or sense touching us, initiates the cognitive process of identifying and evaluating the nature of the phenomenon we have encountered. As long as this identifying and evaluating activity is moderated by spiritual insight and carried out with thoughts that mimic Sgt. Joe Friday's "just the facts, M'am." mentality, we satisfy the criteria of "true witness" and life unfolds liberated from mentally imposed mischief.
But, if just one of those minuscule electro-chemical patterns of energy we call "thoughts" labels the event with a definition or evaluation that is not factually true or spiritually informed, "false witness" has occurred and retribution's on the way. Consider an illustration of "false witness" in action. It's early on a mid-winter Sunday morning. I stick my head out the door to check the weather and identify a two inch accumulation of slush and ice, a light drizzle, a cloudy sky and freezing temperatures. Those are the facts, the indisputable truth of the space-time reality confronting me in the moment. Nothing more, nothing less. Just the Spartan reality of the moment reflected in the clarity of True witness unencumbered by any need for the experience to be more or less than it is. So far, so good. Then, someone asks, "What's it like out there this morning?" Do I reply, "It's cloudy, chilly, and drizzling with a noticeable accumulation of icy slush?" Sorry, no cigar for me. I fall asleep right in the center of Fantasy Island and reply, "It's a nasty, miserable mess out there and a financial disaster for our church!" Now the fat of my serenity is sizzling away in the fire of my false witnessing. I've forgotten that rain is just wet and ice is just slick... and "nasty" and "miserable" are only real one inch behind my eyebrows and classic examples of a form of false witnessing called "labeling." And how do I know what the actual effect of missing two Sunday love offerings is going to be on the church's finances? Another classic example of false witnessing in the form of "jumping to conclusions."
How must that twisted description of something as straightforward as the weather conditions impact on my feeling nature? Catastrophically, of course. That's why Jesus encouraged us in Matthew 5:37 to "Let your words be yes, yes, or no, no; for anything which adds to these is a deception." (Lamsa Bible) Every time we use our mind to spread baseless allegations, give voice to spurious interpretations and bone-headed speculations, or create cruel, demeaning characterizations of a member of our human family because they don't accommodate some rigid notion we have for what they "should or shouldn't" be doing, saying or believing, we are up to our necks in the deceptions of "false witnessing" compounded by the karmic implications of "keeping not" His commandments. It can make for a real bad spiritual hair day, folks, and in the process deny ourselves the grace of drinking the sweet nectar of Lighthearted Lovingkindness.
Watch the mind. Watch it like you'd watch a rattlesnake coiled, poised ready to strike, three feet from you. When you catch it defining you or another being with a pejorative label, choose not to agree with the deception. Acknowledge the thought as "false witness" and refuse to give it the authority of your agreement. This is the transforming process Jesus revealed in His teaching to "reconcile with the adversary while you are still on the road." Just remember that the "adversary" is your thinking mind lost in "false witnessing."
Remember, we are all children of the same impeccable lineage, here together, attending the School of Life doing our best to get clear on a Truth that sets us free. Beloved child of God! Let that be your all-purpose description for every being you encounter along the path of your life. When you catch your mind telling that you can't be content unless you have a certain this or a special that in your life, choose not to agree with the deception. Deny it and stake your claim in the grace filled spaciousness of true witnessing.
When you notice thoughts fabricating catastrophic scenarios set in the future, choose not to agree with the deception. Declare, "I will solve no problem before its time," and reestablish your appointment with your life by bringing your attention to bear on what's happening, right now, between the rise and fall of this breath.ÿÿJust you and the moment. Bearing witness to the Truth it holds and getting stoned on the Joy that flows from the practice of true witnessing.
Summer Raven put it all together when she wrote . . . "Beware what you tell yourselves, children of Light, demanding and judging will alter your sight . . . and forcing your way only leads to a fight, 'cause nothing is wrong more than anything's right!"