Questions:

Information, Insights, Inspiration and Intuition

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INFORMATION:

Questions and Answers
The answers you give now may differ from those you have after reading the book, and gaining a better understanding of the questions you'll find within. Answers are often found in the context of a question. Even so, this book is not a quiz. It will not test your knowledge of the Bible, or your patience. In raising questions, it provides an opportunity for answers to be perceived. By examining the principles, prayers and parables that Jesus taught, and by challenging ones preconceived notions, this book raises questions that only you, the reader, can answer. Anyone can tell you what to think and believe, but no one can tell you what you think and believe. That is for you to perceive, and then tell the world by the way you live. I can tell you what I think, but not what to think. Jesus’ words give us a hint of what he believed; however, of greater significance still, is what you believe.

Believe?
We’ve all heard: “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.” [Mt. 8:13] A moment of honest reflection will show anyone that it is has been done unto you as you have believed. Reasonably, we may also then believe that it is done unto as you believe, and it will be done unto you as you now believe. The principle, if true, is valid in the past, present and future. Many hopes and prayers have been based on the assertion that it is done unto you as you believe, without realizing the key word: you! It is not done unto you as I believe, or as Jesus believed, or as God wills; it is done to you as you believe. The fact that you are a believer, that you believe in God, Jesus or some other higher power, and that you tend to select “all of the above” as true, none of that is as significant as what you believe.

Doubts?
You may think that because you know of Jesus’ principle of belief [Mt. 8:13] you are prepared for whatever challenges you; think again. You are only ready for what you believe, nothing more and nothing less. You may even think that by believing you can make some things appear, and others appear to disappear. If you don’t believe you can, then you may believe that you can ask another to do it for you. Perhaps so, but we are often deceived by appearances. Many Christians think they can pray to God, or Jesus, to ask for what they can’t ask of themselves, to do for them what they can’t or won’t do for themselves. Many consider that to be an act of faith and belief, but I think it speaks of self-doubt. The Gospels relate the story of a father, seeking prayer for his sick child. He had already made a request of the disciples to heal the child, but to no avail. He was now asking if Jesus could be of any help. The conversation between them is most enlightening with respect to the importance of the belief of the one making the request. The father said to Jesus: “if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightaway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” [see Mk. 9:17-29] He may have believed in Jesus, but he had his doubts too. He did not know what he believed. He could not rise above his unbelief. He could notgo beyond his doubts.

Faith?
The Gospels tell us that people who turned to Jesus for help were healed, but it also states that Jesus didn’t take the credit. Most of the time he attributed their healing to their belief. There are many verses where Jesus attributes healing to thy faith and none where he claims that it was my faith. This was not a matter of false modesty, but a clear understanding and statement of principle: It is done unto you, through you, as you believe. Our beliefs make up our belief system. That is what we have faith in. It is our faith. Most of the faithful think it is good enough to have a faith, even though they don’t know what they have faith in, or what beliefs that faith consists of. That is blind faith, which explains why so many end up in the ditch asking for a tow. When asked how they got there, the most frequent reply is: I don’t know.

INSIGHT

“And when he was come onto his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, in so much that they were astonished, and said Whence hath this man this wisdom, and mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren, James, and Joses and Simon and Judas? And his sisters are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief”. Mt.13:54-58

Familiarity
Do you think Jesus was human, just like us? Or, do you believe he was a spiritual being, just as we are? Perhaps you think as so many do, that Jesus was something special, unique, and not like anyone else at all? In Jesus’ time and hometown, if one was planning on talking to others about God, they were expected be a prophet or at the least, a spokesperson for a prophet. A prophet's pronouncements are supposed to be what God tells him to say, but Jesus spoke as “one having authority.” Instead of quoting scripture or putting words in God's mouth, he spoke his mind. Jesus spoke with the authority of one who knows. He was the author of his words. When he quoted the scriptures, it was to illustrate how he was fulfilling them, not to draw authority from them. He wasn’t speaking from or about a distant time or place. His words focused on the here and now, and he spoke of God as if he had an insight.

Authority or Peer?
I’d be offended if someone presumed to be an authority on me, my life, and my being. I am and must be, the authority on that. But Jesus’ neighbors were offended because they considered him an equal and, therefore, not an authority! Most of us are willing to listen to and even be judged by our peers, our equals because they can relate to us. Jesus’ town folk were not willing to listen to him because he was one of them. He was simply too familiar to them to have their respect. Their rejection of him betrays an attitude of self-rejection. They wouldn’t listen to what Jesus had to say because they thought he couldn't possibly know any more about God than they did; and they didn't know all that much. Those who don’t know that God is within, won’t recognize God in anyone else.

An Opportunity!
The Christ is in our midst, and yet we ask nothing, learn nothing, and accomplish no great work or healing. We are so familiar with the faces of our family and friends that we do not recognize their spirituality. Ironically, we do not recognize those with whom we are most familiar. Sadly, we look upon our face in the mirror and remain unaware of the perfection that is the Christ. It is true that familiarity breeds contempt. However, one seldom realizes how contemptible they (themselves) are when failing to recognize the Christ in familiar faces. Even though we know of their humanity, can we not perceive the divinity that is inherent in all life? Can we not love and bless those who are in our life now, recognizing them for the perfect beings they are? Jesus recognized that divine presence in all. He taught that God is our father and that the Christ nature is the life within us, as us. To make the most of our daily opportunities, let us recognize, love, accept and celebrate the divine presence in everyone.

Exceptional or Exemplary?
If I considered Jesus to be exceptional, I wouldn’t bother thinking about what he had to say about himself, his relationship with God or his view of mankind. But I don’t consider Jesus to be an exception to the rule. I consider him to be exemplary, an example, not an exception. Jesus viewed himself as our equal. He spoke of God as our Father. He instructed us to pray: “Our Father …” He taught that we could do the things he did, and even greater. Why? He was setting an example to follow; which only has value if we are equal to it. I believe we are equal to the opportunity he saw within us all. He believed that God’s kingdom is within us all. He believed in the spirituality of all. He believed in the goodness of us all because he believed in the infinite, the one God, that is the life and spirit of every one of us.
“Our Father …” Mt.6:9
“I and my Father are one”. Jn.10:30

INSPIRATION: in empty places!

Empty Words
When we look to the origins of the word, we find that inspiration provides an analogy. Inspiration defines what it might be like to breathe in the spirit of God, filling one's being with the breath of Life: it would be like a breath of air on smoldering embers. Inspiration is like a whisper, just a wisp of air; that is not so forceful as to blow out the flame, but enough to inflame that which has the potential to burn brightly. To inspire is to inflame, and thus to enlighten.
The experience of inspiration is the realization of our spiritual nature, and thus, it provides for the possibility of transforming our potential into the actual experience of our life. Inspiration provides the motivation required to express and thereby experience what we hold in confidence. We may be comforted by the concepts we have confidence in, but until they are expressed they are no more than empty words and hollow promises. Nevertheless, our words have potential when they speak of the possibility inherent in Life. To be truly confident one must be inspired — fired up — by Life Itself.


The Empty Cup
Upon entering the cafe, do you take a seat where there is already a half filled / half empty cup of coffee? Or do you prefer to start with an empty cup? While people continue to question whether their cup is half empty or half full, it is an empty cup that has the greatest potential. It is the empty cup we are drawn to and choose. But what are we to do with all of the half cups and half measures we have at hand? Should we fill them, or empty them, so that they may be filled again?
The reverend Dr. Barclay Johnson shared an example of how we might think of our potential. He said that by the end of the day he’d had more than enough to drink and left a half cup of coffee in the sink under a drippy faucet. As he slept through the night, his cup was filled with clean water from the tap, one drop at a time. By morning, his cup was overflowing with fresh water. Similarly, he reasoned, Life is always filling our cup to overflowing. Our cup is not half full or half empty; it is always in the process of being filled.
The empty cup holds the potential of fulfillment, but the overflowing cup is the realization of full-fill-ment. An Infinite Source always fills the cup of our acceptance to over-flowing. As we are advised in Psalm 23, if, when walking through the valley of shadows, the only place set for you at the table is in the presence of enemies — accept it, and more. Acceptance is the consciousness of fulfillment. A greater acceptance, accepting others, self-acceptance — simply accepting Life as It is — that is the realization of inspiration. “My cup runneth over; surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall live in the house of the Lord forever.”

The Empty House
If you would sell, redecorate, or properly clean your house, you have to empty it first. Then your house has potential. The teachings of Jesus include the parable of a man who had swept his house clean of an evil spirit, and then left it clean and empty. Jesus said the unclean spirit then returned with seven worse than itself, and the state of the man was worse than before. Why? Potential that is unfulfilled goes to waste. Potential must be realized — made real — and that requires inspiration. [see Mt. 12:43-45]
The house Jesus spoke of is the consciousness in which the man lives, moves and has his being. The evil spirit is an unclean, unacceptable or undesirable thought. Lately, we would call it negative thinking or stinking thinking. Anyone can clear their conscience of troublesome thoughts, for a while, but an inspired thought fills one’s mind, heart, and soul, with the realization of the eternal presence of Life Itself. It is not enough to refrain from unkind words; we must think kind thoughts. It is not enough to refrain from evil; we must do good. It is not enough to survive; we must thrive. It is not enough to sweep out the old; we must entertain the new!

The Empty Mind
Even the empty-headed have potential, but they must be inspired to realize it. When my mind is empty, and I'm at my wit’s end and haven’t had a new thought since I don’t know when, I might say, I don't know. Nevertheless, there is a Mind that knows, and that Mind is the mind I use now. Emptying one's mind of doubt, and of certainty, is the beginning of wisdom. Emptying our mind of the negative, and the positive, is a wise thing to do. When our mind is empty, it is ready to be filled, to be inspired. When we don’t know what to say or think, then we are ready to listen! Listening is an open, receptive, accepting state of mind. Listening has the potential for inspiration. Listen to know that Spirit listens and is aware of you and loves you. You will not know this is true until you embody that Truth by listening.

The Empty Field
It has potential, but how inspiring is that? Either there is no seed, and it is now offering you the opportunity to work creatively with Life or there is a seed in the soil. Either way, the potential is real but unseen. Potential is never seen, never visible, until it is realized. Another inspiring verse that speaks of unseen potential is: "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.".[Jn.4:35] If we intend to harvest the good, we must accept that this potential state is real now. We must realize that the seed in the field is the harvest in hand, for they are inseparable.

The Blank Slate
Life is always presenting a blank slate. That might be depressing if we are looking for answers, but it is inspiring to those who have an insight to express. A blank slate, a blank page, blank canvas, all are essential to self-expression. Getting to clean the slate and start all over sounds promising too. It sounds a lot like forgiveness, love, and acceptance. “Reformat the hard drive.” That is not the answer I want to hear from tech support, but I may have to wipe out all the files, folders, programs, memories, functions — that no longer serve me. Be ye transformed by the reformatting of your mind, that ye may … have the potential for a new thought, new capabilities, a new experience of Life. But remember, the drive only gets wiped clean as the old ideas are replaced with new thoughts.

INTUITION

Tuition
If tuition is the price of knowledge, then intuition is knowledge you’ve already paid for. Don’t confuse intuition with truth. Truth is the Reality you seek to know. Intuition is what you think you know. Over time and with experience we develop an inner sense, a feeling awareness of what is and what isn’t so. Even though it is not fool-proof, intuition is more reliable than superstition. With intuition, you are relying upon that which is within you for guidance, rather than turning to something over and above you. Intuition is a system of inner guidance based upon what you feel you know within. Following our intuition would keep us true to those feelings; however, those feelings may not be as truthful as we think. They are based on facts, not Truth and past facts at that! We pay too much attention to the past, our past, past generations, past mistakes! It is a mistake to think that in turning from the present (by turning to the past) that we get rid of the problems that confront us today. In his teachings on prayer, Jesus did not advise us to “ … enter into thy closet … shut thy door …” to avoid whatever confronts us. The advice was to turn within, to perceive what is here, within us, now. Intuition does not see into the future to avoid failure. Intuition is an understanding of where you stand today. The tuition for such intuition is paid in mental and spiritual coin: we must pay attention to the present. I have troubles today because I am troubled today, and I will not find peace by turning from my troubles, but by turning within, for inspiration. The proper sequence is first intuition, and then inspiration; just as we first listen, and then we hear.

Turn Within
Don't confuse intuition with inspiration. While intuition is predicated on knowledge of prior experience, inspiration arises from prior knowledge: Self-awareness. I do not refer to a memory of yourself or a self-concept. The apriori knowledge that inspires is the awareness of one’s true essence, the presence of the One Reality that is the Truth of us all. At first, it is a question of direction: Where do we turn to find peace of mind? To whom can we turn to find peace of mind? We could frame the same question about love, friendship, fulfillment — what things so ever ye desire. Emerson's intuition provides the answer: "The only way to have a friend is to be one." Turning within, we turn our attention toward the Essence of all we desire. We must turn to Life for our living, not as an empty vessel but as an unhindered channel for the expression and experience of the Good Life. Turn within for intuition, self-knowledge and guidance; and then turn again, with enthusiasm (the feeling of being in and of God) to experience the joy and happiness of living. To judge by appearances turns our attention to the world, but even a tour of the world will not help find our way home. We turn to the world to meet our needs, but remember: Life gives most to those who need the least! We can't always turn to sunny Sundays, friends and good stuff, but we can always turn within.

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The Teachings of Jesus: New Thoughts on the Gospels' Principles, Prayers and Parables by Glenn Chaffin is available on Amazon.com in print or ebook format.