Bigger Life is Abundant Life Jesus came to show us the divine aspect of ourselves, and to show us how to access and achieve it. This is the Fulfilled-Life-in-Abundance he proclaimed [John 10:10]. How does this relate to Love? He came to show us the full reality of Love, the Love that holds all things together. This is what the “divine aspect of ourselves” is. It is ultimately realized and expressed as Love.
But it isn’t easy to act and live from this divine center of love. There are human tendencies to act according to our own interests at the expense of others or of the world around us. We fall short of acting according to our divine center. This is called sin. Life also throws things at us that cover over that divine light of love at our center. Jesus says to let our light shine – to live and act from that center of Love - but it is not easy, because we need to peel away the accretions of life that cover and hide that light.
This is the work of forgiveness, of confession (=telling it like it is), of being honest with ourselves about ourselves, and of changing direction. The decision to move from small mind to Big Mind initiates the change.
The Realm of God is Here, Now Moving into the Bigger Mind is a state of expanded consciousness that Jesus called the Kingdom or Realm of God, or Heaven. But it is important to understand that this Realm of Heaven is not some far off place that we go to after we die. Rather, he said that it is something in our midst, something attainable within. The Kingdom/Realm of God/Heaven is now, a quality of existence, of mind and consciousness, of heart and soul, of neighborliness and compassionate justice. It is an enlarged perspective that no longer sees things in terms of Us vs. Them, but all of us in this thing called life together.
Let me repeat and emphasize this point. The Kingdom/Realm of Heaven/God that Jesus taught is here and now. It isn't something we wait to enter after death. Rev. Frederick Ward Kates has a great quote that seems to me to express clearly and concisely the mission of Jesus Christ. The quote goes like this: "The purpose of religion -- at any rate, the Christian religion -- is not to get you into heaven, but to get heaven into you."
"To get heaven into you!" What a magnificent way to phrase the idea of Bigger Mind, Bigger Heart, Bigger World, and Bigger Life. The Jesus Path for the 21st Century is all about getting Heaven into us, not getting us into Heaven. That's why Jesus says, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (or in your midst)."
Wisdom is the Goal The Jesus Path Life Operating System for the 21st Century (JP21) pursues Wisdom as the goal of a fully-lived and fully-realized life – seeking the integration of one’s life experiences in order to mentor and benefit others who are coming along on their own paths toward integrity of action and belief. The main goal and destination of the spiritual journey is wisdom. What do I mean by “wisdom”? One way to understand wisdom is that it represents a way to integrate the various pieces of your life into a way of life that is unified and intentional. It means no longer being lost in our wanderings but being guided by our destination. It means arriving at home in our hearts.
Wisdom begins by yoking our experiences and knowledge with the bigger perspective that God can give us in Jesus Christ. But just what exactly is Wisdom?
Wisdom entails the ability to reflect upon critical experiences, problems or difficulties one has experienced or encountered in one’s life, and
The ability to (self-)critically examine the factors, etiology and development of those experiences, problems or difficulties, and
The ability to derive modes of behavior and mental attitudes based upon this analysis that are conducive to the adaptive well-being of one personally, and
To extend those modes of adaptive well-being to others.
Wisdom is developmental in nature, but it also must be structured and guided. Just because one has a lot of life-experience does not mean one is wise. The process of growing into wisdom is related to practices of spirituality. Jesus taught a Way of Ways to attune our thinking and behavior to the Divine Way of Love. It is a Way of Ways because it consists of a number practices and behaviors that enlarge our minds and hearts through the very act of doing them and doing them repeatedly. Jesus lived and taught the following spiritual and life practices:
Unfurling and Expansion of Understanding and Perspective The imagery of a flower unfolding is a good analogy for the unfolding of human consciousness at the personal as well as the societal level. As a flower buds, opens, wilts, and produces seeds, it goes through a process of development or progressive evolution in which each stage is continuous with the previous stage, and is necessary for the subsequent stages. You can think of human societies and the history of human civilizations being like whole gardens full of plants growing, budding, putting forward flowers, etc. Not everything grows and develops at the same pace. And so, we have societies in which there are various segments of society that are at differing worldview developmental stages, just as every person goes through developmental stages differently, depending upon a wide variety of conditions and factors.
The purpose of JP21 is to affect this growth of consciousness within persons and our society. Such growth is developmental, and arises out of our life experiences in the context of societies and cultures that are in similar phases of development. Many different people have researched how it is that people grow and develop in terms of their awareness of the world around them, and how to relate to that world and the people within it. One such system that is based on exhaustive research is called Spiral Dynamics. Think of it as reading road signs along the Path of Life, or the Path of Human History. “You are this far to Wisdom.” Basically, the idea is that human individuals as well as whole societies develop and grow in the manner in which they think and relate to one another. We can evaluate where we are along the Path according to how we think and how we relate to one another. For instance:
The first stage in development is basic survival, and thinking is instinctual. Find food, keep warm, protect oneself and one’s family. The next level is magical or animistic thinking: there are spirits everywhere that have to be appeased or avoided, the ancestors may be these spirits, people are bound by clan and tribal ties.
After that, the next level elevates these spirits to a few power-gods, which patronize kingdoms. Powerful rulers emerge, that are viewed as quasi-divine. Power and glory are qualities that are cultivated, warriors are glorified who protect the empire from threats or extend that empire. In individuals this stage manifests as youthful rebellion, frontier mentalities, epic heroes, James Bond villains, gang leaders, and so on.
At the next level, the Mythic Order, Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of "right" and "wrong." Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions.
Out of this stage emerges the next stage of Scientific Achievement. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one's own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. Our country and most of the industrialized world is heavily invested in this stage right now.
But the next stage is also starting to emerge, the Communitarian stage. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, and all life. Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, relativistic value systems.
(Read more about Road Signs of Consciousness.) Integrate Science with Spirituality and Religion JP21 does not consider science and religion to be at odds with each other. the attempt to set science and religion in opposition is simply a maneuver by conservative expressions of Christianity to9 assert dominance and control over the intellectual lives of people who feel a yearning to live a spiritual life. The spiritual path of Jesus is a path of freedom to explore, to ask questions, to seek new discoveries, all in the name of the God whose incredible creativity, wisdom, and unfathomable knowing originated, undergirds, and upholds the entire universe, from quantum strings to the curvature of time and space. Therefore, JP21 seeks to weave into the teachings of spirituality the insights, discoveries, and laws of science, and offers back to science the following:
depth of insight into meaning and significance of the universe,
deep morality based upon what it means to be human in the universe and to possess free will,
integrated vision and articulation of human, social, and environmental wholeness.
Insights from physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, etc., will help expand our understanding and concept of the creative participation of God in human and universal reality.
Walking the Path of Justice, Liberation, and Freedom At the core of JP21 consciousness is there realization that all things, all beings are interconnected and that the well-being of one is dependent upon the well-being of all, and the reverse is true as well, that the well-being of all is connected with the well-being of each individual member of the world - animal, plant, mineral, water, and air. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has expressed it succinctly: "We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured." Jesus came to liberate humanity from the grip of systems of domination, violence, dehumanization, and spiritual abuse and ignorance. Any work we do to free people from the bondage to unjust systems anywhere is doing the work of Jesus. Any work to eradicate racism and white supremacy, end sexism, eliminate gender discrimination and homophobia, and promote equity and justice is doing the work of Jesus. Jesus came to the marginalized, the powerless, those cast out and cast aside by their society, those considered to be expendable by the rich, the elites, the military and those in power. He fed the hungry without a permit, healed the sick without payment, touched the untouchables, spoke with his culture's bitterest enemies, and spoke truth to military governors. He taught his followers (especially the men) not to worship power or privilege but to lay it aside and act as servant to others, especially those despised by society. In the midst of a brutal military occupation, he taught a Nonviolent Third Way of responding to a domination system that was neither violent in return nor an obsequious capitulation to that oppression.