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The Way to a Wonderful Life, Sunday, March 2, 2014 

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           It has been written that the word "worship" means to find something worthy.  For most Christians this means to worship G-d, our Creator.  And for those who are attracted to traditional forms of worship this is simple enough.  Most people who find traditional worship appealing remain in the same religious denomination as their parents and grandparents before them.  For those who venture away from the familiar, but still seek traditional worship, they find a church that is attractive to them and for the most part they are satisfied.  But for the most part, few people ever depart from the "faith tradition" that they have chosen and even fewer still ever take the time to question their faith in any demonstrative way or to seek knowledge and wisdom from sources outside of the traditional church that they attend.  

            I remember several years ago a young man visited my office in Beverly Hills.  He told me that he was an Evangelical Christian and as our discussion continued he asked me what I believed about the "Last Supper."  When I told him that I believed that the "Last Supper" was a Passover meal, since Jesus and his followers were all Jewish, he got visibly disturbed and declared that he did not believe that Jesus was Jewish.  Yet, his lack of knowledge of Jesus' life is not unusual for many Christians.  Few study anything of a religious nature that is not distributed by the church that they attend.  I can remember when the Catholic Church forbid its members to read religious literature that was not sanctioned by the Church.  The Pastor of the Catholic Church I attended in Portland, Oregon was adamant that we followed this instruction.  I remember telling him that I was reading books written by Dr. Joseph Murphy and Joel Goldsmith and he made me promise to throw them in the trash ... and I did.  Later on, during a discussion with him and a few others, he made the statement that if we couldn't accept all that the Church was teaching then we should just get out.  He had forgotten that I had left the Baptist Church before becoming a Catholic.  And so I left Catholicism but not without a few dark nights of the soul filled with doubt and wondering if I would ever find the right religion for me.

            Since so many of us relate our religion to our faith in G-d, it is challenging on some level for many of us to turn from traditional religions, especially those who receive family pressure to stay in the "fold."  For many, their mind has been "conditioned" by religion to see it as the truth and the way to G-d.  And since so many people see those in authority in their religions as knowing more than they do about religion and G-d, they experience self-doubt in making their own choices regarding how they shall worship G-d.  Last year I read a news article in the Los Angeles Times where a Catholic woman stated that she and her family looked to their priest as if he were Jesus.  This struck me as unusual, but was not surprising to me.  After all, I recall all too well the Jonestown tragedy involving those who followed Jim Jones and believed he was God.  People who were so blinded by a false teacher that they took the lives of their own children because he told them to.  Do I think that this is the "norm" ... of course not, but I do think their is a certain amount of intimidation and manipulation that takes place in many houses of worship.

          Let's look at what Thomas Troward, who studied the Holy Bible and believed it was the most important book we could ever study, had to say about worship:  "The proverb says that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"; more truly we may say that it is the sincerest worship.  Hence the true worship is the study of the Universal Life-Principle "the Father,' in its nature and in its modes of action; and when we have thus realized "the Law of God," the law that is inherent in the nature of Infinite Being, we shall know that my conforming our own particular action to this generic law, we shall find that this law will in every instance work out the results that we desire.  This is nothing more or less miraculous than what occurs in every case of applied science.  He only is the true chemist or engineer who, by first learning how to obey the generic tendency of natural laws, is able to command them to the fulfillment of his individual purposes; no other method will succeed.  Similarly with the student of the divine mystery of Life.  He must first learn the great laws of its generic tendency, and then he will be in a position to apply that tendency to the working of any specific effect (material object or condition) he will."  

          In this teaching of "The Way to a Wonderful Life" we realize that since the Holy Spirit is uniquely expressed in each individual, each of us must "seek and find" our way in which we relate to G-d, Infinite Spirit.  There will be those who tell us that we must follow certain methods, but the certain method for one may not be the certain method for another.  Now the way in which we become in tune with the Infinite is not complex, but it is unique.  And this is why those who believe they know "enough about God" or they "know God's will" or the old familiar dogmas, for themselves and for others, will always fall short.  We can never know the Infinite in Its entirety ... we can only "know" that part of the Infinite that we have prepared our mind to receive.  If we are satisfied to follow the "opinions" of others, or the religious dogmas handed down through the ages, then that is only the "finite part" of the Infinite and the truth, that we shall ever know on this plane of life.  We can only receive as much as we "desire" to receive and our desire must be strong enough to seek it until we find all that we need to live the life experience that we desire to live.  

          Thomas Troward gives us this wisdom on modes of worship:  "That Spirit is in itself Unity, and its Self-expression is through its manifestation in Multiplicity; and the more clearly we see this, the more clearly we shall see that the way to co-operate with it is by seeking to make our own thought the channel of its Thought. But to do this is to recognize the presence of a Divine Intelligence guiding our thought and a Divine Power working through our actions; and this recognition, coupled with the desire that our thought should be thus guided and our actions thus vivified, is the very essence of Worship. It is the very opposite to the mental attitude which sets itself up as needing no guidance and no help from a higher source, and which denies the working of any higher power; and so worship becomes the foundation principle of the life. This does not mean a specific ceremonial observance, but the adoption of the principle of worship, which is the recognition of the true relation of the individual mind to the Parent Mind from which it springs.
If anyone finds that a particular ceremonial conduces towards this end, then that ceremonial is useful to him, but it does not follow that the same ceremonial is necessary for somebody else. It is just like water-color painting. One man requires to keep his paper dry through the progress of the work, while another paints entirely in the wet; yet if they are both artists, each will record his vision in a way that will unfold to the spectator some secret of nature's beauty. Each must use the means which at his present stage he finds most conducive to the end, only let him remember that it is the end alone which really counts.
           Therefore it is that the Great Teacher Jesus laid down only one rule for worship --- that it should be "in spirit and in truth". The essence and not the form is what counts, because the whole thing is a question of mental attitude. It is that attitude of constant Receptiveness which is the only possible conscious correlative to the infinite Divine Givingness. To attain this is conscious union with the All-creating Spirit."

           When we can begin to say that we "love G-d with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind" and "love our neighbor as our self" then we are making progress on our way to a wonderful life.  And why is this so?  It is, because to "behold" this consciousness within our mind is to behold the nature of G-d; the image and likeness of Spirit, Life and Truth, within our own inner life.  It is the "kingdom of G-d within us."  This is why the highly enlightened Jesus said "the Father is Spirit, and we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth" ... in other words, All Life is G-d, and to love G-d is to love Life Itself, all of it.  And, we must love the Truth; not just the fragments of the knowledge of truth that others have discovered, but as much of the Truth as we can seek and find in our heart, our mind, and our soul.  "Seek me and you will find me" is our guarantee.  And in this seeking is true worship.


Keep the faith!
. Henry Bates

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