Align your actions with the Truth you know.
In the first message of the six-part summer series Wisdom Tales from Around the World, Rev. Joanne relates to us the lesson of The Wise Master.
Coming from India, the story tells us of how a spiritual master wanted to test the integrity of his students, so he instructed them to go into town and steal so that they could sell the items and get money to repair their temple. He further told them to be sure to do so when no one was watching so that the reputation of the temple would not suffer. The students did not want to disobey their master, and although confused by the command, they believed their master had some wisdom they did not, so they set about to carry out his instructions – all but one young student who remained behind.
The master asked the young one, “Why have you not joined the others as I instructed?” The student said, “You have said that we must steal when no one is watching so that the reputation of the temple does not suffer. But that is not possible because no matter who else may be watching I will see my own actions.” The master was pleased by the student’s insight and knew that he would grow into being a wise teacher himself.
The story does not tell us whether or not the other students actually carried out the instructions of their master to steal, but that isn’t the point of the lesson. The moral of the story is not that the ends justify the means, which is what the mistaken students may have assumed, but rather no action taken is ever without a witness – ourselves.
When we contact our innermost self, some may call this our conscience, others may call it our Christ Self, we have access to know what is right and good, and what is not. We do not need anyone but ourselves to tell us these things and we have free and immediate access to that information at all times.
Joanne gives an example from her own life of the concept of “wherever you go, there you are.” Recently she was at the airport retrieving her luggage after a flight and ran into a congregant at baggage claim. Seeing someone she knew outside of the normal setting of a Sunday service, her first reaction was to feel that as a minister she has an additional responsibility to behave in a certain way because she may run into someone from her congregation. But then she realized that she need not worry about her behavior for fear of the perceptions of someone she may know, because she knows that she has tapped her inner self to guide her actions and is at peace with how anyone might perceive her. She knows the truth about herself.
Unity’s Five Principles can guide us to live the Truth we know. This can be very challenging. Often in our lives we have two opposing ideas in our minds, known as a cognitive dissonance.
First Principle - God is absolute good and everywhere present.
Cognitive Dissonance Thought – If God is absolute good, why do bad things happen in the world?
Second Principle - Human beings are created in the image of God and our very essence is divine; therefore, we are inherently good.
Cognitive Dissonance Thought – How can I be created in the image of God when I fall so short of my own expectations?
Third Principle - We create our life experiences through our way of thinking.
Cognitive Dissonance Thought – I am responsible for the good things that happen to me, but what about the random bad things like accidents, natural disasters or recessions?
Fourth Principle - Our lives can be changed and transformed through the power of prayer.
Cognitive Dissonance Thought – My prayers are not being answered the way I want, therefore prayer does not work.
Fifth Principle - Knowing these principles is not enough; we must live the truth we know.
Cognitive Dissonance Thought – If I am coming up short of living from my true Christ Self, then why bother trying at all?
Being aware that cognitive dissonance is present is the first step in transcending these inherent contradictions and actually living from a place of peace. We must decide every day how we choose to approach the world and our lives.
Many spiritual traditions share the same idea that we create our own experiences in life. The story of the Wise Master from India that framed today’s lesson is but one example. Sacred texts from the Hindu tradition speak to this directly:
Do not be led by others, awaken your own mind, amass your own experience, and decide for yourself your own path. The Atharva Veda (Hinduism)
This week’s Spiritual Practice offers one way that we can directly access our inherent wisdom and act from a place of authenticity within the Truth we know.
Before taking action, pause and take a breath. Consciously consider whether the action you are about to take is in alignment with the Truth that you know. Choose to live your values through your thoughts, words, and actions.
Finally, Joanne reminds us that peace comes when we do what we know we are supposed to do even when we do not want to do it (or not doing what we know we should not do). Learning Unity’s Five Principles is a simple thing to do. Actually believing them to be true and living as such is a much greater challenge.
This week, I will be consciously considering whether my actions are in alignment with the Truth I know. Are you willing to pay attention too?