Y’All Means ALL or Universal Salvation

hrc12937bu_2The HRC came out with a new T-shirt design that I love:  “Y’all means All.”

This T-shirt is meant to underscore the equal rights that are inherently owed to ALL human beings, and perhaps point out that ironically, states that are more prone to using the “Y’all” are most in need of remembering that God loves ALL of his children.  So, for all those reasons I love this T-shirt.  But I also love it because it reminds me of Universal Salvation.

I’ve been contemplating Universal Salvation a lot lately (so much so that I want to get the words “Universal Salvation” as my next tattoo).  Universal Salvation means that God has already “saved” everyone – that all souls will in the end return to God and as Rob Bell so daringly proclaimed (and I wrote about in a previous post) – Love Wins!

1024px-Francesco_Botticini_-_The_Assumption_of_the_VirginMorwenna Ludlow, in her book, describes Gregory of Nyssa’s two arguments for universal salvation as: “a fundamental belief in the impermanence of evil in the face of God’s love and a conviction that God’s plan for humanity is intended to be fulfilled in every single human being.”  In other words – Y’all means ALL.

Of course God loves all her children and would never leave any soul languishing in torment and separation.  Of course God will “save” us all and bring us all into Her Eternal Love.  Of course happiness is inevitable for all living things.  Of course all beings in all the worlds will be happy and at peace.  (I’m thinking I’ll get the Lokaha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu as part of the tattoo as well – they mean the same thing).

And this is God’s victory alone – it has nothing to do with how great we are or how moral we are or how righteous we are – and it does not depend upon us converting the rest of the world to our particular religion (whichever one that is).  Universal Salvation is accomplished completely through God’s Grace.

graceI’ve been listening to Richard Rohr, my favorite God-crush, on my straight and narrow drives through the Florida flatlands to see my sisters and he has been talking about the completely unmerited quality of God’s Grace and of Universal Salvation.  Grace is just a gift from God that we receive constantly through no merit of our own, but simply from God’s love.  Yet, so often in religions and spiritual circles the notion of Grace becomes bizarrely confused with morality, karma or deservability.

I have been taught a lot about “invoking Grace,” and “pulling down Grace” and making ourselves “irresistible to God” so God would bless us with more Grace.  Nevermind the thought that someone could actually be “resistible” to God, that whole way of speaking somehow implies that Grace is something that is earned.  I’ve also been told that my Grace had run out, I didn’t deserve any more Grace due to my bad karma or lack of surrender, but again, that is being spoken from the premise that Grace is given only to the deserving.  7EF5243744C143FE98D711C3351CF5C7.ashxBut the very definition of Grace is that is it given to all with no restrictions as to merit or effort or worth.  Grace means that we all have an indestructible, inherent deservability – God loves us all unconditionally and gives us all unconditional Grace out of that love. Y’all means ALL.

In reality, all our spiritual practices or prayers or meditations are aimed not at making us more worthy of Grace or more worthy of Salvation, but of opening us to receive the Grace and the Universal Salvation that has already been given, or rather opening us to perceive the Grace of Universal Salvation that is always HERE.

10352890_1057779390900703_999636798334927694_nAs Richard Rohr puts it in his book What the Mystics Know: “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God.  What’s absent is awareness.”  That is a truer way to teach about the Grace and Presence of God – what is missing is not our effort or morality or worthiness – the only missing ingredient in our experience of the Grace of Salvation is our awareness. 

I already wrote about this experience, but it is a moment I think about often:  Years ago I had this experience of looking up at the night sky and seeing, right along with the stars and the moon and the whole universe, Grace showering down upon the entire earth.  At the time I perceived it as “showering down upon” because that is what I had been taught – that we pull Grace down by our effort and prayers.  But now I realize that maybe what I was seeing in that moment was just the Grace that exists everywhere at all times as the Presence of God that holds every single human, animal, plant and mineral, the state of immutable perfection that is God as the created cosmos.

So, all we have to “do” is stop doing – stop doing anger or guilt, stop doing judgment or self-judgment, stop doing hatred or self-hatred, stop doing fear and hell-fire.  Once we stop doing, we naturally reside in Grace.  Once we let go of our egoic sense of unworthiness and effort, we naturally fall into God’s unconditional love.

Once we become aware of our oneness with the human and the divine and remember that Y’all means ALL, we can be fully present in awareness and realize our Universal Salvation.


Please explore Richard Rohr’s Many Wonderful Books and Audios or other authors explored in this post:

Grace v. Karma

devil_angel440x3001No, Grace v. Karma is not the name of a new spiritually oriented courtroom dram-edy on TV about two angels incarnated as attorneys navigating the touchy issue of Grace and forgiveness vs. Karma and punishment (though it would make a great new show and I think I’ll start writing a pilot right away).

I saw this very interesting video recently about the fall of the Angel Lucifer because he didn’t agree with God about the new plan of Grace through the Christ Consciousness.  I was planning on showing the clip here but interestingly, I can no longer find the video anywhere – which is good, because it was really only the main concept that interests me, so I will simply recap.

In the video they talk about these things very matter-of-factly, as if they are simply giving a history lesson of what happened in the Angelic realms in times primordial.  I don’t really know if all these things can be considered historically accurate.  I think when we are talking about multi-dimensional Divine history it is entirely possible that more than one thing was happening at once and to say something might be true doesn’t mean another account is untrue.  Add to that the fact that our own perceptions and understandings of these things can be somewhat limited and our verbal expressions are even more limited.  All this to say that I’m not 100% convinced that the account they gave went down exactly as it was spoken, like characters with lines in a most epic movie, but I do believe there were some very interesting concepts worth contemplating.

arts-graphics-2008_1183116aBasically, what they explained was that when the worlds and the universe was formed and Lucifer was still one of the “good guys,” he was given dominion over the earth and humanity.  The plan for humanity’s evolution on earth was more along the lines of karma – learning your lessons by cause and effect, so if you kill 8 people in one lifetime you have to come back and get killed 8 times to balance that out before you can progress.  But pretty soon (whatever that means in Eternal time?), God figured out that this was going to take forever (again, quite funny given that God exists outside of time!), and so he decided to change the plan from karma to GRACE.  So, God sent the Christ Consciousness (in the form of Christ, Krishna, Buddha etc) to earth to remind all us silly souls running around taking an eye for an eye that karma was not such a great idea.  Apparently, Lucifer didn’t like this so he rebelled and well, the rest is what they call “history” if you can call mythic biblical angelic/demonic events history.

So – God overrode the law of karma with the law of Grace!  The Christ Consciousness was sent here to free us from karma, from sin, from error and ignorance.

Yet I know that much of religion still has a lot to do with the tension between Karma and Grace.  On the one hand is Sin, struggle, guilt, redemption, repentance and doing the right religious rituals to somehow earn our salvation.  On the other hand is GRACE – the complete and absolute love from God that says, there are NO rules, there is NO sin, you don’t need to do anything except receive the Grace of God!

I sometimes think, ok, if you really believe that Christ died for our sins, then BE forgiven!  Stop feeling bad or guilty and receive the Grace (of course, in all humility, this is easier said than done).  To quote from my Valentine, Richard Rohr, “People get trapped in chains of guilt and low self-esteem, what they judge to be poor performance and less than perfect attendance. As if the goal of religion is “attendance” at an occasional ritual instead of constant participation in an Eternal Mystery!”

So – one could say that Grace is part of the Eternal Mystery.  It is hard to understand that God’s Grace is available to anyone at all times for no reason whatsoever.  But that is the definition of Grace, isn’t it?

247987_349278608498234_1130549657_nAt one point, I was told repeatedly that my Grace had “run out.”  That somehow my bad karma had caused my grace to dry up, I couldn’t have any more because I had, in her opinion, been a bad girl.  At the time I kind of accepted that and tried to improve myself and “earn” more grace again – but now I realize that statement was not only not true in my case, it is NEVER true in any case – it is FUNDAMENTALLY false.  It is completely contrary to the very definition of Grace!

If I feel bad about myself, if I believe someone else telling me I am not worthy, if I deprive myself of the experience of Grace that is available to me at all times, then that is my own doing.  Likewise, if a person is angry and hateful and destructive, they probably won’t experience a lot of Grace, but that has nothing to do with their deservability – it has to do with their focus.

Grace has nothing to do with karma or sin.  That’s the whole point!  Grace transcends karma.  Grace overrides and overrules karma.  Grace trumps karma.  Grace extinguishes karma.  Grace kicks karma’s butt.  To quote Richard Rohr again:  “Divine Love is stronger than hell, death, or sin. In the end, grace wins!”

Grace is so beyond karma that there isn’t really any “versus” – Grace doesn’t even struggle with karma at all – it just shines its glorious light of infinite love and radiance endlessly through the whole universe as if karma doesn’t even exist.

bluepearlocean2One night, many years ago, as I was walking up from the temple after an evening gathering of chanting and meditation, I stopped to look up at the stars.  What I “saw” with my inner eye was God’s Grace showering down upon the whole earth – like a warm golden light of luminous love, peace and absolute good that was just part of the fabric of the universe, constantly showering down upon us, radiating through our very lives even if we don’t notice.  And now I somehow know that this wasn’t just a moment of Grace I happened to witness – it is ALWAYS happening.  Grace is inside us all and inside all of life, the entire universe!  All we have to do is realize it.

And I guess that is the tricky part – realizing it.  That is where the illusion of karma comes in, the illusion of our stories, our guilt or lack of self-worth, what falsehoods we believe about ourselves or about God.  I guess that is where the repentance, the prayer, the ritual and the spiritual practice comes in.  That is where it’s important to be able to discern – wait, my Grace has not run out – that is impossible!

It also has to do with our judgment of others, our use of karma to blame and justify the suffering of others and to withhold the compassion that would flow naturally from our hearts if we were filled with Grace. We can’t really take the goodies of the Grace for ourselves without sharing them with everyone.  Grace doesn’t work that way.  So, I guess in order to live in Grace we must 1) realize that we deserve to receive God’s Grace for no reason at all and 2) realize that is true for all of us.  Except that there are no “musts” when it comes to Grace.  Grace is a Mystery.  So, forget about everything I just said and just experience the Grace.

God’s Grace is here, it’s free, it’s radiant and embedded in the very fabric of the universe for us to simply BE.

winter_morning_wallpaper

The Blame Game of Karma

I-believe-in-karmaThe last couple of days I’ve been thinking about how the spiritual law of karma can often times be used as a form of blame or as a way of not caring about bad things happening to our fellow human beings.  It can be used as a way of saying that no matter what your misfortunes, it’s your own fault.

My new blogger friend Meyla wrote a very thought provoking post bringing up the question of how our patterns from the past create our future and that there is this theory that we might create suffering for ourselves because we haven’t learned our lessons from the past or changed our minds.  Of course, there is truth to this – but it is a personal truth for our own personal journey, not a truth to point a finger at someone else.  How that truth is interpreted makes a huge difference, and this is what got me thinking about the blame game of karma.

On a societal scale there are examples of the blame game of Karma both in the East and the West.

Here in America on the secular end, the wealthy and conservative elite and their mouth pieces in the media would have you believe that being on welfare, needing food stamps to have enough to feed your family or being poor is somehow a character flaw.  The ugly side of “the American dream” is when those who have made it and are enjoying wealth beyond their dreams turn around and judge or shame those less fortunate, refusing to share or show any compassion to those who might be hungry.   This unfunny phenomenon is shown quite hysterically in this clip from John Stewart:

 

If you enjoyed that – you can watch the equally funny second part here.  

On the Judeo-Christian end there are passages in the Old Testament that make God out to be some kind of Cosmic Hall Monitor, busily watching our every thought and secret deed in order to administer swift punishment for any transgressions. Therefore, there was the thought that if something bad happens to you, it is God punishing you and you must deserve it. That misconception of God as a punisher was supposed to be changed with the teachings of Jesus (and the teachings of several other Jewish rabbis and prophets as well), but let’s face it, that is not a thought form that is foreign to Jews or Christians today and there are far too many who are more than willing to throw the first stone. And somehow the Golden Rule of love thy neighbor as thy self doesn’t always apply.

castoutcasteIn India there are still social ramifications of the caste system – closely related to the class system in the West but also different.  There it is thought by some that those born into the lower classes have been born into poverty and suffering due to their karma from past lives and it is simply what they deserve.  When someone is born as an “Untouchable,” who according to scripture should eat their meals from broken bowls and wear the clothes of dead people, there is somehow a karmic loop hole in the whole idea of seeing the Self in the other and honoring the Divine in all of life that is central to Hinduism.  Karma is used to justify oppression.

I have also come across this twist on the eternal truth of cause and effect in my own personal spiritual path.  I was once in a very dysfunctional relationship.  I was being mistreated, yelled at and belittled on a daily basis.  There were many more dynamics to the situation that I won’t go into, but this was supposed to be a very spiritual relationship.  When I finally got up the nerve to speak up and say something about it I was told that being treated this way must be what my soul was calling forth.  It was explained to me how we create our own reality from our past karma and because I had not had the courage to heal my childhood issues of being yelled at and belittled, I was creating this again.

Hmmmm.  This sounds a lot like “I’m yelling at you because you asked for it,” except in much more spiritual terms.  When I asked, “well, what about your own responsibility for your own behavior?” there was not an equally gymnastic spiritual answer, so the topic was changed.  I didn’t feel like debating karma or if I deserved what I got, so I decided I deserved to leave.

The bottom line that I learned is this: while on the highest level of reality it might be true that we are all responsible for creating our own reality – that does not mean that an abused child deserves the abuse because it is their karma.  It does not mean that abused wives who married husbands similar to their abusive fathers deserve what they get because they never went to therapy.  It doesn’t absolve the husbands from their responsibility of choosing to be assholes.  It does not mean that poor people deserve to go hungry because they don’t have enough character and gumption to live the American dream or that God is punishing them for the sins of their fathers.  It does not mean that Untouchables or lower caste people in India deserve to eat out of broken bowls or be discriminated against and treated as less than human.

CompassionAs in most cases when the selfish ego mind gets a-hold of a cosmic truth – it goes terribly wrong.  Karma is not meant to be an excuse for prejudice and blame.  Karma is just an isness of cause and effect.  The awareness of this cause and effect and the fact that we create our own reality is meant to empower us to create a kinder and more loving world. But we can only use this truth to look at ourselves – our own karma, period.  It does not apply to us placing judgment on anyone else.  Karma is not some justification for social injustice and it is certainly not an excuse to be anything but compassionate.


To do something towards a more compassionate world, you are invited to both Inner Action and Outer Action.

And if you haven’t already, please consider signing the Charter for Compassion.

Nothingness and Happiness Continues

ensoYesterday my post was about how my answer to the nature of nothingness is happiness.

To sum up – whenever you’re engaged in a mental debate of esoteric spiritual principles about illusion or nothingness – ask yourself:  is this making me a more conscious and loving person who makes the world around me a more compassionate place?

However, there is another reason why my answer to the nature of nothingness is happiness.

Nothingness is supposed to be the That that is behind all illusion, behind all thoughts and emotions and human fabrications.  It is talked about as what is left when all our attachments, all our ego, all our karma and our samskaras are released – when we let go of our self identification.  Nothingness is the Pure Consciousness or the Om.

The thing is that I do not think that what is behind all things is just a void – a nothingness that is so empty that you even have to remove the nothingness from it.  Every experience of the realm beyond this realm I have felt in my heart, every glimpse of the That that is behind all things that I’ve ever had has felt like Love.

That was my experience of the chant Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu just a couple of weeks ago – that the chant is not just a prayer for all beings to be peaceful and happy, but it is the presence of the universe, the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness.  That is my experience of the Nothingness that is beyond all human karma, ego and illusion.smiling buddha

The other thing that occurs to me is that those who have gone before us and have achieved liberation from all karma, ego and illusion are HAPPY.  They don’t sit there with blank stares on their faces immersed in some great void of nothing – they smile!  They are happy and uplifting to be around – they all seem to be very warm and loving.  So – this also points me to the nature of this nothingness as something filled with a lot of goodness.

Even if we look at the laws of physics – if nature abhors a vacuum, why would we think that the nature of the universe is based on nothingness?

So, based on common sense, my own experience and from what I know in my heart, it seems more true to me that the nature of the universe is based on fullness – a fullness of Light, Bliss, Peace and Love.  That is why my answer to the question about the nature of nothingness is Happiness.