Transitory vs. Transformational — Lessons in Truth

“You will pray to him, and he will hear you. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways.” (Job 22:27-28)Listen to the Sermon

In Lessons in Truth Emilie Cady says, “Most people first seek more spiritual knowledge because of dissatisfaction with present conditions. Inherent in the human mind is the thought that somehow, it ought to be able to bring about that which it desires and which would satisfy.”

But does that which we desire always satisfy?

I received an email from Houzz, a home decor magazine, Wednesday. The breaking Houzz news? “Eleven Kitchen Trends with Staying Power.” I took the bait. Truth is, my nearly 30-year-old kitchen fell from grace a few months ago when a friend remodeled her kitchen. She now has a kitchen with staying power. Should I, as Job declares, “decide on the matter” of updating my kitchen, no doubt, it will be established for me and a “light will shine on the way.” Like buying a new car or landing the dream job, my desire will be satisfied — for a time. And the stock market will still be jittery. The daily news will still be jarring. Some people that I love will still be hurting. My desire for the trendiest kitchen with maximum staying power can be satisfied and it will not make a dent in establishing a true and lasting peace. It will not offer a truth that sets me free.

Conventional New Thought teachings assert that the hunger we feel is the prompting of the Divine within us. But discernment between what is transitory and what is transformative is essential. A new kitchen is wonderful, but it is transitory, not transformative. The hunger prompted by the 24/7 feed from our electronics, the hunger for more tidbits confirming our biases, happily provided by an industry that thrives on sensationalism, baiting and outrage—these hungers are not the prompting of the Divine within us.

The Divine hunger is for the peace that passes understanding—the hunger to know: how do we love one another? The Divine hunger longs for the transformational. Spiritual maturity involves discerning the transformational from the transitory.

Theologian Marcus Borg said, “The good news of Jesus’ message is this: there is a way of being that moves beyond both secular and religious conventional wisdom. The path of transformation of which Jesus spoke leads away from a life of requirements and measuring up (whether to culture or to God) to a life of relationship with God. It leads away from a life of anxiety to a life of peace and trust. It leads from the bondage of self-preoccupation to the freedom of self-forgetfulness. It leads away from life centered in culture to life centered in God.”1

Cady was right—many pursue a higher knowledge of spiritual things because of dissatisfaction with their present conditions. And these teachings can be used for manifesting on the material realm all manner of cars, jobs, relationships, money, even physical healing—all good things that are the “Father’s good pleasure” to give us. If God is like a loving parent as Jesus declares, well, loving parents want their children to be healthy and have what they need. But wise parents are also discerning and know that for some things, one more can be too many and a thousand not enough—especially in those realms designed to hook the false self.

Unity teaches that thoughts have the power and authority of the originating consciousness. The originating consciousness of the false self is the thought that something is missing. The false self always wants more—more power, more control, more affection, more esteem, more security. The false self drives an economy based on nothing ever being enough. In the realm of the false self, the consumer confidence index measures well being.

When the money starts flowing again, when the relationship is reconciled, when the body is healed, a spiritual longing remains. A longing to know: Who am I? Why am I here? What does this all mean? Does anything bring a real sense of peace? Cady addresses these true hungers when she says, “Every right thought, every unselfish word or action, is bound by immutable laws to be filled with good results. But in our walk, we must learn to lose sight of results that are the ‘loaves and the fish.'”

What do we seek instead?

“Our search for Truth must no longer be for the rewards,” said Cady. “It must no longer be our seeking a creed to follow, it must be for living a life.” This kind of life seeks to be the Truth consciously, to be love consciously, to be wisdom consciously, to be life consciously, and let results take care of themselves.

When our focus turns from the transitory to the transformational, from that which leaves us wanting more to that which satisfies, we see more clearly what Cady meant by seeking to live a certain kind of life, a life based on Wisdom that teaches us to seek first the realm of God within, so that then what we need will be given us.

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A test: Transitory or Transformative?

Updated kitchen

[1] Marcus J. Borg, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith (HarperSanFrancisco: 1994), 88.

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