Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Expand your consciousness

“When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.” Science and Health.

This passage is irrevocably linked in my mind to a time when I prayed for a friend. I don’t know how much, if at all, the friend was helped, but I learned something.

I was in my crazy pre-divorce period in the late 1980s, still living with my husband but wandering. He would come home for dinner, I would leave for the evening, heading over to my theater group for whatever amateur production we were messing with at the time.

I made a lot of new friends there, some better than others. Up until that time, I had spent most of my life with the spiritually devout. This theater group was anything but spiritual. We were sensual, passionate, flamboyant, and loving it. It took me about two years to learn the hard way what a dead end much of it was.

Anyway, one of my new friends was a truck driver, who I’ll call Lenny. Contrary to how I think of most truck drivers, Lenny stood only around 5 feet tall, with a wiry build and long dark hair. He often wore dark glasses, even indoors, at night. His volatile emotions made him lovable one minute, hyperactive the next. I knew him for some time before I found out he was addicted to cocaine.

My earnest naiveté led me to think I could help him. And we did have long late night talks about it. He had a small son from an earlier girlfriend that he wanted to do right by, but the drugs siphoned off all his resources. His health was suffering as well—I remember he was often ill.

I don’t recall the details of the time when I finally started to pray for him. I think he’d missed a rehearsal and no one knew where he was. Then somehow I got a phone call from him, and I offered to pray. He was fine with that, albeit unenthusiastic.

So we hung up and I prayed to understand what was the spiritual counterfact to his addiction. What was the truth about Lenny? How could he be freed from the prison he was in, when would he become solely the lovable person I knew was in there?

I believe I was either reading through Science and Health at the time, or the passage above was in the Bible Lesson (as it is this week). My attention was caught on the words “expand” and “consciousness.” In the 60’s, when drug use became more public and rampant, people used to talk about it as expanding their consciousness. Suddenly I had the feeling that Mary Baker Eddy, with spiritual foresight, had written this passage as just the right antidote to the drug culture. Sometimes she’s freakily contemporary in a way that to me just seems God-sent.

Anyway, I now think the passage gives the answer to just about any addiction. “When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”

What Lenny needed was a deeper understanding of Life as Spirit. He needed the self-completeness that comes from finding all in God, good. He would then need no “other” consciousness, the stupor associated with drug use. He would be self-aware and satisfied, secure in God’s love and his own perfection.

I felt this to the core of my being. I gained peace knowing that this was Lenny’s true nature, and nothing could obscure it permanently. Drugs didn’t have the power to alter his consciousness, God is his Mind. I saw Lenny as free.

Then, in my youthful enthusiasm for any new idea, I wanted to share this with him. Which I think I did the next time we spoke, but I had no sensitivity back then to where a person was on their spiritual journey so I think what I said sounded unreal to him. He just smiled gently and thanked me.

I don’t know what’s happened to Lenny in the years since then—I moved away and we didn’t keep in touch. The spiritual insight has stayed with me, though. In fact, I could maybe date that as the first time I really earnestly prayed for someone not in my own family. And the idea of expanding into self-completeness became a watchword for me on my own journey. It helped me in my own struggle to be freed from an addiction to sensuality about four years later.

Life is Spirit. Let that inform the struggle with addiction, and annihilate it.


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