Lately, it seems to be quite a struggle to hold onto hope for real world peace, to feel safe and secure in life, and to trust in the best intentions of humanity. News headlines lines literally wreak with purifying stories of hatred and malice, murder and deceit, heartache and suffering. I suppose the most baffling aspect of it all is why would things be worse, when there are churches and religions massively covering the earth claiming to teach unity and love? In fact, I don’t think there is hardly a religious person out there that would not agree that LOVE is the key that unlocks happiness, peace, joy, liberation, forgiveness…
Then why, why is the world in such a mess?
Why is religion not impacting the world as it could be?
The reason religion is failing to unify is because of a little conjunction that most religion adds to the simple message to love.
That conjunction is “and”.
What comes after that conjunction is as vast and as varied as personalities are.
Love and go to church
Love and give money
Love and dress the way we dictate
Love and submit to authority
Love and be baptized
Love and call yourself a_____________
Love and join our affiliation
Love and see things the way we see them
Love and agree with everything the pastor preaches
Love and don’t listen to rock music
Love and wear a covering on your head
Love and don’t ask questions
Love and be compliant
Love and serve our church
Love and stay away from______________
On and on and on it goes. Where it stops nobody knows.
Its not what follows the “and” that is the problem. It’s the “and” being there in the first place.
The “and” is what breaks the fellowship. The “and” is what divides. The “and” is what turns love into hypocrisy. The “and” is what removes the unconditional. Its the “and” that provides the excuse to commit atrocities. Its the “and” that inflates the ego. It’s that little conjuntion “and” that is added to the simple message of LOVE that dilutes it and robs it of its potency.
That is the key to world peace. That is the key to happiness. That is the key to Spirit.
God is love. Love is God.
The message of the sages is simple:
Written by Elizabeth A. Van Cleve
There is a river
That flows from deep within,
There is a fountain
That frees the soul from sin,
Come to this water,
There is a vast supply,
There is a river
That never shall run dry.
This song talks about the river that “flows from deep within.”
In my book, “The Voice of God Within” I share my journey out of the abyss of religious muck and mire and finding true soul freedom when I began to listen within. I still hear that voice, and I have more peace now than I ever did in stuck in the boxed up teachings of Christianity.
However, my time spent in religion was not in vain. It was a stepping stone to where I am today- a learning process. I do not regret it. I was doing my very best during those years with what I understood. Nor do I advocate that religion is unnecessary. Many people are helped greatly by their religious affiliation.
But the greatest freedom, joy, peace and love all come from the voice within– There is a river that flows deep within each and every one of us. Most religious systems teach that you have to go through a process to receive this special infilling that gives you access to this river. Yet, I have found that it is these very processes offered that keep you away from this precious inner guidance. Religious dogma and expectations cause a person to look more without than within.
The REAL awakening comes when you hear and listen to the voice within. This voice is in every one of us. It is the very spark of life. It is the realization that YOU are the temple of God. Not a building or a group of people- but YOU! The Christ experience is to understand that you too are God incarnate.
“Is it not written in your scriptures, Ye are gods?” ~Jesus Christ
This song talks about freedom from sin, which is what keeps us from drinking of this eternal river. Sin is separation from God, or to put it more plainly- separation from SELF. It is anything that keeps you from listening within. When we hear that voice within, it leads us to have abundant life.
“I came so that you might have a more abundant life” ~Jesus Christ
To be religious is to be dedicated to a systematic way of living, to its rules, and to its religious observances. It is to have an allegorical “old-testament” way of life- to fear and quake before a powerful God- outside yourself, that will one day destroy all that is known to us today; it is to be judgmental of yourself and others; it is to separate, to war against, and to destroy your personal self- old testament religion is divisive. It is an allegorical testament of the evolution of man.
But to be authentic- or what Christ said to the woman at the well, to be in spirit and in truth, is to listen within; it is to drink of the inner eternal waters; it is to be reconnected to yourself; it is to become alive to your true, authentic self, which is God incarnate; it is to be free from rules and regulations and simply subjected to yourself to your own inner guidance system; it is to connect to pure, infinite, unconditional love; it is peace and serenity with yourself, with this life here, with others, and with God; it is the peace that passes understanding; it is to know that you can never really be separate from God; it is understanding that nothing in and of itself is evil or bad, but only perceived as evil (Romans 14:14); it is to be okay with where other people are in their journey; It is the freedom from feeling responsible for other peoples journey; it is to love everyone everywhere because you realize that what you do to one, you ultimately do to yourself; it is understanding that we are all of one source and life is eternal, and this too shall pass; it is knowing that the only thing that is real is that which never changes- that voice of God within- that YOU that has been there all along…
Look for that river within- it is a VAST supply!
Here is quick morning practice to do before you even get out of bed that can add that extra awesome sauce to your day!
- As soon as you wake up say “Good Morning” out-loud with a smile on your face.
- Next, say out-loud, three things you are thankful for; e.g. Thank you for a safe nights rest. Thank you for another day of life. Thank you for this bed/ room….
- Spend five minutes waking up your body. Stretch your feet back and forth. Roll your wrist. Take long, smooth, deep breaths. Bask in the moment.
- Sit up and ask yourself, how do I feel today and what do I need? Tune into your body. Its it tired? Sore? Refreshed? What about your mood? Do your night dreams come to mind? Bring them to the forefront. What emotions were felt? How do they relate to your current life? Acknowledge them. If they were negative emotions, determine what you need to bring them up the vibrational scale. Keep a journal and pen by your bed to take notes.
- Once you decide on your needs, think about how you can meet those needs in the upcoming day. If you are sore, maybe a hot Epsom salt bath and a couple aspirin would help. If you are weary from a stressful week, perhaps you needs rest and relaxation.
- Ask yourself, “How do I want this day to feel?” Now that you have tuned in to your needs and desires, you can answer this question. Feel is the key word here. Do you want to feel relaxed? If you are meeting up with people, how do you want the meet up to feel? If you are going to work, how do you want work to feel today? Put your feelers out there and really feel what you desire.
- Now commit it all to the universe. Place it all in a colorful bubble- choose a color that feels good and then mentally release it for the universe to work it out.
You are the co-creator of your life. You are either creating by default or you are creating intentionally.
Have an AWESOME day!!!
By Elizabeth Van Cleve
July 4, 2014, edited August 10, 2016
It’s been over two years since I left the church I had been a part of for close to 20 years. With all the courage I could muster, I walked out of the inner world of protocol, dogma and dictation and out into a world of uncertainty and misgiving. I waited for the sky to fall, for the serpent to bite, for the wrath of God to shake his finger at me and claim me a heretic doomed for hell’s fires. Every slip away from the rules and regulations I had so faithfully adhered to, was followed by accusations that I was the devil’s advocate and would soon be “seven times worse than before.”
It wasn’t a hasty nor a light decision. It began a few years prior, when in a desperate cry for relief from a monotonous, insipid life, I began to pray that God would take every ounce of religious spirit out of me and to help me to be a proper representative of him. Over the years the splits, fighting, hurt and drama I had witnessed at church and in the religious world at large, I knew God could not be the instigator of it all. I was so discouraged and let down. I could not envision the entire world being locked down in this systematic way of living that we were regularly admonished to uphold. Though I understood very deeply that the world at large has great needs, in my mind this way of life was not the answer.
I began reading books written by women who had been involved in religious cults and they resonated the same fears I had about leaving their religion, of God’s wrath, and of their system being the only way to heaven. It opened my eyes to the manipulation of fear, and I began to understand that what was holding me to the church I was immersed in was no longer a love for Christ and his work; Somewhere along the way, that had been lost in all the “do’s and dont’s” and in the complete take over of my life. I was no longer happy there and I was dying inside and the church did not have the answers to my inner turmoil. I knew that the only thing that was continuing to hold me there was fear. Yet, God was working so gently within my heart, drawing me closer to and showing me my wings.
A complete paradigm shift was going on inside of me. Little by little God began to rock my world so severely and I knew I needed to leave religion behind me. I read a book titled “Half The Sky” written by two journalist who traveled to several countries and witnessed the violation and oppression of women and young girls in developing countries. The stories in this book were absolutely horrific. I began to contemplate how so many women were in countries and/or positions where they had no voice about what was being done them. I thought about all the religious oppression world wide where torture and blood shed awaits any who would dare question the system. And here I was in AMERICA- the land of the FREE choosing OPPRESSION! I then realized that leaving church was not just about me. My freedom was about every man, woman and child out there who have no rights. My freedom was not to be taken lightly. My freedom was a responsibility. My freedom was their HOPE!
Yet I struggled because of years and years of fear conditioning. Then, one day I saw this vision of myself; I was in a large cage, curled up in a ball, crying. The door of the cage was wide open but I was too terrified to leave because I believed the serpent waited without to devour me. Then God spoke to me and told me to use my wings and fly away. It took a great amount of courage to leave flying straight towards my deepest fear. It was the bravest step I ever took. But the day I flew away, a great load lifted off of me and I knew, I had just taken my first step towards TRUE FREEDOM!- that freedom that comes from within- that freedom of KNOWING I have wings and Spirit is the wind beneath them and that nothing could ever separate me from God. The day I walked away, was the beginning of my personal inner freedom and authenticity.
I have never regretted that decision!
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
To read more of my spiritual journey out of religion and what I have learned see my book: “The Voice of God Within: An Inward Journey of Discovery and Restoration”