Lesson 10: The Cross And The Crown
Taking A Definite Stand
(Q) What should be the basis and fundamental thoughts to be presented in the lesson on THE CROSS AND THE CROWN?
(A) As there has been presented in the lessons that which may be applicable in the thought and study through ANY activity of an entity, so in the lesson THE CROSS, THE CROWN, there is made the definite stand of the activities OF an entity, that must come to stand as that which is first and foremost in the minds mentally, the minds spiritually, of each entity. (262-34)
As we emulate His example by taking up our cross daily, our desires are more and more to help others. (A Search For God, Book I)
In a world where evil and suffering are allowed to exist, soul development requires that each person must take a definite stand with regard to ideals and core values. The question becomes, will we stand up for what we believe?
As an example, Jesus taught love and responded in love to those who treated him very badly. He took a definite stand and paid the price. In this context, the cross was a symbol of shame in terms of social or cultural values. After all, the cross was punishment for criminals and social deviants. Sometimes taking a definite stand for what you believe may put you in a position of being looked down upon by those around you with different ideals or values.
Application: Is there an area of your life where you feel the need to take a definite stand? If so, pray and meditate for the best way to take a stand. Review your ideals to make sure that in taking a stand your physical activities flow from your spiritual and mental ideals. Ask yourself, "Is the example set by Jesus relevant to any area of my life where I need to take a stand?" Also, be aware that taking a stand can have social consequences.
Resource: Jesus' Karma (Article)
Periods Of Testing
Who has learned obedience otherwise than through suffering? (A Search For God, Book I)
These are periods of testing. The entity is measuring up. (1151-29)
If the universe is a school and the earth experience a classroom for soul development, then from time to time there will be an exam – a test, as it were – to measure the soul’s progress, or lack thereof.
There are periods of testing for each soul, and for groups of souls in the collective sense of shared history. This puts the problem of evil and suffering within the context of growth and development – a learning experience for all concerned, as has been noted in the video overview.
Specifically, with regard to this lesson, you may find yourself tested if you choose to take on the cross of another person in need. It may be a totally wonderful, "sweet" experience for all involved, but sometimes can seem to go astray leading to a feeling of "bitterness" as others may not respond to your kindness and generosity as you might have wished. This pattern of "sweet and bitter" spiritual initiation was discussed in several Cayce readings based on John's Revelation. So just beware that sometimes that the testing process can be complex and confusing, requiring a deeper level of attunement to find the meaning of the experience.
Thus periods of testing are not reserved for those who do evil and are hurtful to others. Perhaps when bad things happen to good people, it may simply be a test. Probably the best and most noted story of this sort is recorded in the book of Job from the Hebrew bible.
Job was a good and righteous man who prospered in wealth and family. With the destruction of this property, death of loved ones, and physical afflictions, Job maintains his faith in God. Even when friends point out that bad things only happen for a reason and that Job must have sinned to deserve these calamities, Job affirms his innocence and trust in God. With continued stress, Job eventually curses the day he was born.
At the conclusion of the testing, Job’s prosperity and family are replenished. It would seem that he passed the test. Interestingly, the Cayce readings ascribe the authorship of the Job story to Melchizedek, a previous lifetime of the soul who incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth. Certainly Jesus knew something of testing and suffering.
Application: Read the book of Job and try to imagine yourself in his position. Reflect on your life, the world around you, and the problem of innocent suffering. Does the concept of soul testing make sense to you? This will probably make for an interesting discussion if you have access to people who are willing to address this challenging question. Also, be aware that in seeking to relieve the suffering of others, you may even face a "sweet and bitter" spiritual initation of your own.
Thorns of Life
In the way of the Cross is light. Though it may have its crown of thorns, it has also its glory that passeth understanding in the finite mind. Yet, as the infinite opens the way the thorns become less and the way the brighter. (262-37)
… it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:5)
Then, kick not against the pricks, because ye are meeting thine own self. (3684-1)
Our crosses are of our own making now, as well as in the beginning. (A Search For God, Book I)
With regard to the symbol of the crown of thorns, what are the thorns in your life? These are issues or experiences associated with pain and suffering. These are the crosses that you bear.
The Cayce readings insist that kicking against them only makes matters worse. The first step is to recognize that you are the source of your own suffering, rather than fighting or blaming others for your problems. Awareness is power. What will you do with that power? Practice forgiveness? Sacrifice for the sake of others? Kick against the pricks and meet yourself in that way?
Application: Make a list of the thorns in your life and how you can address them based on your spiritual Ideal. Try to be aware that you are constantly meeting yourself in the situations of life – especially the thorny ones.
Then, the first of the signs that may be given – to as many as have met the cross, as have endured, is given that which enables them – in whatsoever state they find themselves in meeting their crosses – to do so in the JOY of the Lord. Happiness and joy go hand in hand. (262-36)
In bearing the cross we come to know the real meaning of the crown, the joy of completing a work, and the success that is the reward of a finished race. (A Search For God, Book I)
With the meeting of the crosses of life that we each must bear, the reward of the crown is happiness and joy. The readings referred to this crown as the "crown of glory". We will be focusing on both Glory and Happiness in future lessons. Progress with this lesson on The Cross and the Crown provides a foretaste of the joy and happiness that is part of the Search For God.
Application: Reflect on whether you have you experienced the joy and happiness that comes with the crown of glory and have expressed that joy and happiness in your daily living. Take time to rejoice in the accomplishments (great or small) of meeting and overcoming the crosses in your life.
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