Paul spoke about the “renewal of our minds,” and I’ve heard it quoted quite often in church as a child. Back then I thought it meant to put the mind on Holy subject matters or concepts. While true it is about what the mind dwells on, I believe it has an even deeper meaning.
From my book, The Book of Virtue I mention:
By the renewal of our minds we undergo a transformation. This shift from one state of mind (the world) to another (Higher Mind), produces a new state of being, a state of gnosis (illuminated wisdom.) From that process that Paul describes, we no longer adhere to the illusion but realize spiritual truth. We begin to experience oneness with God, and by extension a oneness with the world around us.
In other words, the renewal of the mind is more than just thinking more about God or whom you believe your savior to be (Jesus, a Guru, etc.) It is a transformative shift from the lower mind (dealing with the world) to the higher state of mind, dealing with spiritual truth. As we pull into the gravity of the Higher, we enter into a oneness with Source (by whatever name you call it.)
How Do We Achieve Oneness?
For me it comes down to three components that create this renewal of mind:
- Right Action (aka Virtue)
- Spiritual Practice
Knowledge refers to books, media, lectures, any form of teaching in any media. It could come from a book or from inner communion with your Higher Self. It isn’t limited to knowledge from this plane of existence.
Right Action is the choice to make an action that returns the best karmic return. Each of us is tested throughout our lives, to make a right action to transform our future. This usually is a difficult situation. Difficulty is often the opportunity for right action. For some it might be their aversion to the poor and seeing someone in need asking for money, and giving. For others it might be in the forgiving of someone who is hateful towards them. The key to this component is to understand that each action has a reaction. If you push someone down, a future situation of yourself being pushed down will no doubt manifest. An early lama of mine taught that it can be first thought of as looking for your own self enrichment, “What action should I do to make a positive result in my future?” In time however, this should evolve into a feeling outside self benefit, and the willingness to do good is simply an outflow or our true nature.
Spiritual Practice are spiritual activities. They must be actualized (thought of) as spiritual in nature. Meditation, yoga, prayer, inner communion, working with a Guru, banishing rituals, energy gathering rituals; these are examples of spiritual practice.
One thing to mention – I don’t adhere to a specific path… I think all paths are valid as long as you are compatible with the activity, and that they are focused on the Divine. By that I mean, one can be a Martinist, Hindu, Christian, Gnostic, Buddhist, New Ager, student of the occult, Univeralist, Religious Science devotee, Sufi or simply a mystic – As long as the one’s focus is on Divine and they are compatible with the practices, then the individual should begin to understand Paul’s message of the renewal of our minds.
Indications of the Right Direction
Spending most of my worldly career as a Quality Assurance engineer, I test things. Testing helps keep projects on track, moving in the right direction by verifying that the requirements (goals of the project) are being met.
Similarly we should test our spiritual direction. By whatever choice we make we should know that our direction is true if after some time in our spiritual practice we see these positive changes:
- We are happier then we were before
- Our personal needs are less than the needs of others
- The little “self” that identifies with the cares of the body and the world is less than before
- We feel closer to other beings and to the Divine Source
Why would we be happier if we follow a spiritual path? What if we’re sad? Sometimes sadness and depression will take us – no matter what our path is. I met a Christian woman who had attempted suicide almost a dozen times. As for myself, I struggled with depression and self destructive thoughts as a child, when I was a Christian. Depression followed after me when I became other beliefs (Buddhist, Hindu, occultist, mystic.)
It can not be guaranteed that you will lose your sadness or never feel sad again. However, ask yourself what is the root of sadness. Sadness and depression typically is a mental state afflicted with cares of this world. Stressors and hardships tend to lead us into that mental darkness.
One can be a member of any or no religion and find their thoughts dwelling upon their bankruptcy, divorce, loss of a loved one, or general feelings of failure.
I have found however that when my mind is not dwelling upon myself or this world, that I’m happier. Consider this for yourself. When you eagerly take care of someone else, do you feel better? When you are in meditation and let go of your world and body, do you feel better? I can’t tell you how to be happy. Myself, I struggle with that to this day, but I have found for me that when my mind is spiritual focused, my ego (self identified with the body) diminishes and I feel much better.
As we tune into the needs of others, our mind tunes into the Higher Mind. Consider Matthew 25:35-46. In that passage Jesus talks about a time when God would return and reward people who gave Him food when he was hungry, water when He was thirsty and allowed him inside when He was a stranger. The story goes on to say that to those who did not feed meet His needs, they would be cast into damnation. When asked, “when were you hungry or in need,” the story says that God responds with, “when you do it to the least of these, you do it unto me.”
Perhaps damnation and heaven here are not so much places as states of mind. When we help others and help meet their needs, we lift our awareness to the Higher. Our little self drops off. Our needs are not as important.
Closer to Others
When we tune into the Divine within ourselves, a realization will occur at some point… each of us has this same inner spark of the Divine. Jesus spoke about it when he said to the Pharisee who questioned where the Kingdom of God is. He answered, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Various new translations of the Bible have gone at great lengths to try and change that verbiage to read “The Kingdom of God is among you.” or “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.” However, the original Greek, as well as the Aramaic scriptures confirm that Jesus actually said “within you.”
As you tune into God, you should feel a compassion towards all of humanity. This is the closeness to others that I was trying to describe. A harmony with people will begin to be born. This harmony isn’t limited by race, gender, sexual orientation or creed. It is limitless. My Hindu friends would see that harmony extend into the animal kingdom.
What if I don’t See These Changes?
Each of us is a work in progress. We make mistakes. That doesn’t necessarily mean our path is not right for us. However, if in time we still don’t see any positive change, we should ask ourselves what is blocking us. If we are more fixated with our personal finances, see others as our opponents in life and on edge… we should take stock of what’s going on within.
We can take stock by going inward through meditation and contemplation on these aspects of our lives. Another option is to talk to someone we would consider a good counselor, therapist or spiritual mentor. Ask them what might be going on with us. Perhaps they would have some insight from a 3rd party perspective.
At the heart of our life is the goal to renew our minds – to loosen the stale skin of materialism and cling to the Higher Mind that is already one with the Divine source. When we do that, we become closer to our purpose and others benefit from being around us. To achieve this, we may find that our focus is in a spiritual path not in harmony with our nature. That doesn’t mean the spiritual path is “wrong,” but perhaps it isn’t the “right” one for us as an individual. Or maybe a reframe of our beliefs is necessary.
It can help to uncover the blockages in our life by keeping a journal. By keeping a journal and reviewing it, we can perhaps unlock the potential problems.