Talk 11 — Dare to Dream
"Dare to Dream"
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011 Dare to Dream
To Dream the Impossible Dreams, many of us have thrilled to this lovely, lilting song from the Broadway musical, The Man From La Mancha. It's an inspiring and hopeful song, a song that points to the importance of having lofty goals, of a moon to reach for, and of the high hills of hope to beckon us and to urge us to keep on. One of Jesus' greatest statements and one that I love very much is thought, "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." It's a great idea that has profound implications, implications, which are rarely understood, by the way.
For instance, some time ago, I read some comments on this statement in an article written by an Orthodox minister. He stressed the usual traditional, conservative view. He said, "Jesus challenged men with unattainable goals, with the lure of the impossible," and he went on to point out all the high ideals of Jesus' teaching, such as forgiveness, and the love of service, of losing oneself for his sake, of turning the other cheek, of loving one's enemies, even doing good to those who persecute us. Of these, he says, and this is certainly a little startling to one who has caught the more optimistic message of truth. He says, "The fact is, of course, these are impossible for weak, sinful humans to attain. Jesus knew the value of the challenge of the absolute of the lure of the impossible. He knew that we better have goals that are beyond our grasp or what's a heaven for?"
Now, I must say, before someone's a little shocked at this, that I totally and completely reject this view. It is apparently the idea that is suggested in Cervantes thought of the impossible dream of Don Quixote. Now, I grant that it's a good idea. It's a helpful thought in practice for a person to keep reaching, yearning, hoping, dreaming, because life without dreams is not a complete life. Someone once said, "Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you might hit a good sized tree." Now, in a sense, the preacher was right. In other words, it is a fact that these absolute teachings of Jesus are impossible to achieve. It is a fact, but it is not the truth. The high aspirations that Jesus suggests are, without a doubt, impossible for weak, sinful humans to attain. But then, why be a weak, sinful human? Why not deal with life at a higher level of your own potential?
It's rather interesting that for eons of time, the phrase, Reaching for the moon, was the impossible dream of man. Anytime someone suggested some impractical utopia, they'd say, "Well, you're just reaching for the moon," and yet in our day, there were those who began to conceive of a trip to the moon as possible, and we saw the whole process unfold. We've landed men on the moon several times, and through another impossible dream made possible, we were actually there by means of television. It is true that the impossible dreams of man through all time, have become the blueprints of accomplishment. As we discover more and more of our own inner nature, more and more of our divine potential, we begin to realize that Jesus did what he did, and achieved the overcomings that he achieved because he transcended the impossible. He touched that dimension of life where all things are possible.
Now, obviously, on the level of the weak, sinful humans, there are lots of impossibilities. But on the level of our divine potential, or the Christ in you, the hope of glory as Paul would say it, all things are possible. It was to this added inner dimension within each of us that Jesus pointed when he said, "All these things that I do, you can do too, if you have faith," if you can believe in the transcendent nature within you, and if you can dream lofty dreams, and believe that your dreams can be made real. Jesus discovered and demonstrated divine law, revealing the divine potential within all persons. He wasn't dealing with caprice, with a special act of God. He was dealing with the flow of the creative process. That which he did was not simply the revelation of something that could be done beautifully in and through him. Unfortunately, this has been a totally neglected part of the Christian teaching, which has dealt with Jesus' concepts as purely an exercise in piety.
That's kind of strange, when we think about it, that so many of us, through our religious lives, have mouthed on Sunday great affirmations, such as, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me," and then on Monday we return to the peat bogs of uncertainty, where, "I can't," is the hallmark of consciousness. But what of the, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me?" I say that religion, I don't care what it is, east or west, Protestant, Hebrew, Catholic, whatever, religion is without practical value unless it enables the individual to find deeper potentialities within himself, by which he can deal more and more effectively with life and all of its changing experiences.
It is shocking really, how many psychological and spiritual dropouts there are in life. People who plod along at their jobs, playing the role of normalcy in marriages that have lost the tie that binds, conforming to all the oppressive things that society demands of them, but who have given up all hope of betterment, of change, of opportunity, of love, who simply live empty shelves. These people have no hope written all over their faces, and they have, "I can't," implied or stated in all of their conversations. "I can't because I'm too old. I can't because the condition is incurable. I can't because I haven't had the right breaks in life. I can't because with things as they are and with people as vicious as they always act, there's no hope for me."
One of my favorite stories of the Bible is the time when the Israelites were journeying from the captivity in Egypt to their Promised Land. It's a interesting story that has been glamorized, perhaps, by motion picture scenarios, but as they approach Palestine, scouts were sent out from this vast body of aimless wanderers, to bring back a description of the country and its inhabitants. They returned with divided opinion, though they carried great bunches of grapes across their shoulders, and they told of all sorts of milk and honey flowing in the land. Yet ten of the scouts, rendering what today we would call a majority report, were obsessed with the impossibility of conquest of this land. They talked of giants in the land, in whose sight they seemed as grasshoppers.
Two of the scouts, however, Joshua and Caleb, had caught the impossible dream of their leader, Moses. They didn't agree with the pessimistic evaluation. They rendered what we might call a minority report, and they said, "Let us go in at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it." Two of them had the sense of transcendence, but ten of them were living in a grasshopper consciousness. Actually, it has always been the Moses, or the Joshuas and the Calebs who have spearheaded the progress of the race of man, and we all need to quicken within ourselves that Joshua and Caleb consciousness that says, "I can do this thing. I have a transcendent power within me."
These have been, for instance, the Napoleons, who have said, "Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools." Certainly we all have things in our life which seem beyond solution. Just stop and think for a moment, of some of the stumbling blocks that face you, and you will probably say, "Yes, there are wants that apparently I cannot cure, habits that seemingly I cannot master, conflicts that, certainly past history being any indication, I can't seem to harmonize." We long to be able to overcome these giants that stand between us and our personal Promised Land. Perhaps we can all admit to ourselves that much of the time we are obsessed with the grasshopper consciousness.
I love that thought of Walt Whitman, "Oh, while I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave, to meet life as a powerful conqueror, and nothing exterior shall ever take command of me." That's the Joshua and Caleb consciousness. In this story, when the Israelites eventually did follow the guidance of these men who had the dream, after forty years in the wilderness, those who refused to be cowed by the giants of impossibility, and they did launch forward, then another interesting thing is stated in the story, and it's metaphysical of course. It says, "The Amorites' hearts melted." These Amorites were those inhabitants that they saw as giants. "They lost their courage and neither was the Spirit in them anymore."
In other words, when the giants stood in the presence of people who had an absolute conviction that they were invincible, a conviction that came to them because they believed in their oneness with the divine flow, the giants lost their power over them. They in turn, lost their own sense of the grasshopper consciousness. The great truth is, of course, this power of transcendence is within man. It's within you, it's within me, always, within every person, irrespective of the giants of human experience. The problems may be great but He that is within you is greater than he that is in the world. We're simply not aware of it. In every case, the need is to stir up the gift of God that is within, to awaken the sense of transcendence, to know that the power within us is always equal to, and will always enable us to rise above any situation in the world.
There's a great lesson in the process of nuclear fission, for instance. As I understand it, there's no new power created through splitting the atom. It's simply a matter of releasing a power that's always been pent up in this seeming static form, and it long last has been released, and so, in our own experience in the physical realm, the main problem is not the creation of power, but the releasement of our imprisoned splendor. This is the key, now, to the whole system of metaphysics. This is what Jesus' teaching and demonstration is all about, releasing the dynamic flow that is always within life itself and within every expression of life.
In the third chapter of Ephesians, Paul concludes with these rather interesting lines, "Now under him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us." Note the tense of the verb. It's not past power that once was available in the days when God walked the earth. It's not the future power that may come into experience in the future millennium. It is here and now within us. Power that works. This is God power. This is mind power. This is Christ power. Call it whatever you will, it's the greatest power in the universe, and it's the power that works in you right now. In other words, there is always this power within you, which, if you could discover and use it, would make of everything you have ever dreamed or imagined, a manifest reality.
One of the great satisfactions of our work here at the Unity Center is getting the feedback from people who have somehow caught a vision, and who have had changes take place in their lives, which really defy description. I sometimes think it would be helpful if many of the persons who attend the center or listen to its radio broadcast could read some of the correspondence that we receive. Of course it's confidential and that would never be done, but it's beautiful to see the kind of letters that people write, and the things that they say, that have happened in their lives, people who have been dragging through life with their potentialities laying dormant within them. People who obviously have been going along with lackluster eyes. Discouraged and defeated people, who have suddenly caught this Don Quixote spirit of the impossible dream.
Perhaps this is what we do here at the center more than anything else is, try to encourage people to look up. Perhaps our greatest business is selling dreams, encouraging people to expand their horizon, to expect more of themselves. At first it is little more than the lure of the impossible, but soon it becomes a transcendent conviction. It become a possible dream. Then suddenly and beautifully, it comes into fulfillment. We see this happen at our retreats. It happens so frequently, that we've come to expect it. We've had so much wonderful feedback from our retreat this summer, and the letters we've received, and the people who have called us or spoken to us in person, to tell us of things that happened to them, again beyond belief. People would say, "Well nothing like that could happen at a gathering like this for a week long out at a retreat." But these things do happen, and I suppose they happen because there is a contagion of this dreaming of the impossible dream. There's a contagion of faith and of looking up.
A few years ago, I had a consultation with a man who veritably dragged himself into my office. He was discourage, defeated, no hope in life. He had the saddest woebegone face you could ever imagine, yet he was a great big, strapping man. He told his story, how he had been experiencing chronic physical problems, and had this, had interfered with his work, and so he had been quitting one job after another. Fortunately he had abilities, and so he was able to get other jobs, but tremendous instability. It was affecting his marital harmony, and his marriage was on the verge of breakup. He eventually went for a series of medical checkups, and finally the verdict was rendered that he had a rare, incurable disease, and his personal physician suggested that he better get his affairs in order, because at most, he could live eight months.
As an afterthought, this particular doctor, who was a beautiful man, who had a sense of faith in what could be done through the kind of dreams that we set forth at Unity, and who had listened to some of our broadcast, suggested to the man that maybe, maybe he could find some help at Unity. After a series of attempts, which, unfortunately, I was not able to fulfill because of my schedule, I did have a consultation with the man. We talked and I simply shared the new insight, which we do so often, where each person is a whole creature, even if he frustrates that wholeness, that there is an allness even within the apparent illness. That there are no incurable conditions, there are only uncured conditions. There are only conditions that overwhelm us in consciousness. That there is always a potential for life that is whole and limitless.
Well, the man listened. I'm sure he didn't understanding the metaphysics involved. All he knew was that suddenly I was saying to him something that he wanted to hear. His eyes lit up, and he stopped me in the middle, and he said, "Do you mean to say that I don't have to die?" I said, "Well, I suppose that, that is exactly what we are saying, if we can just get hold of this concept, and dream this dream, and work from the depth within ourselves." Well, it was, there was no talking to the man anymore. He was walking on air. He walked out singing. He went home and his wife told me later that he walked down the pathway to the house, and he was singing so loudly she thought he was drunk. She came out and he picked her up and swung her around the room, and kissed her as he hadn't done for a long time. He said, "I don't have to die! I don't have to die." He caught this impossible dream.
Now, obviously, this led him to a good bit of further involvement, and study, and prayer, and he had some challenges to work out in his own consciousness, but he kept on. Today, this is many years ago, the man is not only alive, but he's well, and happy, and successful. Now this was no conversion as traditional religion might suggest it. He didn't suddenly get religion nor did he have an experience of emotional salvation. He simply got a dream, a vision, and it moved him back into the mainstream of life again. Again, it wasn't a thing that just happened suddenly, but suddenly the darkness faded away, and he saw the light. It gave him hope. He went on and he worked, and he worked hard at it. There was a time when the man was standing at the center door practically everyday when we opened it. He came and read, attended every class, every lecture, went to meditation meetings and so forth. He worked at it, but he had a dream. He knew that he didn't have to die.
Scriptures say, "Without vision, the people perish." Little do we know, the real problem in our lives is not that conditions become sordid, or limiting, or chaotic, but that we let our dreams and our hopes fade away. Look back in your life and try to recall the things that you've hope for and dreamed of through your experience. The great tragedy of life is that we allow these things to die within us, to fade away, because they are our very lifeblood. The real test of your life or mine is not in what we have, or in the fact that we're free from difficulties and so forth. The real test of our life is what we're looking up to, our visions, our hopes, our aspirations.
If, at any time, you're really serious in wanting to know what's wrong with you, or what's wrong with your life, take a test. It's very easy to do. Just spend some time and write down all of the things that you're dreaming for, and hoping for, all your aspirations right now, not what they once were, but right now. Outline your vision for yourself and for the world. When you've completed your list, this will tell you more about yourself than a psychiatrist could tell you in twenty sessions, because you will discover, if you have been honest, that there are yearnings that you have forgotten. You may be surprised at how now your scope of aspiration has become, how little you're really looking forward to, how few things you're really aspiring toward. Actually the vitality of life is always indicated by the size and the depth of one's dreams.
One of the great ideals of this new insight and truth is that our basic desires, or our dreams, or our hopes are the prophets and the precursors of our future, at least they indicate the potential and the readiness. As Emerson says, "No hope so bright but is the beginning of its own fulfillment." In a very real sense, our desires, our longings, our dreams and aspirations, are the very prophecies of what we can become. If we continue to hold them, the prophecies of what we ultimately will become.
One of the great dreamers of all time was Abraham, considered to be the father of the one God idea. Coming out of the east in a search for God, he went to the top of a mountain, and there he dreamed a dream. It was as if a voice said to him, "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward, southward, eastward, westward. For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it." This was the great turning point in his life, and in consciousness, this is the turning point in the life of any of us. Look up, away from the swamp bogs of limitation. Look up and behold the greater possibilities of life. Look up and let your mind reach up and out. As it has been said so often in metaphysics, what you can conceive and believe as a possibility, you can and you will achieve.
In other words, dare to dream and see yourself as manifesting your aspirations, and your dreams, and your visions as a reality. Dare to see yourself as successful, as healthy, as confident, as living a live of love and fulfillment. In time, if you're patient, and if you constantly entertain the dream in a very tender loving way, you will begin to see it come forth into manifestation. Remember, it's not a miracle of becoming something you're not, but it is the awakening to the depth of what you have always been. It is the releasing of your divine potential.
One of the things that has been very hopeful and enlightening in the last few years, was the little fiction story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Totally impractical story. Editors didn't know what to do with it. They didn't know whether it was a child's story, a fantasy, or what. Defying everyone, it became one of the all-time best sellers. You may recall in this story, Jonathan Livingston Seagull has a talk with Maynard Gull, who was the gull with the broken wing, who is symbolic of the pitiful state that so many people are in with habits of self limitation, and physical afflictions, and race prejudice, and social injustice, and poverty, and so forth.
Jonathan said to Maynard Gull, "You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way." Maynard said, "Are you saying that I can fly?" He'd been walking, dragging this wing around with him for a long time. Jonathan said, "I say you are free," and Maynard Gull rose himself to the highest stature, raised his wings and flapped them, and he flew away, and he was totally healed.
Remember, the real source of happiness and satisfaction in life, in the life of anyone, is not what we've accomplished or what we've accumulated, and sometimes we put too much emphasis on these things. It is determined by what we're living for, what we're looking up to, our visions, our aspirations, our dreams. This is one of the weaknesses of the so called goal-oriented approach to truth, because we put all our thought, in terms of goals we want to get toward, and we work at them mechanically. We think of success as getting there, getting the job, getting to the next rung on the ladder. All too often, when we reach the goal and achieve the success, we find there nothing but emptiness, because we've put all our eggs in the basket of accomplishment, and achievement, and accumulation.
Whenever one course is through, whenever one project is filled, we'd better get busy dreaming some new dreams or dust off some old ones, or life will become stale and purposeless. Sometimes when we wonder what's wrong with us, it may be little more than this, that we've stopped dreaming dreams. Browning did say, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a heaven for," but he was not saying, as the preacher seemed to suggest, that it's helpful to reach for the moon, to reach for that which is impossible, because it keeps you trying. He was stressing the importance certainly of having a vision beyond present achievement, but he stressed, what's a heaven for, if not to keep before you the ideal of the full, complete, wonderful self that you are and always have been, and that you ultimately will be, if you keep reaching for it, if you keep on.
There's a beautiful poem by Mary Mae Oesch entitled, Dare to Dream. I'd like to close with that. "Dare to dream and follow through to see your dream as real and true. The voice of vision sings through you, your efforts to inspire. Think your dream, for from your thought, the substance manifests, and naught can quench the quickened faith that's fraught with spirits, life, and fire. Act your dream. Your deeds fulfill your prayers. You conquer what you will and bravely mount the steepest hill when God-ward you aspire. Live your dream. Success awaits your magic touch and God creates through you. Fling wide the golden gates to the realm of heart's desire."
Copyright 1981 Unity®
Unity Village, MO 64065