Sunday lesson given at Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore, December 22, 2019.
Hi Friends —
Let me introduce a new metaphysical term: Manger Consciousness. Manger consciousness is not Christ consciousness. Few, if any of us, will ever achieve Christ consciousness in our current lifetime. But most of us are fully capable of achieving manger consciousness, here and now, in this lifetime, perhaps today.
What is manger consciousness? And why is it important? Manger consciousness is consciousness that is truly comfortable in one’s own body and comfortable with one’s own ego.
Take a moment to think about a manger. A manger may look warm and fuzzy in a Christmas card, but my sense is that few of us would be happy giving birth or being born in the wet and smelly world of cattle and cowboys. The raw physicality of a manger is too much for middle class folk like you and me.
If that seems a bit strong, then you may be surprised to know that, according to Unity commentary, a manger represents “the animal life of the body in which the new life is first manifested.” The same commentary declares that the flocks represent “the divine natural forces in the subconscious which are under the divine law of protection (shepherds).” Flocks are cattle. And shepherds, what are they? In today’s world they are what we would politely call cowboys, or impolitely call rednecks. The commentary also says that the inn represents “the outer consciousness of spiritual things which cannot conceive or give room to such an insignificant beginning of the great spiritual development of the soul.”
So much for defining manger consciousness. Why is manger consciousness important? It is important because, if there is a manger consciousness, then there is also an “inn consciousness.” Not only is the inn consciousness incapable of perceiving the incarnation of Christ, it actually functions to keep the incarnated Christ of out it’s world of experience. In other words, “inn consciousness” is spiritually elitist—holding to the mistaken notion that pathways that embrace the “animal life of the body” are less respectable than purely spiritual pathways.
Does this say that “animal life” and “divine natural forces”–the body and the ego–are more capable of perceiving the incarnation of God than is our highly intellectually developed capacity for theological speculation? No, it doesn’t, but but it does say one thing very clearly: the body and the ego are not the problem.
In fact, instead of being a problem, the body and the ego are part of the purpose of incarnation. The commentary continues, “the instinct of the soul to express the life of God (the infant Jesus) enters into even the animal life and occupies it.” So not only are the body and ego not the problem, they are truly part of the divine plan, or at least part of the soul’s desire for expressing God.
This is why manger consciousness is important: manger consciousness keeps us open to the possibility that the body and the ego are also part of God’s plan. Perhaps that is why Jesus is so comfortable associating with people and things of less than respectable character and ways.
But there is deeper reason why manger consciousness is important. Angels show up and declare “And on earth peace among men in whom he is pleased.” The Unity commentary for this verse is,
“The proclamation of peace on earth by the heavenly host symbolizes the calling together of a great multitude of angelic thoughts praising God and giving thanks for the great demonstration. The higher or heavenly realms of consciousness praise God for this evidence in the body (or earth) of a force that will restore peace and harmony.“
This says the purpose of incarnation—the purpose of Christmas—is the placement into our consciousness a force that restores peace and harmony to those who will embrace it (those “in whom he is pleased”). That force is manger consciousness. Manger consciousness is not elitist. The desire and plan of manger consciousness is not to exclude the body and ego from the inn, but rather to restore peace and harmony to both soul and body.
The point of this post is that the experience of peace, love, joy and light of Christmas is not, or should not, be a purely spiritual experience. Rather, it is also raw physical experience. God has punctured our soul with a force that brings peace and harmony, quickening both inner animal and natural forces that then awaken our soul to express the life of the infant Jesus.
Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 22, 2019
Download a PDF copy of this page: Luke 2 Manger Consciousness.pdf
Download MP3 of this talk: Manger Consciousness
Click here for a list of all Unity Center of Christianity in Baltimore podcast episodes.