"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs." Have you ever wondered what this odd statement by Jesus means? At first glance, it seems to be pointing to the age-old notion that one must be materially "poor," i.e., divested of material wealth, in order to have spiritual gain. This idea ties up readily with the Old Testament chestnut that says, "Money is the root of all evil." But these interpretations are not consistent with Jesus' emphasis that it is the inner life which determines the quality of one's spiritual life.
To be "poor in spirit" is to be free from attachment to all "created" things, that is, all that is not original to our essential spiritual nature. Meister Eckhart, the Christian mystic, described this inner state, as "internal poverty." While it might seem to be a high and holy standard applicable to only the most devout monastic, it has practical value for everyone who wishes to be free. When you and I need life to be a certain way and life does not cooperate, we suffer.
The process of realizing our true nature necessitates a process of subtraction, of emptying out everything that is not original to us. In the Christian mystical tradition, this is called, via negativa (the negative way). The Greek term is kenosis or self-emptying. In the non-dual Hindu tradition, it's called neti-neti, which means, "not this, not that," a process of discerning and discarding everything that you are not. It is a process of negating and disidentifying all names and forms in the relative world of appearances in order to recognize and realize the Truth of our Being, the eternal, unchanging Perfection of the Kingdom within.
Unity has its own form and name for this process as well, which it calls "Denials." The use of a "denial" statement is to declare what may appear to be a fact but is actually untrue in the Absolute understanding. Jesus said, "Do not judge by appearances, but by righteous judgment." Our minds swirl with supposed facts and opinions and this whirlwind of appearances often obscures the deeper Truth, the "righteous" realization of our true nature. Unless we assiduously question and penetrate what passes as truth, but is in fact surface appearances, we will always be "hungering and thirsting" for peace and happiness. Ultimately we must come to admit that what keeps us "out of the kingdom" is not unwanted external conditions, but what we know that isn't so.
Join us Sunday as we continue our Lessons in Awakening series, with a talk, entitled, "Neti, Neti." You'll come to see that the path of negation, honored in many spiritual traditions, is a most positive approach to spiritual growth and understanding.
Peace and blessings,