We have each been given an amazing ability to focus our attention on any one of many different mental levels. A lot of people go through life never realizing that there are levels in the mind and that you can move up and down between those levels.
We pay a high price for not knowing this. For example, every negative emotion depends on you being in the lowest level. As soon as you get out of the lowest level, that negative emotion loses its power. That is one reason people are unaware of the higher levels: it is as if the negative emotion has an investment in you being asleep or unaware of something else you can access. It wants control!
So imagine you are terrified of some situation and are caught up in imagining, “Well what if this, and what if that?” and “The world is going to come to an end.” These thoughts all support the whirlwind of the negative emotion.
But if you move up just a little higher and look at things from that new point of view, you would see how unfounded those fears are and how much they depend on illusion. You might gain a different perspective that makes a huge difference to your spiritual life.
I am going to give you my Mountaintop Sermon. It is one of the shortest sermons I have ever given. It usually requires an hour of driving and an hour of hiking before I get to it. Since we don’t have that much time, I invite you to climb mentally with me to the top of Mount Lemmon, the highest peak of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Arizona.
Looking out over the vast valley below, you can see the distant Santa Rita Mountains to the south and the Rincons to our left. You can see the Tucson Mountains to our right and the huge valley in between. There are a half a million people in the valley.
There are people going to work; there are people coming home from work; there are people who are upset because the traffic light turned red. There are people who were just involved in an accident. There are people in the hospital and people in the emergency room. There are people being born and people dying. There are people making love and people making war. There are people who are terrified and people who are peaceful.
But what does it look like from this vantage point? It is one perfect harmony. Everything is beautiful and as it should be.
You see, from God’s point of view, the world is going along fine. The closer you get to the level on which people live, the more you can get caught up in little things like the way we live and die over traffic (for one example). As if they matter in the grander scheme of things.
It is like the father watching his child play at the beach. The child builds a sand castle and the waves come in and destroy the castle. The child’s world comes to an end. Does the father cry? No, he smiles, because he has a higher vantage point and he sees this little event as part of the grander picture; he doesn’t get caught up in the small picture.
In any situation, we can access the higher level and view it differently. I have known people who do this as they go in for surgery. You might think, “This is terrible, they are about to go under the knife and their heart might stop during the operation, or something else terrible might happen.” Yet you find the patient in a very peaceful state. I think sometimes we are given the ability to access our peaceful levels at the very moment when we need peace most.
Sometimes people going into battle get into a state of peace. We can get caught up in the illusion that we must be upset because of the situation, but the situation does not cause the upset. What causes the upset is that we are stuck in the basement and we need to get to a higher level to interpret our situation properly.
Viewing our situation from the highest level enables us to see our life as far out as eternity. Five minutes or five years or one hundred years are as nothing compared to eternity. So if you are really upset about something, just access the higher level and think, “I wonder how this looks in relation to my eternal welfare.”
While I was waiting for our group’s meeting to begin, I found myself standing outside wanting cars to come in the parking lot. And then I thought, “This is crazy, let’s go to the higher level.” On the higher level, you can see all the cars. They have already left home and the people are in the cars, converging on this place. Because I had not seen that, I had the emotion going, “Are they coming or aren’t they?” But it was already in the cards, wasn’t it? So that emotion depends on me having a very limited point of view. I can make up stuff to be upset about. The ego always likes to be upset.
There are other things we can achieve by raising the mind. One of them is to see more deeply and understand things that are otherwise an enigma. Swedenborg tells a story where he was talking to an angel in the spiritual world and the angel challenged his view of the Trinity, and Swedenborg said, “Go deeper into my thinking, please, and you may perhaps find some agreement” (Revelation Unveiled 961).
Have you ever had the thought that disagreements depend on a failure to understand the other person’s point of view, and that if you really understood another person, you would agree with them? How can you understand another person’s point of view? You must rise to a higher level and be willing to look at it from a more universal plane or perspective.