By Pierre Pradervand ~
“I bless myself sincerely and joyfully for being the utterly beautiful divine creature I am, at one with the Source of infinite Love. … I bless myself as Spirit’s manifestation of glorious liberty, total freedom and unlimited innocence – and this is true of all humanity.” From my new book, 365 Blessings to Heal Myself and the World (June 2018)
For me, as a child being brought up in a traditional Christian denomination deeply entrenched in Calvinistic beliefs about the sinfulness of man, life seemed to be like a towering mountain, its sides covered with soap. One climbed—or rather crawled—a few steps up and . . . whoosh! One came slithering back. At the top sat a menacing, occasionally scowling, very rarely smiling father figure called “God Almighty” or “Lord of Hosts.” He was holding a balance sheet on which, I was convinced, my debits could only far exceed my credits. It’s not too surprising that guilt became the most pervasive feeling in my life. It took me years to free myself from this feeling of guilt.
Why is guilt such a pervasive feeling? One reason is that society is made up of groups that seem to spend a great deal of time judging, condemning, and criticizing one another. This is all too frequently done with great self-righteousness. But is there not some deeper reason for the ubiquity of criticism, judgment, and guilt in human affairs? And how does one free oneself from this burden?
Years ago, during a period between two jobs, I spent days studying spiritual texts and one morning the thought came with utter clarity: Study the innocence of man! I became for the first time really aware of the revolutionary meaning of Biblical statements such as “I will wash mine hands in innocency” (Ps 26:6) and Paul’s triumphant affirmation “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1)
That evening I was walking on air as I returned home. The next morning the vision of man’s utter innocence was so powerful I felt like shouting in the streetcar and to all the people I passed in the streets, “You are innocent, YOU ARE INNOCENT.” Today, I can still feel the incredible power of this statement.
What made me so conscious of man’s innocence? After all, I hadn’t ascended and was still living a normal human life. It was the joyful understanding that we—you and I and all—in our real spiritual identity are utterly spotless, blameless, pure, untainted, immaculate, undefiled, stainless, without the slightest hint or claim of guilt. A metaphysician of the last century, Mary Baker Eddy explains: “God creates man perfect and eternal in His own image. Hence man is the image, idea, or likeness of perfection—an ideal which cannot fall from its inherent unity with divine Love, from its spotless purity and original perfection.”
This perfection is not some Platonic ideal we will one day attain after a great deal of sweating and struggling! That man is your true being now. There is only the man of God’s creating—spiritual, utterly good, filled with light, free. That man is the genuine selfhood of you and me and even of people whose lives don’t seem as upright as we think they should be.
Yet it is important to stress that to glimpse this perfection—and hence our innocence—is one thing; to demonstrate it consistently in all our behavior is something quite different. If it is true that we can make the demonstration only if we have the vision, it is equally true that vision not followed by demonstration is empty, a squandering of a precious gift. A great teacher declared 2000 years ago that those who do the truth come to the light, implying, perhaps, that our claim to innocence will have power and substance only when it is expressed in lives that radiate qualities such as purity, light, integrity, unselfed compassion, tenderness, unselfconscious love, forgiveness and truthfulness.
The story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) brings out this innocence with special clarity. In the parable, the father had not one single word of accusation or condemnation for the younger son who had squandered his inheritance in riotous living. A fallen prodigal was the human outlook referred to in the parable in the words “This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” We might say that the prodigal had lost the consciousness of what it meant to abide in the Father’s presence —and this only to human sense. The Father’s vision was, is, and always will be the vision of unspotted innocence.
In that same parable, the father makes a statement to the elder son which to me is the most striking in the whole Bible: “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” All the qualities of God are ours by reflection—is that not utterly amazing? All—not some, or most of them sometimes. No. All of them. Period. Not tomorrow, but now (although the actual demonstration of this fact in our lives will take some time). And that includes of course the quality of innocence. The only source of our innocence is the nature of God: because God is innocent, we are innocent as His expression. Hence, we do not earn our innocence through right behavior. Loving, compassionate, pure behavior is the result of our spotless innocence. However, the consciousness of our innocence can come only through repentance and regeneration.
A wonderful consequence of feeling our pristine innocence is that we judge and criticize others less and less, and the unkind gossip, criticism, sharp comments, and judgments of others no more touch us than water on a duck’s back.
A last comment. Accusation, condemnation, and guilt imply the dualism of an accuser and an accused. But where there is the consciousness of perfect oneness —of God (or divine Love) and man as His/Her complete and utterly joyful expression—there is nothing apart from Love’s omnipresence and gentle glow. No image or metaphor is adequate to express man’s perfect oneness with his divine source, because language is derived primarily from limited human experience. But one image I have found helpful is that of a diamond with innumerable facets: each facet is unique, catches the light in a unique way, and yet is one with the diamond.
Friend, why not let yourself be divine Love’s pure, crystalline diamond facet? Enjoy reflecting His infinite light!