In Jesus’s time, Mosaic Law, as delivered in the Ten Commandments, and John the Baptist’s teachings too, emphasized the importance of what to do or not to do. The teachings were literal. They were about right-doing and wrong-doing. In the beatitudes, Jesus encouraged the multitudes to focus on being and not just doing. He asked us to think more deeply about our true identity, our relationship to the divine, and who we have come to be.
On the first, most basic level (the level of stone), the beatitudes can be read literally as a list of Christian ethics that help you to do God’s work. On the second level (the level of water), the beatitudes are a series of holy meditations that reveal the heart of God. And on the third level (the level of water into wine), they are a set of mystical keys that help you to enter the Mind of God.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
What is mercy? On the level of stone, it means to act with loving kindness; on the level of water, it is to love with all your heart; and on the level of wine, it is to experience the love of God. “Proclaim that Mercy is the greatest attribute of God,” wrote Saint Faustina Kowalska in Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. In Islam, God is described as the “most merciful.” In Judaism, the Hebrew word “hesed” denotes a reciprocal relationship between mankind and God based on mercy, compassion, and love that dissolve all thoughts of separation.
Mercy and forgiveness are very good friends, if not twins. To be merciful, is to forgive. Who are we forgiving? Everyone, including ourselves. We forgive ourselves for all our self-judgments and self-doubts. Only when we stop judging ourselves will we see ourselves as God created us. We also forgive our enemies, so that we have no enemies. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. “Without forgiveness, I will still be blind,” it says in A Course in Miracles.
At the highest level, mercy is an experience of how God sees us. And God sees that we are without sin. In truth, there is no sin. Sin is only a man-made idea. Similarly, there is no karma between God and us. Karma exists only between the ego and super-ego. All accounts are settled in the Mind of God. By being willing to forgive, we realize we are forgiven. We obtain mercy, by being merciful.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Jesus shows us in the sixth beatitude how to see God. What does God look like? In the Book of Genesis, we are told, “So God created mankind in his own image.” What exactly is the image of God?
In my lectures, I point out: “So God created mankind in his own image, and we instantly returned the favour!” In other words, God creates us in God’s image; and the ego creates God in the ego’s image. God extends the essence of God into all God’s creations, and the ego projects the ego onto all it makes. Hence, the ego turns God into a bearded man in the sky, separate from us, who will fix a football result if he receives enough prayers.
Let’s go back to the line in the Bible: “So God created mankind in his own image.” What does this mean? The only image of God given in the Bible is an image of pure light. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all,” says John 1:5. Our identity is I AM LIGHT. We are not a body, nor our ego, and nor our self-image. I AM LIGHT. Divine Light animates the body. I AM LIGHT. We are the light of the world, together with all of God’s creations.
We see this light by being “pure of heart”. When we let go of judging, we stop seeing with the body’s eyes and we see what the heart sees. This is how we experience the vision of Christ.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.
We are the peacemakers. First, we make peace with ourselves. We allow ourselves to rest in the presence of God. “Peace is the dwelling place of divinity,” wrote Nicholas of Cusa, the German mystic. We find repose in the wholeness of our soul, which is the Self God made. In this wholeness, we make peace with fears, doubts, judgments, anxiety and other temptations that arise when we sleep and forget about our true nature.
Peacemakers feel the oneness of creation. They are able to see through the optical delusion of separation. They can reconcile heaven and hell. ‘Every step of the way to heaven is heaven,” said St Catherine of Siena. In reality we are in heaven; yet we dream of being in hell. We are an eternal soul; yet we dream we are just a body. Any apparent difference in gender, skin colour, politics, culture, religion, for example, does not change the oneness to which we all belong.
A “son of God” is simply an expression of God. It is nothing to do with gender. Whenever anyone brings an awareness of wholeness and oneness to a situation they will be a channel for the divine.
8. Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Here, in this final blessing, Jesus encourages you to stay true to your holy purpose on earth. Yes, you will experience a dark night of the ego. Yes, you will enter the wilderness. Yes, you will endure your own crucifixion of sorts. Your family may not always understand and appreciate you. Friends may not be able to stay awake in your time of need. The crowds may stone you (especially on Facebook!).
Beware the temptation to give up on your holy purpose. Refuse to use any setback, or any wound, as an excuse to play small. It matters not if the world loves you. The world is not your source of love. What matters is that you feel the love God has for you. When you allow yourself to feel this divine love you will know that you dwell forever in the kingdom of heaven, which is the Mind of God.
After my talk on the Beatitudes, Immaculée Ilibagiza gave her talk, which included a beautiful recitation of The Lords Prayer. And then Ibis Kaba and nine members of our pilgrimage released ten doves of peace into the sky. Afterwards, Ibis introduced my daughter Bo and me to Sister Mary Rose who had granted us permission to be at the Mount of the Beatitudes. She gave us both a blessing – one that I will keep with me forever.