Understanding the Beatitudes - 1 of 8
Understanding the Beatitudes Series 1 of 8
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
by Rev. Dr. Christine 2/2/2020
Today begins an 8 week Bible series on what is known as “The Beatitudes.” “The Beatitudes” are part of Jesus the Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount”. You may find this important work, with slight variations, in both the book of Matthew 5:1-8 and Luke 6:20-23 of the Bible.
There are many metaphysical interpretations which seem very close in meaning. Reference materials used today are from Divine Science authors; Emmet Fox’s “Sermon on the Mount” and Clifton King’s “Happier Living; through the Beatitudes.” And, the Lamsa and King James Bibles.
First a little background. The Sermon on the Mount opens with the Eight Beatitudes. They are written as prose poem as a summary to the entire Sermon on the Mount. They are called Beatitudes as they are attitudes for us to be, or formula for living the Christ consciousness.
The style it is written in is compared to Buddha’s Eight-Fold Path. Each verse begins with the same word “Blessed.” Where as the “Eightfold Path” of Buddhism, each verse begins with the word “Right.” Having eight verses means of spiritual wisdom. Each verse is an instruction for the path of unfoldment for an initiate or disciple.
Kabbalists say that the number 8 is a channel for the inflow and outflow of the spiritual power and light. It is the symbol of the world of the Ogdoad; being the 8th spiritual sphere of the Gnosis, which is called the “World of the Christ.” In which each statement is required to begin with the same word.
The rest of Jesus’ sermon gives a more detailed explanation. Jesus’ style of teaching was to give a message that had multiple levels of spiritual understanding and instruction so that he could reach all people. We can see it as instruction for awakening to knowing God, also as promises of fulfillment. And as always, there is a mystical or esoteric message for soul unfoldment of the Christ Consciousness.
We must remember that the Bible itself has been translated, and the King James version is in Old English. Translators of that day, did their best to find the appropriate words to match. In some cases there are multiple meanings to the one word, and they would pick the one that made the most sense at that time.
In addition, since it was translated, the meanings to words have also changed. For the average reader the “Beatitudes” would be confusing and wouldn’t get the deeper meaning.
Starting at the beginning of the sermon in Matthew chapter 5, it reads, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples come unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Here we have Jesus the Christ going up into a mountain. To some readers it may sound like Jesus left the multitudes behind to privately teach his 12 disciples, but this isn’t what happened. When we understand this metaphysically or symbolically, the mountain represents going to a high state of consciousness - that of God Consciousness or Christ Consciousness. It is having that connection to the Divine Presence within.
Next we have “when he was set his disciples come unto him.” The disciples represent his activated power centers which are in one accord of mind, body, soul. More than just sitting down; his consciousness was centered in an uplifted state of Christ Consciousness, then he opened his mouth saying “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In the Book of Luke it reads as “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the Kingdom of God.” Luke uses the word God in place of heaven - they are interchangeable. And, in other teachings of Jesus, he says that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.
Here is a key, that we are being taught about inner consciousness. Heaven is a state of God consciousness. Living by right understanding, thought and deed, or action, is the “Christ in you the hope and glory.” Jesus is teaching us about meditation and prayer.
Taking this first lesson at face value seems rather confusing. To be poor, or poor in spirit, when we know that God wants us to be happy and not suffer or be deprived. Yet, today many people do believe that we are to suffer because of this translation. The Lamsa translation from the Aramaic language of the ancient Eastern manuscripts has “Blessed are the humble, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
When we look at this message with the word humble, it makes more sense; as to be without pride, arrogance, or self-will. To be “poor in spirit” means to be empty of the puffed up ego or self-centeredness for the Divine Self or our Christ Self. That of turning our mind over to God.
A humbled person is open and receptive, and is teachable to other ideas. An arrogant person is filled with self pride, is rigid in thinking, and not open to the things of the Spirit – that still small voice is drowned out by a person’s own thoughts. The first lesson we are given, is to be teachable and listen, and allow the Divine Self within us to take over in our consciousness. This is a promise that you shall know the Kingdom of God when you have humbled your mind.
Jesus came to teach mankind the great truth “God is within us”, “God is spirit”, and that “God is at hand - everywhere - Omnipresent.” The belief of the times was that only a select few were to ever know the one all powerful God. Jesus is teaching us to go directly to the God Source within our self. The truth is at hand, right within our own mind, heart and soul. Jesus had this great message for all mankind even the least of them shall know God, and here is how – “in spirit.”
From Divine Science Its Principle and Practice the glossary defines “spirit” as “Substance of the One Mind, Omnipresent. The substance of God, hence the substance of all. Spirit has within it all inherencies, all potentialities of the perfect pattern in God-Mind.”
Swapping some words we have “Blessed are those of One Mind; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In one mind, or a receptive silent state of consciousness, we shall know God.
Another word to look at is the word “Blessed.” Blessed also means holy, happy, joyful, or blissful. Heaven as a state of consciousness, promises one who attains it to be blessed, to be happy and joyful.
Another verse that adds more clarity is in Matt. 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Jesus is talking about silent prayer or meditation, in that we can reach this joyful state of union in God when we humble our mind to be receptive to listen. You cannot talk and listen at the same time anymore than you can stand up and sit down at the same time. Try it sometime!
Jesus had little patience with the Pharisees’ of his day - the Jewish priesthood and its theory of salvation through the Temple observances, some say 600 laws a day, and little spiritual food. Also the priest’s lavish lifestyle at the expense of the people. Jesus came to bring the truth to release the Jewish people from all these rituals and being separated from their direct source to God within.
Jesus said in John 4:23-24 , “The hour cometh and now is when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is spirit and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
We begin with the first most important Beatitude; the attitude of prayer. We go to the mountain top; that special place in consciousness. Right where you are “God is.” Therefore, pray right where you are, in your home, at work, your car - your body is a holy temple. In the mountain top you humble yourself before God by putting aside all other thoughts and worldly desires; being truly teachable. Having only one desire to knowing God.
The rewards are great in the silence of God. In knowing God we are happy, joyful, peaceful, blissful. There are no concerns to yesterday or of tomorrow. There are only moments of now. Here we build the foundation of our future tomorrows. Receiving true inner understanding, renewing of mind, body and soul. Rich is one that is humble in spirit – for all is at hand for one that hears, believes, and lives accordingly.
We have the story of the Rich Young Man, in Matt. 19: 16-22, who asked to join Jesus, and Jesus told him to give away everything, then he could follow him. This man turned away sorrowful because he had great possessions, and couldn’t leave them. He was a prisoner of his own making. This story was not teaching against possessions; it was about the attitude concerning our possessions.
Jesus teachings are about the soul’s possessions. So we have the trappings of material pride, spiritual pride, based on outer appearances. We have our beliefs; how we hold tight to our beliefs and will fight to the end to save them, regardless in how they serve us. And, lastly we have all our distractions – our busyness, problems, and concerns. It is so easy to forget the true observance of putting God first.
I’m reminded of many years ago, when a diamond ring I had was stolen. I saw this ring for a long time before deciding to put it on lay-a-way. It was about a year before I could take it home. So when it was stolen, I was deeply upset. Then I realized that this was a lesson in attachment. That I had allowed an object to take away my peace and joy. It was also a lesson in forgiveness for my having been so trusting and lack of good judgement.
According to Divine Science co-founder, Nona Brooks, in her book Mysteries, she writes, “first thing in the morning, at the very moment upon awakening, to make God first. Those first few moments, before any thoughts come rushing in, are the very most important of the day as they set the tone, the energy, the atmosphere for the rest of our activities. And, may be the only time that you find that level of quietude.
When you think there isn’t enough time in the morning, you will find that you lose a lot more time by not putting God first. For, when we start the morning with prayer, gratitude, quiet time to connect and be still, the day flows more easily, answers come quickly, and emergencies stay off bay.” (end of quote)
Let us take a moment right now to imagine Jesus the Christ as our inner Christ Consciousness speaking. Get comfortable, and begin to climb the mountain dropping away all other thoughts and concerns, bringing our whole awareness to the presence of God... Just being present, in silence, and inwardly say “Here I am God - teach me.” In the still small voice the Christ within speaks, “Beloved of God, blessed are you who found the kingdom of heaven. Be still and know I Am God... And so it is.” Now bring your attention back to this room.
So let us remember to put to practice today’s lesson through our daily connection, and truly we shall be “Blessed” in knowing God within and everywhere present – that mystical connection – that sends the Christ before us to make the crooked roads straight. Then truly we can say “Happy are the one minded in God; for their’s is the Kingdom of heaven.”