Sermon: Wisdom by Christopher Johnson

2020 September 8
by DoMC


First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn

August 6, 2020

Christopher D. Johnson, Director of Facilities

More than 20 years ago, I inherited over time my great grandfather’s ties, both my grandfather’s ties, and my father’s ties. I had over 300 ties. Expensive ties. Do you know how often I wear ties? About once a year. It just so happened at the time I was reading an article about a Buddhist monk some place in the Northwest. I have forgotten why, but I decided it was a good idea to send those to him, a Buddhist monk who probably wore ties less than I. I received a nice letter back thanking me, and that was that, or so I thought. A couple of weeks later, I was driving down a deserted road and stopped because there was a box in the middle of the road blocking me. I got out of my truck and picked up the box, opened it and what do you think I found? A box of ties. Like 100 of them. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I stared motionless at the ties. 

Everything we put out in life literally returns to either bless us or curse us. In my example of giving a monk ties for which he has no need, they apparently shall also be returned. I decided to donate those ties to a second hand shop.

Newton’s third law of motion states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Spiritual laws make no distinction between those who have understanding and those who do not.

I grew up attending an Episcopal “high church” which is a tradition within the Anglican Church emphasizing ritual, priestly authority, sacraments, and historical continuity with Catholic Christianity. I have found this an important foundation to a moral and faith based ideology which I try to express today through my life.

Ever since I could remember, I have looked at life in spiritual terms. I knew instinctively from a young age that the physical world was not all there was. I would as a boy, contemplate life, death, religion, God. I would seek to have my questions answered by adults who had no satisfactory answers. When I was very young, about 5 or 6 years old, I remember asking a friend “Does everything feel like it is not real?” I actually asked that. I remember my friend just saying no.

When I left home at 17, I specifically set out to educate myself through life experience. The answers I was looking for was not being taught in school.

I lived as a hippie in a commune in Vermont. I worked with horses. I did construction. I was a Qi Gong body worker.

I traveled to many parts of the world as a quasi-military Merchant Marine which taught me self-discipline and allowed me the opportunity to embrace other cultures. A major part of my education was through a variety of spiritual teachers, some famous, some not.

Some of the training I received allowed me to fulfill the desire my soul had always been crying out for, which was the mystical adventure of life beyond our everyday human experience.

Some of this was extremely intensive and life altering, because before we can embrace higher truths Spiritual Law requires we must experience a reduction of self-identity.

Carl Jung said “There is no coming to consciousness without pain”.

Picture a bowel filled with water. The water is us. Everything we are, the light as well as that which is unhealed or dark in nature. Our vessel is filled with ourselves, everything we believe is true Should we wish to pierce the veil that separates us from Divine Wisdom, we must first empty some of the existing known water. As we do this a void within the vessel forms. Anytime we create this void, Divine law replaces it with something clearer and cleaner. Embracing this one concept of emptying oneself has the potential to unlock worlds hidden from view.  Should anyone seek wisdom, wisdom will answer. But be forewarned: The price for true wisdom does not come cheap. Those things we hold most dear must fade away first.

Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic poet who I will quote three times today said “And you, when will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

 Should we wish a deeper and nonlinear understanding of what is happening in the world today we must first have a very basic understanding of the source of our human experience. We are not physical beings all living on the same planet made up of earth, sky and water. We are actually energetic beings, living in a world of energy in motion.

Within that world of energy, the consequences of our past actions, our thoughts, desires, emotions, which are in their essence energy, attract into manifestation the physical representation of our attitudes and beliefs, both the light and the darkness. It is natural for us to want to recognize our preferable attributes. I certainly do. We like to see ourselves as bearers of light.

But if we are the light bearers we see ourselves as we must also give recognition to those parts of us which we judge as unholy or unwelcome, or dark in nature. Because most certainly any denial of essence will be magnetically attracted into the experience of our life and our world.

So I pose the uncomfortable question, are we channels of light or darkness? Wisdom is born as we begin to recognize the truth of our being, and the personal responsibility each one of us holds for the conditions of our world.

Rumi, said it this way: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.”

There is a story about a student of life who was deeply dismayed at all the darkness in the world. He decided to carry a torch with him everywhere he went.

One day he met a holy man who asked him the reason for his strange conduct. The student told the holy man that he was trying to shine a light on all the darkness he saw around him. The holy man asked “How is it you see darkness in your world? Do you not see the light shining brightly all around?”

The student asked, “Where is this light you speak of, and how can I find it?”

The holy man replied, “It is the light of the mind where all being is created.  Your intention to create light in the world is as futile as it is arrogant”.

Again, I quote Rumi who said it simply: “Look at the moon in the sky, not the one in the lake”.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, of whom I was a student for 9 years, spoke of the positive peaceful global transformation that would occur when as little as 1% of the world’s population practiced Transcendental Meditation. In 1975, the results of the first scientific research were announced which found statistically significant reduction in crime rates in 12 American cities when the threshold of each cities population practicing the TM technique was reached.

Meditation is just one example of how we can change the outer world circumstances by working from within.

He said concerning Wisdom: (Quote) “It is the responsibility of the older generation to advise the young, to tell the child what is right and wrong. Even if they do not listen to follow our direction, it is right to tell them.” (End Quote).

A person who wishes to create lasting change from a perceived worldly injustice and only works in the physical arena without recognizing the importance of their inner work, even if successful will only allow that hostel energy to morph into another form. True and lasting change must be realized in and through our individual and collective consciousness which naturally radiates outward. The true battlefield, the true arena, is within each us  The world is simply a mirror.



The wise recognize everything they believe may be wrong unless rooted in Divine principles. For Divine wisdom is from above and human consciousness is from below. Human consciousness, the child of the Divine, can never exceed the wisdom of its parent. Just as we human parents want to teach our children, so the Divine wants to teach us.

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