The Power of Thanksgiving
On November 26th the people of our state and nation will join in celebrating a unique national holiday. One which is different from all others in dedication and in what it commemorates.
Except for the Thanksgiving holiday, all of our other national holidays are of a secular or temporal nature. New years day is an event of the calendar, July 4th memorializes our political independence, but Thanksgiving day alone is what might be called God's holiday for on that day only of all the holidays we render thanks to the Divine Spirit for the blessings that we enjoy.
In accordance with the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation issued by every president since George Washington, as President of the University of Philosophical Research and the Philosophical Research Society, and on behalf of its Board of Trustees and members and friends, I hereby tender our thanks to the Supreme Divine.
With that in mind let us look upon this coming sacred holiday and the power of thanksgiving in a new and deeper way. One which we hope will open the way to much to be thankful for in the years ahead.
Jesus said, “I thank thee O Father Lord in heaven and earth that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and has revealed them unto babes.” Let us look for that revelation and in doing so may we be as Paul who said, “Rejoice in the Lord always, have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace that passes all understanding will keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
This Thanksgiving will be a far cry from that which the Wampanoag people and the colonists celebrated many years ago on the rock bound coasts of New England.
They did not feast on that first holiday in the midst of safety and comfort but in peril and hardship they offered thanks. At such a moment of drastic change and unfamiliarity, the Wampanoag people shared their resources and intuitive knowledge of the land with these early colonists. They possessed a knowledge that perceives God in all things and events and understands them as part of the Divine purpose. A knowledge that receives all happenings with love and joy and without rebellion as coming from God. And that in purity of deed all of its work and all that it has to do as an offering to God.
As religious dissenters, the colonists had undergone persecution in the old world and had come to the new determined to continue at all cost toward the spiritual goal they had set for themselves. In them, I believe, was a sense of selfless devotion to a great truth of the spirit, inner strength, and perseverance. Fundamental in their motivation was the guiding impulse of mankind, that impels him forward toward ever free and higher spiritual unfoldment and perfection. Not denying old and eternal truths but realizing them to an even larger extent in their lives and in world nature.
This was the rise of a great nation on the North American continent destined to lead humanity so that all human kind may enjoy the same free unfoldment of the spirit and may have all material blessings necessary to the wellbeing of the human race and the peace of the world.
If we are to be wise and provident and learn from the story of these early Americans, we too must have as they did a selfless devotion to an even greater truth of spirit and even greater reliance on the power of thanksgiving. If we can do this it will lead us not only to a free nation but to something yet greater, to a free world and a happy mankind. That new devotion which we should undertake today should not be for ourselves, but for all of human kind. Its purpose should be to carry out the divine will in the world. To bring about a spiritual transformation and to receive into our lives and into that of humanity a divine nature.
It is not for spiritual bliss alone, but for the realization of the kingdom of heaven on earth. The ideal that is closest to the heart of all peoples, the aim of the Messianic era of the Hebrews, the Divine Anunda, or Golden era of the Hindus. No mere external rearrangements alone, whether political, social or religious can bring this about, the change must be inner.
The state of the world will not change until human nature changes, until that rebirth occurs, until man becomes not an instrument of his ego but a realized soul. Not as some supernatural after death expectation, but as a spiritual fulfillment of the natural realm. In that great day all will have cause to be thankful for each man will then see himself in the selves of others and then in his own self and the Divine in all. This spiritually reborn man will have a greater knowledge, sympathy, power and self effectuation of the Divine Truth. He will be aware of and identified with the inner being of all men.
As man evolves towards spiritual liberation and identity with all others, he evolves toward spiritual oneness and the unity and harmony of mankind. It is this way that the change in human nature will come about. In this there will be reconciliation of all differences. The true equality in which all are children of God, an end to the clashes of the individual and communal egoism and abolishing of any imposition on the spirit, mind, or body.
And in its place the outstretched hand of love. Not by might nor power but by my spirit saith the Lord, not by the material armor of science, but by the spiritual armor of love shall we enter the joy of a new thanksgiving for all people. As Paul the apostle to the gentiles let us be the apostle to all men so that this thanksgiving may come into their lives. This is the thanksgiving and the table of that feast, the feast of the spirit spoken in the 23rd Psalm, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, my cup runneth over surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Today, when we look upon humanity we see suffering, ignorant humanity torn apart by racial and religious barriers. We see materialistic nations, worshipping at the altars of science. We see wars and hear rumors of wars even to the annihilation of mankind. But when we look up, we see light breaking in the east, the dawning of a new day, and in the rosy hue of that new horizon, we see the form of a new kind of individual. Transformed perfected, clothed in a light from heaven, and deep in the silence of our souls we hear a voice saying, my dearly beloved, that person is you, the whole of human kind, transformed lifted up, made new. Let us look up and give thanksgiving for our redemption draws near.
Obadiah Harris is the founder and president of the University of Philosophical Research. Harris has a long and storied career in both mainstream academia and the American metaphysical culture. He holds a Ph.D. in education administration and supervision from the University of Michigan and an MA in education from Arizona State University, where he was an associate professor of education and director of community education.
He is the author of multiple books, including his most recent title, The Simple Road: A Handbook for the Contemporary Seeker published this year by Tarcher/Penguin.