Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Does Letting Go Have to be Hard?

First, a short introduction to the “12 Powers” we use in our teachings. Our 1st principle says – one presence one power absolute good – and our reaction to that can be. OK. That’s a great premise but…now what? And our 2nd principle – that this One Power created me and that I am a spiritual being a well as human being. What can I do with that? It sounds so big and indefinable and impossible to put into words…..What does it mean to me and my life? How do I take ‘all that is’ and have a relationship with it? Early contributors to the New Thought movement grappled with this as well and there started to emerge a model that allows us to have a ‘hands on’ experience of our first and second principles. If we are made in the image and likeness that means that the attributes of God are also within us. We call these our 12 divine powers. Faith, love, understanding, wisdom, order, zeal, imagination….. these qualities are residing within us as the potential we draw from to fully live out our divine nature. Each one of these is like a station that we can tune into, that orients us to God, Spirit. The way a radio channel can connect us with a broadcasting station. I am going to use a physical analogy to describe a spiritual situation and there is always a place where it falls apart – but let’s see if this can shed some light on the relationship between us and God, using our divine powers. Let’s try this radio analogy……….We are all born with the ‘dial’ and we can choose how we tune into our powers. A little whisper of it with lots of static, we can ignore it….. or we can make an effort to use it and learn how to hone right in and get a beautiful strong clear connection. The three parts of the analogy I want to emphasize are: 1. we are all born with the dial – we all have the capacity to tune in. 2. the source is unlimited – we can’t use it up and we can’t get any more of it – we already one with the infinite source 3. nothing we do on the human plane can cause this pure connection point to be broken in any way. nothing. We have these 12 divine powers – but how wisely are we using them? Are we living them at their human level of expression or are we calling them forth to their full potential? How much do we want to tune in, how much do we want to be asleep? These divine powers are not forced upon on, they lay in their potential form within us waiting for us to explore…..and activate and use. For instance we all know how to use our human strength, but how can we lift it up and allow it to express as divine strength? And so forth with all our 12 powers. Human wisdom – divine wisdom. Human zeal – divine zeal. human life – divine life. How can we remember to access our divine potential and live from this place? To make sure we are always using them under the supervision……… guidance ..direction…….. of the Christ or our God-Self. Jesus was a perfect model of how we can experience and express these divine powers. He always acknowledged them as being of God, not himself. “Of myself I do nothing” “It is the father who does the work” “Your faith has made you whole”. Not my faith, my healing power, not my power, but the power of the One who created us all. With this short introduction to the 12 powers, let’s look at our power for November – release….letting go. There is a great story in Genesis 19 when an angel came to Lot and warned him that their home town would be destroyed. He was told to take his family and leave and don’t, under any circumstances, look back. Lot heeded this advice and left with his wife and two daughters. As they were leaving Lot’s wife turned around and looked back – and what happened to her? She turned into a pillar of salt. This story is an allegory for what can happen to us when we refuse to let go. We become stuck, hardened, unable to move and unable to enjoy life. Often times when we want to bring about something new in our lives, we use affirmations to draw it to us. We claim our incoming good. Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, said that it is just as necessary to let go of thoughts and conditions when their purpose no longer serves us – as it is to claim new ideas that we want to bring into our lives. We need to let go of any concepts or beliefs that are not aligned with our spiritual principles such as fear, doubt, worry AND we need to let go of outdated or outgrown concepts, thoughts and feelings. There have probably been many events or people in our lives that have greatly enhanced our life experience. Good friends, wonderful homes, great jobs. We are not being asked to give up our appreciation for these good things. It is good to recognize and give thanks for them. But if by reliving them or spending a lot of time ‘back there’ – what happens? We will miss this NOW moment and this NOW experience and the good that we could be enjoying right NOW. We will also be missing the opportunities to BE all that we can be. How do we activate our power of release? If you have had the experience of cleaning something – like dusting a house or cleaning a pool – we have seen that the harder we try – the more we get in there and work – the more mess we get. The dust settles right back down after it flew all over the room and the water stays dirty for days as a result of all of our ‘hard work’. Force never produces the results we are looking for. If we go into the ‘release’ activities like a warrior trying to destroy something – we will be met with resistance. That would be our human approach. How would our divinity approach this cleansing? Gently, easily, lovingly - so put your highest nature in charge of your releasing activity – not your human nature. Identify anything that is not aligned with your true self – made in the image and likeness of God…..persistently and gently. Like turning a big ship around. nudge, nudge, nudge until it starts to move in a new direction. We also release by turning away from outdated thoughts – not giving them any more time or energy. Releasing is a cleansing, purifying activity. Like taking out the garbage – we don’t do it angrily or with regret that we collected all this garbage. We can do it without judgment or remorse. It is something we know needs to be done regularly so we can enjoy it and be grateful that we have the power to let go of the past – imagine if we didn’t? How burdened we would be? MEDITATION – seven steps of release from Winnifred Hausmann’s book “Your God-Given Potential” Awakening: I am aroused to positive action to free myself from wrong thinking habits of the past. Repentance: I turn away from old habits of limited thinking. I know that God is unlimited. Renunciation: I constantly replace old error thoughts with new spiritual truths. Refinement: My mind and body are cleansed and purified as I refine my thinking. Remission: God’s grace sets me free from mistakes of the past and the results of these mistakes. Re-creation: My whole being is continually renewed and transformed after the images of its Creator. Purity: With purity of heart I see God everywhere.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Are You Ready to Receive?

We believe that God as source is everywhere present and we have the ability to tap into that source any time, any place. Jesus said ‘it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. God is not holding anything back from us or waiting until we are good enough to give us ‘the kingdom’. We are heirs to the kingdom. We want to be open to multiple channels to receive and be open to multiple ways to give. The doors need to be open: both giving and receiving and what we can see is that it’s the same door. It works for what’s coming in and what’s going out. – swinging doors. If we limit the ways we give, we limit the ways we can receive. There are a couple of other things that can stand in the way of our receiving our abundant good. After receiving something have you ever said, ‘I can’t believe someone would do this for me”? or “I never win anything”? or “I have to work hard for everything I have”? or “that’s too good for me”? Or “It’s not possible because I don’t have___________ enough time, enough energy, enough room, enough………… When we use this kind of language – we are focusing – focusing on what we don’t have, what is missing, on the past. Can you see how that shuts the door on receiving anything more? Take your mind. What have you said to yourself about your mind that is limiting? I know when I can’t find my keys or can’t remember someone’s name or a date – I can get pretty tough on myself. What about your body? What limiting thoughts do you have about your body? I have less flexibility, strength, energy…. What about our relationships? Have you ever uttered the words I only have so much………..patience, or understanding, empathy, compassion… Are we making room for more? Not very easily. What about your finances? Do you ever say “I only have…”? This is so easy to slip into. You look at the balance in your bank account and it is very easy to say, “I only have …”. It looks like reality. That is one reality. There is also another reality that is greater than anything we can see or measure or hold in our hands. We are surrounded by wealth in so many forms. Remember the story of Stone Soup? Each person does not have even enough for their own meal and they don’t want to give anything to the big pot. And yet with every carrot and potato and onion the soup grows and in the end there is enough for the entire village to eat a hearty bowl of sop. How many times have we erected a barrier around us that keeps anything new from coming in? We forget that we are connected to the Source of all good, to universal abundance, infinite supply and that there are many ways that good come to us. As much as we can, experience the good coming in as deeply as you can. Feel it right down into your bones. Breathe it in and smile. When we embody our gratitude it impacts every part of our being – mind, body and soul. And it affects everyone else around us – because we are happier, more content, at peace.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Heart Matters for the Soul

Can we be loving and present without being engulfed by the situation? Can we preserve our own peace of mind without needing to withdraw from the situation? Yes - it is possible! Last week we spoke a little about some of the things that stand in the way of our being a loving expression of the divine. We talked about old patterns of blame and judgment and how we might step back and cultivate a different way of being. A more heart-centric approach to life. Now part 2nd of this 3 part series: We probably all have many special people in our lives who we love very much: siblings, parents, children, nieces, nephews, long time friends. We have experienced the joy and rewards of these relationships. And then there are relationships with those close to us that are challenging and sometimes heart-breaking. How to help? what to say? What to do? Where’s the line between help and enabling? Have a look at this situation……….. Two elderly, enthusiastic women were sitting together in the front pew of church listening to a fiery preacher. When the preacher condemned the sin of stealing, they yelled ... “AMEN, BROTHER!" And when the preacher condemned the sin of lying...they jumped to their feet and screamed, "RIGHT ON, BROTHER...TELL IT LIKE IT IS...AMEN!" But when the preacher condemned the sin of gossip, the two got very quiet, and one turned to the other and said, "He's quit preaching and now he's meddlin'." There is a line that each one of us draws………what is helpful – what is meddlin’. Sometimes we see our loved ones do and say things that we know are going to cause them hurt or heartbreak to themselves or others. It’s one thing to read about these situations in the paper or see them on a TV program – but what about when these things are happening to our sister, son, best friend? There is a whole range of situations that appear on the human level and it hurts when we see them in the lives of our loved ones. things like substance abuse, lifestyle choices, partnership choices, mental illness, emotional rollercoaster. Our first response when we see someone in what we think is a ‘bad’ situation – is a natural one – we want to help. We give them strategies to help them change or help them make better choices, or we suggest workshops or programs that we think would be beneficial to them. We may even sign them up or pay for them…….And did that work? Did we get the results we wanted to see? We think we are helping but are we really? There is a great illustration of this in the Old Testament story of Job. We can probably all relate to one or more of these characters……… Some background: Job has been a good man all his life. He has a wife, children, herds of cattle and sheep - a prosperous man in every way. He holds lots of parties; gives to the poor, people come to him for advice. A successful man in every way. Then everything is taken away from him – his family, his possessions and even his health. The part of the story that we are going to explore right now is Job’s friends. The ones that come to comfort him and be with him in this disastrous time of his life. Listen to what they say. Eliphaz – God is doing this to you for a reason. It is not yours to question. When God is ready, He will turn everything around – you need to be patient and wait. Job – show me how your words are of comfort. Bildad – You must have done something! Perhaps your children were sinful, maybe you have been too proud. You have brought this upon yourself. Have you ever used words like – there must be something in your consciousness that attracted this to you. Job – your words are full of the east wind – blowing hot and scorching. “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words? Even if it is true that I have erred, my error remains with me”. i.e. You do not need to remind me of what I know. Zophar – You are obstinate and proud. You think you know what is in the mind of God. It would take a miracle to change your life. Job – “If only you would be silent – that would be your wisdom.” Can you see where Job’s friends have totally missed the opportunity to be a presence - presence of Love? In the guise of friendship they have been: • judgmental and critical - you did this to yourself. • condescending – just be patient, you are experiencing this for a reason, its for your own good. • stand-offish – it would take a miracle to fix this mess – good luck. These words are not helpful in any way. Do any of these responses express acceptance, love or helpfulness? They all come from a place of – there is something wrong with you, or you did something wrong. I wonder if any of our loved ones had this experience with our ‘help’………. The words Job’s friends use are harsh and we might think “I would never say something like that’. but I like this story and the wording because it gets our attention and the truth is that in our wanting to make things better, we may have said these same things – maybe not so strongly – it can be very subtle. Maybe the response is not even in words – but in our thoughts and hearts. I finally got this a few years ago as I was trying to give someone dear to me some helpful advice – again, and then I realized….. she knows this, she has heard this before – from me and probably others. And she is not doing it. It’s time to stop. Information is good – I’m not saying we just look on while our loved ones are struggling. We learn from each other – about opportunities, resources. But presenting that information once is enough. If they are going to take the information and use it, they will. The question we need to ask ourselves is: How do we stop ourselves from being dragged down by the situation? Before we get caught in the feelings of anxiety or hopelessness? The first step here is the same one we talked about at the end of last week’s talk – self awareness. Notice our judging voice, our ‘anyone could see that was a mistake’ voice, our ‘why can’t they just __________________’ voice. Remember – this voice can be very subtle. When we notice that we are in that place – only then - can we make a choice to step out of that place. Here is a great observation from Viktor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” Beware of your reaction. Grab that space before responding. When we pause, we have the power and the freedom to choose what we do next. Self awareness is paramount. Then - take the whole situation and EVERYONE involved into your heart. do not separate the wrong ones and the rights ones – in Truth, there are no sides. Everyone including ourselves needs to be brought into the field of Love. Remember last week, the story of the weeds and the wheat where Jesus said: do not separate them while they are starting to grow – the wheat will be damaged if we try to yank out the weeds. Suspend judgments. When we tap into the divine energy within, it is possible to transmute discord into harmony, ignorance into wisdom, lack into abundance. Hold the place for healing – not with words or actions or advice or suggestions. – in your heart – create a space – for healing to take place. MEDITATION In the knowing that we are all one in the great heart of God - how do we hold the space for wholeness with one another? How do we unite our hearts and minds in this context of One-ness with Spirit? Myrtle Fillmore, co-founder of Unity, says, “Stop trying so hard …..It is when you are thinking of self that you struggle….No one, not even God, can change you so long as you insist upon looking at and thinking of and worrying what is wrong.” • Quiet - become still, remembering oneness • Release your thoughts of anxiety, worry, concern – see if you have built a wall around you. and that perhaps the same wall you think protects you, also cuts you off from the love of others. • See others in the same awareness – whole. Our attention is on the highest knowing we have. • Remain open and receptive – we do not know the best outcome! We are not asking for anything. That is not our job – our job is to feel our one-ness with God. • Gratitude

Saturday, May 24, 2014

HEART MATTERS FOR THE SOUL: Blame to Gain

“What good is it if someone gains the whole world, but loses their soul?” Matthew 16:26 Taking care of matters of the heart results in a life of fulfillment and soul satisfaction. It also means activating our divine strength and being willing to build a bridge from the commonplace and “it’s good enough” to a life experience of being Spirit led and Spirit fed. Blame to Gain The old paradigm of black and white, us and them, is shifting and thank goodness! We can see the signs all around us that what is emerging now is a re-introduction of matters of the heart. The aspect of each of us that is expansive, inclusive and bigger than the paradigm of dualistic thinking. Every day, life brings us many opportunities to get lost in actions that can pull us away from our hearts. One of the biggest ways is through relationships. We are all in relationship with each other in hundreds of ways from the person in the grocery store line, to someone on the bus, to our next door neighbour and the ones that can really challenge us – our family members! Sometimes we handle these challenges beautifully and lovingly and sometimes we don’t. And where did we learn our skills? In the households in which we grew up. Remember: “if we were raised by human beings we were raised imperfectly” (Dr. Rev. Gary Simmons) As young children we observed, absorbed and learned: How were decisions made? how is conflict handled? How was right and wrong determined? This is probably a scenario we all faced as children. A chair is broken. One parents notices and says the words that send us all into a panic: “who did it?” Then depending on the dynamics of the moment, the sibling factor, there could be all kinds of responses: • point fingers – “she did it” what’s that called? (blame) • “I didn’t do it” denial • “oh – is it broken?” - plead ignorance • “it’s been like that for a long time” (diversion) these strategies…… • blame • claiming ignorance • diversion • denial are ways children learn to cope naturally and innocently. Now, what happens when we are adults and haven’t rethought this model? We play it through unconsciously. We have a default position. If something goes ‘wrong’ we can approach it one of 2 ways And its interesting to notice which is your default position.We blame someone else OR we blame ourselves. What do we do if we are in the ‘blame others’ mode? • Judgment, criticism, finger pointing, • self righteousness, aggressive, • gather evidence • bring up the past What are some of the signs we are in the ‘blame ourselves’ mode? • Unworthiness, guilt, shame • Shut down, withdraw • bring up the past Can you see how none of this is creating a heart space for connection, empathy, compassion. This kind of dualistic thinking – them or us – serves no one. Gandhi noted: An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. What’s the alternative? How can we move from blame to a more enlightened way of being that is inclusive and expansive and heart centered? What new ways of being can we adopt so that we don’t ‘lose our soul’ – our hearts - when something goes sideways. There are 3 ways that come to mind that will help us make this shift. The first step is always self awareness – watch how we act or react when something goes sideways. Know if you tend to be a ‘they’re to blame’ or ‘I’m to blame’ person Blame – either way - always takes us farther away from what we need. Gratitude Cultivate the ability to feel genuine gratitude for the situation or person Gratitude is a heart-centric activity, it doesn’t require words or actions to the other person – it is to cause a shift in YOU. It is impossible to maintain an attitude of blame when we are opening ourselves from the heart. Forgiveness – to self or others It takes energy to hold blame and releasing that energy frees us to take a more creative empowering approach to resolution. Unity principles also provide us with a teaching that helps shift our focus We see each other as an expression of the divine. We can be part of the change we want to see if we are willing to change too. We can grow in our wisdom and understanding and cultivate a place where heart matters.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is it Up or Is it Down?

Last weekend I was away at Long Beach with my family. And we had a perfect weekend. was it sunny the whole time – no. was it rainy the whole time – no. did all our personalities mesh together all the time – no. what made it a perfect weekend? our willingness to claim it. Getting together a trip like this takes some organization – 5 people, 3 locations 12 meals, 4 days of activities, living together in one house. We were prepared and………… we were flexible. Being west coast people, we brought rain clothes and shorts. Sandals and hiking boots. Nutritious meals and smores. It poured when we were hiking deep in the rainforest – we could hear the rain overhead in the canopy. The afternoon we wanted to spend on the beach – it was sunny and even hot. It was perfect. I really enjoyed the 2 sunny days we had last week. Got out my summer dresses, painted my toenails and wore sandals – yay! I was hoping it would be sunny for a few days and a gardener friend of mine was so happy to see the clouds and rain because she had just transplanted her seedlings and it would be just what they needed. remember the line from Paul Simon song: one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. How do we live with that truth? Can we embrace both the floor and the ceiling? We may think we need to bring balance into the picture – that’s a word I am really enjoying exploring – because where would balance be in the floor and ceiling model. Halfway between? That doesn’t sound doable. It really is a matter of shifting from one to the other. Enjoying the experience and strengths of one place AND recognizing when we have been neglecting the other side so that we can shift and experience the other. We need both – we can’t have ceilings without floors. But let’s leave that metaphor and look at one an example for one we all experience. You have heard this many times – we are each a unique expression of God, or the divine. We all have different backgrounds, experiences, thoughts. Even in the same family – each child has a unique perspective on ‘what happened’. I remember being so shocked to find this out when my brother and I were talking in our 30’s. do you remember when..no, it didn’t happen like that – this is how it was. we were both there – we both remember the incident. It wasn’t a matter of disagreement – it was a matter of realization that we had each had an experience that was unique to us. There was no argument – we just both listened to each other and were amazed that the story could be so different when we were both in the same room at the same time. Our uniqueness is our strength – we each bring something different to wherever we go. Each one of us is important. That’s a great thing to remember about ourselves. Now what happens if we live entirely in this realm? I’m unique, I’m special, there’s nobody like me. It’s all about ‘me’. Very little thought or consideration for others. We act or speak without thinking about the impact. We take action, thinking only of ourselves, what we want. Not what they may be feeling or thinking. Can you see how if we dwell in that place we can easily fall into selfishness, callousness, insensitivity? What is the other teaching that we hold in juxtaposition to ‘we are each different’? we are all one. Let’s go to that side of the equation. We have so many things in common. We are alive, breathing beings. Human beings. We all need food, safety, security, love. We have all experienced physical pain and emotional pain. We all have parents – whether or not we even knew who they were, or they are with us today. We are social creatures. We see ourselves in relationship with others. We know that we do not act in isolation. We can see the effect of our words and actions on other people. We are starting to see in a big way the effect of our actions on mother earth. Now what happens if we live entirely in this realm? we lose touch with who we are – our identity. We don’t honour or recognize our differences. Our actions are based on what is best for everyone else. We let other people and circumstances determine what we do or how we think. How we feel. Can you see that each of these two things: individuality and oneness – are good. are necessary? Are important. They are not opposites – right or wrong, good or bad. We need both of them – not one or the other. And you know what happens when we stay too long in one or the other. We start experiencing the downsides: selfishness, insensitivity or……….losing ourselves, wanting only what everyone else wants, codependency. And that’s good when we notice that. because that’s the clue that we are putting roots down in one or the other - getting stuck. And its time to move to the other side. the tension between these two truths will always be there. When do we stand up for ourselves, when do we accede to others? I invite you to be OK with tension – watch for it – it will let you know when it is time to move. We are one and we are individuals. Both of these perspectives are valid and real. If we embrace one and ignore the other, something will be lost – part of the picture will be hidden. So let’s see if we can stay open to this question: is it up or is it down? yes!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Unity Today

Unity: the Healing Movement What is Unity? (from unity.org website) Unity is positive, practical Christianity. We promote a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind. We believe that all people are created with sacred worth, and we strive to reach out to all who seek support and spiritual growth. When I started looking at all the opportunities that the Unity movement offers in 2014, I saw an overarching theme: healing. And as I explored this more deeply I could see that all healing takes place in the field of relationship. We do not exist in isolation. Each of us is connected with other people, with our communities, with our environment. No one acts without affecting themselves, the people and environment around them. Acknowledging that, we understand that even in small ways, we can be a healing force in our own lives and in the world and we will be contributing to the wellbeing of all life on this planet. I could think of 3 areas of healing: healing ourselves: mind, body and soul, healing our relationships with each other - with our human family and healing our relationship with this unique and precious planet we all live on. Let’s start with ourselves. Focusing on our own wellbeing is not a selfish act, and quite frankly, I am not interested in something that isn’t going change my life. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I was attracted to Unity – an educational movement with practical application. I wanted my life to be different - to have more meaning, to have more joy. Physical healing is how Unity ‘got started’ when Myrtle Fillmore heard she had 6 months to live and healed herself of tuberculosis. Have you noticed how sometimes it takes something really big to get our attention? Being close to dying is one of those ‘big things’. It brings everything into perspective. It is a great tool for focus. And that’s what it did for Myrtle. Here are some of her words when she talks about her physical healing. Life has to be guided by intelligence. Life is simply a form of energy, and how do we communicate intelligence? By thinking and talking, of course. I went to all the life centers of my body and spoke words of Truth to them, words of strength and power. I asked their forgiveness for the foolish, ignorant course that I had pursued in the past, when I condemned them and called them weak, inefficient, and diseased. I did not become discouraged at their being slow to wake up, but kept right on, both silently and aloud, declaring the words of Truth, until the organs responded. Physical healing was the starting place of Unity but as we know – noting acts in isolation and these same principles can be applied to everything else in life. What does that look like 130 years later? The very latest from Unity Village is the renovation of the Tower. It has been out of use for a long time and last September on World Day of Prayer it reopened as the Awaken Whole Life Center “In seeking to integrate and balance body, mind and spirit we at the Center truly believe in holistically healing ourselves so that together we may begin to heal our world. Expand yourself with spiritual mentoring and dialogue, affirmative prayer, ritual and ceremony, energy medicine, creative expression, music and meditation. We are at a landmark moment in western medicine in which compassion and empathy are being recognized as a complement to material interventions such as pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. The result is a form of healing that is more effective than when either approach is used alone. From (unity.org) Dr. Larry Dossey gave the keynote address of the opening of the Awaken Whole Life Center . He is a physician of internal medicine and the author of 12 books on the role of consciousness and spirituality in healing. Why Dr. Dossey? When he wrote the book Healing Words in 1993 there were only 3 medical schools acknowledged there might be some correlation between prayer and healing. Now most medical schools offer these courses, many of them using Dr Dossey’s book as the text. I was familiar with some of his books but I looked him up online and found this interesting perspective he has. Dr. Dossey defines the major periods in the history of medicine: Era I (mechanical medicine), Era II (psychosomatic medicine), and Era III (nonlocal medicine). He lays out a compelling argument for merging awareness of consciousness into the practice of modern medicine. By perceiving the boundlessness of the mind, Dr. Dossey says, we discern our own interconnectedness - with extraordinarily practical implications - the Golden Rule of Era III: "Do good unto others because they are you!" Unity is deeply committed to and immersed in all the modalities that support the role of consciousness in healing. Another way we heal ourselves is by widening our own perspective by listening to other people who have dedicated their lives to study in various fields. Unity brings worldwide renowned speakers to its conventions and retreats. Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jean Huston, Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Four Agreements Don Miguel Ruiz, Two years ago Deepak Chopra did a 6 weeks series with a Unity minister talking about Awakening to Christ-Consciousness. Anyone listen to Unity online radio? A few of the prgrams are: Main Street Vegan, How to be a Holy Rascal, World Spirituality, Music Speaks Louder Than Words, From Grief to Grace. These are some of the resources offered in the area of self healing and transformation. HEALING OUR RELATIONSHIPS Everything we do and say affects everything around us. As long as we think that we can act in isolation, we continue to damage our world. You remember Unity’s statement that all life is created with sacred worth? There are many groups of people who are finding their voice in the last 20 years or so – those who have been ostracized and marginalized and excluded from participating in society. The LGBT community is one. Unity has a resource center for LGBT members. Our walking the talk that all life is created with sacred worth has been a precious gift to so many who have not been welcome in society and particularly in churches. At every annual convention there is time set aside for specialized groups to meet with their spiritual partners around the world. LGBT is one of them, gay & lesbian ministers is another, and friends of Bill W. meets every night. And there are other relationships. This year at the international convention there is a workshop choice: Animals as Spiritual Companions. There is a “Unity & Animal Ministry” and the leaders will be presenting a workshop along with a renowned Animal Communicator. From the course description: to explore the depth of the spiritual contributions non-human animals make to our world. One last branch of Unity I want to bring to your awareness in the area of healing our relationships with others is a ministry called Spiritually Inspired Social Action. This is what we call our community outreach. Hundreds of Unity churches and centers all over the world are involved in this ministry. From supporting growing Unity centers around the world, to working with a village in South Africa supporting children orphaned by AIDS, to collecting 1,000s of shoes to give away to those in need in some of our big cities. And the third area: HEALING OUR PLANET When the construction of Unity Village began, Charles Fillmore’s son travelled to Europe to learn about the latest in building and architecture. In the 30 and 40s he constructed buildings, patios, walkways and roads around the natural features of the 1500 acres. There is a 300 foot long reflection pool and 10 fountains holding 14,000 sq ft of water. And you know what this water does as well as looking absolutely beautiful? It circulates water to thousands of sq feet of classrooms and offices in the hot summer months to run the air conditioning system. The outdoor swimming pool follows the natural contours of the land, set among the trees and grass. The Spiritual Life Center, located in Unity Village, is a hotel was built in 2007 - one of the first LEED-certified green hotels in north America. How else does Unity contribute to protecting our natural environment? Earthcare Ministry -ispart of a global movement in consciousness that recognizes our oneness with the environment and the need to protect it. What we do to the environment we do to ourselves. Since its inception, they have sponsored or participated in hundreds of activities or events in the areas of Sustainable Living, Recycling, Energy Conservation, Waste Minimization, Natural Resources, and Respect for the Interdependence of the Universe. Know that by participating in this spiritual community you are contributing to the programs of our Unity movement and what it has to offer in the field of consciousness, energy, healing and co-creating a world that works for all.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Topics to Consider

Ever had this great idea and thought – oh yeah! I want to do that - and then as you starting looking at the whole thing – wow – this is a lot bigger than I thought! Well that’s what happened to me this week. Some time ago this idea for a Sunday talk came to me. to address some of the questions I am often asked: what Unity says about __________ fill in the blank. I thought – great idea - yes, let’s do a talk on that. Well, I had no idea the door I was opening! What was I thinking? In talking about these specific topics I don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture of what Unity is, because it influences everything else that follows. I would like to take some time to give the broader context before diving into individual topics. What is Unity? Unity is positive, practical Christianity. We teach the daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. We promote a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind. We believe that all people are created with sacred worth, and we strive to reach out to all who seek support and spiritual growth. You can get this right off the unity.org website. There is not anything that says: if you are part of us then you need to accept these beliefs. There is no doctrine or creed. Many Christian churches start with the idea that we are born flawed in some way. Or maybe we were born innocent but that we will fall. That humankind has a natural, inborn tendency to sin in its very nature. And you know what? If you believe that, then it makes sense to have all the other structures in place to deal with that: definitions of sin, confession, feeling bad because Jesus died for our sins, salvation, heaven and hell, God’s punishment, believing that there is some evil power out there trying to cause us to stumble. Let’s review again………What are we? positive, practical Christianity. …..teaching the daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. …….promoting a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind. …….believing that all people are created with sacred worth…….striving to reach out to all who seek support and spiritual growth. So in that context how do we approach these topics of Heaven & Hell? Reincarnation? Sin? If I were a minister at a more conventional church and giving a talk on these topics I could speak definitively about them and tell you exactly what the church believes and teaches and wants you to believe. But that was not my path and since you are reading this, it is probably not yours either. In my training and in my own research and reading I have come across these topics but what I see now is that what the Fillmores thought and what grew out of those thoughts in the late 1800s is still evolving. And why? Because it is a MOVEMENT. It did not start with some people saying: we know the Truth, here it is, follow/obey it and then you can be part of it. Other teachers of the time did this which is why the Fillmore chose to separate itself from other schools of thought like Christian Science, even though they shared some common beliefs. They wanted to create – not an organization – but a school for religious studies. Unity’s first incorporated name was: Unity School for Practical Christianity. Unity was launched as an educational movement – I love the word education which implies being open ended and comes from the root “to draw forth” and I love the word movement which implies dynamic, organic natural growth. Unity not a doctrine to follow, it is a way of life. I was reminded how much our founders honored each person’s individual path. They developed beliefs that led to their own healing and transformation AND they never said anyone else had to believe as they did. They affirmed that they were evolving human/spiritual beings, and continuously expanding their own understanding on what that means. Charles Fillmore’s famous line: “I reserve the right to change my mind at any time”. It is my endeavour to be changing my mind all the time: “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” How else could we grow? Heaven and Hell: The Charles Fillmore said: “Heaven and hell are states of consciousness, not geographical locations. We make our own heaven and hell here and now by our thoughts, words and deeds.” There is no God out there keeping score of every deed in our lives and making the final tally at our death and sending us to hell or rewarding us in heaven. The idea of a God that would condemn us has no place in Unity as it goes right against one of the statements I just read: we are all created with sacred worth – in the image and likeness of the divine. Reincarnation The Fillmores read widely from all religions and spiritual practices around the world from what was available to them at the time. They came across the idea of reincarnation and had this to say………. “The Western world in general looks on reincarnation as a heathen doctrine. Many people close the door of their minds to it, without waiting to find out what message it may bring when interpreted in the light of Truth. Careful study of the Hebrew scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ reveals that reincarnation was widely accepted as a part of human experience, instead of the doctrine that we all go to either heaven or hell at death. And then he goes on to say: Reincarnation should not be given undue importance, because it is merely a temporary remedy. The whole man--spirit, soul, and body--must be lifted up into the Christ consciousness of life and perfection. It is not profitable to allow our minds to dwell on mortal questionings about how the work of Spirit is to be done in and through us. It is our place to hold ourselves in a positive life thought, realizing always the omnipresence and perfection of life in God, thus bringing perfect life more and more into manifestation in ourselves and in others.” What I see in their thoughts about reincarnation………..an open and enquiring mind. And the caution to use our time wisely in spiritual pursuits and not ‘mortal questionings”. Vegetarianism (quoted from Unity sites) For over forty years the Fillmores wrote passionately about the physical, mental, social, and spiritual harmfulness of eating animal foods, and the necessity of a plant-based diet for anyone serious about developing spiritual maturity and contributing to world peace. They based their thinking on the following: • their belief that the biblical commandment "Thou shalt not kill" applied to all living creatures. • their belief that fruits and vegetables were nutritionally superior to animal foods in the human diet. • Their desire to practice good stewardship of all life. In the summer of 1906, the Fillmore’s opened one of the first all-vegetarian restaurant in north America, called the Unity Inn. More than 140 people dined in the restaurant the day it opened, and it became so successful, that it quickly outgrew it’s home and a new, two-story cafeteria was opened. 35 years later Unity Inn was serving as many as 10,000 meals a week. When Unity’s headquarters moved to Unity Village in the 40s, the Inn moved as well and now, more than a century after serving that first meat-free meal, the Unity Inn still offers vegetarian cuisine. And again this reminder: Charles Fillmore was always open to change and tolerant of others. At no time has Unity required followers to stop eating meat. Some Unity students have become vegetarians. Many have not. The Fillmore’s had a lot to say about eating animals. If this is something that interests you - google Fillmore and vegetarianism to find out more. Angels We know there are many stories in the old and new testament about the appearance of angels. Angels appears to Joseph, Mary, Zechariah when they all find themselves in difficult positions. Jacob wrestling with an angel as he sits by the stream in despair. Angels appear to Sarai and Abram when they were childless. two angels appear to Martha and Mary as they leave the empty tomb, mourning, on what we call Easter Sunday. What do they represent? What calls them to appear? In almost every case, someone is full of doubt or questioning something or in some kind of distress. And an angel appears. The Fillmores call this a message from God. “the projection into consciousness of a spiritual idea direct from God” or “a divine thought appearing in the form of light or divine understanding or intuition. Do angels exist? Do they show up to bring us light when we are struggling? Do they protect us when we are in danger? In Unity you are free to form your own beliefs and opinions about this. There are certainly many testimonials from people about the appearance of angels. There are many avenues to explore if this is of interest to you. Miracles Webster says that miracles are ‘an event in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature.’ Unity says that miracles are the natural outworking of a higher or divine law. Everything comes from something – the law of cause and effect is working all the time. So when something happens that looks like it is outside the realm of possibility, I like to remember that my sight only goes so far. My understanding of everything that is happening in the entire universe in this moment – is limited. But divine law is working all the time. True spiritual growth is a “do-it-yourself project.” Unity does not say it has all the answers or that you need to believe one thing or another in order to be a part of Unity. As an educational movement Unity aspires to “reach out to all who seek support and spiritual growth”

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Maze of Perception

When I was in San Francisco in the early 1990s I needed to take a rest from the walking up and down hills and so I ducked into a beautiful cathedral at the top of one of the hills. Grace Cathedral. And that was my first introduction to labyrinths. It was in the sanctuary with the light streaming through the stain glass windows and I remember approaching it and reading the instructions and then entering the meditative walk. For those of you who have done a labyrinth walk or studied labyrinths, what you know is that there is one path. If you stay on that path you will arrive at the center, where you can stop and reflect. And when you wish to return, you go on the same one path until you are back where you started. You can totally relax because you cannot go the wrong way or miss a turn – the experience is an inner one because the outer is in place. A maze on the other hand is totally different. It is a place where you can enter and theoretically never get out. There is no central resting place…. You can get lost……. confused……disoriented…..even feel hopeless. That’s the image I would like to use in this discussion about our perceptions and thoughts. A maze. We all have thoughts – we are usually deep in them most of the day. There is nothing wrong with having thoughts. They are necessary to function in the world. We are human beings and we need to figure out stuff – what we are having for dinner, how to get from this place to that, reconciling our bank statements………….what colour to paint the kitchen. but have you ever noticed that we can start with one thought and the next thing you know we are in the maze, going round and round, not solving anything, not going anywhere. Lost in past memories or future projections. I am not saying to stop thinking! I am not even suggesting that we try to decrease our thoughts…..They are so plentiful and active that trying to stop or slow them down can feel like standing at the bottom of a waterfall and yelling “stop!”, “slow down” while we are meanwhile getting pummeled. But let’s look at what happens. We have a thought and then – we add meaning to it and that’s where we can get pretty creative. We see someone look our way with a scowl and that observation cascades into all kinds of interpretations: what did I do wrong? What’s her problem? Why is he always mad at me? Are they sick? I should call them. I should avoid them…… Each one of us has our own unique path we go down – a well used and worn path. So yes, thoughts are fine, interpretations happen. The part that sends us down into the maze is when we believe our interpretations are reality. When we see the scowl and believe they are mad at us. When we read the news and know that disasters are everywhere. Can you see that when we believe every interpretation that passes through our minds that we will be thrown this way and that. unhappy – happy – sad – joyful – impatient – frustrated – peaceful – all over the place. Because you may have noticed –there is no end to what our wonderful minds can do with a thought. Our senses trigger thoughts. We think we can rely on our senses to tell us the truth, to show us what is real. But what do our senses tell us? The world is flat. The sun goes away at night and comes back in the morning. If we rely only on our senses to tell us what is real – we will be very misled. Adjusting to the idea and accepting the fact that we cannot rely on our senses to tell us the truth about our world or ourselves can be challenging. One of humankind’s biggest upheavals was accepting that the earth was not the center of the universe. Those who first believed it were imprisoned and punished for even saying such a thing. Imagine how incredibly difficult it must have been for people to accept that when everything they saw told them otherwise. It meant that what they saw was unreliable – not only unreliable but not even true. What would our lives look like if we could just accept our thoughts for what they are? Creations of our wonderful minds; usually based on previous experience. The only reality our thoughts have is in our minds. I know this is table is here because I can see it and touch it. It exists even when I don’t have my attention on it. During the week it sits in our spiritual centre – at least it’s there when I open the door! Our thoughts however, only exist when we are thinking them. The moment our mind is on another thought – the previous one is gone – no longer exists. How many perceptions have we been holding onto for years and years – without questioning them? As one of our speakers said: “we need to turn it over and look for the expiration date.” We rarely do this until we are we are forced to reconsider our position. Like the people who lived during the time of Galileo. Like the shift we all are making now about the age of the universe is or that the forests do not go on forever which is what our perception might tell us. I would like to use a poem written over 2,500 years ago…… Lao Tzu Poem Always we hope Someone else has the answer; Some other place will be better, Some other time It will all turn out. This is it. No one else has the answer. No other place will be better, And it has already turned out. Lao Tzu looks at three very common areas of our human perceptions: people, places and time. The first one: Someone else has the answer; How many times have we all struggled with a problem? We have tried and tried and it’s too hard to figure out. We don’t know how to do it. We all have our ways of reacting to this kind of situation. It is uncomfortable and sometimes we start embellishing this thought. I don’t know how to do this and……….. I should know the answer. If I had more ____________ I would be able to figure this out. I need someone else who has the answer. What does that imply when we are sure someone else knows? It implies that the answer is outside us… hold that thought. The next line: Always we hope…Some other place will be better, How many situations have we been in – this house is too old, this boss is untrustworthy, I need to move out of this town/out of this neighbourhood. If I could just move, change my surroundings – everything would be better. What does that imply when we are sure somewhere else is better? It implies that our happiness is dependent on something outside us. hold that thought. Always we hope…Some other time…it will all turn out. Time….Am I the only one who counted the days until my 16th or 18th birthday because THEN – I could do what wanted and my life could finally begin…… everything would be better. or looking forward to the day – the last child left the house, you retired, got a job……As soon as this (fill in the blank) is over, everything will be fine. Putting our lives on hold, waiting for the future when it will all turn out. What do all these verses imply: we are hoping that under the right circumstances, in some distant future it will all be OK. That it is not possible for it to be all right now. Do you see where we have abandoned ourselves in this type of thinking? Where we have put our lives on hold? Where we have entered the maze? A maze of epic proportions – so vast we may not even see that we are trapped in it. And then Lao Tzu goes on to say: This is it. No one else has the answer. No other place will be better, And it has already turned out. I remember the first time I came across this practice of deep acceptance I thought – this is it! My life will always be like this? with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Have you noticed that everything changes? This is ‘it’ in this moment. In an hour it will be a different ‘it’. Next week ‘it’ will be different. But when we are stuck in the first part of that poem – waiting for someone or something to change so we can enjoy our lives - we are lost. Lao Tzu was a very wise man and he does not leave us there. The poem continues. At the center of your being you have the answer; You know who you are and you know what you want. There is no need to run outside for better seeing. Not to peer from a window. Rather abide at the center of your being; For the more you leave it the less you learn. Search your heart and see The way to do Is to be.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Freedom in 2014

Today is the last Sunday in the year 2013 - we may already be looking forward to the new year with anticipation. However... when we look only forward we are missing an opportunity to reflect on what has been. It’s important to take time to mindfully and lovingly look back too – see what we may be holding on to that is no longer beneficial for us. We all carry old beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and feelings from our entire past life experiences. And if we do not take the time to review and evaluate them, we can find ourselves burdened by a whole lot of stuff that is not even beneficial for us any longer. That can drag us down – slow us down. Today’s special service, the Burning Bowl, is to help us let go the baggage of the past – to release negative and limiting thoughts and beliefs that are no useful. In do doing, we CAN move ahead – into the new year – into life - with ease and freedom. The purpose of this service is to take time for a consciousness cleansing. It is a time to let go of old stuff so that we can open up new places in our minds and hearts. I have noticed in my life - some baggage is pretty comfortable. familiar. we hold onto it –even though it is not really working FOR us any longer. We often hold on long after the benefit is gone - at the price of our happiness and freedom. We may think that if we give something up – it means we were wrong in the first place. We have all kinds of reasons for hanging on to stuff – sometimes just habit. Two frogs are stuck in a deep rut in an old hard dirt road. They try and try to get out. One finally succeeds and bids the other one goodbye. Later they meet each other at the pond. “I’m glad to see you, but I thought you couldn’t jump out.” said the first frog. The other frog replied, “I couldn’t, but then a truck came along and I had to.” Often time we change only when we have to. When life squeezes us so tightly that it grabs our attention and we are forced to look deeply within. What we are looking for now is more than change – more than jumping out of the rut. In our spiritual pursuit we are embracing personal transformation. Deep profound change – from the inside out. The first step is to take some time to look inwardly for something we may wish to release. Now often the first thing that comes to mind is a person or situation that we want to put behind us, to move past. The Truth – as much as we would like to release someone from our lives... sometimes... they are still there! at work, next door neighbors, family members. So it is important to remember as we go through this service - we are not releasing people……we are not releasing conditions……We are releasing the energy we have around them - letting go of the feelings or thoughts we have about them. We can release the disappointment …. judgment……… regret………guilt We can release the thoughts and feelings we have because THIS is something we do have control of. This is something we have the ability and power to do. We cannot make a person go away. But we can sure transform the energy we hold around them and as a result feel differently about them. FIRST STEP: spend some time in quiet meditation and contemplation - creating a space in which Spirit may work. Gently allow to come to mind any thoughts and behavior patterns we wish to release. What IN US is standing in our way of experiencing life fully and with joy? SECOND STEP: I will invite you to write a word or short phrase, which describes, or perhaps symbolizes in a way meaningful only to you, the condition from which you desire release. When you know what it is you would like to release, write a word or short phrase, meaningful only to you. THIRD STEP: When you feel so moved, place your paper in the flame of the candle and see it transformed by the flame, releasing the energy and power you have previously given that condition back to the potential for good from which it came. As the fire transforms the energy contained in the paper into heat energy, so you are releasing the seeming power this condition has had in your life. While you are standing at the burning bowl, or at any time you can repeat this affirmation: ‘This is no longer a part of my life. I set myself free’ MEDITATION Loving Spirit, we open ourselves up to your indwelling wisdom. We come before You, hearts open, minds receptive, thoughts still. We recognize that we are in the presence of pure Being, and immersed in the Holy Spirit of Life, Love, and Wisdom. We are filled with all the potential for growth, perfection and transformation. Your Truth is now living within every cell and fiber of our being. Your Love now activates our every thought and word. The joy of Your Life moving through us now quickens our actions. We are here to release negative and limiting thoughts and beliefs and establish a new awareness of Truth within ourselves. We are creating a space within which divine energy may work. The process of releasing begins with recalling the Truth that we are spirit, perfect, holy, and harmonious. In the quiet of this time, it will become clear, what at this moment, I am willing to release. What thoughts or feelings are holding me back from my highest good. What I need to release to feel and experience the freedom of Spirit in my life. Psalm 51:10 “create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me” I give thanks in advance that this work is done, that wholeness is restored in me. Truly this is the best day of my life, for it is an expression of the eternal now. I move forward into each day, alert to its gifts, ready for its transformations, grateful for its lessons. All is well. Amen Take time now to rest in the quiet and allow Spirit to guide you. Remember we allow it to come to us – without criticism, judgment. Like the way we would gently loosen something dangerous from the hands of a small child. Gently, easily, with great care Growing in consciousness - transformation - is a two step process - first clearing out what no longer serves us, then filling in with something new. Every time we clear something out - we want to mindfully choose what to replace it with.