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”