Thursday, August 16, 2018

Our Ultimate Purpose


During my lesson, Building Our Spiritual Muscle, on Sunday, July 29, at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, I shared that from my perspective embodying the Christ consciousness is the ultimate purpose for engaging in our spiritual practices and building our spiritual strength. Further, that as we embody the Christ, our divine nature, we express it as did Jesus Christ, our way shower, through acts of love, service, compassion and healing.

As frequently happens, following service that day I facilitated “Discussions with David,” where a group gathers to discuss and share thoughts about the lesson. One of members who attended that gathering asked what I meant by the word ‘ultimate.’ This lead to further conversations about “Divine Plan,” “God’s Will” and “Freewill.”

I appreciate these dialogs. They invite us all into a deeper connection with what we believe, know and experience. They certainly inspire me to greater contemplation and more in-depth inquiry.

Since we did not have time to delve deeply into the topics mentioned about, I thought I would offer some of my thoughts in this forum.

I stand firm in my belief that the pinnacle of human experience is the attainment of Unity consciousness - the realization of our oneness in God/Spirit/Divine Life/Unified Field of Consciousness, or by whatever name or nature we know It to be. In fact, as I understand it, that is the “Divine Plan.” We are here, individually and collectively, to awaken to the indwelling Christ, to embody that Divine Ideal, and to manifest a world that exemplifies the qualities of the Christ through our thoughts, words and actions.



Unity cofounder, Charles Fillmore, in The Revealing Word, defines “Will of God” as,

God's determination is always perfection and all good for all [God’s] children; perfect health in mind and bodyabundance of every good thing including joypeacewisdom, and eternal life. [God] does not will suffering or imperfection in any form.

We often think of “God’s Will” as a directive. We may have interpreted this to mean that God uses the Power of Will or will power to assert or impose a specific plan upon us. That does not jive with the God of my understanding. In researching synonyms for ‘will’ I found ‘spirit’ listed. Replacing the word ‘will’ with ‘spirit’ gives this concept an entirely new energy.

I suggest that each time we hear “God’s Will” we translate it to “God’s Spirit.” God’s Spirit of love; God’s Spirit of courage; God’s Spirit of forgiveness; God’s Spirit of abundance; God’s Spirit of joy; God’s Spirit of wholeness; God’s Spirt of peace, etc. God’s Spirt is accessible and available to each of us, yet never forced upon us. We get to choose.

We enjoy the gift of freewill. In his book, In the Flow of Life, Unity minister and author Eric Butterworth says,

The only predestination in life is the ultimate unfoldment of the divine creature you are. But the direction you take in realizing this outforming of the Christ indwelling will always be determined by your consciousness.

The content of our consciousness, the prevailing energy patterns of thoughts and feelings, determine our path, not some predetermined arbitrarily assigned role or plan for our lives. We have the power to affect the nature of our consciousness.

Regarding the “ultimate purpose” for our lives, I share this from my book, In This Moment: Prayers from the Well of Awareness ¹,

The sole purpose of life experience is to be a channel for [God.] “Why am I here?” or “What is my life purpose?” are questions asked by most of us. Many spend a lifetime seeking these answers, yet never finding them. The problem is not with the answer, but with the question. The question implies that the one asking has a purpose that is different and somehow separate from the one purpose of humanity – to be the expression of Love on Earth.

The questions often asked about purpose are truly questions of calling. The questions could very well be worded, “What is [Spirit] calling me to contribute to the world, and how do I accomplish it?” or “How can I, as an individuation of [God] freely share Love in a way that is life-enriching and uniquely suited to my gifts and talents?” Those are questions that open the channel of freedom, allowing the expression of all that desires to be born in the one asking.

Each of us has a unique part to play in the unfolding of the “Divine Plan” as we awaken to the indwelling Christ, and through the power of freewill, become God’s Spirit in action.

In addition, we are divinely guided on the path to our greatest unfolding. Eric Butterworth also said in In the Flow of Life,

Divine guidance is not an exterior force action upon you. It is the seed of your divinity (the Christ of you) seeking to fulfill its pattern in the outforming process of your life. God could never do for you that which you do not inherently want for yourself.

As we center our awareness in our hearts, we attune to the voice of our inner guide. When we listen and follow the knowing at the depth our being, we are lead each step of the way in the fulfillment of our unique pattern of the Christ that each of us is.

I will explore more about this idea in my lesson at 10:00 this coming Sunday, August 19, at Unity Spiritual Center Denver. My lesson is entitled, “Your Internal GPS.” If you are in the Denver area, please join us. If you are not able to join us on Sunday, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. My lessons are uploaded each week.

¹ Sign up for my email list, and I will be happy to email you an electronic copy of my book. You may also purchase a paperback copy here.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

When the Pray-er Becomes the Prayer


In 2007, I published a collection of “prayers” in a book entitled, In This Moment: Prayers from the Well of Awareness ¹. I place “prayers” in quotation marks because these are not prayers in the traditional sense. In the book, I refer to them as “statements of truth from the Presence of Truth that have arisen in mind as thought and incarnated as word.”

Further, I say that they are intended to “assist you in positioning your mind toward truth and in opening a portal of your mind in order that it may know itself as Presence Consciousness.”

If I were to edit the book and issue a revised and updated version, I would choose to use ‘God’ in place of ‘Presence.’ I wrote this at a time when I had an aversion to the word ‘God’ and assumed that potential readers would as well.

Additionally, while I resonate with the description, “positioning and opening the portal of your mind,” I would rephrase that. I would say that these are statements that arose in my mind and incarnated as word when I was in a conscious state of union in the Divine. Further, that these statements are intended to attune our thought frequencies to God Consciousness and align our energy fields so that we begin to more fully demonstrate and manifest all that is in harmony with the Truth of God that each of us is.



The following is an excerpt from the book jacket of the hard cover edition which is no longer in print. I have edited it slightly. In addition to a few selected word changes and additions, I have chosen to replace the word ‘Presence’ with the word ‘God.’

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In This Moment: Prayers from the Well of Awareness brings within reach the treasured mystical insight that has echoed through the centuries: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God (already at hand, within) and all these things (hopes, dreams, desires) shall be added unto you.”

The usual progression of spiritual evolution is marked by four stages:

1. God and me
2. God through me
3. God as me
4. God: “I am”

In This Moment is your guide to entering the transcendent final stage of
God awareness.

I know that humankind’s conscious awareness–that awareness that comes together to create the shared experience of life on the Earth–is continuing to evolve. As human awareness evolves and embraces the essential Power within itself, we are inspired to release the bonds of the physical, soar to new heights, and create a new and expanded consciousness of God. We desire to know Truth, not just the truth of physical creation. We desire to know what is and has always been the Truth: Our Unity in God.

When the mind is filled with the resonance of God Consciousness, the emotional body begins to react, aligning with the Peace that is its Truth. The body and one’s physical experiences then begin to align as well. The energy field of the individual begins–sometimes slowly– to clear itself of heavier vibrations, and the perceived external reality begins to mirror the new awareness of Truth. Divine Ideals are reactivated in this cleared energy field, and one’s life begins to abundantly reflect experiences of a similar vibration.

Although our mental processes are, by their very nature, limited in their abilities to grasp and fully comprehend God Consciousness, they are the starting point for our journey within. Ultimately, we arrive at the understanding that we cannot change our life experience by focusing solely on the experience of it.

We cannot change our experience by seeking anything outside of ourselves. We can only change our experience by embodying the Truth that we are already the Wholeness of God expressing.

When we truly experience our true nature, the external will be its mirror.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This moment, I come home to I AM.
I release any concept of a “me” this is separate from the One.
My I-dentity is sourced beyond and before any concept of mind.
I AM lives and moves and has Its life in and through this life I call my own.
I AM the stars.
I AM the Earth.
I AM the sun.
I AM the Universe.
I AM the very life of God as It expresses as each particle of Creation.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

When we approach prayer as a process in which we enter into a state of remembered union in God, prayer has the power to transform our lives.

Join us this Sunday, August 12, 2018, at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, as we delve more deeply into the meaning of the statement,

When we truly experience our true nature, the external will be its mirror.

My lesson will be “When the Pray-er becomes the Prayer.”


¹ If you would enjoy receiving an electronic copy of my book, please visit my website, DavidHoward.com, sign up for my mailing list, and I will email it to you.

You may also purchase a paperback copy of the book through my website.



Thursday, August 2, 2018

Seven P's for Building Spiritual Muscle


In my lesson at Unity Spiritual Center Denver this past Sunday (watch here), I shared that as I have been contemplating the ways in which increasing physical strength is analogous to increasing spiritual strength, I devised what I am calling “Seven Ps for Building Spiritual Muscle.” After service, a couple of people said that I only mentioned six of them. I apologize. I am sharing them here in case I missed one on Sunday and for others who are interested.


Purpose

Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore once said,

“Your mission is to express all that you can image God to be.”

The ultimate purpose of our spiritual practice is to integrate and embody Christ consciousness. We engage in conscious spiritual practices to transcend the limits of our conditioned human minds, our learned and habitual ways of thinking and being, and begin to live the mission set forth by Mr. Fillmore.

We are here to express the qualities of the Christ, which were powerfully demonstrated in the consciousness of our elder brother and way shower, Jesus, and lived as love, compassion, and inclusion as he healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the hungry.

The shorthand version is – Our Purpose is to Practice the Presence of God in all we think, say and do.

Practice

It is imperative that we engage in daily spiritual practice.

Meditation focuses awareness deep within to the quiet of our center. It helps to remove our awareness from the constant mental chatter and invites us into the stillness and silence. Meditation also opens our inner senses so that we are more readily able to hear the still, small voice of Spirit and see into the true nature of Being.

Prayer is the conscious attunement of our minds, our thoughts and feelings, to the Mind of God. Through the activity of prayer, we emanate energy from the consciousness of God and bring our outer world into alignment with our inner realization of God.

Contemplation opens us to deeper awareness and revelations as we focus our attention on a specific word or phrase. In the practice of contemplation we consciously attune our minds to a thought frequency and attract all that is in harmony with it. One of my favorite phrases for contemplation is, “God Is; I Am.”

Spiritual practices can also include physical movement, such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Sufi dancing, drumming and many other kinesthetic activities.

Presence

Focusing on the breath is one of the most effective means I have found to bring awareness into the moment. Notice every aspect of the breath. Feel the temperature of the air as it enters your nostrils. Feel it cooling your sinus cavity. Follow the flow down into your lungs. Notice the expansion of the chest and abdomen as your lungs fill with air. Stop for a second before exhaling to sense the fullness. As you exhale, be aware of the diaphragm gently rising to expel the air. Feel the warmth of the air as it is expels through your nostrils. When we are fully consciousness of the movement of breath, we are fully in the moment.

Now that you have brought awareness to the breath, think about the thousands of times each day that this process happens without you having to do anything. You are constantly in the flow of life, and breath is one tangible demonstration of that truth.

In the same way that we can bring attention and focus to the breath, we can also do the same with the body sensations, thoughts and feelings. In our spiritual practice, it is important to be present with ourselves and notice what is happening with the energy of thoughts, feelings, and body. Only when we are aware of it can we effectively adjust what might be out of alignment.

Charles Fillmore is reported to have said that self-awareness is the prelude to Christ consciousness.

Patience

I know! I get it! We want to be enlightened now! Well, the truth is we are, we just haven’t fully realized it yet. That’s where patience comes in handy.

It is important for us to be patient with ourselves. When we get impatient, we tend to judge ourselves for not doing it better and faster. That is not helpful. For most of us, growing spiritual understanding and strength is a process that occurs over time with consistence, intention and practice.

Think of it like learning the principles of mathematics. We learn our numbers. Then we learn addition and subtraction. We move on to multiplication and division. Once we gain more complex understanding, we can apply the principles to algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

We begin right where we are, and we take the next step as it reveals itself in perfect time.

Perseverance

For most of us, there are times along the spiritual path when we are tempted to throw up our hands and say “Enough! I give up!” I know I have been there a time or two.

It is at these times that faith is paramount. Faith is our ability to see beyond the limits of what is currently manifesting to the activity of God at work in and through all situations. As Paul said, ‘It is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

When we feel discouraged or disheartened along the journey, it is helpful to go back to step one and recall our purpose. When we have a clearly defined intention for why we are walking the path, we can be strengthened in our resolve.

Call upon the Life of God which is the source of every breath you breathe to be the power to carry through. Know that the Life of God is your life. Know that the Strength of God is your strength.

Persistence

Continue to make your spiritual practices part of your daily activities.

It is not necessary to meditate 30 minutes twice a day, or set aside an hour for prayer and contemplation. You may get to that level someday if you are not already there. Choose a practice that is not too daunting for you. If it seems like too much to do, you won’t do it.

Decide on a practice or practices that you enjoy and that you can easily include in your daily routine. If you can only start with a five-minute practice, do that. Once you realize the benefits of the practice, you will want to increase the time and the frequency.

Whatever you do, persist in your practice.

Praise

Last, but certainly not least, is ‘Praise.’ I recommend that we each stop occasionally and reflect on the path we have walked and the distance we have come. Celebrate!

This is not about being egotistical. It is about honoring ourselves for our intention and dedication to growing our spiritual strength.

It is also about giving thanks and praise to all those who show up along the journey to assist us in our growth.

Charles Fillmore said,

Praise is closely related to prayer; it is one of the avenues through which spirituality expresses itself. Through an inherent law of mind, we increase whatever we praise. The whole creation responds to praise, and is glad.
Animal trainers pet and reward their charges with delicacies for acts of obedience; children glow with joy and gladness when they are praised. Even vegetation grows best for those who praise it.
We can praise our own abilities, and our very brain cells will expand and increase in capacity and intelligence when we speak words of encouragement and appreciation to them. ¹

As we are growing in spiritual understanding, I hope these “Seven Ps for Building Spiritual Muscle” will be beneficial.

Join us on Sunday, August 5, for our service at 10:00. All are welcome at Unity Spiritual Center Denver.

¹ Excerpt from Christian Healing

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Building Spiritual Muscle


In my post from June 21, My Two-by-Four Experience, I shared some insights I gained from living with my knee injury. Since then, I have been gifted with Reiki and other healing modality treatments, nutritional supplements, and prayers from many loving and caring people. I am happy to report that my knee is 85% healed, on the way to 100%. I am moving around much more freely and without pain. I experience only the occasional twinge. A heartfelt ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who has contributed to my healing and continues to do so.

I also shared in that post that I am working with a friend, Jon, who is a personal trainer. I hesitate to use that term to describe him, because he is much more than that. He is a facilitator of healing through encouragement, education and gentle, but firm facilitation of physical exercises. While others have helped to support my healing through energy work which I can simply relax and enjoy, Jon’s healing techniques invite me to engage in the process through physical action. Working with Jon is helping me to improve muscle strength and increase my awareness of the body’s amazing wisdom.

I have discovered in working with Jon that the process of increasing physical body strength is in many ways analogous to the process of increasing spiritual strength.



I have been going to the gym and exercising several times a week fairly regularly for many years. I worked with a personal trainer many years ago, and learned how to do exercises intended to strengthen specific muscles. While I have experienced some benefit of using those techniques, I have not realized the level of results that I would enjoy. Even so, I have continued to do the same exercises in the same manner.

Until I experienced an injury and was inspired to learn new ways to strengthen my leg muscles to help support and aid in my healing, it didn’t occur to me to question what I had learned.

The same is frequently true in our spiritual journeys. We often continue to engage in habitual ways of approaching life until a traumatic experience, a grave loss, or some other life event that stimulates emotional pain and suffering, or sometimes even exhilaration, motivates us to seek new ways of strengthening our spiritual understanding and growth. We look for new ways to respond to life when we realize that our learned habitual ways no longer serve us.

Additionally, even after learning from Jon new ways of engaging and strengthening muscles and even after experiencing results, still I resisted setting aside time to do them. How many of us learn tools such as prayer, meditation, denials and affirmations, practice them for a time, realize some benefits and then decide that we don’t have time to do them regularly? Like building our physical muscles, strengthening our spiritual muscles requires commitment and practice.

Properly performing the movements that Jon is teaching me also requires clear intention and a great deal of concentrated attention. Staying engaged in the process while activating a specific muscle or group of muscles is key to strengthening them. However, it is equally important not to push beyond the body’s limits. I have learned that the adage, “no pain, no gain” is hogwash. Further, it does not serve overall physical, mental or emotional well-being. Building the strength and endurance of the physical body takes place gradually with sustained practice.

The same is true for building our spiritual strength. It is important for us to be intentional, dedicated and focused in our spiritual practices. Yet, it is vital that we do not push ourselves beyond the limits of our willingness or the capacity of our mental, emotional or physical endurance. It is good to be patient with ourselves while continuing to move forward in our growth. We will, through continued conscious practice, realize the desired results.

As I shared in my earlier post, I don’t subscribe to the idea that God/Universe/Source hits us over the head with a “cosmic two-by-four” to help us learn a lesson. I believe we can choose to learn from everything and everyone in our lives. I am certainly learning more about myself and about my approach to life as I move through this healing journey. My hope and my prayer is that I will take these lessons to heart and apply them in my life. I also hope that by sharing my lessons, I can help you as you move through whatever life brings your way.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 at Unity Spiritual Center Denver as I delve a little deeper into my learning with my lesson “Building Spiritual Muscle” You are welcome here!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Seeking God


In my lesson this past Sunday at Unity Spiritual Center Denver, I opened by sharing the story about a little boy who goes in search of God and experiences God in his connection with a woman he meets on a park bench. They share smiles and laughter while eating Twinkies and drinking root beer. I have included a link below to a video on YouTube that depicts the story with a slightly different telling. You may also listen to the recording of my lesson here.


In my post on July 5, I invited and encouraged us to take some time to reexamine our concept of God. I shared that I had set an intention for myself to do that as well. I am pleased to report that I did take some time while on vacation in the mountains to reflect upon my concept of God.

I hesitate to admit this in a public forum, but in my quiet contemplation time, I realized that my encouragement for you to reexamine your concept of God was so that you could “wake up” and come to share my concept of God. I know! What arrogance!

When I realized that I have been holding to concepts of God that I have taken on and thoughts about God that have become my “religion,” I laughed and cried. I laughed at the absurdity of thinking that I can possibly know all there is to know about the Infinite. I cried at the sweetness and freedom I felt as I released my need to think I know.



Through my laughter and tears, I surrendered and I cried out, “God/Universe/Infinite Mind/Spirit reveal yourself to me. Show me. Tell me. Speak to me.” And, in the silence I heard,

I am every thought you think.
I am every breath you take.
I am every beat of your heart.
I am the life that lives as you.
I am the All that lives as all you see.
I am the All that lives as all you do not see.
I am the tree.
I am the beetle that feeds on the tree.
I am the mountain.
I am the fire.
I am the bird.
I am the mosquito.
I am the wind.
I am the wave.

I was also reminded of the following quotes.

“There is no spot where God is not.” – Origin unknown

“God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” – Attributed to Voltaire

“He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

“Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night,”
 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    
for darkness is as light to you.” – Psalm 139: 7-12

In my listening, I was reminded that there is no duality in God. Duality only exists in a mind that believes it is separate, a mind that judges. A mind that believes in duality is a mind that suffers.

All of this was a calm and gentle reminder that God is Omnipresence. There is nothing that and no one who can be excluded from the Divine.

Each aspect of God vibrates at a unique frequency, and because we are given the gift of freewill, we can choose to align with any aspect in every moment. We are so free that we can even choose bondage to old outdated ideas and concepts about God, concepts that may limit our experience of God, ourselves, each other and the world around us.

We also have the freedom and power to release ourselves from that bondage and open to a new, empowering, and evolving understanding about God, our relationship to God, to each other and to all creation.

Over the next few weeks, I will share in this forum and in my Sunday lessons some of the beliefs I have held about God and the new revelations that have arisen and are now arising as I continue exploring God for myself. I am calling this series, “Myth Busters.” 

My first lesson in the series is “Myth – God is in control.” Did that trigger anyone? I encourage you to let it go and be open to hearing your own expanded concept of God, from God, as we explore and bust this myth. Join us on Sunday at 10:00.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Where Do I Meet God?


In last week’s post I invited you to share your reflections on the phrase, “God meets you where you are.” I appreciate those of you who shared your thoughts, whether in writing or in person.

I recall hearing this said many times when I was in the Baptist church. I am willing to be wrong, but I believe that it was the ministers’ attempt to convey the message that regardless of how “bad” we are and no matter how awful our sins are, God will forgive us and save us if we ask. Of course, God “meeting you where you are” was also dependent upon knowing that God will do that for us only if we accepted that his only son, Jesus, paid the price for our sins on the cross.

I fully accepted and embraced that idea at a time in my life when I needed it. When I bought into the notions that I was born a “sinner,” separate from God, and in need of redemption through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, giving my life to Jesus and being “saved” brought a sense of comfort and peace. 

The New Thought teachings of Ernest Holmes, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, H. Emilie Cady, Thomas Troward, and many others, helped me to come to a different understanding of ‘God’ and embrace a metaphysical and metaphorical perspective on Jesus’ life and death. I celebrate and am eternally grateful for my learning and growth.

While I no longer need that ‘God,’ I understand that there are literally billions of people around the world who adhere to the concept of a God of reward and punishment and belief in Jesus as the pathway to the final reward of heaven. I mourn that so many have been taught to believe that they are innately unworthy and separate from God. However, as long as they hold those beliefs, they need that ‘God,’ and their ‘God’ meets them where they are in their consciousness. It has taken time and inner work, but I have learned to hold them with great love, honor and respect.

During my vacation last week in the mountains, I took time to do my own reflection on “God meets you where you are.” It may be in reaction to my earlier associations with the phrase, but I have chosen to revise it to, “I meet God where I am.” Saying it in that way is more empowering and invites me to acknowledge and accept my responsibility.




I understand ‘God’ as the eternal, unchanging Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence and Omni-action that is the All in and as all. God is the Presence that is everywhere present in the eternal now.

While God does not change, my conscious awareness of God does change. God as Infinite Intelligence, Divine Order, Unconditional Love, Indescribable Beauty, Immeasurable Abundance and Effervescent Life is the One in which and as which we “live and move and have our being.” It is also that which lives and moves and has Its being as each of us, as well as all that we can perceive and all that we have yet to perceive.  

God is where I am. God is what I am. God is who I am. God is the ‘I AM’ that I am.

The All-ness of God is available and accessible to me and to each of us in any moment that we open ourselves to It. We need only choose by aligning our thoughts, attuning the vibration of our feelings, and opening ourselves to the revelation of the Presence. In that way, we meet God right where we are. 

When I believed that I was an unworthy sinner, I met God from that consciousness, and God revealed Itself to me in the form of Jesus as savior.

Last week, while in the mountains, I had the opportunity to officiate a wedding at the top of a mountain in Keystone, CO. Getting to the wedding site required two gondola rides up to a height of 11,600 feet. The views were breathtaking. Since I did not stay for the party following the ceremony, I was alone in the gondola on the ride back down the mountain. In my solitude, I sat floating high above the trees surrounded by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. In those moments, I met God from a consciousness of awe, appreciation and openness, and God revealed Itself to me through the beauty of nature in which I was enfolded.

I felt love, peace and joy so profound that words cannot begin to capture it. I met God where I was in body, mind and spirit. 

Where we are in consciousness determines our experience of God. The question we get to ask ourselves is “Where Do I Meet God?”

Join us on Sunday for our service at 10:00 as we explore this question further.