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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Word Made Flesh

During a recent meditation, I received the following message:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And, the Word became flesh (John 1). I am the Word. The Word is made flesh as Divine Love. I am the Word made flesh.”

Traditional Christianity asserts that ‘the Word’ in John’s Gospel refers to Jesus. In Unity, we teach that ‘the Word’ is the Christ, the aspect of the Creator that may be realized by humanity. It is a potential for each of us. We teach that Jesus, the master teacher and way shower, realized his Christ potential and embodied the energy of Divine Love. Thus, he was the Word made flesh.

The writer of the Gospel of Matthew tells the story of when Jesus “took Peter, James and John up to a high mountain and he was transfigured, his face shown like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white” (Matthew 17: 1-2 NRSV). Metaphysically, this change in appearance represents the radiance of Divine Love revealed through one who has raised his vibrational frequency to the consciousness of the Christ. Each of us has the potential to do the same through consistent and habitual uplifting of our minds through prayer and meditation, as is metaphorically represented by Jesus going to a high mountain.

This is one of the primary tenants of Unity, and one I completely embrace and champion. While I have not yet completely realized it in its fullest expression, the Christ vibration has been and continues to be an ideal to which I aspire. In addition, I am awakening more and more to the awareness that while embodying Divine Love is a supreme aspiration, it alone is not enough. We must also express Divine Love in our daily walk. We must be the Word made flesh.

Author, lecturer, and sacred activist, Andrew Harvey, inspires in his book, The Hope,

“Divine Love is not only an interior experience: after all, it is also the energy that creates and sustains the universe. To live in Divine Love is inevitably to act from it, both by the radiance of your presence and in actual acts of justice and compassion.”

After experiencing his transfiguration, Jesus did not sit on the mountaintop like a guru awaiting the arrival of his aspirants or even the pilgrimages of those seeking help and healing. On the contrary, he went out into the world sharing the radiance of Divine Love and engaging in acts of justice and compassion. He fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, comforted the grieving, and facilitated healing in the infirm.

We are called to follow the example of Jesus. ‘The Word’ must be made flesh as each of us. ‘The Word’ is made flesh in us as we express Divine Love in acts of justice and compassion. It is good to pray and meditate in order to raise our vibrational frequency, and we must not stop there. We must also go out into the world and be the Divine Love we are. As Unity’s fifth basic principle states, “We must live the Truth we know.”

Please join us on Sunday as we welcome our guest speaker and workshop presenter, Rev. Mark Gilbert, author of Becoming a Spiritual Change Agent. He will share with us about “Living as an Agent of Love” in the world. I hope you will come to hear Mark’s inspiring message and stay for the workshop in which he will support us in moving from the experience of Divine Love into its expression. 

It is my prayer that we at Unity Church of Denver will more fully and more actively engage in serving the world through acts of justice and compassion. Let us follow Jesus’s example and be “the Word made flesh” for those who are suffering.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A.C.O.G. - Adult Child of God

Sunday is Father’s Day. I have never given a great deal of energy or attention to Father’s Day. I always gave or mailed my father the obligatory card in recognition, but I did my best to find a generic one with very little sentiment. My father, who died in 2003, was for all intents and purposes, for most of my life an absentee father. He traveled a great deal when I was growing up. When he was home he was not available. From the time I knew the meaning of the word, I referred to my father as an “alcoholic.” Until I was 35, there were very few times I saw my father sober. In 1995, he stopped drinking on doctor’s orders after a stay in the hospital due to a heart condition. As a result, during the last years of his life we were able to enjoy some connection. For that, I am grateful.

For years, I blamed my father for many of the things I judged wrong with my life and for my various dysfunctional behaviors. According to my therapist, I exhibited classic characteristics and behaviors of “adult children of alcoholics” (A.C.O.A.) which were outlined in the book, Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Dr. Janet Woititz published in 1983. I wore the label defiantly and often used it to justify my actions.

I feel sad knowing that I did not find a true place of empathy and forgiveness for my father until after his death. Today, I recognize that I held static images of my father as an “alcoholic” and of me as an “adult child of an alcoholic.” As a result, I continued to live the experiences of both. Today, I am making different choices.

Unity and other New Thought teaching taught me the power of consciousness and the power of the word, both spoken and in thought. Charles Fillmore, the cofounder of Unity, said “All metaphysicians recognize that certain words, used persistently, mold and transform conditions in mind, body, and affairs.”¹ Nonviolent Communication® (a.k.a. Compassionate Communication²), the work of Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D., taught me the power of connecting with others and myself beyond the labels.

I have learned that I am who I say am. I am that which I profess because speaking my word aligns me with the vibration of that which I claim. When I say I am an “adult child of an alcoholic” I align my mind with all the energy associated with that label. And, when I align my mind, and thus fill my consciousness with that vibration, my thoughts, words and behaviors align equivalently. I become who I say I am. As I continue to claim it, I continue to live it.

Additionally, I have learned that, even though my father drank a great deal, it is not only unkind and unfair, but also violent and untrue to continue to define him, or anyone, according to behaviors. My father was, as each of us is, a unique and wondrous child of God in dynamic expression. We, in any moment, can align with that knowing and our lives can immediately begin to manifest differently.

I know little about his childhood because he chose not to share it. I have suspicions that it was not joyful. I believe my father numbed the pain of his human experience by consuming a mood altering substance. I, too, have consumed mood altering substances and engaged in numbing behaviors to escape emotional pain. I now have great empathy and compassion for him in his suffering. I realize I am not so different from my father. Further, he and I are not so different from all human beings. We all share the needs for love and belonging, and we all feel pain when those needs are not met. And, we often attempt to meet those needs or to numb the pain, by making choices that ultimately do not achieve either. I have, however, learned to make different choices.

While I am still not completely free from the personality traits and behaviors associated with a classic A.C.O.A., I no longer identify as that. I prefer A.C.O.G. (Adult Child of God). I claim that as my truth, and as Mr. Fillmore said, my word “molds and transforms the conditions” of my life in alignment to it. Through prayer and meditation, I align my mind with all the Life Energy that I imagine God to be. As my consciousness is filled with thoughts and images of God, my words and actions align as well. In this way, I become who I say I am.

As Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). I am transformed as I claim who I truly am. My image of my father is transformed as well.

I encourage us all to release the labels we use to identify ourselves and claim our true identities as A.C.O.G. (Adult Children of God). And, through the power of the persistent use of our word, allow our minds to be renewed and our lives transformed.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 as we honor our earthly fathers and the one “Father” of us all.

¹ Jesus Christ Heals

² I invite you to join J and me on Tuesdays beginning, June 30, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Unity Church of Denver to learn more about Compassionate Communication. We will offer a 4-week Introductory class, followed by a 5-week Deepening Skills class.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Follow Your Bliss

In his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University, Apple founder, Steve Jobs, told the audience, “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And, whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. He went on to encourage the graduates to follow their dreams, and to not waste their lives “living someone else’s life.”

Taken literally the thought that one could live someone else’s life is preposterous. How can a person live a life that is not his own? Of course, it is not possible; however, it is possible and even common for one to live a life that someone else has prescribed for her, perhaps her parents, culture, or even her religion. All too often, we succumb to the pressures of others and do what is “expected” or what we believe will bring us success in the eyes of others. We may not live the life of another, but we often live our lives for another. Often we, as Thoreau said, live “lives of quiet desperation” in an attempt to make a living, be “respectable,” or feel safe and secure. In doing so, we may meet some needs, but we may sacrifice our deepest need, which is to know ourselves as a magnificent expression of the One Life, to connect with the Essence of who we are and who we have come here to be, and to manifest that in the world. In other words, our deepest need is to, as American mythologist, writer and lecturer, Joseph Campbell, said, follow our bliss.

Most of us are most likely familiar with that quote, “Follow your bliss,” but like me, some may have a misconception of what it means to follow our bliss. At one time I thought it meant to discover what brings joy and only do what is fun; ‘bliss’ meant ‘pleasure,’ ‘elation’ and ‘ebullience.’ After further exploration of Campbell’s lectures and writing, I found a greater depth of understanding. The following quotes are taken from The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work.

“I think the best thing I can say is to follow your bliss. If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you’re on the wrong track. Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself. Your bliss can guide you to that transcendent mystery, because your bliss is the welling up of the energy of the transcendent wisdom within you.”
When we consider that Campbell defines ‘bliss’ as the energy of transcendent wisdom within us, we can clearly see that he was encouraging us to follow what could also be called the “Divine Urge” within us. It is not about feeling blissful 24/7, but about being true to who we are.

Also, following our bliss does not mean that life will always be easy, that we will not face pain and struggle or that we can just sit back and let it happen. On the contrary, following our bliss is, as Campbell says, the hero’s journey. It is a journey that each one must undertake in order to be true to himself.

Campbell also says, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” Some well-known hero journeys from literature include Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. It is an age-old theme. Perhaps the best known hero’s journey for those from the Christian tradition is the life of Jesus Christ.

Each of these were called to embark upon the hero’s journey, and even though fear may have arisen, something within them urged them onward as they came face to face with dark and mysterious forces that attempted to dissuade them from their missions. When we choose to follow our bliss we will probably be called upon to come face-to-face with our fears, and in doing so, we are given the opportunity to embrace our own strength and power at a deeper level.

Campbell encourages, 

“You follow [your bliss] and doors will open where there were no doors before, where you would not have thought there’d be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anybody else. There’s something about the integrity of a life. And the world moves in and helps. It really does.” 

When we say “Yes” to the Divine Urge within, we can rest assured that all the power of the Universe rushes in to help. Again, it will not always be easy, but with faith we know that all is provided in the moment it is needed.

“And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

The Divine Urge is the movement of that “transcendent wisdom” in the heart. Intuition is the awareness of our innate wisdom. As Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity said, “All wisdom is implanted in us by divine intelligence.”  He further said, “Wisdom can only be found in its purity at the heart center.” We access wisdom when we consciously center our awareness in the heart, experience serenity, and listen for the still small voice. From this centered consciousness, we receive guidance, and can then take the steps to follow our bliss with courage. ‘Courage’ is derived from the French ‘coeur,’ which translates into English as ‘heart.’  Courage is the willingness to follow where the heart leads, trusting that the heart, the Divine Urge, our bliss, always guides us to the highest and best good for all.

As Steve Jobs said, “Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. As with all matters of the heart, you will know it when you hear it.” 

There are over seven billion people on Earth, and each and every one is a unique expression of the creative energy of the Universe. I have often wondered why there are so many people on the planet. That it takes each one expressing his or her magnificence in order to bring forth the kingdom of heaven is the only plausible reason I can think of. Further, until every last one recognizes the Divine Urge and follows his or her ‘bliss’ we will not fully realize the kingdom. That is how vital it is for us to follow our bliss. Listen! Follow your bliss.

Join us for our service on Sunday as we explore further the concept of following our bliss.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Consciousness is Supply

“If a seeming need appears to you, it occurs to your thought. Therefore you are conscious of it. But your Consciousness is the supply, so It cannot really be aware of a need; It can only be conscious of the supply for that which seemed to be a need. The Conscious Supply existed in and as your Consciousness before the so-called need arose. In other words, when some apparent need or desire occurs to you, it is just that your attention has been called to the supply that is already existent. If the supply were not already there, that which has been miscalled the need would not have arisen.” - Marie Watts from The Ultimate, Your Self Revealed

When I read this, my heart leapt for joy. In just a few sentences, Marie Watts answered a question that I have pondered for some time: What is the difference between ‘need,’ ‘want,’ and ‘desire?’ There is no difference - they are all just concepts of a dualistic mind.

She says that in Consciousness there is no need; therefore, we cannot be aware of need. That which we have misperceived as a ‘need’ is, in reality, our conscious awakening to the ever present supply. The supply, infinite as our Consciousness, is the fulfillment of any thought that we have. Most of us, refer to it as a ‘need,’ ‘want,’ or ‘desire.’ At least that is the premise I had assumed until I read this passage.

Imagine removing those concepts from our minds and those words from our vocabulary. For example, what would our experience be if we immediately realize there is no lack when we have the thought, “I need money”? What if, when we see images of starving children or violence, we see only the fulfillment of the ‘needs’ that they represent? What would it be like, if instead of focusing on the thought, we recognize that the thought arose because the supply is already present? No longer would we experience the pain or suffering of an unmet need, an unfulfilled desire or the lack of something wanted. Instead, we would live in the realization that “Consciousness is the supply.”

It is, however, important for us to realize that this Truth does not allow us to abdicate our responsibility to take action. While Consciousness is the supply, it must be brought forth into form through us. It begins with our conscious awareness of it, continues with our willingness to fill our hearts and minds with the realization of it, and culminates as we actively engage in actions to bring it forth into manifestation. Or, as the African proverb says, “When you pray, pray with your feet moving.”

Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore said,

“The law of supply is a divine law. It is a law of mind and must work through mind. God will not go to the store and bring food to your table, but when you continue to think about God as your real supply, everything in your mind begins to awaken and to contact the divine substance, and as you mold it in your consciousness, ideas begin to come which will connect you with the visible manifestation.”¹ [italics mine]

I hope you are as excited as I am about the unlimited possibilities that this Truth reveals. We are not limited by any outer condition or circumstance. We cannot be aware of a ‘need’ for which there is not already the divine supply.

Join us on Sunday at 10:00 as we explore how we can embrace and live from this truth individually and collectively as a church community and in our shared humanity with all.

¹ Prosperity, Page 68