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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Freeing the Self

This morning, as I sat on my meditation cushion, I thought “Today is Monday.” Immediately, concepts that I associate with ‘Monday’ began to arise in my consciousness; thoughts such as “my day off,” “start of a new week,” and “I got to sleep late.” I then realized that ‘Monday’ is a mental construct and that I decide for myself what it means. Granted, to some extent we, the human race, have a shared meaning for many mental constructs such as the day of the week, calendar year and time of day. They help us function together in a somewhat orderly fashion. Yet, on a personal level each of us determines how we operate within these structures. This seemingly small Monday morning realization opened me to a greater awareness of how often I limit myself by the meaning I assign to certain concepts, especially the ones I use to define myself and my world. My guess is that I am not alone.

These meanings become habituated and embedded in our minds. They form the ego structure which most often dominates our lives. Many, if not most of us live within this structure without being conscious of it. The ego structure becomes our comfort zone. We derive a sense of safety and security from these familiar mental constructs. We operate under the false belief that, within this structure of clearly defined meanings, we have some control.  However, these structures can become prisons of our own making. We are often imprisoned by them until we begin to become conscious of them and begin to question them. We have the power, no – we are the power to set ourselves free.

Setting ourselves free from the bonds of the ego structure is in essence the purpose of Lent. In the Christian liturgical calendar Lent is time of preparation for Easter. Easter, in traditional Christianity, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Unity, we also celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, and we honor his resurrection as the physical demonstration of what each of us may experience as the awakening and arising of the Christ within our own consciousness. Awakening to the Christ within sets us free from the self-imposed prison of the ego structure.

Traditional Christianity teaches that Jesus redeemed humanity through his crucifixion and resurrection, thus the importance of Easter. Further, it teaches that if one believes that Jesus died on the cross for his sins that he will be “saved” and know eternal life. In Unity, we teach that Jesus was not here to “save” us through his sacrifice. Instead he was here to show us how to “save” ourselves. In other words, he taught us how to free ourselves from imprisonment within the ego structure. We can only do this by strengthening our conscious awareness of the Christ within and allowing the ego structure to fall away or be transformed.

Jesus knew that in order for us to experience resurrection, which Father Richard Rhor in his book Immortal Diamond equates to the “revelation of the True Self,” that we must also experience death. The death that we must experience is a transformation of the ego structures that we have allowed to define and confine us. It is not that the ego must die as some spiritual teachings suggest, but that our identification with it, as it, must cease. Also, contrary to some spiritual tradition, we must not try to dismantle the ego structure by attacking it. Instead, we must allow the Christ to be the source of our freedom. The Christ within is our power to overcome.

Our attempts to dismantle the ego structure by trying to eliminate it or by dissecting and analyzing it are futile. In fact, that only serves to fortify it. The only way to free ourselves from the ego structure is to strengthen our conscious awareness of the True Self, the Christ within, and allow its Light and Love to dissolve the imprisoning walls of the ego structure.

For this reason, my Sunday morning Lenten lesson series is entitled, “Loving the Self.” I encourage us to commit time daily to the practice of going within to make conscious connection with the Christ of our being, to sit in the heart space of love with it, to see ourselves and the world through the eyes of the Christ, thus to free ourselves to live as the Christ in the world. Freed from the ego structure, the True Self enjoys the space to express in the freedom that it is. This is the promise of Easter. This is the resurrection.

Please join us on Sunday mornings at 10:00 as we explore together how “Loving the Self” is the path to transformation of the ego structure and resurrection of the True Self. This past Sunday, my lesson was “Falling in Love” in which I compared our experience of falling in love on the human level with what it is like to fall in love with our True Self. You may listen to that lesson here or watch it here. This Sunday, my lesson will be “Growing in Love.” I will draw a comparison between what happens in the phase following falling in love with our beloved in human form with what happens as we grow in our experience of “Loving the Self.”

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Meeting the Self

In my post last week I announced that my Sunday lesson series during Lent this year is entitled “Loving the Self.” I use the capital ‘S’ as I will focus on loving the Divine Self. In Unity, we call this Self the ‘Christ,’ the individuated expression of Divine Life that each of us is in Truth.

Rather than attempting to suppress or deny aspects of our human nature which we judge as bad or eliminate behaviors that do not support our greatest good, which many Christians do during Lent, I propose that we, instead, give our attention and devotion to the qualities and expressions of our Divine Self which we desire to embrace and demonstrate.

During Lent this year let us love the Christ of our being so that when Easter arrives we can celebrate the resurrection, the reawakening in our consciousness of Christ, in order that we may demonstrate the gifts (fruits) of the Christ. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul describes these as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

We must begin by meeting the Self in the silence of our own hearts where Divine Love abides and is always accessible. I suggest we do this by first setting a clear intention to know the Self. Open to the Self by dropping awareness into the heart. Breathe deeply into the heart center located to the right and directly behind the physical heart. Imagine that you are breathing through this sacred heart space. Allowing awareness to rest there, gently redirect your focus when you notice your attention being drawn elsewhere, such as the thinking. Invite your awareness to fall deeply into Divine Love and greet the Beloved, the Christ of your being, there.

In this space of Divine Love allow any thoughts of lack or limitation that arise in your mind to be transformed by the power of Love. Do not struggle against them. Simply welcome them into the space of Love and allow the energy of Love to transmute anything that is unlike itself. If doubt rises, employ the power of faith to trust and know that even though you cannot see, or perhaps not feel this taking place, Love is in fact doing the work. Love is the power to transmute and transform all into its likeness.

Engage in this practice for 10-minute intervals 4 times each day. At the end of the day, you will have devoted 40 minutes to this practice. Metaphysically the number ‘40’ represents a period of completion. I suggest that you choose one of the 9 gifts above to use as your contemplative focus each day. Beginning February 20, there are 36 days (including Sundays) before Easter. This period provides us with the opportunity to devote 4 days to each gift.

During each 10-minute practice period, once you have brought your full awareness into the heart space, bring one of the gifts, ‘kindness’ for example, to your heart  and concentrate on it with your mind. Welcome all thoughts, feelings, and actions that are not in alignment with kindness to arise in your consciousness and invite them to be transmuted without struggle or resistance. Allow yourself to experience the shift within. Again, use the power of Faith to rest in the assurance that this transformation is taking place. Let the Light of Love do the work and know that all unlike Love is being dissipated. Experience gratitude for your awakening and close the practice with an expression of thanksgiving.

I will be interested to hear your results from consciously and intentionally participating in your own awakening to the Christ of your being, and I look forward to sharing mine with you. Please join us on Sundays at 10:00 over the next few weeks as we explore further what it means to “Love the Self.”

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Loving Self

Lent officially began on Wednesday. In traditional Christianity Lent is a time of preparation for Easter through penance, repentance of sins, and self-denial¹. Many adherents to Orthodox Christianity, as well as many Protestants, engage in the practice of “giving something up for Lent,” and it is usually a behavior which they consider sinful.

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity, in Keep a True Lent says, “Lent is a season of spiritual growth, a time for progressive unfoldment.” We, in Unity, also traditionally observe Lent through the practice of “giving up something;” however, rather than giving up something demonstrable, we strive to let go of thinking that is not in alignment with our Divine Nature. In a way, we also practice “repentance of sin.” We teach that repentance is “turning away from sin,” or making another choice, and ‘sin’ is “error thought.”

Lent is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. Metaphysically, the number ‘40’ represents a time of completion, as is represented by Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert prior to beginning his ministry and the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before entering the promised land. Lent is intended to be a time of conscious preparation for Easter.

In The Revealing Word, Easter is defined as “The awakening and raising to spiritual consciousness of the I AM in man, which has been dead in trespasses and sins and buried in the tomb of materiality.” For us in Unity, the resurrection is symbolic of our own awakening to the transforming power of the Christ within – which we may have allowed to remain hidden behind our limiting ideas of ourselves, God, and the world. Roman Catholic Priest, Father Richard Rohr, in his book, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, also supports this symbolic and metaphoric understanding of ‘resurrection” as he equates it with the revelation of our True Selves, which he also refers to as the Christ.

This Sunday, February 14, is the first Sunday of Lent. It is also Valentine’s Day. While Saint Valentine’s Day was originally a liturgical celebration, it has since become, for most of us, a day to celebrate romantic love. We traditionally give or send greeting cards, flowers and candy to our special loved one on this day. 

In thinking and praying about my lesson for this Sunday, I have contemplated how I might bring Lent, Valentine’s Day and Love all together into one message. I am still working that out. However, in my contemplations I was inspired to approach Lent from a slightly different perspective this year. Rather than focusing on releasing that which does not serve us, such as our thoughts and behaviors, I suggest that we instead focus on loving our Divine Nature, the True Self – the Christ.

I invite us during this time to explore for ourselves what it means to consciously connect with the awareness of our True Self and love it. Let us discover together the power of Love as we commit this time to adoring the True Self – the Christ of our being – as though it were our one true love. In Truth, it is. I encourage us all to meet the True Self as the Beloved. Fall in love with your Self. Take time to be with your Self. Listen to your Self. Discover ways to grow in understanding your Self. Appreciate and value your Self. I believe we will all be amazed and delighted by the results at the end of Lent as we come together to celebrate our own resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Since it is a deep and rich topic, rather than just one lesson this Sunday, I have been inspired to offer a seven-week Lenten series on “Loving Self.” This Sunday’s lesson will be “Falling in Love,” followed by lessons entitled “Being in Love,” “Growing in Love,” “Living in Love,” and “Resting in Love.” On Palm Sunday, my lesson will be “Surrendering in Love,” and on Easter, “Rising in Love.”

I hope you will join me for this series as we explore and learn together how we can, utilizing the power of Love, more fully and consciously live the Unity Spiritual Center Denver mission, to “inspire spiritual awakening and personal transformation.” Let us claim the power of Love to transform our lives and the world.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Love is...

It is February: the month of Love. I am reminded of the lyrics to an old Foreigner song entitled “I Wanna Know What Love is.”  The chorus is -

Lets talk about love
I wanna know what love is, the love that you feel inside
I want you to show me, and I’m feeling so much love
I wanna feel what love is, no, you just cannot hide

So, let’s talk about “Love.” I want to know what love is, real love; the love that can only be experienced in deep, intimate communion with the Divine expressing as the One, yet individualized as each of us. We say, “God is Love.” If that is indeed true, it follows that when we know God, we know Love, and when we know Love, we know God. God is the Love I want to know. God is the Love I want to feel. God is the Love I want to show.

I invite you to join me in affirming:
            “I am Love. I Love. I am Loved.” 

This affirmation speaks of the holy trinity of Love. It speaks of being, expressing and experiencing - three in one, inseparable and complete. Not one of those statements can be true unless they are all true. When we embrace the full meaning and power of this affirmation, then we will know what love is.

First, we must know that we are Love; the Love that God is. When we say, “I am Love,” we are claiming the Truth. We are making a firm statement of the very nature of our being. It is first a concept that is embraced by the mind, a mental understanding. As we meditate on this affirmation, it establishes itself in our hearts, the center of our being, as a personal experience of Love. With attention and awareness focused in this Truth, we become the conscious embodiment of Love.

As the embodiment of Love, Love is our natural expression. “I Love” becomes our way of being in the world. When we know that we are Love, there is no thought of anything other than Love to block the awareness, so Love flows freely. Love is what we do. To suggest to one who knows himself or herself as Love not to express Love would be like asking the sun not to shine, or the river not to flow to the sea.

The circle of Love is complete as we experience Love. As we know ourselves as Love, we express Love, and when we express Love, we experience Love. Then, we can say with assurance, “I Am Loved.” It is in giving that we receive, but Love takes no thought of receiving. Love just gives.

As Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore says in The Revealing Word,

“Divine love is impersonal; it loves for the sake of loving. It is not concerned with what or who it loves, nor with the return of love. Like the sun, its joy is in the shining forth of its nature…Love in an inner quality that sees good everywhere in in everybody…Love is the great harmonizer and healer.”
Quoting from my book, In This Moment – Prayers from the Well of Awareness*:

Love is the very Essence of who I am – the spark of Life. It is ignited by the slightest recognition of itself and fanned by the very thought of it. The flame of love burns hot and engulfs the heart, but does not consume it. The light glows brightly and illumines everything and everyone within its reach. Love knows only what is good and true. Love recalls not the pain of the past; neither does it dream hopefully of the future, for it is all in the moment. Nothing is needed, only the complete acceptance of itself as Its Self. Could Love be anything less than the totality of the promise kept? Love can do nothing but give, and in its giving, it receives unto itself Its Self.

Love needs nothing; it wants nothing. Love is complete in itself. Love is. I am.

*Available for purchase in the Unity Spiritual Center Denver bookstore or on my website: