Archive for the ‘current issues’ Category

Day 33 – Friday Mount of Transfiguration

April 7, 2017

33rd Day     Friday

(Note from Rev. Toni:   Remember that Charles Fillmore was writing this in the early 1900’s;  take a deep breath as you read this entry.  Open up to the metaphysical meaning of these ideas.  Also note that the 2017 edition uses the same concept.)

Mount of Transfiguration

From Keep A True Lent by Charles Fillmore

Read Matthew 17:1-13.

Transfiguration is always preceded by a change of mind. In transfiguration, ideals are lifted from the material to the spiritual.  Going up into the mountain to pray means an elevation of thought and aspiration from the mortal to the spiritual viewpoint. When the mind is exalted in prayer the rapid radiation of mental energy causes a dazzling light radiation from all parts of the body, and especially the head.  Even our so-called physical body reveals a radiant body, (which Jesus referred to as sitting on the throne of His glory), which interlaces the trillions of cells of the organism and burns brightly. Jesus gave His disciples a glimpse of His radiant body when He was transfigured before them. “His face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light.”  He was very advanced in spiritual consciousness and was developed to a larger degree than anyone else in our race. But we all have that body of light, and its development is in proportion to our spiritual culture. Jesus did not go down to corruption but, by the intensity of His spiritual devotions, transformed every cell into its innate divine light and power. When John was in the spirit of devotion Jesus appeared to him and “his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass.” Jesus lives today in that body of glorified light in a kingdom that interpenetrates the earth and its environment.  Jesus is my Way-Shower. In His name I affirm: “My mind and body are radiant with the light of Spirit, and I am triumphant, glorious, splendid.”

 

 

From Be Ye Transformed    Lent 2017

Transfiguration

By Rev. Elise Cowan

I radiate from the light of God as the truth of my being.

Transfiguration was a miracle demonstrated by Jesus when he went up the mountain to pray with a few disciples and began radiating light. We, too, have the light of God within us when we turn our mind in prayer to our higher selves.  This Lenten journey let us “be transformed” by changing our mind and shifting attention away from the things of the world, the material things around us, to a spiritual consciousness, a higher state of being.  When we become still and know we are God, we can visualize the light within us radiating from the core of our being. As we feel the light shining, we grow the light to encompass our entire being and beyond. We are transfigured as our light radiates outward, touching and becoming one with the lights of others.

 

To download the booklet, Be Ye Transformed Lent 2017, published by Unity World Headquarters, click here.

To download the book, Keep A True Lent, by Charles Fillmore, click here.

Thoughts on the Budget

February 5, 2008

As I watched the news yesterday and listened to the President and commentators talk about the newly proposed $3+ trillion budget, I was amazed and saddened at the same time!  First, I can’t get my head around ‘trillion’ other than it’s a very big number!!!!!  Hence the first amazement.  Secondly, as I heard of the proposed 8% increase in defense spending  (and this doesn’t include paying for the war in Iraq) and a freeze/cut in domestic spending, I had my second amazement moment!  And then I found myself sad.  My thoughts flew to “are we really so afraid of the world” and “do we really value life so little” and “doesn’t this administration understand”.  As I sat with these thoughts and feelings, I found myself saying a prayer – “Oh God, this can’t be real – Oh God, what do we do?”  I slowly began to be conscious, really conscious, of those thoughts and where I was going with them – to my own place of fear and yes anger!  As I became more aware, I took a deep breath and opened to the reframing and rephrasing of my prayer – “Oh God, only Love is real.  Oh God, I am open to what is mine to do.”  This shift in energy – thoughts, words, feelings – brought me to a place of greater peace, if not greater understanding.  Since then, I have given more thought to the feelings and thoughts behind that intial reaction and I must admit that I am concerned that, at each budget cycle, the idea of reducing defense spending in order to provide the necessary funding for positive domestic programs is never discussed.  And I want to make it clear that when I speak of defense cuts, I am not talking about “not supporting the troops.”  I’m talking about reductions in research into new weapons that make war less messy; I’m talking about reducing cronyism and waste in the defense contracting business; I’m talking about less support, or at least of efficient support, of the military-industrial complex.   Speaking primarily from an intuitive position with only a neophyte’s research, I believe that if we were to refocus from weapons research and wasteful spending, we could provide better health care and benefits to those who are now serving in our armed forces.  We could support those men and women returning to lives that have been turned upside down.  We would be able to focus creatively on re-tooling our industrial base to fit markets and jobs needed to move us into a greener, more connected world.
My deepest desire is that we as individuals and as a nation bring into our consciousness the awareness that every life is precious, that every individual has infinite value, and that what we spend our money on is, in fact, what we hold most dear.   I do believe that as individuals and as a nation we hold life sacred; that when we can conquer our fear, we make choices that support life and peace, not destruction and war.  I believe that our voice – that my voice – is important in sending that message to the individuals we have elected to govern for us (note:  I didn’t say govern us, rather govern for us!). 

Regardless of which party’s nominee wins, it is vitally important that we, the people, let him or her know that we expect governance based on prinicples of love and compassion, not on fear and destruction, and that this governance starts with a serious look at how we are spending our money! 

PS – perhaps the lawmakers could spending a little less time worrying about steriod use in baseball and a little more time on creatively working on bringing quality education to all or what new markets/jobs are being called for in this new century!!!

Another New Year

December 26, 2007

Earlier this week I was reading an article in the Smithsonian magazine about the year 1908.  Wow, what a amazing story!  In the article I was reminded that Wilbur and Orville Wright were still trying to fly more than 2 hours at a time at the end of that year!  Automobiles were toys for the rich and famous – well, that’s still true – however, in 1908 the average person did not have one and most weren’t sure they were a good idea!   Henry Ford would bring out the Model T in 1908 and change so much of our world.  Thousands of people were killed each year in work-related accidents;  children worked long hours in dangerous condition; there were vast numbers of immigrants coming into the US from both the east and the west.  In fact, in the larger cities, gangs terrorized the streets – remember the movie, Gangs of New York.   Racism was part of the culture – lynchings were taking place in the midwest and the south.  There was extreme poverty and extreme wealth.  And with all that, there were major strides and innovations in technology – radio, automobiles, airplanes, synthetic materials – and public awareness – women had begun their struggle for the vote and more equality, child labor laws were being introduced, to name just a few issues.  Interestingly, oil was discovered in the Middle East and rights to drill immediately claimed by the United Kingdom.   The world was getting smaller – it took days and weeks for news to spread rather than months to years. Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come and yet how little has changed.  As we move into 2008, we live in a much smaller world – it takes only seconds for news to spread around the world – and yet one where there is still fighting for control over blocks of the neighborhood.  Women and children still work very long hours in very poor conditions – they’re just not in our neighborhood mostly!  Racism still exists – for some more subtly; for others, wrapped up in homeland security.  Advances in technology are moving so fast that it is almost impossible to keep up.   And public awareness is expanding – more and more individuals are reaching out through interfaith activities, disaster relief, environmental conservation, and a call for peace. Working together as an integrated whole – accepting and celebrating our rich diversity – we can make 2008 more than just another year.  There are several groups in the community that are working for cross-cultural dialogue.  Reach out – get involved.   Make connections with local groups working to conserve our natural resources – recycling, energy conservation.  Help build affordable housing locally.  Find time to meditate.  Think outside the box at home, at your work, at your church, synagogue or mosque.  Ask why.  Stand on top of your desk to get a different perspective. We can make it a year of unity and peace!  Let’s do it!

A Quote from Charles

August 23, 2007

“All power has its birth in the silence.  There is no exception to this rule in all the evidence of life.  Noise is the dying vibration of a spent force.  All the clatter of visibility, from the harangue of the politician to the thunder’s roar, is but evidence of exhausted power.”
Charles Fillmore

During the month of September, the first of four Seasons for Peace and Nonviolence – the Season for Interfaith Celebration – will begin.  On September 11th, there will be several Remembrance Services in the area.  On September 13th, we will join Unity communities worldwide in observing the Unity World Day of Prayer, this year’s theme being World Peace.  On September 21st, the Frederick Forum for the Seasons for Nonviolence will host the International Day of Peace program at the Baker Park Band shell beginning at 5:30 pm. 

All of these wonderful activities will bring people together from a wide variety of faith traditions and walks of life – each one holding his or her dream of peace.  In these gatherings we have a opportunity to channel the power of peace to our community and to the world – if only we don’t dissipate that power with soundbites and hot air.   Sometimes it is more powerful to stand together in silence than to attempt to persuade with speech – to be open to the energy and consciousness of love and compassion as it moves through us and from us – to keep our hands clasped as we move through the issues.  AND so, while I agree with Charles that ‘noise is a dying vibration of power,’ I also believe that words combined with feeling are what we use to bring forth from the silence the world in which we desire to live.   So maybe more space between more considered words is what is called for now!  May it be so!

The True Church

July 11, 2007

Pope Benedict’s recent summary and clarification of Dominion Iesus,  a theological treatise about ecclesiology published by the Vatican in the year 2000 during the pontificate of John Paul II, is an interesting piece of work.  In his clarification document, Pope Benedict XVI asserted yesterday that the Roman Catholic Church is the “one church” that Christ “established here on Earth” and that other Christian denominations “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense…..” 

In the Baltimore Sun we find this quote: “It’s a clarification of the meaning of the word church,” said Lawrence S. Cunningham, who writes a column for the Catholic magazine Commonweal and is a theologian at the University of Notre Dame. “Behind this document is the worry that the language of ecumenism has become too flabby and too imprecise, and too Pollyannish about glossing over real doctrinal positions.”  Again from the International Herald Tribune,  ‘The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles. Thus, it said, the world’s Orthodox Christians make up a church because of shared history, if “separated” from the “proper” Catholic tradition; Protestants, who split from Catholicism during the Reformation, are considered only “Christian communities.”  The document repeated church teaching that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the mediator of salvation, though other beliefs can be its “instrument.”‘
Father Johnathan, writing for Fox News, says that this clarification was written for theologian and should not be taken as a press release.

As a person who believes strongly in the power of words and that clarity is important, I applaud the Pope’s desire to be clear, if not his interpretations and methods.   And this document does make the position of the Roman Catholic Church clear.  Perhaps it would have been better if it had been released only to theologians, because now it clearly has reached the world in “press release-ese”. 

The International Herald Tribune headline reads: “Pope restates ‘defects’ of other Christian faiths….”  The Baltimore Sun headline reads: “Pontiff  asserts Catholic primacy.”  The Chicago Sun-Tribune reads: “Catholicism is the only true church, Vatican declares.”  ABC and Reuters reads: “Vatican says other Christian churches ‘wounded.'”

As a person who has travelled an eclectic road with God, I don’t need the Pope to define for me what the True Church is.  AND if he sees it as part of his calling as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church to define it for them, then God bless him.   I feel sad that he, and judging by the press coverage, many in the rest of the world, seem to think that he might be the arbiter of this question for everyone else.  I believe that his words, regardless of the reasons for issuing them,  will not help bring unity and peace to this world.  It is my belief that going back to old language, old rituals, old thought patterns will not bring about evolved thinking, believing and doing.  

From the depths of my being, I affirm that together we will find new words, the new rituals, the new thought patterns that represent God, the Infinite Spirit, the Eternal One – and that these “new” ideas and concepts will show us how to recognize and apply the truths taught by all the great teachers in a unifying, inclusive, and nonviolent way.  

“The church of Christ covers every department of our existance and enters into every fiber of our being. 
We carry it with us day and night, seven days of the week.  We live in it as a fish lives in water; as we become conscious of its enveloping presence, we are transformed into a new creature.  Life becomes an ecstasy, and our cup is full to overflowing.”  from Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore. 

Question of Fear

July 5, 2007

In Sojomail, the weekly email-zine sent out by Rev Jim Wallis, he listed 4 questions that he was not able to ask the three leading Democratic candidates during the Candidate Forum on Faith, Values, and Poverty held on June 4th.  The first was about our commitment to Africa; the second concerned the impact that the world view outlined in the beatitudes (peace, justice) would have on their leadership; the fourth dealt with the relationship between faith-based initiatives and the government.  All of these are relevant questions.  However it was the third one that really caught my attention –
“3.   The command “be not afraid” appears frequently in the Bible, and yet U.S. foreign policy seems to be driven by fear, primarily of terrorist attacks. Our leaders seek to justify the most important decisions in foreign policy with dire warnings of impending attacks. Have we let fear push out wisdom and prudence as the primary virtues of foreign policy? Should the biblical command “be not afraid” have a role in foreign policy decision-making?”

And actually, I would broaden the question – I would replace the word “foreign” with “domestic and foreign”.  We seem to have fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of recession, fear of inflation, fear of liberals, fear of conservatives, fear of homosexuals, fear of aging, fear of death, fear of criticism, fear of change – and on and on –  as conscious and unconscious influences in our societal and governmental decisions. The question has been asked, “Is the threat real or is this a manipulation tactic by decision makers to push through an agenda?”  And if the threat is real, do we, as individuals and as a government, really have a good understanding of the causes behind the threat?  And then, why fear, rather than optimism around solutions?  Why does it seem easier for us as a nation and as individuals to move to fear rather than hope?  

When we’re not sure that the ground under our feet is stable, we get anxious, fearful – When ‘who we are’ is no longer clear, we get anxious, fearful – When our purpose, our vision is no longer clear and well-defined, we get anxious, fearful.  When these conditions exist, we find fear and, to reach past fear,  we are called to do some re-defining.  In this country, we have had a number of these redefining moments in history.  After most of these “moments,” the pace of the world around us was such that we had breathing space to clarify, regroup, rethink, realign.   The impact of a decision made during these “realigning” times was not necessarily immediate – it took a bit more time for the news to get out, for all of the primary and secondary systems to be affected.  Issued created by the decision could be surfaced and tweaked before the whole world knew!  We as individuals had a bit more time to absorb the effects of the change.  We had time to integrate the “New” and become comfortable with the new terrain under our feet.  This “time” gave us the opportunity to move from fear to hope, to love, to stability. 

Our world today moves at a much more rapid pace; the level of real-time connection is amazing.  The amount of information each individual has access to tends to be overwhelming.  The rate of change is astounding.  The following quote from Ray Kurzweil, inventor and futurist, brings this into perspective:
“Centuries ago people didn’t think that the world was changing at all.  Their grandparents had the same lives that they did, and they expected their grandchildren would do the same, and that expectation was largely fulfilled….What’s not fully understood is that the pace of change is itself accelerating, and the last 20 years are not a good guide to the next 20 years.  We’re doubling the paradigm shift rate, the rate of progress, every decade.  This will actually match the amount of progress we made in the whole 20th century, because we’ve been accelerating up to this point.  The 20th century was like 25 years of change at today’s rate of change.  In the next 25 years, we’ll make four times the progress you saw in the 20th century.  And we’ll make 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century, which is almost a thousand times more technical change than we saw in the 20th century.”


When I ponder this quote, I think of my father – The year he was born, the Wright Brothers were still working to get us to accept airplanes as viable modes of transportation.  Before he passed away at 83, men had walked on the moon and there was an international space station.  Dad said on several occasions that her was having a difficult time keeping up!  And even if Mr. Kurzweil is overestimating the rate of change by 50%, this 21st century is going to be a really wild ride! 
Now, back to the original question – should the guidance of Jesus – “be not afraid” – play a part in our world – our governmental policy – our daily lives?  If fear comes from change and uncertainty, then in a time of such change and uncertainty, how can we ‘be not afraid’?   Can we find things of which we are certain – can we use these things to build a more stable foundation, a more peaceful world?   I don’t know about things of which we are all certain; however, I know there are ideas – concepts – that appear to be universal and perenniel.  For me, these provide a good starting point.  More on them next time!

What color is your God?

May 31, 2007

  In mid-March of this year, I attended the Field Licensing Intensive at Unity Village – a week of exploration and learning, bonding with classmates and making new connections.  One of the workshops presented by Rev. E. J. Niles was entitled Exploration into our Consciousness of God.  Using the concepts of Spiral Dynamics as her base, Rev. Niles illustrated and discussed the evolution of our understanding and awareness of “God” from the Instinctive-level God of the early Stone Age to the Integrative-level God that has begun to enter our awareness today.At each level of consciousness evolution, how we view and speak about God has shifted, changed, expanded, morphed.  To me today, it seems that we as a species are holding an amazing array of ‘views of God’ – more views at one time than at any other time in our past.  We find elements of your Egocentric Red God – Power god – warrior – concerned only with “his” own people – guiltless.   We have your Mythic Blue God – separate and apart from humans – ethnocentric – a god of law – patriarchal; then we have your Scientific Orange God – universal – humanist – giant within waiting to be empowered – requiring no dogma – embracing materialism and pragmatism; and then there’s your Sensitive Green God – both masculine and feminine – relativistic – god of the downtrodden – honors multiple mystical paths – against war unless for righteous cause; finally, we have your Integrative Yellow God – universal – god of systems, integration and paradox – manifests “godself” through evolutionary process – fosters the ‘magnificence of existence’ – god of all religions and peoples.  Whew!!!!  Are we sure that the statement—we’re all praying to the same God—is true?   And yet, when I talk with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists and scientists about what God is, somewhere in their answer they each talk about  a knowing—an experience of something greater—that is able to transcend culture and language.   In her book, Lessons in Truth, Unity author Emilie Cady writes “…God is Spirit, or the creative energy that is the cause of all visible things.”   Rev. Niles ended her presentation with this statement from Robert Kegan: “God is the name we give to the ceaseless, restless, creative flow of energy in the universe.”Could it be that all the discord and confusion in our world today flows from our desire to normalize our understanding of that knowing, that experience?  If that is so, it would seem to me that our primary task as fellow travelers on this amazing planet is to find in our own God—whatever color that God may be— this creative, causative, ever-present energy, without adornments of culture and language and to allow that energy to flow.