Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

In my backyard

February 20, 2017

flickered in and out of being this morning.  I almost missed it as I sat staring into space.  A quick gust of wind and a sliver of light caught my eye, seemingly suspended in air just below a magnolia branch.  And then it was gone.  I did a quick close and open of eyes ~ nope not there.  I tilted my head to the right ~ then to the left ~ nope. Then another of short burst of wind ~ there is was again.  I could now see that it was connected to the branch at the top, but it was not evident where it was anchored at the bottom.  So I sat still and observed that single strand of liquid light ~ it popped in and out of my world view as the winds moved through my backyard.  Just when I thought it had been blown away, there it was again ~ maybe that’s what God is ~

How do those bloggers do it?

August 15, 2008

One of the things I’ve discovered about myself is that I’m not particularly disciplined when it comes to putting my thoughts on paper or in 0’s and 1’s.  It’s fascinating to me that I often ponder the issues of the day or the wonders of the world around me and yet I seem averse to putting these same thoughts down for others to share.  I’m not clear whether I’m just lazy or whether I don’t believe that others really care what I think on such things.  AND I do think it’s time for me to work on that discipline and find time each day to record some of those thoughts – if for no other reason that to help me get clear!!  SOOO – I am making a promise to myself that I will type up something everyday beginning today.  I would love to hear back from folks who might read it.

More later today!!!

My Credo Part IV

March 25, 2008

This is the fourth part of the credo project.  Some of the material in this post has been posted previously as separte items. 

I begin again with my Statement of Beliefs – some of which has evolved since the first paper:

  • I believe that there is only one Power and Presence and that that Power and Presence is life-affirming.
  • I believe that I and all living things are holograms of that Power and Presence – one point in that Presence that contains the entirety of that Presence.
  • I believe that “all that exists and beyond all that exists” is that Presence – connected substance – simultaneous energy points and at the same time unique manifestations.
  • I believe that how I think and what I think configure the out forming of that Presence, manifesting physically as the energy that is consciousness moves through that point that is “me.”
  • I believe that how and what I think create the conscious experience called “feelings” as specific “things”, for “feelings” are energy without charge or meaning until I “think” a label, name, meaning.
  • I believe that consciousness evolves – in individuals and in collectives.
  • I believe that when my thoughts, feelings and actions come from a limited consciousness, I create the perception of a less than whole life. 
  • I believe that regular and conscious use of prayer, meditation, and directed thought can increase my awareness of wholeness/oneness and bring me and my “world” into alignment with that One Power and Presence.
  • I believe that my purpose in this lifetime is to consciously experience the oneness in all points of energy as I come in contact with them and through every manifestation of my thoughts and feelings.

And now more commentary:

This fourth part of the credo is to address humankind’s relationship with God – what is an individual’s part in that relationship; what stands in the way of that relationship; can anything restore a broken relationship.

This discussion draws heavily on the beliefs outlined in part III – the nature of God. 

First, as stated in my Statement of Beliefs, I believe that I, and all living beings, are points of manifested energy in the soup of Universal Being.  Because of this, my relationship with that Universal Being is both organic and symbiotic.  One cannot exist in this dimension without the other.  I am brought forth from that Beingness/Source and I then find that I must define that Beingness/Source in terms relevant to my level of consciousness and understanding in order to create relationship.  As my consciousness evolves, my understanding and vision of that Source also evolves. 

I do believe that in each level of consciousness evolution, we manifested points of energy must create an image or images of Source/God that will allow us to address the questions of ‘who am I?’, ‘what am I?’, and ‘why am I here?” I believe that today we have present on the planet a wider range of “consciousnesses”  than at any other time in our history.  As a result, we as a species are holding a wider array of these ‘images of God/Source’ than at any other time in our past.  Using the Spiral Dynamics model of consciousness evolution  as the framework in which to review these various images, we find in our world elements of the Egocentric Red God – Power god – warrior – concerned only with “his” own people – a god that is guiltless of wrongdoing.   We find the Mythic Blue God – separate and apart from humans – ethnocentric – a god of law – patriarchal.  We find the Scientific Orange God – universal – humanist – giant within waiting to be empowered – requiring no dogma – embracing materialism and pragmatism.   We find the Sensitive Green God – both masculine and feminine – relativistic – god of the downtrodden – honors multiple mystical paths – against war unless for righteous cause.  And we have emerging the 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.  I believe that from each of these different images will come different relationships between God/Source and humankind, individually and collectively.  In addition to this framework of consciousness evolution, I believe that we must also look at the three aspects or faces of God/Source that our human nature reaches out for as we move into the creation process.   According to both ancient and modern philosophers and pundits, the three perspectives or faces of God are as follows:    “I” – God in 1st person: the true Self, Christ-nature, the eternal “I am”, interior, Intersubjective.

“Thou” – God in 2nd person: the almighty Other, the Savior, the ego-humbling Divine, exterior, Objective.

“It” – God in 3rd person: the Kosmic evolutionary process, the Web of Life, transcendent, Subjective.Based on my own limited reading and study, I have come to believe that for individuals operating at certain levels of consciousness mentioned above, one or more of the three faces/aspect of God/Source may not be accessible and this inaccessibility plays a significant role in the defining of God and our relationship to God.When an individual or group is operating from within the Red and Blue perspectives, I believe that the 1st and 3rd persons/faces of God are generally overwhelmed by the 2nd person – the exterior Almighty Other.  In the case of the Red consciousness, this might manifest as the political/warrior leader seen as God, e.g., Caesar as God.  In the Blue consciousness, God, i.e., Jehovah, Allah, Jesus as God/Man, is defined as separate, anthropomorphic, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.  These Blue Gods appear to be defined within cultures and each one is seen as the true God by its own believers/followers to the exclusion of the others.  I believe that these Red and Blue images of God leave very little room for a Christ Self within the individual nor do they allow for an Oneness Creator, transcendent Web.   This is not to say that individuals operating within a Red or Blue consciousness can not find all three faces/aspect.  I just believe that it is very difficult.Interestingly, as consciousness evolves to Orange and Green levels of consciousness, the 1st and 3rd faces/aspect seems to take on a much more prominent role almost in reaction to the very strong 2nd person face/aspect that is defined in Red and Blue.  That strong 2nd person view appears to be pushed to the background or dropped almost completely in favor of that personal, internal Higher Self, Christ Self of the 1st person and the emergence of a more transcendent Presence that is seen as the Oneness of all religious faith traditions, with their various rituals and creeds.  I believe that the evolution to the Yellow tier of consciousness brings with it a more balanced approach to all three faces/aspects of God/Source.  From this perspective of integration and allowed paradox, one can recognize that each face/aspect exists inclusive of the other, not exclusively.  With each of these shifts in consciousness and perspectives/definitions of God/Source, the relationship between God and Humankind will also change.  When God/Source is defined anthropomorphically as with the Red and Blue gods, our relationship with that God most often takes on the characteristics of political and/or familial relationships such as Caesar as God, God as Father.  We become followers, children, siblings with all the attendant restrictions, responsibilities and dysfunctions.  In those relationships, we are called on to obey the rules, ask for permission/forgiveness, to not talk back.  Punishment is meted out for the wayward.  Rewards are giving to the good.   The sciences and God are often viewed as antagonistic at best and mortal enemies at worst.In these relationships, the individual is considered less than the leader, the father, the favored son – not unloved or uncared for, just not the same.  Each of these relationships when built on eternal principles of Love, Peace, Justice, Compassion, Joy and Abundance can be powerful and fulfilling and, ultimately, I believe will lead to evolution to a higher consciousness of God.   When built on limited understanding of those principles and limited world view, these relationships can be damaging and unhealthy.  When God/Source loses its anthropomorphic character and is defined as universal principle, Divine Mind, Pure Essence as occurs in the Orange and Green levels of consciousness, I believe the relationship with humankind shifts to that of partner, co-creator.  This shift emphasizes connectivity, oneness, inclusivity.   I believe that this shift brings about a greater emphasis on personal introspection and growth.   Individual definition of “right and wrong” rather than guidelines/law handed down from one source set the framework for ethical or “right” living.  God becomes a barometer against we can measure and evaluate our thoughts and actions rather than the arbiter, judge and enforcer of us as thinkers and doers.  And even at this level, there is a sense of being not completely one with that Source.  Using the “To me, By me, Through me, As me” model, the Orange and Green levels of consciousness might best be described as “Through me” thinking, as the Red and Blue levels would be the “To me and By me” thinking.  I believe that most of us are working in the Blue/Orange/Green levels of consciousness. Having said all that, I also believe that that which blocks our relationship with God/Source, however it is defined, is the finite view that comes with a world of duality and our acceptance of it as the only view.  At each level of consciousness, we have within us the capacity to move through states of consciousness:

  1. gross-waking states
  2. subtle-dreams states, e.g., vivid daydreams, visualization, certain types of meditation
  3. causal-formless states, e.g., deep dreamless sleep and yoga, meditation
  4. witnessing states, i.e., the capacity to witness all of the other states
  5. ever-present nondual awareness, i.e., the ever-present ground of all states – oneness

These states and the tools used to achieve them may be called by different names at different levels.  And yet, if an individual truly seeks the pure knowing of God, the experience of nondual awareness can be the same.  Mystics of all ages and all traditions describe that singular space of oneness – the metaphors and language used are cultural; the experience is transcendent.   When the relationship between God/Source and an individual, me, is “broken,” it is not God that breaks it.  The break comes from me, the individual, as I close down or narrow the scope of myself – whether I close down or narrow my mind or my heart.  In either case, I have put up a barrier around my point of energy, blocking out the flow of energy to and from all other points of energy.  I put my self in a ‘non-real’ situation – an isolation chamber – and from that disconnect comes the energy that we label fear.  Without that connected flow, I begin to act as sole creator and the “material” with which I create is only a shadow, an illusion.  If I do not reconnect – remove the barrier – I will find myself scrambling within a very narrow space to shore up my creation and the ‘material’ I use will ultimately wear out because there is no renewal and replacement.  In the Red and Blue world, I would call this sin and because I am less than God, I am told that I can not repair the break myself.  There must be a redemptive act, a sacrifice, which I surrender myself to in order to re-establish the connection.  In the Orange and Green world, I would call this error or mistake.  To re-establish the connection, I would turn inward to identify the choices/events/thoughts that led to the error and correct them.  This is not as easy as it sounds since so much of my thought and choices happen in a subconscious mode.  While there is no redemptive act or sacrifice, there is often the need to surrender to the other than conscious part of my self to shift the pattern back to connection.  In the Yellow world, I’m not sure what I would call this – maybe just a break.  My sense is that the “corrective” action is more one of objective observation and identification and acceptance of the potentiality that the action opened up.  I like to think that, at times, I find myself in the Yellow level.  When I sense that I’m there, I do realize that I don’t have the words and metaphors for it yet.And while I learn and integrate the language of that Yellow level, I will continue to use the words, the metaphors, the images that I know: prayer, meditation, denials, affirmations – the tools that release the fear, the pride, the ego and re-connect me with the constant flow of God; the energy pattern established by the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth living as the Christ on earth into which I can stand and raise my own vibration.  As a minister, I know that I will encounter and serve individuals who are walking in each one of these levels of consciousness and it is important that I recognize where each individual is on this journey and find the words, metaphors and images with which they can relate.    

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!!!

What I believe Part III

December 20, 2007

And the next installment in the credo process —

When I was a child, I spoke as a child and God was Father, Brother Jesus, very much arbiter of good and bad, right and wrong, always addressed as Thou and Thee, always right, perfect, sometimes angry, sometimes kind, sometimes a friend, sometimes a puppet master.  

When I grew up, God became …well, that’s still evolving!! 

In order for me to move further on this portion of the credo journey, I would like to restate my credo statements and define a couple of key terms.

Statements of Belief:

  • I believe that there is only one Power and Presence and that that Power and Presence is life-affirming.  (actually that it is life itself)
  • I believe that I, like all things, am a hologram of that Power and Presence – one point in that Presence that contains the entirety of that Presence.
  • I believe that “all that exists and beyond all that exists” is that Presence – connected energy – simultaneous energy points and at the same time unique manifestations.
  • I believe that how I think and what I think configure the out forming of that Presence, as the energy that is consciousness moves through that point that is “me.”
  • I believe that how and what I think moves me to consciously experience “feelings” as specific “things”, for “feelings” are energy without charge or meaning until I “think” a label, name, meaning.
  • I believe that consciousness evolves – in individuals and in collectives.
  • I believe that when my thoughts, feelings and actions come from a limited consciousness, I create the perception of a less than whole life. 
  • I believe that conscious use of prayer, meditation, and thought can increase my awareness of wholeness and bring me and my “world” into alignment with that Power and Presence.
  • I believe that my purpose in this lifetime is to consciously experience the oneness in all points of energy as I come in contact with them and through every manifestation of my thoughts and feelings.

Definition of Key Terms:

Being:  1 a: the quality or state of having existence; b (1): something conceivable as existing (2): something that actually exists (3): the totality of existing things c: conscious existence : life  2: the qualities that constitute an existent thing : essence; especially : personality3: a living thing; especially : person

Paradox:  1: a tenet contrary to received opinion; 2 a: a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true; b: a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true; c: an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises; 3: one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases

 

These two words are at the core of my past and present views of God.

Now for more commentary –

I have often said somewhat jokingly that my God was always bigger than the God I learned about from church and family.  And now looking back, I remember asking as a young child how could an all-loving, all-knowing God send all those good people in China to hell?  I had an aunt who was Catholic and hadn’t “accepted Jesus as her personal Savior.”  I knew that my God was not going to send her to hell!  If not bigger, my God was at least more inclusive.

And – even my larger, more inclusive God was a being more in the nature of the second and third definitions shown above – an existent thing, a personality, a living thing or person.  God was usually a “He,” a perfect being, far beyond all other beings, the creator of all.  The concepts and words of traditional religion, crafted to describe this God, worked most of the time.  I must say that the one part of this traditional religious framework that I never quite accepted was the belief in an equal and opposing evil power, ever present, waging a war for my soul.  While I didn’t have a good rebuttal to the traditional argument for, I just didn’t buy it – so I ignored it!

The religious beliefs that supported this mythic God did not always mix well with the every expanding scientific knowledge of the time.  In my immediate environment, often the two worlds – religion and science –  were estranged at best and enemies at worst.  It was in fact this rift between religion and science that created one of the early cracks in my evolving chicken/egg.  I was faced with what I saw as blind faith and hard facts.  The hard facts won out.  And so, in my early 30’s the disconnect between what I felt and g-knew God to be, what science was uncovering about the way the world and humans worked, and the structures and words that my religious tradition used to speak of, and reach for, God became too wide to ignore.  I began to consciously seek out a more universal framework within which I could live and move and have my being. 

Much of this search for a new framework was intellectually driven because I knew at the time that I had locked my mind into a very narrow box and much more data and a broader perspective were needed.  Also, at that time, my heart was pretty badly encrusted.  Interestingly enough, many of my first search paths focused on very mystical traditions – Celtic paganism, Celtic Christianity, Shamanism, and Taoism.  These traditions, with their focus on meditation and spiritual journeys, reawakened my soul to the mystical spirituality of God and began the second major crack in the egg.

As I understand it now, I was moving out of a Blue Stage of consciousness evolution (Spiral Dynamics, Don Beck) with its mythic God view – a god separate and apart from humans, ethnocentric, a patriarchal god of law – into an Orange Stage consciousness with its scientific God view – a god that is universal – humanist – giant within waiting to be empowered – requiring no dogma – embracing materialism and pragmatism.  This was the first of several shifts of consciousness for me, each bringing a new “view of God.”   (I will write more about Spiral Dynamics in part IV of this project).

For me today, my God-view is more aligned with that of an Integrative Yellow Stage of consciousness evolution – a god that is universal – a god of systems, integration and paradox – manifests “godself” through evolutionary process – fosters the ‘magnificence of existence’ – god of all religions and peoples.  This God looks more like the first definition of being – the totality of existence. 

I believe this is the God Emilie Cady speaks of in Lessons in Truth (quoted here with a couple of minor changes made by me and shown in italics) – ‘God, the source of our existence every moment, is not simply omnipotent; God is omnipotence.  God is not alone omniscient; God is omniscience.  God is not only omnipresent, but more – omnipresence.  God is not a being having qualities; God is the very quality itself in existence and beyond.  Everything you can think of that affirms life, when in its absolute perfection, goes to make up that invisible Being we call God.    God is then the creative essence that is.’  Charles Fillmore also described this God in Teach Us To Pray in more traditional language, “We cannot get a right understanding of the relation that the manifest bears to the unmanifest, until we set clearly before ourselves the character of original Being.  So long as we think of God in terms of personality, just so long shall we fail to understand the relation existing between humankind and God.”   

In his writings, Charles used a number of names for God – First Cause, Principle, Divine Mind.    It was this language that first drew me to Unity.  These terms and others that come from other faith traditions and from our technological environment resonate with my present understanding of God.  From Taoism and Native American spirituality, the Tao and Great Mystery; from modern culture, Divine Matrix, Web of Life, Zero Point Field, even the Infinite Database!  For me, these names more effectively call out the image and feeling of interconnectedness of all things and suggest a core substance from which we are drawn and from which we manifest all matter.    

Quantum physicists now tell us that quantum particles exist in a state called “superposition” in which they are just a potential of something – they’re all of their possible selves, all at the same time.  And here is how  Charles Fillmore defines Substance in Revealing Word, “This does not mean matter, because matter is formed while God is the formless.  The substance that God is lies back of all matter and all forms.  It is that which is the basis of all form yet enters not into any form as finality.  It cannot be seen, tasted, or touched.  Yet it is the only enduring substance in the universe.” (pg 85)   In other words, God by any name is the realm of pure potential.    What a magnificent new way to see a powerful idea! 

Also from the new physics we learn that everything is energy and that thoughts are very well-ordered light energy called bio-photon emissions.   According to German physicist, Fritz-Allen Popp, these bio-photon emissions are micro energy trades between living things and the Zero Point Field (the quantum energy field of which all things are part) and that this constant trading process helps us maintain some sort of equilibrium.   If I may paraphrase Jesus, our Wayshower – I am the Light of the World and all those who seek after the truth that I am will have peace.  I believe that we must search in the new sciences for just  such updated versions of the very old message.

Also, within this present Integrative level God-view, I find that I can address and work with the paradoxes – those statements or tenets that appear contradictory or opposed to common sense, and are perhaps true – that I struggled with in lower level consciousness.  

The four major paradoxes and a brief statement of Unity definition shown below provide me with a basis from which to begin in any discussion, meditation and teaching.

 God As Immanent and Transcendent:

As Immanent, “the life and intelligence permeating the universe…God within us, forever resident in the invisible side of humankind’s nature.” (RW/85)

As Transcendent, “God above or beyond God’s universe, apart from it…God is more than God’s universe.” (RW/196)

God As Father and Mother

“Being itself must be masculine and feminine, in order to make humans in its image and likeness, male and female.”  (TTP/53)

“We are saying God as Father and God as Mother.  God is the divine Source of the masculine and feminine principles of life…” (Metaphysics I/25)

 God As Law and Grace

As Law:  “Divine law is the orderly workingout of the principles of Being, or the divine ideals, into expression and manifestation throughout creation…Divine law cannot be broken.  It holds humankind responsible for the results of its labors.”  (RW/118)

As Grace: “Grace is attunement with law in its perfect working…simply the Truth of Be-ing that which we are.” (LL/89/222)

God As Principle and Personal

As Principle:  “The unchangeable life, love, substance and intelligence of Being.  Principle does not occupy space; neither has it any limitations of time or matter, it eternally exists as the one underlying cause out of which come forth all true ideas.”  (RW/84)

As Personal: “God is personal to us when we recognize God within us as our indwelling life, intelligence, love and power.  There is a difference between a personal God and God personal to us.  Since the word personal sometimes leads to misunderstanding, it would probably be better to speak to God individualized in humankind rather than of God personal to humankind.” (RW/83)

My present view of the Nature of God is based on both/and not either/or, a view that is open to the unity behind the duality without angst and struggle.

I plan to cover my thoughts and beliefs around the paradoxes of Immanent/Transcendent, Father/Mother and Principle/Personal in the next installment.  I believe that these are best discussed in light of how humankind is in relation to God.  The paradox of Law and Grace I’m still working on a clear understanding.

In this Integrative God View of mine I have also found the rebuttal for the argument that Satan is a real power in opposition to God.  The Unity teachings on Satan, the Devil, and evil provide the words that I could not find before.  From the Revealing Word is this definition of the Devil:  the mass of thoughts that have been built up in human race consciousness through many generations of earthly experiences and crystallized into what may be termed human personality…which opposes and rejects God.  The ‘devil’ is a state of consciousness adverse to the divine good…There is no personal devil.  God is the one Principle of the universe, and there is no room for any principle of evil, personified or otherwise.” (pg54) 

The discussion to this point has centered primarily on an intellectual journey and expansion, and yet there can be no real expansion or evolution of consciousness if I am not in touch with the intuitive or g-nowing heart center.   As I journeyed through the non-traditional traditions mentioned earlier, I rediscovered the knowledge of the five natural states of consciousness and their impact on knowing:

  1. gross-waking states
  2. subtle-dreams states, e.g., vivid daydreams, visualization, certain types of meditation
  3. causal-formless states, e.g., deep dreamless sleep and yoga, meditation
  4. witnessing states, i.e., the capacity to witness all of the other states
  5. ever-present nondual awareness, i.e., the ever-present ground of all states – oneness
    (Ken Wilber)

Each one of us uses one or more of these states of consciousness daily, regardless of what stage of conscious evolution we are moving in.  It is in the states beyond gross waking that we find the experiential knowing of the nature of God.  It is the heart-centered focus of the mystic in us that can lift this search for a truer understanding of the nature of God past the intellect.  Through such practices as meditation and prayer, some yoga, and on-going reflection on my own inner nature, I have caught momentary glimpses of the connectedness and joy that so many of  the mystics have shared with us as they attempted to describe the indescribable – the sudden and blinding light on the road to Damascus, the awe at the grandeur of the heavens, the sense of calm serenity when a decision is reached, the radiance and beauty of a landscape covered with new fallen snow, the unbounded joy of a child’s laughter at the dancing rainbow, the strength of a woman in great pain as she reached to help her roommate who is dying of cancer, the palpable energy of oneness on Sunday morning as we sing together and pray.  All of these people, places and events are the nature of God. 

The following quote from Peace Pilgrim, an American peace activist, expresses beautifully what I believe is part of our understanding of this Nature of God:

“All of a sudden I felt very uplifted, more uplifted than I had ever been.  I remember I knew timelessness, and spacelessness and lightness.  I did not seem to be walking on the earth…the most important part of it was not the phenomena; the important part of it was the realization of the oneness of all creation…a oneness with that which permeates all and binds all together and gives life to all…a oneness with that which many would call God.”

In working with the levels or stages of consciousness evolution as outlined by Beck in Spiral Dynamics, I have come to understand that when I move into a new level of consciousness and hence a new view of God, I naturally have available to me the understanding of all views in levels through which I have moved.     Because i have this ability, I then can extrapolate a belief that whatever is not clear to me today about God, its nature and its paradoxes will be known to me as I am willing to open myself to greater and greater awareness of the Infinite. 

As I wrote in Part I of this project, I was born into a world where God existed.  There has never been a time when I doubted that there was a Presence and may there never be such a time.

What I believe Part II

December 20, 2007

This is the continuation of my credo process – defining and clarifying belief system is interesting and challenging work! 

Part II of this project focuses on the role of reason, revelation and experience in the development and expansion of a belief system on the nature of God, personhood and the relationship of the two.  To recap and refine my credo as of this day:

  • I believe that there is only one Power and Presence and that that Power and Presence is life-affirming.  (actually that it is life itself)
  • I believe that I, like all things, am a hologram of that Power and Presence – one point in that Presence that contains the entirety of that Presence.
  • I believe that “all that exists and beyond all that exists” is that Presence – connected energy – simultaneous energy points and at the same time unique manifestations.
  • I believe that how I think and what I think configure the out forming of that Presence, as the energy that is consciousness moves through that point that is “me.”
  • I believe that how and what I think moves me to consciously experience “feelings” as specific “things”, for “feelings” are energy without charge or meaning until I “think” a label, name, meaning.
  • I believe that consciousness evolves – in individuals and in collectives.
  • I believe that when my thoughts, feelings and actions come from a limited consciousness, I create the perception of a less than whole life. 
  • I believe that conscious use of prayer, meditation, and thought can increase my awareness of wholeness and bring me and my “world” into alignment with that Power and Presence.
  • I believe that my purpose in this lifetime is to consciously experience the oneness in all points of energy as I come in contact with them and through every manifestation of my thoughts and feelings.

To quote the famous 1st century Rabbi Hillel, “Everything else is commentary”. 

So more commentary:

Reason, experience, revelation:  let’s define terms.

Reason: 1 a : a statement offered in explanation or justification  b : a rational ground or motive  c : a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; d : the thing that makes some fact intelligible 2 a (1) : the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways (2) : proper exercise of the mind b : the sum of the intellectual powers.

Experience: 1 a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation
2 a : practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity b : the length of such participation 3 a : the conscious events that make up an individual life b : the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally 4 : something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through
5 : the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality

Revelation:  1 a : an act of revealing or communicating divine truth b : something that is revealed by God to humans; 2 a : an act of revealing to view or making known b : something that is revealed; especially : an enlightening or astonishing disclosure c : a pleasant often enlightening surprise;  3 capitalized : an apocalyptic writing addressed to early Christians of Asia Minor and included as a book in the New Testament.

 What an interesting, intriguing trinity!  All integrally woven and fascinatingly separate.  It is my belief that, within this ‘trinity’ is held the origins of the age-old debate of faith versus works – doing versus being – mind versus heart – creative versus rational.  What I have come to believe is that, since there is only connected, same source energy, there is no “versus,” and that this trinity is rather a projection of three facets of the whole.  It has been my experience in life that focusing on only one facet will give a distorted, limited, and incomplete picture of the life experience.  Using  only one facet, either reason or experience or revelation, will create imbalance in all aspects of our lives and we will find ourselves many times backed into a corner from which there seems to be no exit.  Without reason, we get limited blind faith; without experience, we get unsubstantiated theory; without revelation, we get an ever-repeating sameness.  It is only when we work with all three facets, staying open to what each one ‘shows’ us that we are able to understand the full message of the Universe.  When we become aware that each of these facets is a tool to be used to support the other facets, we are able to dig deeper into the consciousness that is our source.    I began my spiritual journey on a path of blind faith, faith that did not question the established dogma taught by my parents, my grandparents and my church.  If there was something in that religious belief structure that didn’t make sense to me when I compared to information found in other areas of learning or my experience of life happening around me, it was expected by family and church that I would accept it because that was the way it was – God said so!  Those other sources – public school teachers, books, newspapers, finally television – did not have the God-given truth.  To continue to question was sin.  Instinctively, this flew in the face of Reason.   Though I was unable to articulate it exactly that way at the time, I just knew it didn’t ‘feel’ right!  The information and knowledge of years and ages of study by men and women of many disciplines couldn’t all be wrong.  I knew that if I, like them, had a questing mind and that mind was given to us by God, surely we were to use it to understand and synthesize – to see behind the literal words.  Might I call that other-than-conscious feeling I had a ‘knowing’  – a revelation – from God?   My early experiences with voices of authority led me to the belief that their insistence on unquestioned faith had more to do with their fear of change and uncertainty than with their certainty and understanding of the point in question.  That belief is still strong in me – when someone, or when I, insist on unquestioned acceptance from someone else of a position that they, or I, hold, I believe that it is important to look at what they, or I, fear if that position is untrue. 

So, in my late 20’s and early 30’s, trusting my own ‘instincts’ – ability to perceive revelation from Divine Source –  and using reason – the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking in orderly rational ways to discover a sufficient ground of explanation – I opened up to a new perspective on faith, on the Mind of God, on life.  Matthew Fox’s Original Blessing and Gary Zukov’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters were the beginning of an amazing journey.    In these two books, I found validation of my ‘instincts’.   In Original Blessing,  I found the following quotations – one written centuries ago by Hildegarde of Bingen and one written in our time by Herbert Haag, former president of the Catholic Bible Assocation:

  • “God is the good and all things that proceed from him are good”  Hildegarde
  • “No man enters the world a sinner.  As the creature and image of God he is from his first hour surrounded by God’s fatherly love.  Consequently, he is not at birth, as is often maintained, an enemy of God and a child of God’s wrath.  A man becomes a sinner only through his own individual and responsible action.”  Herbert Haag

   

From The Dancing Wu Li Masters I found this: 

  • “From the revolutionary concepts of relativity and the logic-defying paradoxes of quantum mechanics an ancient paradigm is emerging.  In vague forms, we begin to glimpse a conceptual framework in which each of us shares a paternity in the creation of physical reality.  Our old self-image as impotent bystander, one who sees but does not affect, is dissolving.” 
  • “The distinction between the ‘in here’ and the ‘out there’ upon which science was founded, is becoming blurred…scientists, using the ‘in here – out there’ distinction, have discovered that the ‘in here – out there’ distinction may not exist!  What is ‘out there’ apparently depends, in a rigorous mathematical sense as well as a philosophical one, upon what we decide ‘in here.’

These quotations give a good summary of the themes of each of these amazing books.

Today I read those words and say, “Of course.”  At the time of my first reading, these words were like dynamite blasting holes in walls that had been unconsciously built very high around my understanding.

In these two books, I found meat for both sides of my brain.  The world and all that is in it really is good, as the writers of Genesis 1 told us, and the how it happens is much more complex than ‘religion’ would have me believe.  The bigness of my God was confirmed. 

I began a conscious search with my logical mind to fill in the gaps of my education.  It is interesting that, looking back, I can see that I was “led” by my other-than-conscious mind so often to people, places and books that added to my understanding and experience.  And, the euphoric high of this new view of goodness and connectivity found through what I perceived as logic did cause me to temporarily dismiss or mislabel this ‘being led’ – this channel of revelation that had been part of my early years.  Yes, I still “knew” when I found a new idea or viewpoint that it was on target and I still found myself “listening” to the voice within when major life decisions needed to be made –  that act of revealing or communicating the divine truth    And yet I did not consciously honor that part of my being.  There had to be a rational argument to support the “knowing.”  Interestingly, my experiences – that practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in life events – continued to reinforce and affirm this facet of revelation and over time I reclaimed it as an equal tool to be used in guiding my life. 

The search led me to Unity – to the writings of Charles and Myrtle.  To this day, Charles and I often have amazing dialogues about the new discoveries of our ‘sciences’ and their roles in explaining our religion and spirituality.  I believe, as I believe Charles also did, that the separation of religion and science is limiting and that clearer definition of terms would go along way to bringing about a common understanding.

In Unity, I found explanations of prayer and meditation that aligned the two as elements of the same practice of the Presence.  I believe that this practice is the foundation for keeping clear the facets of my God search.   My experience has shown me that when I meditate on a regular basis – preferably daily – my ability to ‘see’ the good and the connectedness of life is powerful.  I can feel the flow of the Universe in and around me.  It also allows me to comprehend and integrate new ideas that are presented to me – to see the relevance and reason behind what appears to be ‘wrong,’ ‘evil,’ and ‘useless.’ 

And I believe that is the way it works – that’s the way we, as individuals and groups evolve.  We open our rational, reasoning faculties to new possibilities, perspectives and ask how might that apply or how that was active in the moment.  We review our experiences in light of that ‘new’ information and reach clearer understanding.  In that process, we also open to what Charles calls ‘pure reason’ – First Cause – the Mind of God – for ‘truth’ – for an ‘original, divine’ concept or understanding.  That ‘new’ understanding is then the basis for our rational analysis of a evolved world view that requires awareness of our experiences and openness to ‘pure reason.’  What an amazing chicken and egg process!

 As one member of Unity in Frederick says, “We have a God moment!”  And our belief system changes, evolves, expands.  How we see ourselves and all of those other unique points of manifested energy change, evolve and expand! 

What Do I Believe

September 19, 2007

One of my assignments on the path to ordaination in Unity is to write My Credo – what it is and how I came to it.  I’ve decided that I’m going to share what I write on this site.  It will be interesting to see what, if any, comments come from the sharing.

Part 1: 

Our assignment is develop a functional theological belief system – a credo – of the nature of God, personhood, humankind’s relationship to God, and how that belief system shows up in ministry.  We are asked to look at the impact of tradition, culture, scripture, experience, revelation and reason on our developing system.  At this point in the process, I feel as though I am working with the chicken and egg questions.  First I must be able to clearly articulate my beliefs.  Once that is done, the role of tradition, culture, scripture, experience, revelation and reason can be defined – and without a clear understanding of the relevant traditions, culture, experience and reason, beliefs have no true structure upon which to rest.  Alas, the chicken and the egg!

So for me, I’ll start with the present chicken and look back on how the egg formed it and in some cases was broken.  Hey I know it doesn’t quite make sense; just go with it for now!

My Credo on the nature of God, personhood and the relationship of the two today in its simplest form:

  • I believe that there is only one Power and Presence and that that Power and Presence is life-affirming.

  • I believe that I am a hologram of that Power and Presence – one point in that Presence that contains the entirety of that Presence.

  • I believe that “all that exists and beyond all that exists” is that Presence – connected energy – simultaneous energy points and at the same time unique manifestations.

  • I believe that how I think and what I think configure the out forming of that Presence, as the energy that is consciousness moves through that point that is “me.”

  • I believe that how and what I think moves me to consciously experience “feelings” as specific “things”, for “feelings” are energy without charge or meaning until I “think” a label, name, meaning.

  • I believe that consciousness evolves – in individuals and in collectives.

  • I believe that when my thoughts, feelings and actions come from a limited consciousness, I create the perception of a less than whole life. 

  • I believe that conscious use of prayer, meditation, and thought can increase my awareness of wholeness and bring me and my “world” into alignment with that Power and Presence.

  • I believe that my purpose in this lifetime is to consciously experience the oneness in all points of energy and through every manifestation of my thoughts and feelings.

To quote the famous 1st century Rabbi Hillel, “Everything else is commentary”. 

And of course the commentary is the evolving egg.  So how did my present chicken evolve?

I was born into a world where God existed.  There has never been a time when I doubted that there was a Presence.  As a child, that Presence was a very powerful man named God and he had a son named Jesus who was God, just as he was.  I am thankful that that God was, more often than not, loving, kind and caring.  And yet, some of the stories I heard about him were a bit harsh and hard; some of them didn’t quite make sense.   However, what I remember most of those stories was that God would always rescue the good guys if they loved him enough and obeyed him and he was very separate from me.  Actually, it seemed to me at the time that the more important of the two Gods was Jesus.  He was gentle, kind and loving; he always did the right thing – “…obedient even unto death…” – he was “…the way…”

That version of the Presence stayed with me through my formative years.  The family and religious community that I was surrounded by initially gave me no reason to doubt.  The cultural structure of my family mirrored the all-powerful and loving father; its message to me was that I was loved, and conforming to the expectations of the community would ensure that love.  One could be special, but not unique.  And “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Oh, the power of scripture!  Good Christian girls didn’t do a lot of things that other girls could do. 

The church was one of, if not the most important, centers of my life.  All day Sunday church, choir practice, classes, youth activities, special holiday events – all of this was tradition.   Music was also a tradition and for me and my family very significant – my father sang old fashioned hymns to his girls at bedtime.  Everyone in my family sang in choirs and small ensembles.  Every family gathering included time around the piano singing from “The Old Fashion Revival Hour” songbook.   It was important that we “…make a joyful noise unto the Lord…”  The ecstatic experience of singing beautiful music that praised God and, most often, his son Jesus with a group of like minded believers made an indelible imprint on me.  I can still feel the holiness and ecstasy of the moment when I sing certain hymns – so long as I don’t pay close attention to the words!   The embryo that was forming in that egg grew quite strong during this period of my life.

As I grew older, I would occasionally ask a question of family or teachers or church leaders that was slightly off their mark, when something I heard or was taught just didn’t jibe with my perception or understanding.  I remember thinking often, and saying less often, ‘if we only knew what he (Jesus) really said…”

For a number of reasons, which I’m not prepared to put in this paper, I chose to disregard or suppress those “off the mark” ideas, questions and feelings for quite a few years.  Over time I would open up to the questions and ideas as I studied and read a wider range of viewpoints than those of my family and my spiritual leaders.  The feelings – they would take a lot longer to release!  More about this in the next paper.

As I moved into a larger and more expansive world, my version of that Presence changed.  I moved from an insulated, literal and familial world to a world of diversity, with greater depth and breadth of information, and one that did not have the church at its center.  The culture became one of commerce, of travel, of questioning, of challenging.  The Presence still existed without doubt and yet God was different.  Jesus became human and that humanness was powerful and yet antithetical to the Jesus God I had grown up with.   I believe this was when I began my love/hate relationship with him.   God became the Universe – the Great Mystery – the Ultimate Oneness – an intellectual exercise, with brief moments of awe and wonder.    Interestingly, at this same time, I discovered religious ritual in the form of the Catholic and the Episcopal churches.  As my concrete view of “God” began to dissolve into ambivalent murkiness, the ritualistic traditions of the Eucharist and formal meditation reconnected the ‘inner me’ with a long forgotten part of my being and my soul.  These symbolic actions allowed me to bring forth cellular memories of past connections to the Presence that my mind was unable to make in the present.   The words spoken during these rituals were less important than the action and in fact at times they were hindrances.   More on that in next paper. 

 And over time, the energy of those rituals, in seeming conflict with my expanding intellectual understanding of what the world and Christianity were, caused the shell of that egg to crack – and crack rather significantly. 

That crack called into question my basic beliefs about God, about church, about me.  In order to survive, I had to find that Presence within me and I had to find a way to see it externally as looking like me, feeling like me and thinking like me.  Simply put, that Presence had to be at least partly feminine.  During this time however, the Presence never became just feminine.  I knew at some level that would have been replacing one misconception with another.  And I was unable to find an organized religious community that had the words in its lexicon and dogma that would effectively support a true Mother/Father God and one that allowed me to be one with that goodness.  While many of the spiritual leaders I spoke with allowed that God was Spirit and therefore neither male nor female, the words used to speak of God were still generally masculine and always focused on an external presence.  And I was still born of original sin and not particularly worthy.  Talk about confusion and inner turmoil – that crack was getting wider all the time.  And yet I never doubted that the Presence existed – I just didn’t know what to call it! 

During this time, scripture as I knew it – the Bible – became a book to be studied and contextualized.   I could no longer find comfort and inspiration in most of its words.  I recognized the principles and truths written in many parts of it; yet it was not my touchstone as it had been in the past.  I found those same principles and truths in other sources and other traditions.  Some of the “new” sources were actually old and yet they did not trigger the stored negativity of my past when I read them.  Some of the “new” sources actually were from the scientific arena, new words to express what appeared to be a new ‘worldview’ coming from the new physics – quantum mechanics.  David Boehm, Francis Capra, Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Matthew Fox, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Rupert Sheldrake, Gary Zukov,  Riane Eisler, John and Caitland Matthews, Houston Smith, Brian Greene, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Merton  – these were just a few of the writers who inspired me, challenged me and help me begin to repair that crack. 

In this exploration, my understanding of the Presence made some subtle shifts – I began to know a God Within – that 1st person of the Presence.  The world that I moved in allowed for not only special, it allowed for unique, and that special and unique did not have to be earned, it just was.  This 1st person of the Presence became my growth edge.   The 3rd person of the Presence – the Great Web of Life, the Universe, the All, the vast impersonal evolutionary System, – became clearer and awesome.  I began to truly feel that I “…lived and moved and had my being…” in that Presence.  The 2nd person of the Presence – the Great Thou, the radiant, all-living, all-giving God before whom I surrender in love and devotion – was still shrouded in too much old negative energy of culture and tradition for me to openly embrace it.  And, hey, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, so they say. 

In the late 80’s, I discovered a community – Fellowships of the Spirit – that was a combination of Spiritualism and Unity.  Through this community, I further repaired that crack and re-nourished the embryo.  I didn’t know a lot about either belief system; however, Fellowships felt right and contained a good balance of ritual and intellect to support me where I was.  The culture was one of diversity, creativity and tradition.   

I had by this time moved away from much of the ritual of the church because I was unable to get pass the words.   This community exposed me to more esoteric writings, traditions and systems centered on spiritual healing and metaphysics.   There were very few rituals and the ones that were present were non-denominational.  Again the symbolic actions triggered cellular memory from even more ancient parts of my soul. 

It was during this period that I discovered the writings of Charles Fillmore.  In his own inimitable fashion, Charles brought scripture back into focus for me.  While his style and his science were slightly outdated, for me his perspective was right on.   Working metaphysically, I was able to revisit the Bible and see it more clearly as a story of the evolution of consciousness for humankind and for myself.  However, I still found that my childhood scriptural indoctrination and historical facts surrounding the book created resistance in me for using the Bible as the first source for inspiration and truth for myself personally.  I believe that this will be an on going process of balance for me. 

I know that the Bible is basic to Unity and I am committed to teaching its stories, truths and principles – to being a bridge over the expanse between the traditional understanding or lack of understanding and the deep metaphysical truths – and discovering and sharing those same truths and principles in newer, more integrative sources and systems.       

I believe that we do ourselves, our co-founders, and “God” a disservice by holding on to forms and words that no longer speak to and support our culture and understanding or that require so much translation as to make the effort almost futile.   The basic principles and truths we claim are eternal and have been expressed by humankind through a myriad of gods, holy scriptures and stories, each perfect for a given stage in human consciousness evolution.  We are at another major evolutionary point and once again the Presence that is in all things and beyond all things will manifest through each of us – holographic energy points – in the way that is perfect for our time and our understanding.  This I believe and the chicken is still evolving!

Hello world!

May 3, 2007

Well, I have finally taken the leap – blogging – now we’ll see what comes forth to share!  The next day or two will be spent learning how to use this site and then watch out World!!!