Archive for the ‘scriptures’ Category

1st Day Ash Wednesday – Denial

March 1, 2017

From Keep A True Lent by Charles Fillmore

Read Matthew 5:1-16.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is so-called from the ceremonial of ashes. Ashes symbolize repentance. John the Baptist came, saying, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance means denial; it is a relinquishment and should be made without too much vehemence. Therefore, I deny out of consciousness old error thoughts, as if I were gently sweeping away cobwebs, and I affirm positively and fearlessly that I am a child of God, and that my inheritance is from Him. As I follow this rule I find that I am letting go of old mortal beliefs and the Divine within is flaming higher and higher. Its pure white light is infusing all my surroundings with a delightful spirit of wisdom, dignity, and peace. I realize more and more the law of righteous thinking that is bringing me into a consciousness of my perfect dominion. In Christ it is not difficult to eliminate belief in strife and contention. If petty quarrels, jealousy, uncharitable thoughts come into my life, I overcome them by a quiet but positive denial made in the realization that no error has any power or reality in itself. I turn away from the belief in negation, and my thinking changes. I rid my consciousness of limited thoughts that have encumbered and darkened my understanding. I break down mortal thought and ascend into a spiritual realm, the kingdom of the heavens.
In the spirit of divine love I affirm: “Forgetting the things that are behind, I realize I am strong, positive, powerful, wise, loving, fearless, free spirit. I am God’s perfect child.”

From Be Ye Transformed  Lent 2017
by Rev. Mark Fuss

This thought holds no power over me.  I release it and let it go.

The thought I’m not good enough played repeatedly in my mind like a broken record or a looping tape.  It was an overwhelmingly negative tape reinforcing feelings of shame and lack.
Once again, the job I’d wanted had gone to someone else.
The evening, feeling miserable, I went to choir practice at church.  In the company of friends, my spirits began to life.  When the new sheet music was handed out, I read the lyrics.  The song we were to learn was “I Release and I Let Go” by Rickie Byars Beckwith.

I release and I let go
I let Spirit run my life
My arms are open wide
I’m only here for God.

As the music swelled around me, the power of those words grabbed my heart.  “I release and I let go.”  I realized I could let go – the negative tape playing in my mind held no power over me.  I could release it and choose a new thought.
We all have the power to let go of self-defeating thoughts.  What thought do you need to deny and release today?

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.

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!