Guard The Gate

All thought is creative and how I choose to think creates my own personal experience.

With all that is happening around us, it is especially important to be in charge of our thoughts. We are thinking all the time and we are creating all the time. So knowing this, we need to be vigilant about what we are allowing into our minds.

There are times when balancing being informed about what we need to know vs. how it is being presented can be challenging. We need to be watchful and not allow anything that has “hateful” or “negative conclusions” into our minds. This can be difficult when we find ourselves agreeing with a point of view or thinking someone or some group deserves it. In order to filter these thoughts, I created my “guard at the gate” of my mind, not letting these thoughts and judgments in.

Sometimes the thoughts can be presented in a seemingly innocuous way. How many love songs are about heartbreak vs. happy endings? Right? Think of the plethora of television shows based on dysfunctional lives or movies with conniving and despicable characters. What messages are we letting in?

It helps to remind ourselves that there is a better way to think when we are being bombarded with difficult news. We can tell ourselves that, more often than not, positive outcomes happen, even if we can’t see it right then. Think of a time in your life when you thought that something was the worst thing that could happen. Looking back on it, what was the longer-term result?

We know that if we take charge of our minds, we take charge of our lives. No one else can do this for us. Recently I spoke with two friends. One records every Sunday morning news program with multiple opinions about the current events. As we know, these tend to be contentious and not positive. Every program is then watched. Same stuff over and over again. The second person just finished watching the entire Dick Van Dyke series. Who do you think is happier today?

We know that it can be challenging when you are in a conversation and someone says something negative, judgmental or even cruel. What do you do? Arguing, as a rule, does not help. Instead, we reply can be “Interesting” or “You don’t say” or some other innocuous comment that is essentially meaningless. And then if possible, stepping away from the conversation and returning to thoughts that have more value.

The guard at the gate of our minds has a full time job. It is constant awareness of what is being allowed into our minds. We can find ourselves exhausted and wondering why, if we are not vigilant about it.

The greatest power available to us as individuals is the power of our own minds, the power of our own thoughts. In the creation of a personal life worth living, the action— the essential action — must be mental. Remember, all thought is creative, even goofy thought. — J. Kennedy Shultz in You Are the Power


–Susan Seid

Having New Eyes

Can a rebirth that comes from spiritual adversity and dis-ease cause us to become new creatures, and create a more conscious platform from which we can go forward in these difficult and unpredictable times? I think it can. I think this most unusual time may be the only thing that does move us out of our complacency into new awareness.

That, for me, is the question of the hour. How can I grow from this experience? I see it as an opportunity to increase my spiritual life and open my heart to ask the God of my understanding, how can I be of service this day? What is mine to do in order to make my own life, as well as those I love, a richer more meaningful experience, in spite of the current restrictions we all are living with?

I never dreamed I would be grateful for the Internet! It is the main way, through the tools of Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, emails and text that I can keep My connections with my beloved family, friends and Spiritual Community.

❤ One of the joys for me personally of using the Internet is that I get to do the Twelve Steps to the Compassionate Life bookstudy online with Keith and several others on Zoom. It is my second time in three years to do this class, and I can’t believe how intimate and close we have all become after just the first two weeks. I feel bonded as though we were actually together, using Gallery mode in Zoom, I can see everyone at once. What an unexpected
delight!

I am blessed in that I do not live alone, but have my daughter living with me. My heart goes out to those that live alone.

So, keep your eyes, ears and heart open to all the good possibilities that lie ahead, and as they say in AA, “ This too shall pass.”

 

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

The Long Haul

There’s so much I want to say, so I’ll see if I can get the words to come out in any sensible order. Perhaps I should have entitled this post, The Heavy Lift. Both titles would apply equally. I’ll start with Dr Ernest Holmes, from The Science of Mind 51.1. “One of the great difficulties in this new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice. As a matter of fact, we only know as much as we can prove by actual demonstration.”

It is too easy to look at the abundance of upset and disarray that surround us in the world of form right now and look for someone to be at fault, or at least someone we can blame, or for us to feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed by something we, or people like us, have done in the past. Pointing fingers, damning, discrediting or demeaning someone, and looking for some statue to tear down, or somebody to fire or send to jail, doesn’t get to the root of the apparent issue, or lead to any sort of solution with lasting effect. Those actions do create a brief feeling of satisfaction; we did something and made some noise. Yay, us. These are not short-term blips that we can put a splint on (like a broken finger) so they can heal ‘enough’ and we can get back to business as usual. At least I hope they’re not.

The Stage Is Set
The Bighorn Fire (18+ days, started by lightning, 65,500+ acres burned (as of June 23 @ 3:51am), remarkably only 4 minor heat-related injuries). The Incident Management Teams (and the 900+ firefighters that have been involved in the response so far) have masterfully handled the Bighorn fire. The smoke that hangs over much of southeast Arizona like a shroud, and the fires that light up the night (in a bad way), leave us all a little on edge and more than a little uneasy. This just adds to the general malaise and discomfort.

Covid-19. Our experience of the physical world has changed drastically in the last 3 months. Who would have guessed, besides some dystopian science (fiction) writers, that a novel virus would send all of us to our rooms for an indeterminate period of time? And that the very human desire to gather together, for companionship and comfort is the most dangerous thing we can do for the protection of our most vulnerable members of our society. And the feebleness of our food supply, and our health care system. And, and, and (I could go on)…

Political divisiveness, extremism (on all sides) and groundless ‘haterade’. I’m just going to leave this right here.

The Main Event
I’ve been listening to E.O. Wilson’s audiobook, The Meaning of Human Existence. He writes about the strong tribal need for belonging, and the primitive/primal need to have an other, so that we have some made-up reason to band together, separate ourselves and protect our group. He goes on to say that we create enemies to make ourselves feel stronger, and safer, as long as we are in the ‘in crowd’. The idea of us-versus-them is embedded in human consciousness, and of primary importance in default thinking, or the collective unconscious, or race tendency. A bias toward or against any particular ethnicity is not implied by that unfortunate word choice. These phrases represent a way to describe thoughts and beliefs that are commonly held by many/most people. They do not include only ‘bad’ thoughts or beliefs; they include all shared thoughts and beliefs. If we don’t intentionally choose a thought or belief, we choose default thinking, by default.

Remember Jane Elliott’s blue eyes-brown eyes exercise with her third grade class in 1968? (read more @ janeelliott.com) She wanted her students to see the embedded irrationality of people with one eye color being superior to people of another eye color. The kids bought into it hook, line and sinker. When they were the favored ones, they treated the other children badly. When they fell out of favor (for no apparent reason), the felt crushed by what seemed like the entire weight of the world on their backs, and the opposite group repeated the pattern of assumed superiority. There’s something very primitive about being favored and on top. It wasn’t until later, when they were discussing the exercise that they could begin to see that they had done anything irrational. On one level, it seems that tribalism is an innate human condition.

In Cynthia James’ ‘Conversations of the Heart’ call last Friday night that I spoke about last Sunday, one of the participants rather dejectedly asked, “Why would the people in power give up their superior position?” None of us had a good answer to her question. Why would they?

E.O. Wilson also wrote about the differences that had been observed by scientists in studying animal behavior between success of individuals within groups and the success of groups as wholes. Within a group, selfish individuals tend to do better than the remainder of the group, but between groups the groups with more altruistic individuals tend to do better than groups with lots of selfish individuals. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who thinks about human dynamics either.

In game theory, there is a strategy called tit-for-tat. Essentially, if a player is provoked, they retaliate. If they are not provoked, they cooperate. In long-term games, those who cooperate have greater success. Earlier this month, I read a report (theconversation.com/nondiscrimination-against-lgbt-individuals-isnt-just-the-law-it- helps-organizations-succeed-140810) that gives me hope that altruistic (nondiscriminatory) behaviors can be seen as benefitting individuals as well as the whole.

The Goal, and One Possible Route
Futurist Buckminster Fuller wrote, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Some of us are just becoming aware of how biased existing systems have been, and are looking for new models that value everyone’s contribution, while dismantling the old systems one interaction at a time. It’s a slow process, an uncovering of old stories that are so old, and so buried, we don’t even know they are there.

We are starting down a path that could lead to a new world, one that works for everyone. We won’t succeed using the same rules and playing the same game. We won’t get there by discarding what presently exists, and disenfranchising participants in the process. We need a new model that makes the old model obsolete.

In the next three months, CSLT will be exploring this new territory. We start with a guest speaker on Sunday July 5th, Dr Karmen Smith speaking about how “Love Changes America”. I hope you’ll plan to attend our zoom service that Sunday. She is a powerful speaker.

Then we’ll move through a series of three quick book studies in July (David Richo’s Triggers (How We Can Stop Reacting and Start Healing)), August (Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility, which is about the importance of relationship and connection, and how our small separate, calculating, selves inhibit our progress and get in our way) and September (Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Emergence, The Shift from Ego to Essence (10 steps to the Universal Human)). [The book links will lead you to Amazon. However, if you log in to smile.amazon.com and choose “Center for Spiritual Living Location: Tucson, AZ”, our Center will receive donations, which will be greatly appreciated]

The path of the Universal Human may be a new model that moves us in the direction we long for and desire.

Ernest Holmes wrote in 365 Science of Mind 186.1, “We are made perfect when we enter into the communion of love with one another and with the invisible essence of Life. Love is the fulfillment of the Law, that is, we do not make the highest use of the Law unless that use is motivated by Love, by a sincere desire to express unity, harmony, and peace.”

Join me in envisioning and embodying this new world, the world that works for everyone.

–Rev Janis

Best of Times!?!?!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens

I’m sure you recognize the famous introduction to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. I think I’m still working on “the best of times part”. My intention for this essay was to discover “the best of times” amid the confusion and contradictory happenings that make up today’s news.

But I couldn’t find an organized, literate place to start sharing from. So, here’s what I’m contemplating with the knowing that if I go quiet and into the stillness something good will be enabled. And, asking for help from the ones who have gone before me into the fray is one way to find help — if I let it.

“Beware the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.” — Ben Okra

This quote – beware the stories you read or tell – most importantly the stories I tell myself – because those personal stories are the ones that shape & mold the choices I make. It is the time I spend in my own head that needs most careful tending and observation. Just because it sounds cool when I skim it – doesn’t mean it is good. Or “god” as I first typed it.

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose,
and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” — Aristotle

Yet it is one of the tasks at hand: to respond with care to our world, which feels totally off plumb. Someone must be to blame. Pick a topic, an event and it is so very easy to get crazy upset. And absolutely nothing is gained through unfocused sound and fury. Nothing is right until we see the “best of times” which are the perfection that is the heart and S/spirit of our universe and our teaching. As we are taught and reminded repeatedly – this life is perfect – we need to know it and accept to get there, but how, where, who, what?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy
not on fighting the old but on building the new.” — Socrates

Or more directly, if somewhat less poetically:

“Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.” — Arthur Ashe

My goal now is to choose a place, a way, a focus and do what I can in the best way I understand that will help free the perfect within.

Some Me of Beauty ― Carolyn Rodgers
“I took a good long look at myself in a full length mirror
Sometimes it’s good to look in a full length mirror
And what I saw was not some soul sister poetess of the moment
But I saw just a woman
Just a woman feeling
Just a woman human
And what I felt was
What I felt was a spiritual revelation
And what I felt was a root revival of some love coming on
Coming on strong
And I knew then, looking in a full length mirror,
That many things were over
And some me of beauty was about to begin”

–May our beauty grow and flourish. Peace to you and yours, Mariann

Reflections on Life in our Changing World

Writing newsletter articles as a member of the Board of Trustees is a unique experience. While intimidating initially, I have found that what I have to share is available to me if I pause and relax, breathe and start to write. This is my 11th newsletter article. Oh, yes, I am counting!

My work keeps me terribly busy and I missed my last spot in the newsletter rotation. I am grateful that Reverend Janis was able to accommodate my lapse in availability and that other articles replaced my missive. I have owned my business for over 3 years and I am so much happier as a business owner than as an employee. It has been through following the Science of Mind principles that I was able to move in the direction of my dreams and goals.

That said, work challenges wear me down. I have not had any kind of work slow down during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, my work has been busier as I have supported clients in applying for pandemic unemployment and in applying for Paycheck Protection loans from the federal government.

What I have found that I need to do is to ask for help from both the people I work with and in hiring independent contractors who work for me. And I have learned that I need to trust myself. What often happens is that I will reach a point at which I must stop work because I am just plain tired. My brain turns off and I do not have any more oomph. So I rest, for a bit.

Although I experience stress around my work and concerns with family, it is starkly apparent to me that I live in a white bubble of privilege, as do many of my friends. I have changed my daily meditation to include deeper reflection and introspection, supporting to truth that Black Lives do Matter (and they haven’t mattered as much as they should have in the past, and even in the present, sometimes), and have also donated money to BLM causes.

I have also begun to read How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and plan to read White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. Coworkers at the PCC Foundation recommended both books to me. That is how I am beginning to do what I can, with what I have, to support necessary and positive change in this country.

The pause created by Covid-19 has benefitted me greatly. My husband worked from home for two months and that has been great. It has given us a taste of his retirement. I have reconnected with friends from California, Oregon and Massachusetts over Zoom. And the morning 8:30 meditation with Reverend Janis is a highlight of my day.

Thank you CSLT, for all you’ve given me and for the opportunity to give back through Board Service.


–Marya Wheeler

Welcome to Brady’s World

As I sit here today and contemplate all that is happening here in our world, I am reminded of the truth. We are always at choice. No matter what is on going on out there, I have the power to choose what is going on in here. I can begin my day by scrolling through the news, which is now a strange confluence of health and politics. I can focus on the tragedy of the loss of life and the myriad opinions about it. However, as we know, where thought goes, energy flows! And so I can choose to not get caught up in all the noise and fear that is going on. Otherwise, I may simply be co-creating something even more from this fear and panic.

In the midst of this, I realize that the perfect example for me to follow is my sweet little dog, Brady. Throughout these days, he is always in the moment. He does not have a “to-do” list or regrets about yesterday. His thoughts and behaviors are simple.

For Brady, the Covid-19 epidemic means:
“My person is home with me nearly ALL the time! I get extra attention, play times and even more than one walk a day! If she is acting sad or upset at times, I just hop up into her lap or lay quietly at her feet. I especially like listening to the concerts on line with her or attending her Zoom meetings. Yay! Company but I’m still getting all the attention! I always wake up in a playful mood and now I can visit with her for a long time during breakfast. It doesn’t matter to me what is on the news—I don’t listen to it. But I do pay attention if there are other dogs on TV!!! I like being home and playing outside with her. She says I am her role model—always being in the present, whatever that means. I am here just to show and receive love. And get treats!”

For those of us who have chosen to share our lives with furry friends, you probably can relate. I can’t imagine going through the last several months without him. I also wonder — how much more peaceful would my mind be if I followed Brady’s example? Be in the moment and release judgments. Take time to play and always be open for new adventures. Sit quietly and contemplate by going within. Keep my life simple and loving to others. And always be on the lookout for treats!

 

–by Susan Seid

Church Open, Building Closed

Last Tuesday, a reporter from the Arizona Daily Star sent an urgent e-mail request for an update on open/closed status of churches. Apparently they were queuing up to do a special report in Sunday’s paper. Since I wrote a piece for the Sunday “Keeping the Faith” section, which they published on April 19th, we got on their list of churches in Tucson. That’s very cool. When I got to the question about when the church/center was opening, I replied that our ‘church’ had never closed, just the building has closed. I firmly believe that.

Yes, we gather virtually on zoom. Presently, we gather for Sundays, for Wednesday night classes and for our daily morning practice. We’ve gotten better at the mechanics of doing Sunday services. We’re even up on YouTube with our own channel; other people have checked out our community and what we believe. Our stage band has been cranking out some amazing music. Most centers and churches default to canned music (YouTube videos and the like), because live music on zoom is just too hard. Our guys figured out how to do it. Leona Freeman even joined them, virtually, to sing the song she wrote, ‘Welcome to This Place’, which we have used for our opening song for the whole month of May. An old friend, Rev Lynne Heygster, guest spoke two Sundays ago from her living room in Justin Texas and in a couple weeks (June 14th) we are having a special musical guest, Bob Sima, from his home in Florida. The Music Team has wanted to bring Bob to town for years; it has not been possible, until now.

Our online meditation seminar has two participants in eastern Canada and one from Eloy AZ; we’ve had two guest facilitators, one from Las Vegas and one just left Tucson, and presently en route to Kentucky. The Prosperity Plus III mastermind group gathers twice a month. Keith Gorley’s men’s group meets virtually twice a month, and Keith starts a book study of Karen Armstrong’s 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life in less than two weeks. If you’ve never read this book, and can get a copy of it electronically, it will change your point of view about what it means to live compassionately. The Daily Practice group has been meeting steadily since the last week in March, every day except Sundays; attendance is growing. Additionally, there’s a survey further down in this newsletter soliciting interest in online classes over the summer. If you are curious, and potentially interested in participating in an upcoming class, please check out the very short survey and state your preferences.

No, it’s not the same as in person. It can’t be. We won’t be going back to the old model any time soon. The people who live far away are thrilled to hear that; that means they get to participate. There are those who, quite rightly, say that we are doing a better job of serving our community because we are more accessible to more people.

Your Board of Trustees met virtually this past week. We talked about what it would take for us to meet in person at the office next month. Given the constraints on meeting (10 people or less), we could theoretically meet in person, maintain safe distance (6′ between chairs), meet with facemasks on, & have the air handlers on high. The office would need to be wiped down, but it could be done. We could even have two guests at our board meeting, they would have to sit in an adjacent room, but they could still see and hear the discussion.

Last week the Board talked about how we identify congregants with some skill and interest in computers and videographic equipment, who also have time and interest in helping us get us set up for live-streaming when the time (finally) comes. Fortunately, there are a number of resources within CSLs around the country with expertise that are delighted to share what they have learned with us. Interested?

Yes, our center is open. If you haven’t been participating, we invite you to join us.

–Rev Janis

C-O-V-I-D

For me, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an urgent message to every human. I believe this virus’ message is that “We are ALL in this together” — in life, in how we get sick, how we heal, and in how we live together and look after ourselves, and one another. No one has been totally excluded from impact by this virus, either from one of the many ways the virus expresses, or not being able to get medical care for other ailments, or an increased sense of isolation, fear and separation, or an elevated sense of general or specific worry and anxiousness, or simply disturbed sleep interrupted by difficult dreams, or any number of other manifestations.

This virus became very, very real to me when the doctors thought my beloved daughter, who is recovering from Valley Fever and therefore immuno-compromised, might have gotten it. She exhibited many worrisome symptoms. Thankfully, her test came back negative.

While I was walking in a very lush, beautiful neighborhood last week by myself, I couldn’t help but notice the sounds of all the different birds, look at the Palo Verde trees in bloom, cactus flowering, hummingbirds, rabbits, quail and even a red bird I didn’t recognize! The connection of all of this hit me right between the eyes; ALL of it, every single bit of it, is interconnected.

Couldn’t this same principle include every sentient being? Food for thought for me, for sure. I am reminded of the 12 steps in Karen Armstrong’s book, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and am looking forward to taking the class with Keith again when it starts in early June.

1. Learn about compassion for all
2. Look at your own world
3. Compassion for yourself
4. Empathy
5. Mindfulness
6. Action
7. Know how little we know
8. How should we speak to one another?
9. Concern for everybody
10. Knowledge
11. Recognition
12. Love your enemies

If I only manage to apply some of these principles into most of my interactions, I become part of a positive solution and balm to myself, and others. I reduce the fear and panic my small self wants to focus on. Yes, I know we are looking at a very different ‘new normal’. This refocusing of my thought and attention helps me so much to look for the positive that has come about in my own life, and the lives of those I love and people I know.

While I was walking outside in nature, and observing its orderly beauty, the word COVID became redefined to me:
C- Compassionate
O – Opening
V – Vector
I – Into
D – Divine Order
assuring me that ALL is in divine order.


–Namaste, Janie

What Do I Do Today?

Greetings from social isolation and socially distanced San Manuel!

I have found this “down time” to be far less troubling and disconcerting than a lot of people. One of the blessings of being an introvert and apparently able to entertain myself with a variety of activities not found on my “to do” list. That list is still way too long and uninviting. I’m also retired and not facing any of the myriad problems many people are. Truly, a blessing too large to measure.

What I have been doing is continuing to write every morning and expanding my daily reading of CSL teachings. The time to sit and be still — as still as is possible for me — is a gift of amazing grace and joy.

“All the ideas of infinite Mind are being offered to me now. These nourish and sustain me; I accept and assimilate them. They are inspiration to my mind. They are wisdom in handling my emotions. They are beauty and peace to my soul. Joyously, I accept the good which God is distributing in my life.”
— Ernest Holmes and Raymond Charles Barker, 365 Days of Richer Living 103.2


One of the ideas I’ve been thinking about is the question of enough. Not all the hoarding memes that have blasted through social media, but the basic enough of contentment and ease. When does all my activity and needing to juggle a calendar reflect not the good times of retirement, but more my inability to simply be and to listen.


“The Intelligence within me is constantly guiding me. Clearly I see the right thing for me to do; I know the right thing for me to say in every circumstance. This Intelligence within me deals with every situation harmoniously. I find life thrilling, stimulating.”
— Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 138.3


Except that, of course, being well-practiced in and habituated to doing and distraction, I don’t find practicing this beautiful listening in stillness all that easy. When I do allow it, it is an experience of beauty and joy and such an inner peace that one could crave it. Yet that is as aspect of wanting more. That really isn’t the way either. Working hard for it, striving toward it essentially hides it elsewhere.


“Without effort or strain, and in a relaxed receptivity, let us know that the Law of Mind acts upon our word. Not asking how or why, but with simple acceptance and complete belief, let us permit this good to be established in our experience.”
— Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 76.2

“The one Mind is working in and through us now, not as big or little, or hard or easy, but merely as spontaneous self-expression. Back of our smallest act is the strength of the universe. Behind all our thoughts is the Infinite Thinker. Diffused through every human activity is the Divine Presence.
— Ernest Holmes, 365 Science of Mind 218.1

And that is my goal during this time — “Be Still and Know” – Psalm 46.10.

Wishing you and yours a safe and peaceful journey through this time.


–Peace, Mariann

Thank You, Dick

Dear Dick,
We are so grateful for your many years of service to our Center. How can we even begin to express our gratitude for your steady, devoted service since 2014? Any task you accepted was always done with expertise and love. Your thoroughness and vigilance shined brightly in all things you did for CSLT. You have been a generous example of selfless service and trustworthiness these past six years. Your wisdom, counsel, steadfastness and servant’s heart will be hard to replace. You have been, and are, deeply appreciated and you are loved by all who have even been touched by even the edges of your big heart. You are already deeply missed. Our best love and wishes for health and happiness for both you and Rosalee.
–With great love, Rev Janis, Mariann, Marya & Janie
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