Introducing Susan Seid, Our Newest Board Member

Looking back over my life, one of the “constants” has been my connection to God. As a young child in Sunday school, our teacher asked, “Where is God?” I answered, “ I think that God is inside of me”. It was clear that was not the answer she was looking for. However, I have always felt that God was both around and within me. Despite being one of six children, I often ended up being the only one to go to Sunday school and then to church. I even attended a Bible camp one summer in Maine but it was run by the Baptists and that was another story.

I was born in Syracuse, raised in the Boston suburbs and attended the Congregational Church. Like many, I drifted away during college and early adulthood. In my early twenties, a friend invited me to go to the UCC Congregational Church in Norwell MA and it re-ignited my connection to God. A few years later, I was going through a very difficult divorce. My minister and church family were especially supportive. One day I sat by myself in a courtroom waiting for the judge to order a restraining order. And then, I had a physical sensation of a warm hug. Puzzled by it, I mentioned it later that evening to one of my church friends. It turned out that they had all been together praying for me at that moment. Since then, I have never doubted the power of prayer.

As single mom with two young children and no support, I began to work full time. I had graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York with a degree in buying and merchandising. After a few years in retail, I began working in the mail order industry. Later in 1990, I was recruited by Arizona Mail Order, which is how I found my way to Tucson. I loved it here immediately.

During the following decade, I was recruited away by companies in other parts of the country but always wanted to return. It was during this time I found myself being drawn to New Thought. While working in Atlanta, I heard an ad for the Church of Religious Science on the radio. I wandered in one Sunday morning and listened transfixed to Reverend Paul Gonyea speak and knew I was home. I began feverishly taking classes and learned the wisdom of Holmes, Troward and Emerson. Science of Mind began a major transformation of my life. So when an opportunity arose to buy a portion of the business for which I had been working, I took a life-changing leap. Troward said, “When we have the end held firmly in consciousness, the means to bring it about has already been set in motion”. And during this time, I was honored to serve on the Board of Trustees for a newly formed center, CSL Midtown.

Despite some unforeseen major challenges, my company survived and thrived. Some years later, I sold all but the art portion of the company and was able to return to Tucson. I live here with my little dog, Brady. And although they are not near, I enjoy my seven grandchildren and yes, five great grandchildren. Such wonderful abundance!

–Susan

To Mask, or Not to Mask

I went to town to do some scanning and returning of final exams from the Foundations Class that finished this week. (Yes, the class ‘Foundations of the Science of Mind’ still has a final exam, and everybody who took it passed with flying colors.) We’ve been meeting online, on Zoom, for about a month; it’s worked fairly well. Those of you who have taken Foundations remember that sweet feeling of camaraderie and community that arises when you spend weeks and weeks sharing with other people, and you discover we’re all pretty much the same. We have similar sorts of worries, struggles, doubts and fears, so we can relate to each other, and feel strong family-like connections with this unique and special subset of humanity. The students were sad the class was ending because they’ve gotten so close with each other over these many weeks.

While I was in town, I figured I’d stop at the Trader Joe’s closest to the office to pick up some supplies I’d run out of, and some fresh daffodils. Trader Joe’s instituted the wait-outside-the-store-line earlier than most of the other retail spaces in town, and so I wasn’t surprised to see a line. I was a little surprised to see such a long line. The TJ’s crewmember who had been tasked with managing the line was in conversation with an older fellow who was belligerently not wanting to stand exactly on the blue line which demarcated the 6-ft distance between prospective customers. Eventually the older man complied, because (I’m guessing here) he decided he wanted access to the store more than he wanted to argue with ‘the kid’. So we stood there a while, not too terribly long. Being my mother’s daughter (We used to tease her, saying that she could have a delightful conversation with a fencepost), I attempted to strike up a conversation with the fellow behind me in line. His face, what I could see of it behind his mask, was dour. I said something innocuous and bright, like how nice it was to be standing in the shade on this warm, sunny day. His reply, ‘Why are we doing this?’, left me nearly speechless and I responded with, ‘There are so many answers to that question running through my mind.’

Last week, I was again standing in a line, waiting to go into JoAnn’s. I needed thread to finish some projects. Many of the people who were in line were buying supplies to make masks for friends, family members or to give away to medical or care facilities. The camaraderie of this line was quite different from the one at TJ’s. Even though we were primarily standing in the sun, the mostly older crowd was quite chatty, sharing bits and pieces of their lives. The workers who came out of the store to talk with line-standers-like-me were answering questions about the availability of elastic, bias tape, Velcro and interfacing. Eventually, after about 80 minutes, I got my turn in the store, picked up my half dozen spools of thread and was out again double-quick, freeing up the space for the mask-makers in line/behind me to gain access. While this was a much longer and slower moving line, it was much more enjoyable.

During one of the daily spiritual practices last week, I read a paragraph from Ernest Holmes’ 365 Science of Mind (p.116) that was impactful to several individuals on the video-call. It read, ‘Our lives and experiences may well be likened to a river. If we stand on the bank of a river and watch it flow by, we become aware that the river never changes, but that its content is always new. By analogy, we might say the purposeful dynamic quality of life within us never changes, but the content of our experience of living never remains the same.’

‘The purposeful dynamic quality of life’, our point of view in how we see ourselves, the Divine, and others, is completely under our control. Our Essence, as the Foundations students learned, is Divine. We are made of, and for, Life, Love, Light, Peace, Poise, Power, Joy…. Whether we choose to remember that, and act from that place of wholeness, and holiness, is entirely up to us. The content of our experiences, how we engage with individuals, big ideas, situations or circumstances will vary moment-to-moment. Each one of us is always at choice how we see ourselves, our situations and others, and how we respond to, and engage with, life.

–Rev Janis

Living in “Interesting Times”

There’s an old Chinese curse about living in interesting times. It’s pretty clear that we are. Fear bubbles just below the surface for a lot of people. Those who have lost loved ones, who no longer have a stable source of income, or who are afraid and cut off from the comfort of being with other human beings are suffering. May each of us remember to use this opportunity as a wake up call to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish our compassion and strengthen our communities.

Personally, it has presented me with the opportunity to go inward more deeply every day (thanks to the tricks I learned in Into the Magic Shop), which fold in so beautifully with our Science of Mind principles and techniques, allowing me to access a deeper awareness of Oneness. Life and Wholeness. I also have been watching Deepak Chopra’s morning talks on Instagram, which help me remember how to stay sane in an out of balance world. These have helped me stay grounded and centered.

So, what can we do?

Turn off the television newsfeed, and just ‘be’. News doesn’t change that fast. Listen to the birds sing. Enjoy the sun and the fresh air. Go for walks and appreciate the beauty of nature. Find things to be grateful for and really enjoy them. Do affirmative prayer and meditate. Read our Center’s (and other Centers’) materials. Attend our Zoom services, or services of other Centers and churches that feed and uplift us spiritually. Expand our spiritual practices. Know that, as they say in AA, “ This too shall pass”.

Arizona DES (directorblog.azdhs.gov) recognizes that individuals with chronic illnesses are more susceptible to this virus and that it is even more important, if we are experiencing that condition, that we, and those who live with us, take preventative measures: stay home, take extra care with handwashing and prevent spread of potential contamination, keep up with our medications, keep good records of daily health monitoring and keep any scheduled doctor’s appointments. In addition, AZ DES recommends social distancing, engaging in an enjoyable hobby (scanning Facebook feeds is not an enjoyable hobby), being moderately physically active, practicing mindfulness and meditation, connecting with friends and family over the phone and video-chats. Reach out if you are experiencing persistent sadness, fear or feeling of hopelessness. If you feel like you have no one to comfortably call, please reach out to the AZ DES Mental Health Line 800 -985-5990.

AZ DES has also shown a drop in the number of new cases of the virus this past week for the first time since our awareness of the virus in Pima County was noticed (March 1) from 209 new cases to 94. Also that numbers of infected persons are higher in the 20-44 year age range (181) than they are in the 65- and-older age range (165). Us ‘seniors’ are doing a better job of keeping ourselves safe!

It’s time to re-imagine a new world, to envision sharing our common humanity, to vision how we can live in the deepest, most beautiful way possible. Coming through this difficult time, what we intend and nurture, we can certainly do.

“This is a time of mystery and uncertainty. Take a breath. The veils of separation are parting and the reality of interconnection is apparent to everyone on earth. We have needed this pause, perhaps even needed our isolation to see how much we need one another”

— Quote from Lion’s Roar

–Namaste, Janie Hooper

Caring: Without Clutching, Comparing or Competing

Like most of us I can be really good in some circumstances and with some people. But there are times when I know that I allow common hour thinking to initiate reactions that are not even close to my best choice. I find myself fretting or stressing over/about something/someone. And I am heading off course while steadfastly ignoring the fact that I am screwing up. This tends to muck up my own energy and obscure what would actually be best for me.

So, I’ve set a goal for myself to use this present time to clear out both physical and emotional clutter, and I’ve come to the following C’s.

Caring without Clutching, Comparing, or Competing. All of which sounds pretty cool and very Zen.

And very hard to do in this world that teaches us to value primarily how we compare to others; how well we amass and keep stuff forever; and how our behavior, work, car, practice is always better or worse than others and so on.

When, in fact, the only measurement of importance is the wholeness I find inside. Whether one calls it Spirit, self-fulfillment, heart or purpose, if I am not always looking to live from and as Peace within – my without is seriously compromised.

We are all individualized centers of God-consciousness and spiritual power, as complete as we know ourselves to be, and we know ourselves only as we comprehend our relationship to the whole.
— Ernest Holmes, How to Change Your Life 123.3

From Gay Hendricks’ THE BIG LEAP: …. When I was growing up my next-door neighbor shared a powerful bit of wisdom with me …. On Judgment Day, Mr. Lewin said, God will not ask ‘Why were you not Moses? ‘ He will ask ’Why were you not Sam Lewin?” I replace the ‘god judging day’ with a more immediate personal presence and practice. The questions I ask myself regularly:

To start a new day – How can I be my best self today?
Evening contemplation: When was I my best self today? When was I not?

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

“Know Thyself.” — Dead Greek personage. Or Polonius. Or Hallmark.

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the self-reliance of every one of its members.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

And finally, a bit of advice I keep posted where I see it regularly. Because change is hard, and learning to live in a more present, aware state of being is quite the challenge.

Success is not final,
Failure is not fatal,
It is the courage to continue that counts.
— Winston S. Churchill

So taking this time when we have been plucked from our “old normal” into a strange and unsettling time, I’m working to find and release those old rules of comparison, competition, clutching and replace them with a sense of self that springs from Spiritual Peace and personal choice.

Staying awake to inner Truth as well as the best practices needed here and now, we will all emerge different and better when we come back together.

–Peace, Mariann

Star-Stuff R Us

The Milky Way over Monument Valley Image Credit & Copyright: Tom Masterson From Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)

In a 1973 publication, The Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan wrote, Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic material we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.

He wasn’t the first to say it. That honor probably goes to a Greensboro, North Carolina newspaper columnist, Ellen Frizell Wyckoff in 1913, though she wasn’t quite brazen enough to claim that special status for humanity, only for the earth, when she wrote, The spectroscope analyzes the light if you please, and shows what it is made of. What was the surprise of the tireless searchers when they found common earth metals burning in the mighty sun!

There was once a little girl who cried out with joy when she realized for one little moment that the earth is truly a heavenly body, and that no matter what is happening to us we are really living right up among the stars. The sun is made of “star stuff, and the earth is made of the same material, put together with a difference.” Astronomer Albert Durrant Watson in 1918 said in his address to the Royal Astronomical Society, It is true that a first thoughtful glimpse of the immeasurable universe is liable rather to discourage us with a sense of our own insignificance. But astronomy is wholesome even in this, and helps to clear the way to a realization that as our bodies are an integral part of the great physical universe, so through them are manifested laws and forces that take rank with the highest manifestation of Cosmic Being.

Thus we come to see that if our bodies are made of star-stuff— and there is nothing else, says the spectroscope, to make them of — the loftier qualities of our being are just as necessarily constituents of that universal substance out of which are made

“Whatever gods there be.”

We are made of universal and divine ingredients, and the study of the stars will not let us escape a wholesome and final knowledge of the fact. (Thanks to Quote Investigator for compiling all these quotes in one place.)

And so what? This image from Brian Andreas at Flying Edna reads, You are made of the same stardust as all creation. Why would you believe that something so marvelous as that can’t be trusted to know how to live?

So much fear and doubt surrounds us and our world right now, the sudden shift in what can be known with certainty and depended on, and the lack of predictability in … well… life. Still, when we remember who and what we are, infinite expressions of life walking around in our physical bodies, there is something deep within us that cannot be damaged, hurt, or ruined, not matter what chaos seems to surround us.

We are stardust. How do you grab hold of that certainty and own it for yourself? How do you remind yourself when you forget? (Hint: daily spiritual practice helps.) Find your center. Get busy shining the stardust that you already are. The world needs your presence. Now…

–Rev Janis

My (Current) New Normal

It’s 9:25am and I sit at my home office. I have much work to do even though the tax filing and tax payment deadlines have been extended to 7/15. I haven’t meditated or written in my journal yet. I feel the anxiety in my stomach. Somewhere in my psyche is a message that I am a naughty, little girl for not working enough. It’s funny how the words “naughty, little girl” strike a hurtful chord. Writing this down reduces my stress and I leave to meditate for my regular 20 minutes.

It’s 10:37 and I feel relaxed and calm. I accept that it is necessary for me to meditate and to journal and to exercise most days to maintain a sense of peace. While it’s more difficult to maintain my daily routines right now in the time of great disruption, I have been able to do so fairly well. The Prosperity Plus 3 group, of which I am a member, has been holding that for me this last week. The Spiritual Mind Treatment I included in my journaling today was that I remain calm and peaceful today and that I experience the God concepts of joy and beauty (including order) throughout my day. It could be because I am writing this article that it is working very well today! Yay!!!

I was also reminded this morning of my ability to experience sensations of change and not label them as fear. When I label a feeling as fear, I attach gloom and despair to it. I see myself in the fetal position under my desk or in the corner of my closet. When I simply allow the sensation to pass through me without a label or by labeling it as energy or anticipation, my outlook remains bright. This is the choice I make today. This is an example of the Law working in me, through me and for me that makes Science of Mind such an important component of my daily experience.

In the 12-step fellowship, the 1st step of the program of which I am a member is that “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”. I smile when I say that because, it’s not really true. I’m not really powerless, I can always make things worse.

–And I’m not doing that today! Take care! Love, Marya

Update

Obviously, with the schools closed (by the order of the Governor of AZ) at least until the end of March and the restrictions on gathering (10 people or less, for now), we won’t be meeting in person on Sunday.

Watch for a Special Newsletter later this week with suggested online connection options with us and other CSLs around the country with online only services. Think of it as a virtually endless buffet of options!

If you wish to read what I thought I was going to write about this week, here it is.

These are crazy, and amazing times, and these may be the times that we have been have been called here for, or have chosen to incarnate on earth for, or however you wish to phrase it… These profound and special times may be why we are each, and all, are here, right now. I realize that statement could be perceived as totally egocentric and presumptuous on my part. Let me assure you, it is not. We are all represented by the ‘small man’ in the Hafiz-esque poem (right) when we forget our true nature; the ‘sage’ when we remember; we are always the beautiful rowdy prisoners. We hold the keys to our own prison, and we are the only ones who can free ourselves.

I made space and time to listen and watch Dr Edward and Dr Sharon host a CSL group spiritual practice last Friday morning. I felt deeply touched by the reminder that we all have the capacity to emanate the light of the divine presence, radiate the love of the One Heart, and flow like the river of peace that passes all understanding, because that peace is the peace that is unaffected by whatever happens to be happening around us, and in our minds when we just let them be taken over by the noise, fuss and bother of people who have forgotten who and what they are, divine beings walking around in human form.

This past Sunday, as we closed the service, we didn’t touch or hold hands like we usually do. A number of people attending were practicing social distancing, and we wanted to include them in our closing ritual without making them feel uncomfortable or left out.

Instead, I encouraged everyone to allow our individual radiant heart energies to expand, emanating from the core of our individuated beings and touching the other beings in the room, filling our 350-seat auditorium with love energy, and spilling out to the surrounding area. (This image from chapter 6 of The Science of the Heart by the Institute of HeartMath illustrates one possible representation of this experience and practice.) The heart is recognized as considerably more powerful than the mind; some say it is 1000 times more powerful. The good (scientifically-minded) folks at HeartMath have shown the heart’s electromagnetic torus capable of expanding considerable distances and positively impacting other beings. I believe this is what we do when we emanate and radiate Divine Love, caring and compassion.

In his address at the dedication of the Whittier Church in 1959, Dr Holmes said, We are a teaching order, not a preaching order. We are a practicing order, not a proselytizing order. The world has waited long for something to happen. Now the healing power of the unseen magic of the Spirit can be made evident. And so, as we move forward in these tumultuous times, knowing what we know, teaching what we teach, and practicing what we practice, we get to remember that we are the sage, the knower, and the doer who operates from love, wisdom and heart-power, remembering to honor, care for, and bless ourselves and everyone we meet.

–Best Blessings, Rev Janis

Living as a Center of God Consciousness

No one can find God for us; each individual must do this for himself.
We cannot find God outside the self because we cannot go outside the self.
There is no place we begin and God leaves off.
We can only find God within ourselves. (Ernest Holmes, Living Science of Mind  111.1)

Once again, I refocus to reset myself as a center in the consciousness of God. It requires lots of work, stillness, and a willingness and desire to give up the idea that I live separate from God.

But wishing, hoping or longing will not bring about this self-discovery.
There must be a persistent and painstaking attempt to separate everything from us
that does not belong to The Spiritual Man.” (Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind  111.5)

I have just recently finished digging deeply into our home study book, Into the Magic Shop by James Doty, M.D. It has provided me with some very valuable reminders and practices for connecting with the God of my understanding.

Since I am facilitating one of the home study groups on this book, I have taken the opportunity these past few weeks to really delve into, and begin to embody more of Ruth’s magic tricks, such as being more still, meditating more regularly, concentrating on breathing relaxation, and creating a personal mantra. (All of the previous have been difficult for me.)

I am happy to say that I am already experiencing more peace, and feel more certain that I am part of the One. I noticed that even the simple practice of totally relaxing the body caused an identifiable drop in my blood pressure! As a result, I feel more love, compassion and understanding of myself, and others. We are not separate beings, and I am beginning to deeply get that!

Instead of beating myself up because I am slow to learn this, I continue to become more
accepting of my own process of knowing my own well being, joy, clarity and confidence — the jewel-like properties of clear consciousness. Every time I open beyond the contracted and fearful states of mind I can still get into on occasion, I can come back to wholeness more easily.

This level of spiritual practice is a revolutionary process of investigation and discovery for me that will remain ongoing for a very long time. Repeated challenges bring me opportunities for new openings to a better life, if I am willing to work toward the center of my being, which is love. And, as Rev. Janis says “It does take intentional work!”

I think I will “Let go and let God”, and let God live through, and as, me.
–Namaste, Janie Hooper

Distractions, Diversions & Detours

It’s all good: the morning is quiet – fountain pen in hand – journal notebook open to the next blank page — but wait — where am I? Or more accurately, where is my attention? Enter the THREE D’s that delay any form of personal meditation: Distractions, Diversions & Detours. We each have our preferred member of the dastardly trio.

Distraction – the woodpecker pounding his beak on the metal pole in the backyard

Diversion – remembering any of the 112 things one has to do today or sometime

Detour – I need to put ‘that’ up before I can sit/write/be at peace

“One of the recurring concerns among people I teach or counsel spiritually is their discomfort with being alone. Yet, it is my experience that when we can contentedly be alone without distraction, we can get a clear sense of our place in the scheme of things and we can expect confidence and self-esteem to increase. Dr. Edward Viljoen (CSL’s newly elected Spiritual Leader) in The Power of Meditation 154.2-155.1

Yes, one must practice until one begins to succeed, but how can I practice what I don’t seem able to do for even a really short time?

Truth in essaying. I’ve been journaling in the morning (as many of you already know) for almost three years. And still the Three D’s all too often take me away from focus and presence. The good part is that now I catch myself more frequently and actually try with the recommended gentleness to bring my self back. When gentleness doesn’t work, I have been known to think some of the language I learned outside of parochial school.

Whatever works.

And that is what counts, because getting myself back to the actual act of taking time to be present with my self brings a deepening understanding of who I am – why I am that way – and blessed pointers on what needs to change so I learn to choose to claim more of who I want to be.

So, time to remember the good stuff:

“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 in 365 Science of Mind 218 .1

Every sit, thought or step we do helps to strengthen our ability to gain easier access to that Infinite Thinker and gives us a clearer path to understanding the Good of it All.

And, that is what I really want for my self and for each of you. To learn to recognize, choose and claim more of what is our best expression of self.

–Peace and happy journeying, Mariann

Sevain Sangha (in honor of Dick Laird and all others like him who practice selfless service)

First, two definitions:
Seva: Service. Working for the benefit of others.
Sangha: The community of followers and practitioners of the Buddha’s path and teaching. Sometimes used to refer specifically to Buddhist monastic communities. (Source: gaiahouse.co.uk/glossary/)

In writing to the early Christian church at Corinth, apostle Paul (his scribe, or his ghost-writer) wrote about the various gifts of the spirit that different members of their spiritual community embodied. Based on his words to the community at Corinth, I’m guessing he believed that some members of the community wanted to be more special, or that they valued some gifts more than they valued other gifts. He explained to him that everyone has gifts to contribute and no one’s gifts are inherently better than anybody else’s gifts.

I would step further out on a limb and say that I personally value competent plumbers, repair-persons, handy-persons and car mechanics much higher than I value some other individuals who are seen as more important in the world. If I look for the common theme shared by all those who I value, they all serve others or serve one or more groups, or ideals greater, larger, or more expansive than themselves.

True service often resembles altruism, the act of doing ‘good’ or serving another simply because the individual can. Philosophers have a field day with the concept of altruism because they argue that feeling good for ‘doing good’ is the reward and so it is not a selfless act. (Source: bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/does-altruism-exist-science-and-philosophy-weigh-in)

In the Buddhist tradition, one path to enlightenment is the sacred path of service, or seva. The path of the Bodhisattva is the path of the enlightened being who chooses to voluntarily disregard personal benefit and well being to relieve suffering in others. Part of the belief is that in helping and serving others, the individual’s personal suffering becomes diminished, though that is not the goal.It sounds like being called as a Bodhisattva would be a downer, and yet, if I consider the most enlightened beings that I know, they radiate joy.

In the Bhagavad Gita (commonly called The Gita), the best known and most famous of Hindu texts, Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna that he needs to do his duty and do battle with his family members, even if he doesn’t want to because it is his duty to do so. This message from The Gita is the call for selfless action and service to a greater good, which inspired many spiritual leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King.

Sikh communities regularly and routinely fed the fire management and control personnel as they worked to control the recent massive bushfires in Australia (and other places), as a spiritual practice of service.

Service is also a core value in Judaism. In The Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary on Joshua, F.G. Marchant wrote, “God has three sorts of servants in the world: Some are slaves and serve God from fear; others are hirelings and serve for wages; and the last are children, who serve because they love.”

In Islam, service to humankind is considered equivalent to service to God. (Source: www.islamicinsights.com/religion/service-to-mankind-is-service-to-god.html)

And so, the apostle Paul was not alone in his point of view (1 Corinthians 14:12 New International Version (NIV)) So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. (Source: biblegateway.com)

And so today’s blogpost is a salute to the many quiet helpers in our community that build up our community with their unassuming service.

I feel grateful for each of you… for every single act of service, whether anyone has requested it, sees it, or acknowledges it. Our world is richer because of the many hands and hearts who lift us all up. Thank you.

–Rev Janis Farmer

1 2 3 4 19