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

Welcoming a Change in Perspective

What I so appreciate about the Science of Mind is the surprising resolution to situations that occur in my life when I apply the principal that “All is happening for my good and the good of all involved.” When I stop looking at my life through the eyes of a victim, I find peace and love replacing fear and anxiety.

I write about this and it sounds easy to me but, recently, I have been clenching my teeth a lot and feeling the weight of the world as I have been dealing with a family member’s drinking plus familiar tax season stress.

I looked forward to writing this article as a means to reframe my recent experience. I regularly read 365 Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes. The daily meditations are lovely and bring me into a space of gratitude, regardless of any outside events. I often share them with my husband over the phone or across the table. My daily writing includes a listing of 5 things for which I am grateful. I also write a spiritual mind treatment daily. Often during the step of Unification, I sense the Divine expressing life through me, grokking It as living in me, as me and for me. The following Realization step states my daily intentions, often to complete pending tax returns and to return phone calls. So that I don’t lock myself into my controlling view of what needs to happen today, I often declare my intention as the more generic, “I joyfully accomplish today’s work with ease”. Putting it on a sticky-note by my computer reminds me to take a breath and reconnect.

Additional ways I stay connected:

  •  Exchange a daily intention with my prayer partner.
  •  Employ the services of Shelley Dunn, our licensed practitioner, to write a spiritual mind treatment for me. I have a lovely, handwritten treatment that I read regularly. $200 well spent on a discovery session resulting in a treatment tailored to my concerns.
  •  Mastermind group with Pat Masters and other Prosperity Plus III participants. Similar to the Power of 8 groups CSLT hosted, we meet to share and ask for fellow members to hold an intention for us until our next meeting. To hold an intention for another means, to me, that I read it daily, sending out my good thoughts, feelings and energy to the stated goals.

My regular practices help me feel good. It is important that I practice them with mindfulness. Otherwise, my practice can become just one more task in my busy day. I do this because I sometimes think my normal is about 15% below baseline. Dealing with the effects of my trauma-filled childhood is a daily process, and requires intention and attention.

The way I have re-framed the two opportunities is this –

Scheduled meetings with two people about expanding my business, bringing in more help. This would happen either as employees or perhaps a partnership.

An encounter with the police and my family member last week led to an eye-opening realization that this is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with now through Intensive Outpatient treatment and daily attendance at 12-step meetings. Both are happening.

With gratitude I realize that Science of Mind deals in actualities, not just simple, nebulous, affirmations chanted to myself in the mirror, although that sometimes works too. After writing this, I am more at peace, truly understanding, just for now, that all happens for my good.

— Marya Wheeler

… If You Knew You Could Not Fail

Like everybody else who takes a turn at writing for the newsletter, sometimes I find myself at a serious loss for ideas. After last week’s newsletter went ‘live’, I looked to see who would be writing the lead article, and was a bit dismayed that it was my turn. So I started looking for patterns in my life, seeking something that might form that thread of continuity that would be useful to explore and write about.

Mentally, I’ve been all over the map this week. This morning, I read a bbc.com article about a life hack ostensibly to help with divided attention aptly called GYLIO (get your life in order). What made this of potential use to me was not the implication that I was going to stop everything and reorganize my life completely before I attempted anything (like the name implies), but simply that I could start taking a few well-defined steps to get a handle on what needs doing, and then just start somewhere. Anywhere. I realized I generally, mostly, do this fairly well. That was a relief, and that relief made space for progress to occur.

My car got sideswiped last Monday while I was driving on 22nd Street. No one was hurt, and both of us drove away from the accident site. The damage to my car is impressive looking, crumpled metal usually is, and the damage appears to be primarily cosmetic. The dude who hit me was very apologetic and took total responsibility for the accident. His insurance covers the repairs, and the loaner car. It has been sorting itself out in the most amazing manner. When I got to the rental car place, I asked for a small car for the duration of the repair. What they had, and offered me, was a Nissan Frontier, which feels like it is the size of my townhouse, and drives like a big truck.

I noticed pretty quickly how readily I adapted to driving a relatively large truck. I haven’t driven a large vehicle in a very long time. It has a turn radius of a tank, and I feel like I can see the road construction all the way to Phoenix! Yet it didn’t take long before it felt familiar, almost like it had become second nature. That got me thinking about how we move in our consciousness in the direction of our dreams.

The Foundations class is entering the 5th week now, and the students are getting serious about writing affirmative prayers that work. Part of what makes prayers work is the writer has to get into the mindset that this idea represented by the affirmative prayer is conceivable and plausible, they can imagine it could actually happen and become manifest (technical term for ‘show up’ or ‘become experience-able’) in the physical world. When we act as though something has become true, the universe conspires to support us in that experience.

It doesn’t matter whether what we are claiming is positive or negative. We claim the event or experience and the Divine Mind (in which we live, move and have our being) says “Yes, my Beloved”. There are times we wish it said, “Really? Are you sure? Is that your final answer?” But that’s not Its nature. It says, “Yes”. We choose. It delivers. Again, and again, and again.

So I apply this to the question I began with today. “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” The Universe, with all its legions of helpers (seen and unseen), is standing by… awaiting your clear instruction. (And mine.)

— Rev Janis Farmer

There’s Love, And Then There’s Love

Love came and made me empty
Love came and filled me with the Beloved
It became the blood in my body
It became my arms and legs
It became my everything
Now all I have is a name
The rest belongs to the Beloved. – Rumi

The word Love in Sufism translates to intense liking. Figurative love is attached to mortals. On the other hand, loves real meaning is the love of God. Sometimes figurative love leads to real love. Love is not a mental issue, it is Spiritual. Love begins in God and with his/her/Its love for us. Why else would we have been created? The love of God is always flowing back to us if we allow it in.

I reviewed for my own curiosity the three types of love:
1. Eros, the Greek God of romantic, intimate love
2. Agape, is Greco-Christian revealing the love of God for man, and of man for God. It encompasses Universal love, nature or God, a modern concept of altruism. It is also a basic concern for others beyond self.
3. Philos, is an ideal love, which is an unselfish brotherly love also exemplifying loyalty, sacrifice and appreciation.

Aristotle theorized one must feel love for themselves before being able to feel love for others. It can be a powerful experience to give love and expect nothing in return.

My first hint of unconditional love happened when I had my first child at barely 18 years of age. (I ran away and married in Oklahoma at age 17.) Prior to that I had only experienced Eros love. I can still remember looking down at that little pulse beating in the skull of her head while nursing her. I never knew or imagined I could love anyone so much. I truly felt the presence of something much greater than myself, a blessing of such grace and a gift of such magnitude. I was simply overwhelmed with joy. The love of God, right there in my lap. And she is still the Love of my life.

From Ernest Holmes’ Living Science of Mind (331.5)
“Love is the victor in every case. Love breaks down the iron bars of thought, shatters the walls of material belief, severs the chain of bondage which thought has imposed, and sets the captive free.”

Also from Rumi:
“The way you make love is the way God will be with you, until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly as your body yields its scent. Your task is not to seek for love …but to merely seek all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. The heart has its own language.”

There is no right or wrong way to love, but there can be beauty and fullness when you fill your life with the many types of love.

–Janie Hooper

Be Still My Amygdala

We all know the common response types: flight or fight – or the less mentioned one “freezing like a deer in headlights”.

We all respond these ways based on instructions from the oldest part of our brain i.e. the Amygdala*. It is so old, it is still living in caves with fear of mastodons or of anything unknown and therefore potentially deadly. For a while in the long, long ago there were good reasons for that response pattern.

But today the percentage of time we need that “shoot or run” decision is pretty small. Yet, there it sits at the back of the brain calling the shots way too often.

And the bossy, bully Amygdala is pretty much frightened of its own shadow. Does it look different? Does it smell different? Does it sound different, etc.? … then it doesn’t want any of it, which means you don’t want any of it.

So how does that happen, we are literate, experienced people with a decent storehouse of knowledge and mental capacity. Yet this ancient residual part of our brain can quickly and quite efficiently take over how we behave in new circumstances. Before we actually know it, we’ve made a decision, called our choice and behaved as if we still had to worry about mastodons.

There is, of course, a way to circumvent the Amygdala — one need only to stop and breathe, and consider what is actually meaningful to someone living in the year 2020 and not 0020.

This stopping and breathing takes – you saw this coming – consistent persistent practice in the art of being still.

Quieting the noise our various internal voices create, especially when they get all incited by Amygdala and are rushing around to save us from the threat of something new, goes by many names and takes many forms in practice. Meditation is the one we know best, primarily because the people we know and respect keep telling us we ought to try it until we find a form that works for us.

There are literally dozens of ways to quiet our chaos. True sitting in the lotus position and counting breaths – I rarely can stay with this. One can walk with awareness, one can (as I do) journal from within, thousands of guided meditations, music to center by, and on and on. Brene’ Brown, an author both Rev. Janis and I read a lot, has written that she meditates on the treadmill. For real.

The objective is not to meet any one else’s definition of proper practice but to find something that quiets your mind.

Because taming your own mind goes a long way toward controlling the Amygdala, which means being present in the here and now, and spending less time freaking out about mastodons.

Life is filled with all sorts of amazing things, none of us need the threat of long extinct creatures, or even old habits that are familiar, but not the way we want to be now. So be still my Amygdala, and hello to Presence.

–Peace and stillness to you and yours, Mariann

*a•myg•da•la /əˈmiɡdələ/ noun: a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions.

Consider Yourself Invited!

Nearly every year since (at least) 2008, CSLT’ers have chosen to gather together for a Friday evening and part of a Saturday to decide what our collective focus will be for the next 12-36 months. The results of previous envisioning weekends can be viewed on our newly improved website under “About” and then under “Organizational Documents”, as well as Board minutes for the past three years and Annual Reports (since 2009).

Together we decide what we have done well, what we could do better, and what we want to let go of. We also decide what we have will and stamina to bring into our world, and how we want to polish our collective light in Tucson and beyond. Everyone is welcome to bring their vision for CSLT forward, and attend as much or as little of this idea-planting activity as they have time and interest. We’ll build on the community visioning that occurred on Sunday, January 12. The collected notes from that visioning are presented below this document in this newsletter.

Our focus has shifted over time from very grand ideas (from 2008) like operating a K-12 New Thought school in Tucson and a self-contained ministerial program into more modest, readily-attainable goals. Our “What We Would Love” list from last year’s envisioning included:

  • Increased visibility in Tucson (Our new education center is much more visible, accessible & available)
  • Well-funded, well-attended & well-known (Our Sunday attendance has begun to grow again, and we have had the most (economically) positive year in well over a decade, not to mention the sale of the raw land on 22nd St, the purchase of the new education center and the establishment of the Opportunity Fund (which is to be used for sustainable marketing, among other long-term goals).
  • Expanded number of groups (Multiple book study groups, Men’s group, P+III group, Sacred Cinema, Lunch Bunch, Music Appreciation Group…)
  • Prosperity Fair, community bulletin board (yep, and the Annual Meeting Raffle of beautiful donated art objects, proceeds used in purchasing our new sign)
  • Vibrant Youth Program (Teachers gathered, trained & vetted, and first youth program initiated)
  • Communal expression of talents & treasures (Multiple teachers with multiple educational offerings, awesome music, recreation of the Winter Solstice ritual to a social event, drum circle…)
  • Have a home space/kitchen (‘home’ space, yep; kitchen, not exactly)
  • Location where people can drop in and use the lending library (yep)
  • Sharing our Services (Binder available on Information Table, not well utilized)
  • Increased Visibility for Service Teams (Recognized in ‘Gratitudes’ and Invitations to join)

We continue to move forward in “Telling Our Story”, populating our YouTube channel, and creating a gallery of photographs on our newly optimized website. The blog, populated by articles written by our leadership, and others, continues to gain readership. Our newsletter readership continues to grow, as does our Facebook presence.

What wants to be done by each, and all, of us in the next year or so?

How do you wish to participate in sharing of our divine expression and our expansion throughout more of Tucson, and beyond? Come join the conversation Friday night 6-9pm and/or Saturday 10a-4pm.

–Your CSLT Board of Trustees

Our Youth Program Begins!

January 5 was the official start of the CSLT Youth program. No youth attended service that day, so the 1st day sharing the Science of Mind with a youth was January 12. A young fellow spent time with Maria and Jay, two CSLT members, during the service and enjoyed himself. The time began with a short treatment, they discussed unity and the three spent time drawing their favorite animals, talking about how we’re all connected with everything including the animals, especially our favorite animals. The youth shared his experience with the congregation after the three returned to the service before the final song. Maria shared how we are all the same age on the inside and all have something to share with each other.

The process for me, of pulling this youth program together has been challenging because working with children has been such an unfamiliar experience for me. Even though I have three adult children (who made it to adulthood), my parenting style was more of the making sure they were fed, clothed and at soccer practice on time and less of the being present with them, or helping them to understand feelings and reassuring them that everything was going to be okay and each child was perfect, whole and complete just the way they are. Over the last 10 years and especially since my introduction to CSLT, I have talked to my kids about the emotional support they did not receive, but desired, and have found that I can supply that now. I feel that I’m a better parent to them now than I was in their youth.

Assembling the youth program has involved reviewing three weeks of the 52-week curriculum, which has 6 different lessons for Preschool-High School. The lessons are very long and involved and being able to follow them seemed overwhelming. Meeting with Pat Masters, we simplified the curriculum to a basic format of Spiritual Truth from the CSL curriculum, Readings from the CSL curriculum, asking a question and discussion followed by a Craft and Closing Prayer. The Volunteer teachers can use the supplied curriculum and suggested readings (we have them all) to prepare for the class. The curriculum provides a thorough discussion of a topic with a summary so we can talk about a topic easily with the kids.

It turns out that I am having fun putting together the lessons and preparing the crafts. We will be making turtle symbols on river rocks, dusting our auras with turkey vulture feathers and doing Tai Chi for Kids. And that is just the next few weeks! I look forward to spending time with the kids.

My initial thought was that I would miss out on not being in the service but meeting with the children will be another way of nurturing myself. I wish that I had been exposed to SOM when I was young and since, as Maria said, we’re all the same age, I will be exposing that young person in Marya to Science of Mind in a new way. Teachers will receive a copy of the service at no charge so we can hear the Sunday talk & the fantastic music.

The young person returned to the service, with his two teachers, before the last song so all were present for the Closing Song & the after-service dance party. Please speak with me if you’re interested in getting involved.

–Marya Wheeler

Put Your Own Mask On First

Ram Dass is reported to have said, “If you (mistakenly) think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family”. Those of us fortunate enough to still have family around, and visit them occasionally, get to be reminded of this great truth. Family dynamics are among the most soul challenging experiences any of us can have. This is especially true if we don’t see our family frequently. All of us change constantly; they still remember us as they knew us, or as they wish to remember us. Neuroscience tells us that what people experience of us is 10-20% what they perceive from the actual interaction, and 80-90% what they remember, or what they imagine. This is also true for each of us.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about expectations and disappointment and the scenarios we build in our minds about how things ‘should’ be. Especially around major holidays. And that thing Buddhists call attachment. Typically, we think of attachment to ‘stuff’, but it applies more to stories that people will behave a certain way, or respond to us like we want them to, or that things will be as they have always been, or that we can stop time, or that we can precisely control exact outcomes, or ….

All this backstory brings me to the statement made by flight attendants before every flight, and by self care gurus everywhere, reminding us that if we don’t “put our own (oxygen) masks on first…”, and take conscious note of our own needs, desires, intentions, stories, expectations, beliefs, boundaries, etc., we have stripped ourselves of our ability to respond to our life experiences, whatever they may be, in a supportive, affirming way. Any time we link our sense of wellbeing to our expectation that any other person will act a certain way, we have limited our ability to be present with what is actually happening and reduced our ability to decide how we choose to perceive and remember the events of our lives.

Then there are the predictably unexpected monkey wrenches. My sister had a serious medical emergency the weekend before I traveled to see family. During those last few pre-holiday days, she had planned to finish her last minute Christmas shopping and tie up loose ends. Instead she spent five days in a very good hospital, ultimately receiving three stents providing blood to her unhappy heart. The surgery was successful; she was home the afternoon of Christmas Eve. She was saddened that she wasn’t able to participate in the pre-holiday prep, buy presents for about half the family, or get any of her gifts wrapped. After she had handed out the few presents that she had acquired, she apologized to the rest of the family and said, “Well, I’m still here.” We all applauded and celebrated her presence.

Then there are the blended (and blended and blended) family issues, and the (control) games people do play. Without making anyone wrong, a challenge all by itself, there were opportunities to create some new and completely different rituals and practices over the holidaze. We decided not to let the grandstanding of a few individuals during the week spoil the quality of our appreciation of each other during the few days we had to spend together. That is not to say it was easy, but it was possible, since we kept our wits about us, mostly.

The practice of remembering that only we are in charge of our own experience, while unsettling or annoying at times, may be among our most powerful methods of sharpening our mental and spiritual tools in our toolkit of awakening. Putting our own oxygen masks on first, remembering what has actual importance for us and is in our control, remembering that everyone is doing the best they can all the time, given what they know and believe, including us, we can more easily remember that “We are just walking each other home.”

Blessings in this New Year.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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