MONEY – CREATION IN ACTION

The book The Money Keys has been the subject of one of the latest classes offered by CSLT. I really enjoy the subject of money. Money is like the flow of creation. When it is circulating it is creation in action.

Combined with gratitude, it can work wonders in my life.

While attending this book study I was reflecting on another money related course called “Prosperity Plus” as taught by Mary Morrissey. During this course we were challenged to visualize a dream or goal that was out of reach at the time.

Someone in our class said she wanted to write, produce, and sing her own music. This allowed me to remember that I too had musical aspirations.

We were encouraged to share our thoughts, so I expressed my dream of playing music professionally. Not long after admitting to the “world” my dream intentions. The need for a backup drummer at CSLT arose.

Also, I was prompted by a friend to call a number on a bulletin board at a music store. Both opportunities materialized. I played downtown during “Downtown Saturday Night” for several years and I continue to play music at CSLT.

Occasionally this can be difficult when old thoughts challenge my justification and abilities. This is when I remind myself using terminology that I have learned through CSLT and many classes.

Affirmations like: I am rich with unlimited possibilities; I am not at the mercy of fate. Instead, I create my experience by what I choose to think and believe, and I feel grateful; or Change my thinking Change my life.

The Truth is I am rich with unlimited possibilities.

–Chris Wheeler

Imperfectly Perfect by Rev Janis Farmer

In a recent Saturday’s daily morning practice, we got another opportunity to look at, remember, and celebrate, that every individual human, including ourselves, is an individualized personification of the Oneness, as we understand, and experience, it in this moment. And that no matter how badly we fail, or we think someone else has failed, there is no failure. Every bit of that experience is simply the perfect expression of the imperfectly perfect human life.

In a recent daily missive, Fr Richard Rohr used this quote from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection:
“It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts: courage, compassion, and connection. … When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging. When we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. …

“There is a line from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” that serves as a reminder to me when … I’m trying to control everything and make it perfect. The line is, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” … This line helps me remember the beauty of the cracks (and the messy house and the imperfect manuscript and the too-tight jeans). It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. Imperfectly, but together.”

One of the sweet spots for me is in remembering that every time I feel judgmental, or judged, it is an opportunity to practice clear seeing, compassion and forgiveness. And every time I feel triggered by something that happens around me, or even something that seems to be happening to me, it’s not the thing that happens in this world of form that I need to fix, correct or change — it’s the way I perceive the situation. This doesn’t mean I always manage to remember any of this stuff in that moment, but I get back to that awareness as soon as I am able.

In working on this past week’s talk, I felt drawn to re-read Ernest Holmes’ ‘Final Conclusions’ in the Science of Mind. You can read them in their entirety on page 423. The sentence that jumped out at me the most was this one, from the second paragraph, “To hold one’s thought steadfastly to the constructive, to that which endures, and to the Truth, may not be easy in a rapidly changing world, but to the one who makes the attempt, much is guaranteed.”

I love that, because it doesn’t mean that if I haven’t succeeded at staying focused on the constructive, I have failed. The notion of ‘doing it right’ is a story that I make up, and that each one of us probably interprets differently. Further, there’s no way to actually get it right, since there is no definitive thing called ‘right’. (I realize there are people who disagree with me about that. And that’s okay too.) What it does mean is that, if I want to play, I have to stay in the game and continue to participate as best as I know how in the moment. And by making the attempt, ‘much is guaranteed’. I can make the attempt, even if I get to begin again a hundred times a day.

As we move into our month of gratitude and gratefulness, and into this period of mid-term elections, it serves me to remember to be grateful for it all, and know that every single one of us is exactly in the right place, at the right time, being beautifully, magnificently, imperfectly perfect.

How Do We…?

“Continuing to do pioneering sacred work in a world as crazy and painful as ours without constantly grounding yourself in a sacred practice would be like running into a forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.” — Marion Woodman
The world of our experience can certainly seem topsy-turvy right now, and it seems like just one thing after another continues to pop up and challenge us to retain our center, and our balance, and remember what’s ours to control, revisit, and reimagine, and then act accordingly.
And there’s another thing we need to add to this already quite messy mix, which is the desire to pretend that everything’s working out just fine, when that’s a mental wish we have but not something we actually believe & embody in our lives. I want to use today’s blogpost to write about both these things.
When we pretend that everything is okay in our world, but if we check in with our physical experience (our body, and our true mental state), we discover that we don’t truly believe it, that avoidance behavior is called a ‘bypass’. Sometimes bypasses are necessary in the short term, to get us through particularly hard times, but they are not a great place to try to live.
I don’t know anyone who enjoys difficult conversations. I do know folks who are pretty good at having them. When we use bypass to avoid discomfort during difficult conversations, we avoid solving the challenges, so they don’t go away.
I have some home repairs that I’ve been avoiding, because I just don’t want to have to deal with problems that I took on when I bought my little house. I don’t want to deal with the financial expense of making it right. I don’t want to deal with my own internal dialog (again) about how I listened to the realtor and fooled myself into thinking this house was wonderful and perfect, without flaws, just as it was. All the repairs I’ve gotten to pay for have made it more ‘like it was supposed to be’. It is a wonderful and perfect house – the size I wanted, with the amount of upkeep I wanted, in the part of town I wanted, and it’s giving me the opportunity to see where I’ve pretended that things were great when they weren’t.
So how do we do the spiritual work that we need to do in order to keep ourselves grounded, in integrity, in our bodies, congruent with our beliefs, and remembering those things that are within our control? Yes, I realize that’s a tall order. If we don’t do these things, it is, as Marion Woodman suggested in that opening quote, like running into a forest fire wearing a paper tutu.
We can pretend that catching our tutu on fire is part of the program, which it is, if we don’t choose differently in our daily spiritual practice. What do I mean by daily spiritual practice? It’s what you do every single day to keep yourself centered and grounded in your Oneness with all Life. Like what, you might ask? (I hope not but you might.) Meditation, journaling, reading spiritual materials, singing, walking in nature, moving, praying loving others in your world, affirmations, peaceful breathing, generosity… What are these practices for you?
–Rev Janis Farmer

Bells of Mindfulness

September’s Sacred Cinema movie is Walk With Me, a documentary about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community. You are invited to attend the Sacred Cinema Zoom meeting this Sunday, September 18 at 3pm (contact office for Zoom link). Even if you don’t watch the movie, come discuss a favorite quote or teaching from the Master.

Watching the movie, there were two things that made a lasting impact on me. The first is Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice to a little girl whose dog recently died. You can watch the except
here: ‘Walk With Me’ Documentary film clip – Thich Nhat Hanh on dog dying.

The second was the “Bells of Mindfulness”. The movie shows that at Plum Village, every 15 minutes a bell will ring. Attendees stop whatever they are doing – talking, eating, walking, working – for a few breaths as a reminder to return to being mindful, mindful of what they are doing, saying, thinking, feeling. I wondered what that would be like. I wanted to experience this.

I was trying to figure out how to do this at home. That’s when I discovered a free app provided by Plum Village that includes the Bells of Meditation. You can get the app here: Mindfulness Apps | Plum Village

I had a free morning at home so I downloaded the app and enabled the bell. It starts you out with a 2-hour session with the bell ringing every 15 minutes. I started it and went about my day. Every 15 minutes when I heard the bell, I would stop what I was doing, take a long slow breath and check in with how I was feeling, what I was doing. Was I mindfully (or mindlessly) doing my tasks? Was I connected to my body? Was I aware of my surroundings? It did make me more aware of what I was doing, seeing, and feeling. But I actually found it distracting, taking me off task.

I decided to go another couple hours, but at a 30 minute interval. At this interval I found myself anticipating the bells. I would wait to start a task until the half hour was up or find a task, I thought would be completed in 30 minutes. I was being “mindful” in a way that didn’t serve me well.

The next day I decided to try again, but at a random 23 minutes. This way, I would not be sure when the bell would go off if I happened to look at a clock. This worked well for me. I was able to get things accomplished without being concerned about time or when the bell would ring. The bell at indiscriminate times brought me back to mindfulness, deciding if what I was doing at that time was what I should be doing.

When I find myself mindlessly going through my day, I now have another tool in my toolbox to bring me back to the present moment. “…we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

–Janet Salese

To Playlist, or Not…

Let’s just say certain types of music are not and have never been on my playlists. There are exceptions, I get caught up in the melody or by an artist or songs. I like to hear stories etc…but a considerable amount of music contains messages that I do not want to involve myself with. If the music is exceptional I may listen to it in spite of any message but again they are exceptions.

Like most of us I was influenced by my parents and the world about how to think about things. One of those opinions influenced me to believe that country and western music was not something I should listen to. Over the years I have reinforced this conclusion and sought support from others. I held a belief that the country and western culture was a threat to my ideas.

I now understand that my thinking – my view of reality – and my happiness are connected. Holding thoughts of dissatisfaction regarding anything disrupts the ease and flow of my life.

I recently had the opportunity to accompany my wife to a business function in Nashville at one time known as the capital of the country and western music recording industry. During the preparations for the trip I made the decision to not succumb to my old thoughts and ideas.

Visit the Grand Ole Opry as planned and take things as they come.

This was my very first trip to Nashville Tennessee. I was able to experience the fluid nature of my thoughts and my ability to influence them. Whenever I find I am having thoughts that are causing some sort of resistance to my peace of mind. I do my best to consider them. In other words I avoid deciding to turn and swim upstream.

This approach proved to be optimum for my happiness because I had a remarkable time. Unburdened by the hardships that come with attitudes of various uninvited conclusions that have been a part of my thinking for a long time.

–Chris Wheeler

All Means All

Maria Schuchardt and I attended an interfaith community coalition gathering called ‘Dare to Care’ in support of LGBTQIA+ youth last Saturday afternoon at St Francis in the Foothills. (https://www.stfrancisinthefoothills.org/dare-to-care)

We weren’t part of the program. We were there to listen and absorb what was said. We heard a lot of stuff about how kids who do not fit the gender norms are treated by society, by schools, by the medical establishment, by lawmakers, by any group of individuals who choose to label them as ‘other’. The pain, anguish and fear present in the room broke my heart. The gathering of this roomful of people, and their intention to create a coalition to support and assist these young people in living full and healthy lives left me feeling a little encouraged, and a little challenged. There’s a chasm between what I know is the spiritual truth of every individual and what I recognize as each individual’s physical experience.

This is not that different from the gathering a handful of us had almost two months ago, after the recent Roe-v-Wade ruling came out. What is the highest truth of the situation, what is our experience, and how do we have to change our minds about that? And then… what actually is ours to do? And how do we do that work?

In the daily morning practice group Saturday morning, I shared Dr Kenn Gordon’s daily guide in the Science of Mind monthly magazine. He quoted part of a paragraph from Dr Ernest Holmes, (The Science of Mind 303.2). “When Jesus said, ‘Resist not,’ He meant that non-recognition of evil is the only way to avoid it. This is true according to the law of cause and effect. For what we persist in recognizing, we persist in holding in place. What which we refuse to recognize, we neutralize, and it is no longer there, as far as we are concerned.”

That is absurdly hard when I see something in the world that seems so antagonistic to my notion and experience of goodness. And yet, as religious scientists, it is our first line of action. When we can know this perfectly, and give no energy to the contrary experience, the contrary experience must dissipate.

A blogging friend of mine, who studies brain science and life, made a case in his Sunday morning blog (https://floweringbrain.wordpress.com/2022/08/14/honoring-and-supporting-the-wisdom-of-grandmothers- brain/) for having grandmothers ‘run things’. His reasoning was that grandmothers had raised their own children, and then supported their children in raising their own children, so they had some wisdom and useful experience in troubleshooting hard things. He concluded by saying that grandmothers had access to the six ‘transcendent perfections’: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, meditative concentration and wisdom, which would be helpful in managing our collective experience.

In my Sunday talk, I challenged those present to think about the actions and practices they could do in support of wisdom and right action, and the shared Oneness that is the capital T-truth of our existence. How can we be (even more) the presence of Love in the world? I ask the same question here and I offer Thich Nhat Hanh’s Metta Meditation (paraphrased) from his book How To Love.

Preparation: Sit still and calm your body and breath. Sitting still, you aren’t too preoccupied with other matters. Begin practicing this love meditation on yourself. Until you are able to love, and take care of yourself, you can’t be of much help to others.

May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.
May I be safe and free from injury.
May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.
May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love. May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.

May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself. May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.
May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.

After you are able to love and take care of yourself,
you can practice knowing these truths for, and about, others:
First for someone you like,
then for someone neutral to you,
then for someone you love,
and finally, for someone the mere thought of whom makes you feel suffering.

After practicing Metta Meditation for a while, you may discover you can think of them all with genuine compassion.

–Rev Janis Farmer

How I Described (and Used) The Creative Process

A common example used to explain the creative process is that of growing a plant. You start with the seed (Conscious Mind) which is planted in the ground (Creative Medium) to produce a plant (Manifestation). During Foundations class, we were asked to come up with our own example we would use to illustrate the creative process. Having a background in theater, this is how I described it:

Conscious Mind is represented by the director whose idea it is for the production. To start with, the whole concept lives in his mind only. He then assembles a cast and crew to whom he explains his concept. They are the Creative Medium creating characters, props, costumes, etc. that bring the vision to life. The performances are the Manifestation of this process.

Through this, I was able to relate my theater experience to Science of Mind principles. Now, over a year later, I get to bring my SOM practices to my theater experience.

I’m doing the costumes for the next Live Theatre Workshop’s Children’s Theatre production, Tall Tales: Legends of America. I have 30 characters to costume and 6 weeks in which to do it. When I did costumes for Tucson Shakespeare in the Park, I had just as many characters but we had a couple of months to work with. Luckily, some of the characters only need one article of clothing to identify them.

At first, I’m a little overwhelmed. Some of the pieces I needed were not common articles: multiple cowboy hats, a fringed vest, a green banker’s visor, an aluminum hard hat, etc. But, I remember and recite my manta – Spirit guides me, all is well. I created my costume list of things I wanted and put it out into the Universe. If you are clear in what you desire, the Law must respond with a Yes! Things suddenly started appearing.

Where am I going to find a pair of spurs, maybe two? There they are in the props rack. I’m looking for a red cowgirl skirt to fit a full-figured actor. There it is hiding under the matching shirt and it fits without needing alterations. How about a ten-gallon cowboy hat? I can take that brown top hat and make one. I’ve only got 4 of the 5 Henley shirts I need. Searching the costume racks for the nth time, I finally spot one on a rack I’ve looked through numerous times not seeing it. And it’s the size I’m looking for. Thank you Spirit.

This has been the most relaxed, easy going process I have experienced doing costumes. I knew this time I was not going to be doing it all on my own. I was confident I would be led to find what was needed or inspired on how to create it. With Spirit, everything came together with ease.

Please come see what Spirit has made manifest through the Tall Tales cast and crew for your enjoyment. The show runs weekends July 15 through July 30. (Now Showing – Children’s Theatre | Live Theatre Workshop) I guarantee you will laugh, tap your toes and maybe even tear up a bit.

–Janet Salese

GOT RESENTMENT

Yeah, me too. I don’t like it. How about you?

In the Resilient book study class offered last year, I had mentioned that I often feel resentful and that I didn’t want to have those feelings in me. I didn’t like how I felt. Rev. Janis casually mentioned, ‘being resentful is a learned behavior.’ I almost didn’t hear what she said. Learned behavior? I thought who did I learn THAT from? Bam. I answered my own thought immediately. I can only begin to tell you the relief I felt just hearing those words, then. Knowing it was only a learned behavior, IT IS totally possible to UNLEARN that behavior! I felt instant relief.

Jump ahead to this year and I’m in the Atlas of the Heart book study class. We started to discuss the section on resentment, and I quickly announced, “I’m the Queen of resentment.” I said it as though it were a good thing! Ha! What? What am I thinking? Let me tell you, I’ve been thinking about this ever since I said that. Every thought we think and every word we speak, is creating our future (Louise Hay). I don’t want to be the Queen of resentment. I’m happy to let someone else wear that crown.

Why do we hang on to resentment? I don’t know but it’s obvious I do. Since I haven’t quite figured out how it serves me, I know it must, since I haven’t let it go. As I was walking past the 40′ shipping container on my property, the thought came to me that ‘hanging onto resentment is kind of like hoarding.’ The effects of one afflicted by it are basically the same since it is so difficult to let it go. I speak from experience in both areas.

Let me just clarify that a bit.

Resentment: a feeling of anger because you have been forced to accept something that you do not like. (Cambridge Dictionary)
Hoarding: a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. (Mayo Clinic)

Resentment is a thought; hoarding is an action. Both of which I don’t want. Neither serves me well.

What serves me well are thoughts and actions that bring me peace calm and order. That’s what I want to focus my attention on. Many years ago, I showed up at CSLT looking for a little bit of spiritual guidance. I got it, and a whole lot more than I ever bargained for. I love a good bargain. How about you?

Madeline Pallanes

Time again to reach out and share some thoughts that relate to Tucson CSL

I made it to the first meeting of the book study “Atlas of the Heart.”

The discussion was centered on the introduction and the first chapter. I realized that some of my problems following the line of thought had to do with my defense mechanism of avoidance.

At one point during the introduction the author was lamenting along with her siblings their intense disdain for having to move literally tons of accumulated stuff that the previous, now dead, generation had gathered and refused to let go of. I was a good student of said generation and I am a visual learner. I also depend heavily on physical prompts to jog my memories.

I have a real addiction to stuff.

I tend to avoid anything I see as unpleasant whatever it takes. And if emotional work is involved, I have a tendency to run away.

Okay, so the introduction was just how the book came about and some background information. My stories are different and that’s ok. Because as individuals we are different, the emotional response pattern is similar.

Chapter one touched on stress, overwhelm, anxiety, worry, avoidance, excitement, dread, fear and vulnerability. The author gives brief examples of stress, overwhelm, anxiety and worry.

I particularly related to avoidance. The author states: “Avoidance will make you feel less vulnerable in the short run, but it will never make you less afraid.” Also, I hadn’t considered the consequences of this coping mechanism and its effect on others.

“The premise of the book is that language has the power to define our experiences.” Anxiety and excitement are defined and contrasted to practical fears.

Then an analysis of vulnerability leading to the conclusion that vulnerability can also be an asset.

I have begun chapter two “Places We Go When We Compare” and feel like I am beginning to make some progress and finding more relatable material. I hope to attend this discussion for the next 12 weeks. The class is a drop in and not a certificated affair, so read along and feel free to participate as you are able.

–Chris Wheeler

Invoke. Who, Me?

The image “Invoke” is from Cheryl Richardson’s Grace Cards. The back of the card reads, “Ask for a blessing. There is an endless supply of Divine support awaiting your request.” As a hard-core Religious Scientist, I feel a little twitch with her imagery, and what’s implied by her words. It looks like she’s asking for a favor from a God ‘out there’. We know that’s not where the Divine lives. It lives in us, through us, as us, and also all around us. It’s clearly not a big daddy in the sky that gives us candy when we ask nicely.

Neither does that image convey the typical notion I have when I think of the word ‘invoke’. To me, invoke is more engaged than that, more like demanding, asserting and claiming. The magician creating a spell uses an invocation, and so does someone speaking affirmations that they actually believe. According to dictionary.com both the passive and active meanings of the word apply. Invoking is a tool we each have available to us, right now, that we can use to claim and receive our endless supply of good.

We are invoking a new creation this month. We’re returning to in-person services, but they won’t be the same as what we had before. We’re in a different place, and each one of us has experienced a different sort of life for these past 27 months. How will we show up differently for ourselves, for each other and for our spiritual community?

This isn’t something that I’m doing single-handedly, though I do have a part in it. Every Sunday this month I’m going to ‘dance’ with the text of the Hafiz poem, “The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.” And it’s not something me, your board, our practitioners and our beloved music team are creating for the enjoyment, and the spiritual growth, emotional well-being and social enhancement of our community, though we trust those things will happen too.

For the remainder of the month of June, we, the community of CSL in Tucson that chooses to gather in person is going to begin to gather in person again. Are we invoking an endless supply of good? What does that good ‘look like, sound like, and feel like’ when we do that? What probable experiences are we creating, feeling and invoking together? What are we ready and willing to ask for, claim and receive? Back in January when we did the Community Envisioning practice for this year, one of the big-ticket items was to find more ways to experience joy together. (Hint: that’s not a top-down agenda.) How do WE invoke joy, peace and blessings (aka ‘good’) for ourselves, each other, and our community?

We’ll also be invoking a greater understanding and appreciation of our emotions, through reading/discussing Brene’ Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, so that we may speak more clearly and effectively in all aspects of our relationships and our lives. Having the emotional clarity in our word choices lets each of us speak clearly and accurately about our experiences, and those we desire to have. We’ll increase our recognition of good, and be able to see more clearly the good that arises from those things that don’t necessarily look like good at first.

I invite you to consider your answers to these questions. Is it just business as usual, the same-old-same-old, or are we invoking something new that has never been experienced by us before? We get to call it into being. What do we create?

If you choose to participate with us in person, or choose to remain online, I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning at 9:30am for our Sunday Celebration Services, and preceding that, at 9am for our in-person only Sunday morning meditation at our new Sunday location, Live Theater Workshop, 3322 E. Fort Lowell Rd.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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