Profound Questions

What am I doing here?

Inside star cluster NGC 602

Astronomy includes Cosmology and these studies add to my appreciation of the vast expanse we can see best in a truly dark night sky. It is the night sky that feeds my sense of wonder. It is that sense of wonder that carries my being along on the search for greater meaning.

The search for greater Truth seems inherent in my being.

My search has caused me, and others, distress and frustration on occasion. Also, depression and apathy on occasion. Anger and resentment as well.

My quests have involving medicine, religion and psychiatry. My journey has taken twists and turns yet here I am and could not have gotten here without all the events of the past.

Apparently, I have been gathering evidence that everything is happening for my good. And I can let go of the confining past. I continue to learn from it accept it and move ahead.

Today as I continue seeking, it has become life as I know it. As our cosmos expands, life as I experience it expands in creative consciousness. I now see myself as a continual student, and receiver.

Science of Mind has given me a framework to test ideas, expand my consciousness and practice my experience of connection with the Divine. That Divine includes each of you. Without you I would have remained in the dark. Or asleep without lights to guide me.

–Chris Wheeler

New Year’s Resolutions

This being the first article of the new year, the idea of New Year’s resolutions came to mind as my topic. I used to make New Year’s resolutions, but stopped several years ago. Why continue to set myself up for failure in making a year-long commitment that I only seem to keep up for a few months or even weeks. What was I going to write about resolutions? I should choose another topic. But then I saw this in the newspaper:

I took this as a sign that I should explore this topic further.

Why is it that I fail to keep my resolutions going? The usual reasons came to mind first: They are not specific enough, A year’s commitment is too long, Trying to make too many changes at once, And so on. Then the true realization came to me – I had been coming up with these commitments and trying to bring them to fruition by myself, without God’s involvement. So this year, instead of a “resolution”, I’ve created a Spiritual Mind Treatment (SMT) for my intent of becoming more organized.

I actually did the SMT prior to New Year’s Day and am making progress already. I have a gift certificate to The Container Store and an appointment scheduled next week to start working with my organization tasker. I paid particular attention to the realization section or, as Rev. Janis refers to it, the juicy details of what it will look like when it manifests. I keep picturing how things will look, the ease with which I’m able to accomplish tasks more easily and the time I will save by being organized. This year, instead of grudgingly starting on a resolution, I’m excitedly advancing toward my goal.

Spiritual Mind Treatment, or Affirmative Prayer, is the type of prayer format used in the Centers of Spiritual Living. Many of us are familiar with this tool, but how many of us make a regular practice of using it? This year I challenge you to turn your New Year’s resolution into an SMT. There’s a template to get you started. The link is in newsletter. If you are not practiced in creating a spiritual mind treatment on your own, visit the CSLT website and complete a prayer request. Prayer Request – Center for Spiritual Living Tucson (tucsoncsl.org)

May 2022 be a happy, healthy, prosperous year for us all in Divine Order.

–Janet Salese

Becoming

Dr Ernest Holmes was very clear (The Science of Mind pp.266-268) “Science of Mind is not a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme, neither does it promise something for nothing. It does however promise the one who will comply with its teachings that they shall be able to bring greater possibilities and happier conditions into their experience.”

Holmes continues, “It is a great mistake to say; ‘Take what you wish, for you can have anything you like.’ We do not take what we wish, but we do attract to ourselves that which is like our thought. EACH ONE MUST BECOME MORE IF THEY WISH TO DRAW A GREATER GOOD INTO THEIR LIFE. We need not labor under the delusion that all we have to do is say that everything is ours. This is true in Reality, but in fact it is only as true as we make it. We provide the mold for the Creative Law”

Holmes, again, “The Law is a law of liberty, but not a law of license. It is exact and exacting, and unless we are willing to comply with Its Nature and work with it, along the lines of Its inherent being, we shall receive no great benefit. EVERY ONE MUST PAY THE PRICE FOR THAT WHICH THEY RECEIVE AND THAT PRICE IS PAID IN MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL COIN.” (Capitalization in Holmes’ original text.)

For a full 2 years before Agape International opened their doors, Dr Michael Beckwith and his visioning team met every week to envision how ‘God’ wanted the Agape Center to show up in the world. Only after they all clearly shared and understood the guidance, and every single one of them was completely aligned, and in embodied agreement with the vision, did Dr Michael and the team begin to open the doors.

I remember my first community envisioning gathering in 2009, and the ones that happened every year after that. We imagined, dreamed and visioned about having a place of our own. Many of the dreams were grand (a towering stained-glass sanctuary with state-of-the-art everything, an elementary school, a ministerial school, a community garden, a cafe…), without much embodiment, or ownership, of the vision/dream among the congregation. It was like we were seeking something for nothing. Some people got disillusioned and left.

When we had the opportunity to purchase that 5-acre parcel of raw land on 22nd Street in 2016, it looked like a great investment, and it had potential to become the site where we could build our own Center. The Board members supported purchasing the parcel, though many members of our congregation were not necessarily in favor of us building on it. They didn’t like the location. They thought it would be too difficult. (There were stringent restrictions from the Home Owner’s Association that we had agreed to.) When we received an unsolicited offer to purchase the land at a very good price, it had turned into a fruitful investment for us. (We hold the note for the buyers, and they pay us a percentage of the agreed value each year.) That first year’s annual payment on the raw land gave us the down payment we needed to purchase the office.

Along the way, we grew in our understanding and started imagining what it would really feel like to embody and experience ‘the highest vision for CSL Tucson’. We got closer, because we started owning our vision and it would feel like when it materialized. The last several years, pre-pandemic, we had honed in on what embodiment looked like and felt like for us. You can find several of the previous years’ envisioning notes on our website under About Us, and then under Organizational Documents.

Our annual Community Envisioning has been planned for a few hours the evening of Friday January 14th, and up to half a day on Saturday, January 15th. I invite you to consider what you are willing to embody, what you are willing to become, as we move into this next stage of our enlivenment as CSL Tucson. It’s not just about my becoming, or our Board of Trustees’ becoming. It’s about what each, and all, of us are willing to become.

–Rev Janis

Got “Same Auld Lang Syne”?

Sissy wishes you a Happy New Year

Auld Lang Syne was a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. The poem
was set to the tune in 1799 and sung to bid farewell to the old year and bring in the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. ‘Same Old Lang Syne’ was written and sung by Dan Fogelberg in 1980. Both are favorite songs that bring me to tears.

Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “To start your new year right, I suggest finding a deeper spiritual life. Something happens deep within you and thereafter you are filled with joy and warmth and beauty. This may happen quickly and dramatically. It could happen today. On the other hand, it may be a developing experience, unfolding as a rose, beginning with a bud and ending with full flowering. But, however it happens, this is the greatest experience possible to a human being.”

As I think back over this past year, I know I have found a deeper spiritual life with CSLT. I know I am filled with joy, warmth and beauty. My heart is filled with gratitude for all I have learned through our teachings and practices, all the friendships I have gained, and all the love I have received from all of you. I’m ready to bid farewell to 2021 and bring in 2022. How about you?

To bring this year to an end, I hope you join us for Endings and Beginnings — Friday, December 31, 5:30 pm on the Sunday morning zoom link. Music by Michael Zimmerman.

2022 is offering us many fun opportunities to engage, learn and spiritually grow with each other! Consider joining us at our next “Watch Party”. We are also offering fun new classes to start off the new year with class. As I have said many times, “I’ve got class.” All the information can be found in our weekly electronic newsletter, and on our website.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, pleasantly abundant, blessed, deeper spiritual life. Happy New Year! Let’s bring in 2022 together as We Are All One.

–Love, Madeline & Sissy

What Was I Thinking?

I woke up Sunday after having an anxiety dream about doing the Spiritual Mind Treatment for service. I’m still learning to do Spiritual Mind Treatments, and feel comfortable enough treating for my classmates, but larger gatherings I’m still working on. When I got up our internet was down. It had been working inconsistently, so we bought another router, and it was working. However, on Sunday morning after numerous tries to get it working, and not succeeding, I decided to go to the office. It was advantageous that I had hosted the watch party the previous week, so I knew how to connect to the internet.

I got to the office with Terri’s laptop, my itouch and ipad, (devices galore!) and connected with the internet, but had difficulty with my email (which had the Zoom link) on the laptop. Sometimes when things like this happen, I stop, laugh and ask myself, “Are you having fun with this? Seeing me panic?” I finally got the email to work and emailed Rev. Janis that I was in the office, and that perhaps my anxiety dream manifested my problems.

When the time came, I was able to lead the mediation, voice only, not knowing why the camera wasn’t working. On the PC laptop I borrowed (I’m a Mac sort of gal) it has a camera slider which acts like a lens cap, which I finally figured out.

Then came the giving of the Spiritual Mind Treatment. The laptop was working, I had the ipad with the spiritual thought. During the reading of the spiritual thought, I must have touched the screen and it disappeared, hence the long silence, and a scramble to get it back on the screen.

This term of Practitioner Studies I’m getting to look at my issue of feeling like a disappointment. It’s followed me around for too long. I think some of that crept into my dream and my morning. The shift that took place during the term was focusing on the word, belief, and behavior of “confidence”, instead. It was like I had never heard the word before! Yes, I need to think of confidence and not disappointment, because if I think of disappointment, that’s what I’m going to get. I choose to shift my thoughts toward confidence, and as a classmate suggested, “Not putting a limit to it,” which was a great reminder.

This reminds me of a time I went skiing, and took a group lesson. I was struggling, so the instructor took the whole class up the lift. When we got off the lift he said, “if you look over the cliff, you’ll go over the cliff,” then he disappeared over the embankment. “And if you look to the middle of the path,” he reappeared, “That’s where you’ll go.” It was a great lesson, one that I continue to work on.

–Maria

Sometimes, Finding Gratitude Takes Work

I learned this week that another CSL minister friend has decided to retire. That makes five new thought ministers that I know of (and my universe of ministers is not that large) who have decided to retire, or just quit, in about the same number of months. The Great Resignation is alive and well among clergy, too. To be sure, most of their decisions are not entirely pandemic related. And… during these last 20 months of uncertainty and rising discontent, the job of being a minister has been even more challenging than usual.

It does seem harder to find gratitude when things don’t work out the way we want them to. I mean, after all, doesn’t the Science of Mind teach we can have what we want? No, actually, it doesn’t. It teaches we can experience what we are willing to become. There’s a big, and important, difference.

Holmes wrote in The 1926 Science of Mind 154-155, “Everyone automatically attracts to themselves just what they are, and you may set it down that, wherever you are, however intolerable the situation may be, it is just where you belong. There is no power in the Universe but yourself that can get you out of it. Someone may help you on the road to realization, but substantiality and permanence can come only through the consciousness of your own life and thought. Each must bring themselves to the point where there is no misfortune, no calamity, no accident, no trouble, no confusion; where there is nothing but plenty, peace, power, Life and Truth. They should definitely, daily, using their own name, declare the truth about themselves, realizing that as they reflect their statements into Consciousness, they will be operated upon by It.”

If I look out at the world in front of my eyes (some would call this the ‘real world’, I don’t), and see things I don’t like, what are my choices, really? I can criticize, demean, demand, distain, disrespect, destroy, etc … what I’m looking at, or I can decide that I must not see the whole picture, and I can choose to see the same situation with ‘God eyes’, remembering that, somehow, what I’m experiencing is for my continued awakening.

Freed Roman slave Epictetus was quoted as saying, “It is easy to praise providence for anything that may happen if you have two qualities: a complete view of what has actually happened in each instance, and a sense of gratitude. Without gratitude, what is the point of seeing, and without seeing, what is the object of gratitude?”

Do we ever have a ‘complete view of what has actually happened in each instance’, really?

What are the gifts that I perceive, and receive, from my friends who have decided that continuing to serve as ministers doesn’t support their continued wellbeing? How can I find gratitude for their decisions? First, I get to look at why their decisions unsettle or disturb me. Then I get to look at how their decisions inform and influence me.

I’ll look at the unsettling aspect first. These last 20 months have been the hardest, most unpleasant, work I’ve ever done, and we’re not yet done with this pandemic experience. I have felt the urge to just run away. A friend told me just this past week that if she were in my position, she’d already have been ‘outta here’. However, to quote Jack Kornfield, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ Leaving doesn’t actually solve the issue.

What’s the gift in the situation? Where’s the pony in the barn full of manure? How can I change my mind about these present circumstances and find gratitude? Holmes gives us clues in The Science of Mind 411.3, “We can sit in the shade, or move into the sunshine. Sitting in the shadow, we may not really believe that there is any sunshine. But the sun would be there all the time. All the time we are in bondage, real freedom exists. It is there, but we must awake to it. The Law of Mind as quickly creates one form as another for us, and we must allow the patterns of our thought to become molded from the highest sense of Reality we possess.”

I find gratitude when I remember what I’ve learned from my friends who have retired or quit, that I’ve chosen to do this work, and have decided that walking away right now doesn’t serve who I’ve come here to be. I discover a deeper level of gratitude when I realize I’m more guided, stronger and more resourceful than I ever knew I was. I also gratefully recognize that I’m continuously supported in so many ways, because the Divine lives and expresses in, as and through me, and in, as and through everyone I come into contact with.

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow… if you will keep digging.”

Where do you find gratitude for stuff that seems hard, unpleasant or distasteful in your life?

–Rev Janis Farmer

Got Skeletons?

Every year I look forward to the trick or treaters coming to my home. I enjoy preparing weeks in advance buying only candy bars and Little Debbie cakes that I enjoy just in case there are any leftovers. Usually, the day of Halloween I need to buy more treats since some have already disappeared. I wouldn’t want to run out and must be prepared for the trick or treaters. I get such a kick out of seeing the ghosts and goblins that appear. Skeletons? Well, not so much. I guess it’s because it’s too close to home.

I’d like to say I have never had a skeleton in my closet, but there is not a word of truth in that. I had a rather big skeleton that enjoyed reminding me he was there. He scared me. I tried ignoring him by pushing him back in the closet and shutting the door. He didn’t go away. He kept reappearing either through a phone call, an e-mail, a letter in the mail, or an appearance on my credit report. It didn’t really matter how he made his appearance, he knew-and I knew- he was there. We both agreed he needed to leave my closet. He often reminded me of my error, which brought up feelings of embarrassment, failure and shame. These feelings I created with him, and just like my skeleton, I wanted them to all go away. He wasn’t going to leave me and would continue haunting me until I settled my debt with him. We needed to talk, and I needed to take action. No doubt, it was time to clean my closet.

I know we all have, or had, some sort of skeleton in our closet. The skeleton holds some piece of our past we would simply prefer to remain hidden or just totally forget. More often than not, it doesn’t remain hidden and we don’t forget. Recently, I cleaned my closet. I talked to my skeleton and took action to settle my debt with him.

I’d like to say I dance with my skeleton now, but there is not a word of truth in that.

Right now, I am repeating affirmations…

  • I forgive myself completely for mistakes I have made knowing I did the best I could at that time.
  • I let go of embarrassment, failure and shame.
  • I approve of myself.

I loving support you if it’s your time to clean your closet. There is every word of truth in that. Happy Halloween.

–Madeline Pallanes

Being With ‘What Is’

The first time I saw Daniel Nahmod in Tucson was the second time I set foot in the Center for Spiritual Living Tucson in spring 2009. There might have been 17 people in the audience. Daniel played acoustic, just him and a guitar, for 2 hours. He’s part of the reason I found this Center. That’s a story for another day. If you missed seeing Daniel Sunday, we’ve posted the service on our Facebook page YouTube page.

Among the many topics Daniel talked about Sunday — how he and his family got to continually adjust and readjust their expectations of the world, and what has been truly possible these past two years. Agreements he and his wife Melina made with each other and the divine have allowed them to stretch/grow in unexpected ways and directions. He’s also grown in his faith, trust and love, knowing the Universe works on his behalf.

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Derek Sivers just released a new book How to Live, 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion. Derek is an American writer, programmer, a former entrepreneur and a musician. He accidentally started CD Baby in 1997 after his musician friends asked him to sell their CDs for them. He thinks a lot, and writes a lot. In this book, he analyzed as many points of view as he could find about how to live, and distilled them down to their essential points. As his title exclaims, these points of view disagree. What’s his one weird conclusion? We live in a world of paradoxes, the world of ‘and/both’, not a world of ‘one right way’, and we each get to decide how we wish to live our lives. So does everyone else. No one is wrong for their choice. It’s their choice.

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In 2003, Byron Katie introduced the world to her process ‘The Work’ in Loving What is. She encouraged each reader to evaluate how much of their experience was actual-factual and how much was constructed by their own interpretation, and expectation, of events that happened in the past, or were anticipated in the future.

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From Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, “‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’”

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Zen Buddhist teacher Adyashanti wrote in his 2011 book Falling Into Grace, Insights on The End of Suffering, “When we begin to surrender our demand that life change, that life alter itself to suit our ideas, everything opens up. We begin to awaken from this dream of separateness and struggle, and we realize that the grace we were always seeking is actually right there at the center of our own existence. This is the heart of spiritual awakening; to realize that what we have always yearned for is the very thing, in our deepest source, that we have always been.”

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From Dr Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (110.3-111.1), “If we talk about discord, we shall become more discordant. The more the world arms for war, the more certain it is that there will be war. People who spend all their time talking about their unhappiness become more unhappy. Jesus understood these great laws of cause and effect in the Universe, which work sometimes with apparent slowness, but always with sureness. Eventually we shall understand that all human bondage is an invention of ignorance. Before we leave this subject of bondage and freedom, we wish to make clear that there is no sin but a mistake, and no punishment but an inevitable consequence.”

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Like all humans, I get to work with my beliefs and expectations. I know I reap what I sow. I do my best to most consistently sow the experience I choose, and dig out the weeds of “I wish life was different than it is” as quickly as I see them. It’s a continuous practice. The reward is being present with Life in all its glorious fullness.

–Rev Janis Farmer

 

A piece of the PIES

It has been a long break between the end of Practitioner 1 and the beginning of Practitioner 2 training. It feels good to settle into class and deepening my understanding and use of Science of Mind principles. The word “perfect” came up in our reading. We say it every Sunday “The Life of God is the only life there is, that Life is my life now, complete and perfect.”  And in my head I get stuck in the cultural definition of perfect, “being without fault or defect.” Biblical scholar Dr. Rocco Errico translates “perfect” from Aramaic meaning “inclusive of all things” (Practitioner II Training, Student Guide 24). Looking at the word “perfect” through a spiritual lens, I can resonate, be in-tune with perfection. The photo of Earth from space is a visual representation of “inclusive of all things.”

And the shift is not simply looking through a spiritual lens, but living primarily as a spiritual being.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model of humans has four quadrants: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual (PIES). As practitioners (anyone who practices Science of Mind) we tap into, expand living from our spiritual quadrant, using intuition more than thought, knowing our physical being is influenced by thought and emotion (release of hormones, cortisol, etc.), shifting away from the emotional realm of good/bad, drama, and judgement, choosing to live from a center of unity, wholeness… of perfection. It is a process of being more and more in the moment, bringing myself back to center.

you cannot allow yourself to be drawn into these things that you see and hear, or let them appear as realities to you. You have to be on the watch. In spiritual matters you have to watch your step, because it is easy to be led off into the contemplation of that which is not so, and to sympathize with that which has no reality. H. B. Jeffery, The Principles of Healing, 114.

Connecting with the invisible, One Source of all of Life, is my superpower. Knowing I have infinite possibilities available to me always and in all ways.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince  

Tao Te Ching

Chapter 11

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

–Maria

 

 

Who’s In Charge of ‘Me’?

We had an earth-shatteringly tremendous conversation in last week’s Revealing Wholeness class about what ‘The Body of God’ actually means. This is among the most difficult concepts in New Thought, because we, as walking, talking, living, breathing humans, don’t readily see our bodies and our lived experience as something that is temporary, infinitely changeable and infinitely malleable.

We glibly say, “There is Only One Life, That Life is God’s Life, That Life is Perfect, That Life is My Life Now” and “It’s All God” and “God is All There Is.” Some of us can even recite, from The Declaration of Principles that Dr Ernest Holmes wrote in 1927, “We believe in the healing of the sick and the control of conditions, through the power of this Mind.” And in answer to questions on the final exam for “Foundations of the Science of Mind” class, we answer, and in class discussions we talk about, ‘body’ as an effect, and ‘form’ as an effect and that cause is always invisible.

But push come to shove, what does that actually mean? Do we actually believe that our lived experience, and our physical body, is changeable by simply changing our thought patterns and beliefs and then changing our actions in support of those beliefs? On one level, the answer is absolutely yes. On another level… wait a minute, not so fast! We’re not so sure.

Holmes is pretty clear in The Science of Mind 98.4-99.2, where he wrote, “The word ‘body’, as used in The Science of Mind, means all objective manifestations of the invisible Principle of Life. The body is distinguished from the idea, in that the body is seen while the idea is invisible. The physical universe is the Body of God – the invisible Principle of All Life. Our physical being is the body of the unseen human. Behind the objective form of the rose is the idea that projects the rose. Body is always an effect, never a cause.”

Remembering that our bodies, and our lived conditions, are changeable by a change in our perceptions, our awareness and our consciousness are key to successful healing and manifestation through the use of spiritual mind treatments, affirmations and visualizations.

In The Seminar Lectures 15, Holmes wrote, “The perception of wholeness is the consciousness of healing.” Our biggest challenge is to remember that behind all experiences, and all visible presentations which look different than we would like them to be, there exist a perfect, whole and complete essence of each one of us. Our challenge is to remember that. We get to remember to perceive our lives, and our bodies through the lens of Wholeness, the eyes of God, and see ourselves as already perfected in our unseen human forms. At the core of everyone’s being there already exists an essential self that knows itself as living in, and as, the Divine.

We get to forgive, remove, or release anything that stands between our lived human experience and this pre-existing wholeness which are our True Selves. Once we no longer see ourselves as damaged, deficient, broken, or less than in any way, we can release those stories that limit our lived experience, and we can live rightly, as human expressions of the Body of God.

Indeed, this may be our life’s work, to see ourselves as God sees us, already whole, complete and perfect in every way, right now. Once we can do that, the scales fall off our eyes, and we can see ourselves and everyone else as the divine beings that they, and we, already are.

–Rev Janis Farmer

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