Killing the Kudzu – Metaphorically Speaking

Part of the pea family kudzu is also called Japanese arrowroot: Pueraria-Fabaceae-Faboideae.

If you’ve lived in the Southeast, you’re aware of Kudzu: an Asian species invited to US lawns as a quick-growing land cover and erosion deterrent. So pretty, so green, such beautiful flowers and so quick to grow. It can be used for Oriental teas and tinctures, it fixes nitrogen in the soil, it transfers minerals from deep soil to topsoil. It also can be used to make clothes, baskets or for animal feed.

What could possibly go wrong? It spreads by runner and by seed. [It] climbs over trees or shrubs and grows so rapidly that it kills them by heavy shading. Which is to say it replaces native plants as well as expensive landscaping, and pretty much anything else in its way. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

And, you might reasonably ask: that has what to do with what?

I’ve been spending this summer identifying the “Kudzu” I’ve invited into my mind and mental space. Those thoughts that are so pretty, so very easy to let take over. So, I am looking under the kudzu flowers for their roots and working to replace the “kudzu in my head” with productive, long-term healthy, helpful thoughts. Which has meant reading, journaling, meditating and talking with people smarter than me about this.

You plant only those seeds that will grow into what you want in your garden.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 1

What’s that mean in living well every day? If all we had to do was plant the right ideas, there would be no kudzu in our lives. Unfortunately, more is required of us if we are to create the garden we want. Because;

In the spiritual realm, Universal Subjective Mind as Law is the soil. [It] functions just as naturally as the soil in the garden. It takes whatever you chose to plant in It, and It produces accordingly.
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 51. 4 (emphasis added by Mariann)

…, the subjective-mind soil must be in the right condition all the time. You are always planting and you cannot afford to have the good seeds dropped into soil which contains a mass of weeds. …. thoughts of negations, worries, fears, angers, hates, resentments. [These] will grow just as rapidly as the good seeds and bring forth a crop just as sure and abundant. —Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

Here’s the tricky part:

…. the soil of the garden has no power nor inclination to reject bad seeds while accepting good ones…. the creative medium of Law, also is entirely impersonal and will just as readily take your negations and produce a crop of illness, poverty, hardship, difficulty or inharmony.”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 53.1

You must learn to rule your own life!
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56 4

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)

“Remember, you are always planting!”
— Ernest Holmes, Basic Ideas of Science of Mind 56.6

Wishing you peace and plenty in your garden-

–Mariann

The Value of Contemplation in Modern Life

In 2000, I had the privilege of taking a two-week trip through the ancient sacred sites of Ireland as part of a tour group.  We had a tremendous guide named Mark who was well versed in the lore, fact and fiction of pre-historic religious sites as well as the early Christian sites.  One of the sites that caught my imagination was Skellig Michael, a medieval (6th and 8th centuries C.E.) monastery and hermitage. Legend has it that the sacred and secular literature of Europe was saved during the Dark Ages by the monks who collected, preserved and protected those writings which had been brought to them for preservation while Europe was in turmoil.  Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization expresses that point of view.  While some critics doubt the accuracy of his proposition, there probably is some merit in the idea that those individuals did indeed protect knowledge that could have been lost during the time when Europe was not valuing education and learning as much as they might have previously.

Typical functions of a monastic community include prayer, worship, service and contemplation.  So what is this thing called contemplation?  Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness meditation practice (in box to right) is a gentle and generous example of a contemplative practice that is centered in the body.  Father Richard Rohr makes it a larger practice when he says, “Everything you do is connected in loving union with the moment, with whatever is in front of you.  That’s contemplation.”   So, how can this translate in modern life?

In his poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too.  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating…”  His concluding couplet, “Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”, has more to do with recognizing how much we each are responsible for our point of view in our world than it has to do with any specific gender reference.

One of the best ways we have to maintain our mental, emotional and spiritual autonomy “when all about you are losing their (heads)” is by remembering that we get to decide what to focus on, and how we choose to pay attention to our lives.  This is far from a simple challenge, simply because of the extremes present in the external world today.  Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”  When we repeatedly remember that we have control over our focus, we have an opportunity to see our world, not as a made-up, imaginary fantasyland, but from the point of view of the wholeness that it actually expresses.

Holmes, in The Science of Mind 200.4-201.1, wrote, “… is an experience operating through people, which does not belong to them at all.  Recognize that it is neither person, place, nor thing, that there is no spiritual law to support it, that it is discord fleeing before harmony, that there is nothing but the Truth.”  With Thich Nhat Hanh’s gentle encouragement we can breathe, “deep, slow, calm, ease, smile, release”, and, regardless of external conditions, have the opportunity to continuously practice the contemplative prayer of “present moment, wonderful moment.”  Breathing, smiling, and remembering the Truth, I move forward in my life.

–Rev Janis Farmer

Only One Life, My Life Now

I find the philosophy of Ernest Holmes invaluable in the ways it supports my growth. Each week Rev Janis’ Reminders provide insights into how I can be mindful of my own thoughts and beliefs and more fully embody my Good. Certainly, the theme of Creating Anew for April was perfect for me. My new life as a retiree has presented me with the necessity of creating my self and my lifestyle anew.

Between the Sunday Reminders and the study of Victor Shamas’ book, Deep Creativity, I was gifted with a wealth of tools for creation. One of the topics of the month concerned transcendence, which in my definition means restructuring my worldview and beliefs, escaping even my previous self-identity and acting outside of my comfort zone to create a reality of Oneness. Last week Rev Janis mentioned that creating anew often involves “doing different things and doing other things differently”. These concepts helped me reorient myself in my own lifestyle.

On the first Monday of my retirement, I did something very different from my old routine. I went out into the desert under the sun and sky and just meditated. I experienced a beautiful moment of connection and transcendence of my own little ego. I relished each day afterward with gratitude. But as days passed, it also became glaringly apparent to me how neglectful I had been of self-care while trying to maintain a professional career. I saw so many things in my life that I wanted to change I immediately created a lengthy ‘To Do’ list.

Then, near the end of April, I stopped waking up each morning feeling giddy and grateful and began to feel restless. I could not identify what was bothering me, so I sat and simply noticed my thoughts as they arose. Eventually, it became clear to me that, while I had acknowledged the opportunity for a new lifestyle, I had unwittingly dragged into it my old competitive, results-oriented mindset and self-judgments that made my ‘To Do’ list a contest. I was behaving as if I still needed to win, just as if I were still in the courtroom. I had fallen prey to default thinking and was doing new things in the same old way, bringing a toxic attitude to my wonderful new freedom.

This is where my study and practice of Science of Mind came to my aid because I paid attention to my default conditioned thinking.  I reminded myself of the Truth that there is Only One Life – perfect, whole and complete – and remembered my primary mission as a practitioner to “practice the Presence” and embody that Life by BEING. I reminded myself that I have nothing to fight and nothing to prove. Seeing the All in all meant there was nothing to win. I again fell in love with the sky, the sun, the circling hawks and knew the Oneness of all life.

Embodying Spirit, to me, means being love. Now I have every minute of every day to see the Beauty and Perfection of Life and to love it all, starting with myself. Each experience of transcendence transforms everything I ultimately do and I know myself blessed. And So It Is.

By Leah Hamilton, RScP

My New Activism

Over the past few weeks I’ve talked to many people groaning over the outcome of the Presidential election and fearing catastrophe for our country. I’ve been asked to participate in a march or some other protest as an activist. I respond that I decline to be discouraged because I hold faith that everything works out for good and that even painful change leads to greater possibilities. Usually, my words are greeted with skepticism and sometimes frank astonishment or criticism. But I know from our teachings that I own the responsibility to construct the story of my reality, so I’m not choosing any story of doom and gloom. Instead, I choose to stand on the truth of All One, All God, All Good. I strive to see the good in every person and every event, and to live from my internal divine guidance and core values. I call this “quiet activism” because it is so different from the way society, under the influence of collective consciousness, deals with things that seem to be “bad”. Instead of protests, petitions and marches, I choose prayer as my method of activism.

Over these same few weeks, I’ve reviewed my core values just as I know many others are doing at our Center. I have examined my actions to see where they were not congruent with my values. I meditated and I prayed. I got several “intuitive imperatives” that came in hard and fast. The first was that Compassion means, for me, means that I shift my diet and become a vegan. I cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of other beings, human or animal, that results from factory food production. The second imperative came a few days after I learned the news of Reverend Donald’s retirement plans. Love moved me to volunteer to sit on our Board of Trustees to help our Center navigate the change.

None of these decisions have been easy for me to implement. For example, I swiftly discovered, as a vegan, I can’t grab a quick bite to eat anywhere ever again. I am required to plan and be far more present about the food I eat. As a new Board member, I have new duties and meetings to add to my already busy schedule. My new activism is far from comfortable. When in doubt, I pray.

I believe the state of the world of our experience reflects our consciousness. If I want to see a world of love, plenty and right action, I must hold these things in my own consciousness first. As Michael Jackson sang, change starts with the man (or woman) in the mirror. My new activism is to believe one prayer of Truth can change everything, and then I pray.

by Leah Hamilton