Communing with Your Essential Self

Ernest Holmes (The Art of Life 115.2) wrote, Just as, when we are tired physically, a bath in fresh running water invigorates us, so when we are tired or discomforted mentally, spiritual communion, bathing in the ocean of the Infinite, invigorates the mind and clarifies the thinking. Every person should take time for this inner communion, time when they separate themselves from all that appears evil or negative, time to plunge into the living waters of their Being. Just as we take a sunbath, so there is an inner light into which we may plunge, an inner consciousness in which we may bathe. The rays of the invisible Sun penetrate the soul just as the rays of the physical sun penetrate the body, renewing and rejuvenating.

That’s a dandy idea, but how do we do it?

In the same way that David Richo (Triggers 69.3) wrote about deepening, expanding our psychic dimensions, and activating our potential, inner central resource, and the Zanders (The Art of Possibility 96.2) wrote about shifting away from the controlling, calculating self toward the central self which remembers that life moves fluidly like a constantly varying river, and so do we, Barbara Marx Hubbard (Emergence) reminds us again and again that we are more than our physical, externalized life, and she suggests one pathway whereby we can become more aware of, and open a dialog with, our Essential Self.

For herself, she has named this Essential Self, the Beloved. That name may not work for you, and it may work just fine. If you may need a different name, figure out what it would be and use that, or have your first question in your dialog with it, “What shall I call you?” But I get ahead of myself.

How do we commune with this part of ourselves that is already one within the Divine Nature? We get still, we open our minds, and we listen. We pose a question, and we wait for a reply. It often helps to do this as a journaling exercise, because then we have a record of our exploration and we can go back and look at it later, if we need to prove to ourselves that it did indeed happen.

Barbara suggests (Emergence 40.5-41.1) that a good place to start is to write and describe from memory those key experiences you had of inner guidance. This will help you get acquainted with the Essential Self by bringing it to your conscious attention. What did the voice, or inspired thought, tell you? What did it feel like? Describe any experiences you have had of your Essential Self, any messages or guidance you have received, any qualities you have noted that characterize the inner guide.

She then continues, Once you have done this, try this exercise: Write a letter address to ‘Dearly Beloved” or whatever name you choose for your Essential Self. Describe your current situation as precisely as you can, the good and the apparently difficult. Ask the most important questions you may have, as clearly as you can; then release all thought, have no preconceptions. Develop the habit of a poised mind, like a sailboat on a calm sea waiting for the wind.

Our purpose here is precise. It is to establish direct contact with the inner voice, the still, small voice of God expressing as your Essential Self. Start writing any sentence as the inner voice, and see what unfolds. Do not edit, judge or correct anything. If nothing comes, that is fine. Continue to be (mentally and physically) still.

If you have been hearing an inner voice and writing in your journal before, this process will be relatively easy. If you have not yet tried this, simply follow the steps with no expectations. Whatever happens will be helpful, this much I know for sure. Everyone has within a deeper, wiser, all-knowing self.

The Essential Self desires to commune with each and every one of us. It is the living water of our individual and collective Being. It wishes only good and greater good for each of us, and all of Life.

Take the plunge, the water’s fine.


–compiled by Rev Janis

Bringing Peace Into My Day

I am busy! I have commitments to clients, to Boards of which I am a member including CSLT, to my friends and neighbors, and to myself by which I mean my daily spiritual, exercise, and health practices. It is not uncommon for me to spend 6-8 hours on Zoom calls throughout the day. These are times where I cannot do my work-work when I have tax deadlines rapidly approaching. My days feel like they are filled to the brim and there is a resulting feeling of pressure fueled by fear of missing something or of being yelled at by an unhappy client because I did not fulfill my commitment.

This is the current Condition with which I work to introduce peace, poise, presence, prosperity, and power or P5, a term I learned from a member of our Morning Meditation. It was coined in a CSLT “Foundations of the Science of Mind” class. Am I ready to relax, to experience a greater peace throughout the day? Yes, to the best of my ability, which is probably about 85%. I so enjoy experiencing the many different activities of which I am a member. And I do not even know if the number of things I do will change. What I want to change is the feeling of dread, of pressure that has been a regular companion of mine for many years, throughout different life situations. I remember the summer of 1983 after my first child was born. She was an infant and I was a full-time student. I had only one class that summer, a correspondence course. I remember thinking I needed to appreciate that still time with Nicole as a baby as it would not happen again. And I do remember the peace and the appreciation for not needing to work.

I have found some relief from my sense of myself as a ‘naughty little girl’ that often kicks in around work. And when I take time off to go to the doctor, which I am doing now as I go to the chiropractor to deal with recurring pain in my hip. It kicked up recently and, because, I am tired of feeling this pain, I have visited the acupuncturist and now the chiropractor. I have slowed down my daily walks and will not do the weight machines for my legs at the gym to see if I can get this under control. Holistically, I attribute this pain to fear. Hip issues are, according to Louise Hay, a ‘major thrust in moving forward’. My acupuncturist gave me the affirmation – I am in perfect balance. I move forward in life with ease and with joy at every age – from Louise Hay’s book Heal Yourself.

With regard to the busy schedule, I am applying my numerous resources to this process. First there is Prosperity Plus 3 where I created a first draft of my vision that includes me working part-time. Second, I will work with my prayer partner from “Power of Your Word”. We continue to meet on Tuesdays now that the class is over. Third, my health and wellness coach will work with me to determine if this is a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) or whether there is another underlying cause. And, of course, my own internal investigation, being honest with myself about my tendency to jam pack every moment.

So, this will be very interesting. Because this is the way I have lived for so long, I am intrigued to be dealing with this now – that I have become willing to verbalize this behavior as causing me a problem. And I laugh because whenever I address an emotional issue, it is so major and obvious. As always, there is more to learn and an opportunity for additional relief.

–Marya Wheeler

 

 

Sankofa

The “Sankofa” is a metaphorical symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana, generally depicted as a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress. (Source: sankofa.org)

I first heard this word, sankofa, during the online Ministers’ Gathering that happened earlier this week. The speaker this particular day was Dr Shakti Butler, President and Founder of World Trust Educational Services (world-trust.org), who spoke to the 180+ CSL ministers gathered online.

What could this knowledge be that we might want to reach ‘back’ and remember so that we can make positive progress, or create positive change?

One thing we may have learned as children, or we may have had to re-parent ourselves later in life to learn — We are made of Love, for Love, as Love and by Love. To say it another way, Love is what we are. Love is our Essential Nature, or our True Self. Love is God, or the Divine Nature expressing as each of us.

How would our world be different if everyone remembered their divine inheritance as a being of Love? How would our world be different if each of us remembered it within ourselves, and treated ourselves, and others, that way? It would be a different world, wouldn’t it?

In one of the readings we used in the Daily Morning Practice this week, Ernest Holmes wrote on p 274 of 365 Science of Mind: I open my whole consciousness to the realization that all the power and presence there is surrounds me in an eternal embrace, that the Spirit forever imparts Its own Life to me, forever flows through me into happiness, success, and well-being.

In this week’s reading of Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Emergence, she wrote about what it could be like when we recognize that we are more than the self-aware, survival-oriented human that has kept us alive up until this point and become the newly ‘birthed’ (really remembered, re-member, or put back together) co-creative human who is inspired by spirit to express and embody divine intent. What is that divine intent? To return to being the Love that we are, experience that within ourselves and share that with all.

Barbara Marx Hubbard has written some affirmations for us to ponder and perhaps adopt:

I am no longer separated from the source of creation.
I am one with the essence that pervades the whole universe.
I am an expression of the process of creation of God.
I am the Beloved I have sought since time immemorial.
I am the presence and process of the divine within me.
I am the voice I hear. I am the guide I follow. I am a co-creator of new worlds.
I think, write, and act as this presence in the world.
I am a young Universal Human. I may forget momentarily who I really am, but I will never go back the whole way. As a baby can never return to the womb, I can never go back to my separated state. I am humble. I have universes to understand, infinite things to learn, but I am born.

How would our world change if each one of us remembered we were made of, and for, experiencing and expressing Divine Love? What kinds of positive change could we enact as Love?

–Rev Janis

Reflections

“Seeing into darkness is clarity.
Knowing how to yield is strength.
Use your own light and return to the source of that light.
This is called practicing eternity.”
— Lao Tzu

I have known for some weeks that I have felt inspired to write about death, a topic most of us, including me, have been socially conditioned not to talk about. I have known seven people who have died in the last year and a half and it has caused me to contemplate the value of life, and my own demise. I fully realize I am closer to getting off the planet than I am to entering it. I will be 80 next month.

I have had the opportunity to be with those who are dying and it has been a privilege as well as a sadness to lose those I have so loved, one of them being my only sister. I have discovered that when I am afraid of something (like death), I need to come as close to it as I comfortably can, and just sit with it. I benefit from paying attention to my reactivity and resistance, seeing where my boundaries and limitations are, noting the quality of my fear, and eventually seeing it all as a process that comes from my own identification and conditioning, as well as a natural processes, and part of life as we understand it.

My losses of family and friends have been natural, inevitable, and sad, experiences. I can also say that being with the dying has been very tender, rich, and rewarding for my heart and soul. I hope I have grown more compassionate as a result. I am grateful for those who have passed through my life and those who still remain as my teachers.

I know that there will be other loving human beings who have significance to, and for, me because I realize we are all in this together, parallel souls on a parallel journey of finding the meaning of our own lives and eventually releasing that meaning in order to surrender to the One Eternal Life, which I now experience and will continue to experience. From my soul’s point of view, I have discovered in accepting death, I have been blessed and will continue to be blessed by the mystery of life and death, all part of the same magnificent continuing gift.

—Namaste, Janie

What are Your Standing Stones?

I love mysteries. Actually that’s not really true. I love figuring out mysteries.

A little over 15 years ago, some friends and I had the pleasure of visiting a number of the ancient Neolithic sites in Ireland as part of a tour group. We had a fabulous local tour guide who was chock-full of stories about what everything meant, what it was for, and what it did.

This stunning image is of the Stones of Stennes (in Scotland), taken by photographer Jim Richardson.


When it came to the standing stones though, he didn’t have a lot to say. Not a lot is known with confidence. There are loads of theories. The most likely theory was that they were connected with acknowledging the changing seasons, and the movement of the sun and the moon, so that the groups of people who had settled in the area would feel some certainty about when to plant their crops. Another theory that seems to make sense to those who study the prehistory and archaeology of the sites is that they were spirit houses, for some form of ancestor worship. A theory that I learned about as I was writing this blogpost is that they were also for showing off power and technical prowess; neighboring villages built bigger and more expansive arrays than their neighbors simply to show off. As much effort as I am sure it took to construct these monuments, I have a little trouble imagining that a little gamesmanship was going on.

What I do know with some clarity is that these stones were important to the locals and the life of their community. Which brings me to the question I’m asking today. What are Your Standing Stones? What are the ideals and tenets that you live by? What is important to you and worth expending time and energy toward manifesting or supporting in your life? I’m not asking necessarily for anyone to share their answers to these questions, and I’ll ask you to spend some time looking at the questions and seeing what arises for you. Once you have a working answer to these questions, please contemplate what you do in your daily life and how it is at least aligned on some level with those intentions.

One of the realizations I’ve had as I’m working my way through learning to tell better stories in the Story Skills Workshop (that I’m still in the middle of) is that we, and I’m including myself in that ‘we’, don’t necessarily spend a lot of time contemplating what we do on a routine basis and why it is important to us. I think it is useful to know what we each do, and why. I also think it is important to know why we do what we do together as a community. Please spend a little time and discover this for yourself, and for your own sense of satisfaction and well-being, embody what you find.


–Rev Janis Farmer

Thoughts on Membership

In 2009, when I realized I’d found ‘my people’ at this Center, I had absolutely no intention of formally joining the organization. I had a long and unpleasant history of every organization that I formally joined imploding, exploding, disbanding, or being shut down. Yet I recognized that this was a philosophy I could really step into. (Little did I know how far…) These people were speaking, and practicing, what I already believed was The Truth. So I asked how I could participate.

At the time, we met at the Kiva on River Rd on Sundays. It was a Sundays-only use agreement. The main room at the Kiva was long, dark, and kind of dingy from long use, and not a lot of care. We had it reserved for our use between 9 and noon. Every week we had to set up everything, including the chairs, and any tables we would use. We had to set up our own sound system, and there was no projector. The ceilings were too low for projection. Oh, and there was one single stall toilet closet in the back. In fact, that was when Tom, Joe, Carol and Charlie started helping us. The Board was really small at that moment in time, and they took turns being responsible for making sure the space was set up correctly for Sunday services.

My friend and tai chi buddy Mark was Board President. Many weeks he carried a lot of the Sunday morning set up load by himself, working with Tom and Joe. I asked if I could help by hauling the church-in-a-box sometimes. He let me help. (I know this sounds like the old story of Huck Finn tricking his friends into whitewashing the fence, but it didn’t feel that way to me.)

I had already started taking classes. Like I said, I’d found my tribe; I intended to learn everything I could about this new/old way of seeing, and being, in the world. “Foundations of the Science of Mind” had been mind- expanding and earth-moving. I grabbed hold of this new way like it was fresh oxygen for my body.

Since I was still living in Arizona City (roughly 70 minutes from Tucson, each way), I asked if I there was anything I could do to help out at the office, since I had driven to town for either CSLT classes or tai chi classes. My first foray into helping was in making nametags, which then shifted to doing database entry (we didn’t have a paid bookkeeper to do it, then). Over time my involvement slowly increased. But I still wasn’t a formal member, because everything I had joined previously had crashed, and I didn’t want to create that here.

Still, I did ask how one got on the Board. The answer was, “First you have to be a member for six months.” Oh. That. (Guess I have to change my story about that.) They then followed with, “But you can attend Board meetings and see how we work, and you can still help out.” You can see for yourself how that turned out.

What I’ve realized in the last couple years is that I don’t have a strong need for people to become members of our Center unless they really want to. To me, membership is a very individual decision. I’ve seen people become members, and then we never see them again, like it’s some kind of bizarre ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Since we don’t believe in hell, that’s kind of a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. Membership used in that way can’t be of much benefit to the member, and is of even less use, or value, to the Center.

I asked the ministers at our weekly ministers’ zoom lunch what their thoughts were about membership. The consensus point-of-view of the five ministers I asked was that membership in a Center is a public step in affirming a definitive formal relationship with the Divine.

That got me thinking. We don’t have a profession of faith like the traditional (primarily Christian) churches do. We don’t need it. Each one of us is already intimately one in the Divine Wholeness and Oneness. To become a member of this spiritual community is more about alignment and affiliation with a group of people who have decided it is more useful, and enjoyable, to expand and experience their spiritual growth with others than be a spiritual island. Everyone gets to decide how they want to play in this miraculous thing called life.

What called you to your present level of commitment and affiliation with CSLT, and does it still work for you?

Our Annual Meeting will be here before you know it. Presently, we are considering adding two qualified and interested persons to our Board of Trustees now, and have two new Board members joining us in October. 
 
If you are curious about the requirements for Board Membership, please see page 7 of our Bylaws. If you meet the requirements and would like to speak with someone about potentially serving on the CSLT Board of Trustees, please contact the office (admin@tucsoncsl.org) and we will get back to you.
 
–Rev Janis Farmer

Yay for Boats in the Desert!

Reverend Janis described using a boat. She loves her boats. I love my boats. What we are referring to is the joke about the man stuck on his roof during a devastating flood. When a boat approaches, he declines help, saying that God will rescue him. A helicopter comes by to rescue him and he declines their help, explaining that God will rescue him. Then he drowns. When he gets to heaven, he asks God why God didn’t rescue him. God replies, “I sent a boat and a helicopter!” A boat refers to receiving help recognizing that, in unity, we are all one and that help received is the same as help given. And the awareness that the Divine will provide help to me through people.

My two most recent experiences of receiving help were from two of my coaches. I have a business coach and a Health and Wellness (H&W) coach. I also have a sponsor in the 12-step program to which I belong.

My H&W coach meets with me every 2-3 weeks. She is wonderful and helps me establish good health habits. We work on ways to deal with my feeling of panic that causes me to overeat. She helps me devise strategies that help me get to sleep as it often takes me 45-60 minutes to power down enough to fall asleep. I was explaining that I had stopped walking with my girlfriends because I was focusing on completing tax returns before the deadline. The problem was that I was not finding that I had any extra time as I gave up my movement. She advised me to start moving again. She has been working with me for about 1 year and commented on how important exercise is to me. And reminding me that I do better when I have a hard work out. That was on July 2. The next day I walked 21⁄2 miles with my friends. On July 4, I got up early and walked around Randolph Park from my house and back, a distance of 4.5+ miles. I have been doing that daily since and feel so much better. On rest days, I walk 3 miles because I need movement every day. My body expects it.

I meet with my business coach monthly. She is an integrative coach who believes that personal and business are the same. I receive guidance of a practical sense – she transformed my time management by helping me set up a hybrid system using a Google sheets list of tasks and a daily planner because she says that I have my long list and then every day I tend to work off a separate agenda. That is totally true. When I talked to her about needing to trust my ability to complete my work on time and relaxing instead of living in stress based on deadlines, she later said that she knew that I needed to increase my connection to Spirit.

Through her skillful questioning I was able to come back into knowing that my business success is Spirit-based and that I can rely on the Divine to ease my way with regard to deadlines and tasks that appear challenging. This is extra important as I am preparing for an audit with my largest client. Last year’s audit was very difficult and so my “triggers” are in full force. Using our Science of Mind philosophy, I remember I need to see through appearances to know the reality that all is perfect and whole. Applying SOM to my work means that even though I experience stress dealing with strong personalities and the appearance of authority, it is my job to look beyond appearances and know that my tasks are manageable and that I have the resources I need to complete the task. Talking with her re- centered me and I was able to discuss strategies to remind me of my connection with Spirit throughout my day. And like Science of Mind, I looked over at my windowsill and saw my little altar full of keepsakes that I created several years ago with friends. It’s in a repurposed Altoids tin. I closed it up and put it in my desk drawer and I intend to look at it daily.

I also poured pink Himalayan salt that my coach, Tabitha, said is very clearing spiritually into a singing bowl to keep by my computer screen. I can play with it while on Zoom calls. She suggested I purchase some palo santos sticks, which I did, to burn daily to spread peace and positivity. I grabbed my Angel Therapy oracle cards and fired up my essential oils diffuser. I feel totally blessed to receive help, guidance and support from my friends. Ha!

I do pay both of them and they are also clients of mine so we totally help each other out! And the fact that Tabitha supports my spirituality is an added bonus. It reminds me that I am loved and that the Divine does indeed provide what I need by giving me boats in the desert.

-Marya Wheeler

Jaded

“Who are you – When you are NOT a problem to be solved?” Bryan Stevenson

And it doesn’t count as a solution when we project all our personal problems onto one or more “outside” entities. It doesn’t count as a solution, because we still own the problem of living surrounded by problems.

Having gained enough distance from my time in NYC and learned enough Science of Mind, I am beginning to understand that too much of my time was spent with unhappy, jaded people. They believed they had seen too much, been overlooked too many times, were not valued highly enough …. if only things were different: boss, money, job, family.

The solution, as Rev. Janis reminds us frequently, is not in the stars or even in the whatever we identify as “the problem.” That unhappiness, those choices are our very own, in fact our only, responsibility to own and improve.

Though this idea runs rampant in our world, allowing the common hour jaded cynicism to enfold us is choosing that as our reality. Yes, our current environment burgeons with challenges – oh you bet. And every time we, meaning you and I, sigh and say I wish it weren’t so – we make it more real. Every time, we contribute more energy to the overflowing sense of a world in chaos.

My personal challenge, one of them, is to hold and cherish both of these:
“Disregarding all evidence to the contrary, the student of Truth will maintain he lives in a Perfect Universe and among people potentially perfect…..At first he may be influenced by conditions, and he may appear to be weak, but as time goes on he will prove to himself that his position is a correct one…” Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 184.5-185.1

And along with knowing and living that –
“There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.” Bryan Stevenson

The challenge for each of us is to know both the Truth and the brokenness – those things that need, in fact, must change. Move them away from our emotions, and into our vision of a perfect world. Only when we know Perfect as capital ”R” Reality, can we act not with despair or anger, but with the knowing it as already here – then we embody the Perfect not the pain.

Because finally:
“What we demonstrate today, tomorrow and the next day is not as important as the TENDENCY WHICH OUR THOUGHT IS TAKING…the dominant attitude of our mind…, if every day we are expressing more life, we are going in the right direction.” (Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 306.3)

Yes, that was Dr. Holmes YELLING. Consistent persistence in knowing and choosing our own thoughts and behaviors – we build the trend line to that Perfect that is Reality.

–Take care of yourself and your loved ones, peace to all everywhere. Mariann

Guard The Gate

All thought is creative and how I choose to think creates my own personal experience.

With all that is happening around us, it is especially important to be in charge of our thoughts. We are thinking all the time and we are creating all the time. So knowing this, we need to be vigilant about what we are allowing into our minds.

There are times when balancing being informed about what we need to know vs. how it is being presented can be challenging. We need to be watchful and not allow anything that has “hateful” or “negative conclusions” into our minds. This can be difficult when we find ourselves agreeing with a point of view or thinking someone or some group deserves it. In order to filter these thoughts, I created my “guard at the gate” of my mind, not letting these thoughts and judgments in.

Sometimes the thoughts can be presented in a seemingly innocuous way. How many love songs are about heartbreak vs. happy endings? Right? Think of the plethora of television shows based on dysfunctional lives or movies with conniving and despicable characters. What messages are we letting in?

It helps to remind ourselves that there is a better way to think when we are being bombarded with difficult news. We can tell ourselves that, more often than not, positive outcomes happen, even if we can’t see it right then. Think of a time in your life when you thought that something was the worst thing that could happen. Looking back on it, what was the longer-term result?

We know that if we take charge of our minds, we take charge of our lives. No one else can do this for us. Recently I spoke with two friends. One records every Sunday morning news program with multiple opinions about the current events. As we know, these tend to be contentious and not positive. Every program is then watched. Same stuff over and over again. The second person just finished watching the entire Dick Van Dyke series. Who do you think is happier today?

We know that it can be challenging when you are in a conversation and someone says something negative, judgmental or even cruel. What do you do? Arguing, as a rule, does not help. Instead, we reply can be “Interesting” or “You don’t say” or some other innocuous comment that is essentially meaningless. And then if possible, stepping away from the conversation and returning to thoughts that have more value.

The guard at the gate of our minds has a full time job. It is constant awareness of what is being allowed into our minds. We can find ourselves exhausted and wondering why, if we are not vigilant about it.

The greatest power available to us as individuals is the power of our own minds, the power of our own thoughts. In the creation of a personal life worth living, the action— the essential action — must be mental. Remember, all thought is creative, even goofy thought. — J. Kennedy Shultz in You Are the Power


–Susan Seid

The Long Haul

There’s so much I want to say, so I’ll see if I can get the words to come out in any sensible order. Perhaps I should have entitled this post, The Heavy Lift. Both titles would apply equally. I’ll start with Dr Ernest Holmes, from The Science of Mind 51.1. “One of the great difficulties in this new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice. As a matter of fact, we only know as much as we can prove by actual demonstration.”

It is too easy to look at the abundance of upset and disarray that surround us in the world of form right now and look for someone to be at fault, or at least someone we can blame, or for us to feel guilty, ashamed or embarrassed by something we, or people like us, have done in the past. Pointing fingers, damning, discrediting or demeaning someone, and looking for some statue to tear down, or somebody to fire or send to jail, doesn’t get to the root of the apparent issue, or lead to any sort of solution with lasting effect. Those actions do create a brief feeling of satisfaction; we did something and made some noise. Yay, us. These are not short-term blips that we can put a splint on (like a broken finger) so they can heal ‘enough’ and we can get back to business as usual. At least I hope they’re not.

The Stage Is Set
The Bighorn Fire (18+ days, started by lightning, 65,500+ acres burned (as of June 23 @ 3:51am), remarkably only 4 minor heat-related injuries). The Incident Management Teams (and the 900+ firefighters that have been involved in the response so far) have masterfully handled the Bighorn fire. The smoke that hangs over much of southeast Arizona like a shroud, and the fires that light up the night (in a bad way), leave us all a little on edge and more than a little uneasy. This just adds to the general malaise and discomfort.

Covid-19. Our experience of the physical world has changed drastically in the last 3 months. Who would have guessed, besides some dystopian science (fiction) writers, that a novel virus would send all of us to our rooms for an indeterminate period of time? And that the very human desire to gather together, for companionship and comfort is the most dangerous thing we can do for the protection of our most vulnerable members of our society. And the feebleness of our food supply, and our health care system. And, and, and (I could go on)…

Political divisiveness, extremism (on all sides) and groundless ‘haterade’. I’m just going to leave this right here.

The Main Event
I’ve been listening to E.O. Wilson’s audiobook, The Meaning of Human Existence. He writes about the strong tribal need for belonging, and the primitive/primal need to have an other, so that we have some made-up reason to band together, separate ourselves and protect our group. He goes on to say that we create enemies to make ourselves feel stronger, and safer, as long as we are in the ‘in crowd’. The idea of us-versus-them is embedded in human consciousness, and of primary importance in default thinking, or the collective unconscious, or race tendency. A bias toward or against any particular ethnicity is not implied by that unfortunate word choice. These phrases represent a way to describe thoughts and beliefs that are commonly held by many/most people. They do not include only ‘bad’ thoughts or beliefs; they include all shared thoughts and beliefs. If we don’t intentionally choose a thought or belief, we choose default thinking, by default.

Remember Jane Elliott’s blue eyes-brown eyes exercise with her third grade class in 1968? (read more @ janeelliott.com) She wanted her students to see the embedded irrationality of people with one eye color being superior to people of another eye color. The kids bought into it hook, line and sinker. When they were the favored ones, they treated the other children badly. When they fell out of favor (for no apparent reason), the felt crushed by what seemed like the entire weight of the world on their backs, and the opposite group repeated the pattern of assumed superiority. There’s something very primitive about being favored and on top. It wasn’t until later, when they were discussing the exercise that they could begin to see that they had done anything irrational. On one level, it seems that tribalism is an innate human condition.

In Cynthia James’ ‘Conversations of the Heart’ call last Friday night that I spoke about last Sunday, one of the participants rather dejectedly asked, “Why would the people in power give up their superior position?” None of us had a good answer to her question. Why would they?

E.O. Wilson also wrote about the differences that had been observed by scientists in studying animal behavior between success of individuals within groups and the success of groups as wholes. Within a group, selfish individuals tend to do better than the remainder of the group, but between groups the groups with more altruistic individuals tend to do better than groups with lots of selfish individuals. This doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who thinks about human dynamics either.

In game theory, there is a strategy called tit-for-tat. Essentially, if a player is provoked, they retaliate. If they are not provoked, they cooperate. In long-term games, those who cooperate have greater success. Earlier this month, I read a report (theconversation.com/nondiscrimination-against-lgbt-individuals-isnt-just-the-law-it- helps-organizations-succeed-140810) that gives me hope that altruistic (nondiscriminatory) behaviors can be seen as benefitting individuals as well as the whole.

The Goal, and One Possible Route
Futurist Buckminster Fuller wrote, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Some of us are just becoming aware of how biased existing systems have been, and are looking for new models that value everyone’s contribution, while dismantling the old systems one interaction at a time. It’s a slow process, an uncovering of old stories that are so old, and so buried, we don’t even know they are there.

We are starting down a path that could lead to a new world, one that works for everyone. We won’t succeed using the same rules and playing the same game. We won’t get there by discarding what presently exists, and disenfranchising participants in the process. We need a new model that makes the old model obsolete.

In the next three months, CSLT will be exploring this new territory. We start with a guest speaker on Sunday July 5th, Dr Karmen Smith speaking about how “Love Changes America”. I hope you’ll plan to attend our zoom service that Sunday. She is a powerful speaker.

Then we’ll move through a series of three quick book studies in July (David Richo’s Triggers (How We Can Stop Reacting and Start Healing)), August (Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility, which is about the importance of relationship and connection, and how our small separate, calculating, selves inhibit our progress and get in our way) and September (Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Emergence, The Shift from Ego to Essence (10 steps to the Universal Human)). [The book links will lead you to Amazon. However, if you log in to smile.amazon.com and choose “Center for Spiritual Living Location: Tucson, AZ”, our Center will receive donations, which will be greatly appreciated]

The path of the Universal Human may be a new model that moves us in the direction we long for and desire.

Ernest Holmes wrote in 365 Science of Mind 186.1, “We are made perfect when we enter into the communion of love with one another and with the invisible essence of Life. Love is the fulfillment of the Law, that is, we do not make the highest use of the Law unless that use is motivated by Love, by a sincere desire to express unity, harmony, and peace.”

Join me in envisioning and embodying this new world, the world that works for everyone.

–Rev Janis

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