moment by moment, choice by choice
I’ve been moving across towns, from Chapel Hill to Durham this past month. Moving offers on-going opportunities to make deliberate, conscious choice, if we chose to make it so. With every day of the move, with every challenge, (securing utilities, buying and selling on craigslist and obtaining mailbox keys,) I’ve had opportunities to be a deliberate creator of my experience, to be in the awareness of the divinity that I Am, to chose to show up as my Authentic Self. “Moment by moment, choice by choice.” That’s how we live this life of empowerment and effectiveness.
“Moment by moment, choice by choice.” That’s the subtitle of How to Pray Without Talking to God, Unity Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett’s recent book on Affirmative Prayer as taught by Unity and Science of Mind.
Unlike what I used to think, prayer has nothing to do with being religious or superstitious. Prayer is about tuning your mind to the Oneness, and claiming your essential thriving essence. That’s what I chose to do, claim Oneness: whenever I can get centered enough to remember to chose it! Linda Martella-Whitsett teaches how to pray from a unity consciousness, step by step, shift by shift. God is not a superhuman, God is Principle. Work with It, and shift your life into satisfaction and empowerment.
In our upcoming course “Unity Prayer,” SEE PR250, we’ll explore “what is prayer?” if we understand “GOD” to be Principle and Presence rather than a person. We’ll be creative ith names of “GOD” so we can release our childhood images of the Santa-God, and explore what it means to be spiritual beings having a human experience. We’ll consider very deliberately what words to use that reflect a sense of unity with/as The I Am. We’ll practice saying our own prayers together, aloud, in small groups, with partners. We’ll explore what it means to pray for and with others.
This course is a perfect introduction if you want to become a prayer partner or chaplain in your center. I offer weekend chaplain training as a followup to this course. The entire package is a perfect and thorough training experience for your center’s prayer team. To inquire about my weekend training, send a reply to this blog, and I’ll contact you personally to discuss the details. (a page is about to appear on this website that will provide the information)
Beginning March 31, Join us for this 5 week series of classes from your own comfortable desk or living room. 7-9pm Eastern Daylight time. Thursdays March 31-April 21.
Following Your Gut: Sunday Spiritual Circle Postponed…. plus a reflection on my mission statement
I have decided to postpone the launch of “Sunday Spiritual Circle.” The idea is great: the timing isn’t. This process of discernment is like seeking the sound of a professional orchestra that vibrates beautifully when it is properly tuned. When the timing isn’t right, the orchestra sounds squeaky, feels gritty and is essentially dis-harmonious. Discernment is a divine power that when used in the highest spiritual way, brings harmony and the feeling that “just feels right.”
So we shall wait, knowing the timing will be right sometime later. All is well, and all is perfect. And so we let it be.
In seminary, I was assigned to write my personal mission statement. After much meditative discernment, (walking the Unity Village golf course as the sun set) I created a statement in which every word was discerned and evaluated. It felt so right, I knew it was “mine.” I stood by it even when Rev. Dr. Tom challenged me on the choice of one of the words. I stood by it, because it felt right in my gut, in the solar plexus, where the Power of Wisdom/Discernment resides. When I revisit my mission statement, I still feel that sense of “it’s mine.” And I’m still exploring its implications for my spiritual journey. Here it is:
My mission is to be, express and nurture
authenticity, beauty and the Presence
in myself and others.
As I walk through life “post-seminary,” and discover my role as a “minister,” I learn more and more clearly what is means to “be authenticity,” to “be beauty” and to “be the Presence.” These concepts are alive in me, in everything I do. These are my high callings: they create in me a surge of excitement!
I nurture these qualities in myself, and through expression, hope that I am nurturing them in my students. I follow deep inner guidance to establish and maintain authentic interactions with my students and my Self. I seek beauty, (which includes balance, harmony, radiance…) adjusting and evolving as I go. I practice the Presence and model the practice with others.
As I explore this cutting-edge online teaching ministry, I realize that, just as I boldly stepped into the work, I can boldly revise and redirect my course offerings. I see this ministry evolving with ease, flowing down the stream effortlessly, riding the current of expansive evolution. And so it is.
“Sunday Spiritual Circles” in March
ANNOUNCING “Sunday Spiritual Circle” a heart-conversation
Do you understand how it feels to be at church on Sunday morning and catch yourself yearning for meaningful, personal interactions with others? The social hour is great. It provides fun, authentic fellowship: a good time to make new friends and welcome newcomers. But do you sometimes find yourself driving home wishing there had been a
deeper spiritual contact with a few others? … Using the power of video cameras, New Vista now offers an opportunity for “heart-conversation” interaction online at New Vista’s “Sunday Spiritual Circle.”
These conversation and meditation sessions will be less didactic, than our other courses, with few if any PowerPoint slides. There will be a lot of time for you to just enjoy the presence of the others in the circle, listen and empathize with them, and stretch yourself into more expansive thinking.
We will begin in March with the study of Eric Butterworth’s Discover The Power Within You Engage in eye to eye heart-to-heart spiritual conversations on Eric Butterworth’s classic. Unity basic teachings – through the lens of Jesus’ sayings. Student preparation is essential to making this experiential rather than didactic. Join us! and invite your friends!
SEE MS804 “Discover The Power Within You” Sundays March 13- April 3. 10 hrs: 4 pm – 6:20 pm Eastern (1pm Pacific)
Called to Be in 2016
I feel like writing a more personal blog today, since I’m in a reflective place this month. My housemate has been diagnosed with cancer. She has decided not to go through chemo and surgery, she’s doing alternative treatments and bravely, consciously entering the final chapter of her life. As her housemate and friend, I walk the spiritual and emotional journey with her, holding her hand, listening and praying with her. An interesting life experience, filled with opportunity to Be the Love I want to see in the world. It’s certainly why I’m wanting to share from a more personal level than before. It’s also the end of a very memorable year. … And at the end of the year, in the darkest days, I like to turn within and reflect.
At the end of the year, at Unity centers worldwide, we reflect upon meaning and journey, about inner doors and inner messages. The Unity movement has adopted a beautiful New Year’s ritual called the White Stone Ceremony. It has come to mean so much to me personally.
The white stone ceremony is an opportunity to open to inner Guidance regarding what we are called to be in the coming year. It’s not like a new year’s resolution or intention: not about resolving to do something or intending to manifest something. During the white stone ceremony, you ask your True Self this question: “What am I called to be in this coming year? As I let go of old habits or baggage, those I released during the burning bowl ceremony, what I am called to be ?” It’s like knocking on an inner door to see what is coming forth.
Continue reading Called to Be in 2016
A Vivifying, Life-Giving Principle
I have been in an attitude of gratitude that is beyond my expression. How can I express the gratitude I feel toward every one who has found New Vista Learning Center and has enrolled in classes? How can I express my gratitude for the technology that links us across thousands of miles and enables us to have fellowship as if we’re all sitting in the same room? Can I aptly express my gratitude for Unity Institute which gave me the knowledge and confidence to bring New Thought truth teachings to others. Can I quantify my appreciation for my ongoing spiritual growth throughout this experience?
As I am grateful to the students and teachers in my life, I am also grateful to Presence and Power, to Guidance and Inspiration, to Source and Substance. As a human being, I desire to “say thank you” to that Presence and Power. And, at the same time, I know It is not a being, not a personality, not a person that gives me things. It is an Energy and Essence, a limitless Creative Cause of all things. It is my very essence, and my inner “ground of being.” It is my innate capacity to use my innate talents to create a world that works well for me and for others. So the applause goes to” All That Is.” Kuddos to the “‘vivifying Life-giving Principle” of my heart and my innate intellect.
My most favorite Unity author is the one and only H. Emilie Cady, whose articles were the first lessons to be published by the Unity movement. Written in 1892, as a series of articles in Unity magazine, it was compiled into a book: Lessons In Truth and published by Unity in 1896, becoming the most influential and longest running textbook used in the training of Unity ministers.
Reading it today we are simultaneously charmed by the smooth, poetic prose of the Victorian era, and distracted by the language that alludes to “separation consciousness” which is paradoxically counter to its teachings. I find myself translating many passages so that I can see past its language patterns and comfortably learn from its truth.
For example, the following passage about prayer is a beautiful expression on the power of being grateful:
“Go even beyond this and speak words of thanksgiving to this innermost Presence, that it has heard and answered, that it does now come forth into visibility. There is something about the mental act of thanksgiving that seems to carry the human mind far beyond the region of doubt into the clear atmosphere of faith and trust. … do not worry or cease from your thanksgiving. Do not go back … again to the asking, but continue giving thanks that while you waited you did receive, and that what you received is now manifest; and believe me, you will soon rejoice and give thanks, not rigidly from a sense of duty, but because of the sure manifest fulfillment of your desire.” – H. Emilie Cady Lessons in Truth Lesson title: Finding the Secret Place.
Sometimes I find myself jotting in the margins a completely re-write so that I can see past blocks from my past embedded theology. Here, Emilie is talking about what we might do while we sit in the silence, awaiting an answer to our prayer. First the original, from the same lesson, then my translation.
“We repeat from time to time, while waiting, words something like these: ‘Thou art now renewing me according to Thy highest thought for me; Thou art radiating Thy very self throughout my entire being, making me like to Thyself — for there is nothing else but Thee. Father, I thank Thee, I thank Thee.’ Be still, be still while He works.”
My translation is an attempt to speak from a consciousness of Oneness; to remind my self that I “live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28) in the Oneness that we sometimes call God: (note the lower case “s.” That’s my egoic self which tends to slip into forgetting that my True Self is One with/as The One, because That is All That Is.)
My translation: “We repeat from time to time, while waiting, words something like these: ‘I am renewed now, as I am open to my Divine Power and my Highest Thought. Divine Self radiates throughout my entire being, making me reflect the Oneness– for there is nothing else but The One. I am grateful, I am grateful.’ Be still, be still while Principle works.”
I love Emilie Cady! And I love Unity’s casual permission to let Emilie’s truth words from 125 years ago be translated to speak to my Truth.
One of her images, again from the same lesson, speaks to me, the gardener. She is talking about practicing the presence of God by allowing not straining.
“Some persons carry in their faces a strained, white look that comes from an abnormal “sitting in the silence,” as they term it. It is hard for them to know that [Presence] is right here within them, and while in the silence they fall into the way of reaching away out and up after [It]. Such are earnest [people] truly feeling after [Oneness] if haply they may find [It], when all the time [It] is near them, even in their very hearts. Do not reach out thus. This is as though a seed were planted in the earth, and just because it recognized a vivifying, life-giving principle in the sun’s rays, it did nothing but strain and stretch itself upward and outward to get more of the sun. You can see at a glance that by so doing it would get no solid roots in the earth where [Source] intended them to be. The seed needs to send roots downward while it keeps its face turned toward the sun, and lets itself be drawn upward by the sun. … But we are consciously to let it; not merely to take the attitude of negatively letting it by not opposing it, but to put ourselves consciously where the Son can shine on us, and then “be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10) that while we wait there it is doing the work. While waiting upon God, we should, as much as possible, relax ourselves both mentally and physically.”
When you practice prayer or meditation this month, during the season of gratitude, let this be your vivifying, life-giving image of your Is-ness. For so It Is. Namaste.
(In the 6 months since this ministry began, through to the end of the calendar year, I will have engaged 61 students and taught 10 different accredited Unity SEE courses. I have many more planned for 2016, as I help students fulfill their requirements to move on toward licensing and ministry. Watch New Vista SEE pages for new listings coming up in 2016.)
“Pray Up!” Today
Remember those “WWJD” bracelets? They were intended to help us ask ourselves “What Would Jesus Do in this situation?” As we all know, a teacher’s actions speak much louder than his or her words. Memories about Jesus recorded decades after his ministry reveal that Jesus instilled an effective, positive, practical teaching about prayer.
Today, on Unity’s World Day of Prayer, the theme is “Pray Up!” As I visualize people across the nation gathering in their spiritual centers to pray together, I think of our Way-Shower Jesus “praying up!” How did Jesus pray?
Based on what the ancient writings, Jesus probably prayed quietly. But quiet can be powerful! “Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) I see Jesus sitting quietly, kind of like the Buddha statue on my shelf, meditating upon the perfection of the All That Is and knowing his Oneness with It, in It, as It. He addressed the God-of-his-understanding as “Father,” implying that he had a very personal understanding of The Divine. He talked about the Father who is in secret. Not because The Divine is a secret, but because It is within, in the secret place of his consciousness; the constant, internal Source of all “in whom we live and move and have out being.” (check this out: the writer of Acts 17:28 has the apostle Paul quoting from a semi-mythical 7th century BCE Greek wisdom teacher Epimenides[i]). The act of tuning out egoic thought and tapping in to Source is a powerful tool of Jesus’ compelling ministry.
Today, I visualize my Unity friends all over the world wherever they are, sitting in silent meditative prayer, knowing Source within and all around them, as Jesus did.
Jesus taught us to forgive when we entered into that sacred chamber within. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25) Letting go of that yucky, irritated, hurt, P-O’ed, or devastated feeling against someone is a huge, essential step in our prayer practice. What does it mean that the writer of Mark wrote, “so that your Father may also forgive you?” The “Father” is the Christ Consciousness, the True Self, the I Am of you. How can we come into a consciousness of Oneness with All That Is if we have angst about someone else? Thomas Merton said “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” The willingness to let people be who they are is forgiveness.
Today, I see myself and my friends forgiving all who seem to be against us. For no one and nothing is against me. I am One with All That Is.
Jesus gave thanks in advance. “… he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute.” (Matthew 15:36) As Way-Shower, Jesus teaches us to expect the blessing when we ask. He gave thanks before it even happened because he had no doubt that it would come forth, is coming forth. “Ask and it will be given you.” (Matthew 7:7) Simple, No doubt, No worries about if it will come or when it will come. Jesus knew it was so. We like to end our prayers with “And so it is.” It’s a way to release the request. We don’t beg for it. We claim it. We expect it or something even more appropriate. It is so. That’s what Jesus knew, too, so he gave thanks before his desire was spoken. He knew that when he asked he would receive.
Unity uses an affirmative prayer process based on Jesus teaching: Relax and go within, know the Oneness, give thanks, claim and realize your good, then release any doubt and know it is so. It is a powerful, practical tool for positive living. We use that form of prayer at Unity’s 24/7 prayer line Silent Unity and in our Sunday services and classes.
Today, I join my friends in all places and give thanks, knowing that what we need, desire, ask and imagine is so. And so we let it be.
This year, Silent Unity’s World Day of Prayer’s theme is “Pray Up.” I get what it means to “pray up!” My ministry as a Prayer Associate at Silent Unity taught me the depth of that phrase. My experience there, while in Seminary at Unity Institute, was unforgettable and indescribable. (If you have any theological questions about prayer, believe me, they will come up while at that job and give you a chance to work through them!) Every prayer I spoke affected me, too, of course. Does the Oneness know separation? I would climb the stairs to the prayer room sometimes tired, sometimes distracted, sometimes agitated that I had to stop working on a term paper to go to work. Then I would open the doors to the prayer room and immediately feel the amazing grace that was in that place. In that space made sacred by prayer action, associates are in prayer 365/24/7! Entering the room would immediately lift my spirits. I would find my place and, after centering, would begin answering calls.
“Silent Unity. How may we pray with you?” Minute by minute, hour after hour, every prayer I spoke lifted my consciousness higher and higher. So that when I finished my shift I was elevated, renewed, inspired, reinvigorated to go back to my room and continue my studies.
So, yeah, I know what it means to “Pray Up.” It means get your batteries charged up, to raise your vibrational level, become energized by the “highest form of mind-action” one can do. (That’s a Charles Fillmore quote) It was indubitably the most effective activity I could do before I entered the Licensing & Ordination interviews!
You and I don’t need to work at Silent Unity to benefit from that energy. We can enjoy it anytime with a 5-minute phone call to 1-800-NOW-PRAY (669-7729) Or you can learn to create a Unity affirmative prayer for yourself, and practice, practice, practice. The more you pray affirmatively, the more vivid your understanding of the Oneness, and the more energized your body, mind and spirit will be. Join our Unity Prayer course in the virtual classroom beginning October 1.
Why read the Bible? … Good Question!
Overview of Christian Scriptures begins tomorrow, Thursday Aug 27. As I’ve been preparing for the course, an unexpected bonus gift has been a new way of seeing the Sacredness of Sacred Scriptures.
One of the topics we’ll discuss is “Why read the Bible? This is question that many people have been asking lately – say in the past couple hundred years, and increasingly more in the past 50 years. Today’s modern/post-modern population is rapidly exiting the church, and closing their Bibles for the last time. I closed mine for many years because as I grew intellectually and became aware of a global spirituality, I became less and less able to read the Bible as I had been taught to read it. I could no longer see it as “God’s Word” which would have any significant message for me.
The text for this course is by beloved, brilliant Marcus Borg: “Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously, But Not Literally.” The most significant word in that title is Again. He explains a new way to see the Bible, using the lens of the Post-Modern world-view.
Borg suggests that we see it as “Sacred Scripture,” meaning several things: the first is that it has molded our cultural-linguistic world. He says a “sacred writing” is the “Word” even if read metaphorically. It’s all about the Divine-Human relationship.
He points out that it is used as a sacramental vehicle: many people over many years have used it for guidance, or for devotional, meditative inspiration. (“I lift my eyes into the hills, from whence comes my help.” (not literally, but spiritually: when we’re in the muck and mess of life/ego, our help/clarity comes through the action of “lifting our eyes” into a higher level of thinking/being).
And, if only from a cultural-anthropology standpoint, we could value knowing the Bible because it is a base from which we engage in dialogue. Many people didn’t grow up learning about the Bible. They don’t know the stories and their characters. Others know them only from their moralistic Sunday-School lessons. Others know the stories only from brief exposure to them, but really don’t know the message they bring. If we know the Bible’s stories and metaphors, we can engage in conversation. If we don’t know them, we’ve lost out on a big element of Western culture.
This course gives a look at the cultural background, the language and culture, the message and targeted readers of each book, as well as the canonization process that resulted in 27 books of the Christian Scriptures. (We have called it the New Testament, but in the desire to be more inclusive, many are converting to “The Hebrew Scriptures” and The Christian Scriptures.”)
Register now and join the six already registered in our virtual classroom for the next 4 Thursdays, 7 -9:30 pm, (eastern time) Beginning tomorrow night!
And if not this time, check out the other newly listed courses at Unity SEE classes
A Spiritual Mini–Retreat in September
Join us for 3 Sunday afternoons at a virtual mini-retreat in September! 4-7:20 pm (eastern time).
Take a close look at the hours of this session. Your first impression might be overwhelm: how can we sit around for three hours and just talk, or just listen? As a former professional teacher of pre-adolescents, I know the power of changing things up: Presenting ideas in a variety of ways; Engaging your active participation; Including everyone who wants to participate; Using pictures, video and cartoons; Guiding you to answer your own questions; Holding all contributions in confidentiality; Honoring your right to change your mind…. and I know how to facilitate and build in active learning so we can honor different learning styles.
But seriously, the topics are so engaging that we’ll have to watch our discussion times so we can cover everything that is offered! I have always enjoyed the great discussions this course brings! The topics in this course are what your Unity minister might incorporate into a Sunday talk, and this will be your opportunity to dish them onto your plate, cut them into pieces, munch on them, digest them and truly make them your own. And speaking of food, yes, you are allowed to eat during class! I build in generous breaks for you to stretch, prepare a snack, and even take a short walk outside. And all from the comfort of your own home through our virtual classroom!
Thanks to the 21st century Unity textbook “Heart Centered Metaphysics,” this mini-retreat will present a new way to hear 19th and 20th century New Thought teachings. In our first session, we will explore through readings and conversations the idea of “God” and “humann” as Oneness. We will play with Plato’s idea (foundational to New Thought) regarding the Absolute and the Relative, the “spiritual universe” and the “physical universe’. And we’ll face the paradoxes that come with trying to define The Divine.
The second session helps us define traditional Christian terms in a New Thought viewpoint: the trinity, sin, evil and the devil and Jesus Christ. Our final session explores, through head and heart, discussion and meditation, the nature of humankind; what it means to be a spiritual being in a physical world; and how to differentiate your Inner Voice from your egoic voice.
As you deepen your understanding of Unity’s teachings, and apply them in a practical way, which discuss in every session, you will realize your spiritual potential, witness your live becoming more satisfying, more vital and meaningful. You understanding shifts from head-knowledge to heart-“knowing,” where true transformation takes place! (more details and register)
What Does Unity Teach about Jesus’ Teachings?
Can we rely on what the Gospels say about Jesus? Why do the books of the Bible tell different stories about him? How do we know what is historical and what is myth? How can we know what Jesus really said? What about the other gospels that didn’t make it into the Bible? Many scholars have wondered about these things, and a lot is written about this topic.
The facts about the search for the historical Jesus often don’t filter to the people through the Sunday Sermon. The message is too complicated to communicate in twenty minutes time. And since the audience is varied, many ministers don’t bother getting into it on Sundays. But with today’s information age, people’s brains are engaged. We expect to hear facts, and want clarity between what is fact and what is myth.
It’s time for everyone to take an honest look at Jesus’ teachings. Unity offers a course that does just this. It’s a newly revised course which provides updates from the scholarly search for the historical Jesus. We’ll answer these questions and much more: How do some scholars evaluate of the validity of Jesus words; what is the significance of the Nag Hammadi discovery; and what valuable insights do they bring to the study of the historical and mythological Jesus?
Learn about the historical events and cultural influences that inspired the myth. Why was 70 AD a critical year? How did it impact the development of Christianity?
With the help of Bart Erhman, Marcus Borg, Paul Alan Laughlin, John Shelby Spong and John Dominic Crossan, we’ll take a frank look at the Jesus myth. Allow yourself to rage or grieve or explore whatever feelings come up. I provide a safe place to do that in this unique virtual class platform.
What did Jesus really say? We’ll move into a heart-centered look at the one-liners Jesus might have actually said, and gain insights about his message. We’ll explore Jesus’ parables at the heart-level. Students will feel a balance in this class: it’s a head-and-heart approach to Jesus’ teachings.
After debunking the myth and connecting with the heart, we’ll ask reflective, reconstructive questions about the implications upon the future of Christianity, seeing it through the lens of the evolution of consciousness.
I offer this course with great enthusiasm, as I am very familiar with the gospels and am thrilled to share the latest insights about Jesus. It’s exciting to see Jesus a little more clearly, one which makes sense to my intellect and understanding, and rediscover his message of unconditional love and radical acceptance. Previous students comments: “very informative and enlightening” … “I loved the combination of readings, videos, conversation and meditation!” … “great energy, enthusiasm, teaching and facilitating!”
Enroll now! First class is August 10. Details at Unity SEE classes