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.)
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.
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.
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)
“I behold The Christ as you” is a phrase you will hear when you go to a Unity center or other New Thought centers such as Religious Science, Science of Mind, and Centers for Spiritual Living. We use the term “The Christ” in a very different way than other Christian groups. I came to Unity about 17 years ago, and was struck speechless when I heard that phrase. I half expected lightening to strike somewhere nearby!
This Thursday, I begin a class on this very topic using both Hebrew and Christian scripture. For example take a look at Colossians 1:27-28 “… this mystery, which is Christ in you, your hope of glory…. so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” It is a teaching that head-centered Christianity ignores, but heart-centered mystics understand. I practice understanding this concept when I meditate and pray.
Eric Butterworth, Unity pioneer, explains: “‘Christ’ is not a person. It is not Jesus. Christ is a degree of stature that Jesus attained, but a degree of potential stature that dwells in every man.”
“The Christ” is a name for our natural and true identity. We human beings are from, in and of the Divine. We are a part of the Oneness which is God, Unity, Alaha, Love. Our True Nature is divine. We are called to awaken to that truth and develop an awareness of it minute by minute, day by day, becoming more and more aware that there is no separation, only Oneness. It is a consciousness that Jesus lived. But it is not intended only for Jesus. He, the man of Nazareth, woke up to “the Christ consciousness,” and lived it fully. He is a Way-Shower on the path to enlightenment. Siddhartha Gautama also awoke to that consciousness, which we call “Buddha consciousness.” He also is a Way-Shower on the path to enlightenment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He (Jesus) estimates the greatness of man. One man was true to what is in me and you. He saw that God incarnates Himself in man, and ever more goes forth anew to take possession of the world.”
Butterworth, in his book “Discover the Power Within You” explains that this realization is the Great Discovery. It was Jesus’ great discovery and his discovery was the beginning of the “Age of the Christ, the Divinity of Man.” With this consciousness, we pray from a consciousness of God, not to a “God out there” somewhere. This consciousness is empowering and humbling, expanding and very much “within.” It is humankind’s greatest discovery. If we can awaken to this, we can feel the glory of being one with God, no separation, no need to be reconciled, no need for salvation, except from our own illusions.
We will explore and discuss this phenomenal thought in my upcoming course which begins this Thursday.It’s easy to register and come aboard. I look forward to exploring these ideas with you! Register for “The Christ”
Yes! New Vista Learning Center has received the go-ahead from Unity Worldwide Ministries to test the very first virtual classroom SEE course!
It didn’t go just as I expected it to, but it is actually better than I had imagined. UWM tabled my proposal until after the People’s Convention, and probably until at least August so that they can take a comprehensive look at their evolving role in the education of future Unity leaders. They are very interested in New Vista’s ideas to teach in real-time through internet, so they’ve asked me to serve on the task team that will investigate technology for their future educational endeavors. I didn’t hear their decision as a “No;” not even as a “Wait.” Instead I saw another way to look at it: I offered to test the program by offering a few classes right now, between now and August, which will give the task team some concrete feedback about virtual classroom education. I am open to letting this idea evolve as it flows into manifestation.
The way it’s all dovetailing together reminds me about the Zen teaching about water: when a boulder is dropped into the stream, the water doesn’t stop and say, “Oh, No! I have got to move this boulder! It’s in my way!” Instead, it silently and smoothly glides around the boulder. I saw my consciousness like the water, just sliding right past what might have been perceived as a closed-door. And that, of course, reminds me of Daniel Nahmod’s song, Water:
I’ll let nature take its course. No more thinking that I know where this river’s meant to go….. it always seems when I let go of expectation and regret, life has plenty of surprises for me yet.”