DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 1

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

This series speaks to the issue of spiritual maturity and deep spiritual work. The contents are not meant to offend or intimidate anyone. My intention is to speak to a deeper level of spiritual realization. In most of the world’s spiritual traditions, some teachings were kept secret from anyone not ready to receive them in a healthy way. In our modern tradition, we put warning labels on things.

You cannot hope to grow spiritually unless you are prepared to change. Those changes may come in small ways to begin with, but as you move further and further into the new, they will become more drastic and vital. Sometimes it needs a complete upheaval to bring about a new way of life. But it is amazing how soon you can get used to change as long as you have the courage and conviction that the changes which are in place are all for the very best. Let perfection always be your aim. Keep stretching. Keep reaching up to the seemingly impossible. Keep growing in wisdom and understanding and never at any time be content to remain static. There is always something new and wonderful to discover in this life, so expand your consciousness and your imagination to make room for it. Keep open and receptive so you miss nothing.”

~ Eileen Caddy

How many of us are willing to be open and receptive to such transformational change? How many are willing to go beyond mere lip-service and to do the deep spiritual and psychological work of radical self-discovery in order to experience radical self-acceptance? If you were told how much deep inner work, emotional development, psychic pain, and time would be required to achieve spiritual realization and master the important aspects of your life the first time you visited a New Thought spiritual community, would you come back a second time?

The Easter/Passover season is a good time to reflect on this question, as the deeper meaning of this time is transformation, or massive change. See my previous post on Holy Week (LINK) for more detail on this.

Cartoon - You Have to WANT to Change

While learning how to think affirmatively is an essential step in your spiritual growth, it is but one of many steps. Each of us carries shadow aspects (LINK) which we have been accumulating since our infancy, and these aspects have been repressed into our subconscious. We are not directly aware of them, but they are active in our lives – they affect our emotions, our worldviews, and our decision-making. We project these aspects onto others automatically and unconsciously. Ultimately, they form a barrier to further spiritual growth, as we develop much of our personalities in such a way as to avoid conscious awareness of our repressed selves.

Poster - Jung - Shadow

“Any serious spiritual work brings up the shadow, the rejected parts of your own psyche, which have to be faced and accepted. It’s the process of inner purification. Other spiritual paths may focus on purification through diet or yoga or good living or correcting bad habits. Our particular Sufi path has a very strong psychological element, and the purification is analogous to Jung’s ‘shadow work’ in which the rejected parts of one’s psyche come to the surface to be confronted, loved and accepted. This begins the process of transformation. As Jung said, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ Then he humorously added, ‘The latter process, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.’”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan Lee

A typical scenario can look like this: someone enters a New Thought spiritual community and learns how to think affirmatively, to visualize, to mediate. They practice these techniques and notice that the circumstances of their life improve. They continue for some time at this, taking classes, reading and so forth; and there is the benefit of being in spiritual community as well. After a year to 18 months, however, they notice that they have hit a wall in their growth – negativity seems unmoved by their efforts and spiritual growth appears to stop. What has happened is that they have used their newfound practices to attend to the aspects of their lives which were not bound by shadow aspects. But the shadow self remains untouched. Now the real work can begin.

Shadow Cartoon

The Shadow is Everything You Have Repressed About Yourself that did not fit your Idealized Self-Image

Unfortunately, this is the point where many give up, deciding that the teaching does not work. Some will leave, seeking guidance elsewhere; some will stay, but not pursue any deeper level of growth. Every spiritual community has long-term members who have not grown spiritually or psychologically since their first year or two of participation. Even more unfortunately, many New Thought spiritual leaders fail to guide their students through this inevitable stage of development. You don’t hear about this at Sunday services.

“You seem to harbor a deep negativity towards negativity, as something not to face but something to ignore.”

~ John Hogue

We get nowhere by ignoring the negativity in our lives. Likewise, we get nowhere by dwelling on the negativity in our lives. We only get somewhere when we begin the long journey toward replacing the negativity in our consciousness with something more positive. Some of this work is done at the surface level – by thinking more positively; but much of it is done by digging down deep into the psyche to root out the unconscious patterns we have developed, patterns which are largely immune to the occasional positive thought, or even to steady positive thinking that does not address them. Our teacher(s) can help guide us to this realization, but they cannot do the work for us.

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

Each of us must do our own inner work – once we learn how. And as we move forward in our spiritual growth, we may learn additional truths and tools to use. The wise teacher is one who assists the student in learning and using the appropriate level of spiritual teachings and spiritual tools. Our developmental growth must go in a certain order. We may be able to absorb a great deal of information intellectually very quickly, but our practice must follow a more deliberate path. The psyche is not the intellect; it has different rules, demands different approaches. Where intellectual learning is the absorption of information and the occasional “AHA moment,” the psyche is moved forward by emotional growth and deep practice – in a nonlinear manner.

“I have always believed myself to be possessed of two souls, one that lives on the surface of life, pleasing and pleased; the other as deep and as unfathomable as the ocean; a mystery to me and all who know me.”

~ Adah Isaacs Menken, 1862

The purpose of all these efforts toward spiritual growth is to open ourselves to our divine heritagelove, compassion, and meaning. This divine heritage lies just beyond the obstacles we have placed in our psyches during our lives – most unconsciously and unwittingly; but there they are. When we realize more of this heritage, we are ready to do the serious work of engaged spirituality to create The Beloved Community.

In part 2 of this series, we will further explore the way forward if we are to be healed at depth. And, while all in good fun, that warning label will still apply.

Beautiful Forest Stream Scene

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOLY WEEK – DEEPER MEANINGS

“What has always been basic to resurrection, or Easter, is crucifixion. If you want to resurrect, you must have crucifixion. Too many interpretations of the Crucifixion have failed to emphasize that. They emphasize the calamity of the event. And if you emphasize calamity, then you look for someone to blame. That is why people have blamed the Jews for it. But it is not a calamity if it leads to new life. Through the Crucifixion we are unshelled, we are able to be born to resurrection. That is not a calamity. We must look freshly at this so that its symbolism can be sensed.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That (LINK)

Dali - Passion of the Christ

The Crucifixion by Salvador Dali

Joseph Campbell, in these quotes, brings clarity to the meaning of this season. The idea that the crucifixion is a necessary element in the resurrection, is of major importance to those on a spiritual pathway. In New Thought, we generally recognize this, although it is a difficult concept – a place where an incomplete understanding can lead to harm. A limited or incorrect understanding can lead to a glib “IT’S ALL GOOD!” to someone in the midst of the suffering of their “crucifixion” experience, denying the hard work and suffering involved. Or the focus can be on the crucifixion itself, thus denying us the necessary understanding to move toward the resurrection, or healing and elevation to a new level. We are called by our challenges to awaken something within ourselves that heretofore has not been awakened.

“St. Augustine speaks of going to the Cross as a bridegroom to his bride. There is an affirmation here. In the Prado is a great painting by Titian of Simon of Cyrene as he willingly helps Jesus with the cross. The picture captures the human participation, the free, voluntary participation we all must have in the Easter-Passover mystery.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

The crucifixion experience can also be voluntary, as in the acceptance of a great challenge that will involve sacrifice and suffering but may well lead to a transformation of the self. St. Augustine references the willingness of Jesus to enter the ordeal, it is the gateway to his greatest miracle, even though it is fraught with danger and difficulty. It is the only way forward if he is to fulfill his mission, and so he goes willingly – not without fear – but consciously forward.

We tend to get stuck in the suffering part, don’t we? Much of Christianity is stuck in the symbolism of the suffering of Jesus, with relatively little focus and celebration of the resurrected Christ – the glowing, transformed figure who found it so difficult to connect with his former followers according to the Gospels. When you are transformed, it is difficult for those who knew the former version of you to accept your new manifestation of self. And there is no getting to that new you without a crucifixion experience of some kind.

Poster - No Mud No Ressurection

“Easter is calculated as the Sunday that follows the first moon after the vernal equinox. It is evidence of a concern centuries before Christ to coordinate the lunar and solar calendars. What we have to recognize is that these celestial bodies represented to the ancients two different modes of eternal life, one engaged in the field of time, like throwing off death, as the moon its shadow, to be born again; the other, disengaged and eternal. The dating of Easter according to both lunar and solar calendars suggests that life, like the light that is reborn in the moon and eternal in the sun, finally is one.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

In this passage, Campbell speaks to the ongoing recognition of the rebirth of life, a recognition that is symbolically larger in scope than the Christian Easter. For centuries, perhaps millennia, humans recognized the time of the Spring Equinox as representation of rebirth. This essential idea is shared by all of humanity. The Christian story personalizes it for the followers of Christian religion(s), so as to encourage followers of that pathway to have courage and to engage life more fully.

In New Thought, we learn that this cycle of death to the old and rebirth to the new is ongoing – it is a moment by moment experience. It is our nature to leave the old ideas behind and to embrace new ideas as they emerge or are discovered. There is always some degree of discomfort in this process, some need to grieve what is being left behind, some awkwardness in mastering the new. When we accept this as our nature, however, we enter into the ongoing changes of life “as a bridegroom to his bride” as St. Augustine wrote. When we consciously choose to develop, we enter the challenges willingly and our transformations become easier (for the most part anyway).

The Holy Week message is one of preparation to rise to a new level of being. We prepare by repenting (releasing) our limitations, doing our inner work to transform our consciousness to create a receptivity to the new. Then, we move through the “crucifixion” – whatever the personal challenge and discomfort are – and allow the inner change to gestate, finally rising as the new consciousness. In this way, we are transformed. The risen Christ Consciousness within is awakened an expresses as a new version of selfawakened and read to contribute in a larger way to the well-being of ourselves and our planet.

Dali-2 - Egg

The moment you stand up and claim your divinity,
Christ is reborn within your heart,
Buddha rejoices,

Mohammed dances upon the mountaintop,
Lao Tzu winks approvingly
And the Promise of the Tree of Life is Fulfilled.

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
And the women my sisters and lovers….

~ Walt Whitman

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

THERE’S “AUTHENTIC” AND THEN THERE’S “AUTHENTIC.” THE DIFFERENCE IS IMPORTANT

“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.”

~ Zen Proverb

We speak and write a lot about “being authentic” in New Thought. And, to be sure it is a desirable state – one where your behaviors are in alignment with your best self.

Sign - Self Knowledge

But, what if you are not in touch with your True Self or highest self and a spiritual teacher tells you to “be authentic.” What happens then?

“The problem with telling someone to be authentic is that they might be an authentic jerk.”

~ Lou Tice

Face - Angry 3

When we are not in touch with our True Self and we are given permission, or encouraged to “be authentic,” what may well happen is some very destructive behavior. While acting out in such a way may be cathartic and possibly lead to some greater realization, it may also lead to a retreat from the True Self. The person may bully others or retreat into depression, as the anger so near the surface can no longer be denied. After all, a two-year-old can be very authentic when biting her sister.

That admonition to “be authentic” can be an invitation to destructive behavior – for our sense of what it means to be authentic is determined by our degree of self-awareness. Even if we are aware that our True Self is Love, we may be some distance away from developing the ability to express that Love consistently. And make no mistake, your authentic self is Love and Wisdom. There is no trace of woundedness, anger, or separation – all of those things arise in our ego mind.

At the level of ego, our “authentic self” is whatever is currently programmed into our reactive mind – our first impulse, if you will. On the other hand, our true “authentic self” is that deepest aspect of Wisdom and Love which we may or may not have accessed in our learning and practice.

This difference between a sense of what is our authentic self is dependent upon our level of development. It is a felt sense. Few if any of us are so fully realized as to be in perfect alignment with our authentic self at the deepest level, so the actualization of our authenticity is always a work in progress. It is an important first step to be aware of this gap between our level of development and our full potential so that we have the humility to see that we have a way to go.

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

The True Authentic Self is at the level of the soul. It is the soul made visible. This self does not need to be empowered – IT ALREADY IS EMPOWERED. It simply needs to be revealed.

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Here, Dr. Holmes urges us to go beyond our reading and listening of the teaching, to internalize it and to bring forth our own highest version of the principles to which we are exposed. Rather than becoming rote learners who can recite some quotations, we actualize the unrealized aspects of our own unique potentials and express them in our lives. In doing this work, our sense of the “authentic self” expands and deepens. We must in a sense depart from the doctrine we are taught so as to embody it more fully via our own uniqueness. How we do this without our fear-based ego convincing us that we are already fully realized is our greatest challenge at this stage. Humility is the key to moving forward – a combination of confidence and uncertainty held in balance.

Holmes ABC

“Let me repeat that ours is not an authoritative religion. We have a textbook, which is the accumulation of the greatest teachings of the ages but we haven’t any idea of becoming a closed system. We have two possibilities; we can become so narrow that we never grow or we can be so broad that we have no depth. It is up to us to find the place in between which gives freedom without giving the freedom to destroy the freedom which makes freedom possible!”

~ Ernest Holmes, “The Seminar Lectures”

As we explore the landscape of our society and its politics, we can see that the reactive mind is at the fore. Things are said, written, posted, and actions are taken that are out of harmony with movement to a higher level of being. This shows the difficulty of coming into alignment with our higher selves in a culture that has all but abandoned such an effort in our public discourse, our media, and entertainment. But we, as students of New Thought principles, must rise above the noise and distractions of the world of appearances.

 “If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”

~ Margaret Mead

Our social fabric is always a reflection of our combined consciousness. What is unfolding in the world today is no different – it is a call to find that deeper, truer “authentic self” within us and to bring it forth into expression. We must learn the spiritual principles, do our daily work to internalize and personalize them (without diluting them), and then bring them into action. It is our greatest calling.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

INTRODUCING “CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS”

SD Online Class Web Flyer 2017 - full

I am very pleased to introduce CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS, a series of online seminars designed to bring the concepts in the book alive and to give spiritual leaders the tools to thrive in these times of rapid change.

We will begin with my popular Introduction to Spiral Dynamics™ a look into the most useful model of cultural evolution and human development available today. In four 2-hour sessions, you will learn the basics of the model and how to use it effectively. There will also be a focus on how to use the Spiral Dynamics Model to help people understand the dynamics of the current politics of the U.S. and Europe. I am a certified presenter of Spiral Dynamics, and have conducted dozens of in-person and online training sessions.

For an investment of just $69, this is a real bargain. And that includes a SPIRAL DYNAMICS BOOKLET in PDF format for each registrant, plus additional handout materials.

Dates and times:

APRIL 10, 13, 17, & 20

4:30pm – 6:30pm Pacific Time/7:30pm – 9:30pm Eastern Time

I recommend that you consider having your entire leadership team take the online class, so that you can make use of the materials more quickly and effectively in your organization. As an organization, you can receive one free registration for every four paid registrations.

All sessions will be recorded, and registered participants can access the recordings for 30 days after the seminar concludes.

To register for this teleseminar, email me at

JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com

You will receive an invoice to pay the $69 seminar fee. Once you have paid, you will receive a link to the first session via email. We will use Zoom.us technology for the teleseminar, or you can join by telephone.

If you have not yet read CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, you can get your copy by clicking on the link below:

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

The book will be available soon from Devorss.com (LINK).

cover

Future teleseminars will include topics such as:

  • Theory U
  • Spiritual and Emotional Intelligence
  • Steps to Creating The Beloved Community
  • Spiral Dynamics™ Part 2

If you have any questions, email me at JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com.

The deadline for registrations is April 9, 2017.

Spiral - Burn Your Old Ways of Thinking

 

MUSINGS ON CUBA, US POLITICS, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF LOVE

Last weekend, Dorianne and I joined six thirty-somethings (i.e. millennials) for a weekend in Havana, Cuba. I have been especially interested in Cuba since my days as a police officer in Miami-Dade County, working alongside many Cuban-Americans. I never thought I would visit Cuba in this lifetime, but, things change and we went.

Cuba is very enigmatic. There is great poverty visible in Havana, but also a great spirit. People were generally open and friendly; music streamed out of nearly every home, no matter how impoverished. Despite being a communist country, there is plenty of entrepreneurial activity – taxis, restaurants, bars, etc., where business is transacted. My sense is that if the current trend toward greater openness is continued, the country will transform in coming years toward a more free and prosperous society. And yet, most churches are either closed or converted to performance spaces, as is the one pictured below.

Here are some photos.

 

Returning from Cuba, I must say that I find the current state of US politics very disturbing. It is as if the two nations are going in different directions. Our newly elected federal government is taking an approach that seems to violate both progressive and conservative principles (LINK). There is little sense of respect for humanity, nor is there a sense of government as being public servants. The initial White House budget proposal drastically cuts many essential services and unnecessarily (IMHO) builds up the military budget which is already bloated (and for conservatives, no balanced budget in sight). And, of course, The Wall must be funded. Historians will note that this is a pattern that every declining society has taken since the Romans – taking funds from arts and citizen support programs and pouring money into the war machine.

That said (full disclosure: my viewpoint is progressive), the US is a nation divided and many people (37% in a new Gallup poll ) support the actions of the new administration.

So, what is a spiritual leader to do?

First, he can remember this quote from Mark Twain:

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand and without examination from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

~ Mark Twain

Second, she can remember this quote from Bertolt Brecht:

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” 

~ Bertolt Brecht

Third, he can remember this quote from Tariq Ramadan:

“You can’t say ‘I don’t do politics,’ because silence is a political statement.”

~ Tariq Ramadan

And fourth, she can remember this quote from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:

“Do we have the courage to hold the grief that comes with the end of a story? You can only hold the beginning if you are prepared to also hold the grief for what is over, otherwise a certain maturity is lacking. At this time, we are called upon to recognize the bigger story—which is not the story of supermarkets, not the story of politicians, not even the story of religious fanatics—but the story of the earth at this time.”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

1a politics

Spiritual leaders cannot, must not, attempt to be apolitical, for there is really no such thing. Often the spiritual leader does not want to upset or alienate someone in the membership who holds different beliefs. Would this hold true if there were a Nazi or a Maoist in the membership? Is it an absolute position or is it a matter of degree? Or they do not wish to get into the coarseness of the political realm; but that is the nature of that realm at this time, and the level of discourse can only be elevated by reasonable voices for compassion. Where are such voices going to come from?

And if the spiritual leader is teaching the importance of spiritual principles being applied to the larger world, and some public figure or institution is, in the judgement of that leader, in violation of those principles, is not speaking out really an option? Can we fail to speak out or to act and still see ourselves as not being political?

My readings of The Science of Mind and other New Thought philosophies make it clear to me that ours is a politics of Oneness, Love, and Compassion. Also, the teachings say that through the realization of our own inner Power we can make our own way in the world. This can be seen as a conservative element of New Thought, in alignment with the American conservative ideal of the “rugged individualist.” It is often used to justify cutting programs for the poor, for instance, out of the belief that if the program is not there, the poor person will be more likely to realize his or her own inner power sooner.

But the founders of New Thought saw themselves as Christian, too. To them the idea of holding someone accountable for a level of consciousness that they had not actualized was wrong. This was why Christian Science, with its expectation of high consciousness from all, even those new to the teaching, as reflected in a dogmatic prohibition of medical care, was never a part of the New Thought family.

We in New Thought also bring something else to the equation – the idea of unlimited possibility, available in full in each moment, accessible to anyone who becomes receptive to it. This critical aspect of New Thought philosophy comes with a very steep requirement – that we be willing to release anything – ANYTHING – that does not serve the emergence of the new possibility. This statement from Abraham Lincoln speaks to this idea from a time before our New Thought Movement existed:

“It is not, Can any of us imagine better? but, Can we all do better? The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

And from Ernest Holmes, the developer of The Science of Mind:

“We shall often need to announce that the Truth which we announce is superior to the condition we are to change. When the inner consciousness agrees with Truth, then – and not until then – a demonstration takes place.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Our politics is Oneness, Love, and Compassion. It will be brought about through principled engagement in the world around us. Can we be silent to a world that cries out for healing?

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

ON WOMEN AND MEN ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN

“The experience of the feminine is the psychological key to both the sickness of our time and its healing.”

~ Marion Woodman

I’ll be relatively brief here, sticking a toe into a vast ocean of possible discussion. It is the International Day of Women. The mere fact that such a day exists speaks to the way that women have been viewed in nearly every culture since humans evolved from earlier primates. Their place in the gender rankings has been a distant second. The best that can be said of western culture today is that there is some recognition of that and an additional recognition of the wrongness of it. That recognition, of course, is not complete, and it is not even universally shared by women. I won’t go into a litany of wrongs committed against women; suffice to say that they are legion and no woman is untouched by them. Nor is any man. Men tend to be less aware of that fact, but a fact it is.

And I can only see this dynamic as a cis-gendered white male; therefore, I need to leave the presentation of different perspectives to others.

Divine Feminine -Sophia

We are all wounded in one way or another and we often project that woundedness onto others. Women and men, lovers of all genders, have been doing that since the beginning of time. That, too is part of our healing journey, and must be addressed as we move forward.

Erica Jong and Sylvia Plath have described the issue well:

“Growing up female in America. What a liability! You grew up with your ears full of cosmetic ads, love songs, advice columns, whoreoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and moral dilemmas on the level of TV soap operas. What litanies the advertisers of the good life chanted at you! What curious catechisms!”

~ Erica Jong

 

“Being born a woman is an awful tragedy… Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars – to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording – all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.”

~ Sylvia Plath

It has been said (and I happen to agree) that racism can be eradicated, but that sexism is here to stay. I think that there is truth in that because sexism is a by-product of sexual attraction. People are attracted to one another, they may fall in love or just in lust, but such experiences tend to cloud the mind and create chaos in many situations. But that does not mean that we cannot greatly improve the nature of our relationships with one another.

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded gun on your coffee table. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about it.”

~ Garrison Keillor

 

“Sometimes you walk past a pretty girl on the street and there’s something beyond beauty in her face, something warm and smart and sensual and inviting, and in the three seconds you have to look at her, you actually fall in love, and in those moments, you can actually know the taste of her kiss, the feel of her skin against yours, the sound of her laugh, how she’ll look at you and make you whole. And then she’s gone, and in the five seconds afterward, you mourn her loss with more sadness than you’ll ever admit to.”

~ Jonathan Tropper

These two quotes speak both to the conditioning of men in our society and to the biological reality of attraction – regardless of the gender(s) involved. But I would suggest that it is masculine energy that is more romantic, the feminine is more practical. How many times has a woman found a way to keep the household running while the man pursues his dreams? How many women have made a relationship begin or end while the man hesitates to share his feelings or to act?

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me nave or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

~ Anaïs Nin

“The more a man swaggers, the more insecure he is in his own masculine nature.”

~ James Hollis

 

Women of New Thought

Some Women in New Thought – Past and Present

We in New Thought are not immune from sexism, although I would suggest the inner examination that naturally comes with our studies, we are often more aware of the issues and interested in equality than others may be. However, although a number of women figured prominently in the founding of New Thought denominations, we have had very few women in positions of top leadership in our more recent history. None of us knows our unconscious and we are all surprised by the things that arise from within us from time to time. Our early conditioning is strong and must be confronted and changed where it results in limited thinking of any kind. When we recognize and integrate our inner masculine and feminine natures within ourselves, we will be better able to integrate them with others to form a more compassionate and wise society.

“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break – and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces.”

~ Marion Woodman

woodman

Marion Woodman

Today, I celebrate women, the divine feminine in all of us, and the possibility for greater equality in our world. The feminine mind and heart has transformational power, and the world is crying out for transformation.

So, teach your children well. And do your spiritual work to realize a world in which everyone is seen as capable of giving their genius to all. The Beloved Community
can only be realized when we join together as one.

A closing quote from Marion Woodman on the crone, which speaks to one possibility of the feminine.

“The crone is the woman who has faced crossroads in her life and has chosen to live with acceptance and love, rather than closing down with resentment. She has expanded into life, losing the ego drive and opening to the full energy of the unconscious. She is a surrendered instrument, living out of her soul. She is an instrument through which the god and goddess energy moves. She comes from love, rather than from ego power. The dark side of the crone is power, because she has intuitive powers that can give her control of other people if she wants to use them that way. The other side of the crone is the love flowing through her that is an immense healing presence. She has a very finely developed masculinity. A highly developed discrimination, discernment, capacity to act. She is like a tuning fork in an environment. Because of who she is, her environment is different because she is there.”

~ From Marion Woodman

Your Comments are welcomed.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM? WHY DON’T THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS?

“When prehistoric fossils were first discovered in rocks, 18th century scientists insisted that they were natural formations, accidental conformations of rock, rather than undertake a massive revision of all their ideas about nature and the age of the earth.”

~ Colin Wilson

Sometimes it seems as if 75% of social media posts are attempts to change someone’s mind about something. And, have you noticed, it rarely, if ever, works. The same is true of many of our conversations and most, if not all the Sunday lessons presented by New Thought Spiritual Leaders.

Despite all the effort, we see very few changed minds. Oh, some are changed over time – because that person decides to change, but no one’s mind is changed without their cooperation.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . .. Can (they) change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

As human beings, we are built to believe that what we already believe is true and to seek out data that agrees with what we already believe. We have built-in brain structures that make us tend to view the world as if it conforms to what we already believe. These structures create blind spots to information that does not conform with what we already believe; and even if forced to view the contradictory information, we can easily rationalize a way around it and keep our same beliefs. We have known this about ourselves for a long time.

fact-and-belief

THE SIX MISTAKES WE MAKE ~ CICERO

1. Believing you can profit from hurting another.
2. Worrying about things you can’t change.
3. To insist that something is impossible just because you can’t do it.
4. Holding fast to trivial pride, preference, and prejudice.
5. People stop learning.
6. Trying to compel others to believe and live as you do.

That #6, is a big one. In New Thought teachings, we learn to change our own mind – not to change the mind of others. Why? Because we have no such power over others. True, we may be able to influence others, but a changed mind must come from within that person. We may be able to make someone behave in a certain way through coercion or force, but that is very unlikely to change their mind. A famous story about the legendary Religious Science minister Raymond Charles Barker (LINK) tells of the time that he had books entitled “How to Change Other People” put in the church bookstore. Many people eagerly purchased them, only to find when opening them that they were blank inside. The next Sunday he spoke about the need to change yourself.

But that is only half of the story.

Changing minds can only happen in a conversation, never in a lecture. Each person must be willing to open their mind to a new possibility – to “go out onto the skinny branches,” as Dr. Arleen Bump often says. There must be an inner dialogue in response to any lecture in which the person moved toward a new belief.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We both enter the conversation with blind spots which you can imagine as being created by the fear that any belief in opposition is a threat to us. Unless we go deeper than our normal surface level (what Scharmer calls Downloading), we will not open the mind, heart, or will – the keys to a changed mind. Like medieval knights in a joust, we will have only two possible outcomes – win or lose – and it is unlikely that any minds will be changed. Unfortunately, we also have blind spots to our ability to go deeper than our surface consciousness.

But, only when we go deeper, into the realms of mind, heart, and will, can we direct our change processes with intention and purpose. In his Theory U Model (LINK), Scharmer shows how this process can be self-directed in individuals and groups.

“Time and again we try to cope with situations using collective instruments that are out of tune. Rather than stopping to tune them, we increase the pace, hire consultants who want to increase productivity by further reducing the time devoted to tuning and practicing, hire new conductors who promise to conduct even faster, and so forth. But the obvious thing to do—to stop and tune the instruments collectively—doesn’t come easily because it requires a shift of the mind to a deeper level of operating.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We can influence others, but how? Often, we insult them and their beliefs, or do things to undermine their success. This is because we are as attached to our own beliefs as they are to theirs and we have our own blind spots! Our belief system tells us that different beliefs can be dangerous to us. Our motivation to convert others to our way of thinking is usually based on an unconscious need to feel safe. When we react out of fear with anger, we will likely influence others to keep their own beliefs! We see the results of such largely unconscious thinking in many social media posts. Until we learn to break with the past and focus on what is wanting to emerge, we will stay in conflict.

“Isn’t there a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility—and to begin to operate from that place? . . . The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Whether you are a leader or not, this awareness is important. We all have blind spots, we all have current beliefs that we will unconsciously defend (rightly or wrongly), and we all will attempt to get others to join us in our blind spots and beliefs. At the same time, others will be trying to get you to join them in their blind spots and beliefs. And so, we go in circles. It can get exhausting and lead to depression and even rage.

theory-u

 

We serve ourselves well when we include these qualities and skills in our spiritual practices and in our organizational practices. If we are to strengthen our ability to stand in Truth, even when uncomfortable, we must be able to release what no longer serves us. We can only let go by healing our blind spots – by being open to amazement. This requires us to bring the process to conscious awareness more often (“What am I missing right now? Where am I locked into a belief? Is it true?”).

mirror-you-are-perfect-as-you-are2

You may come to see that the intransigence of others is a reflection of your own intransigence. That your inner unconscious fears that what you believe is the only right way to believe has created a big blind spot to the validity of different points of view. Which is not to say that you are wrong in your belief, only that your fear and the resulting blind spots make you incapable of seeing other possibilities and empathizing the those who believe differently.

“This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Our New Thought principles (LINK) always lead in the same direction – toward self-awareness and self-development. We do our work in consciousness on ourselves and we transform our belief system toward something greater within the realm of Infinite Possibility. When we are transformed, our experience of life is changed and our influence of others is also changed. Maybe they didn’t need to change at all. Maybe our holding them as “wrong” was a case of spiritual arrogance on our part. Maybe our own transformation created a space for them to expand their awareness and development.

I do my spiritual work.

I cease declaring anyone my enemy.

I embrace my connection to the Infinite.

I am transformed and my experience shifts accordingly.

 

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

As always, your comments are appreciated. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you!

 

Text Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 4

“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

~ Susan B. Anthony

Engaged spirituality requires a strong consciousness. When those engaged in activism have not done their personal psychological and spiritual work to a sufficient degree, they can do more harm than good. They lose their poise, fail to act from a compassionate heart, and are swept away by the energy of events. Only when one has been trained with some degree of rigor in spiritual principles and practices, and has applied themselves to regular practice over sufficient time is one likely to be capable of acting from such a consciousness.

“You can’t be a wimp when you’re doing justice work.”

~ Bishop Yvette Flunder

The Postmodernist-Green values system now dominates New Thought organizations and many local spiritual communities. If, as we evolve along the spiral, we do not bring forward the healthy aspects of the Traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange levels (transcend & include), then Green will become unhealthy, because the values at the Green level do not support what organizations need to thrive. Green is, in part, a transitional stage between 1st and 2nd Tiers of the spiral – between levels of complexity and their value systems. Many of the values (both healthy and unhealthy) essential to the Blue/Orange organizational structure can be abandoned with the movement into Green.

Green vMEME

Green sees consensus as the ultimate form of decision making and shared leadership as the vehicle for generating consensus. But while consensus is laudable, it is rarely achievable unless everyone at the table is operating at or beyond the Green Level of Existence. Someone at Orange or below on the spiral will not value consensus and will feel forced into compliance, even though that may not be the intention of leadership.

“Consensus comes with another flaw. It dilutes responsibility.” 

~ Frederic Laloux, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

In fact, Green is where the Blue/Orange form of organization goes to die. Die so that it can be re-born at the 2nd Tier level, as the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar and be re-born as the butterfly. The caterpillar has no knowledge of what is coming, a huge transformation; the butterfly has no knowledge of where it came from. Organizations entering the chrysalis of Green, without awareness of the dynamics involved, are like the caterpillar – they are blind to what is coming, what is beginning to emerge from within them. And while in the caterpillar to butterfly transformation, nature knows what to do, in organizational transformation, we must depend on the collective wisdom of the group.

Green is where we begin to shed the old forms of fear-based structure, of centralization and hierarchical authority, of mistrust of people at every level. We have some insight into Integral-Yellow level organizations thanks to the work of Frederic Laloux (LINK to REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS) and others. What we see emerging at 2nd Tier levels are things like self-organizing teams where full authority is moved to those who actually do the work.

“Others will arise who will know more than we do; they won’t be better or worse, they will be different and know more than we do. Evolution is forward.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, Sermon By The Sea- Asilomar, Saturday, August 15, 1959

This requires 2nd Tier leadership at the top of the flattened organization, as leaders centered in the 1st Tier generally lack the degree of trust and vision needed to actualize the Yellow organization. In fact, most of the structures in Blue/Orange organizations arose out of a lack of trust in people. However, Laloux give us a glimpse into what can be. We see the beginnings of this with the increasing decentralization of authority in Centers for Spiritual Living and Unity. But this is only the beginning of the movement into 2nd Tier, and Green values often  limit the functioning of the organization or spiritual community while it is still in its First Tier structure. This makes the transition more difficult, even treacherous, than it need be.

“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophical adventure.” 

~ Alfred North Whitehead

Where in our New Thought organizations, with their predominance of Green leadership, is there the vision and the power for change? Where is the authority held in organizations to require ANYTHING of leadership in local spiritual communities? It has dissipated like the morning fog as we have moved into new cultural evolutionary ways of being. Leaders who try to exercise authority are ignored or shouted down, sometimes lovingly, but they surely are hampered in their ability to lead.

This shows up in many ways – one is when ministers who teach accredited classes in CSL (I cannot speak for Unity here) freely replace significant content from the accredited curriculum and yet see no ethical issues in signing off on certificates of completion from CSL which say that the student has completed the required curriculum. If CSL leadership questions this practice, they are rebuffed with a “how dare you question me?” attitude. And the leaders tend to back down, because what else can they do without upsetting someone?

Why does this matter? Shouldn’t ministers have the freedom to teach what they want?

I think it matters because the  CSL organization and local spiritual communities had an original intention – a Prime Directive if you will – to teach the Science of Mind philosophy. If every community does that differently (and, let’s be honest, not every unique way of teaching the material is equally effective), where is any sense of uniformity within our movement about our basic reason for being and our spiritual principles?

Simply put – New Thought leaders need to up-level cultural evolutionary awareness, as in Spiral Dynamics™, Theory U, and the work of Frederic Laloux.

ce-books

My reason for bringing this issue up here is to give some context to the issue of whether to engage in social activism, or any form of engaged spirituality. If we are drifting away, however unintentionally, from our core reason for being, how can we engage in this important conversation from a common set of principles and values?

There are two steps to effective engaged spirituality:

  1. Realization and actualization of the spiritual principles of the teaching.

  2. Engagement with the outer world that is consistent with those principles by people who have developed #1.

In my opinion, before (or at least, as) we decide what forms of engaged spirituality we will take, we need to decide to become a unified body teaching the same basic spiritual principles in an atmosphere of love, compassion, and full accountability. This means that, at minimum, every student who takes classes in the Science of Mind at any CSL center will learn the same principles and practices. There will be a common understanding of these and a common vocabulary. We all recognize the importance of bringing the highest possible consciousness to what we do; so why should involvement in engaged spirituality be any different? 2nd Tier organizations may self-organize and decentralize decision making, but they do so in an atmosphere of adherence to the basic principles and values of the organization.

This blog series, I hope, will lead to some serious consideration about how we go forward as New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. To do so, we must understand where we are developmentally on the spiral, and bring the best of those values systems present forward in our visioning and decision making.

“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

 

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 3

“We have yet to see what the multiplied consciousness of a church body can do, if they are properly trained, if they permit someone to exercise an authority over them.”

~ Ernest Holmes

This quote from Ernest Holmes speaks from the Tradionalist-Blue value system. Although the focus of The Science of Mind philosophy arises primarily from the Modernist-Orange values system, Holmes and others recognized the importance of traditional values in organizational matters. As the Postmodernist-Green values system emerged and evolved in New Thought, some of the traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange values were left behind. Some of this was positive (letting go of overly authoritarian leadership; being less driven by numbers and $$$) and some was negative (seeing all forms of authority as negative; being overly feelings-oriented).

Green values include wanting everyone to feel good about themselves all the time, so rigor in instruction or testing/evaluation is not highly valued. In fact, it is often rejected. This has evolved away from rigorous teaching spiritual principles to more informal classes where standards are relaxed (everyone passes), and ideas outside of New Thought principles are often given equal value. This has led to a greater disparity in the degree to which students of New Thought teachings understand and can apply their basic principles.

Additionally, local spiritual leaders pay less attention to centralized curricula and teach what they want to teach (which would be a reflection of both Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green values). I am not talking only about adding to the existing curricula, but changing it significantly. As I will focus on in Part 4 of this series, there is little remaining authority in the leadership of New Thought organizations to hold individual spiritual leaders and communities accountable.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

We do have our sacred cows. And, like many other things, they have evolved over time.

The evolutionary movement of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities from its historic center of gravity as an inward-focused spirituality toward a more outward-focused engaged spirituality is happening before our eyes.

On the spiral (LINK), we can see the historic focus on teaching spiritual principles as the “prime directive” of New Thought spiritual communities arises from the Traditionalist-Blue values system. The focus on engaged spirituality emerges from the Postmodern-Green values system. Both are valid from a values systems perspective. One evolutionary issue that has emerged is that the Postmodernist-Green level has not properly valued the Traditionalist-Blue value of rigorous teaching of spiritual principles.

Spiral Dynamics Chart 2

The failure of newly emerging levels of the spiral to incorporate the healthy aspects of earlier levels is a common problem. We see it in the larger culture when Modernist-Orange emerges and the traditional ethical practices of Traditionalist-Blue are not carried forward – we get scandals, Enron and the Recession of 2008 to name just two.

While Religious Science began with a strong Orange component of spiritual individualism, it adopted the traditional Christian Church Model and held to the Blue value of rigorous teaching of the basic principles in a uniform way from spiritual community to spiritual community. The evaluation and credentialing processes were also fairly rigorous throughout the 20th Century.

This began to change in the late 1990’s as the Postmodernist-Green level began to have a greater influence in the movement. The rigor of the past seemed harsh, as those who “failed” to become practitioners or ministers felt badly, as did those who had to “pass judgement” on them. The idea of holding students to rigorous levels of performance in classes also began to change, and a period of just about everyone passing just about everything, from basic classes to the awarding of doctorates began, and continues to this day. This is the Postmodernist-Green level expressing.

“Every transformation demands as its precondition ‘the ending of a world’ – the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols

In the previous installment of this series (Part 2 – LINK), I wrote about the need for a both/and plan for the emergence of more engaged spirituality in New Thought. By this, I meant that for engaged spirituality to be truly effective, it must be carried out by spiritually realized people – people who have thoroughly learned the basic principles of the teaching and who continue to learn to apply those principles throughout their lives (lifelong learning). Engaged spirituality requires some rigor in preparing people to enter highly contentious situations. I am not sure that we can say that we have that kind of rigor in many of our New Thought spiritual communities today.

“We will not refuse to help the helpless or lift up the fallen, but we will refuse to wallow in the mud because of our sympathies.”

~ Ernest Holmes 

Postmodernist-Green is higher on the spiral than Traditionalist-Blue or Modernist-Orange. To be successful, higher levels must include some of the healthy aspects of the lower levels. So, Green needs to include a value for some traditional values, such as holding people accountable to developing a high degree of mastery of basic spiritual principles. This is especially true where credentialing is involved – in Centers for Spiritual Living at the practitioner and ministerial levels. When such accountability is absent, standards are lowered and the organization suffers at every level. Spiritual leaders must be willing to stand firm on this issue – both with themselves and with their students, or truly empowered engaged spirituality will not occur.

In Part 4 of this series, I will explore the role of Spiritual Organizations in this unfolding of engaged spirituality.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

cover

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 2

“The ego wants containment and control. It is only the soul that wants meaning and mystery. In fact, that is how I can know whether it is my ego that is leading me or the ‘brightness and the Holy Spirit.’ If I have not found a way to hear and allow that deeper level of soul, I will use all my roles, my relationships, and even my religion to fortify my ego and my private agenda.”

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

In this post I want to make the case for organizational inaction; for non-participation in demonstrations or protests; for remaining quiet to the political winds and trends. A case for those of us in New Thought to simply focus on building a consciousness of empowered love in ourselves and for teaching that to all who come to us for spiritual instruction, and for making that the one and only focus of our spiritual communities.

For I believe that such a case can be made. I believe that one can take the position that our focus should be to empower each individual to develop spiritually and to make no attempt to influence them as to how to use that empowerment in their own lives, merely to trust that they will do so with wisdom and love.

Engaged-Spirituality.jpg

From the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT)

I recently did a legacy interview with Rev. William Arrott for the Science of Mind Archives and Library Foundation (LINK). Rev. Arrott has been a student of The Science of Mind since the 1960’s. His position is basically what I stated above – that we as an organization should take no positions on any political issues; that we should focus strictly on teaching spiritual principles. If that is done correctly, he says, then we can trust that many will become active in the outer world in positive ways. The spiritual organizations and local centers/churches should not take positions, nor encourage their members to engage in any specific cause. We will lose some people as a result, and we limit our ability to reach out to the largest possible number of potential students of Truth, Rev. Arrott says. The focus becomes on arguing or strategizing over issues rather than teaching and learning principle.

basic-principles-of-som

“In the Science of Mind, we learn that persistent, constructive thought is the greatest power known and the most effective. If the visible effect in our lives is not what it should be, if we are unhappy, sick and poverty stricken, we know the remedy. The Truth is always the remedy, and the Truth is that the law of liberty is the only real law. When we reverse the process of thought, the effect will be reversed.”

~ Ernest S. Holmes, The Science of Mind 

Some years ago, when I was a new minister, I had a conversation with a rabbi (whose name I do not recall). We were in Baltimore at a consciousness expo where my center had a booth. The rabbi did not have a congregation. His ministry was traveling the world teaching Jews about the early Christians, his area of study, and speaking at interfaith events. Interestingly, the rabbi had taken two years of Science of Mind classes with Dr. Stuart Grayson at the First Church of Religious Science in New York, and he had read many of the writings of Ernest Holmes.

During that conversation, the rabbi said to me (all of this a paraphrased), “You know, The Science of Mind is not a religion, right?”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because it does not have a moral construct,” he replied.

“Really?” I responded. “What is a moral construct?”

“A moral construct,” the rabbi said, “is when a religion has specific rules for you to follow no matter how advanced you are in the religion. For example, the Jewish religion has moral constructs to tell the most advanced rabbis how to be a good Jew, and the Catholic religion has moral constructs for even the pope to know how to be a good Catholic. The Science of Mind does not have that.”

I thought about that for a moment, then responded, “I agree,” then asked, “What would someone who fully embodied the principles of The Science of Mind be like?

The rabbi thought for a moment and replied, “Someone who fully embodied the principles of The Science of Mind would manifest at the level of Jesus.”

“I agree!” I responded. “And you would not need to tell someone manifesting at the level of Jesus how to be a good Religious Scientist. They would just know how.”

“And I agree to that,” the rabbi said.

I have often thought about that conversation in the years since. Many who came into New Thought, especially Religious Science, before the 1990’s were taught that we did not take positions on issues, we treated to know the Truth. We taught our students to fully realize their own spiritual potential and trusted them to make wise and loving decisions from that perspective.

“A change of consciousness does not come by simply willing or wishing. It is not easy to hold the mental attention to an ideal, while the human experience is discordant, but – it is possible. Knowing the Truth, is not a process of self-hypnosis, but one of a gradual unfoldment of the inner self.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

But things began to change. During the first decade of the 21st Century, statements were made by the two Religious Science organizations (now one) regarding Marriage Equality. Some spiritual communities began to engage in social activism. And more statements emerged from the integrated Centers for Spiritual Living. Similar patterns have emerged in Unity.

So, are the two positions (and degrees of both), one of not taking stands on issues and another of being active in a variety of ways really in opposition – as in one is always correct and one is always wrong? Or do they reflect the cultural evolution of those in New Thought toward a more engaged version of spirituality? If the latter, then they are a polarity (LINK), meaning that they may ebb and flow, but that there needs to be a balance of both ideas – more of a both/and than an either/or alternative. We can think of it as an integration of the two – fully teaching New Thought spiritual principles as a basis of the spiritual community, and practicing engaged spirituality, or not, based upon the cultural evolutionary level(s) of the spiritual community.

“We have yet to see what the multiplied consciousness of a church body can do, if they are properly trained, if they permit someone to exercise an authority over them.”

~ Ernest Holmes

In Part 3 we will explore this unusual quote from Ernest Holmes and more on the evolution of Engaged Spirituality in the New Thought Movement.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)