ON THE MONARCHY, THE LORD’S PRAYER, THE OLD SONGS, AND OTHER ANACHRONISMS

ANACHRONISM: a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.

“I have spent most of my career pointing out the dangers of imagining a Golden Age in the past that we should try to recapture. Nostalgia offers a warped explanation of what actually did work in the past and airbrushes out what did not. It leads to the scapegoating of those who supposedly ruined ‘the good old days’ while providing no tools for coping with the new realities that underlie contemporary challenges. That said, nostalgia often arises out of a real experience of loss. It needs to be addressed and redirected, not ridiculed or denounced.”
~ Stephanie Koontz

The death of Queen Elizabeth II has represented many things in many ways to many different people. This has ranged from deep sadness for the person, truly a mega-celebrity in the western world and beyond to anger that people are mourning not only a symbol of colonialism and oppression, but someone who directly participated in such oppression during her reign.

And there are the arguments about the continued existence of the monarchy itself. From a Spiral Dynamics (LINK) view, monarchies along with dictatorships are the governing mechanism of the Traditionalist-Blue Values System, which is no longer dominant in most of Europe. The monarchies which still exist, in Great Britain, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and a few other countries (43 worldwide!!) are vestiges of a past which no longer exists. These countries are today functioning democracies of the parliamentary type, the monarchs now largely ceremonial with a few formal duties. This is very different from the absolute rulership held by monarchs when Blue values dominated.

Democracy is the preferred governing mechanism of the Modernist-Orange Values System, the dominant system in the west today. At the Postmodernist-Green level, consensus is valued, but there are currently no nations using such a system. As the Green system continues to emerge that will likely change at some point.

With newly emerged and evolving systems now prevalent over the Blue system, it can be said that the monarchical system of rulership is an anachronism wherever the society is centered at Orange or above on the spiral. The problem with anachronisms is that they inhibit progress toward higher level systems by their very existence – even if only ceremonial. We can see the attachment to the current anachronistic monarchy of Great Britain in the millions, if not billions who are captivated not only by this funeral, but also by all things monarchical. Taking that away would give more meaning to the parliamentary system over governance and free up quite a bit of revenue for the British people, but it would be fought tooth and nail by a sizeable portion of the population, just as all progress is.

“We are entering the long dark. I use that term not negatively at all. I use it alchemically, that certain things can only happen in darkness. We are in a time of decay, a time of collapse, a time of endings, a time of sheddings. These are necessary. 
“We are seeing this last gasp effort to try to uphold the old structures. Keep capitalism going. Keep the stock market inflated. They’re all going to collapse. They have to, because the system, as you know from your work, is unsustainable. Not only in terms of world resources, but just in terms of human capacity to endure that kind of emptiness.
“The collapse is happening. I think what we have to do right now is ask ourselves and each other how do we become skillful in navigating our walk in the dark? How do we cultivate imagination? How do we cultivate collaboration? How do we cultivate fields of reciprocity with the Earth, within human and more-than-human communities, so that we’re not extracting more than what can be replenished? How do we cultivate the spiritual values of restraint and mutuality?”
~ Francis Weller

A few years ago, a minister of a rather large New Thought community told me that he wanted to update the Sunday order of service and that included removing the traditional weekly recitation of The Lord’s Prayer. As you can imagine, this was greeted with outrage (yes, outrage) by some of the members. So, he put it back in. He removed in a couple of more times over the next few years before it was acceptable to remove it permanently.

I have seen, and participated in, such instances of upset over the proposed or actual removal of an anachronism or tradition. It might be changing the music or the music director, remodeling the space, or re-striping the parking lot (I have a story about that). People get attached to what is and often don’t like things to change unless it is their idea.

Evolutionary times call for evolutionary leadership. That means leadership which helps to make change, even transformational change, to be seen as a part of the basic values system of the community. When change is seen as not just inevitable but as desirable, people respond more positively.

Letting go of things we are comfortable with is difficult. It is also a challenge to identify what may be holding us back and what may be helpful to our continuing forward. This is the essence of managing change, which itself is an inadequate term for change is often unmanageable. Evolution doesn’t care what we cherish, it is going forward with or without us. Where evolutionary forces are involved, it is true that you either change or perish.

My suggestion is this: Principles are sacred, Forms are expendable. The minister referenced above showed another principle of dealing with change – no decision is final. He removed and replaced the Lord’s Prayer several times to allow the members to get used to the change. Sometimes that is the wise course, sometimes the change needs to be made right away. But when there is fluidity in the decision-making process, we are less rigid. We must help those who are resistant to make the changes which we are all called upon to make.

These are turbulent times where old ways are fading away and new ways are emerging at a rapid pace. The cost of holding onto the old ways is high and getting more and more costly. Spiritual leaders and others must recognize that ministries must change in order to remain relevant, and in some cases to gain back lost relevance. Where I live in France, churches themselves are anachronisms – less than 1% of the population attends regularly and the buildings which are not supported by tourist donations are being sold or razed. The same is true though much of Europe. Attendance is dropping in North America, hastened by the Pandemic, but it would have happened anyway. The evolutionary imperative toward emerging newness is relentless and fighting against it is frustrating at best, fatal at worst.

We begin by recognizing and accepting what is happening. Then we turn our creative energies toward creating the new future. We learn to honor the past without letting it become an obstacle to necessary progress. That is the calling for the evolutionary leadership of today. More to come on this in future posts.

“I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of my power–the path before me was closed, that provisions were exhausted and the time came to take shelter in a silent obscurity.
But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

WELL, HERE WE ARE

This past Wednesday was the 7th Anniversary of the start of this blog. That was 271 posts ago and over 88,000 individual visitors ago. I want to thank my readers, especially the loyal ones who follow the blog regularly. I hope I have added value to your lives and your ministries. But where do we go from here?

“The true purpose of mature religion is to lead you to ever new experiences of your True Self. If religion does not do this, it is junk religion. Every sacrament, every Bible story, every church service, every sermon, every hymn, every bit of priesthood, ministry, or liturgy is for one purpose: to allow you to experience your True Self—who you are in God and who God is in you—and to live a generous life from that Infinite Source.”

~ Richard Rohr

Being in ministry is a tall order, and so is living in the consciousness of ministry in a faithful way. The latter requires no credentials nor employment in the field. The former requires active participation in the latter. Those in ministry as a calling, as a profession, must hold themselves to high standards due to the significance of the trust that those who engage with the ministry will have in them as spiritual leaders and teachers. I have written many times in these pages about how we may fall short, as individuals, as spiritual leaders, as spiritual communities, and as spiritual organizations. It is a high calling with deeply profound levels of accountability. It isn’t for everyone.

The year 2022 is steaming along and, in some ways, it is sort of a replay of 2020 and 2021. Pandemic, climate crises, political and social upheaval, loss of trust in institutions, and more. As some awaken to the degree to which racism, sexism, gender exclusion and marginalization, classism, and religious bigotry have permeated our society, others fight to maintain the status quo, or even go back in time, denying their accountability in these issues, past or present – refusing to even have the conversation. Divisiveness seems to be the energy of the moment. And fear.

And being in spiritual community, as leaders or as members, has become more challenging. The Pandemic drove us to Zoom and we lost the personal contact and connection which is such an important component of spiritual community; it is coming back, but slowly in some places.

Revenues, giving and fees, are down, meaning that buildings are becoming a burden and pay raises to help ministers and other employees keep up with inflation are out of reach for many.

And, we have all experienced illness and loss, directly or indirectly, as a result of the Pandemic or from some other cause. Countless prayer treatments being done and seemingly little to show for them. Are you keeping track of healings in your ministry? Are you spreading the good news, limited though it may be?

There has never been a greater need for self-compassion and kindness in my lifetime. And I am privileged in many ways, as I well know.

Whether we are collectively in a transformational process which will lead to a new era of wisdom and compassion, or whether we are in a breakdown period which leads not to breakthrough but collapse, we do not know. I am taking the position of an “apocaloptimist,” or one who sees that we are in deep trouble on our current course, but I also see great potentials awakening.

There is no magic wand, no savior, no pill to take to make everything okay. Only a collective expression of wisdom and compassion – or at least a willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt – can bring us to a sustainable way forward for humanity. We must decide to love ourselves and each other through this time of stress, no matter how long it takes. Is there another option?

New Thought teachings carry the seeds of the possible and seek to help each of us to create a consciousness through which our true potential can be fully expressed. This requires a deep commitment to spiritual practices, to personal accountability, and to nurturing of compassion for self and others. We do this best in community – The Beloved Community.

Stay engaged with your spiritual community. If you find it uninspiring or lacking in other ways, commit to being a catalyst for change for the better. Cooperate with others to bring out the potentials of one another. Be in support of others and allow others to support you. Commit to live that “generous life from Infinite Source” that Fr. Rohr refers to above. I don’t know another way forward.

As Ram Dass said: “We’re all just walking each other home.”

I will soon be announcing some connection calls where spiritual leaders can work together to create and be The Beloved Community. I will continue the blog. I will do what I can.

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

PURPOSE IN SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

Let’s begin with a list of purposes for spiritual leadership:

1.To help people to realize opportunities for spiritual growth.

A spiritual leader and teacher cannot force anyone to become more spiritual. A person who attends regularly, goes to classes, and collects certificates may or may not be growing spiritually. The role of spiritual leader in this context is to create an atmosphere where growth can occur and provide information, experiences, and examples which are conducive to spiritual growth. The leader can also be an active advocate for those who take the risks involved in spiritual growth.

2. To teach the teaching (philosophy, principles, etc.) of the faith tradition to the best of one’s ability.

Whatever faith tradition one adheres to, it is the responsibility of spiritual leaders to teach the principles and practices of that tradition faithfully and with integrity. In New Thought communities, I regularly encounter a hunger for the basic principles to be reinforced for both new and experienced students, but the spiritual leader(s) has become bored with them and emphasizes new or different materials to the point where the basics have faded into the background.

The core principles of the teaching need to be introduced thoroughly to new students and reinforced and expanded upon regularly for more experienced students. If this is not done, the essence of the faith tradition fades.

3. To be an imperfect but sincere example of living the teaching.

As a spiritual leader, one is accountable for one’s actions and to be an example of spiritual principles in action. That said, no one is perfect, and we will all be somewhat imperfect examples. Allowing this vulnerability to show can be a very positive example of spiritual growth.

That said, spiritual leaders are also accountable for their own spiritual and psychological growth and well-being. Leaders must lead and not become dependent upon others in their community for support on a constant basis. Spiritual leaders should develop a support system which ideally includes mentorship, spiritual support (practitioners), professional development support, and healing support when needed. There should also be a healthy social and cultural life for spiritual leaders outside of the spiritual community.

Some of these things should be available from a parent organization, but others must be arranged by the leaders themselves.

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of this kind of support system for spiritual leaders in times of rapid change and great challenges such as we are experiencing today.

4. To provide vision and leadership for the “container” for the first three – whether a spiritual community or some other form of ministry.

Spiritual leadership requires the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) to lead within whatever that container is – a community, a teaching chapter, a focus ministry, etc. That container is the vehicle by which the spiritual principles and practices are taught and/or delivered.

The KSA’s of leadership are built over the foundation of the leader’s own spiritual and psychological health and well-being. In order to meet the demands of leadership, leaders must be well enough to function with competence and integrity. A part of that integrity is the recognition that one may not be in a healthy place and therefore seeking help from the support system mentioned above.

“I am personally convinced that one person can be a Change Catalyst, a ‘Transformer’ in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a Transforming Leader.”

~ Stephen R. Covey

And in today’s world, spiritual leadership also requires comfort with, even mastery of, change. This is linked to vision – holding and communicating the vision along with the spiritual principles to all touched by the ministry. Change is not optional. Being an agent of change in this context means being willing to alter the forms as appropriate without sacrificing principles or the overarching vision of the ministry.

The process of change goes something like this: current state – disruption (which may be gradual or sudden) – liminal state (in-between state which will be uncomfortable and perhaps chaotic) – new current state – next disruption, and so on.

This change process can be happening simultaneously in any number of areas of one’s personal and professional life. Some of the change processes are large scale (like climate change), some are more immediate (a sudden resignation of an employee).

Leadership today is in large measure facilitating overlapping change processes while holding as steady as possible to a principle-based fulfillment of a vision.

As spiritual leaders, we need to support one another as best we can. We need to practice effective self-care as well as personal and professional development activities. When in the role of follower, we need to support our leaders as they support us – holding them accountable, but from a compassionate place. If we are to build and maintain effective ministries so as to together create and be #TheBelovedCommunity, we will have to work together, wisely and compassionately.

“The moment you step out of the ordinary ranks, the moment you step out of the procession that moves endlessly down the aisle, you are in the spotlight of evolution. Your own choice has decided you, and you are no longer going to think as others. You are no longer going to lay your greatness at the feet of a person whom you recognize to be great. The moment a person steps out of the endless stream of humanity, they no longer go by the norm that was set by the mass mind. They are a leader; they are a thinker. They are one who introduces new things to the world.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Beverly Hills Lectures

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT . . .

“This era is one in which old structures are essentially liquifying. As political ideas, socio-economic forms, gender assumptions and cultural habits turn to goo, the impulse is to put new structures in place. But this is not that moment, this is the liquid liminal time. Solids melt.”

~ Nora Bateson on Facebook

My heart is broken. My country is in a downward spiral and things seem to get worse by the day. With all that needs to be done to improve our possibilities, how can so many diligently work to make things worse? How do we come to the collective realization that what we hold dear, including life itself, is in peril? Although we have moved our home to France, our hearts remain with the US. How did we get to this place and how do we move through the turmoil toward our higher potentials?

There is a concept in psychology which has a metaphysical truth within it – the idea that we cannot build anything with true integrity if we begin with a false premise, one lacking in integrity, or one which has outgrown its usefulness. When we do not address our false premises, or we deny them or try to cover them over with polite behaviors, the repressed shadow qualities do not dissolve, they go underground. In the individual they go into the subconscious; in the collective they go into the collective unconscious. In both cases, they remain active as behind-the-scenes players in our subsequent actions and experiences.

If we are to be effective in aiding the unfolding transformation of the United States (and the world) in a positive way, we will need to be spiritually and psychologically healthy as individuals. That means we will need to face the difficult reality which confronts us no matter how painful. We must recognize that the chaos we are experiencing is part of the transformational process – a process which must be guided by wisdom, love, and compassion.

The United States is a nation which was founded on high ideals for their time, but these ideals were largely aspirational, masking oppression and violence toward the Native Americans, the enslaved Africans, and others. These masked aspects became the shadow of the nation, one which has grown over time through wars, corruption, ongoing racism, sexism and religious oppression, and more. Our denial of these masked aspects has pressurized our collective psyche. They are now erupting into nearly every aspect of our national lives. Our national psyche is crying for our attention and healing in the same way that an individual psyche does: by causing disturbance and disruption so that we pay attention.

I will not go through the litany of our ills, which run the gamut from problems in education and healthcare to government conflict and ineptitude to racism to rising authoritarianism driven by fear and more. If the United States were an individual person, they would be erupting with all kinds of physical illnesses and mental and emotional pathologies. In any organic system this is what occurs when the psyche cannot get the attention of the conscious process to facilitate corrective action or healing. The system erupts in dysfunction.

Reactions and responses include calls for greater inclusion and at the same time, calls for greater authoritarianism. Violence erupts physically on our streets and emotionally on social media. There is an increased need for mental and emotional support at a time when there have been decades of funding cuts for those services while insurance coverage has reduced. It seems as if the Perfect Storm is brewing – but will anything be left when it passes?

“Anxiety, heartbreak and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.”

~ Pema Chödron

The surface behaviors we are seeing are symptoms of a deeper process which is demanding transformational change. Ideally, this change will be toward healing, but that is not necessarily the path we will take. Like the addict who is nearing the bottom, we may blindly continue to fall. There are many signs that our collective dysfunctions are expanding and too few of us are recognizing what is happening. Fewer still are willing or able to step up and act to turn our course toward healing.

We are looking at a time of transformational change for humanity. While the United States seems to be a bellwether in the emergence of the disruptive call for transformation, we can see it across the planet. As things heat up, literally and figuratively, we see who is enlarging to take on the challenges and who is regressing into denial and resistance.

Sadly, most of the responses are directed at translational change, not at transformational change. Translational change is like rearranging the furniture; transformational change is rebuilding the house. When the house is on fire, rearranging the furniture is the wrong response. Translational change is an important part of the process, but alone it is inadequate for the demands of the present and the near future.

Nora Bateson writes of the “liquification” of our institutions – most cannot adapt to the increasing complex needs of humanity. If we do not seek to resolve the conflicts and errors of the past which we have buried in our psyches, individual and collective, we will not be fully available to deal with our current challenges. The repressed aspects, the things we hide or pretend to hide from ourselves, take up too much room in our mental/emotional process.

“I have read somewhere of an old Chinese curse: ‘May you be born in an interesting time!’ This is a VERY interesting time: there are no models for ANYTHING that is going on. It is a period of free fall into the future, and each has to make his or her own way. The old models are not working; the new have not yet appeared. In fact, it is we who are even now shaping the new in the shaping of our interesting lives. And that is the whole sense (in mythological terms) of the present challenge: we are the ‘ancestors’ of an age to come, the unwitting generators of its supporting myths, the mythic models that will inspire its lives.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

What Campbell described 40 years ago is even more true today, if only because the same process is farther along. We are in a long stretch of liminal space, which is the between phase of transformational change. What used to work doesn’t anymore and we have no one to show us the way. This is why it is so critical to be spiritually sound in times such as this. Those who do not grow and develop in integrity will act out of fear and add to the problems rather than heal them. We are seeing this all around us.

It is time for spiritual warriors to emerge, people with healthy self-concepts and the capacity to envision positive change and work toward it. We are called upon to become psychologically enlarged so that we can express our natural power with love and compassion, but also with strength and resiliency. Those who are in fear will fight those who recognize the need to make difficult sacrifices in lifestyle and perspective which are required if we are to co-create a stable and sustainable humanity and a planet for us to live on. It will take a great deal of mental clarity and emotional and spiritual strength to stay the course toward healing.

These times are going to demand much of us – and we must heal ourselves (seeking appropriate help when needed) so that we are up to the challenge. This is where a vibrant, healthy spiritual community is so essential to us as a support system.

“What I look for in a congregation are companions who wake me up, who challenge me by their very presence to put my nets out into deeper waters, and who have traded respectability for Divine Love. I want to be that kind of presence for others as well.”

~ Bruce Sanguin in THE EMERGING CHURCH

What you can do:

  1. Daily spiritual practices – prayer/treatment, affirmations, meditation, journaling, visualizing, etc.
  2. Find kindred souls who have the same vision you have for a better society and connect to find positive ways to contribute.
  3. Engage your spiritual community and leadership in becoming more active and relevant in creating #aworldthatworksforeveryone.
  4. If family members and friends have different worldviews than you do, give them the gift of deeply listening to them. If the atmosphere is or becomes too toxic, give yourself the gift of separation, while holding them in love.
  5. Practice self-care – these are difficult times and you need to be rested and fit mentally and physically.
  6. Stay informed but take “news breaks” when you feel overwhelmed or in danger of burnout.
  7. Write to your elected officials with your vision of what is possible, not with complaints.
  8. Remember, as Ram Dass said – “We are all just walking each other home.”

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

Now available at all AMAZON sites worldwide.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Book Release

I am very excited to announce to you, my blog readers, that my new book, BEING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: Spiritual Leadership to Master Change, is now available on Amazon (all sites) in paperback and Kindle formats!

In the five years since I published Creating the Beloved Community, A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, much has changed – including the rate of change and how change occurs. Readers of that book will recall that I predicted this kind of phenomena, but neither I nor anyone else could have predicted the ways in which patterns of change have developed. Now, in BEING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY, Spiritual Leadership to Master Change, I explore these changing phenomena and present ways for spiritual communities and organizations to respond and to master change.

The concept of The Beloved Community as envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Dr. Howard Thurman, and others forms the basis for the overall vision of this book. I see The Beloved Community as people on a spiritual pathway who seek a closer relationship with God (however named and defined) AND as people who will take their spiritual awareness into the world to be examples of love and compassion in action. The Beloved Community is about being truly dedicated to walking your talk – to being in full alignment with spiritual principles.

BEING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (BBC) explores ways to be better spiritual leaders during times of great change, looks at stewardship (financial and otherwise), how to select leaders, and dives into the concept of evolutionary leadership. My target audience is anyone who is in spiritual leadership or who cares about it. BBC is an excellent companion to CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY or can be a stand-alone volume.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be interested.

Link on Amazon.com:  https://www.amazon.com/BEING-BELOVED-COMMUNITY-Leadership-LEADERSHIP-ebook/dp/B0B2Q9F5XY/ref=sr_1_3?crid=KBMTDP7W52HU&keywords=jim+lockard&qid=1654076456&sprefix=jim+lockard%2Caps%2C306&sr=8-3

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

YOU CAN’T BULLSHIT THE CREATIVE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE

“I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

“Signs of big change are everywhere; our only choice is whether the changes will come through wisdom or through pain.”

~ Marianne Williamson

TRIGGER WARNING: The word “bullshit” is used in this post.

One of the problems with seeing the Creative Power, or God, as a being is that we think we can fool beings. We subconsciously project our own human limitations onto this idea of a being, including our ability to be tricked or fooled. This leads to all kinds of problems, from self-delusion to procrastination to spiritual bypassing. Trying to bullshit the Creative Power of the Universe by thinking your thoughts have no power is like trying to BS the air around you by holding your breath. Trying to bullshit the Creative Power of the Universe by saying “it’s all good” when you feel the opposite is a wasted effort.

Ernest Holmes said the biggest obstacle to using the Science of Mind™ successfully was a lack of self-honesty. We may be able to fool others, and even fool ourselves, but we cannot fool the Creative Power of the Universe. I think we realize this on some level, but we still too often try to bullshit our way out of problems or ignore what we should be facing. We succumb to our fears and give ourselves the false security of ignoring the truth.

We live in a universe of unlimited potential, but our ability to actualize that potential is limited by our own consciousness – what we can come to accept and believe as true. When we use prayer-treatment we are not pleading with God to change, but we are treating our own consciousness to accept a greater truth. When we do this, we become capable of actualizing more potential for good. This process requires that we be radically self-honest or we restrict our willingness to accept our good. The path to our good is often through our own darkness, our fears and false beliefs. We do not turn away from the darkness within, we work our way through it repeatedly until we come to accept that greater truth.

“When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We . . . completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.”

~ C.G. Jung

Getting out of our own way is the essence of using The Science of Mind or any other philosophy of life. This means overcoming the inertia of negative thinking and belief. It means listening within to Source and not without where we are too often led to negativity. It means overcoming our own bullshit every day. When we resist self-honesty, we co-create a society based on less than the full truth.

“One of the greatest threats we face is, simply put, bullshit. We are drowning it. We are drowning in partisan rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie; in industry-sponsored research; in social media’s imitation of human connection; in legalese and corporate double-speak. It infects every facet of public life, corrupting our discourse, wrecking our trust in major institutions, lowering our standards for the truth, making it harder to achieve anything.”

~ Jon Lovett’s commencement address to Pitzer College

How often do we withhold the truth, or even resist seeking the truth, if it seems that doing so will not be to our advantage? How often do we deny the failings of our leaders because they are on our side of an issue? How often do we let ourselves off the hook to avoid doing something unpleasant or frightening?

All of this had led to a culture based on deception. Politicians hide the truth (or deny it) if it means the threat of political defeat. Marketers make billions of dollars convincing people to buy things they do not need or really want by creating a sense of false fear in consumers. Too many members of the clergy try to control people by threatening hell and damnation, leading to religious cultures based on the avoidance of sin rather than on the pursuit of truth, beauty, and justice.

When we wait for others to act for justice, we are seeking to trick the Universe in order to avoid confronting our own fear. We fool ourselves by thinking that maybe someone else will stand up while I make myself harder to see. We are reaping the results of such thinking today, particularly in the United States, where we are seeing the results of too much negativity, confusion, and bullshitting ourselves and one another. Lies lead to hatred and hatred can be a powerful force.

“Far more people love than hate but those who hate, hate with conviction. Conviction is a force multiplier. When haters are so convicted (sic) they’ll go to extremes to perpetrate acts of hate, it’s not enough for those of us who love to be kind-sorta-sometimes dedicated to acts of love.”

~ Marianne Williamson

When I try to bullshit the Creative Power of the Universe, whether because of my own fear or a sense that I am somehow going to trick Nature, I do nothing to that Power. I only harm myself, and perhaps others who are affected negatively by my resulting action or inaction. The Creative Power is untouched by my failings. That idea alone can give me strength.

We are called to be our best selves, to actualize as much of our infinite potential as possible in this lifetime. The Science of Mind can be a powerful tool to use in that process of self-development. Whether we use it or not is up to each of us. But let’s stop pretending that we can expect our lives to work while being anything but radically self-honest with ourselves and others.

“In the Science of Mind we do not say everything is all right when it is all wrong. We do not say peace when there is no peace, but rather we try to discover what is wrong and why we do not have peace. We do not say that people are not poor, sick, or unhappy. We ask why these things should be if the Original Cause of all things is Harmonious, Perfect, Radiant, and Happy.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind

“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 Holmes, The Science of Mind (1938), p. 483

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

ON CHAOS, PANDEMICS, WAR, AND OTHER CONCERNS

“If we enter into it, that chaos can resurrect us into a higher wisdom, rooted in the wisdom of the creative process. The chaos that we fear is the very thing that can free us.”

~ Marion Woodman

I have not posted in some time, as my focus has been on finishing my next book (still a few weeks of work to go on that one) and writing a set of Daily Guides for Science of Mind™ Magazine (July 2022 issue). In the meantime, world events have continued to swirl in a chaotic pattern which has intensified in the past couple of years. So, perhaps this is a good time to write about chaos and how we find our way forward in these unprecedented times.

Let’s look at some of what is going on: the Pandemic still rages, if unevenly; Russia is attacking Ukraine in murderous fashion; governments, especially in the US and UK, are experiencing immense difficulties in governing; misinformation and conspiracy theories are everywhere; economies are experiencing inflation and massive income inequality; corporations are hoarding cash, plundering the environment, and becoming increasingly influential in directing government actions; health care is a chaotic mess in the US; and racism, sexism, ageism, and classism all rearing their ugly heads. Oh, and climate change is wreaking havoc with increased climate-related disasters occurring across the planet.

Add to this the ordinary challenges of living: personal illnesses – both physical and mental/emotional, family problems, economic uncertainty, and so on. Our spiritual communities find themselves in a continual pattern of trying to adapt to changing conditions regarding the Pandemic, plus increased sensitivity to politically charged issues relating to spirituality (LINK to a related post series). There have been disruptions in financial support for spiritual communities and organizations and spiritual leaders are finding themselves far out of their comfort zones and needing to go beyond their current competencies in many cases.

The struggle to hold things together is real for so many of us. We are too often called to find a way though challenges for which there is no established response or strategy. So many people are struggling mentally and emotionally, with increases in depression and incidents of rage and violence on the rise (Academy Awards anyone? LINK). It is hard to overstate the crisis in mental and emotional health which is upon us.

And to all of that, I would add the too often overlooked effects of trauma (LINK) in our past which shows up when we are pressured, feel threatened, or when things are chaotic. There will be a separate post on this soon.

WHAT WILL GET US THROUGH?

Chaos is a name with give to that which does not conform to some known or expected pattern, or to a level of complexity which goes beyond our current capacity to grasp it. We can say that we live in chaotic times in both respects. The more we try to grasp the larger picture, the more impossible it becomes. Climate change, the biggest challenge facing humanity at the moment, is massively complex.

The two main qualities to be developed to deal with chaotic times are ACCEPTANCE and RESILIENCY; the primary action to take is SELF-CARE.

“The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, and let it spring from LOVE born out of concern for all beings.”

~ Gautauma Buddha

ACCEPTANCE: When we come to accept that a lot is happening, much of it beyond our understanding or control, we are better able to exist mentally and emotionally. There is only so much that any one of us can do about the challenges in our lives now – accepting that can reduce fear and stress.

Example: I need to accept that Vladimir Putin is conducting an invasion of Ukraine, where people I know and care about are in grave danger. It does no good to dwell on the idea that this should not be happening – it IS happening. If I can accept that it is happening, I can better seek out what is mine to do, if anything, about it. Acceptance opens me to more of my faculties so I can bring them to bear on the issue and what I may or may not do.

Some things will be easier to accept than others. For example, I can accept that the COVID-19 Pandemic is happening, but I have great difficulty accepting the failure of so many institutions and people to act appropriately to minimize the effects of the virus. What is mine to do here is to expand my acceptance of that reality so that I can more effectively deal with the virus personally in within my sphere of influence. Make sense?

It is also helpful to remember that none of us is perfect – we all screw up, forget, or are rude from time to time. It is important to accept that this is so of everyone and every institution with whom you come into contact. Including yourself. The inability to accept imperfection, ambiguity, and paradox is a common fear-based response which leads to all kinds of negative consequences. Accept that and you will relieve yourself of a lot of suffering. BUT don’t let that acceptance become an expectation that you will be disappointed, which will lead to cynicism. Acceptance is a balance of positive and realistic expectations.

RESILIENCY is the capacity to continue to function after a setback or injury. People with resiliency continue toward their objectives or protect what they value despite obstacles, illness, and even being attacked. We know that resiliency can be learned. Times like these require greater resiliency. With so much happening that is challenging, it is often tempting to give up or give in.

SELF-CARE can and should be viewed as a practice which serves our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is critical that we do things which help us to be able to manage stress, change, and unpredictability. When we practice self-care, we develop a greater capacity to call our inner faculties forward when needed. This ranges from physical health and fitness to stress management techniques, to emotional well-being practices, to spiritual practices.

Times such as these, where change is rapid and unpredictability is high while stability is low, drain us unless we engage in practices to keep our energy up and our boundaries healthy.

Here are some things you can do to increase your self-care and to develop greater acceptance and resiliency:

  • Do a self-assessment:
    • How are you feeling?
    • What is your energy level?
    • How are you sleeping?
    • Are you eating well?
    • Are you getting exercise?
    • How are your relationships?
    • Do you have a good support system where & when you need it?
    • What is your emotional state most of the time?
    • Are you feeling depressed?
    • Are your home/work spaces in order?
    • Add your own questions here.
  • Establish a nutrition and exercise routine. Initially, make it a small improvement over what you are doing now, don’t try to stretch it too far. Start slow and build up over time.
  • Uplevel your spiritual practices. Whatever you are doing, do a bit more and/or add some time to your practices. At a minimum, meditate for 20 minutes per day and do prayer-treatments to affirm your good. Practice kindness and patience with others. Be a gift to those around you – but not a doormat; establish healthy boundaries.
  • Practice accepting what is.  Affirm that you are strong, wise, and loving and that you are capable of accepting what is. Also, learn to accept that no one is perfect, including institutions, governments, and your cable provider. Expecting perfection triggers our fears and leads to stress and negative behaviors.
  • Identify what is yours to do. You can’t do everything. Stay within your bandwidth and focus on issues which call to you. Know that others will be called to the things that are beyond your current reach.
  • Build Resiliency. Practice seeing beyond disappointments, even painful ones. Release the need to dwell on them and see your way forward. Affirm that due to your inner strength you are not stopped until your work is complete.
  • Enhance your support system. If you do not have a strong support system, meaning people who are available to listen deeply and assist you in your growth, make this a priority. Reach out and connect with someone you admire who has the kind of attitude or is doing the kind of work which you admire. Be resilient in your pursuit of a support system. Avoid violent or depressing entertainment and books, surround yourself with uplifting materials, music, and stories. Walk in nature.

Consider this a start, a beginning. Be gentle and loving but firm and consistent with yourself. You are designing your life and you want it to be good, loving, and enjoyable. Hold yourself in high regard, learn to thrive in chaotic times.

“If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”

~ Marvin J. Ashton

Copyright 2022 – Jim Lockard

NEW COURSE FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

Hello All,
Some folks over at Unity have created a course based on my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY.

A Monthly Online Mini-Retreat for Leaders in Spiritual Community

  • Explore integral leadership concepts and practices 
  • Imagine, stretch and engage in evolutionary dialogue 
  • Create a Beloved Community with a dynamic group of spiritual leaders

Retreat, Reflect, Reconnect and Renew

Each mini-retreat session includes quiet reflection and small group processing. Your cohort group will stay together for the entire duration of the program, so you will develop a beloved circle in your exploration of the book. We have much to teach each other! 

A Train-the-Trainer Experience!

All the teaching materials will become yours, so you can lead a study at your own ministry. Through this work, we will expand our understanding of evolving ministry, expand our skillfulness to lead diverse groups, and expand our presence so that each of us can lead others in creating The Beloved Community in our local spiritual centers.

For more info and to register (you may have to copy and paste this into your browser window):
https://newvistalearningcenter.com/the-beloved-community/

Love and Light,

Jim Lockard

2022 – WHAT WILL YOU MAKE OF IT?

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

~ Rumi

The time at the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a new year is critical in developing a sense of intentionality for our engagement with that new year. Now is a time to feel into the possibilities ahead and to set intentions for ourselves to develop the inner qualities we want to express and experience. To do this successfully, we must take an active approach or we will be overwhelmed by a combination of our own limited current consciousness and our response to the outer world’s events.

Our inner self-image or being state is what determines our experience of life. It is only when we increase the quality of love and empowerment of our being state that we truly develop to a new stage of being. We can temporarily change for the better, however unless that change becomes integrated into our being state, it will dissipate rather quickly.

There are many challenges facing us at every level of our being today – globally, nationally, locally, personally. The need to increase our deep sense of spiritual connection and power is important. Only by setting clear intentions and doing daily practices to integrate the realization of those intentions will be learn to master the increasing challenges we face.

By setting intentions I mean deciding who I am in regard to issues in my life. An intention is not to get a new car, or to have the money for the car; those are goals. The related intention is to be the person who naturally gets what I need when I need it. Notice the difference? Goals are important, but intentions are essential if goals are to be met consistently. And another effect of doing deep intentional work is that you will need to set fewer goals. When you realize in your being state who you are, you will naturally manifest at that level according to your needs and desires of the moment.

“Being negative is easy. There will always be a downside to everything good, a hurdle to everything desirable, a con to every pro. The real courage is in finding the good in what you have, the opportunities in every hurdle, the pros in every con.”

~ Carolyn Hax

The year 2021 brought many challenges, and I am sure that you have been affected in many ways. From the climate crisis to the pandemic to political upheaval, global challenges are calling us to significant personal and collective change. For many, there has been personal illness, loss of loved ones, financial challenges, and more. These are difficult enough when the global issues are less pressing but are amplified in times like this. Who we are in relation to these challenges is the critical factor in how we experience them. It is more and more important to develop a positive being state.

“If we insist on waiting for the world to change before we will be happy, we will have a long wait. When happiness is conditioned on the choices of others, it is out of our hands. Rather than a reactive process, true happiness is an inside-out process beginning in the heart and spiraling outward. When true happiness is present, the world does change. Inner joy is the cause, happiness the reaction.”

~ Jim Lockard

What can heal humanity is the inner awakening of enough of us so as to create being states which support the good and remove the fear. The conditions which impact our lives are calling forth new strengths, intentions, and commitments to healing and personal growth. Now, as 2021 becomes 2022, is a good time to recommit to building our being states – personally and in our families and communities – to new levels of realization.

Who do you want to be in 2022?

Who will you be in 2022?

This classic quote from Marianne Williamson is a good way to close this post:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~ Marianne Williamson

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I have not posted here in a while because I have been focusing on a book project. The title is BEING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: Spiritual Leadership to Master Change. I am now in the final editing process, and I expect that the book will be ready to release in late January. I will keep you posted on the progress here.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

“What would you do if you were free, unfettered by the claims of the past?”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

We in New Thought and the Human Potential Movement hear a lot about living in the now. Indeed, it is a sound spiritual principle, although, like so many spiritual principles, it is an often misunderstood one. Without going into a lot of detail, let me say this – you cannot live completely in the now, and you cannot be happy in the now if you have unfinished business from your past.

This idea of unfinished business has come up a lot in my life lately. I would describe unfinished business as unresolved strands from the past which require some kind of action in the present. The kind of unfinished business that holds us in place, keeps us from advancing, usually has a strong emotional component. It may be a grievance from being betrayed in the past, or a sense of shame from a past act of commission or omission on your part. It may be that one or more losses have not been grieved sufficiently; or the inability to go beyond grieving. It may be an unfinished or never-started conversation with someone which calls to you for resolution. It can also be a garage full of clutter, a stack of unpaid bills, or a few hundred unanswered emails.

The idea that a simple decision to live “in the now” can relieve us of the psychic energy of such unfinished business is naïve at best. It is also a denial of the complexity of our inner and outer lives.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

~ Anaïs Nin

We are complex beings with complex minds and emotions. To think that we can make a conscious “executive decision” to stay in the present moment when our subconscious mind contains many levels of existence is immature thinking. We need to see ourselves for what we are – complex beings containing multitudes as the poet Walt Whitman said. Our past should not rule our present, but if we have unfinished business from the past, it holds us back from enjoying the present moment or planning the future. And, by the way, organizations and spiritual communities have unfinished business as well. Clearing and healing the past is essential if we are to move forward without the baggage of past issues restricting our ability to grow.

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

~ Joan Didion

I often recommend a process of exploring and acting on unfinished business for my coaching clients. You can begin with making a list of items which come to mind, while setting an intention to add items which you may not currently have in conscious memory to come to mind. Write it all down. Go through the list methodically and determine which items carry the most weight for you, which ones can be dealt with relatively easily, which ones will necessitate uncomfortable conversations, etc.

Work on no more than two or three at a time. As the items on the list are checked off, you will find a lightening of your mood and a greater sense of freedom in your life. Once you have cleared the list, make sure that you stay current with issues as they arise, so that the list stays clear. Then, you can evolve and grow to new levels of being without the baggage of the past holding you back.

“An evolving system cannot return to the past.”

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard