LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS? TRY SPIRITUAL PRACTICES!

 

“If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice?”

~Maha Ghosananda

 “There is a direct connection between the quality of my life in every respect and the quality and quantity of my spiritual practices.”

~ Jim Lockard

I saw a post on social media the other day which said in essence, “I haven’t been happy since November 6, 2016.” That’s a long time not to be happy. It is also a sign that the person who posted that statement believes that his or her happiness is tied to external conditions – conditions over which he or she has little or no control.

Poster - Einstein quote on External ConditionsUnhappiness, in its various forms (anger, depression, complaining, etc.), is like a plague in our times. Amplified by social media (especially the comments sections!!), and driven by the 24-hour news cycle, it is an epidemic. While it may seem reasonable to be unhappy in the world today, it is a creative energy that we cannot afford to expand. Our thoughts are creative, as we in New Thought know, and unhappy thoughts can make unhappiness a habit.

“Complaining becomes a habit. Focusing on the negative also becomes a habit. It’s one of the most detrimental habits you can possibly have. It can negatively impact you socially, affecting your personal happiness, but it can also subconsciously sabotage your money and success.”

~ T. Harv Eker

 

The answer IS NOT to ignore the world around us or to stop caring about the well-being of others or what is best for society. The answer IS to recognize that there is always suffering in the world, that everyone is on his or her own pathway in life, that some of us will be destructive, even cruel. Having the spiritual discipline to see what is and what is not mine to do is critical. Developing the spiritual poise to discern how and where to engage and to show love, wisdom, and compassion at all times is so critical. Our practices help us to develop these qualities to levels which allow us to live a happy life and still be a positive influence, still stand up to injustice, still care deeply about our planet.

“Realize you can be happy this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”

~ Arthur D. Saftlas 

Happiness Five Miles

Cultivating happiness as a way of being is different from having moments of happiness. A happy way of being means that we are viewing the world through a lens of inner acceptance of joy. We have decided to be happy and not allow external conditions to rob us of the joy of life. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is only contradictory to the conditioning we face in our society – driven by old limited ideas, mass media wanting to gather our eyes and ears to sell us things, and habit. When we clear our consciousness of blind adherence to such a worldview, other possibilities open up to us – including happiness.

“Things that matter are not easy. Feelings of happiness are easy. Happiness is not. Flirting is easy. Love is not. Saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.”

~ David Levithan

 “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

 ~ C.G Jung

The quotes above speak to the reality that a happy way of being does not mean a life without challenges or sadness. The speak to a life of determination and being unattached to external outcomes. The difficulties of sustaining a happy way of being are largely due to the truth that most of us are surrounded by people and a society which has developed a fear-based way of being. Rising above this into happiness takes clear intention, disciplined practice, and a conscious awareness of who we really are.

Poster - Rumi - Eyes Are Open

“Each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships.”

~ Richard Rohr

The unpredictability of life and all of its paradoxes are not things to be feared, but to be deeply appreciated. There are wonders we have yet to access, surprises around every corner, and aspects of ourselves which we have not yet revealed. Bringing a way of being to this reality which supports openness to the new and to paradox means that we will be happy more of the time. And every “miracle” starts with a problem. Positive spiritual warriorship includes the ability to discern whether, where, and how to engage. Warriorship includes a healthy version of the Destroyer Archetype – the aspect of self which, when mature, knows how to remove things which no longer serve us, or are our responsibility.

Our practices should include forgiveness and gratitude. Forgiveness to release needless attachment to grievances and old wounds; gratitude to foster deep recognition of the blessings of every life.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

 

Happiness is a decision which, with practice, becomes a way of being.

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

You can see my regular blog posts for AGNT here:  https://www.agnt.today/blog

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A CALLING IS NOT A JOB, IT IS A VOCATION

“Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling the who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live — but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.”

~ Parker Palmer 

Calling to Ministry

Those who are called to ministry as a vocation, a way of life to which they are totally committed, are doing something which is beyond choice. A calling is not a decision, it is far deeper than that. A calling may be in harmony with one’s inclinations or with society’s expectations, but that is often not the case. Often, a calling seems to be against everything one is seeking at the moment. Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on the denial of the call.

“If a person has had the sense of ‘The Call’ – the feeling that there’s an adventure for (them) – and if (they) doesn’t follow that but remains in the society because it’s safe and secure, then life dries up. And then he comes to a condition in late middle age: (they’ve) gotten to the top of the ladder and found that it’s against the wrong wall.
“If you have the guts to follow the risk, however, life opens, opens, opens up all along the line. I’m not superstitious, but I do believe in spiritual magic, you might say. If one follows what I call one’s bliss – the thing that really gets you deep in your gut and that you feel is your life – doors will open up. They do!”

~ Joseph Campbell

But following your calling is no guarantee of bliss either. What Campbell means by bliss is the experience of expressing your true self via some channel of expression that serves a larger purpose. But while that is not an easy thing to do, it beats living in the bitterness of a calling denied.

My dear friend and colleague, Rev. Linda Finley, of the Center for Spiritual Living Eugene (Oregon), recently posted something on Facebook about her calling to a vocation of ministry. A few quotes from that post:

“Of late, I have been realizing that, at some level, the role of a Minister/Pastor/Spiritual Leader is not wholly understood by a lot of folks. Choosing to serve in any ministry, and especially, I feel, pulpit ministry is not now and never has been “a job.” I keep coming up against folks who view it as such, and it is disheartening. When I was ordained, I went through a ceremony that, in a lot of ways, looked like a wedding – I exchanged vows with a teaching and pledged to hold my faith and that teaching sacred. My accountability and my allegiance is to God, then to the organization which licensed and ordained me and sets standards and practices for my work, then to the congregation that hired me to serve them, and finally, to whatever Board that congregation has elected at any given time.”

“When we were finishing Ministerial training, we were advised that if we had any other skills at all, we might look at those – maybe card dealing or insurance sales… as this was taking on a role that could be overwhelming and thankless. As I move into September, which marks my 19th year in Ministry, I am grateful I made the choice … I love what I do. I love the teaching, the speaking, the counseling, even the leadership meetings and events where my introvert self wants to find a corner to crawl into!”

Linda’s recognition of her calling may have come at any point in her life, but she entered ministry after an earlier career. This is often the case, either because our younger selves did not recognize our calling, or we ignored it because it seems inconvenient. Or, it can be that the calling arises later in life – midlife is often a time for this emergence.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

~ Mary Oliver

Ministry is creative work. It can be done in a multitude of settings, using a multitude of approaches. It does not have to be one’s livelihood; in fact, one often has a “job” to pay the expenses of following a calling which does not provide a living wage. As Mary Oliver echoes Joseph Campbell in reflecting on the denial of our calling, we can see the effects of this denial throughout our society – people in soul-crushing jobs, without spiritual direction, hating their lives because they have denied themselves the spark of expressing one’s true calling in this life.

Many in ministry today are struggling to see how their calling relates to the changes unfolding in our society; changes which make ministry very unpredictable and call for a greater consciousness of innovation and willingness to let go of what no longer works.

“The church of yesterday cannot meet the needs of today, nor be prepared to adapt to the needs of tomorrow. ‘The past is the past…,’ no matter how wonderful. Precious memories are just that…precious and memories. We must look to the future if we are to continue to be faithful to our calling.”

~ Rev. Dr. Grant Lynn Ford, Metropolitan Community Church

My prediction is that these changing times are more of a challenge to those who see ministry as a job and do not have a true calling to the work. To those who did not experience the transformation of the “wedding,” via ordination, of oneself to the expression of the calling – perhaps because there was no calling to ministry to begin with. There is no shame in realizing that one is not following their calling – but to continue along that same path once that realization has dawned is to court an empty life. Harsh but true.

Only you know what your calling is – ministry is my focus, but you can be called to anything which calls forth the best of yourself and is in service to something larger. Everyone has a calling, and it may shift over your lifespan. The key is to be open to the signs which your psyche, your mind, and your body will give to you. And follow them.

Beautiful Staircase

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

MILLENNIALS IN NEW THOUGHT – AN UPDATE – PART 1

Having blogged about New Thought Millennials before (LINK) (LINK), I thought it was time for an update. I reached out to two key leaders in the Centers for Spiritual Living Millennial population, Rev. Savanna Noelle Riker, and Rev. Abigail Schairer, with some questions about what’s up with Millennials in general, and with Centers for Spiritual Living’s (CSL) Young Adults in particular. This post is devoted to Savanna’s responses. Abigail’s will appear in a future post. Welcome guest bloggers!

Savanna

Rev. Savanna Noel Riker

NTE BLOG: What is happening in the Centers for Spiritual Living Young Adult Movement these days?

Rev. Savanna: The CSL Young Adult movement is growing! In the 18 years I have grown up as a youth and young adult in this teaching, I have always talked about and have wanted to see the progress and inspiration to lead our organization into a completely new paradigm, to feel the kind of energy exhibited from these young people who make you want to get out of bed in the morning! I’m finally seeing it unfold before my eyes, and it is so moving. The energy of the young adult movement is palpable, joy-filled, exciting and deeply passionate about a world that works for everyone (#aworldthatworksforeveryone). It is taking our mission and vision to a whole other level, through action and compassionate being. Young adults interested in our teaching are sprouting up all over the nation.

CSL Next Gen Retreat 1

Rev. Abigail at NextGen Retreat.

The young adult movement is always seeking more events and ways to connect because often, they are the only one or part of a small group of 3-5 at any given spiritual community miles from each other. We realize that CSL will not survive with the current paradigm alone. The NextGen Retreat hosted by Center for Spiritual Living Peninsula is a retreat for late 20/early 30-somethings, gathered together in the northern California mountains, where we come together in spiritual practice, silence, rejuvenation, process, community, sharing our talents and ideas of how we actively want to make this world better.

CSL Next Gen Retreat 3

This retreat was awe inspiring to me to hear the topics of interest from these young adults. Even my own call for ministry was deepened and ignited in a bigger way because of the power of this event and all those attending. There is this great need for connection, unconditional love, education, the freedom to express as you are, and a commitment to personal self-growth and collective change for the better. We left the retreat as a huge family. I continue to hear even now after all these years, “Where are the other young adults in CSL? We want to attract more young people into our community.” And here I am thinking… “You’re preaching to the choir…. It is SO much better than it once was 20 years ago.” But we can still do better – we are rethinking the models of “church,” and outreach and that is super exciting.

NTE Blog: What are people in their 20’s & 30’s looking for in a spiritual community?

Rev. Savanna: Young adults long for deep listening and to be heard, seek connection, authentic, vulnerable leaders, education, personal development, and tools that are relevant to their lives and the world they live in.

NTE Blog: How does this teaching apply to my life in the world I live in?

Rev. Savanna: What came through the most at our retreat was not just a spiritual community where we practice but where we take action in the community and in the world. Spirituality is tied directly to a cause, development, a mission or purpose to most our CSL young adults. They are interested in topics like: sustainable living, clean energy and being good stewards to the planet, social justice, human rights issues, impoverished and disenfranchised communities, LGBTQ rights, cross-cultural immersion, travel, spirituality and sacred sexuality just to name a few.

NTE Blog: How have New Thought principles helped you in your own life?

Rev. Savanna: New Thought principles have deepened my own relationship with myself and the Divine. They have continually reminded me of the innate power that is within me to transform myself and the world. My spiritual practice has guided and directed my path, and ministry has surely given me MANY opportunities to challenge my faith and my beliefs. I have the powerit isn’t something outside of me. It has helped me manifest amazing opportunities, resources, jobs, support, abundance, love, and just what I needed when I asked for it. This teaching has given me the tools to navigate my life from an empowered conscious place, trusting that Life is for me. I just have to get out of my own way. 🙂

NTE Blog: Thank you, Savanna!

What we are seeing is an echoing of what this blog has been reporting for several years – we are in changing times; New Thought organizations and spiritual communities need to be responsive to these changes. Our Young Adults, from the past decade, who by the way are not so young – Millennials can be in their late 30’s – are demanding different approaches to spiritual community, now and in the future. What is going to be the response?

CSL Next Gen Retreat 2

Masando Hiroaka, Savanna, and Elisha Christopher Hayden-Berrios at NextGen

As always, your comments are encouraged – see below! And feel free to share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

LIVING SYSTEMS SEEK WHOLENESS THROUGH HEALING

“Carl Jung said that if you find the psychic wound in an individual or a people, there you also find their path to consciousness. For it is in the healing of our psychic wounds that we come to know ourselves.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

“Carl Jung saw that the human psyche strives always toward wholeness, strives to become more conscious. The unconscious mind seeks to move its contents up to the level of consciousness, where they can be actualized and assimilated into more complete conscious personality.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

When we begin to see things as Living Systems, rather than as independent organisms or structures, our perception and understanding can expand to greater capacities. Living systems (LINK to Prior Post) can best be seen as integrated with their environment, as being massively complex, beyond what our human brains can fully grasp, and as being interdependent on other systems and bio-systems for mutual existence. The underlying intelligence of living systems seeks the fullest realization of wholeness – to express itself fully and in the healthiest way possible. There is a deep primal urge within all living systems to do just that – express fully.

“An inner wholeness presses its unfulfilled claims upon us.”

~ Emma Jung in “The Holy Grail”

You are a living system, as am I. Your family is a living system, as is your spiritual community, your workplace, your city, state, nation, and all of humanity. The earth is a living system. A benefit of seeing these things as living systems is the transformation of our perception and understanding from linear, separate sense of what we are to a systems understanding. For example, I cannot be fully understood without taking my family into account – and that can be done in innumerable ways, via genetics, culture, etc. We can never fully understand any living system but using the concept can help us guide these systems with greater wisdom.

Living systems have immune systems. You as an individual have a physical immune system and emotional and spiritual immune systems. These are elements of you which act to protect some aspect of you and keep you healthy. Groups have immune systems as well; some aspect of group immune systems are visible, most are not. It is important to come to see that at the deepest and most holistic levels, every living system wants to heal anything in the way of the fullest expression of that system.

“The manifestation of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms is the beginning of a healing process through which the organism is trying to free itself from traumatic imprints and simplify its functioning. . .. when properly understood and supported, this process can be conducive to healing, spiritual opening, personality transformation, and evolution of consciousness.”

~ Stanislav Grof, Shift Magazine, June-August 2004

Beautiful Nautilus

Healing is something intrinsic within all living systems, from the smallest to the largest. And coming to see that the appearance of symptoms is a positive step in the healing process of a living system is revelatory. We can then shift our emotional and mental approaches to being helpful rather than harmful (such as seeing the symptom as something alien to be defeated). Our political systems are evidencing negative symptoms in more and more profound ways today – this means that larger human living systems are in the process of healing themselves for a move to a higher evolutionary level of existence. Can we become better at stewarding this process? Can we at least stop acting in ways which obstruct the natural ability of living systems to heal? Can we heal the parts of ourselves which, out of fear and ignorance, cause us to make the symptoms worse, threatening the whole system with collapse?

“The soft flakes of healing are falling all around you all the time, even on your shadow.”
~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Whatever is being identified as “being wrong” in yourself, in your family, in your spiritual community, in your nation, must be viewed and treated as a healing in process. We must shift our attention and intention to greater truths than we have been conditioned to believe up until now. Wholeness seeks to express via the emergence of new, sometimes radically new, ways of being. Emergence and evolution are the vehicles which facilitate these onward expressions in every living system. We are either in or out of harmony with these processes.

A new kind of leadership is required for this transition. As Nora Bateson writes, “Whatever leadership used to be—it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were.” We simply cannot continue the path(s) we are on if we are to make the significant changes – what have been called whole system changes – which are required for the forward evolution of humanity. Leaders, including spiritual leaders, need to be prepared differently, selected differently, and need to operate differently in the near term of our emerging future. They must become versed in complexity, in systems thinking, in radical change processes, and in helping to shepherd others who are unprepared for the age we have entered – an age of unrelenting change affecting every living system.

Our spiritual practices can be about creating an inner willingness to trust the larger wisdom within ourselves an all of us. We must cultivate our inner wisdom to be harmonious with the truth that every living system seeks its highest form of expression. This is an elegant way to view ourselves and the world. Fortunately, it is also a realistic way to view the world.

“So perhaps change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering hidden wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people and remembering our personal power to make a difference. This old story has greatly changed the way that I am a physician and also a teacher. It has given me new eyes. Everyone and everything has in it a seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility. Perhaps what I once saw as ‘broken’ or ‘lacking’ might just as easily be seen as the growing edge of things … a place to be valued and nurtured in our patients, our students and in ourselves.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

As always, your comments are appreciated. Please share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you.

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

More and more spiritual communities are using this book for spiritual leadership development. You can order bulk copies from Devorss.com. Or, just get one for yourself or to give as a gift at Amazon.com (.ca .eu)

 

HOW CAN YOUR MIND HEAL WHEN THE PROBLEM IS YOUR MIND?

“It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

During my 36 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen many clients who have been victims of people like those Hannah and my friend describe. I call them New Age Bullies — those who, sometimes with the best intentions, repeat spiritual movement shibboleths, with little understanding of how hurtful their advice can be. Some of their favorite clichés are:

It happened for a reason.

Nobody can hurt you without your consent.

I wonder why you created this illness (or experience).

It’s just your karma.

There are no accidents.

There are no victims.

There are no mistakes.

A variant of this behavior is found in the self-bullying people who blame themselves for being victims of a crime, accident, or illness and interpret such misfortunes as evidence of their personal defects or spiritual deficiencies.”

~ Julia Ingram, MA (LINK)

The two quotes above may seem to be contradictory, but they are not.

They represent two prevalent viewpoints in New Thought, one more traditional, the other something new which is emerging (I know that we are not New Age, per se, however, Ms. Ingram’s quote does apply). They lead me to this question (and lots of others, as you shall see):

If thought is the pathway to healing, what happens when your capacity to think, or to think clearly, is itself impaired in some way?

Today, we know much more about the functioning of the human brain and body than was known at the time of New Thought’s founders. We know that depression is very often not the result of “depressing thoughts,” but due to neurological/chemical imbalances. When under the effects of these imbalances, a person may not be able to form the kinds of thoughts necessary for healing the condition. She/he may also be incapable of seeking help. While this is different from the person who has developed a pattern of negative thinking and who can change with intention and practice, this difference may well not be obvious to external observers.

 

 

 

 

While New Thought teachings say that every condition can be healed, there is evidence that this is not so, and to insist that it is so can be cruel and can deny the process which a person is experiencing. More and more, New Thought spiritual leaders are being confronted with people who are finding many of the absolutist positions and statements of the past to be inaccurate and sometimes harmful.

This statement by Joel Goldsmith speaks to the realization that to truly facilitate healing, one must think in the absolute, not the relative domain – a sentiment echoed by Thomas Troward, Emma Curtis Hopkins, and many others.

“Let us never accept a human being into our consciousness who needs healing, employing, or enriching because if we do, we are his enemy instead of his friend. If there is any man, woman, or child we believe to be sick, sinning or dying, let us do no praying until we have made peace with that brother. The peace we must make with that brother is to ask forgiveness for making the mistake of sitting in judgment on any individual because everyone is God in expression. All is God manifested. God alone constitutes this universe; God constitutes the life, the mind, and the Soul of every individual.”

~ Joel Goldsmith

  • Is there a balance available to us – somewhere between the extremes of “absolute knowing” and belief that our power lies outside of us and we are helpless?
  • A balance which still allows healing for those able to think at the necessary level of clarity, but does not diminish those who may not be willing or able to do so at present, or ever?
  • Is there a more compassionate way to approach mental healing which allows for both beginners and adepts, and for those who experience inner processes which rob them of their ability to use thought to heal?
  • What is the growing edge of New Thought in relation to healing?

The basis of mental healing is to create a consciousness, or a system of beliefs, which is strong enough to change conditions. In the case of physical healing, that means changing conditions in our bodies via a mind-body connection. This often defies our previous conditioning. I came into the Science of Mindteaching with a consciousness that I was subject to external forces – like germs – which, when contracted, required an outside expert – a doctor – to facilitate healing on my behalf. Over time, I came to see that I had the capacity to both heal many conditions myself, and to create a consciousness which avoided many negative conditions altogether. I no longer experienced regular seasonal colds, for example.

While this capacity to heal is authentic, there is also the issue of how we see our evolving capacities – what should I be able to heal and when? Should I feel shame if I contract the flu or if a lover leaves me, or if I lose my job? How should I approach others who are experiencing such conditions if I am not their spiritual teacher, but a friend? How should I approach them if I am their spiritual teacher, with the accountability inherent in such a relationship? Will I simply project my own insecurities onto them and use (or even simply think) some platitude like What’s in your consciousness? as a means of deflecting my own fears?

“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.”

~ Marion Woodman

It is our fear that leads us to “sugar coat” things. Like death, for example. We speak of “transitioning” and “passing on,” avoiding the term “death.” When my daughter died at age 18, many people were quick to tell me about her afterlife experience and how she chose that moment to depart this plane. Our belief system may include a continuing journey of the soul; however, we really don’t know what that is beyond speculation. Ernest Holmes had this to say about reincarnation:

“This idea of reincarnation is held by more people than those who don’t believe in it. Personally, I don’t believe in it, but I don’t know. So I would be ignorant to be dogmatic about it.”

~ From a 1933 Lecture by Ernest Holmes based upon

The Science of Mind, 1926 Edition

 

 

 

 

But we don’t like not knowing, so we speculate. While I appreciated the attempt at kindness from many after my daughter’s death, it was often painful to be told how she chose this to happen and, as one told me, “she misses you but wants you to know that she is in a better place.” There were others, but you get the picture.

When we sugar coat the issues of life, we often, if unintentionally, diminish the experience of those we are trying to comfort or help. It is a fine and difficult line to walk – how to give solace or inspiration to someone without loading it with my own fearful projections? How to deal with repeated failures by someone to heal an illness or to get their life in order without making it more about me than about them? How to balance the need for personal accountability with someone’s current inability to accept that concept for themselves?

As in all things, I believe that we must begin by doing our own inner work. We must grow in emotional and spiritual intelligence, we must recognize our own fears, addictions, and biases and work to release them. They will surely affect our ability to be a compassionate and wise presence for others. As spiritual teachers, we must set and enforce healthy boundaries regarding issues such as who moves into professional-level classes, and how inappropriate behavior is dealt with in all classes. Many of us need to work on our ability to say NO. A proper NO can be the most affirming thing you can say many times.

In conclusion – we want to teach New Thought principles and practices as widely as possible, however, there are some who are not ready. We must realize that when we reduce our insistence on developing a strength of consciousness necessary for healing because some find it too difficult or take offense, that we may be harming all of our students. And we must try to work with those who are offended or depressed by the rigors of the teaching so that they can come to see a greater truth and not feel diminished – while knowing this may not be possible in their lives at the present moment.

Beautiful Tree in Lake

The high calling of spiritual teacher means that one says YES to the requirement for ongoing personal development, for setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, and for working for the good of all students who come to learn. Nothing less will do. And that means having people in our ministries with issues which do not get healed. While frustrating, it does not relieve the teacher of the accountability to be the best living example of the spiritual teachings that she can be. We continue to do prayer-treatment for them, to express compassion toward them, but we may never see a healing occur for them.

“If we think we can guide our brother aright, while our own feet still walk in darkness, we are mistaken. We must first clarify our own vision, then we shall become as lights, lighting the way for others. But can we teach a lesson we have not learned? Can we give that which we do not possess? To suppose so is hypocrisy, a thing to be shunned. Jesus tears the mantle of unreality from the shoulders of hypocrisy, winnowing from the soul of sham and shallowness its last shred of illusion. We cannot see Reality until our eyes are open; until the light of eternal Truth has struck deeply into our own souls.”

~ Ernest Holmes, THE HIDDEN POWER OF THE BIBLE

As always, your comments are appreciated!

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

 

 

YOUR SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY ISN’T AN ORGANIZATION – IT’S A LIVING SYSTEM

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”

 ~ Pablo Picasso

“Dysfunctional systems will fall under their own weight. Let them.”

~ Bashar

These are dangerous quotes. Dangerous in the sense that they can be interpreted in different ways by people with different perspectives (or even by the same person on different days). Quotes such as these need to be seen from a relatively balanced perspective, meaning that one may believe one way or another, but has an open mind to other possibilities. The Picasso quote I use to suggest that sometimes, what we call “good sense” is only leftover prejudices from the past; of course, sometimes, “good sense” actually is good sense, so we must allow for that possibility. And “dysfunctional systems” are often in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. But it is healthy to note when something’s time has passed so that something new can be encouraged, or at least allowed, to emerge.

The times in which we find ourselves are growing ever more complex at ever faster rates. Old solutions increasingly fail to resolve current challenges; old leadership is increasingly ineffective. It is time to learn new ways of being. What is needed is a whole system change, and spiritual organization is not exempt. We are called to adapt by changing at depth.

“There can be no doubt that we are in a change of eras, as systems crumble around us struggling to hold onto their old ways and new ones seek the patterns and practices that will take us into a future that we can feel emerging but not yet describe in words. We are in what systems thinkers would call a chaos point, a moment where the old systems no longer work but the new are not mature enough to take over the helm. Painful on many fronts.”

~ Peter Merry, Blog Post (LINK)

The old ways of seeing organization are no longer adequate. Our spiritual communities are living systems, with all the complexity that implies. And we do not know what will work in the emerging future – there are no examples for us to follow; we are in uncharted territory. This is both comforting and terrifying: exhilarating!

We might begin with understanding the difference between complexity and being complicated.

“I want to say that short circuiting complexity is never a good idea. It makes life complicated. Complicated and complex are not the same thing. Complex looks like an ocean; whole and alive with a vitality that is generated through interrelational, interdependent processes.”

~ Nora Bateson

Complexity and Chaos

My work as a blogger, author, speaker, coach, and consultant has been focused on the issue of complexity for some time now. I have been urging spiritual leaders of every kind to recognize the increasing complexity which is a result of cultural evolution – the tendency of human culture to grow more complex, necessitating that individuals and groups adapt internally, through the emergence of greater capacities, to come into coherence with increasingly complex living conditions. Some of this emergence is natural and some will come into conflict with our attachments to old and existing structures and forms which cannot continue forward.

In other words – our world, our human world, grows more complex, mostly because of our own doing, and the evolution of greater capacities already within us. When we adapt, we can successfully navigate our newly complex surroundings. When we fail to adapt, life gets more complicated. Spiral Dynamics (LINK) is a good model to use in understanding this process. As new levels of complexity unfold, we must adapt and change. If we do not, we suffer due to our inability to successfully navigate new living conditions of greater complexity.

“Whatever leadership used to be — it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were. The kind of leadership that I want to explore may not be identifiable as leadership at all.  I am interested in a kind of mutually alert care and attention to the well-being of all people and ecological systems. This kind of leadership cannot be found in individuals, but rather between them. It cannot be found in organizations, nations, religions or institutions, but rather between them. I have called it Liminal Leadership to highlight the relational characteristics.”

~ Nora Bateson

I have blogged about liminal spaces (LINK) before – the spaces in-between the places where we feel grounded in the known. The chaos point described above by Peter Merry is an example of a liminal space. Newly emerging leadership must be systemically different than what came before. In other words, trying to imitate your teacher(s) who successfully built a spiritual community in the past is futile. If they were here today, and did the same things they did then, they would not be successful the way they were in their time. It is a different world now. Nora Bateson describes growing complexity beautifully, recognizing that a poetic approach is the only way to begin to grasp what is unfolding.

“Part of the problem is that, globally, nationally and personally, we face crises that can be described as ‘complex’ or ‘wicked’ problems. Complexity is recognizable in situations which have multiple variables in ever shifting contexts of interdependency. Some examples of complex living systems are oceans, cities, families, economic systems, culture, the health of our own bodies, and the medical systems we expect to support them. In each of these systems, vitality is produced by multiple processes in contextual interaction. To study a jungle is to recognize that the jungle itself is not an isolated “thing” but instead exists in the interrelationship between soil, foliage, animals, weather patterns, bacteria and so on. The same contextual linkings can be found in all living systems; approaching the system without an understanding of this holism will create short circuits in the complexity and countless unintended consequences. Making sense of the vitality of a complex system is an inquiry into its way of making contact. A study of the relational patterns gives entirely different understanding of the way in which a system is cohering.”

~ Nora Bateson from her blog (LINK)

A spiritual community is more than an organization; it is a living system which can only be partially understood at best. There are too many aspects, most invisible, which are instrumental it its expression. Nora Bateson mentions “short circuits in the complexity and countless unintended consequences”; how many of those have shown up in your ministry? Yet, we will never grasp it all – we are, at best, able to comprehend a sense of direction and somehow, steer the living system forward toward its highest expression. This, of course, requires much more than a skillset – it involves a well-developed intuitive sense, along with a capacity for living in the mystery. Control freaks need not apply!

Holmes & Bateson

“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 encourages us to absorb the principles of The Science of Mind and then, think for ourselves. An important thing to know here is the degree of your own willingness to be dishonest with yourself. Are you holding yourself to a sufficiently high standard of practice and self-honesty? That is a high bar, and many of us fail to reach it. We must develop a clear connection with our intuitive knowing – our heart-wisdom – and be radically self-honest if we are to achieve the level of self-mastery needed for these times and the future.

“One of the greatest stumbling blocks in (anyone’s) spiritual advancement is dishonesty; the refusal to honestly face an idea if that idea happens not to please (them).  This comes in part from the human tendency to take the line of least resistance, whether it be in our physical endeavors or in the operation of our mind.  Confronted with an idea that repudiates one we have held for years, we go far out of our way, entirely around the idea, to keep from being compelled to analyze and possibly to absorb it.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “It’s Up to You!”

This is neither an easy nor a casual undertaking. It is a whole-self endeavor, but isn’t that the fullest way to live? To be fully engaged with developing yourself to face big challenges and to bring the highest and best of yourself to creating #aworldthatworksforeveryone and #TheBelovedCommunity?

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”

~ Henry David Thoreau

If you are incarnated on Earth at this time, you are faced with huge challenges and huge opportunities. You are called to bring forth the best of yourself, over and over again. You are called to find ways of doing this and still living a rewarding life! You are called to step up to a daily spiritual practice which allows the emergence of your hidden splendor into actualized expression. Your spiritual community can be a vehicle for supporting its members in doing just that – for we are more likely to express our inner greatness with the support of a strong spiritual community – a living system of beings interconnected for a higher purpose, each bringing his or her unique genius to the process of becoming. But we must realize that there is no finish line in this work. Complexity is here, it is growing, and it is speeding up. We are called to bring our best selves to all the challenges this brings. New Thought gives us the tools and the perspective to do this – we must study and practice daily to be the fullest possible expression of our spiritual potential. And, we must release what no longer serves the realization of these aims. That is our work – we are the generation.

“The generation that breaks the cycle will be tasked with tending to the generations that couldn’t. It doesn’t seem fair to give that kind of love and care to those who withheld the nourishment we needed. But who are we if we don’t? So, we do.”

~ Nora Bateson 

As always, your comments are welcomed below. Thank you for reading! Feel free to share this post with others who may find it of value.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I am very gratified to have begun a relationship with AGNT as a guest blogger on a semi-monthly basis. Here is the link to my first post: https://www.agnt.today/blog

And grateful to Harv Bishop of HarvBishom.com for having me as a guest blogger last week. Here is the link to that post: http://www.harvbishop.com/?p=1378

NEW GUEST BLOGGER AT AGNT – ME

I am very pleased to announce that as of today, I will be a regular contributor to the blog page for AGNT – the Association for Global New Thought. This is a wonderful opportunity to have a wider voice in the New Thought community and beyond. And, this blog, NewThoughtEvolutionary, will continue as well. I will be writing unique posts for both. I am very grateful to Barbara Fields and the AGNT leadership for this opportunity – I hope that you will take this opportunity to join the AGNT mailing list AND join AGNT, a key New Thought organization promoting cutting edge expression of New Thought principles.

AGNT Banner JL

 

Here is AGNT’s statement:

AGNT has invited Jim Lockard to be a regular contributor to the AGNT blog page. His support of AGNT in this way is most welcome because, as a student and teacher of its principles for 30 years, Jim has something to say about how New Thought can be expressed in the world. In these posts, which will appear every two weeks or so, he will attempt to engage you, the reader, with a view of New Thought as a practical and effective teaching for the fast changing world in which we find ourselves. Jim’s writing centers on the notion that our minds are infinite, and the FULL capacities of our infinite minds are increasingly required as we deal with the complex challenges of humanity. 

Our heart-wisdom is also infinite, and the sacred, wise, intuitive, and mystical aspects of our hearts are also increasingly important for all of us. Jim sees New Thought as a weaving together of mind and heart, of “working with the Law” and “courting the Beloved.” 

AGNT is looking forward to beginning a conversation with you through Jim’s writing STARTING JUNE 4TH. We strongly encourage you to join the conversation by making your own comments if you are moved to do so.

I look forward to this association with AGNT, and hope that you will engage with that blog and post comments. And, I look forward to regularly posting here – my next post, in a few days, will speak to my experiences at the Integral European Conference in Hungary last week.

Here is the link to the blog site: https://www.agnt.today/blog

And to my book at Amazon.com (also at Amazon.ca .co.uk, and .eu):

 

 

 

 

EMMA CURTIS HOPKINS – NEW THOUGHT PIONEER

I will be in Budapest for the next two weeks, attending and presenting (LINK) at the Integral Europe Conference 2018, so this will very likely be my last post until I return. When I do return, I will have exciting news about a collaboration I will be doing with the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT – LINK). For now, amidst all the crisis fatigue that many of us share, let’s visit a New Thought pioneer, Emma Curtis Hopkins (September 2, 1849 – April 8, 1925).

“All your affairs, as you now look at them, represent your former way of thinking. They are held together by the glue of your former ideas. Now if you withdraw that glue, what can you expect, but that your affairs will all fall to pieces to let new affairs, representing your new way of thinking establish themselves.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma 2

Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma Curtis Hopkins (LINK) was known as the “teacher of teachers” in New Thought, for she had connections with many, if not most of the founders of the various New Thought denominations. A former protégé of Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science, Hopkins went out on her own and began a seminary in Chicago to teach New Thought principles and spiritual healing. She firmly believed in the power of the mind to heal any condition, and her writing clearly states that conviction. I find it helpful to revisit her work often to reacquaint myself with the strength of her consciousness.

“The world will persist in exhibiting before you what you persist in affirming the world is. ‘The man who molds the vital ethers of omnipresence by right thoughts about its bounty brings forth bountifully.’”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Overcoming fear and doubt is the key to the development of a consciousness powerful enough to manifest whatever we seek in life. What we persist in affirming (positive or negative) brings our consciousness to a state of acceptance for that thing, and we attract it into our life by the Law of Mind. There are no exceptions to this Law.

“If the Truth makes free when it is told, and we are not free, then the Truth has not been told. The Truth that the Good belongs to us is greater than the idea that we might give our time, our labor, our life, and all we are to the Good, and still never satisfy it. To tell how impossible it is for us to give enough to God breeds rebellion at existing orders. To tell that the Good asks nothing of us but to receive its substance, will rest and comfort the people.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma was not one to affirm a victim consciousness, because she knew that such a consciousness was voluntary and, when affirmed with powerful emotion, just as creative as a consciousness of empowerment. Regardless of circumstances, she instructed her students and readers to think positive, empowering, and uplifting thoughts – no excuses!

“All realization of Good externalizes as Good.” 

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

If the Law works perfectly, and we teach that it does, then why do we often fail to trust it? If you want your car to go forward, do you not put the transmission into Drive, trusting that the car will move forward? It would be ridiculous to put it into Reverse out of a lack of trust. How is it that we often do not put the same degree of trust into the Law of Mind, which we have seen work over and over again? Can we not trust the Law of Mind to the same extent that we trust an automobile transmission? Of course we can!

“While true understanding brings power, it brings humility. There is no feeling of mastery one over another, only over error. True words are all of love, and if I speak any other words I do not speak at all, for they are not the utterance of truth. We do not speak true words until the mortal is put quite away-hushed.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

In other words, when we think or speak anything but the truth, we are wasting our time, and, quite possibly, doing damage to ourselves and others. Let us pay more attention to the teachings of Emma Curtis Hopkins and be more in tune with our Truth, activating the great Law of Mind in our favor!

Back in a couple of weeks!

As always, your comments are welcomed!

Beautiful Angel Sculputure 2

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

THIS IS NOT A TEST: BECOMING A SPIRITUAL ADULT

“The universe is never testing you, it’s simply giving you an opportunity to practice all that you say you are.”

~ Maryam Hasnaa

The United States and much of the western (developed) world is in the midst of a temper tantrum. The last two times there were big temper tantrums, we had World Wars I&II, so this is serious business. There is a backlash from many who have been left behind by the increasingly rapid rate of cultural change unfolding across humanity. It is not all that surprising for those who are centered lower on the spiral to be reacting in an immature fashion, but we also have many centered higher on the spiral who are also behaving badly.

VMEMEs Simplified

The temper tantrum of the present has been elected into governments across the west, and more mature voices have been loudly criticized. Social media provides a platform for much of this behavior – the treatment of Senator John McCain and his family as he nears death is a good example. Immature and disdainful comments come from across social media and within the White House and no one there tries to silence them. We are institutionalizing immaturity.

To a significant degree this trend in our politics comes as an angry backlash to two things: the failure of political leaders to affect either the rapid rate of change or to find ways for those who do not adapt to that change to feel better about themselves (both impossible tasks); and, more pointedly, the clear disdain shown by many higher on the spiral for those who are centered at lower levels (“Deplorables” anyone?). When immaturity reigns across the spectrum, we cannot fulfill our potential. Maturity is staying balanced, focused, and, above all, compassionate despite the dissonance around you.

“What was overwhelming to the child can be borne by the adult if he or she has grown in consciousness.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

A critically important part of the process of learning and applying New Thought principles in one’s life is the realization of a more spiritually mature self. As Cindy Wigglesworth (LINK) and others have shown, spiritual maturity is built upon emotional maturity. Both are essential to heal human systems, whether at the national political level or at the spiritual community level.

SQ21 Intelligences Pyramid

From DEEPCHANGE.com

Spiritual maturity reveals itself at each developmental (spiral) level, but always includes a capacity for kindness and an acceptance of ambiguity. As James Hollis says:

“The test of a psychologically mature person, and therefore spiritually mature, will be found in his or her capacity to handle what one might call the Triple A’s: anxiety, ambiguity and ambivalence.”

~ James Hollis

This “test” is not an exam from the universe – it is simply the out-picturing of one’s consciousness – we are either in the range of spiritual maturity or we have not yet reached it. A spiritually mature person can face the realities of being human, which include anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence, while staying in balance. Perhaps spiritual maturity/intelligence is in part the capacity to experience sadness without turning it into resentment.

We are not, by ourselves, going to heal humanity or fix the world – we can, however, learn how to live in this world in a spiritually mature way and by doing that, ripples of influence are generated and added to the overall consciousness of humanity. We can become positive influencers by cultivating a presence of love, kindness, compassion, and personal accountability.

“If you’re looking at the world and not grieving…then you’re not Conscious. But if you’re looking at the world and not rejoicing in the miraculous possibilities for healing it…then you’re Spiritually Immature.”

~ Marianne Williamson

compassionate-heart-cloud

The spiritually mature person does not see life as a test, nor the world as a classroom, nor Spirit as some divine test proctor. Our lives are our reality, and we are designed to naturally learn and grow toward a fuller realization of our human capacities. These capacities are significant, and it takes a level of maturity to govern and express them with wisdom and compassion. New Thought principles are the best guides I have ever found for this journey of life, but we must practice them in increasingly expansive ways, for we are expansive beings. Our potential for growth is unending.

We are at choice in every moment – including every moment watching the news or scrolling through our social media feeds. How to receive information and how to respond are both choices which require some workvisualizing, affirming, meditating – to create our consciousness of being from which our reaction come. I want my reactions to be from the highest level of emotional and spiritual maturity which I can manage. Don’t you?

The only choice we have as we mature
is how we inhabit our vulnerability,
how we become larger and more courageous
and more compassionate
through our intimacy with disappearance.

~ David Whyte

Beautiful Beginnings

Until we can look upon our fellow humans (and ourselves) through eyes of love, compassion, and acceptance, we are not spiritually mature. If we make them “other” we lose our awareness of connection, and with it, our capacity for compassion. Seeing oneness means being exposed to sadness, but also to a mature version of hope – one which resonates heart to heart and mind to mind.

I am reflected in you and you in me. We share a universe which is beyond our capacity to know fully. May we bring the best of ourselves to each interaction, to every thought, action, and reaction. May Peace prevail on earth. #TheBelovedCommunity

‎”You are a child of innocence, born to wonder all your days. Do not believe it to be a gift that you lost somewhere along the way, as if the hurts you have done or that were done to you could steal its light from the center of your soul. Innocence is not the absence of pain, but the ability to face truth as an adult while still seeing with the eyes of a child. Innocence is hope. It is vision. It is love. God grant that each of us, for all the darkness we have endured, will always have the grace of innocence: the belief that what is to come will be better than what has been.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston 

Your comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading. If you know of someone else who may find value in this post, or others on this blog, please feel free to share it with them.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard