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

 

HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN THE CURRENT POLITICAL/ECONOMIC/INSANE CLIMATE

“Stop the accusation of foolishness and ignorance. Stop thinking anyone has to be taught anything, exactly as you would stop thinking anyone has to be converted or redeemed. The whole secret of inspiration through your whole mind lies in dropping the idea of there being any foolishness or ignorance in anyone or anything.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

If I allow myself to, I can get so worked-up about what is happening in the world. I mean, LOOK AT WHAT THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING/SAYING/BELIEVING!!! What the hell? I mean here I am, a beacon of Love, Light, Wisdom, and Compassion trying to understand how to create a better world for all, and JUST LOOK AT THEM!!!!

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (LINK)

Oh, right, I say as my New Thought mind kicks in. I am creating my own experience of reality. There is nothing outside of me with any power over me regarding how I see reality.

BUT LOOK AT THEM!!!!

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Okay. Deep Breaths. Maybe I’m creating my own drama here.

“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

Thanks, Marianne. Have to do both. Have to learn to accept what is and to create a joyful experience of reality at the same time. No problem (ha!).

Let’s see what Joseph Campbell had to say.

“Suddenly you’re ripped into being alive. And life is pain, and life is suffering, and life is horror, but my god you’re alive and its spectacular.”

~  Joseph Campbell

Campbell-Portrait

Joseph Campbell

Okay, I’m there. Being ripped open – the sadness, the crisis overload, the fake news, the suffering of the world seemingly expanding endlessly and faster than we can help, the election of people who seem to want to speed up the rate of suffering. . . . Okay, I’m there. NOW WHAT?

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off.
Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance.
Having a sense of humor saves you.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Comedic view? With all the political correctness nowadays, who can make a joke? What’s funny here or anywhere?

Cartoon God-at-His-Family-Reunion

God at His Family Reunion

Oh, it’s all funny. Everything that appears disconnected from Spirit has no substance, so it’s a joke in that sense – not laughing at others, but laughing at the overall absurdity of appearances. Never thought of that. But how do I process that idea when I’m seeking the true meaning of life? That’s serious business, right?

“You don’t ask what a dance means, you enjoy it. You don’t ask what the world means, you enjoy it. You don’t ask what you mean, you enjoy yourself; or at least, so you do when you are up to snuff. But to enjoy the world requires something more than mere good health and good spirits; for this world, as we all now surely know, is horrendous. ‘All life,’ said the Buddha, ‘is sorrowful’; and so, indeed, it is. Life consuming life: that is the essence of its being, which is forever a becoming. ‘The world,’ said the Buddha, ‘is an ever-burning fire.’ And so it is. And that is what one has to affirm, with a ‘yea! a dance!’ a knowing, solemn, stately dance of the mystic bliss beyond pain that is at the heart of every mythic rite.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By

Seeing life as a dance to be enjoyed? That seems antithetical to trying get everyone to change the world for the better. And while it may seem that Campbell is telling us to step to the side, find a small hiding place to avoid the chaos, and manage to eke out some pleasure, that is not what he is saying.

What he IS saying is the way to compassion is through a change in attitude wherein we stop giving power to what appears to be evil and chaos and we come to see that it is all the same thing – ONE THING – unfolding and expressing through the minds of those participating. And until more of us awaken, we will continue to project fear and chaos into form more often than not. In this sense, Campbell and Richard Rohr agree:

“How can we recognize and participate in flowing reality? Scientists and mystics alike tell us: Be present! Experiment! Stay curious.”

~ Richard Rohr

Campbell’s way (there are others) is to see it all as meaningless from the standpoint of some Divine Intention – to see that the Divine has given us the power to make our world and our lives. The Divine has no attachments! And given us the ability to transform our minds! So let us transform our minds to joy“to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world.” If we stay present, experiment (engage), and let our natural curiosity have free rein, we are on the right track to a good experience of life. This is a path to develop compassion, which is the essential healing energy for each of us and for all of us.

“The principal of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. This is the basic love, the charity, that turns a critic into a human being who has something to give to – as well as to demand of – the world.”

 ~ Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

We are all in this together, you know, The Beloved Community. When I lose sight of that, my fear-based ego looks for enemies and finds them. There are no enemies without, they are all within me – in my attitudes and beliefs which say there is not enough – enough love, peace, joy, wisdom, compassion, freedom – you name it and I can see the lack. Or to say that I am not enough. Time to change, to get in tune with the inner potentials in which I realize all those qualities are endlessly overflowing, waiting for me to recognize them.

Hell is life drying up.

The Hoarder,
the one in us that wants to keep,
to hold on, must be killed.

If we are hanging onto the form now,
we’re not going to have the form next.

You can’t make an omelet
without breaking eggs.

Destruction before creation.

Live joyously in the sorrows of the world.

~ Joseph Campbell, “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.”

Whatever your political viewpoint, you must come to see that the right wing and the left wing are parts of the same bird – that there is only one humanity. Our future as a species depends on our ability to develop we can see this essential truth. We must find ways to connect across the imaginary lines of difference. The sooner the better.

Poster - Included Inspired Involved

Okay, I feel better now. How about you? Your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

#Charlottesville – Thoughts and Prayers?

“We have been so persistently taught that prayer consists in asking God for some human need that we have lost sight of our spiritual identity and have become a race of praying beggars.”

~ Charles Fillmore

 

“Prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

What showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend was a consciousness of ignorance and fear, one that many of us thought long dead (but many others know better). It is a consciousness which has been encouraged by many aspects of our society, not just the right-wing media, but they bear a great share of the responsibility for fanning the flames of ignorance and fear. Like an iceberg, what we see above the surface is only a small percentage of this consciousness – it exists in various degrees in many people as a dominant way of thinking, and many more as secondary elements of their worldviews. To deny this is to make a grave mistake.

This consciousness is so pervasive that it exists in barely cloaked forms at the highest levels of our government – to deny this is to make another grave mistake.

Like any consciousness that leads to a worldview, it is self-justifying in that it alters perception to make the world look as if this consciousness is both reasonable and necessary. In that regard, it is no different from any other type of consciousness.

In fact, this element that surfaces as white supremacy is only one aspect of a much larger consciousness of ignorance and fear. It shows up as every human failing, every criminal and unethical act, every failure to act from a compassionate heart and the wisdom that emerges from a heart fully opened to compassion. You might say that it shows up in every opportunity for human learning and spiritual growth – it is not alien to us, it is part of our nature, a part that is to be gradually transcended as we deepen and grow.

So, what we see in Charlottesville is like one lesion on a body with many lesions, all arising from the same disease – a sense of separation from Good, from Love, and from Wisdom. Every lesion is a symptom of something deeper, there are no exceptions. Thinking that removing the most currently painful lesion will heal the body is magical thinking. We must get to cause – we know that, right?

If I were speaking to a spiritual community today, Sunday, I would make mention of this consciousness of ignorance and fear urging everyone present to look for evidence of its many tendrils within themselves. For when the consciousness of ignorance and fear is present beneath our awareness, we are helpless to do anything but be carried along by it, acting as though it were a justifiable way to see the world. Those of us who were not part of the mob in Charlottesville may well be part of the same root system which produced it. We believe in separation, we blame, we hate – but we are reasonable whereas they are not.

Have I ever blamed? Have I ever made another wrong in such a way as to accuse them of committing wrongful acts from a level of awareness that they had not attained? Have I ever projected my own unhealed issues onto others because I had not done my deep personal spiritual work? Of course I have – I still do, don’t you?

But ours is not to get stuck in self-criticism either – that is not productive. Ours is to find the Compassionate Heart which lies beneath the crazy, sad, false ideas that we have all accepted to one degree or another. Ours is to do our spiritual work to heal those aspects of ourselves that still give energy to the consciousness of ignorance and fear.

If you are a student of New Thought, as I am, you already know how to do this. You can tell you are doing it well when your first reaction to the actions of ignorance and fear is compassion, the sadness of a broken heart, rather than anger. That is when we will co-create The Beloved Community and your “thoughts and prayers” will be powerful enough to influence the world around you in a larger more positive way. That is what we are called to develop in ourselves.

“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion.”

~ A traditional prayer to Kwan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion

 

“Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask, but when we are challenged to be what we can be.”

~ Morris Adlier

 

The Prayer of the Heart

To deliver oneself up,
to hand oneself over,
entrust oneself completely to the silence
of a wide landscape of woods and hills,
or sea and desert; to sit still while
the sun comes up over the land
and fills its silences with light.

…few are willing to belong completely
to such silence, to let it soak into their bones,
to breathe nothing but silence, to feed
on silence, and to turn the very substance of their life
into a living and vigilant silence.

~ Thomas Merton, from Thoughts in Solitude

 

Don’t surrender your grief so quickly,
let it pierce the soul
Let it wail and crack open wide the disbelief
allowing its searing tears to stain your face
Something is missing in my heart tonight,
it has made my gentle eyes soft with sorrow
while my angry voice turns into a whispered prayer
and my tender need of absolution so clear.

~ Joseph Francis Argazzi

 

“We can be certain that there is an Intelligence in the Universe to which we may come, that will guide and inspire us, a love which overshadows. God is real to the one who believes in the Supreme Spirit, real to the soul that senses its unity with the Whole.
Every day and every hour we are meeting the eternal realities of life, and in such degree as we cooperate with these eternal realities in love, in peace, in wisdom, and in joy—believing and receiving—we are automatically blessed. Our prayer is answered before it is uttered.
Wake up! Your word is all powerful. Your consciousness is one with Omnipotence. Your thought is infinite. Your destiny is eternal and your home is everlasting heaven.”

~ Ernest Holmes

#Charlottesville

#AWorldThatWorksForEveryone

#TheBelovedCommunity

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

THE PARIS ACCORDS: WHERE IS OUR GOOD?

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?

~ Langston Hughes 

Beautiful Earth 3

Every New Thought philosophy has in common the idea that we create our own experience by means of our conscious thoughts and feelings and that whether we are feeling empowered or in fear, that feeling tends to become realized in our experience. When we perceive that we are in danger or in crisis, we naturally have a fear response, however, whether we remain in fear is our decision.

Since the U.S. election, there has been a great deal of uncertainty and fear among many, especially those who prefer that progressive policies come out of the government. Fear about global warming is in great evidence as President Trump announced that he was taking the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

I have been taught to ask a question whenever I perceive something that generates fear within me – Where is my good?

Where is my good in the actions of the current U.S. administration?

Where is my good in the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement?

Where is my good in global warming?

The answer is always – My Good is within me, right now.

The Law of Mind is working perfectly, in me, around me, and through me. When I bring my thoughts and feelings into alignment with this Truth, I am able to bring my inner wisdom and compassion to bear. When I am in fear, these qualities are more difficult to access; the fear clouds my inner consciousness and denies me access. My access to Spirit within is diminished.

“Be careful to differentiate between the Law of Mind and the Spirit. The Law of Mind is a mathematical and impersonal force operating upon your thought images. This Law is like other laws of nature and should be thought of in this light. Life Itself is a spiritual Presence in the universe – the Infinite Person back of all personality. It is warm, colorful and responsive. It is the essence of love, beauty and wisdom. If we live close to nature we shall always be using the Law of Mind constructively and only good can follow.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life 

I use The Law of Mind to guide me to Spirit within, or Spirit-As-Me. This is where my wisdom and compassion lie. Fear clouds my vision and appears to block my good like the clouds in the sky appear to block the sun. When fear arises in me, I lose my ability to discern clearly what my true inner dynamics are and how I can bring them to bear on my experience of the outer world.

My Good is in my elevated response to the world around me.

However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
if you do not act upon them?
~ Buddha

The greater good from the U.S. withdrawal is already unfolding – for one thing, more people are stepping into positive action. There is a growing realization that progressive action must come from us – the collective “we” who seek a healthy planet to live on and to pass on to future generations. Something has been unleashed, or if you will, awakened. Something that represents a greater good. The world is seeing that a healthy planet is not automatically theirs and that large institutions cannot be expected to work toward this goal if it does not increase their bottom line or meet their political goals. People from state and local politicians to individual citizens are beginning to step forward. Awakening to reality is part of our good.

“Do all the good you can.

By all means you can.

In all the ways you can.

In all the places you can.

At all the times you can.

To all the people you can.

As long as you ever can.”

~ John Wesley

It is my view that those of us in New Thought have an additional responsibility beyond taking action. And within that responsibility is our greatest opportunity. That responsibility is to act wisely and compassionately, from a deep sense of spiritual realization; the opportunity is to have the experience of that spiritual realization. We must move beyond the fear of humanity’s demise and stand in a greater revealed Truth. We utilize the challenges of life as keys to unlock ever greater levels of wisdom and compassion within ourselves, and we bring these to bear on those challenges. We do so with humility, emotional and spiritual intelligence, and from the realization that the essence of who and what we are is eternal.

 “We believe that when the human mind, individually and collectively, needs a new truth, out of the necessity of the desire comes the truth it needs. Everything we know in philosophy and science proves it. Out of the desire for a greater good come ways and means for creating the greater good; and if every person made a demand upon Intelligence for the solution to the present world problems, through the minds of those people who are our national leaders would come an adequate and happy solution. That is in line with what we know about the way Life works.”  

~ Ernest Holmes

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

cbccoverkindle

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 3

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

~ Franz Kafka, Diaries

If we are going to change our results in life, we must change our relationship with Source – our Inner Genius that is an individualized expression of the Universal Intelligence. Nothing is being withheld from us – our good lies in wait for us to evolve and develop to the point that we become welcoming conduits for its expression. If our current experience of life falls short of the ideal possibilities, then we have work to do – and we all have work to do.

Deep calls unto us – calling us to awaken to a greater Truth and to become welcoming conduits through which It can express fully. When enough of us have done this, the experience of humanity will be transformed. This series speaks to this idea in the context of committing to deeper spiritual practice and psychological development, so that we express more and more of our spiritual potential.

“People decide to live a spiritual life, they think it’s going to be all flower petals and incense; but really it’s much more like ‘I can’t eat my dinner because I’ve just learned something upsetting about myself.’”

~ David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Transcending the Mind

 This kind of deep spirituality involves the pain of self-discovery, as David Hawkins notes. As we arrive at each discovery, we inhabit our current levels of awareness and development, which determine our experience of the discovery. Pain and sadness are often on the pathway of spiritual awakening and deepening. Going deep is never easy for us. Where we are developmentally on the spiral will have a lot to do with whether and how we continue forward.

VMEMEs Simplified

“What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

~ Clare Graves

Spiral Dynamics™(LINK) shows us how the evolution of human consciousness (as complexity of thought and evolving values systems) creates the dynamics of our development. As we move up the spiral (assuming more complex external living conditions are present), we can display our values constructively or destructively. Each level on the spiral can be expressed in healthy or unhealthy ways. The depth and consistency of spiritual practices has a significant effect on this process.

Every spiritual community has several Levels of Existence (vMEMEs) present. It may be two or six. The levels generate dynamics within themselves and with other levels. The degree to which the levels present are healthy or unhealthy generate additional dynamics – it can get very complicated. When spiritual leaders fail to understand the nature of these dynamics and levels of existence, they make assumptions based on inadequate understanding – and often exaggerate or misdiagnose the problems and opportunities present.

The greater the degree of surface-level spirituality, the greater the degree of dysfunction present. We must create a healthy pathway for those at different vMEMEs to evolve and to go deeper within our spiritual communities, or we miss so many opportunities for spiritual realization.

“While genes evolve slowly, the decision systems formed by vMEMEs are always on the move. vMEMEs can be so dominant they seem like archetypes and are easily misinterpreted as ‘types’ of people. When several are in harmony, vMEMEs resonate like the notes in a musical chord. However, vMEMEs in conflict lead to troubled individuals, dysfunctional families, corporate malaise, fractured churches, and civilizations in decline and fall. Since they are ‘alive,’ vMEMEs can ebb and flow, intensify and soften like a string of Christmas tree lights on a dimmer. Several different ones may line up in support of a specific issue, idea, or project because they share the values contents. At other times, people with essentially the same vMEME decision-making frameworks may disagree violently over details of beliefs and what is ‘the good,’ degenerating into holy and un-civil war.”

~ Don Beck & Christopher Cowan, SPIRAL DYNAMICS

 While understanding the vMEMEs present is not a “magic solution,” it can lead to a greater awareness of the issues and dynamics at hand and how they are given meaning within the community. New Thought teachings are about transformation and change. Most people are evolving along the spiral all the time, and there are some common values emerging along the way. Also, levels alternate between individual and communal values systems – which has a significant effect on how we show up, both in their own spiritual growth and in spiritual community.

Each of the 1st Tier vMEMEs has its own positives and negatives when it comes to the issues of personal spiritual development, spiritual community, and the interplay of the two. As I have noted before (LINK) and in my book (LINK), the main vMEMEs or Levels of Existence present in New Thought spiritual community are Traditionalist-Blue, Modernist-Orange, and Postmodernist-Green. 2nd Tier, Integral-Yellow may also be present in small numbers. Lower levels on the spiral, Beige, Purple, and Red influence how higher levels show up as well, but tend not to be dominant values systems in modern communities.

Church - Blue-Orange-Green

Blue, in its healthy expression is likely to engage in deep practice if that is what the relevant authority says it should do. Unhealthy Blue may rebel (expressing Red) or follow a counter-authority. Healthy Orange will engage in deep practice if it is seen by them as being personally beneficial – remember, those centered at Orange are all about themselves. Unhealthy Orange will run roughshod over others and show up as competitive in a toxic sense. Healthy Green will seek an egalitarian and communal approach to practices, and will go deep if there are enough members of the community willing to participate, so long as it does not appear that others are being left out against their will. Unhealthy Green may demand deep practice of others, but find ways to avoid it themselves; they may also express judgmental attitudes toward others. Also at Green, there is a reawakening of Tribal-Purple, with its love of ritual and spirituality based on symbolism.

Face - stressed-out

The Frustration of Not Understanding Cultural Evolutionary Dynamics

Spiritual leaders may find themselves wondering how to organize these disparate values systems into something cohesive – in fact, this is a major challenge for spiritual leadership. Modern progressive spirituality, such as New Thought, is not exempt from this issue. The days when Traditionalist-Blue thinking dominated are gone, except in fundamentalist communities – meaning that people will not automatically obey authority any more (have you noticed?). Orange wants their needs met or they leave; Green insists that leaders ensure that everyone feels good about everything (and is anti-hierarchical as well, so suspicious of authority). Orange wants you to tell it like it is and Green wants you to tell it so no one gets upset.

“The growth of multiculturalism and globalization brings us rising levels of complexity and nuance. The ability to hold tension is absolutely essential. Fundamentalism—strict adherence to one’s view of the world as the only right way—is essentially a refusal to live in tension.”

~ David Livermore

I include a Spiral Dynamics view here because it can bring a greater depth to our overall understanding of the need for a deeper approach to spiritual growth, and the dynamic tensions involved both in our personal growth and in our spiritual communities. It contains opportunities for greater understanding of the dynamic processes affecting us as we develop. When we apply ourselves more fully to our practices, we reveal more of our inner splendor and genius, we are more fulfilled personally, and a greater contributor to all of humanity.

 

In Part 4 of the series, I will explore ways to create greater opportunities for deep spirituality in New Thought spiritual communities.

Beautiful Garden

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 2

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“I would be remiss if I did not sound a warning concerning the dangers associated with a radical change of consciousness.”

~ June Singer, Jungian Analyst

 This series is looking at bringing greater depth to spiritual teachings in New Thought. I realize that not only will some have no interest in this topic, some may even find it superfluous. But such is life.

The journey to spiritual realization is one made over time. There are no short cuts – not in the sense that permanent transformation (deep change) can come easily. Time is an essential ingredient. Even when we have some cathartic experience, whether an “AHA moment” or a major life event, the resulting changes must be integrated deeply into the psyche over time in a mellowing process. The deeply conditioned self is very stable – it does not change easily or quickly. We may feel changed at depth after a powerful workshop, but how often does that change translate into a truly new direction in life?

“It’s hard to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Those of us who are students and teachers of New Thought ought to be especially cognizant of this – we are in it for the long haul, not the quick fix. Ask any long-time spiritual leader what percentage of her students have evidenced deep, lasting, transformative change in their lives. The numbers will be small. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

How many have done serious shadow work; how many have examined the depths of their psyches even to the point of recognizing their own destructive subconscious patterns? How many have proven this by showing a mastery of even the basics of living a life? How many exist in a space where all their energies must go toward physical, financial, and social survival? How many have little or no energy left for the pursuit of the inner life of the mystical domains, where spiritual realization must be cultivated? How many have even developed consistent patterns of positive thought and emotion, regardless of in what circumstances they find themselves?

“To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is – not the quick little excitement, but the real deep, life-filling bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Secret Teachings Image

Every great spiritual teaching has elements that are inaccessible to the average consciousness. As a single example, the opening of the Gospel of Thomas (LINK) refers to what follows as the secret teachings, which are only to be made available to those who are ready to hear them. The danger in exposing an unprepared mind to great spiritual teachings is that they will be misunderstood and misused. It was a duty of a spiritual teacher in these traditions to determine what the student was ready to receive, and to give him or her only that much. Spiritual awareness is a process, and everyone isn’t at the same level of readiness at any given point. When we fail to include this truth in designing and teaching spiritual curricula, we set people up for failure – or, at minimum, place unintended obstacles in their path to spiritual realization.

Our inner integrity is always there, fully intact, in our deepest self. We have buried it, to one degree or another, through the accretion of false and limited beliefs over our lives. Spiritual development involves the gradual removal of this layer, the false ideas of self, and the revealing of that buried inner integrity with the goal of bringing it fully into our lives. We remember who we really are over time when we do the work of spiritual realization with rigor and determination. But at the beginning, we are ignorant, we think that our false and limited beliefs are the truth, and we fail to thrive. We seek what does not serve us, we dwell in anger and depression, we resist our teachers (and good teachers are essential in this process) and deny our true nature.

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

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

We begin our spiritual journey directed by our ego – the self-created aspect of the psyche which supports our current belief system. The ego is not a bad thing – think of it as the skeleton of the psyche, it will support whatever our dominant beliefs are. Our work is not to eliminate or destroy the ego, but to create a belief system or consciousness that is enlightened. We need to learn how to delve into the deep subconscious and eliminate the fear-based beliefs, replacing them with Truth. Our spiritual teacher(s) must have mastered this in her own life, and mastered how to teach it – two different things. And there is the fact that most people are not really interested in this level of spiritual growth – those who will go deep are few in number.

“Very few people ever mature. It is enough if they flower and re-seed. That is all that nature requires of them. But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable (sic). There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness.”

~ John Steinbeck

If we are not changing, actually transforming over time, we are staying in place, maintaining the same belief systems while simply adding some spiritual-growth jargon to our vocabulary. The question of this blog post is – are New Thought organizations and spiritual leaders aiding and abetting this kind of spiritual malpractice? Or are they doing everything in their power to create environments where transformation of consciousness is not only likely, but expected? Or are they sacrificing serious students of deep change to serve a larger group interested only in surface change?

Chart - Comfort Zone

Spiritual leadership of spiritual communities is a complex undertaking. One must be concerned with any number of aspects of operation of a community organization. However, there must be a focus on developing core deep spiritual principles within those students who are willing to do the work. This not only perpetuates the teaching at a high level, but provides a significant spiritual influence on the entire community. Where mastery is taught, and emphasized, all benefit.

In Part 3 of this series, I will address how this shows up on the spiral (LINK), and give some guidance as to how to encourage a deeper approach to spiritual education (and in my book (LINK), I thoroughly examine this); but for now, let’s just say that currently we in New Thought tend to take a very egalitarian approach to our spiritual education – there is little, if any, rigor with regard to determining readiness for advanced materials, and, for the most part, our “professional-leveleducation has drifted more toward job preparation than to the development of significant levels of spiritual realization and psychological health. It may be time to expand our conversation.

Beautiful Flower Lotus

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 4

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

~ Susan B. Anthony

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

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

~ Bishop Yvette Flunder

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

Green vMEME

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

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

~ Frederic Laloux, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Alfred North Whitehead

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are two steps to effective engaged spirituality:

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

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

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

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

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

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

 

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 3

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

~ Ernest Holmes

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

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

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

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

~ Edward Viljoen

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

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

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

Spiral Dynamics Chart 2

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

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

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

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

~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols

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

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

~ Ernest Holmes 

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

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

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

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Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)