THE BE THE VOICE OF POSITIVE CHANGE TELESUMMIT

I have been invited to share my vision for a world that works for everyone on the upcoming Be The Voice Of Positive Change Telesummit! October 16th – 27th.

THIS LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO THE FREE REGISTRATION PAGE

PositiveEvent2

Lorna Bright has put together a series of interviews with spiritual thought leaders who focus on positive spirituality and she is making them available for free.

Become part of the solution! The Be The Voice of Positive Change Telesummit begins on October 16th! You can listen to thought leaders and experts share insights and ideas for how you can connect inner ideals like love, respect and unity with outer action to reveal a world that works for everyone!

THIS LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO THE FREE REGISTRATION PAGE

Give yourself the gift of paying attention to this great opportunity. Join us in this important and rewarding work.

WHEN ACTION IS NO LONGER A CHOICE. THE THEOLOGY OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER AND NEW THOUGHT SOCIAL ACTION.

“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak.

Christians are doing too little to make these points clear . . .

Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

You cannot read Dietrich Bonhoeffer (LINK) and remain comfortable in your inaction. One of the most profound theologians of the 20th Century, he died in a concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 39. His was a time of transition – Germany between the World Wars, where he saw the moral degradation of his society and the combination of inaction and complicity by his church. He became one of the great moral voices of his time, calling those of his faith tradition, Christianity, to step up their game, spiritually, morally, and actively. He escaped to the U.S., only to return to Germany at the height of the war – he saw this as a moral duty.

Bonhoeffer 2

Bonhoeffer

Insert New Thought in place of Christianity in the quote above and you get my point about moral clarity. For a relatively young faith tradition, we in the various branches of NewThought seem to have some calcified belief systems in place. Discussions about social justice and taking principled positions which may be political controversial often bring into question the “right” of a spiritual organization or the leadership of a spiritual community to take stands or request action beyond thoughts and prayers.

It is my belief that our failure to develop a culture of clarity around issues relating to social justice and well-being, and to translate that clarity into actions which become elemental to how we make our presence known, is a reason for the stagnation of our movement. We are too much talk, much of it inconsistent, and too little action.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here, Bonhoeffer reminds us that there is no such thing as inaction. I am reminded of the great New Thought teacher, Raymond Charles Barker (LINK), who called indecision a decision to fail” in his classic book, THE POWER OF DECISION (LINK). Is Bonhoeffer’s statement above any different in meaning or clarity from Dr. Barker’s? The essence of the matter is that when we live only in our mind and do not engage with the world to bring our principles to light, we are, essentially, acting in opposition to our spiritual principles. We are keeping our principles hidden at great cost to those who would benefit by their expression, and possibly, at the cost of a more just society overall.

“The ultimate test for a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer - Dietrich

We in New Thought often stress cause and effect, saying little about morality. Yet we are guided by principles, mainly love, wisdom, and compassion, from which our society’s moral values arise. For us to do affirmative prayers (Spiritual Mind Treatments) for the world is certainly a powerful way to activate cause; but if this is all we do, expecting others to arise and carry out the effects of our prayers in the world, are we being honest with ourselves about how the creative process works?

In other words, can we seek to elevate ourselves above the chaos of acting in the world, do our affirmative prayers, and await a positive outcome? Isn’t that what spiritual bypass is? Carl Jung has a statement about this:

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. they will practice (sic) Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has gradually turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come. Therefore, let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth – the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better!”

~ C. G. Jung. Collected Works, Vol 12

Sitting on your prayer mat or meditation cushion while exploring the spiritual practices of the world and never leaving that cocoon of safety, is a form of spiritual malpractice. It is a way of avoiding the work of the soul.

I serve on the Centers for Spiritual Living Committee on Spiritually Motivated Social Action. Our role is to assist the organization and local member communities to understand the guiding principles from our Organizational Design Model (ODM) and to apply them where appropriate in making statements and taking actions relating to social justice. Those who serve on this committee are very sensitive to the viewpoints for and against organizationally or local community-sponsored actions (and even statements). Again, I cannot speak for the dynamics relating to this in Unity – perhaps someone can in the comments section.

Some feel that as Religious Scientists, we should not be telling anyone what to do or how to live their lives; and certainly, not have organizational positions or actions. That should be up to each individual. This is a viewpoint that very likely would have been nearly universal in the movement for most of the 20th Century.

But times, and worldviews, have changed. In the originating documents which formed the basis for the Centers for Spiritual Living in 2011/12, the ODM contained values relating to being active in spiritually motivated social justice issues and causes. Here is some of the ODM language, which won over 98% of the vote at that time:

From Section Two – Our Global Vision: We envision a world where personal responsibility joins with social conscience in every area of the political, corporate, academic, and social sectors, providing sustainable structures to further the emerging global consciousness.

8.12.2. Cultural/Social Issues: CSL and its Member Communities are spiritual in nature; however, there may be a call for our principles to be expressed in contexts wider than one’s personal life and to be applied to collective and global issues.

To add a little Bonhoeffer gem here:

“We are not simply to bandage the wounds of the victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I, for one, am very tired of this so-called “debate.” Those who wish to operate from the worldview of the last century are welcome to do so, however, they might at least acknowledge that the issue is settled as far as the Centers for Spiritual Living is concerned. I am more interested in becoming an effective actor in the world, using my New Thought principles to guide me in making a difference. I am interested in speaking out against the regressive politics that currently dominate the US political landscape. I want to be a positive, and loud voice for good.

“Sometimes we just need a firm kick in the pants. An unsmiling expectation that if we mean all these wonderful things we talk about and sing about, then let’s see something to prove it.”

 ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let my voice be clear and compassionate, my actions timely and effective, and let all be guided by the principles of the great New Thought teachers. I want to do so from a deep realization of those principles (LINK). Otherwise, what is the point?

 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

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 4

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

~ Susan B. Anthony

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

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

~ Bishop Yvette Flunder

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

Green vMEME

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

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

~ Frederic Laloux, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Alfred North Whitehead

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

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

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

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

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

ce-books

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

There are two steps to effective engaged spirituality:

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

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

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

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

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

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

 

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 2

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

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

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

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

Engaged-Spirituality.jpg

From the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT)

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

basic-principles-of-som

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

~ Ernest S. Holmes, The Science of Mind 

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

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

“Why not?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

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

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

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

~ Ernest Holmes

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

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DOES PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY TRANSLATE INTO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? Part 3

SPIRITUAL ARROGANCE or KINDNESS

You might ask me what is my evidence that New Thought spirituality either attracts those who are progressive politically, or develops that type value system within them. My answer – look at the numbers! There are conservatives in New Thought to be sure, but they are usually a small minority of those present in a spiritual community.

As I pointed out in Part 1 (LINK), the opposite can be said about fundamentalist spiritual communities, where progressives are few and far between. The politically related positions of New Thought organizations (LINK) (LINK) and individual spiritual communities, when taken publicly, are overwhelmingly progressive in nature. I would go so far as to say that there is a progressive bias built into New Thought spirituality.

But that bias does not always translate into the positions of one political party as opposed to another – not perfectly at least. There are many aspects to the US political populace. New Thought tends to land on the progressive side of the ledger, but mostly in relation to taking a humanist position. There is also a tendency to be in favor of the common good when the choice is between that and individual good. And there is a conservation approach within New Thought to things like public lands and nature, something that originated within the conservative movement in the US.

“When we pay attention to nature’s music, we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony.”

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

Another issue is spiritual arrogance. This is less of a religious issue and more of a cultural evolutionary issue. – those who reside at higher levels on the spiral (LINK) often fail to honor the values of those at lower, or different, levels. This results in a dismissive attitude about the other, in this case, those who support different candidates or political policies. It is always the responsibility of those who have greater awareness to take the high road in such matters. I will look at the Spiral Dynamics implications of all this in Part 4 of the series. Spiritual arrogance arises when we automatically see others through our own lens, as if they fully understood our own kind of spiritual teachings.

chart-middle-class

The United States has seen a decimation of the middle class over the past 40 years (LINK). There are any number of causes for this, but one thing can be said: New Thought principles have not become widespread so that enough individuals can realize their own power to create good in their lives. Our New Thought organizations and spiritual communities, have failed to capture the imagination of more than a tiny sliver of Americans.

middle-class-cartoon

Now I know that many will say that our principles have become mainstream – they appear via people like Wayne Dyer and Anthony Robbins, they are part of sales training, they are used by sports psychologists, and the like. I hear this said all the time. But is this really true? I suggest that these are examples of the use of modern psychology, not of New Thought principles – and we adopted the same psychology, we did not originate it. My mother read authors like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, but she believed that she should suffer in life as Jesus did on the cross; she did not become steeped in the teachings of New Thought. Our principles of Love, Peace, Power, Life, Light, Beauty, Joy and the like are not necessarily what are being expressed in the larger world. More often the psychology is being used to get a victory for a football team or a new car or some other thing – not to create The Beloved Community.

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

~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 

Blogger and author Seth Godin (LINK) writes of shared reality and diverse opinions. Where diverse opinions exist, such as we have in New Thought(!), there must also be a shared reality. Sometimes, I wonder about the nature of our shared reality in New Thought. There can never be a complete sharing of a philosophy/theology, of course. What I often observe, as one example, is the dynamic of those who see Spirit/Mind/God as an independent operator, as in “Spirit wanted me to become a minister,” versus those who see It as operating only through creation (us), as in “I chose to become a minister and activated the Power of Spirit to manifest that.”

I see these viewpoints expressed quite a bit in discourse with New Thought teachers and students alike. Absent a clearly shared reality on this point, our diverse opinions tend to drive us farther apart in my experience. Recognizing this difference might be a first step to greater clarity.

“At a chess tournament, when the newcomer tries to move his rook diagonally, it’s not permitted. ‘Hey, that’s just your opinion,’ is not a useful response. Because, after all, chess is defined by the rules of the game. If you want to play a different game, begin by getting people to agree to the new rules. In physics, it doesn’t matter how much you want a ping-pong ball to accelerate faster, your opinion isn’t going to change what happens. Shared reality is the foundation on which we can build trust, make promises and engage in a useful discussion on how to achieve our goals.”

~ Seth Godin

I was heartened to see so many from the New Thought Movement participate in the Women’s Marches last week. For those who did so out of a sense of creating something positive, they are vessels for the emergence of The Beloved Community. The idea of being for something and against nothing, as Ernest Holmes called for in his final Sermon By The Sea (LINK), speaks to bringing forth a more compassionate nation. Like attracts like, so compassion can only be realized through a consciousness of compassion and kindness.

And it is important to put principle first; ahead of party or candidate. Neither U.S. political party has platforms nor policies consistent with the full empowerment of humanity, of putting love first. While such an idea may be idealistic, it is where our New Thought Principles point. With no engagement from New Thought perspectives, how do we expect our principles and ideas to find their way into the public discourse? By osmosis?

“There’s a neglect of spiritual practices that prepare the soul for engagement with social issues from a place of love. I love the people in congregations. But it’s hard to get real in the culture of church. Maybe it just takes more courage than most of us have.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

Those who tell you not to speak up, march, or engage in social activism are sometimes not being honest. They are the people who are happy enough with things as they are; they are fine with the status quo. I am not telling you to do any specific thing – I am telling you to look into your heart and to do your spiritual work so that the best of you is available to humanity. Follow your wise heart. Do it alone if you must. How do we demonstrate our spiritual principles without engaging in the political realm?

New Thought offers a powerful set of spiritual tools to bring our best selves forward into the larger society. What we must determine, individually and collectively, is how best to do that – to help move toward a world that works for everyoneThe Beloved Community.

In Part 4 (the final part of this post), I will explore how this concept can be viewed using the lenses of Spiral Dynamics and Integral Models. As always, your comments are welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

cover

DOES PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY TRANSLATE INTO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? Part 2

“Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it seeks the common good.”

~ Pope Francis

In Part 1 (LINK) of this series, I wrote: “If a society does not function to ensure the well-being of its citizens, how can someone in a progressive spirituality like New Thought remain silent? Some say the answer is that we pray and things will change – is that what our teaching says? Where is that exactly?”

My understanding of our teaching is that we do the spiritual practice of prayer-treatment to change our own minds – our own beliefs. We do not treat to change outer events, only our belief in them, which MAY lead to an outer change to the degree that our own consciousness has some influence, or our changed consciousness has a different relationship with the outer event (a healing).

Ernest Holmes wrote several times that the Science of Mind is not mind control – nor is it chance. Our sphere of influence in outer affairs (conditions) is primarily via action. Prayer-treatment develops the consciousness from which we act. If we treat for another, we treat for ourselves to know that they are healed. It is then necessary them to develop an acceptance of healing in consciousness (something the good practitioner assumes), for we know that there is no change in the external without a change in the internal. However, we also know that external changes involving more than our individual experience require both the consciousness of the change and the action to change it.

If our only role is only to be sitting in prayer for the ills of the world, then are we being truly progressive in any sense of that world? Or are we using a form of spiritual bypass to remain disengaged from a world that cries out for spiritual clarity in the form of visible action?

“Action without prayer/meditation leads to exhaustion. Prayer/meditation without actions leads to self-absorption.”

~ Jim Rosemergy

It is a balance of the necessary consciousness and the actions which support it that generates large-scale change in human affairs. Prayer-treatment can only change the mind of one who is open to that change. Actions, especially from a compassionate heart, can lead to that openness.

Poster - Compassion - Russell Simmons

One of the hardest things for a person developing a compassionate heart to face is the intransigence of those who are convinced that only a harsh and unforgiving approach to human affairs can be effective – those whose hearts are closed, whether because of their own woundedness or their conditioning.

This is clearly the approach of the current administration – there is a consciousness of coming to power to fix what has been broken by others; to take a hard line with perceived and real enemies within and without; to remove support for the vulnerable out of a belief that if they get desperate enough, they will either find their own way to success, or perhaps they will disappear. This consciousness, a vestige of the Puritan Ethic and the concept of rugged individualism that runs deep in the U.S.,  was clearly stated during the election process, and those promising these values were elected. We can see the spread of cultural evolutionary developmental levels along the spiral in the election results. More about the Spiral Dynamics implications of this in Part 4 of the series.

It may seem that the prayers and treatments for world peace, for harmony, for universal well-being have gone for naught – they have not worked. And, although it can be argued that they have worked to a degree, they have not brought about the kind of change in the human condition that has been sought. So, what do we do?

It is not the form of the treatment which you give, or the prayer which you make, that gives it power. Rather, it is your faith. Say:
I know that I am in the Spirit of God.
I know that the Spirit of God is in me.
I know that this Spirit is complete and perfect.
Therefore, It must be complete and perfect in me.

I know that this Spirit is now operating in my affairs.
It is manifesting Its beauty and harmony in everything I do.
I know that my body is a spiritual idea, manifesting in form.
I know that every organ of my body, being a manifestation of pure Spirit, contains within itself a pattern of joy, of peace, of divine order, of harmony and complete perfection.

~ Ernest Holmes, This Thing Called You

Here, Dr. Holmes writes very eloquently about the path to successful treatment for issues within one’s own personal affairs. And indeed, this is an essential component to a fulfilling life – to develop the consciousness as a self who is capable, effective, and fully engaged with life. What we do as we build such a consciousness is to prepare ourselves to more effectively contribute to a better world. To do so requires that we act from that consciousness regularly, even when the outer conditions seem contradictory

I must know myself more fully before I can be an effective vehicle for a higher consciousness to emerge. I must develop my spiritual muscles so that I can stand in my Truth with great power and wisdom.

‎”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

I must recognize that my desire to pray and treat from afar, without engagement with the great human epic that is unfolding, is a form of fear. Let me stay where it is comfortable, in my own room or with my close, like-minded friends, and do my spiritual work and wait for the world to realize my Truth. That fear must be healed.

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. . . . Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

Progressive spirituality demands the courageous development of a consciousness of empowerment (which means peace, compassion, love, wisdom & power) which leads to a greater engagement with the life conditions in which you find yourself. When we use our New Thought Principles to realize our inner power and our inner love, we presence ourselves by standing tall in this world with a compassionate heart. In this way, we help to bring The Beloved Community into actuality.

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

~ Leonardo da Vinci  

In Part 3 of this series, I will explore ways that progressive spirituality can engage in the political process to bring an agenda of healing, mutual respect, and even compassion – after we take a hard look at ourselves.

US Heart

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

cover

DOES PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY MEAN PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? Part 1

This past week saw the convergence of The Women’s March (LINK) in 600+ cities around the world and the presentation of Sunday lessons on Spiritual Living, the basic values of the Science of Mind, drawn from the organizations values statements in hundreds of Centers for Spiritual Living (LINK). I am sure that there are similar dynamics unfolding in Unity (LINK) and other New Thought denominations.

womens-march-on-wash-logo-1170x635

Many in CSL participated in the women’s marches and rallies, some with groups from their spiritual communities; others felt that such participation, while okay for individuals, was an inappropriate political event in which an organization or center to participate. Some feel that our ministers should encourage members to do prayer-treatment work for the good of our nation and nothing further. For some, this position was based on their interpretations of the Science of Mind teachings; for others, it appeared to arise from their conservative political leanings.

I have recently had several conversations with a colleagues where the question “Why aren’t there more (political) conservatives in our movement?” came up.  Some who have conservative leanings say that they are not made welcome and felt that many, including ministers, speak too much about progressive politics and causes in spiritual community activities, making those with conservative viewpoints feel that their values are not honored. This is the very reason that some spiritual leaders refrain from any comments that may be seen as politically biased.

My response would be that New Thought spirituality, which does not condemn people for being different and does not believe in Hell as a reality, might be more likely to attract progressives than conservatives. The balance in much of New Thought, uneven as it clearly is, has to do with a lack of dogma and other absolutist and authoritarian positions that are found in more traditional religions. We can see in more fundamentalist denominations, there are very few progressives.

NTE Blog Illustration 1

After giving this matter quite a bit of thought throughout our long political season that led to the election of Donald Trump (and blogging about it along the way [LINK]), I thought I would speak to the issue of New Thought and the idea of engagement in politics. This is not to change any minds, but to bring some much-needed clarity to the conversation, which I am sure will be ongoing. My intention is not to convince anyone of anything, but to contribute to an important ongoing conversation in the New Thought Movement.

“In our time we have come to the stage where the real work of humanity begins. It is the time where we partner Creation in the creation of ourselves, in the restoration of the biosphere, the regenesis of society and in the assuming of a new type of culture; the culture of Kindness. Herein, we live daily life reconnected and recharged by the Source, so as to become liberated and engaged in the world and in our tasks.”

~ Jean Houston

I will begin with some definitions, which, hopefully, will add some clarity to the discussion. New Thought, in all of its forms, is a truly progressive spiritual philosophy. It is progressive in the sense that it takes the notion of ongoing change as a given, it brings forth the concept of Oneness as the basis of all existence, and it sees the seat of agency as the individual mind, which is an aspect of a Universal Mind. It also recognizes that human consciousness is evolving toward greater capacities for realization, and that we must remain open to new ways of understanding and living Principle.

Progressive politics are, in their purest form, about the common good – about the idea that each of us is in part responsible for all of us, and that society is best served by a government which works to create a better life for all. To my mind, progressive politics combines the best elements of what we know as liberalism with what we know as conservatism. By that I mean that it attempts to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the well-being of the collective. Conservatism seeks to conserve the values and practices that bind a society. Liberalism seeks to expand the well-being of the collective (known as the common good) while encouraging the creativity of the individual.

Therefore, Conservatism is not the opposite of progressive politics; its opposite is regressive politics. Progressives recognize that the future involves change and greater complexity; regressives want to return to an often idealized past set of values and practices – in other words, they want to retreat to a non-existent or partially remembered past.

Neither of the two political parties in the United States today are truly progressive, truly liberal, or truly conservative. They have been driven to corrupted versions of these ideals, largely due to what we call special interests – narrowly focused groups and businesses to get their own interests met using government, usually by using money as an influencer; little pure political philosophy has survived this process.

“Patriotism is a beautiful thing; it is well for me to love my country, but why should I love my country more than I love all others? If I love my own and hate others, I then show my limitations, and my patriotism will stand the test not even for my own. If I love my country and in the same way love all other countries then I show the largeness of my nature, and a patriotism of this kind is noble and always to be relied upon.”

~ Ralph Waldo Trine, 1897

trine-ralph-waldoThis quote by the great Ralph Waldo Trine speaks to a global consciousness – something that is more compatible with a progressive mindset. The true progressive expands her consciousness to allow greater engagement with the world around her. She understands that cultures evolve, new ways of being emerge, and greater complexity is a result. She seeks to understand and thrive within a changing environment.

“Once a new social stage appears in a culture, it will spread its instructional codes and life-priority messages throughout that culture’s surface-level expressions: religion, economic and political arrangements, psychological and anthropological theories, and views of human nature, our future destiny, globalization, and even architectural patterns and sports preferences. We all live in flow states; there is always new wine, always old wineskins. We, indeed, find ourselves pursuing a neverending quest.”

~ Don Edward Beck

When we understand the nature of cultural evolution and the dynamics involved, we see that the evolutionary impulse of humanity cannot be altered to suit a desire for a return to the past. Regressivism is a dead-end generated by fear of change. Conservatism, on the other hand, along with true liberalism, are essential elements in the overall political atmosphere of any society.

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

~ Krishnamurti

If a society does not function to ensure the well-being of its citizens, how can someone in a progressive spirituality like New Thought remain silent? Some say the answer is that we pray and things will change – is that what our teaching says? Where is that exactly?

“But faith without works is dead. We should not only pray, we should act, each contributing the best he has to the common purpose, each willing to make any sacrifice necessary…one in a certain sense, a selfish one, for we all desire self-preservation, but the other in the greater sense that there can be no individual self-preservation without the preservation of all… .”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Essential Ernest 179.3

In Part 2 of this series, I will examine the spiritual principles which apply to how we act in the world as practitioners of a progressive spirituality.

Your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

cbccoverkindle

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

A TIME FOR HEROES!

So, you thought maybe the world would evolve and you wouldn’t have to change?

Welcome to the Waste Land!

While I know that each of us is processing things differently, here is my take on what we in New Thought (or anyone who studies and practices consciousness) can be focusing on as events unfold.

waste-land

“The Waste Land, let us say then, is any world in which (to state the problem pedagogically) force and not love, indoctrination, not education, authority, not experience, prevail in the ordering of lives, and where the myths and rites enforced and received are consequently unrelated to the actual inward realizations, needs, and potentialities of those upon whom they are impressed.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology

And so, we find ourselves at this point in time, individually and collectively, questioning ourselves and our intentions, and perhaps even our faith. There is a regressive mood across the land, and a lot of things are happening that will bother those with a progressive mindset – people like me. We are entering a Waste Land that may have been unavoidable in the grand scheme of things, but one that will ensure suffering for many (some of which may be the shifting of suffering from one group to another which changes in political power brings). It is clearly our time to find our best selves. It is time to answer the call to the hero’s journey.

Mythologically speaking, we are being placed into the fire, where we will either be lost or where the outer ignorance and fear will be burned away. This is true in ways more far-reaching than this election. The old order is ending and a new order is emerging on a larger scale than most imagine (LINK). I believe that many who voted for the victorious candidates in this election cycle are also in for a shock as major shifts occur globally and locally. An Integral understanding of cultural dynamics worldwide shows that seismic disruptive shifts are unfolding across the political, cultural, and economic landscapes. In other words, the challenges are much bigger and far reaching than we might expect.

And the way from here to there is via the route of the Hero.

“. . . we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us, the labyrinth is fully known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. 
And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” 

~ Joseph Campbell

The hero is not revealed in times of even relative comfort; the hero arises when we are challenged. That is the good news here. Nature has a way of making sure that we have opportunities to bring our best selves to bear on the challenges that arise in life. Whether we actually take advantage of those opportunities is another matter.

What won’t help to bring about positive change are things like:

  • Hiding & shutting oneself off from the news
  • Pretending that everything is normal or saying things like “it’s all good!”
  • Naive thinking such as thinking the new government will suddenly become more progressive once they take power
  • Lashing out in anger and creating even more separation

heros-journey-project-details-1-638

The over-arching need is for each of us to come into alignment with our best selves. To find that inner core of strength, love, and wisdom and to let it express through us in the weeks and years ahead. Being loving does not mean laying down and letting others walk over you. It means finding your inner wisdom and love and having the strength to speak and act from that core with compassion (LINK), but firmness. If we are inadequate to that task, then regression will become the way of the future, for we live in a universe where the dominant consciousness expresses most fully.

“In becoming a hero or heroine, we undertake the extraordinary task of dying to our current, local selves and being reborn to our eternal selves. And then we continue to travel deeper still until we reach the eternal place of sourcing and resourcing.
“There are two great works for heroes and heroines to perform. The first is to withdraw from everyday life and open ourselves to the inner creative life through which lie our only means of reaching the Source. The second work is to return to everyday life, carrying the knowledge we have gained in the depths and putting it to use to redeem time and society.”

~ Jean Houston

Having an awareness of the hero’s journey concept is very important in these times. If the inner work has not already been done, it is time to begin. You can tell by how you respond to events – do you run and hide or despair; do you lash out and meet anger with anger, insult with insult? Or do you find such news stirring some inner strength and calling it forth?

CHASTAIN

In competitive fields, such as professional sports, it is well known that practice is essential to high performance, but that it is in the actual game where one shows who he or she really is – not as essence (essence is always wise and loving), but to the degree which the best version of the self has been realized.

“The hero’s journey is one of the universal patterns through which (the) radiance shows brightly. What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

call

These callings can be very unpleasant, as the current one is for many. We are already seeing the negative effects of those who see themselves as progressive who have not prepared for this eventuality – spewing the same level of fear, ignorance, and hatred as those they see as their enemies; giving ammunition to others to minimize their own damaging statements and actions when they could be held up to a bright light of compassion; forgetting that everyone thinks they are on the good side of any fight. Let us not forget that many who voted for Donald Trump did so thinking it was a way to save the lives of babies.

If I have not done my inner work and life throws me the inevitable curve ball, I am very likely to swing and miss.

“Hear this or not, as you will. Learn it now, or later — the world has time. Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony, ephemeracy, inconsequence, abstraction, disorder, boredom, angst, ennui — these are the true hero’s enemies, and make no mistake, they are fearsome indeed. For they are real.”

~ David Foster Wallace The Pale King 

We are called, many of us, to our next hero’s journey – or for some, this is a continuation of a journey that they have already begun. Failure to heed the call will make us unfit to be part of a healing and uplifting consciousness. Every challenge, every negative experience, is filled with potential for healing – but we must be able to respond effectively, with true compassion. As Joseph Campbell says, we must “Follow our Bliss.”

“Following your bliss is not self-indulgent, but vital; your whole physical system knows that this is the way to be alive in this world and the way to give to the world the very best that you have to offer. There IS a track just waiting for each of us and once on it, doors will open that were not open before and would not open for anyone else.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Regardless of what is going on in the world around us, we are called to go on the hero’s journey repeatedly. Each time, we have the possibility of finding some other element of inner strength, wisdom, or compassion that is being called forth from us. Each time, we can claim that quality and bring it to the world around us. It takes the courage to accept the call and to meet the various challenges along the pathway; to live in the mystery as you go, and to accept your own good qualities when you find them.

If you are fortunate enough to have studied New Thought principles for a while, you can appreciate this statement by Jean Houston.

“And so I ask you to reflect on this: What would you be like if you started today to make the most of the rest of your life? If you turned a corner and awoke?”

~ Jean Houston

wonderfullife1

The victory that we seek is peace, harmony, love, power, and wisdom expressed in human societies the world over. Nothing different will take us where we desire to go.

 Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

WANT TO BE AN ACTIVIST? IT TAKES SPIRITUAL PREPARATION

Echoing some themes which I have blogged about before, I thought it would be a good time to follow-up my last post on AFFIRMATIONS FOR THE ELECTION SEASON, HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE (LINK) with something about spiritually motivated social activism.

1a Activism

The purpose of the previous post was not to stop anyone from being politically or socially active at any level that they felt called to, but to serve as a reminder that being active without adequate spiritual and psychological preparation can lead to negative results. The affirmations were simply tools to help to establish a consciousness of spiritual poise – meaning that one would be less likely to be triggered and lose their balance by the words or actions of others. When you stay balanced, keep your poise, you are more likely to be effective in calling upon your highest and best resources to advance your cause or position – and to view others with love and compassion.

In the current political climate, we see the results of people who operate without a firm and healthy spiritual base – even those who claim to be very religious can be driven to hateful speech an actions. This happens because we enter into such situations insufficiently grounded in spiritual practice and in a sound self-concept. When we do this, we are fair game to be triggered when someone says or does something that violates our belief system. When a number of insufficiently grounded people interact, the results can range from an argument to a riot.

“Action without prayer/meditation leads to exhaustion. Prayer/meditation without actions leads to self-absorption.”

~ Jim Rosemergy

Social Activism usually involves some kind of disruption. I have blogged about Sacred Disruption (LINK), but this is a bit different. This kind of disruption is aimed at shifting the thoughts and actions of those who support some kind of status quo that needs to be changed. Examples abound, and include institutional racism, unfair and discriminatory laws and practices, and so on.

We are facing a number of urgent situations in our world and in our nation. This comment from a person identified as Jeannie to the last post on Affirmations is on point:

“There is a world occupied by activists, however, that picks up where these wonderful affirmations end. For those called to save the (planet, children, wildlife, redwoods, oceans, etc.) it is not enough just to be correct, well-researched, and well-reasoned. It is necessary to persuade those in power to recognize the urgency and necessity of their cause. Lives are at stake. In harsh fact, all life on earth is at stake. Activists cannot simply walk away when things get rough. They do, however, need to call on discernment to know when a true impasse has been reached, and when it is actually on the verge of breaking into a higher perspective, perhaps a synthesis of the two arguments.”

This is true – in the world of effect, we must be willing to act to protect what is of value. And as noted in the comment (see the full comment in the comments section HERE), it is important to use discernment throughout the process of engaging in social and political activism – which takes the ability to access a rational and calm part of the self. But we must do our preparatory work. So perhaps it is a combination of passion and rationality that we are called to master – to create within ourselves the capacity to be fully present to what is happening both around us and within us. From such a foundation of spiritual and psychological poise, we can be effective at whatever level we choose to be active.

 

“So many people pray and pray and pray. They don’t get action. Our bodies need to be acted upon. It is not altogether praying, but it is doing. You must do something.”

~ Charles Fillmore

What are those choices? We are humans and we have different capacities, different temperaments, different fears and strengths. There are a range of ways to be in service to the healing of humanity and the resulting healing of our planet. At one end of the spectrum is to be a contemplative, like a monk, who simply prays and meditates in isolation or in community. At the other, is a fully engaged activist, who may be active across many fronts on many issues. And in between there is a wide range of ways to be engaged.

1a Trump Clinton

 

Brexit.jpg

But let us understand one thing – we MUST be engaged. Those who have had access to New Thought teachings of love and empowerment cannot be the ones to step out of the flow of action; cannot leave the creation of the collective human unconscious to those who know only fear and anger; cannot rest while others carry their load.

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.” ~ Ernest Holmes

The amazing Jean Houston teaches a concept called Social Artistry (LINK) to students around the world. Some of her students include some adults and young adults from Centers for Spiritual Living. Social Artistry is defined as: the art of enhancing human capacities in the light of social complexity. It seeks to bring new ways of thinking, being and doing to social challenges in the world. 

1a Social Artistry

This is one example of a program designed to bring spiritual principles to social issues. One becomes a social artist by learning how to bring the best of themselves to various challenges of various kinds at various levels of society. And one learns to identify and understand the dynamics of those challenges, kinds, and levels.

What could we accomplish if we pooled our knowledge and experience and approached our challenges in a spiritually centered manner? What inner gift do you have to bring to bear on what is needed in our world today?

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

~ Martha Graham

Dali-2 - Egg

What is your local spiritual community doing to be active in the healing process for the world at large?

Is that something that you can engage with?

Nothing? Maybe you should speak to your spiritual leader(s).

Maybe that is yours to do.

 

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard