Tag Archives: Unity

Life of Pi

As with most people this time of year, I’m finding myself reminiscing on what a year this has been…and realizing once again the creative power of the stories we carry with us. This has been a year focused on healing and resetting a foundationlife_of_pi_20121210 of health and wholeness in every area of my life. An important part of my healing journey has been to go even deeper in understanding what my story is…what have I been carrying with me (consciously and unconsciously)? We each have a deep desire to be the hero of our own story—yet I began the year with part of me feeling more like the villain who was bent on sabotaging my unfolding life story.

If you’ve read previous posts in this blog, you know that I began the year with an overwhelming amount of medical bills and a medical diagnosis from Mayo Clinic of Erdheim Chester Disease—and the story the world tells about that disease is that it is a very rare disorder whose difficulty to diagnosis makes it so that the life expectancy of those diagnosed is limited. That isn’t my story. I just returned from another week at Mayo Clinic and all signs point to a long and healthy journey ahead.

I began this blog as a venue to share my process on this journey of transforming my life—calling for my own Myrtle Fillmore experience. After all, I am an ordained Unity Minister and this amazing movement began when Myrtle so wonderfully demonstrated the healing power of affirmative prayer (http://www.unity.org/resources/articles/words-myrtle-fillmore).  I haven’t been posting here as much as I expected in the beginning, as I haven’t been ready to share…hopefully you’ll be hearing from me more often.

In my previous life experiences as an event coordinator and marketing director, I was very aware of the powerful impact stories have at so many levels of marketing. As a Licensed Unity Teacher and Religious Studies major in college, I have been fascinated by the power of our collective myth-making and storytelling. As a Manager, I’ve understood Appreciative Inquiry as an affirmative means for building upon the power of storytelling. Throughout my life I’ve been passionate about telling story through creative and performing arts. In ministry I’ve understood that our sacred stories are the foundation upon which lives are built (and destroyed).

“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?”   ― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Today I’m fascinated by the concept of storytelling as the act of living life—and realizing how unconscious most of us are about the story we embody. True joy in life comes from being more conscious of choosing our story.

On Thanksgiving I enjoyed the gift of going to see the movie “Life of Pi” in 3D with family. I found it to be an extraordinary storytelling experience—one that touched my heart on many levels. I’ve intended to go back to experience it again, though I think I’d like to read the book first. Not sure if it will happen in that order…we’ll see how the story unfolds.

Throughout the entire movie I kept hearing one of my professors in seminary, Rev. Dr. Thomas Shepherd, saying over and over “there are no tiger gods where there are no tigers.” Humans have always created our understanding of God out of our own experiences. It’s what we do as the meaning making machines we are. We have a myriad of understandings we call God—yet God is One—and we are each an expression of that Oneness (not the totality).  Our experience of the world informs how we perceive Life—thereby informing our story about God. This is not new information, yet I absolutely loved the metaphysical experience of this throughout the movie.

Let’s talk about a few things in the movie—starting with the lead character. He is named after a swimming pool in Paris. We could have quite a conversation about the metaphysics of water prevalent in this movie—though right now I’m more interested in the name he chose for himself and what it says about our ability to change our lives—to change the story unfolding in the world around us. His classmates do as children do—they created a very unpleasant nickname for him. His name is Piscine Molitor Patel— and they begin to call him “Pissing Patel.” He doesn’t accept it and chooses a new nickname for himself. It’s a powerful choice that speaks volumes. He also claims his new name with the same affirmative power that Myrtle Fillmore claimed her new awareness—“I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.”

He boldly claims the name “Pi” for himself—even while being ridiculed and mocked—he knows his Truth and claims it. He embodies his new story. Proving the existence of pi is something that has fascinated mathematicians and philosophers for several millennia. Mathematically it is defined as the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle. Pi is referred to as a transcendental number—a number with infinite non-repetitive digits to the right of the decimal point—and no matter the size of the circle the number will never change. There is no experience too large or too small for the new story he has chosen for himself.  He is also staking his claim as an expression of the Infinite One.

This is a foundational understanding that allows Pi to see God in places that others question—though it is interesting that his family is fine when Pi’s experience of God is informed through religious teachings and not so fine when they feel it is uninformed about the world at large. I appreciated Pi’s vision—his ability to take it all in and make it his own. He told his own story, and let others choose to find God in his story…or not. It was their choice, their life, their story.

The transformative power of story embodied by Pi is infused in the affirmative prayer taught by Unity (and demonstrated by Myrtle). When I was first introduced to affirmative prayer I experienced a great resistance to incorporating it in my life—somewhat like the children who made fun of Pi’s name.  Affirmative Prayer requires we walk in the footsteps that Pi walked in. That we claim and embody our Infinite Oneness. This transcendental Truth is the center of our Beingness. The author interviewing Pi in the movie claims that he was told Pi’s story would show him God. Many have understood him to be referring to the bengal tiger.  Richard Parker (the tiger) is not the totally of God. He represents the collective story we have told about God and Pi’s struggle with that collective story in coming to live his own Truth.

The moment when Richard Parker stepped on dry land and walked away without looking back was heartbreaking on the surface—and very beautiful. When we are no longer invested in the story as others have told it we can truly embrace our story. Live our own lives. Claim who we are here to be. We can truly live as the expression of the Infinite desiring to express through and as us. Richard Parker did not disappear from Pi’s life, he entered into Pi’s heart.

As we mature spiritually we integrate our stories, we did deep into our being and embrace the struggle to embody the understanding that all things are working together for our highest good. Does that make my disease good? No. It does mean that the Infinite Oneness that I call God is expressing through and as me in the midst of this experience. I have a valuable opportunity to embrace this Truth and go forth joyfully into this New Year with an open heart. I know that the power of Divine Faith is guiding me every step of the way.

God bless and Happy New Year!

Being the Way of God in the World

ImageOver the years I’ve made many changes in my life—in fact I’m sure we all have a  lifetime of changes to talk about. One that came most recent was when the doctor at Mayo Clinic said all signs point to having stopped the progression of the Erdheim Chester Disease. At the time I didn’t realize how huge this was—in fact it wasn’t until a couple of co-workers likened it to Superman stopping a train that I realized this was a lifechanging moment.  It once again has me pondering what it takes to make truly lasting change—the type of changes where I consciously choose to show up differently in the world.

Over the years I’ve made some pretty big geographic changes—and my experience each time was just like the story of pouring new wine into an old wineskin. I wasn’t showing up any differently, so no matter where I lived, how I looked or who I knew—no matter how the outer world changed—I was still putting the ‘new me’ into the same thought patterns of the ‘old me.’

For me, in this story the old wineskin metaphysically refers to our consciousness—the energy of our thoughts, feelings and memories—our old wineskin—that we carry with us wherever we go. They consciously and unconsciously inform our actions. The thing is, new wine is wine that is unfermented—it doesn’t have the history.  As the wine ferments it will expand—therefore a winemaker puts new wine into a new wineskin that has elasticity. This way there will be no resistance to the natural process of expansion that takes place with fermentation. What happens if you put new wine into an old wineskin that is already stretched to its maximum? It breaks and you loose both the wineskin and the wine.

If we are trying to force a change in our consciousness without transforming the container for perceiving the new experience, the result will be disharmony and disorder—and quite often things seem to become worse than when we started! It really is not a lot of fun to make a big change, filled with new ideas and possibilities, only to find that you’ve recreated the same experience you wanted to get away from in the first place.

It takes an inner change for us to show up differently in our lives. We have to get out of our own way—out of our old wineskin—and allow the higher Truth to guide us in this now moment.  There is an affirmation that I’ve been know to use when I find myself dealing with resistance to embracing the now moment. It focuses my energy and helps me to embrace a new wineskin in which new experiences can begin to ferment, unbound by the past.  I’ve shared this affirmative statement numerous times in classes and Sunday Lessons–“It’s not about me.”  Whatever happens to be going on in my life—it’s not about the small “m” me.  It helps me get to that space in consciousness—the container of the new wineskin—where a new way of being is always fermenting.

Many years ago I came across a book by a very well known Christian author—“It’s Not About Me” by Max Lucado—that helped me to gain some new insight around this affirmation—not that I am recommending that you read this book (as quite a bit of it I had to translate into a different understanding than the author intended).  In this book he describes what he feels is the path by which we can be “Rescued from the life we thought would make us happy.”

He feels that in today’s society we are trained that the world revolves around us—that we are number one and it is our job to watch out for number one. Success is making a name for ourselves and it is only when we are finally successful that we can find happiness.

He questions what it would be like if a symphony orchestra followed such an approach.  Can you imagine an orchestra with an “it’s all about me” outlook? Each artist clamoring over each other for self-expression without any thought of harmony. Who would enjoy participating at any level? Orchestras were not made to be this way, and neither were our lives.

Yet, don’t we tend to live that way? If each of us are thinking and acting as if “it’s all about me”—looking out for ourselves no matter what—what hope is there that we could actually create a melodious experience together? And when we live our life as if we are the center of the universe, where does God fit in?—or maybe the better question is:  What would it mean to live a God-centered life? That’s the question I want to live in.

Max Lucado calls for what he defines as a “Copernican shift”—reminding us that “It’s not about me, it’s all about God”—and while my interpretation of what he means when he says God may be a quite a bit different—I completely agree.

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish Imageastronomer and mathematician who theorized a profound scientific view of the universe—one that was completely rejected in the early 1500’s.  His revolutionary idea? That the sun (and not the earth) stood at the center of our solar system. It was centuries later before a spiritual consciousness or new wine skin was developed that could contain this dramatic paradigm shift in thought—even though this new way of thinking was a much more accurate picture of our physical universe. 

What would it take to embrace this shift in our spiritual life—to Trust in God as the center of our universe and truly see ourselves as a divine expression—one with all that is and ever shall be?

This is the type of spiritual shift I seek in my life…It’s not about me. Whatever others do or say—whether I might feel myself agreement or disagreement with them…It’s not about me.

So, that leaves the obvious question:  What IS it all about? And that’s precisely the point. When I can step into the space that allows me to affirm “It’s not about me”—I choose to make my life about God to see everything as an opportunity to experience God. That’s when spiritual transformation can happen—when I am open to God expressing into being through me. 

With change many of us opt to hold back by attempting to fit our new ideas into our old consciousness. That brings disharmony—fear, insecurity, sorrow, stress—into our lives. So what do we do? As Max Lucado says, we “set your bearings on the one and only North Star in the universe—God.”

It seems to me that once I’ve—once we’ve—made the dramatic shift in consciousness that this idea can bring, we can realize that  life IS about me being the way of God.  It never works for us to try to take control with our one little ego, as if we are the center of our universe. We must always co-operate with Divine Order, with God as the One that unifies and works through all for the highest Good.

Divine Order is the path of the creative process, the path of Spiritual Evolution. When we surrender to this idea, then every perceived mis-step as well as every success will lead us to something better. It is only when we let go of resistance and choose to operate in cooperation with Divine Order that we can experience peace and harmony.

When you make the commitment to accept Divine Order as Truth and begin to see yourself as expressing in alignment with the harmony of the universe, you may want to leave yourself ‘letting go’ reminders. That is what I have found in the affirmation “It’s not about me.” It’s a flag that pops up in my consciousness to remind me that my job is to stand in faith knowing that every experience is unfolding as an expression of Principle, as the Divine Order that underlies all creation. 

I’ve also heard others talk about putting sticky notes in various places—such as in their purse, on their rear-view mirror, in their wallet—with simply the two words ‘Divine Order’ written on them. It’s about finding whatever it is that works for you as you learn to trust in a universal Divine Order.

Our grand purpose is to express our Christ potential. It’s quite a divine paradox—we let go of the idea that we are the center of the universe—only to find that everything we experience is all about us—all about our spiritual evolution. As Emmet Fox stated, “Life is a state of consciousness,” and Unity teachings are about changing our own consciousness, about evolving spiritually as we progress in our ability to allow the spirit of God to be expressed within and through our consciousness. Just as Jesus went through a process to develop and fully express his Christ potential, our achievement of Christ Consciousness is the result of the process of spiritual evolution.

I am a Unity Minister—yet these Unity teachings continue to take hold in my consciousness in new ways and at much deeper levels. I am reminded about a passage from scripture—that we must “Agree with thine adversary quickly.”  Metaphysically the adversary is not a person or a situation in our lives, it is our reaction to or feelings about it. Resisting the adversary only increases the adversarial energy.  Finding ways to nurture an attitude of nonresistance in our consciousness is the only way we can truly have dominion over our experience. Nonresistance is the new wineskin that can contain this expansive new awareness. It is the only way we will change our experience of the world, and we may even change our circumstances. 

“It’s not about me” and yet it is. It is all about each of us, individually and collectively, choosing to express our divine nature.

Namaste’

FYI…some of the thoughts in this post were originally developed for Sunday lessons given at Unity Church of Manhattan (Manhattan, KS) and Christ Light Unity (Gresham, OR).

Peace of Mind

I started this blog specifically with the idea of “Pondering New Paradigms,” reflecting on my experience of making intentional change to bring about a complete shift in my life. With each day I expand my realization that this is a huge (and amazing) commitment—one that is no longer optional.

I had a deep conviction that if I wanted to change the way my physical body is manifesting, changing what actually goes into my body was part of the equation. When I didn’t follow through in as timely a manner as my body would have liked, I receive a diagnosis of prednisone induced diabetes. Okay—incorporated that into my experience and things seemed to be going well—and then no! My body decides I’m not listening, and my gall bladder begins to dysfunction. The solution? A plant based, vegan diet. I realized recently that I had moved on to this new experience without incorporating the previous change.  If a complete shift is what I strive for, I must remember one of the most important lessons from Ministerial School…to transcend and include.

Which brings me to the next change I envision, something I know is extremely important to this experience—meditation. I’m talking meditation, not prayer. I pray a lot—meditate, not so much. Well, that’s not exactly the truth. I do meditate quite a bit when in the hospital. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up back there a few times? Not listening so my body had to show me?? Maybe. I’m listening now.

The thing is, I had to pick up the current meditation book I am reading several times before I could get past their use of the word ‘mind.’ It’s a great book, and it’s reminding me of what I know to be capital-T Truth. The true power in the work I have been doing is spiritual, requiring a shift in my spiritual energy. A work in process…let’s get back to the use of that word.

It’s an age old discussion, and many of those reading this may choose to disagree with my definition, yet for me it is really important to this discussion. A paradigm shift comes when we make holistic changes, which requires a holistic understanding of mind. The popular practice is to use the words mind and brain or even mind and thought (or even feeling) interchangeable. I’ve invested many years of ‘thought’ to realize that this just doesn’t work for me. The mind is so much more than the brain, as are thoughts and feelings. In fact, while the heart is amazing, the mind is much more than the heart. The mind is much more than the entire body.

In Atom Smashing Power of Mind, Charles Fillmore (co-founder of Unity) says:
“God is Mind, and man [who is] made in the image and likeness of God is Mind, because there is but one Mind, and that [one Mind is] the Mind of God.” (p 93)

Notice the capitalization of the letter “M”— this meant Charles was talking about the absolute realm or Divine Mind. We—all of humanity—exist in unity with the one eternal Mind out of which our temporal or relative experience is made manifest. Our mind is the Beingness of God; our life and experience the beingness of mind. We have a threefold nature—spirit, soul, and body—and mind encompasses our entire being.

So, where is this little rant going? It’s taking me to a deeper understanding of the importance and power of meditation in the healing process. Healing is not just about the body, it is about our entire beingness. I know this, and yet I have found it easy to act as if I’ve forgotten. Perfect health requires a coherency that expresses throughout the mind—connecting spirit-soul-body as a coherent expression of Divine Mind. It’s not just about the spirit-mind connection or the body-mind connection—it’s all of the above, and so much more.

My concept of mind is the combined electromagnetic field generated around the body. It’s when this field is in a state of coherence that lasting paradigm shifts can take place and we can express our full Beingness. This also works as we join together in groups, as we combine our energy fields into one field. In fact, it works for me when talking about the energy field of all that is and ever will be.

Would love to hear your thoughts as you join me in pondering new paradigms…

Namaste’

No More Secret Sabotage

A saying from my twelve step past has been running through my thoughts lately—‘You are only as sick as your secrets.’ Not my favorite saying, yet it seems to have ahold of me in a way that supersedes the struggle to let it go—like a huge flashing light saying ‘pay attention. ’ I know that there is a huge gift desiring to break through into conscious awareness. For ‘then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ (John 8:32)

So–What behavior or ‘secret’ is seeking my attention? What new pattern of thinking will bring freedom to my life?

As I mentioned in the last post, in December of last year I was diagnosed with a rare disease. It has changed my life in many ways—I’ve left my position as the minister at a church I dearly love, I’ve left a home that met my needs in many wonderful ways, and I’ve started a new chapter in my life. Yet, none of that has been ‘secret.’ What has been is the name of the disease. I’ve had a sense that if I shared it people would look it up online and get the idea that I was dying. That is not the case—and yet even as I type this my eyes well up in tears.

So here goes—after a year with surgery, several hospital stays, and several inaccurate diagnoses, I was blessed with a doctor who understand that there was something outside of his experience going on in my physical body. He referred me to Mayo Clinic, where I met an amazing doctor who, before running any tests, said to me, “Here’s what you have….”  Then set me on two days of medical tests that in his mind confirmed his diagnosis of Erdheim Chester Disease.

There, I’ve put it out there in the world.  It’s no longer a secret, so now I am free. Right? Right? I don’t think so, as the secret is behind why I haven’t given people the diagnosis. The secret is that at some level I feel deeply afraid that I am dying. That through my own ‘stinking thinking’ I’ve gotten myself into something both financially and physically too big for me to handle. I know that’s not the Truth, yet it has been the dirty little secret truth informing my thoughts, words, and actions.  No longer.

I’ve heard myself frequently describe this experience as my opportunity to “have my Myrtle Fillmore moment.” Myrtle’s commitment to transforming her own consciousness led to a physical healing that served as the spark which ignited the Unity movement, where I serve as an ordained minister. It’s time to follow in her footsteps, to form new paradigms of life-affirming thoughts, words, and actions.

No more secret sabotage. My choice today is to immerse myself in affirmative prayer, knowing that as I walk this healing journey more will be revealed.

Namaste’