The Minister's Weekly Message

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Rev. Mary Wood's Weekly Messages

Please note that Rev. Mary generally updates her message on Wednesday afternoons.  You can use the arrows to move back to previous months to explore more of her blog.

JULY 2019

Date Posted Post
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Welcome to the first lesson focusing on The Art of Abundance written by Dennis Merritt Jones.  There are nine weeks to follow giving us ten rules for a prosperous life.  Rumi wrote, “The source is within you, and this whole world is springing up from it.  The source is full, and its waters are ever flowing.  Do not grieve, drink your fill.  Don’t think it will ever run dry, this endless ocean.”  As we’re more awareness of our oneness with the universe, we begin to see through new eyes.  Everywhere we look we will find the principle of abundance operating.

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Many of us have spent a portion of our lives swimming in the same circles, afraid to venture out beyond the apparent safety of the known where everything seems uncertain and perhaps dangerous.  The great barrier reef it might be called - a metaphor for all of our conscious and unconscious beliefs.

The source of our good is the universe in which we live, the source that knows nothing about lack or limitation.  The secret to life lies right in front of us every moment of every day, but we fail to see it because we are so close to our source we can’t see we’re swimming in abundance.  It is the nature of the universe to bestow upon us an abundance of whatever is needed not just to survive, but to thrive.

The secret to life is embedded in our DNA.  Through the conscious use of our minds and the conscious union of our thought with the universe, we can intentionally mingle with the source of our good.

The problem – Throughout history the belief in “not enough” has dominated the minds and behaviour of the majority of human beings.  It is the illusion that we are separate from the source of our abundance that gives birth to a belief in not enough.  Michael Bernard Beckwith, the minister at the Agape Church in Beverly Hills, writes, “The truth is that there’s more than enough good to go around.  There is more than enough creative ideas.  There is more than enough power.  There is more than enough love.  There’s more than enough joy.  All of this begins to come through a mind that is aware of its own infinite nature.  There is enough for everyone.  If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you.  That’s the truth.”

Understanding and dismantling the fear of “not enough” is a theme is mindfully revisited throughout all ten Abundance Rules because its roots are buried deeply in the collective unconscious of humankind, as well as our individual minds.

All fear arises from a belief in death in one form or another – the lost of someone, our death, the death of a bank account, a job, a lifestyle, relationship, health, or reputation.  Fear comes from a belief that we are separate and apart from, rather than one with all good.  Our work is to reveal where that mistaken belief lies within us and rise above that.

Prosperity begins as the unformed substance of all possibility.  We are swimming in a sea of abundance.  It is equally available to us all.  Does this information bump up against any underlying beliefs that may limit the idea that we are one with the universe, our source of all abundance?   Are you caught up in judgment, scarcity, or not enough in any area of your life?  It’s important to pay attention to these feelings because beneath them are beliefs that need to be realized, challenged and perhaps changed.  Abundance is our birthright.  Remaining in touch with our feelings will tell us what’s going on in our deepest beliefs.

Manifesting abundance is a choice that’s offered to us every moment of every day based on the depth of our understanding of the first rule;  Be One with Life.”  Remembering we are one with the source of our good.  The hidden problem for the majority of us is the underlying belief that we are separate from the source of our good – that somehow we are destined to live a life of not enough.  Perhaps that is because we have confused supply with substance.  There is a fundamental difference between abundance and prosperity.  Each one is crucial in creating a fulfilling life, and it’s important not to get them confused.  Abundance must precede prosperity. 

Abundance is defined as “An extremely plentiful or over-sufficient quantity or supply; an overflowing fullness.”  It is a universal principle of more than enough of whatever one can conceive. 

Prosperity is “a successful, flourishing or thriving condition.”  So, prosperity is a condition, not a principle.  It is the manifestation of abundance materializing in a specific form or condition.  Most people think of prosperity as money or material possessions, but it is far more than that.  We can prosper in a multitude of ways – an abundance of talent, inner peace, good health, and the time to enjoy them all.  As we deepen our sense of what prosperity is – and what it isn’t – we see that abundance is the cause of more than enough, and prosperity is the effect.  The question is, which one do you and I tend to focus more fully on:  the cause or the effect?  And as we’ll discover, we can’t have one without the other.

The secret to life is knowing which one comes first and giving that our primary attention.  The good news is that there’s a practice you can introduce to your thinking that assists us in focusing on the principle of abundance.  Abundance is always present and therefore available to us every moment; the challenge is that we’re not always present and available to abundance.

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “with mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”  The present moment is where the secret to life is always waiting for us to show up so that it may bestow upon us its opulence, often in the form of gifts we seldom take time to consider as abundance; intangible good available without asking, such as our next breath or the next beat of our heart.  The Universe is continually giving us what we need, not just to survive but to thrive; this is the principle of abundance in action.

Mindfulness is calling the thinking mind back to where the body is, where the two merge as one in the present moment.  The point of the practice is that reliving the past or visiting the future in our mind isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it doesn’t stop us from experiencing what can be available in the present moment.  With mindfulness, we can practice emotional awareness by paying attention to our feelings in the present moment; they will reveal our deepest beliefs about abundance that may need to be identified and modified.  We can challenge our BS (belief system) and call out outdated beliefs that don’t support us in creating a prosperous life. 

There is no other place, there is no other time, where or when a life of abundance, purpose, joy, peace, authentic power and meaning will be more available to you than it is in this moment.  The question is – do you believe it?

The payoff for this is Freedom!  To mindfully actualize the principle of abundance opens the floodgates of prosperity.  It is the belief in our oneness with “more than enough” that sets us free.  The moment we transcend the belief that the material world is the wellspring of our abundance, we set ourselves free to explore beyond what confines the majority of human beings hostage to a life of limitation:  fear of not enough.  By accessing the limitless abundance of a universe that operates solely on a principle of more than enough, we release the world from being responsible for our happiness and fulfillment. 

After we discover the secret to life – that you and I are one with the universe – we must learn how to convert that infinite potential into form, shaping the substance of the life you call your own, the life you were born to live.  The question is, where do you begin such a trek?  The answer to this question awaits you in the following nine Abundant Rules.  Does it have your attention ‘cause it sure has mine?

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At times, life can feel like we have and and at other times like we don’t have.  Is there another experience on this planet that’s not about getting and losing, that can bring us to a stage where we can transcend transactional living, where we can move past “Let’s make a deal”. …. I’ll give you something if you give me something.  Where we move into a deeper awareness and experience of living.

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In Unity, we teach that we are to focus on the aspects within us in order to attain awakening, mindfulness and spiritual development.  Unity has a long history of exploring ideas of abundance, ideas of prosperity.  Of taking this teaching that the kingdom and the allness of God is at hand; taking this idea that we are abundantly blessed and moving it into motion and practice.  Letting those words not just be words, but letting them be a living reality to us. Charles Fillmore, Unity’s co-founder, takes these words and says, don’t believe these ideas because I said they were true.  Prove it! Prove them for yourself. 

So what is it that you want – have you thought about what you want.  Do you have a list of things you want?  And as we teach prosperity, we are invited to look under what it is we’re saying we want.  Because there is something that underlies what the mind thinks we want.  Our human self has a so-called need, but under that need there is something deeper.    We can think we want a new car, a new job, a soul mate, but underneath there is something deeper calling us.  It maybe that we want freedom, or safety, or comfort, or that we want to experience love.  But our human self looks outside and says, if I get this, then I will get that.  Unfortunately, it can be a definitely disappointing process.   

Because all of “this” out here changes, doesn’t it?  Has anyone tried to stop life from changing?  We get something, we lose something.  It can be incredibly frustrating if we think the source of our good is about things.  If we continue this circus of trying to build up things in order to feel OK, in order to feel prosperous, in order to feel safe.  Because there is always something that underlies what we think we want.

Do you believe there is a possibility that God is all you want?  Just consider the possibility – I’m not talking about something that you have to strive to please and reach.  I’m talking about the ever present spirit, of which we are all a part.  I’m talking about living life as a holy encounter, seeing God in every one we meet, understanding the laws of the spiritual universe, seeing everything as an inner reflection of the magnificent whole. 

I believe there is a possibility within each one of us that’s that all we want.  That it’s really that simple.  But we go about in this human condition thinking we somehow lack that unity consciousness, trying to fill our needs in all sort of other ways rather than seeing our needs made manifest in just about everything around us and everything within us.  Imagine deeply knowing the law of consciousness, knowing higher spiritual laws in which we live and move and have our being.  A mature spiritual practice that is from wanting things to wanting to know God. 

Eric Butterworth in Spiritual Economics shares something that is not commonly heard these days when it comes to prosperity teachings, even in Unity.  He says, “Let me make it clear at the outset that I am in complete disagreement with the growing emphasis on money in the metaphysical movement, and things as objects of the study and practice of Truth.  I agree with John Ruston who said, what right have you to take the word “wealth” which originally meant well being and degrade it and narrow it and confine it to a certain source of material objects measured by money.”  

He goes on to say that prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things.  Poverty is a way of living and thinking and not just a lack of money or things.  Do you believe that you can have poverty and still have money?  Do you believe you can have prosperity and abundance and still have a very small bank account.  Our master teacher walked this planet in abundance with not a penny to his name.  Considered in the broadest sense   - prosperity is spiritual well being.” 

So can we open to the idea that prosperity is more than money, and I don’t think that Eric Butterworth is saying that “things” are bad.  But he’s saying that if we focus on the outer things, we will demonstrate them over and over again and find ourselves unsatisfied.  We find ourselves getting what is fleeting and impermanent. 

The move as metaphysicians is a move in consciousness – to go from trying to get from out there to in here - to our true nature.  It’s a move from getting centered to being centered. It’s a move from getting to giving.   It’s about moving from me to we.  It is in our nature to focus on the giving, focus on what’s ours to do.  How receptive am I to an expanded experience of abundance.  How open is my mind, how open is my life, saying to the universe, use me largely, expand my territory.  We can live our lives focused on getting, but when we do, we feel disconnected from our true nature.   Having our needs fulfilled is in our nature, but the ego goes about that in a misguided way.  The Self and the Spirit go about that internally.

Here’s a reading that sums it all up:  “Nothing in nature lives for itself.  Rivers don’t drink their own water, trees don’t eat their own fruit.  The sun doesn’t shine for itself.  The flower’s fragrance is not for itself.  Living for each other is the rule of nature.”  And what are we but an expression and embodiment of nature living itself.    God is the universal giver, the flow of life, and the grand design is love.  The second we shut off our giving, we feel the illusion of being disconnected from our source. 

We are told that we are made in the image and likeness of God, therefore we are givers.  But unlike the sun, unlike the leaves, unlike the flowers, who can’t stop giving because this is in their nature, we have been given a choice.  And we can stop the flow.  We can step back from it and say, hmmm, shall I or shan’t I?  What’s your definition of giving or tithing?  In Unity, we talk about this as giving of our time, talent and treasures.  

A lot of people know it as circulating 10% of our time, talents and treasures.  People often think that tithing is something that we decide to do or decide not to do.  And it takes a lot of courage to step into doing it (it because people say) because we are stepping into a greater sense of who we are and alignment with the principle of truth. I am one with all of life, I am one with God. 

Erin McCabe, minister at Unity Village chapel, shared this when I was there a couple of weeks ago.  “The illusion is that we think it (tithing) is optional.  10% of your resources will go to something.  For example, 10% of your time will always go somewhere – watching the news, worrying, fretting - and what conscious tithing is, is saying “Let me be very conscious and mindful and in alignment with what I circulate and where it goes.  Let me step into circulating where I see spiritual nourishment being shared, let me step into co-creating that which I want to grow. 

Let me be consciousness of where I spend my resources, and what I am supporting.  It’s about knowing that we live and move and have our being in a spiritual universe, and I consciously choose to co-create.  We choose to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We move from me to we because together we can co-create more than we ever possibly can alone.   Moving from me to we, from getting to giving, a conscious tithing practice is a spiritual practice, a personal practice.  It’s not about a church, it’s not about the Bible – it’s about staying in alignment and having an active practice that helps us be mindful about how we spend our time, how we co-create with our resources, and how we develop our talents.

We are the only creatures that can consciously stop the flow, that consciously isolate ourselves, and instead of growing through giving, we can begin to shut down.  Giving happens – if you are alive – you are giving.  If you are breathing, you are an inlet and outlet of all that is God.    You are an inlet and outlet of the flow, and when we step into the knowing of who and whose we are, we begin to be conscious givers.  We begin to awaken something within us that is deep deep potential. 

All of the master teachers talked about this potential – this river of life that flows to us and through us, that when we stand in our power, we can activate it and become more than we are as individuals.  There is an infinite flow of abundance and prosperity coming to you and I – and that has nothing to do with our bank account or things.  It has to do with who we truly are and our inner resources.  So it is ours to check in, and to raise the bar, for ourselves and all humanity.  Because when we demonstrate a higher law, it becomes like a radiant magnet.  We begin creating according to it, we begin creating not just for the self but for all beings, for all life.

Sig Paulson in Your Power to Be writes, “According to Jesus, the master of living, the key to exercising our power, to be the light of the world, is our attention.”  Where is our attention?  Is it on giving or is on getting?  Is it on love or is it on fear?  Is it on conscious circulation or is it on unconscious spending of time, talents and treasure?   Our attention is our choice.  Our attention is our inner eye, the door of our consciousness and whatever gets our attention eventually gets all of us.  That is the gift of being conscious about the circulation process.  That is the gift of moving from me to we. 

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Happy Canada Day!! We are so blessed to be living a country where there is freedom of religion, of thought, of expression, of the press and of peaceful assembly.  And where our legal rights include the right to life, liberty and security.  We are grateful and blessed!  I am grateful and blessed!  What does gratitude mean to us?  How do we express it?  Can gratitude make a difference in our lives?

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Gratitude is a state of consciousness.  It is a choice that we make every moment of our lives.  When we choose gratitude, we experience a deep inner shift in our reality.    Our perception changes, and we discover the sacred in the ordinary, peace where there was turmoil, joy where there was sadness.  Sarah Ban Breathnach in the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude says that gratitude is the most passionate transformative force in the cosmos. 

Today, let us look at three gifts that gratitude brings.  First of all, there’s the gift of abundance. Charles Fillmore in Revealing Word says that gratitude is a great mind magnet, and when it is expressed from the spiritual standpoint it is powerfully increased.   Gratitude and thanksgiving are both necessary in demonstrating prosperity through divine law. 

Be grateful to God and thankful to the many people who work to provide us with our daily needs – our food, our cars, the cell phones, the TV, the chairs you are sitting on, the clothes you are wearing.   Everything we possess is because of the efforts of others.   Without the efforts of thousands and thousands of people, we would have nothing showing up in your life.

 What a difference it makes when we pay our bills with an attitude of gratitude.  Gratitude brings us life that very often goes beyond anything we have ever dreamed of.   It opens our hearts and minds to possibilities and a life that we may never have ever dreamed of.

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be a minister, active and working at 82 years old.  I came back from the Village so grateful for Unity and what it has taught me, grateful for the 5 basic principles that have changed my life and led me to the lessons I have learned and continue to learn. 

I am so grateful for this community of Unity of Mississauga, for each one of you who is here on Sunday morning ‘cause it wouldn’t be no fun on my own.  For the books we study together, for it is through community that we truly learn and grow. 

This past week on June 27, Unity Village was celebrating its 100th anniversary.  It was the summer of 1919 when Unity cofounder Charles Fillmore and his sons, Rickert and Lowell, discovered a 58-acre tract of land that would allow Unity to have a space separate from the headquarters at 917 Tracy in down town Kansas City.  Unity Village now comprises of 1,200 acres

Gratitude moves us from thinking there are limited possibilities to knowing there is a realm of unlimited possibilities.  Gratitude is the biggest key to manifesting.  It’s not an attempt to produce results.  It’s an awareness that the results have already been produced.

So, are there areas in your life that seem to be limited – notice the word “seem.”  We can follow the example of our Wayshower, Jesus Christ, when he prayed to raise Lazarus from the dead, and began by giving thanks.  “Father I thank you for having heard me.  I know that you always hear me” John 11:41-42.  These words of thanksgiving acknowledged that the gift had already been given.

As I listened to the meditation on Gratitude and Grace this morning from Deepak Chopra, I learned that every thankful moment we have makes us healthier.  Gratitude benefits our mind and body because it generates new brain cells.  Isn’t that awesome!

The second gift of gratitude is the lessons it brings.  It’s easy to be grateful when life’s humming along – when there’s money in the bank, when the job’s going good, when we’re healthy, wealthy and wise.   But what happens when life’s not coming up roses. If we can start to look at the challenge as a gift, not as the worst thing that has ever happened to us, then we become aware of the lessons it brings.  It is the catalyst for our searching and awakening.  There’s a good chance we’ve been hit in the head with the proverbial 2x4, the same old lesson, many times before, but we weren’t ready to listen.  It can take us months, even years, to unwrap the gift, to find the lessons.  This is a precious gift in itself, the gift of coming to realize who we are. 

Our ability to know the power of love and kindness most likely grew out of some darkness and pain in the past.  Without these experiences, we would still be stuck.

Alan Cohen, author of The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here An More writes, “Just as you can choose between possible futures, you can choose between possible pasts. Your past is not a fixed reality; it is what you choose by focus and interpretation.    Interpret your past through the eyes of appreciation, and it will become only a blessing.”

When we are grateful for the gifts, this allows us to look at ourselves as a recipient rather than a victim.  It moves us from victim to victor.  It takes us to a place of surrender.  We realize that there is good in every situation and are ready to let go and let God.

The third gift of gratitude is coming to realize and know that God gave us life without any expectations.  We weren’t required to do anything to get it.  God doesn’t expect anything in return.  We are loved unconditionally 24-7.  God does not stop loving us when we don’t love him, when we step away from who we truly are.  When we think about this awesome gift we have been given, then the only worthy response is gratitude. 

Meister Eckhart, a 13th century mystic, said, “Be prepared at all times for the gifts of God and be ready always for new ones.  For God is a thousand times more ready to give than we are to receive.”

Our whole energy changes when we are grateful.  There are no ordinary moments – unless you choose to make them so.  A phone call from a friend, the breath that you breathe, the joy songs we sing, the unexpected trip, a smile from the cashier.  Think about how empty your life would be without those “ordinary” moments that bless you.

In the days ahead, I would invite you to take some time to be in a place of gratitude and be aware of the gifts that this brings.   Three things to remember: 

  • Gratitude opens our hearts and minds to receive the abundance that is waiting for us. 
  • Be grateful for the lessons that challenges bring for gratitude moves us from a victim to a victor. 
  • This incredible, sacred life we have been given is truly a gift from God with no strings attached.  It is a life given in unconditional love.  I am too blessed to be stressed.

Meister Eckhardt, the 13th century Christian mystic, said “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you' it will be enough."  AMEN!!