The Minister's Weekly Message

Rev. Mary Wood is in the office on
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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.

MARCH 2019

Date Posted Post
2019-03-11
0:00 am
RADICAL SELF-AWARENESS

Welcome to our first Lenten lesson based on Rev. Robert Brumet’s book Living Originally.  Lent is 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) that began on Wednesday, March 6.  Lent is not about giving up something that we like – maybe chocolate – Lent is a season of renewal, closely associated with the thoughts of spring, a time of spiritual growth.

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In the past, I have looked at the word Lent from this perspective – Let’s Eliminate Negative Thoughts.  Then I’ve come to realize that I don’t think we’re ever going to completely eliminate negative thoughts, but it’s about being aware of those thoughts and then making a decision what to do with them. 

Joseph Goldstein:  Awareness has the capacity to be with whatever arises.  We don’t struggle with an experience but take an interest in it. And a big part of this awareness is to realize and accept the self – first the little self and then the big self.  The practice of self-awareness is to be aware of our present moment experience and our mental, emotional, and physical response to this experience.  – not 100% of the time especially at first, and maybe not ever 100% in this lifetime.

The first step is self-observation - to perceive what we are thinking, perceive our anxiety, our loneliness without any condemnation, without wishing it to be different.   We seem to exist in two worlds – one that appears to be external and one that is internal – our thoughts, feelings and desires that is much closer to who we are. .Much of our inner world is preoccupied with interpreting and giving meaning to our external world.

It’s like watching TV commentators at a baseball game.  One of them is doing the play-by-play, what is happening on the field, while the other is analyzing and interpreting the plays and giving them some meaning. And we have both of these guys inside us.  One of us sees what is and one of us tells us what it means.  Radical self-awareness is to be aware of both of these voices, and to be able to differentiate between the two of them.  To be aware, but not by thinking about it so we don’t look at the experience itself as good or bad  (that’s based upon our unconscious interpretation of the experience.)

Radical Self-Awareness means being aware of the primary experiences of seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking; and being aware of the meaning we give those experiences, and the emotional response that comes from my meaning without judgment or analysis.  For example, I phone a friend, a fellow minister, and she does not call me back.  I become aware that I’m feeling a little upset at her.  This can throw me into a story about “how inconsiderate she is” and so on.  Or I can stop and breathe and pay attention to this feeling of anger.  I may discover that beneath the anger lies hurt feelings.  I feel hurt because I believe she doesn’t value me enough to call me back.  She deliberately ignored me.

Staying with this, I understand there are other possible interpretations – always!! I may see how often I base my own sense of worth on the responses (or lack or responses) from others.  I can see this without any self-judgment, and can even feel grateful for the insight.  All this can happen within a few seconds when we take time to be aware of our own experience in the moment.

Who I think I am, my sense of self, is deeply connected with my desires, emotions and beliefs.  My thinking patterns are driven by this core sense of self.  We may even believe these thoughts and feelings are an accurate picture of reality itself.  When we can simply observe the activity of the mind rather than assume our perceptions are truth, we begin to interrupt this self-reinforcing cycle. 

 “Relate to the mind rather than from it.  Be aware of our reactions to life without being embedded in these reactions.  Be mindful that you are mad, sad, or glad, but do not become totally identified with these reactive emotions.  Don’t interpret anything as good or bad; just notice when you are aware and when you are not” 

We have three levels of mind:  our conscious, subconscious, and superconscious.  The conscious relates to the outerworld, the subconscious is the storehouse where all our memories reside – no wonder I can’t access something right away at times.  And the superconscious – consciousness based on Truth..

In our consciousness awareness, where we are a lot of the time, we’re detached from love, wisdom and power.  And we subconsciously feel fear, lack and limitation.  We look at the world out here to give us what seems to be lacking in here.  We seek some object, person, activity, social role or title to fill the inner emptiness we experience – a relationship, a new car, shopping!! 

Zen story - The Man and His Horse  -  A monk slowly walks along a road when he hears the sound of a galloping horse. He turns around to see a man riding a horse moving towards his direction. When the man reaches closer, the monk asks, “Where are you going?”. To which the man replies, “I don’t know, ask the horse” and rides away.

Moral of the story:  The horse in the story represents your subconscious mind. The subconscious mind runs on past conditioning, experiences, programs. 

The world out here is incapable of filling a need in here.  We see a world that’s filled with good and evil, friends and enemies, angels and demons.  We see the world not as it is, but as we are.  We see the world filled with people or objects that seem to be able to fill our inner need or able to frustrate its fulfillment.  And, just to thicken the plot, if and when we do acquire the relationship or experience of our dreams, it will be found to be wanting because it’s never able to fill our internal emptiness.  And then we search for another, and another,  and……

In the practice of self-awareness, we meet the external world with a clear mind so that we can function effectively in our everyday life.  And we also direct time and attention to the internal world – thoughts, emotions and desires.  We are as interested in our internal world as we are in our external world.

We become aware of those thoughts and emotions that we have projected on to the world in the past.  And we begin to see the ultimate source of all we desire is from within us.  We see happiness doesn’t depend upon the circumstances of our life.  We see the world and people in it more realistically and creatively.  Within ourselves, we begin to experience both the light and the shadows more (intensely). Then the light becomes even brighter, and we see we are the light itself.  This light then shines through us into the external world.  We are in the world, but not of it; we are living originally.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 
2019-03-05
0:00 am
THE WISDOM OF THE HEART

Happy March!!  What will March bring us?  Sunshine and warmer weather –don’t know about those little flowers popping up their little heads  -  robins returning.  March also brings us a new power  -  the power of wisdom!!

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Webster’s dictionary defines wisdom as “the quality of being wise.  Implies the ability to judge and deal with persons, situations, based on a broad range of experience, knowledge, and understanding.

Unity tells us that wisdom is the highest form of spiritual knowing and includes divine judgement, discrimination, intuition.  Wisdom does not depend on reasoning, intellectual understanding or deduction.   It’s been said that the intellect exists to serve the wisdom of the heart.  But our intellect-driven society thinks it’s the other way around. 

Wisdom shines as the light from within that lights our way and reveals whatever needs to be shown at a particular time.   It says in Revealing Word, our metaphysical dictionary, wisdom is the voice of God within, mental action based on the Christ Truth within.

Have you ever made a decision and then decided to change your mind because it just didn’t feel right?  This is the power of wisdom.  Our decisions can be made easily and confidently when we consciously allow the wisdom of God to direct our thoughts, words, actions.

Wisdom is also referred to as good judgment – the power to evaluate and to choose. 

(SLIDE) We sit on the bench in the courtroom of our minds.  We decree a thing and it becomes so for us.   So, is your glass half full or half empty?  Do you make choices that lead you to a fuller, better, healthier, more fulfilling life? 

Here’s what Dr. Victor E. Frankl, survivor of three years at Auschwitz and other Nazi camps, has to say about choices:  We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  They have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:  the last of the human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  We always have a choice.

A reporter was interviewing various umpires about how they made split-second decisions in hotly contested baseball games.  The first umpire replied, “Well son, there’s balls and there’s strikes, and I calls them the way I sees them.”  The reported thanked him and caught up with another umpire.  This umpire said, “There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I calls them the way they are.”  Pursuing another old-time umpire, the reporter got this answer:  “There’s balls and there’s strikes, but they ain’t nothing till I call them.”

And ain’t our life nothing till we call it.  It just is.  We determine what it is as we choose the nature and the quality of our thoughts.  We need to use wisdom and good judgment to choose thoughts that are worthwhile, healthy, healing, positive, peaceful. 

Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.”  That doesn’t mean that we’re never to make judgments, but that we are to make right judgments, good decisions and choices, using our power of wisdom every day.

The wisdom of God is the wisdom of the heart.  It comes from a place of love and understanding, from peace and joy.  It is good for all people.  The power that needs to be combined with wisdom and judgment is love.  Love enables us to make healthy balanced judgments.

The three disciples that were with Jesus on significant occasions in his life were Peter who represents faith, and the brothers James and John who represent wisdom and love.  I would call this “the big three.”  When Jesus went into the house to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead, Peter, James and John were with him.  They were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration when he was transformed and appeared to them in the radiant light of his spiritual body.  They went with him into the Garden of Gethsemane, and waited and watched with him while he prayed. 

Faith, Love and wisdom must be brought into everything we do.  Wisdom without love can be cold.  And love without wisdom can be misguided and impetuous.  I’m sure we’ve all got a story or two about that one!!!   The heart has a deeper wisdom for making life decisions than the mind or body.  The heart knows what decisions are aligned with love, honesty and peace.  Many believe it's essential to listen to the heart's longings when making decisions, when communicating with others, and when discovering or following your passion. Simply asking the heart what it wants will elicit an intuitive response.

Sometimes flashes of insight come to us.  We may feel something that “tells” us what to do or not do.  The president of Sony Corporation says he like to “swallow a deal” before he signs it, to see how it feels to him, if it’s digestible or not.  Ray Kroc once had a feeling that he should buy some small hamburger stands in Chicago, which later became McDonald’s. 

Winston Churchill said, "All people are offered help by their Intuition, but most pick themselves up and escape as fast as possible ! ".   An article in Time magazine quotes Einstein as saying “the daily effort comes from no deliberate effort or program, but straight from the heart.”  He ultimately used the intellect to formulate the proof that would satisfy the scientific community.  

These points are listed by the Dalai Lama as “The Wisdom of the Heart.”

  1. Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.
  2. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  3. Sleep is the best meditation.  (So when you’re sleeping in church, you can say you’re meditating).)
  4. Spend some time alone every day
  5. We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.
  6.  Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  7. We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.
  8. Happiness comes from your own actions – not somebody else’s.

Now I’d like to end with a poem by Bonnie Day from the book “Best Loved Unity Poems.”

The depths of metaphysical law she little grasped or understood;

Yet with clear eyes of faith she saw one shining Truth…. That God is good.

She could not quote one single line of affirmation, tenet, or creed;

But how she trusted Love Divine to meet her every human need.

Hers was a plain theology that love could swiftly comprehend;

Her whole religion was to be to all who needed her… a friend.

The laws of science and of art she made no claim to understand;

But love was law within her heart, and kindness… law unto her hand.

A wisdom never learned from books, but tutored by an inward grace

Was written in her very looks and shone reflected in her face.

In thought profound, and creed sublime,

She built better than she knew,A doctrine that shall outlast time: 

To trust….  To love…..  to be….to do.

This isn’t Shakespeare, but it is a classic about a wisdom that is more than wise.  It is a wisdom of love, it is a wisdom of the heart.

 

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