A Matter of Choice

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“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48).

For me it rings true that choice plays a major role in the quality our life takes on. Some will say, “No, it’s our thinking that influences our life.” Yes, this is true. But each thought we think is a choice. People and circumstances may influence our thought, but we have to agree to allow this to happen before it can.

I think this is the point Jesus is making with his parable of the dragnet. The fishermen catch a variety of fish then make the choice to keep what they want and discard the rest. Think of this as the principle involved in prayer. We release the energy of negativity and affirm what is true at the level of the absolute. A healing prayer: I now release the appearance that is illness is real and I fully embrace the truth that God is my unfailing source of wholeness. A prospering prayer: I now release this appearance of lack for I know God is my unfailing source of abundance.

By making such statements from a level of conviction, we are releasing the bad fish and keeping the good fish in the vessel of our mind. We are making a conscious choice to let God’s greater good unfold through us. Should we choose instead to let our thoughts be controlled by negative appearances, we are making a choice to keep fish we do not want.    

How we think of God, how we think of ourselves and how we envision our relationship to God sets our standard of choice. If we see God as the ever-present source of life, love, power and intelligence and we see ourselves as a complete expression of God in a relationship of oneness with God that cannot be broken, then our prayers are charged with a power that will move mountains.  

Paul suggested that we pray without ceasing. Jesus provided a mechanism that helps us become conscious of how we are praying. Do we really want the fish we’re keeping? This truly is a matter of choice.

Striking at the Root

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In his first publication, Modern Thought, Charles Fillmore pointed out that they would “… sympathize with reform movements of every kind, …  but it is not our province to become identified with them all, nor to give them a hearing in these columns.”

This position was maintained by the Unity Movement until recent times. Today, under the guise of spiritual social action, many leaders in Unity have taken a definitive turn toward social activism. As an institution devoted to teaching spiritual principles, Independent Unity will not follow this trend. Our sole purpose is to provide the teachings and environment that encourage the spiritual awakening of the individual.  

How is this different from advocating so-called spiritual social action, and why is it important to make such a distinction? Jesus advised rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. While he does not present this as an either/or proposition, he does make a clear distinction between social responsibilities and spiritual interests. And for good reason.

Social issues become politically charged because they center around the underlying question of how government should be used. Should government give the man a fish, for example, or should it encourage him to learn to fish? If we are to maintain a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” then this is indeed a very important question, but one that clearly falls under Caesar’s domain. Contrary to the belief of some, the study of spiritual principles—God’s domain—does not provide a definitive answer to this question. Here’s why.  

The principles involved in the spiritual awakening do not pertain to how the fish is acquired. Coming to know oneself at the soul level, that is, finding one’s spiritual center of power, involves spending time alone, in quiet, letting go of all external distractions. This process has absolutely nothing to do with attempting to strike a balance in real or perceived social inequalities.

A ministry focused on the spiritual awakening of the individual is not denying the social aspects or political concerns of the human experience. It is, in fact, representing the highest possible solution to social ills. Many so-called social-justice warriors have clearly lost their center of power. They need a cause, any cause, to feel whole. The moment they’re done marching for one, they jump on another. Thoreau recognized the type.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”

The best leaders are those who have discovered their true spiritual center of power. These strike at the root by bringing the highest level of mental, emotional and spiritual sanity to any given issue. These are the ones that will find Independent Unity attractive.

Spiritual Independence

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independent: free from outside control; autonomous; not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction.

The Independent aspect of our new name, Independent Unity, serves a two-fold purpose. First, it states our organizational status as an autonomous, nonprofit, Colorado corporation. On the personal level, the term reflects the type of independent thinking that makes the path of spiritual discovery our own. Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, co-founders of the Unity Movement, considered themselves eclectic, drawing from all teachings that encouraged the practice of universal spiritual principles. From these many sources, however, they drew their own conclusions. 

In his book, The Story of Unity, James Dillet Freeman describes Charles Fillmore’s independent attitude:

“He had an instinctive urge to seek out the meaning of life and he was the kind of person who had to find the meaning in his own soul. He had to find God for himself. Other persons might point the way, others might give him hints and clues, but he would have to test their ideas for himself and prove them in his own mind and his own life before they would have validity for him” (40).

We obviously benefit from the inspired words of others, but we make the most progress when we drink from that same well of inspiration that they point to.

Like Fillmore, we advance in understanding when we free our mind of dogmatic statements of faith that define the thinking of so many followers of mainstream religion. Independent Unity encourages individuals to adhere less to religious dogma and more to their own personal spiritual inquiry. 

The inclusion of Unity in our name is intended to assure members and friends that we retain our rich heritage that is rooted in Unity School of Practical Christianity, the Unity of our founders. As the Fillmore’e commissioned and adopted Dr. H. Emilie Cady’s Lessons in Truth as their basic text, so Independent Unity continues to draw from Cady’s work as an inspirational and instructional source. First published in 1894-1895 as a series of lessons, Cady’s writing style naturally reflects that of her era. This work, however, remains the gold standard for capturing the principles embodied in the Unity philosophy. The principles set forth are as timely today as ever.

New Beginning

[Note: please forgive our video quality in this week’s YouTube posting. Hopefully this is corrected by next week.]

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Life unfolds in cycles. If you observe these cycles closely you will see that there are times when things seem to be falling apart and other times when they are falling in place. We’re often confronted with this classical question: Is the cup half full or is it half empty?

This question points to a very important idea that we all need to keep in mind. Your answer is determined, not by the condition of the cup, but by how you are feeling at the moment you are viewing it. If you are optimistic and full of expectation, the cup will be half full. If you are feeling weak and vulnerable, beat by circumstances, the cup will appear to be half empty.

Many spiritual teachers have, as a standard principle, adopted the concept, life is consciousness. The condition of the cup need not determine how you feel. Determine how you feel and the condition of the cup will take care of itself.

Have you noticed during one of your low moments, how easily an encouraging word or phrase from a book or a bible verse can suddenly inspire you to a new way of seeing? A cup that looked half empty moments before now suddenly becomes half full … and filling. Do not get discouraged in your emotionally low moments! Refuse to set your course by these brief seasons of low visioning. Always remember that in the “twinkling of an eye” everything can change because you allow yourself to change the way you see.

Each new moment is a potential new beginning. It does not matter how negative you have been even one moment ago. You can start now to set a new energy in motion. Create a positive, encouraging affirmation and begin saying it, grasping the joy and emotional expectation that lays the groundwork for your success. Refuse to be the victim of circumstance or personality. In those moments when you slip back into the half-empty mode, remember that life is dynamic, that there is every reason to hold to even the tiniest glimmer of hope, declaring that the good you desire is now coming forth.

We stand at the threshold of a new year. See it as not only half full, but brimming with possibilities of unimagined opportunity!

Intelligence and Order

Advent Series, Part 4 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week. Bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am.

Open your mind to the quickening presence of intelligence. Your entire being is already permeated with intelligence. The functions of your body are all governed by it. You see and experience intelligence as order in your breathing, the beating of your heart, and all the many activities within the universe of your body of which you are not even aware. You see intelligence in the flower, in your pet, in the birds and the clouds that sail across the sky.

As you relax and let go, get the sense of this truth that you are completely immersed in intelligence and that your life is now unfolding in perfect order. Affirm:

The very essence of my being is intelligence. My mind is clear. My thinking is orderly. I see things in their highest relation to the whole. My vision is clear. My soul is imbued with the wisdom of the universe. In all I do, I move forward in confidence and in peace.

Release all feelings of uncertainty about your life and know the intelligence of your soul is guiding your every step. Lift your spiritual eyes away from all appearances and see yourself as a conduit through which infinite intelligence is expressing as you.

Everyone and everything becomes part of your success in living. If your life seems to be pushing you to the left when you think you should go right, then know the intelligence expressing as your soul is now at work. Do not strain to work out plans or struggle to control events. Hold fast to the truth that the wisdom of your soul is directing your life, that the order and success you desire is unfolding with every new development.

Power and Strength

Advent Series, Part 3 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week and bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am. See and feel your soul radiating power. Power manifests in a wide range of ways, from the unfathomable power of the sun to the simple unfolding of a leaf. Power divides our cells and fuels all aspects of our being.

Power rises in your being as physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. You may call on strength to hold a steady course, to take one more step when your world seems to crumble around you, or to steady your faith in the well-being of a loved one. Strength may manifest as the courage to make an apology or it may express as the power to say no to behavior you know as destructive.

With your attention focused at your center, sense the power of your soul rising from your innermost depths and radiating throughout your being. Affirm:

I am an expression of pure power. The full radiance of my soul empowers me to steadfastness in all that I am and all that I do. My strength is boundless, my power has no limits.

If you are feeling powerless to do anything about some condition in your life, release the emotional energy of helplessness as you use this affirmation. Again, do not try to make anything happen or even look for changes in your life. Simply allow the flow of power to rise in your being and know it expresses as the strength you need, as you need it. Take a series of deep breaths. With each one, breathe in power and breathe out strength. Power is the essence of your being. You are never without it.

Love and Understanding

Advent Series, Part 2 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus is on the meditative process. Follow the same preparations from the first week and bring your awareness into the region of the solar plexus using the simple statement, I Am.  See and feel your soul radiating love. This beautiful energy of love works for the highest good of all concerned, sometimes attracting and sometimes repelling or dissolving, depending on how the highest good is to manifest. Whether love attracts or dissolves is not a decision you make, but one you trust love to sort out as it flows in and through every aspect of your being and your life. Love lifts your vision in a way that imparts the understanding to see and know what needs to be done. Affirm:

I am guided by the understanding that love imparts.

Love is my essence. Love is my being.

Love is the balancing action in all my relationships and all conditions in my life.

See your body immersed in love. See every aspect of your life, especially those areas that are troubled, completely engulfed in the love that radiates as your soul. See love doing its perfect work and become willing to do your part in that work when the understanding dictates. Loving your neighbor may result in strengthening your relationship or dissolving it. This is a much better alternative than trying to force yourself to love them because you think you are supposed to. You may not always be able to muster the kind word or take that right action that will bring agreement with another. Still, you can know that invoking love will fit all the pieces together, will tie up the loose ends, and move all concerned to their best and highest good. Love reveals that this is true even when your good intentions at diplomacy fail miserably, or fear drives your own actions. The love that expresses as your soul is greater than all human frailty. Your unloving thoughts and actions or the unloving thoughts and actions of another do nothing to alter love itself. Love does not depend on how loving or unloving you are.

Let all of this go and simply see your entire being immersed in love. Experience love’s healing warmth. Let it melt away your stress and your struggle to be loved. You are more than loved. You are love itself.

 

 

 

 

Life and Enthusiasm

Dear friends,

I’m pleased to announce that the membership of Unity Church in Grand Junction, Colorado, today voted unanimously to end our affiliation with Unity Worldwide Ministries. We have adopted the new name, Independent Unity, and are now in the process of formalizing these changes at the State and Federal levels.

We found the changes being imposed on member ministries by Unity Worldwide Ministries to be oppressive and out of harmony with that organization’s original purpose, which was to never interfere with the autonomy of member ministries.

In addition, the ideological changes that organization is adopting—moving their focus from the individual spiritual awakening to social activism/social justice—to be out of alignment with this ministry’s continued purpose.

Change is certainly a part of life and today, December 1, 2019, our church has made a big one. Independent Unity will continue to represent the heart and soul of Unity’s founders in ways that true Unity students around the world will recognize. Rev. J Douglas Bottorff

Advent Series, Part 1 of 4

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In this four-part series, we are treating Advent as an intuitive awakening. Our focus, therefore, is on the meditative process. Choose a regular time and a place where you will not be disturbed (allow 30 minutes to an hour). Relax your mind and body. Bring your awareness to the area of the solar plexus (abdominal region) and focus your attention with this simple statement: I Am. Slowly repeat these words, letting go of all stress-inducing distractions. After a time, begin speaking quietly the affirmations that follow. Allow yourself to envision and experience the action suggested by each line before you move on to the next:

My soul radiates the pure, unrestricted energy of life.

There are no blockages. There are no restrictions.

I am filled with boundless life and unbridled enthusiasm.

The pure radiance of my soul shines in its fullness now.

In perfect peace, I let this pure energy rise.

As you relax with your awareness at your center, see the radiating energy of your soul as the energizing life that permeates all aspects of your being. It is natural to visualize life as the light that animates and heals every cell of your body and brings a sparkle of enthusiasm to your eye. You need not direct the energy of life, for life knows how to express itself. We see it animating countless forms at a variety of levels everywhere in the world. Life never stagnates. It is only our mundane focus of attention that becomes dull and lifeless. Acknowledge the free reign of life as it radiates its natural expansive movement through and as your being.

Don’t try to pump up your enthusiasm and strive to be the life of the party. Doing this will expend your energy by directing it to that bottomless pit of your unenthusiastic self-image.

Any forced positive attitude you generate will be short-lived and costly. A forced expression of enthusiasm is a performance you’ll have to continually maintain. Those who do this might be entertaining, but they can also be quite wearisome. You don’t have to instruct fire to be hot and you don’t have to inform life that it needs to express as enthusiasm. This is what it does naturally.

Natural enthusiasm manifests as genuine interest in whatever you happen to be doing, from creating a piece of art to taking out the trash. Enthusiasm is as unconditional as the energy of life itself. You need no particular reason to be enthusiastic. It is life’s gift to you. As you affirm life in your meditative experience, quiet enthusiasm will naturally grow.

 

 

 

Your Divine Core

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One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as the whole great body. The constituent elements of water are exactly the same, and they are combined in precisely the same ratio or perfect relation to each other, whether we consider one drop, a pailful, a barrel full, or the entire ocean out of which the lesser quantities are taken; each is complete in itself; they differ only in quantity or degree. Each contains the whole; and yet no one would make the mistake of supposing from this statement that each drop is the entire ocean. –Emilie Cady

That each person is an expression of God, is a fundamental spiritual principle. By this we mean that the core of every person is divine. How each individual expresses this divinity, of course, is varied. So varied, in fact, that much of what we see being played out on the human level indicates that the understanding of a core divinity has been lost to many. Certainly the mainstream Christian approach that insists on humankind’s sinful nature—sin to the core, so to speak—doesn’t offer a lot of help when it comes to realigning our thinking with the truth of our being.

Because we live our lives according to what we believe about ourselves, it is important that we come to the truth that we are spiritual beings expressing through a consciousness that is likely littered with misperceptions that clog our thinking. Our work in spiritual growth is more about letting go of these misperceptions than about becoming better people. To be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect is to recognize that perfection already exists, that we are to wake up to it rather than create it.

Think of your true essence as a single drop of pure ocean water existing in and as you right now. Imagine this pure drop expanding into a fountain that literally fills you from the inside out. See this flow continue into and through every aspect of your life and you have an understanding of true spiritual power.

 

 

 

 

Run To, Not From

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“It is perfectly natural for the human mind to seek to escape from its troubles by running away from present environments, or by planning some change on the material plane. … There is no permanent or real outward way of escape from miseries or circumstances; all help must come from within.”   Emilie Cady

Most all of us have dreams and desires that would have us leaving one condition and moving to another. While the motivation for some of these changes may seem obvious—simple improvements to our life conditions—others may be pointing to our need to be still and take another look. We might be running from an inner call to come up higher, to begin filling the undesired condition from within.

We usually see unsatisfying conditions as a glass filled only half way with water. We want a full glass and so we set aside the half-empty glass and pursue one that is fuller. Rather than set the half-filled glass aside, it may be that we simply need to fill the glass we have rather than seek another.

When Cady suggests that help must come from within, she is pointing to the idea of beginning right where we are, using the conditions we have, to begin filling our life. In other words, rather than curse our conditions we start blessing them and asking how we can give more of ourselves to fill them.

You may be in a demanding relationship and you say, “I’m already giving as much as I can and they just keep wanting more.” Maybe you are feeling drained, not because you are giving so much but because you are giving against your will. If you want to fill this glass, you have to stop denying how you really feel and begin giving from a basis that is true. You are going along to get along, so you’re not really giving out of who and what you are, and the relationship suffers because of it.

Pour the full force of your being into your present circumstances. Top off the cup that is yours to fill. When it is full, you may decide you want to keep it.