Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Taking the high road on the spiritual path

As I look around in Unitarian Universalism as I walk the path of the spirit, I don't find much company. The path is very uncongested. I find most people are discussing social justice issues and socializing, discussing "small talk." Most UU churches I have come to know seem more like social agencies and clubs. There is little interest in the interior spiritual life. That's a shame because the true function of a church is to facilitate the growth of souls into saints.

Gandhi supposedly said one time that he would convert to Christianity if he ever found a church that actually followed the teachings of Jesus.

What Jesus actually taught through His words and actions is miles away from what most Christian churches preach and teach. It has been debated whether Jesus ever intended to found a church. He was very interested in spirituality and He told people to be religious if they are so inclined but He also said that He intended to transform the teachings of religion, to take them further.

Jesus was certainly not legalistic. He taught that people are more important that the laws. The laws are to benefit the people, not people benefit the laws.

Jesus said that the way to the kingdom is "to love as I have loved."

When the rich young man asked Jesus what he had to do to get to the kingdom, Jesus' first answer is "follow the commandments." The rich young man follows up and says, "I already do that and I still am not happy. What more can I do?" Jesus says simply, "Sell all that you have; give the money to the poor and come follow me." The rich young man became sad and walked away.

That's what happens today in most churches. They preach the commandments, but they don't want to sell what they have, help the poor, and follow Jesus. And so churches are losing members. Young people are not following the teachings of the church. They eschew the legalistic teachings, the theological debates, and they turn to materialism, to drugs and alcohol, to video games, to virtual reality, and to suicide.

Churches are failing in their mission to facilitate and nurture the souls of saints. They engage in self preservation and social justice and political work. Churches have failed and are failing to nurture souls on the spiritual path. Nurturing souls on the spiritual path is intended here. Our work is unusual in our modern society.

The spiritual path calls us from the path of the ego. Has it dawned on you yet that there is a better way? Have you embarked on the search? Are you walking the path of Love? As Jesus said, "Come follow me." Indeed.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Is it time to go home?

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Where does truth and meaning lie: on the path of the ego or the path of the spirit?

Be careful what you pray for. You may be barking up the wrong tree. You may be whistling in the dark.

God is not part of the path of the ego. God is understanding and compassionate and is sad to watch God's creations struggle and suffer on the path of the ego which they have created, but respecting their free will, God does not intervene because God knows nothing of this fantasy which God's creations have built. This is the meaning of the Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve went their own way and decided to create their own world apart from the world which God created. Adam and Eve and their children can't have it both ways: either want to live in God's world or the world of their own making.

We have chosen to live apart from God's world on the path of the ego and then expect God to intervene and make things easier for us in a world not of God's making. This expectation is not only silly and stupid, it is arrogant and full of a false sense of entitlement which springs from the childish willfulness and naivete of a two year old.

An observer might want to shout, "Grow up!" Playing your childish games, and when they go awry, asking God to fix the mess you have made is based on a huge misunderstanding of what has happened and what is going on. You have been on the wrong track. Has it dawned on you that there must be a better way?

Indeed there is a better way. It is turning off the path of the ego onto the path of the spirit. This turning initiates a searching for what one has left so long ago. It is a re-membering of the Oneness from which one has separated. This process of re-joining the Oneness is called the At-one-ment, Atonement.

Is it time to quit the nonsense and go back home?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Beauty of Unitarian Universalism - Prayers

There are many beautiful things In Unitarian Univeralism. One of them is the prayers. Here is a favorite of mine. If every Unitarian Universalist shared this prayer with one new person every day, out denomination would explode.

Love is the doctrine of our church; The quest of truth is its sacrament, And service is its prayer. To dwell together in peace, To seek knowledge in freedom, To serve humanity in fellowship, To the end that all souls shall grow in harmony with the Divine-- Thus do we covenant with each other.

What is the Truth?

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.Where does the sought for Truth lie? Where is it to be found? Like love, perhaps UU in looking in all the wrong places.

Osho says that the Truth can't be divided into fragments. Either you get the whole of it or nothing. There is no little bit or only part of it.

The whole, as Aristotle said, is greater than the sum of the parts. That's the Truth.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Letters to the editor - Can religion and spirituality go together?

I have begun getting letters to the editor and have decided to start a new feature on UU A Way Of Life which will deal with some of them worthy of public notice. If you have questions, concerns, comments you can leave them in the comments under each article or send them directly to me at davidgmarkham@gmail.com

Dear editor

You make a distinction between religion and spirituality. Can they overlap? I have been raised in a religious tradition, and I think I am spiritual too.


Dear John:

Most of religion is false. It is not the real deal. Unitarian Universalists pride themselves as being free thinkers and even have one of their seven principles, the fourth, which affirms and promotes the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, but this search does not bring the seeker closer to the Truth.

The Truth is within, not without, and to go within the seeker must leave the without behind. You can't take your worldly knowledge with you. It not only will not do you any good, it will actually block and create obstacles to your awareness of Love's presence which A Course In Miracles assures us is our natural inheritance.

The ego loves to distract and take us on a wild goose chase providing the tools of schooling, diplomas, certifications, awards, trophies, and all kinds of "atta boys," and "atta girls." It provides opportunities to have the spot light as a worship associate, a lector, a chalice flame lighter, a lead singer in the choir, a musician, and usher, etc.

There are all nice things and necessary for the operation and doing church, but they have nothing to do with spirituality. So don't be fooled.

The signs of spirituality are forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, peace, and joy. These signs of genuine spirituality are very weak in most churches, if they exist genuinely at all.

The spiritual quest can be lonely. It is a turn onto the high road. Most churches are walking, unfortunately, on the low road all the while saying pious words and paying lip service. Jesus said, "By their fruit, ye shall know them." The pickings, in my experience, are pretty slim. Then I realized I was looking in all the wrong places and started looking elsewhere.

So John, while there may be some small overlap between religion and spirituality, it is very rare. If you are searching for true spirituality, you probably won't find it in church. You will find it within yourself. To go on this search it is helpful to find a spiritual director. A spiritual director is a mentor who understands the spiritual life, has been there, is there, and wants to help others with the search as well. You need to find someone who is a little farther along than yourself. Finding such a person can be a challenge, but as the saying goes, "When the student is ready, the Master appears."

Best wishes for your search.

Harry Hollywood
For UU A Way Of Life

"The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quote the day, Camille Dungy - how our society supports the wealth of the few

In the interview of Camille Dungy in the June, 2018 issue of The Sun magazine, the interiewer Airica Parker says to Dungy,  "Speaking of glorifying the wealth of the minority, you write that in 1860 only around “5 percent of the Southern population owned even one slave, and a significantly smaller percentage owned more than twenty.”

And Dungy responds in part,  "My point is that most white people didn’t have the kind of wealth that the institution of slavery was protecting, just like most people today don’t have the kind of wealth protected by tax codes that allow a billionaire to write off a private jet but don’t allow schoolteachers to write off $250 worth of school supplies. It’s sometimes difficult to accept the fact that whole portions of our society were built up — are still built up — to support the wealth of just a few."

Editor's note: 
It is interesting how the 99% support the wealth of the 1%. What kind of a system is this that we have created here in the United States?

Is the resentment of this fact being manipulated by a billionaire President to fuel further racism and authoritarian policies to further enrich the 1% by encouraging one group of the 99% to hate another group of the 99% to distract them from realizing who the real culprits are who have rigged the system for their favor?

This rigging of the system is in violation of UUs second principle, "justice, equity, and compassion in human relations." It is also something which Jesus consistently pointed out - the unfairness of the treatment of the poor by the wealthy minority. Jesus never censured people for sexual behavior, but He constantly advocated for a juster system for the poor in society.

Are you misunderstood?

Unitarian Universalists covenant together to affirm and promote acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations, but what they fail to explicitly acknowledge is that most things people think, say, and do are ridiculous.

Here is a fact of life - As soon as you say something it will be misunderstood.

People interpret statements according to their own minds. Most people's minds are biased; they are ridiculous.

This fact is not rocket science. It is very apparent. We experience it hundreds of times every day, and yet we continue on oblivious, impervious.

Most people's minds are fast asleep. They are sleep walking through life, conditioned by cognitive and emotional processes they have no awareness of.

Most people live under the illusion that they have free will. This is what the ego has tricked them into believing so that the ego can stay in charge.

Ask yourself or someone else, "What makes you tick?" Most people have no idea. They are not the least bit mindful. The want, and cling, and hide their sense of lack as they strive to attain whatever it is that they think will make them satiated and whole.

This striving is a sad thing to watch. It is a fool's errand based on fear.

Psychologists tell us that the biggest problem with people addicted to social media in our digital age is FOMO - fear of missing out.

No where is the phenomena of misunderstanding greater than on social media.

It has been described as "ridiculous."

It is time to turn off the path of the ego, and ridiculousness, onto the path of the spirit and peace.

This turning takes forgiveness. We can forgive ourselves for our ridiculousness and others and it is this act which makes all the difference.