Thursday, November 27, 2014

UUs do have a good sense of humor.




Are you a UU yahoo?

As a former Roman Catholic I miss a lot of things about my old church like the liturgy which can be beautiful, and the sacraments which help people at times of life transitions. But I have never found any group of people who can laugh at themselves like UUs can and I find it very endearing and charming. It is a grace not to take oneself and one's ego too seriously, Here's what Wes Nisker says about it in the introduction to his book, The Essential Crazy Wisdom:

"...and the most appropriate response to each other is compassion and a sharing of laughter. After all, we really don't have a clue as to what is going on here, if anything, and most likely we aren't really in charge of very much of it anyway, and in the end the joke seems to be on all of us. Knowing tht, we can relax a little and dispense with any blame. So far, as human beings, our greatest gifts, aside from the ability to make good painkillers, are our feelings of love and senses of humor. This book is a tribute to those qualities, as they have so generously appeared in members of our species." p.7

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday night class

Starting next Tuesday, 12/2/14 the UU A Way Of Life will begin its first on-line class on the first principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The class will run every Tuesday for 16 weeks and you can use the material anytime you like. It can be used individually, and in a group.

The text for the course will be:



I hope you will join us and leave your comments or you can send them to me directly at davidgmarkham@gmail.com.

Heaven on earth......really?

And here comes the clincher on this discussion of discerning and living God's will or Life's will from ACIM. "Blessed are you who learn that to hear the Will of your Father is to know your own. For it is your will to be like Him, Whose Will it is that it be so. God's Will is that His Son is one, and united with Him in His Oneness. That is why healing is the beginning of the recognition that your will is His." T-11.I.11:6-9

St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians that if God is with you who can be against you? You and God are a dynamic duo. And yet St. Paul is a bit misleading because you and God were never apart, only your ego would have you think that because your ego wanted to do things itself and so it denied your radical dependence on Life for your very existence.

The ego is a sneaky devil, it really is. It leads us astray in our willfulness. We all are a part of this thing called Life whatever it is, however we can awkwardly describe it. And our destiny, our fate is to be alive as long as Life allows it and we will it. It is indeed a great blessing to discern God's will  and to know it as our own. Therein lies great peace and heaven on earth.

We Unitarian Universalists approach this peace when we recognize, acknowledge, and appreciate the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

From whence does our existential anxiety arise?

It is written in ACIM, "You are afraid to know God's Will, because you believe it is not yours. This belief is your whole sickness and your whole fear."

We, humans, live in fear. There is a low level anxiety about our existence. Something is just not quite right even when we can't identify what it is.

Nadia Bolz-Weber says in her interview with Krista Tippett On Being:

"Well, I think we've sort of glamorized certain types of brokenness. You know, there's like the big ones: mental illness, addiction. And in a way, it can be very tempting to allow those people who are so obviously broken to just carry all the brokenness for us...........................Everyone has something that they - like it might not be a huge addiction, the really kind of big sexy ones, but it might be there's something that we feel powerless over, that we feel like has a hold of us, that we don't feel like we have much choice in, like we've lost the ability to choose whether we're going to do this, or this this, or be in this relationship, and then our life has a certain unmanageability because of that. I think that is very, very, very common, even if you don't have one of the big sexy problems that we sort of identify."

When we fear God's will because it means giving up our identification with our own egos, it causes existential anxiety and we are at odds with ourselves and life. We don't know and don't accept who we really are. We doubt our essential worth and dignity. We are one with God, with Life, whether we want to acknowledge our radical dependence on that fact or not and when we deny it, reject it, are unaware of it, we suffer. When we recognize it, accept it, align or give up our egos to be one with it we are at peace.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Doing God's will is "keepin it real"

"God's Will is that you are His Son." it is written in A Course In Miracles. In more contemporary language we might write, "Life's will is that you are part of itself, obviously or you would not be here." It goes on to read in ACIM, "By denying this you deny your own will, and therefore do not know what it is. You must ask what God's Will is in everything, because it is yours. You do not know what it is, but the Holy Spirit remembers it for you. Ask Him, therefore, what God's Will is for you, and He will tell you yours." T-11.1.8:3-7

As a psychotherapist I am constantly reminded how stupid people are. By that I mean unaware, unconscious. The psychoanalytic idea of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious, conscious. Most people have no idea what makes them tick, and yet Socrates told us over 2,000 years ago that the unexamined life is not worth living and how many people do you know that live examined lives?

We pray in the great Christian prayer the Our Father.............Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, They will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus, like UUs, believed that we should be getting heaven into people not people into heaven, a lesson which Christianity has pretty much missed and the path to getting heaven into people is to do God's will for us and ACIM teaches that we are in denial. We are too stupid to know what we don't know because we are so caught up in our ego world of projection that we don't even ask what might be deeper, richer, more inspiring, more authentic, more genuine, more real and we could know, we should know, we would know if only we asked the Holy Spirit to remind us and re-member it for us.

ACIM teaches us that God's will is not something external, foreign, but something deep inside of us because we are part of God. The problem is bringing our own consciousness, awareness, into alignment with our inner genuineness and to drop the pretense, the facade, the masks we wear constantly as we go about our daily lives.

The spiritual life is being real and in being real we and God's will for us is one and the same thing. Congruence, alignment, harmony, peace.

My daughter, Kelly, moved to California, and I called her up after a couple of weeks of getting settled in and I asked her how she was doing. She told me she scared herself because she went to work and people are so friendly and said to her, "Good morning, Kelly. How ya doin?" "Dad," Kelly said to me, "I heard myself say, 'keeping it real.'" We both laughed and I said, "It sounds like you're becoming a real California girl, Kel." We laughed again and then I said, "And I wonder what that bit of slang even means? You're not being fake and phony?"

It strikes me as I write this that doing God's will is simply keeping it real. How ya doin?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happiness is an inside job.


The idea of the ego in A Course of Miracles is a pivotal concept. The ego is the sense of self which we create for ourselves based on our interactions with other people and our environment. Based on those experiences of interaction we form a sense of ourselves as separate beings. We generalize from these experiences and develop expectations of what the world around us is like. These generalizations ACIM calls projections. These generalizations are the expectations which we have of what our future experiences will be like based on past experiences. Many times these expectations turn out to be wrong and we become distressed. The Course reads, "You make by projection, but God creates by extension." T-11.Intro.3.1 The way I have come to understand this idea is to say the "happiness is an inside job." And further, "my happiness doesn't depend on what other people do."

I like relating to people who are happy with themselves. I don't want to be responsible for making them happy, and I have learned that if they expect me to make them happy, I will usually fail. Some egos are toxic in the sense that they love to play the victim and engage in drama. Life, and other people, have always done them dirty. Their problems are caused by other people they perceive as evil they love to blame, and circumstances which they resent and believe they are exploited by. As Jesus was being crucified He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Jesus was not a victim. He did not act like a victim, and He refused to play the part assigned to Him in their drama.

Unitarian Univeralists believe in the free and honest search for truth and meaning. This search does not involve and, in fact, eschews the drama of playing the victim. The UU search is one based on respect, hope, optimism, and reverence.

As the bumper sticker reads, "Don't believe everything you think."

Saturday, November 22, 2014

God Or The Ego?

The spiritual life can be like a roller coaster with ups and downs, twists and turns, incredible highs and sluggish lows where our momentum in life seems to bottom out.

I have been in a low, bottoming out, but the spiritual reality is always softly humming in the background even though it seems reluctant to come to the foreground - until yesterday when I returned once again to the incredible, difficult, enlightening but maddening A Course In Miracles.

So, I will begin again on Chapter 11 where we are confronted with the question, God Or The Ego?, and I wonder if you might be interested in joining me on this gentle exploration of the inner world?

Our Unitarian Universalist faith draws from many sources and we are a people of many books. We don't limit ourselves to just one. In my life I have studied the Christian  bible, the Tao Te Ching, many of the Buddhist scriptures, looked at the Koran, and A Course In Miracles which I have studied now for 25 years.

A Course In Miracles can be dense and intellectualized and it is easy to get lost in metaphysical concepts and speculations, but then there are times when it is stunningly crystal clear and understandings slam you like a whack with a 2 x 4 across the side of your noggin. Here is one such smack:

"The ego, then, is nothing more than a delusional system in which you made your own father."
T-11.Intro.2.4

I have been reflecting on the viciousness of gossip, calumny, irreverence which has come to be called "snark" and it is passed off defensively sometimes as entertainment, comedy, but it is done at someone else's expense. The mockery, the ridicule, might be helpful if it puncture's the bubble of someone's ego which has become inflated and arrogant, but we should remember than underneath the ego is a child of God.

As Unitarian Universalists we covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and if our snark, our mockery, our ridicule, our satire points to the fraudulence of the ego this might be holy work, the work of the court jester or the holy fool who points out the folly, the hypocrisy, the hubris of human egos, but at the same time that we mock the work of the ego, we must also be respectful and reverent about the underlying divine spark which has been buried in misguided projection and confabulation.

God, Life, is our origin, our Father and Mother, the ground of creation. When we forget this, and think we are our own creation, masters of our own life, that we can manage our own affairs by ourselves, we have lost our way, our humility, our reverence, a sense of gratitude for our radical dependence on others and life. Let us rise above our egos and praise God, praise the Spirit of Life, our Higher Power whatever we conceive that Higher Power to be.