Monday, October 9, 2017

The abundant well of Unitarian Universalism lies in its covenant

"Spiritual longing is a sort of loneliness for an unknown yet deeply perceived presence. Some call the presence God; some call it peace; some call it consciousness; some call it love. Its source rests in the well of our hearts. When we slow down, quiet the mind, and allow ourselves to feel hungry for something we do not understand, we are dipping into the abundant well of spiritual longing."
-Elizabeth Lesser, The New American Spirituality, p. xiv

John Bradshaw called this longing the "hole in the soul." Clients go to psychotherapy complaining of depression and anxiety and they cannot identify the source of their anguish. In our materialistic society we have been conditioned to fill the hole in our souls with stuff, chemicals, compulsive behaviors, and special relationships. Some more mature souls recognize the anguish as a separation from the godhead, the ground of their being. This awareness sometimes is only a slight glimmer and comes sometimes only on the heals of tragedy.

Sometimes religion provides a path to greater spiritual awareness and sometimes it obstructs our awareness of Love's presence in our lives.

When have you felt that there is something bigger in life than what you had been aware of before? If you pursued it, how did you connect with it?

Many people come to Unitarian Universalism looking for something. That something is a connection which facilitates and enhances the sense of what Lesser calls the "abundant well. The abundant well is contained in the covenant to affirm and promote basic principles. Unitarian Universalism would flourish if a greater sense of focus and mission were placed on this mission.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The major existential questions.

Question - How can I think about spirituality so I can enhance it in my life in a more deliberate way?

Answer - There are many models of religion but only one of spirituality. This one model of spirituality has been called the perennial philosophy. The perennial philosophy describes the elements of spirituality that is described in all major religions. Over the next several weeks we will be describing these elements.

In this article let's consider the major existential questions that all human beings become aware of and reflect on.

Why was I born?

What is the purpose of my life?

What happens when I die?

Who (What) will make be happy?

Who loves me or will love me?

Who (what) should I love?

When I make mistakes how should I correct them?

Life is a school room and as it teaches in A Course In Miralces we are given the above curriculum. We have no choice in the curriculum. Free will only allows us to choose when and how we take it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Symptoms of spiritual poverty - gun culture

The United States is a country of fear. Citizens arm themselves against fellow citizens. This cultural norm is mistaken. It is nothing than Unitarian Universalism teaches. UUs stand on the side of love, not on the side of fear. The UU way is a path to heaven on earth while the U.S, gun culture is a path to hell which we witness weekly in our media.

It is absurdly funny that the politicians who take money from the NRA to promote the gun culture encourage people to pray for the victims in Las Vegas and other mass shootings while they do nothing to change the glorification and enthusiasm for guns.

Guns, being a tool of destruction, are recommended as an antidote to fear of attack by a hostile other who is portrayed as intent on bodily harm. This is the hell on earth that the NRA and our politicians have promoted and encouraged not for the betterment of humanity, but rather to increase the profits from the sale of weapons and ammunition.

These activities of promoting a gun culture are huge mistakes begging for correction and yet profit takes precedence over human well being. This is a symptom of extreme spiritual poverty in the United States of America which promotes a culture of fear and death rather than a culture of well being and happiness.

Change begins with each one of us altering our mindset from one of fear to one of love and helpfulness. Our spiritual well being does not depend on our bodily safety. This is a sophisticated idea because egos identify so strongly with their bodies they fail to realize they are so much more.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Gun culture in US is a problem

President Trump has called the killing in Las Vegas "pure evil" and yet the actions he calls "pure evil" are nothing but the fruition of a gun culture which he has promoted when he accepted the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and bragged about it.

St. Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." And Americans are reaping what they have sown, aided, and abetted. Nevada has the most lax gun laws in the nation, and gun shows occur every week in Las Vegas where guns can be purchased without back ground checks. Guns, the purveyors of injury and death, are glorified and promoted.

To see this kind of gun violence is to be expected in a culture of perverted values and incentives. To demonize an individual behaving in a culture which not only condones but encourages a glorification of guns is not pure evil but a huge societal mistake.

The gun culture in the US is in violation of many of UUs principles. It glorifies violence and attack rather than compassion and peace. UUs stand on the side of love not destruction.

Monday, October 2, 2017

President Trump's values contradictory to Unitarian Universalism

"This, in turn, would provide the cover to push through aspects of the Trump agenda that require a further suspension of core democratic norms—such as his pledge to deny entry to all Muslims (not only those from selected countries), his Twitter threat to bring in “the feds” to quell street violence in Chicago, or his obvious desire to place restrictions on the press."

Klein, Naomi. No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (p. 6). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

It seems apparent but not often enough discussed that the values of Trumpism are often at odds with the values of Unitarian Universalism. Trump's Muslim ban is antithetical to UUs first principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the second principle, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, the fourth principle of free and responsible search for truth and meaning,  and the sixth principle, the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

President Trump has the so called "bully pulpit" where he can teach his values to a mixed response. It is more important than ever that another vision of humanity is shared with our brothers and sisters based on our UU faith of the oneness of humanity and the inherent goodness in people. Start where you are and be kind to people today especially people who are different from yourself.

Principle 4 leads to principle 1

Seeking truth and meaning leads one to the awareness of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. How long will it take for human beings to learn this lesson?

" are not free to choose the curriculum, or even the form in which you learn it. You are free, however, to decide when you want to learn it. And as you accept it, it is already learned." A Course in Miracles, Manual For Teachers, 2.3:6-8

As a psychotherapist, and in examining my own life, I observe that people do the same damn things over and over again until they learn it's not working and try a different, hopefully, a better way.

Gurdjieff said the difference between winners and losers is not that they both don't suffer. Winners and losers suffer the same. The difference is that winners learn from their suffering and losers don't learn a damn thing. In other words we don't get to chose the curriculum of life only when we want to learn from it.

Socrates said an unexamined life is not worth living. How many people do you know who live examined lives? I am blessed to know some. I live one.

Carl told me that he was sitting at a stop light and noticed the other drivers sitting in cars around him. It dawned on him that they all had stories he knew nothing about. It seemed overwhelming to him for a moment and he asked me if I thought he was going crazy? On the contrary, I responded, it seemed like he was maturing. "You are breaking out of your narcissistic bubble and becoming empathic."

"You mean it's a good thing," he asked skeptically.

"Absolutely," I replied. "Your wondering and caring about your fellow human beings is an important step onto your spiritual path."

Carl seemed content and went on to talk about other things.

In A Course In Miracles this looking on our brother with love and seeing him as part of the whole of which we are also a part is what ACIM calls faith, It is written in ACIM, "To have faith is to heal. It is the sign that you have accepted the Atonement for yourself, and would therefore share it." T-19.I.9:1-2

UUs are here to share their awareness of the goodness of humanity. This faith is counter cultural. We are one of the lights in the darkness.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Here If You Need Me, the UUAWOL nonfiction book of the month for September, 2017

The UU A Way Of Life non fiction book of the month for September, 2017 has been Kate Braestrup's book, Here If You Need Me. It is a wonderful book about loss and grief and new life based on love, sharing, and ministry. Braestrup writes in Chapter 18 on page 194, "Mourning, that excruciating conspiracy of human memory and human love, demands rituals that can prolong the relationship between the living and the dead."

And it reminds me of what I have learned in my life which is that the physical body dies but the spirit continues to live on in the stories we tell about the person's values, opinions, beliefs, practices, preferences, and intentions.

In October, 2017, our nonfiction book will be Naomi Klein's book, "No Is Not Enough."