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January 3, 2021 White Stone Ceremony and Letter to God…
Happy New Year!
I hope you enjoyed a blessed and wonderful Christmas and I pray for you a very Happy and Blessed New Year.
The first Sunday in January is, by tradition, celebrated by participating in the White Stone Ceremony and writing what is called, a Letter to God.
The White Stone Ceremony follows the Burning Bowl Ceremony. These two Ceremonies are meant to open yourself, to let go of anything that you are prepared to release, then open to receive a name or word for your intention for the new year. After, we then write a letter to your higher self, which is really God, the Christ within. That letter to traditionally be mailed to you around June to remind you of those things that you wrote on your heart, coming FROM your heart.
That may be dreams that you would like to see or experiences that you are looking forward to having in the new year. The letter is a good way for you to check yourself and see if you are making the changes that you wished for or maybe see how far you have come.
For example, one of my Burning Bowl releases is emotional eating. So, my letter might ask myself how that was going or what more I need to do to make that change in my lifestyle to be successful.
This year, since we are not meeting with each other physically, I ask that you find a place to hold your letter and look for it in June. Mark your calendar or set your phone as a reminder of the date and where you have the letter. Then you can read it and see how you are doing on your journey. Some of the other Ministers in the Eastern Region suggested placing it in your Bible…maybe suggesting that it is someplace people are not normally going to….
You choose your place.
Now, let’s start our 1st Ceremony, the White Stone. You need either the white stone that you picked up from the Unity office, or the symbolic paper that we sent you earlier. Don’t forget a writing utensil.
You’ll need paper and pen or pencil and envelope for the second part, your letter.
What is the history of the White Stone Ceremony? It comes from the writing in the book of Revelation, which was written around 95 CE.
In Revelation 2:17: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers (who overcomes) I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
This Biblical verse is stating many things…. first: “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying…”
In other words, we must have our outer and inner ear willing and open to the messages coming to us. If we are not willing, we will not hear the word or words, the new name that our Higher Self, our Christ Presence is giving us.
We develop this inner listening quality by getting out of our intellect and into our hearts, through meditation. In meditation, we stop our daily busy-ness and listen to the Divine Voice of Love. We open our minds and hearts to a deep intuitive “knowing.”
Then, To everyone who conquers (who overcomes)
What are we overcoming…? What do you think?
I wish you were here with me to hear your thoughts and responses.
We are overcoming – unnecessary fears, anxieties, the strains, and stresses of the physical plane.
And that is everyone, maybe not all day, every day, but we ALL overcome the trials of living a spiritual life in a physical body. And the more we listen, the more we are willing, the more we will overcome.
To everyone who takes the time to listen to the still, small voice; to everyone who makes the effort to deny outer appearance and affirm inner spirituality; you will realize it requires surrendering personal will to Divine Will, and the paradox is that in that surrender of the egoic self is victory. It is a birthing of the Essential Self, just as Jesus taught and demonstrated
In this passage there are also 3 Promises:
“To everyone who conquersI will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
The first promise is “Hidden Manna:”
When we are in “the wilderness” of our spiritual searching, and if we surrender to the I AM, we receive “hidden manna,” not visible to the world. We are given an entirely new source of energy and nourishment. We are given peace that passes all understanding.
This hidden manna is derived from the higher level of being within us. It nourishes the soul first and then, the body. It benefits the whole being. Jesus alludes to this when he says to his disciples in John 4:32, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
The 2nd promise is a White Stone
The white stone is an ancient ritual. Back in the time when Jesus was teaching and someone served time in prison or in bondage of any kind, they were given a white stone when they were released. It served as a symbol that they had done their time and they had been given passage to live with all the rights of a free person. Each of us comes from the bondage of past nonsense – false limitations, old beliefs, error thinking that have been a prison. With surrender of the belief in separation and bondage comes a sense of worthiness: we are beloved of God, one with the Divine, free, and unlimited.
The 3rd promise is a New Name
In Biblical times, a name was a very sacred thing. Every name represented a quality that was in the person who carries the name. Parents didn’t choose a name for their child just because they liked the name. They chose it for whatever essence they saw in the child.
Abram, as he grew in spiritual awareness became Abraham. Sarai becameSarah. Simon was named Peter (Faith) by Jesus.
So, when we surrender to the inner Spirit, we take on a new identity, a new name so to speak. This refers to the new, higher realization of the I AM, a new awareness of our God Self, our higher self. And this is where the Ceremony called White Stone” comes in. In the passage, we are told that I will give a white stone and on the white stone is written a new name that no knows except the one who receives it.”
So, I invite you to meditate on what you’re being called to in the new year and claim that as your new name.
In our oneness with God, we surrender our human identity to recognize our full potential. We let go of unnecessary baggage. Picking up a white stone is a symbol of receiving our “hidden manna” to feed us and our white stone of freedom.
The little card you have been given is a symbol of the White Stone. I invite you NOW to pick up the card or the White Stone and hold it in your hands. As you hold it, open your mind to “hearing” your new name. At any time in the next few minutes as I am speaking, if the new name comes to your awareness, write it on the card. If nothing comes to you during this ceremony, continue to ask. Whenever we ask there is an answer.
Allow yourself to ask a question: Who or what am I called to be in this coming year? As I let go of my old habits, those I released during the burning bowl ceremony, what is it that I am called to be known as? This new character that you intend to cultivate in the coming year might be connected to that which you released at the Burning Bowl ceremony. Let your awareness drop from your head down into your heart: from your intellect and into your deep inner knowing; an awareness of Divine Love and Wisdom. Listen for a moment to your still small voice.
Open your imagination, allow Wisdom to speak. give your ego a few minutes off and let that divine holy Voice in you come through. Perhaps there is a new career, a new title, or a new quality that Spirit is pressing out through you.
The little card you have in your hand is a symbol of the White Stone. It is your sign of a clean slate. Whatever has gone on in the past, let it go. Give yourself permission to know that as you release that which no longer serves your highest good, you can claim a new quality, a new name.
This word can be an overall intention…a way of being in the world…something to grow into…something that allows a deeper Truth to express more fully through you.
As you hold the white stone or card in your hand, hear the Christ Self that is you saying, “Behold, I make all things new.”
This is a sign of your ability in this moment to live in this new beginning. This is a moment in which you know you are free, free from all that has bound you.
And so, as you are guided by Spirit, I invite you to trust in this now moment, ….as Spirit gives to you in this sacred place…in this moment of Truth…an insight into your divine purpose…an insight into your holy essence, and so in that secret place of the most-high, I invite you to allow yourself to hear the new name that is speaking within you.
And, as that name becomes clear, just allow yourself to write it on your stone…If a name has come to you, remain quiet and allow yourself to ask for a deeper understanding, to ask if there are any steps to take. In this moment allow yourself to simply open to Spirit, to say, “God in me reveals my true essence. God in me reveals my next step. God as me lives a joyous, peaceful, fulfilling life.”
Pause – silence-
Anytime you look at your white stone card realize that you have the gift of choice; the gift to live differently, to live a more fulfilling life, to begin again, to connect with God and create with God.
Jesus said, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you this kingdom. “Accept this consciousness of ever increasing good in your life. I invite you to carry this white stone or card as a reminder of that promise.
Now take a cleansing breath. Clear your mind and connect to your Heart space once again, your inner Christ, your Higher Self.
It’s time to write our letter. This is a way to set our intentions for the rest of the year.
A new year is a time of beginnings. And when we release, as we did with the Burning Bowl, we create an empty space, which will be filled with something. This letter could be something we wantto consider filling that empty space.
It may be a check on how you are doing with the releasing of your Burning Bowl items. It may be a goal you have set for yourself for the 2021 year and this letter will check on your progress and maybe have some words of wisdom.
This meditation is done to help the us connect with our divine essence, Higher Self, Divine Mind–whatever we call God. We are invited to ask for guidance, we are invited to express some goals we would like to accomplish this year.
So, take some time now, in the quiet, and write your letter.
When you have completed it, place it in your envelope and write your name on the envelope.
Now place it where you will not see it constantly and make a reminder on your phone or calendar…or both!
Burning Bowl Ceremony December 27, 2020
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
While researching for today’s Message, I found this article by Eric Butterworth. What caught my attention was the title: Rise Above Your Past
And I think that title says it all…a big part of the Burning Bowl Ceremony is letting go of our past, no matter what it is that no longer serves us.
In fact, Big Unity sent this affirmation to lead us toward the Burning Bowl Ceremony: “I release the past so that I am free in this moment for all that is possible now.”
The Burning Bowl Ceremony is what is on our agenda this morning. The end of the year is a perfect time to review the year or, possibly other situations in other years, that have bubbled up in our consciousness and after prayer, meditation, and contemplation, we choose it is time to let the memory go.
Perhaps we are harboring a sense of guilt for something done or left undone in the past. Our past is retained only by our thought. It is not the incident but the memory of it that causes the effects of it today. The moment it is dropped from our consciousness, it is gone from the only place it ever existed.
This is liberty for us, freedom from the bondage of the past. True forgiveness, perhaps the only kind of forgiveness, is self-forgiveness.
What you have been is not important. All that counts in your life is what you are reaching for, what you are becoming.
If you are hoping and praying for some new unfoldment, some inner or outer change, are you ready to let go of the person you have been so you can let the flow of unfoldment be fulfilled through you as the person you desire to be, the person God sees you as being? Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn. 8:32). He meant free from the mistakes of the past and the effects of those mistakes. To know the Truth is to let go of untruths. Recalling negatives about yourself is rattling skeletons in your mental closet. They have no reality, but they can stir up great fears.
Affirmation: I empty myself, so that I can accept the good that awaits me.
We reflect, evaluate, and summarize in our mind’s year. We can focus on the ending and just feel gratitude that it is over, or we can truly feel gratitude for the blessings and growth the year has blessed us with.
However, we reflect and evaluate, it’s extremely healthy to release and let go before we move forward into the good in store for 2021.
Unity’s 3rd principle is the Law of Mind Action. Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. Or we create our world by whatever we think, feel, and believe. So, whatever we focus our thoughts upon will show up in our world: think positive, create positive. It’s a universal law, like gravity!
Unity’s 4th principle is Prayer and Meditation to focus our thoughts on the positive through the use of affirmations and denials. Many are first drawn to Unity for its terrific teachings surrounding positive thinking and affirmations; however, we can affirm ‘til the cows come home, but if we have underlying beliefs that are in opposition to what we are affirming, we must eliminate the erroneous thoughts before we can truly create the world of our choosing. Releasing, eliminating, emptying, renunciating, all are basically for emptying out the power any negative thoughts can have on our lives.
Emptying ourselves is more than just eliminating negative thinking, it’s denying the power such thoughts have on us… and forgiving. We must forgive ourselves and others to move forward to our awaiting good.
Everything is made of energy, and everything emits some energy. Even our thoughts and feelings are patterns of energy.
According to the dictionary, an emotion is any departure from the usual calm state of the organism. Since an emotion prepares the human body to release energy through overt action, if the energy is not released, it is trapped with the memory of the event which aroused the emotion.
It is safe to assume that all of us who have not deliberately cleansed our memory banks of suppressed memories, we have a large store of trapped thoughts and emotional energy buried deep in our subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind has been compared to an obedient but not very bright servant whose principal function is to keep its master alive, safe, and (in its master’s conception of happiness) happy. We begin issuing orders to our subconscious servant the moment we are born, first as feelings, then as words, sometimes with thoughts such as, “I never want to think of this again!” It doesn’t matter if the buried events are real or fictitious, the emotional energy that is trapped can be disruptive and can interfere with our lives.
Fortunately, our subconscious minds will respond to our conscious minds, but we need to be firm in our purpose. If our current consciousness wavers, our subconscious mind will rely on old information! The very information we wish to release.
To conduct the burning bowl ceremony, we need paper, pencil and some uninterrupted time. A burning releases energy, therefore, it’s best not to do it at least four to six hours before bedtime. A burning is also a private matter. There is no need to share what you are choosing to release with anyone else.
Shortly, we are going to do a burning. I’m going to invite you to close your eyes and move into a silent time of reflection, evaluation, and forgiveness. It is a time to absolve ourselves. It is a time of releasing any negative feelings and related energy blockages in our bodies.
We’ll spend several minutes in the silence reflecting on that which we wish to release from 2020. With the pencil and the small, square of paper we included in your Christmas mailing from me, I’ll invite you to write down one or two words or phrases to represent that which you’d like to empty from your consciousness.
When you have completed your list of thoughts, feelings, memories that you wish to release, you will carefully take your paper to a safe fire like your fireplace or a small candle that is safely contained in a bowl with maybe sand and some water nearby.
Or prepare a bowl of water and release your thoughts and memories in cleansing water. Maybe tearing the paper and with each tear, feel the releasing.
Either way, We wish to be safe as we release.
Let us begin by denying together, “I release all that no longer benefits me.”
Now, let us affirm together, “I empty myself, so that I can accept the good that awaits me.” Let’s say that three times together to impress it upon our sub-consciousness.
Now affirm with me. “God is expressing as me and memories are powerless to disturb or harm me.”
Feel that affirmation.
Now declare aloud with me: “I now release all of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes from 2020, that could hold me back from my good.”
Now we hold the Silence as we begin the forgiving process. Invite in the Holy Spirit to guide you in your process of letting go.
Silently ask what is ready to be lifted from you now. Allow people, places, things, feelings, addictions or patterns of behavior to arise in your conscious mind and as you recognize them, begin to write them down on your paper.
As you agree to release them, trust that they are being treated perfectly by God as you release them from your human concern, anxiety, fear or resentment. Your Highest Good is intimately connected to the Highest Good of all who are in your life – as you release them from your worry they are released into God’s care at once.
With each name, thought, feeling or internal pattern you release, peacefulness grows within you. Allow this process to continue for the next couple of minutes, writing down what you are given to release.
Release your thoughts and memories by burning or placing the paper in water or tearing it up to release your thoughts and memories.
We will continue in SILENCE.
Advent – Joy and Do your best December 20, 2020
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
Great Morning and Merry Christmas to you all!
We are back with our final Sunday of Advent. Our Advent theme is JOY. (Light candles Hope/faith. Peace, love, joy)
When we light the Advent candle for joy, we remind ourselves of the spiritual truth of this season: “Unto us a child is born.”
Charles Fillmore states in the Revealing Word “joy is the happiness of God, expressed through humankind”
There is a Chinese Proverb: “One joy scatters a hundred griefs.”
How have YOU been scattering JOY? Think on that for a few minutes. How have you done that? Close your eyes and see the joy you give to your family…your friends….your neighbors….maybe strangers passing by, or in the store…
I bet you have a smile on your face!
In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages.
And are we not seeing the small package of vaccines that are one of the answers to this pandemic? We have seen many things through these months…some very good and some an indication that we, as a nation and a world, have much to still do.
Isn’t this the perfect time to look at what is ours to do, this time when we are reminded of the Christ presence within each and every one of us.
Christmas brings out the inner child in us. Children remind us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then the Messiah is truly born.
Jesus told us, “unless we become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
If given the opportunity, spend some time with some youngsters, watch their eyes as they reflect the joys of Christmas. Talk with them and hear their words, so simply stated. That’s where we will find love and joy and peace.
Christmas is not an event that happens only in December or 2,000 years ago in Palestine. Christmas happens as we open to the possibility of hope, when we live in the understanding of peace, and when we give love.
We can certainly look with hope now and moving forward, for we can see the end of this pandemic and see the light that we each bring to the world as we express the joy of the season.
WE can see a light at the end of this year. We can look with hope and declare to do our best as the new year starts with prayers for an end to the division in our country.
WE can pray for peace.
The joy that is Christmas—the birth of the Christ, happens all the time, every minute of every day. As the days get shorter and darkness seems to close in, we light the candle for joy to remind ourselves of the power and presence within us. Then we celebrate the season with newfound glee. We pray for the guidance and strength to always do our best.
Our 4th Agreement is “Do your best.”
Easy — right?
WE have explored Hope & faith, peace, love and now joy for Advent, anticipating the arrival of the Christ Spirit, reminding all of us that we are one in the Christ.
All of us! No one is left out.
And we have looked at each Advent theme through the lens of the 4 agreements: Be impeccable with your word; Don’t take anything personally; Don’t make assumptions; and now Always do your best.
Today is all about Joy! What is one way to discover joy? To always do your best!
Don’t you always feel joy in accomplishing a deed or a job, a work assignment or maybe completing a gift for someone?
When we let ourselves off the hook of having to be or do differently, an inherent joy is discovered. We just BE!
As each faith tradition takes time to experience the light of this joyous season, not everyone will be feeling happy. Some of us may feel isolated or lonely.
This reminder is especially for you.
You are whole, no matter where you are on our journey. You may not feel like celebrating, and that’s okay, but you can remind yourself: I am joy.
Our lives are an expression of love and joy. This is an innate truth of our divine nature
Tell yourself – I am a celebration in this world. There is no other me.
Whether in the quiet of our own thoughts or surrounded by others, our energy flows into a creative collective. Each of us is a unique and beautiful reflection of the Divine.
Give yourself the first gift: affirm that you are a divine and joyful celebration.
Rev. John Paul Roach
“Joy is not dependent on the accumulation of things or being successful in the world’s terms, or having the perfect life”…they can bring some happiness, often temporary & unsatisfactory. Joy arises when we let go, we release our need to work it all out, and simply be with what is.
Joy is our natural state of being…it’s connected to our Christ nature
Joy can come in unexpected places and small packages. Remember, children remind us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving….our inner child can awaken our Christ nature & the Messiah is truly born
Christmas is not an event that happens only in Dec or 2,000 years ago. Christmas happens as we open to the possibility of hope, when we live in the understanding of peace, and when we give love, & experience love. The joy that is Christmas happens all the time, every minute of every day. We just need to be open to it.
If we are doing our best to be joy and bring joy to others, we are being our best selves when we are impeccable with our words. We understand the power that is inherent in words & thoughts spoken silently or out loud.
If we are doing our best, we are not taking anything personally. That means joy for us because we are being true to our authentic self. We know that what others say regarding ourselves is not of our concern. It belongs to the person speaking – we do not have to let their words injure us.
We can’t be in joy if we are making assumptions. And that is certainly not doing our best. If you are making an assumption, most often it has to do with your egos desire to think it knows everything. It does not. What is happening with others is different from what is happening to you…or at least how each of us see it.
What is ours to do?
To seek joy:
Listen to what is around you…church bells ringing, positive words spoken, toddlers’ lispy lyrics all carry joy
Watch for acts of loving-kindness. Give thanks, keep a joy journal.
Appreciate beauty. Behold star patterns across the sky. Feel the vast well-being of the universe
To spread joy:
Lighten a load, listen with love, make a difference.
Anticipate opportunities to beam a smile, whisper a blessing, encourage another.
Grant yourself quiet times of prayer and meditation, contemplation.
Remember, Hope, Peace, Love and Joy can be ours. Always do your best, in thought, word and deed.
Have gratitude as it expresses as peace, love, and joy.
Say: I am gratefully and wonderfully blessed.
Advent Week 3: Love & don’t make assumptions December 13, 2020
Advent Week 3: Love & don’t make assumptions
Welcome to week 3 of our Advent Series as we look at the 4 Agreements and the advent themes, looking for the lessons and messages they have for us. And we can find those messages everywhere; sometimes where we least expect it.
Asked to tell the Christmas story in their own words, a group of fifth graders at Rev. Kurt Condras’ church pretty much shared the basic version we all know from hymns and pageants: Joseph and Mary, a donkey, angels, star, stable, kings, shepherds, and, of course, baby Jesus.
As they talked about each character, one student noted that under normal conditions kings and shepherds would never hang out.
What that means for us, they said, is that from his birth, Jesus taught that we should love everyone: black, brown, or white; rich or poor; cool or nerdy; gay, straight, or questioning; Democrat or Republican.
At our core, they said, “We are one in God’s love.” It’s a view of unconditional love that defines Christ consciousness quite succinctly …
There is an incredible sense of power and freedom in both giving and receiving love without condition or expectation. The experience can be so profound that we lose track of whether we’re the giver or receiver …
This is called “Love without Assumptions”
And that is our third week in Advent; our third agreement, “Don’t Make Assumptions.”
Love – true love – is assumption free – and that when we lose those assumptions, we lose judgment and discover a deeper love – the Love Jesus taught, unconditional love.
“Love is who we are, and no season can contain it,” Sara Bareilles affirms in her song “Love Is Christmas.”
It’s true about each of us, and everyone else too.
Making assumptions is dangerous because we often have no idea what is really going on in a situation. Almost everything we tell ourselves is an assumption.
Think about that for a minute…everything you tell yourself, and that’s a lot, is an assumption.
Humans have a need to explain and justify everything; we have a need for knowledge, and we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know. We don’t care whether the knowledge is true or not. Truth or fiction, 100 percent of what we believe, we think is true and we go on believing it, because just having knowledge makes us feel safe.
And that statement right there explains a lot about what has been happening through this ‘interesting’ year.
Let’s say it again…
We fill in the blanks in our minds with information, and then we’re pretty convinced we know what’s going on. Spoiler alert: We don’t. We’re prone to mistaken beliefs and acting on these mistakes will cause more trouble.
This is a hard agreement to follow because we make assumptions so often, and making assumptions comes so naturally. We’re usually impressed with our own insight. We think our assumptions are true.
It’s like last week when were we discussed “Don’t take things personally” our ego can get in the way of what we think of the world that surrounds us, so we think our assumptions are correct.
And how can we make an assumption about love? Have YOU made an assumption about love?
That could be dangerous for both persons. Some unpleasant things can happen and assuming can often lead to conflict.
Think about the last misunderstanding you had with a loved one…how did it start? Be honest…’be impeccable with your words’…. was it an assumption either of you had about the other?
Assumptions => Misunderstanding => We’re offended and take it personally => We lash back => Big drama ensues
Making assumptions and taking things personally (agreements two and three) go hand in hand, leading to gossip, conflict, and suffering.
What’s the biggest assumption of all? We think everyone sees life exactly as we do. In fact, everyone sees the world through their own unique way. If you don’t communicate with someone else about how each of you is seeing the world, you create misunderstanding.
This chaos in our minds, leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. We simply don’t perceive things the way they truly are.
- Here’s an example: You’re at the mall. Someone you know and like gives you a warm smile from a distance. You decide she likes you. Loves you! You’re going to be so happy together. You create a fantasy, a story that likely has no semblance of reality. You set yourself up for disappointment, embarrassment, or heartache. You potentially put that person in an awkward position. All from an innocent smile.
- Assumptions are particularly dangerous in relationships. We must be clear in communicating what we want because no one knows what we’re thinking.
- Example: You and your partner agree that you’re in a relationship. But if you two have different ideas about what it means to be in a relationship and don’t clarify the issues, anger, and hurt feelings ensues. You fail to meet each other’s expectations.
- We often go into relationships with blinders on, seeing what we want to see. We make dangerous assumptions such as “My love will change him or her.” (Of course, there are certainly no guarantees that anyone will change. Real love accepts others the way they are without wanting to change them. And remember, we can’t change another, they must want to change.)
The danger isn’t only in making assumptions about others. We make assumptions about ourselves. We underestimate or overestimate ourselves, leading to disappointment, self-doubt, and recriminations.
How Do We Stop Making Assumptions? Communication and Clarification
You stop making assumptions and jumping to conclusions by asking questions!
Have the courage to seek the truth. If you know the truth, you don’t need to make assumptions. And if you don’t make assumptions, you don’t make mistakes.
- Here’s an example: You’re convinced you didn’t get the promotion you’ve been working toward. Your coworker went to lunch with the boss. Surely that means she got the job! Or so you assume. You get anxious and stressed.
- Solution: Don’t make assumptions. Ask if the promotion has been decided already. Find out what you need to do to receive the promotion. Have regular meetings with your boss and be clear about your desires and ambitions. Don’t overanalyze tiny signals that may not mean anything. Focus your energy on finding out what the truth is.
Be comfortable asking questions you’re afraid might be too simple, like “why do you feel that way?” “What motivated you to do that?” “What would you do in my situation?”
Or my favorite “Tell me more…”
Remember: there are no bad questions.
If you ask these questions in the right tone, which is especially important, they are fantastic questions to get rid of assumptions on both sides.
To stop making assumptions we must:
- First understand how important this agreement is and how assumptions lead to misunderstandings.
- Become aware of our tendency to make assumptions. We can’t change what we’re not aware of.
- Ask questions. Learn the facts about a situation.
- Communicate. You won’t have to make assumptions if everyone’s on the same page.
- Take action. Forge a new habit of NOT assuming and seeking the truth instead. Do this over and over, establishing a solid foundation.
When we stop making assumptions, we take the blinders off. We understand what is truly happening in our lives. We are on the same page as our spouse, children, friends, etc., with honesty and open communication. We’re less likely to be blindsided by unpleasant truths because we already have a clear understanding of a situation.
Be aware of the stories you are telling yourself. They are filled with assumptions. We let our wonderful imaginations go on a roll and before you know it, you have convinced yourself that something is perfect and it will happen or the person you have been day- dreaming about is out of your league, when in reality, she or he has been dreaming about you too.
ASK SOME QUESTIONS!
There are so many things that the mind cannot explain; we have all these questions that need answers. But instead of asking questions when we don’t know something, we make all sorts of assumptions. If we just ask questions, we won’t have to make assumptions. It’s always better to ask and be clear.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. And love will be part of our life.
2nd Sunday of Advent, Peace & the 2nd Agreement, Don’t take anything personally
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
And peace be with you. Let’s light the Advent candles – for Hope and for Peace.
We are into week #2 of Advent which is focused on Peace. As we explore the second agreement, Don’t Take Anything Personally, we discover that that is an important key to living in peace. If this message is for us, how might it impact our lives in this season of Advent and beyond?
Think about that for a minute…
WOW! If we could just keep in mind that everything isn’t always about us. Our egos would like to think that that was so, but come on, do we REALLY think we are the center of the universe and everything revolves around us???
Well, I personally know a few folks who actually DID think that everything revolved around them. But they are no longer a part of my world. And I wish them peace.
The Hebrew word for peace: shalom, occurs over 250 times in the Hebrew Bible and over the centuries religious scholars have spilled plenty of ink reflecting on its complex meaning.
In English, the word peace tends to mean something like “the lack of war or conflict.” And while the biblical concept of shalom encompasses this sort of peace, it is only a part of what God promised.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This calls us to work along with Spirit to restore God’s peace here on Earth (Matthew 5:9).
Shalom also means “wholeness, and well-being.” It is the ideal—for our individual lives and for that of God’s creation at large; the world of all the living. It’s a return to God’s original creation before we missed the mark.
It is what was meant to be: a slice of heaven.
We can’t have that if we are taking things personally.
Nehru tells us: “Peace is not a relationship of nations; it is a condition of the mind brought about by serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”
WE can be those people!
When we allow peace as our natural state, we bless every person, every relationship, every interaction, no matter how small or fleeting, with our peaceful presence.
And we cannot be in that peaceful presence if we are taking something personally.
That takes you out of your natural state.
When we discussed “Don’t take anything personally” last month, we mentioned that we could not be in a state of PRESENCE if we were taking something personally.
And if that were the case, then Peace would not be there, it could not be attainable.
So, we must focus on peace. We must clear our mind of cluttered thoughts and replace them with images of tranquility. Maybe we use visualization and see a quiet lake, the stars on a clear night sky, or our family snuggled into restful sleep. It is there where we let go of outer concerns and trust Spirit.
If we can remember that no one is against us and everything and everyone is for us, how could we NOT be at peace?
Peace is a state of mind where we know we are one with Spirit.
Commit to be peaceful in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Rev. Melody Martin, gives us a three-step process of releasing in order to get to those moments of knowing:
One step requires releasing others’ perceptions of you. You do not have to take on others’ perceptions as they do not belong to you. That is all about the other. Your perception of self is the only one that ultimately matters! You are the one who has to live with yourself.
Another imperative form of releasing is forgiveness. Forgiveness means releasing others from what you have perceived they have done or failed to do. It is your perception. You have the power to release or not. To suffer or not.
It is also imperative to forgive yourself, to release your own perceptions of what you have done or not done. Let go of the past. You can choose to take the wisdom you have gained from the past and release the rest, it no longer serves you.
The last form of releasing is releasing the future. Peace comes in the moment. The Now is all we have. When we have experienced peace, it has always been in the Now moment.
If we are in the NOW, we have no basis to take anything personally.
Peace is embedded within us…how do we cultivate, nurture, and activate the peace we already have within? Make a commitment to peace—find a way to remain calm
Tell yourself that you prefer peace to whatever is happening. And keep saying that until you find peace within and all around.
Create a place for your heart to take the lead over your head, closer to peace. Our hearts are way smarter than our brains!
Even in the midst of a room full of laughing and talking people, we can find the quiet by just loving and blessing the people, not taking anything personally.
How to stay in perfect peace: release the temptation to review troubles and anxieties; practice gratitude to focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t, give thanks to God for what we have. Always be in gratitude.
In this way, we prepare the way for receiving even greater good; fill our mind with positive, powerful thoughts of good that attract love, joy and beauty
This way, there is no way taking something personally has a place to take hold.
Say, “I see peace instead of this,” when something tries to challenge your peaceful place.
Regardless of what is happening, “be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
1st Sunday of Advent – Hope & Faith and “Be Impeccable with your word”
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
1st Sunday of Advent – Hope & Faith and “Be Impeccable with your word”
And I hope you had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving. The day to remind us to be thankful, not that we need reminding. We all know the gift of gratitude…both in giving and receiving. And receiving is especially important…keep the circle of love and gratitude going!
And in case you might have forgotten, I am grateful for you all, who have made Unity Spiritual Center a place filled with love and peace and joy.
And also Hope and Faith…the first themes of Advent. Yes, ADVENT already. It’s been an interesting year, 2020. And as we wind down to the end of one and the beginning of another, we have many thoughts and even lessons from this year.
Can you think of any?
For many of us, taking care of ourselves by wearing a mask and keeping a distance from others might be something new to learn, especially since many of us do not do well, thinking of ourselves first.
And then realizing, as we take care of ourselves by wearing that mask, we are taking care of others too, makes it even more important but also, easier to do. It always seems when we think of others first, it’s easier to do.
We also learned to be at home a lot more than we were used to. And that meant learning what to do with that time in the house. I hope you took some time to do some inner work…and maybe still are!
Maybe you had to learn about sharing that space with others more than you normally did. Maybe you had to learn to be with yourself more than you were used to…and that was probably interesting…right?
I am sure you have more ideas that you are welcome to share, make a note on FB or send me a message, I’d love to hear from you.
So, yes, today we start Advent. Advent is a time of spiritual preparation. It means beginning as we work toward Christmas, representing the divine child born in each of us.
This year we are looking at Advent through the Lens of the Four Agreements. Since we just discussed Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, I thought it would or could be interesting to look at the Advent themes with the 4 Agreements in mind.
What does Hope and Faith, Peace, Love and Joy have to do with the Birth of the Christ Consciousness and how in the world do the Four Agreements tie in? I hope you will join us for a journey into the season of preparation weaving these different aspects of consciousness into our preparation for the Christ birth.
From the little booklet on advent, titled “The Spirit of Christmas” from Unity Worldwide Ministries, most Christians focus on hope during the first week of Advent. In Unity, perhaps inspired by the view that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for,” we contemplate both hope and faith as we spiritually prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas …
Hope arises when we glimpse a new possibility. These glimpses can inspire us to make positive changes. They can motivate us to adopt new ways of thinking and behaving.
Recall what the Four Agreements were asking us to do, make changes in the way we interact with others and in effect, change our lives.
Our 1st Agreement, “Be Impeccable with Your Word” is asking us to put our faith in our ability to speak with integrity. Speaking with integrity first means we must discern what our integrity entails. We must challenge our beliefs. Get past our domestication and look with faith, turning hope into faith to be our true self.
As we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, we have hope that that coming will bring to us a new faith. It has been a year filled with learning opportunities. Our integrity may have been challenged many times. We may have become discouraged as the pandemic waned and then escalated, back and forth.
Our families and friends became even more important to us as we prayed and had faith that they were safe. We found new ways of communicating with them, from a safe distance.
It was in 1917 when Charles Fillmore said we can experience more peace and happiness during the holiday season by helping others to understand the true meaning of the birth of Christ within themselves. He wrote in “Christmas Literature,” published in the December 1917 issue of UNITY magazine; “You can easily do this if you select wisely your Christmas offerings . . . so let your selections be those things that will make the joy of Christ be felt, not only this season, but every hour of all time to come.”
Many refer to the first candle as the candle of hope but also of prophecy. The Hebrew Bible talked of the messiah who would come. They were impeccable with their words. They spoke words directly from our Source, God, Spirit, Divine Energy.
The people of Israel put their faith in those words. What are you putting your faith in?
I am not saying that we should just hunker down in our homes and pray. We should always definitely pray and meditate or take time for contemplation. But we must remember that we all have a gift to share. And those scientists working on how to treat and prevent this disease and many others are here to share their gift…the gift of science.
They are being impeccable with their word by working with integrity to find a cure.
So, we find patience in this ‘pause.’ We do what is ours to do and, in this case, we listen to the truth that is being presented by the scientists as they discuss their findings and tests and then how all that can help us.
In the meantime, the more present we are with others, the more impeccable our words and actions will be with others.
Not presents but presence…
Christmas is a shining light at the end of this long year. Feel the hope and faith as we travel through each week. Let the lights and decorations lift you with childlike anticipation. Watch the Christmas themed movies and eat a few Christmas cookies!
Look again to see if you are being present with others. No disassociating as the family and friends have gathered to share with you. But sharing the love and excitement with them. Be impeccable with your words, thoughts and actions.
And I invite you to check me…let me know whether my words are in alignment with my beliefs. It’s always interesting to hear what other have to say as they give constructive criticism.
Remember, every experience is our teacher
I give you this as we go into meditation:
“May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong,
enough sorrow to keep you human,
enough hope to make you happy.”
The 4th Agreement, Always Do Your Best.
GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
OK, we’ve come to the 4th Agreement, Always Do Your Best.
With this 4th Agreement, we integrate the first three and put them all to the test by doing each one in the best way we can. Easy, right?
Not necessarily so.
Have you tried one yet, much less all 4?!!?
So, let’s look at each of the first three agreements and what that would look like when looking through the eyes of doing our best.
The 1st Agreement; Be Impeccable with Your Word. As a reminder, to be impeccable with our word, we wish to observe our words, both internal and those we speak; to ourselves and to others, about our life and about society. This means no gossiping!
Have you tried that yet? It may be more difficult than you think. Think back over the last few days…how often did you find yourself in the midst of gossiping with family or friends, without even a second thought?
It is a serious ‘habit’ that many of us have and without much thought. So, review your recent discussions and when the talk came around to about someone, how much was gossip?
And how do we tell if its gossip? Great question.
The dictionary tells us gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true”.
We can ask ourselves – Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?
Is It True?
While we rarely speak with the intention to tell outright lies, that doesn’t make our words true. We can perpetuate rumors, spread gossip, exaggerate in ways that cater to our egos and personal bias. Or, we can simply talk in ways that aren’t authentic to who we are and what we want to communicate. When speaking, ask yourself, Is this true? And if it’s not, why am I saying it? What am I really trying to communicate by stretching the truth?
Is It Necessary?
Words that take the form of negative comments, complains, or insults can help air our grievances, but they don’t always improve upon the silence. While we mustn’t ever censor ourselves, there are many times when what we want to say isn’t necessary or helpful for the situation at hand. Or, it might be necessary, but not for the given time, place, or audience. It’s always worth considering, Is this necessary? Is this necessary right now? Are these exact words right for the message I want to communicate?
Is It Kind?
When you say things, are you showing empathy? Are you taking into consideration the feelings of others? Are you saying something that will lift the mood or lift the spirits of those in the room? Expressing kindness isn’t about mindless optimism or giving gratuitous compliments: it’s about knowing which words are the most compassionate. Sometimes, this means refraining from speaking at all. Other times, it means saying what has to be said but using only the gentlest phrasing. Always ask, is this kind? Does what I’m about to say express compassion?
The goal of mindful speech is not to police your sentences. The point is to be conscious of the words that we often take for granted. Being mindful about speech simply means slowing down and choosing our sentences with care.
Being impeccable and doing our best…are you doing your best when it comes to being impeccable with your words…spoken and thoughts?
It may mean taking a step back when gathering with family and friends and when gossiping starts, either excuse yourself, or, better yet, ask the people involved to refrain from using the power of words against others…including yourself.
Agreement #2; Don’t take anything personally. If you recall, this agreement also has to do with the power and magic of words. This is about how we react to what others say and do about or against us.
And how could we do our best with this agreement? Easily said but not necessarily done, remember that what others say and do is about them, not you. If we remember that it is about the other person, then we get to choose how or even IF we wish to respond.
It’s the old, don’t react, respond rule. And if we are good at keeping this agreement as best as we are able, then we are always in responding mode, not reacting. If we find ourselves reacting, we know that we are not doing our best.
And Agreement #3; Don’t make assumptions. The biggest and best way to always do our best with this Agreement is to ask questions. Make sure you are understanding what the other person is trying to say. It is up to us to understand the other person and if we don’t to ask for further explanation; if we don’t say, “tell me more,” then we are not doing our best.
And as the speaker, it is up to us to make sure the person you are speaking with understands what you are saying.
So, both persons in the discussion have a responsibility to each other. And THAT is how we do our best when we are not making assumptions.
Not only is this a great way for understanding communication, but it is also a way to be authentic, with yourself and with others. Being authentic is how we want to show up.
It involves doing the best that one can individually manage, which varies from the different situations and circumstances that the individual may encounter. Ruiz believes that if one avoids self-judgment and does their best in every given moment, they will be able to avoid regret.
By incorporating the first three agreements and doing the best they can in all facets of life, individuals will be able to live a life free from sorrow and self-ridicule.
Our best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to feeling ill. Or maybe you don’t enjoy the task at hand, do you slack off or do you put 100% into it?
We know what the answer SHOULD be to that question, but do you do your 100%, no matter what? I hope so, even if the 100% you give this morning may look and even feel different than the 100% you give this evening.
I can tell you, my 100% these last days is very different than my usual 100%, because I have not been sleeping very well. So, it’s hard to concentrate as I normally would, so writing this weeks’ Message is taking a bit longer than my ‘normal’ writing time.
Can you admit to yourself and maybe even your family and friends, that sometimes your best is not your highest quality, but at the time, it is your best…and THAT is ok?
Can you be ok with that? If you are doing your 100%, you can’t do more than that, even if, yesterday, your 100% was a bit more quality than today.
And no matter what, you can’t give more than 100%…Not possible. It may feel that way to you, but it’s not possible. Sounds nice tho, doesn’t it? All you do if you try to go beyond what your 100% is at the time is frustrate yourself and probably wear yourself down. And often, trying beyond your energy level causes accidents and inadequate work.
So just try to make progress, do better the next time. Don’t compare yourself to others; your best is not the same as your friends or family. Just learn from your experiences and each time you will get better.
Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
November 15th-Agreement #3, “Don’t Make Assumptions”
How’s everyone today? Did you enjoy last Sunday’s special Guest, Rev. Pamela Whitman? She is very talented. And it was a nice break for Greg, Andrea, and myself. We each had a mini vacation, dogs and I got to visit with my friend Laurie and my sister!
So, back to Delaware!
We started this miniseries on The Four Agreements, a few weeks ago with the most important Agreement, Be Impeccable with Your Word. How have you been doing with that?
Being impeccable means watching all your words and use only words that express love, including your thoughts!
Not only ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ but THINK about others as you would have them Think about you!
Thoughts are powerful also.
We followed up that Agreement with number 2, “Don’t Take Anything Personally”. This agreement is about words too, but it’s about what others have to say about us and how we handle it.
Now we are at agreement number 3, “Don’t Make Assumptions”
For example: A policeman was heading home after a long, hard day on patrol. He had dealt with a whole succession of difficult people, and a mountain of frustrating paperwork. All he wanted at this point was to kick back, unwind, enjoy some peace and quiet, and maybe watch a few innings of baseball on TV.
But, as he neared his home, he was startled by a vehicle that came careening around a sharp curve and narrowly missed his squad car. As the car passed within inches of him, the other driver shouted “Pig!”
The police officer was suddenly energized. He slammed on his breaks, all set to turn his squad car around and head off in hot pursuit. But as he rounded the curve….he ran head-on into a large pig that was standing in the middle of the road.
How often do we make an assumption that turns out to be completely inaccurate? More often, I would submit, than when the assumption is correct.
We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. It helps us organize our thoughts. However, as we said earlier, more often than not the assumption isn’t true.
And that is the problem, when we make an assumption, we believe it to be true, like our policeman earlier.
And when we make that assumption, it can lead to suffering.
We make assumptions about what others are thinking or doing – we take it personally-then we blame them and react by being angry, manipulative, or avoid the person.
When one assumes what others are thinking, it can create stress and interpersonal conflict because the person believes their assumption is a representation of the truth.
“Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions and believe we are right; then try to defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong.”
We only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear.
The funny thing is that the only way we can see anything is through our own eyes – through our own experiences that lead to our assumptions. However, what Ruiz is cautioning us to do is to know this and to avoid projecting our perceptions onto others.
When you avoid projecting your perceptions onto others, you are better able to detach from a potential emotional charge that might or might not be intended. Also, you aren’t jumping to any conclusions until you have listened with clarity – you have actively listened.
To practice active listening requires you to listen with full attention, ask questions, and paraphrase/repeat what was said to check for clear understanding. When the other person agrees that you have understood them, the communication is less ambiguous and more harmonious.
This is easy to talk about and makes perfect sense, but it is not always easy to do. It requires commitment to the cultivation of habit and loving, undistracted focus.
Ruiz suggests that you find the courage to listen without making assumptions as well as to “express what you really want”. We can interpret this to mean that we must not make assumptions that we are being heard in the way we mean to be heard. This requires responsibility for your “voice”, and if you are misunderstood, it means that the issue might be the other person’s miscomprehension or it might be your miscommunication.
Don’t make assumptions about this either because that is only a distraction and can cause an artificial emotional charge for the egos involved, including yours. Instead, take responsibility because if the other person has miscomprehended, it means that you have, nevertheless, miscommunicated!
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Asking “Tell me more,” or “I don’t know,” or even “I don’t understand,” can lead to further discussion and avoid the assumption that could happen if the questions were not asked.
Making assumptions in our relationships is really asking for problems.
We often make assumptions that our partners know what we think, what we want. We talked about this when we discussed “The 5 Love Languages.” Do you recall what your love language is?
Remember, a solution to overcoming the act of making an assumption is to ask questions and ensure that the communication is clear between the persons involved.
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
The human mind works in interesting ways in that it has a need to justify everything, to explain and understand everything, in order to feel safe. There are so many things that the human mind cannot explain. It is not important if the answer is correct; just the answer itself makes us feel safe. This is why we make assumptions.
And probably why we have so many answers to the same questions. Just look at our politics. We made the assumption that everyone saw things as we do. They thought as we did, felt as we did, made judgments as we did…and THAT is the biggest assumption we can make!
So, the way to keep from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure to communicate clearly. If you don’t understand, ask. Have the courage to ask questions until you are clear as can be and even then, don’t assume you know all there is to know about a given situation.
Find your voice to ask. Everyone has the right to say no, but you always have the right to ask.
We are here to transform our lives and that of our Earth. We are to find the deeper parts of ourselves, to let go that which binds us and to find something larger which expands us and moves us into a deeper peace, a deeper appreciation and a deeper love.
Without making assumptions, your word becomes impeccable
Our Series; “The Four Agreements – 2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally November 1’
Our Series; “The Four Agreements – 2nd Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally’
Good morning again, and it is great to be with you again, even if it is in these circumstances. Any way we can stay connected with you…right!
We are in our second week of this new series on the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This series is giving us another opportunity to question where we are and where we wish to be headed on the spiritual journey, we call life.
Forward or backwards? Which will it be? Always your choice. Thought we know by now that going backwards isn’t really an option. Once we know these truths, we can’t really go back.
And these Agreements may help us all make the choices we need to make on the journey of forward motion.
Remember, these are agreements that you have made with life. You must have agreed with it to make it true for you.
SO, did last week’s Message, “Be Impeccable with Your Word” start anything for you? Did it resonate? Did you consider your words and what they were telling you about yourself? About others?
We want to use our words to build up, not take down. We wish to speak with integrity and honesty.
This second agreement is about thoughts, words, and actions also, but it is about what others have to say about us and how we handle it.
“Don’t take anything personally”
When we take things personally, we are agreeing with what was said about us. We are trapped in ‘personal importance,’ everything is about me, me, me.
Are we really that self-centered?
Even when a situation seems so personal, maybe someone is insulting you directly, it’s not you. It’s the other person’s issue.
I am sure we all have situations where we have been insulted, or hurt, by something that was said towards you. It can be difficult to not be offended when that statement hits a chord within you.
I can recall walking my first bichon, Tosha, she was getting old, walking slow, her fur not as thick, you could see her age spots through it. As we walked through the neighborhood, some teens skateboarded by us saying, “Ugly lady, ugly dog.” I must have believed that to have it bother me at the time.
Or when we had a chasm in our young Unity community a few years ago, I was told by one of the folks who suddenly left the congregation, that I didn’t know what I was doing and we needed someone who did.
Each time I had to go within and see where I believed the statement and then heal that wound.
So, pay attention to those times when we are wounded by another’s words or actions. See where the wound is that needs healing. And then work on that healing.
We can’t truly be free until we can stop taking things personally. At the time we get offended we have given our power to that person. We are being controlled by their words, behavior, their actions.
As soon as we understand that what others think about us is none of our business, we are free.
But when we buy into their words, we have given over to the attachment of those words…they now have meaning to us, we believe them.
What would happen if we took that energy from being offended and use it to be transformed? To truly know who we are, what we are made of?
We are of God, Divine Spirit…we are spiritual beings; we are not powerless, not weak, but powerful.
Don’t react when someone says to you, “Now don’t take this personally, but…?” WE know intellectually who we are, but we still get that gut reaction, don’t we.
We must learn to keep our hearts open and not take it personally. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with us, it is about them.
Stop living in the realm of emotions and the outer and begin to live from within. DO not be a victim to others’ opinions…don’t take things personally.
Here are the steps to remember who we are when someone offends us:
- Be still, be silent
- Recognize that our buttons have been pushed.
- Look within to find the wounded place, an old story and heal it.
- Remember to open your heart.
- Remember we are made of spirit
- Remember that whatever anyone does or says to you, that it does not disturb the calm peace of your soul.
“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you will be the victim of needless suffering.”
Don’t choose suffering. Take the opportunity to transform that energy to growth. Be the true you…a part of our Creator, blessed to be here. Be grateful for all your blessings and share them with your family and friends. Share your love with the Earth and her children.
Let’s get back on track and take care of each other. And we can do that by knowing what we say and how we say it. Speak with truth and honesty, with compassion and love and we will transform our world to one of peace.
New Series: The Four Agreements October 25
New Series: The Four Agreements
Do you remember when you were very young, growing up first in your family, and later as you made your way through your school. Maybe attending a religious service weekly.
And all the things, the rules and concepts and laws that you, and me…all of us, were taught as we made our way along in family and society.
We learned what our language was and our religion, what the rules of the house were and what would happen if they were not followed. And we continued to learn the rewards and punishments as we moved through all the parts of society…home, school, church, work…etc.
Don Miguel Ruiz calls these Agreements. We made agreements with our families, our school and workplace, everywhere. We allowed ourselves to be domesticated by our society, by these hundreds of agreements.
If we wished for acceptance, we strived to follow these rules of rewards and punishments. This was what brought us love…and who doesn’t want love?
If we are beautiful enough…we will be loved.
If we are smart enough…we will be loved.
If we don’t show emotion…don’t cry…we will be loved.
If we stood out with talent, athletically or academically or musically or artistically….we would be loved. We’d have fans.
Don Miguel Ruiz tells us, “Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system. …somewhere someone told us through their word, that we were not enough, and we agreed with it.”
And so, we end up judging ourselves…comparing ourselves against others. We judge the others too, searching for perfection.
Well, the time of making our way through life repeating the same 95% of the 60,000 thoughts we have every day is gone. We are way past the time foraging for food while at the same time watching out for saber-toothed tiger attacks.
Of all these agreements, the most important ones are the ones you have with yourself…who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave. I see it as your true self, your integrity.
When we hold onto agreements that make us suffer, make us fail in life…they hold us back. They interfere with our inner as well as outer, growth.
We must find the will, the courage to break these fear-based agreements.
To do that, we can use these positive, Four Agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Don’t make assumptions
- Always do your best
By making a pact with these four key agreements, an individual is able to dramatically impact the amount of happiness they feel in their lives, regardless of external circumstances
We will look at each for the next weeks and then associate them with the four themes of Advent. So, pay attention please, as we move forward, so you will be able to relate it all together.
First, Be impeccable with your word.
In Ruiz’s mind, this is the most important.’ Can you think why?
It is the most difficult one to honor
To be impeccable means to be in accordance with the highest standards of propriety; faultless.
We are told that being impeccable means “without sin.” A sin, according to Ruiz, is anything that you do which goes against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.”
We ‘speak with integrity.’ Saying only what you mean. And avoiding speaking against yourself or to gossip.
This is more than being honest. We are to use our speech to lift up ourselves and those around us, to build community rather than tear it down.
Being impeccable with our word begins with ourselves. We all know that a lot of negative self-talk goes on…in fact, we probably talk more negatively about ourselves than we do of others. If we use negative talk with ourselves, it’s bound to come out against others eventually.
Of course, we all make mistakes, but as we take responsibility for our words and actions without judgment for ourselves or for others, we learn and grow. And move forward.
Our words are not just a sound or a written symbol. They have energy, force…it is a power we all have to express and communicate, to think and to create.
We humans are the only creatures that have this power of the word, to create…like magic…
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” – Dumbledore
Words have power. Their meaning crystallizes perceptions that shape our beliefs, drive our behavior, and ultimately, create our world. Their power arises from our emotional responses when we read, speak, or hear them.
Take the words interview and interrogation. Which would you like to hear when entering a meeting?
Each one presented a different vision in your mind as to what you might experience in the meeting, did it not?
So, we need to choose our words wisely.
Rumi: “Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not the thunder.”
We learned to gossip by agreement. As children we heard the adults around us gossip, openly giving their opinions about others, we thought this was a normal way of communicating.
Gossip is likened to a computer virus, using the same language but with harmful intent. Often, hearing something said about another is imprinted in our mind, and it is difficult to release. This is the harm of gossip.
There is the story of a man living in a village. He got along with his neighbors for a time. Then, one day, his neighbors started ignoring him, He didn’t understand why. Eventually, no one in the village would speak with him.
One day he asked his neighbor what had happened, why wouldn’t they speak with him and the neighbor confessed that he had started a rumor about him, in a jealous moment of not thinking.
He asked what he could do to make amends.
The man asked his neighbor to come to his house. They went upstairs to the bedroom window, opened it and took a feather pillow, ripped it open and shook it out the window.
Feathers flowed everywhere, as they reached the ground a breeze came by a blew them further in all directions. The neighbor looked at the man who lied about his reputation said, ‘those feathers are like your words, once spoken, they can’t be brought back.’
We are imprinted with the words and the emotional code that they were said with. We may not know why the other was saying the words – were they angry, jealous? What was the motivation?
So, we end up looking through the other persons lens; their fear and judgments, instead of our own opinions.
We are always building our world with our words….what are you building?
If we are going to be Impeccable with our words, we are
- Building our own self up with the words,
- Supporting others, sharing love, radiating positive thoughts and feelings,
- Using our words in the direction of truth and the energy of love.
When we use our word to support another, to share love, positive thoughts, feelings, we are actually loving ourselves.
We can only use our word ‘against another, (which is actually against ourselves) if we do not love ourselves.
Buddha – “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with great care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
From ‘The Four Agreements’ “For years we have received gossip from the words of others, but also from ourselves. We talk to ourselves constantly, and mostly saying things like: ‘oh, I look fat,’ ‘I look ugly,’ ‘I’m getting old,’ ‘I’m stupid,’ ‘I will never be good enough,’ and similar negative statements.” See how we use the word against ourselves?
We must begin to understand what the word is and what it does.
If we understand the 1st agreement, be impeccable with your word, we begin to see all the changes that can happen in our life. Changes first in the way we deal with ourself, and later in the way we deal with other people, especially those we love the most.
Consider that your opinion is only your point of view, created from your beliefs, your ego and your dream. Spreading it to others is your ego wishing to be right.
Being impeccable with your word clears your mind from negativity, so only words of love survive.
Just this one agreement can change your whole life. It can free you from all fear and transform it into joy and love.
Here are some positive ways to put this into practice:
Ask yourself where you are impeccable with your word?
Practice using your words with integrity.
Begin with yourself…tell yourself each day how much you love yourself, how great you are, how wonderful you are.
Use words to break the agreements you have made with yourself, maybe through domestication with your family, your religious beliefs.
Speak only words of love, peace, joy.