(The title of this post is a small tribute to Rev. Robert Brumet, a colleague, seminary classmate, and esteemed instructor at Unity Institute who has become leading influence for a systematic approach to evolving consciousness.)
It was my turn to present the Sunday lesson last week. I shared with the congregation that, as a spiritual community, Unity Spiritual Center is approaching the first of three tipping points that underlie individual and organizational transformation. The first tipping point has come about as a result of the majority of our active congregation having gone through the Art & Practice workshop and the 21 day Q Process™. In addition to this program providing a powerful tool for personal transformation and shadow integration, this tipping point is about a formation of a new cultural imperative: a shared language for a community-wide conversation about getting to the next level.
Part of the challenge for ministry leaders is that the people in our ministries are at different places in their spiritual journey. Consequently, it is a challenge to speak to everyone within the spectrum of translational and transformational teachings. Some people are more aligned with the dialect of translational teachings–teachings that help us manage discomforts by getting to a better place within our current reality. The language of transformational teachings is quite different. It is about describing the birth process of a greater reality that transcends our current mental models.
The caterpillar has no capacity to fathom the magnificence of the butterfly because it lacks the awareness (neural pathways) of the transformed state that the butterfly inhabits. In other words, it is much more difficult for us as spiritual teachers to describe both the evolved state and the process of transformation because we either lack the language (ourselves) or the ability to convey transformational principles to an audience that is most familiar with the “caterpillar” reality. In still other words, it takes a new language to describe the greater reality and how to move towards it.
I mentioned in my talk that: How you are BEING with what you are HAVING creates your reality. If you are “being” your sense of not enough with whatever you are having, then insufficiency becomes your reality. The amazing thing is that previous to this first tipping point, there was no place for this principle to really grow in consciousness because the language and the syntax of the message was unfamiliar.
After I said it, I realized that not only did the majority of the congregation understand the principle that BEING creates reality, they also could take it to the next level, see how problematic life patterns are and that they are best addressed by transformational teachings rather than translational teachings. To have 100 plus people in the same room GET IT was amazing to say the least.
My point is that until the majority of the community acquires the same language or dialect for transformation, it is difficult or impossible to establish transformational teachings as core to a new ministry practice. This is not to say that ministry leaders are ill-equipped to convey transformational teachings. It is to say that until the community at large acquires a common language for being in the conversation about transformation, it is not possible to achieve a tipping point. Why is the tipping point necessary? It is necessary for evolving the organization to getting to the next level. While individuals can evolve and there can be pockets of transformation within the community, the desired state is for the majority (my goal is 75%) of the congregation to have the same context for moving the ministry forward.
Now, having a common language rooted in a transformational context enables us to be in a different conversation about the organizational lack. Unity Spiritual Center is currently experiencing a worrisome financial shortfall, in part by the summertime decrease in attendance and support. The temptation is to address the issue by asking people to give more, or to teach a prosperity class, or to otherwise inform people that there is a need for due diligence with respect to making ends meet. These efforts have historically been repeated over and over with the same results–a temporary relief followed by more not enough. In other words, when efforts to address life patterns with translational methods are employed, the result may be a short term increase, but nothing happens to address the life pattern itself. This is our conundrum at Unity Spiritual Center.
Most of us are familiar with problematic life patterns. Life patterns are like issues that arise from time to time, keeping us locked into ways of being and behaviors that are unproductive. We are often able to notice being swallowed up by a deep-seated behavior, and yet in the same moment, noticing how powerless we are to interrupt the pattern. There is a great analogy that makes this point clear. I am sure you have heard and / or shared this story before.
Chapter One: Person is walking down a sidewalk and doesn’t notice a deep hole. Person falls into the hole and is angry that there was no notice or warning about the hazard. The person struggles a long time before getting out.
Chapter Two: Person is walking down the same sidewalk, notices the hole too late, and falls in. The person is angry that there was no notice or warning about the hazard. The person blames the city. The person struggles a long time before getting out.
Chapter Three: Person is walking down the same sidewalk, notices the hole and tries to avoid it, but falls in anyway. This time the person realizes their mistake and then quickly gets out.
Chapter Four: Person is walking down the same sidewalk and steps around the hole.
Chapter Five: Person walks down a different sidewalk.
Which chapter are you at in your life patterns?
When seeking to interrupt or disentangle from any pattern, the first step is to acknowledge that you are struggling with a life pattern and that it is hardwired in your self-system (brain-maps). Later you can identify the moment and circumstance of taking on the belief underlying the pattern. I mentioned the above story to our congregation identifying the “hole” as both a personal and organization sense of not enough. We as individuals and as an organization have taken on the life pattern of making what we have insufficient. This is the hole we fall into from time to time. In the beginning we may attribute this predicament to something out of our control like the economy or people in our church not tithing, etc. We may attempt to improve our condition using translational teachings, but these measures do not address the root problem–the pattern of strolling down the same ideological sidewalk where our sense of not enough is lurking. And, while our healing is about integrating the shadow quality, the ultimate authentic action is taking a different route that leads to a greater reality.
The place to begin to break the pattern is at Chapter 3, realizing that you have fallen into the hole of not enough. I mentioned to the congregation that we need to break the pattern of both our individual and organizational sense of not enough. We need to refrain from implementing translational strategies. And, while it may seem okay to hope and pray for someone to rescue us (as has been the pattern), we need to want FIRST and FOREMOST that each individual discover the well-spring of their own abundance and not look for a bailout from a wealthy donor.
I know that I have left some details out, including discussing the second and third tipping point, so stay tuned. Please subscribe and share to our Unity and CSL colleagues and ministry leaders.