While most New Thought communities identify with the “spiritual but not religious” designation, we may be dragging our feet, so to speak, when it comes to fully integrating science and spirituality into a formative partnership for how we explain, facilitate and support spiritual transformation. If transforming lives is our mission (let us say), then to leverage the emerging new models of adult development, the latest breakthroughs regarding brain research and science, quantum principles, consciousness studies, integral theory, emotional and spiritual intelligence, provides us with coherent, clear, and expeditious methodologies, practices, and processes for understanding and aligning our teachings with the transformative forces that pervade these chaordic times.
Both Unity and CSL have a long history of welcoming the influence of Eastern Philosophy and Science, especially those disciplines that place consciousness at the center of the manifest universe. Yet, we may be behind the curve when it comes to educating our congregations regarding the mechanics of perception, meaning-making, self-system, self-awareness, and how to create new neural pathways that constitute birthing a greater reality. For example, we may be able to communicate and substantiate a rationale for understanding that the source of our well-being and our discomfort is not “out there” in the realm of conditions and circumstances. As we know in principle, the source of our well-being and discomfort is within us. We are Source. Yet, it is impossible for anyone hearing this principle, even when they believe it to be the truth, to refrain from becoming outer-oriented when triggered. They lack the brain maps or the neural pathways to override the emotional circuitry responsible for sourcing discomfort within one’s self. They can “know the principle” but remain impotent with respect to overcoming their engrained patterns of being without additional support. They need help with aligning with how their brain works, how their body-mind is conditioned to reboot life patterns, and how their self-system maintains and perpetuates the internal mental presets that comprise their default operating system.
Now this may sound way more “non-spiritual” and to the opposite extreme as “religious” seems to those who identity with spiritual, but not religious. I have had a few folks wonder if a transformational approach to living is spiritual. They have remarked, “When are we going to focus on prayer, meditation, and truth principles?” I think that what’s missing for these folks is more scripture, inspiration, and talk about God and the indwelling Christ.
I certainly honor those who are more comfortable with a traditional Unity message. Since it has been about 18 years since I have been in the practice of speaking every Sunday, I find that I have distanced myself from much of what, for me, has become the “party line”–talks that help people feel better about things by being able to manifest their dreams, think positive, be prosperous, and live fearlessly. All of that is well and good, but the majority of our spiritual community is wanting to wake up, not just improve the dream.
In the past, I would construct my Sunday message around a Bible verse, usually something that Jesus said. I would share a few relevant antidotes, a humorous story or two, a Fillmore or Holmes quote, and maybe a personal example as to how I applied a principle in my own life. This format seemed to work well two decades ago.
Nowadays, I see that I have a singular objective as a spiritual leader: to transform lives. Consequently, my talks are focused on helping people shift from improving outer conditions to helping them engage the deeper work of shadow integration. For me, no endeavor is more spiritual as it requires self-compassion, self-responsibility, accountability, emotional and spiritual maturity. In other words, 2nd tier consciousness.