Tag Archives: shadow work

A Consciousness of ‘Enoughness’: Prosperity Teaching for a New Millennium

By Lauri Boyd, MDiv,  Unity Minister, ordained 2009

In this time of financial uncertainty for so many, it is important to embrace a practice that is relevant to today’s consciousness. Of course, it is useful to look to history for wisdom and strength. We are not the first generation to experience financial hardship, and we will not be the last. Myrtle Fillmore was one of the co-founders of the Unity movement. Together with her husband, Charles, she helped to create a whole new approach to spirituality at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a story about Myrtle that is famous in Unity circles. 

In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression, there was a time when Unity was in serious financial straits. Bills were piling up and there did not seem to be enough money to meet the next payroll. Turning to their trusted spiritual practices, the Fillmores call their staff together to pray about the matter. As they gathered, one of the staff is reported to have said, “Let us pray that the money holds out.” Myrtle immediately responded, “Oh, no. Let us pray that our faith holds out.”

Myrtle understood the foundational truth about prosperity, and that truth is — Money is not the source of our supply. God is. Prosperity is a state of consciousness in which we know, and we know that we know, that God is the source of all that we need, and that we are expressions of God. Myrtle also understood that it takes practice to establish such a state of consciousness. Specifically, it takes spiritual practice. One of the most effective practices for establishing a consciousness of prosperity is the practice of giving.

And in the 21st century, it is just as important to apply this foundational truth in a way that is in alignment with our current values and world-view.

Evolving our Language

Before we dive deeper into these ideas, let us consider the word “prosperity”. In our culture, this word has become closely tied to the concept of money. Though we can learn to broaden our definition, our first thought upon hearing the term “prosperity” is usually financial well-being. It is also unfortunate that the term has become inextricably linked with the Prosperity Gospel, causing further confusion. (see Afterward)

Language is a living thing, and, like all living things, it evolves. In Unity, we have seen this evolution of language as people have begun to substitute the word ‘abundance’ for ‘prosperity’. This term broadens our understanding of the experience of prosperity beyond a focus on money. However, it still evokes a feeling of lavishness, of having more than enough. As we have become more skillful at understanding and addressing the effects of inequality and how to be better stewards of our planet’s natural resources, our collective values are shifting away from a desire for lavishness and toward a desire for a fair share for all.

In his work on Inclusivity, Shariff Abdullah has coined a term that better evokes the concept behind Unity’s teachings around prosperity in conjunction with our evolving sensibilities. This term is “Enoughness”.

Continue reading A Consciousness of ‘Enoughness’: Prosperity Teaching for a New Millennium

Spiraling Through the Parables 2: The Vineyard Workers

This is the second article of a series called Spiraling Through the Parables. In this series, we are looking at the Evolution of Consciousness as we study the Parables of our great teacher and way-shower Jesus of Nazareth.

When we consider a parable through the lens of the Evolution of Consciousness, we focus on the idea that human consciousness is not static. Our consciousness evolves as we move through our life experiences. Further, we go through recognizable and predictable stages of spiritual growth. Our understanding of God and ourselves changes in each stage.

As we look at a parable, we will draw from it meaning that is appropriate to our current stage of growth. It’s not that we move closer to the ‘right’ answer! Rather, whatever stage of growth we are in, we find the answer that speaks to us right where we are. We find the meaning that helps us deal with our present-moment challenges.

The Vineyard Workers

Today, we are exploring the Parable of The Vineyard Workers. This parable is known as a ‘Reversal’ parable. It presents a story that just seems wrong. When we hear it, something in us resists. Yet, we are told this story represents the Kingdom of Heaven. So the question we wrestle with is – How is that possible?

The following translation comes from The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say? created and published by The Jesus Seminar.

Jesus used to tell this parable:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a proprietor who went out the first thing in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the workers for a silver coin a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

And coming out around nine a.m., he saw others loitering in the marketplace and he said to them, “You go into the vineyard too, and I’ll pay you whatever is fair.” So they went. Around noon he went out again, and at three p.m. he repeated the process. About five p.m. he went out and found others loitering about and said to them, “Why did you stand around here idle the whole day?” They replied, “Because no one hired us.” He told them, “You go into the vineyard as well.”

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard told his foreman: “Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with those hired last and ending with those hired first.” Those hired at five p.m. came up and received a silver coin each. Those hired first approached, thinking they would receive more. But they also got a silver coin apiece. They took it and began to grumble against the proprietor: “These guys hired last only worked an hour but you have made them equal to us who did most of the work during the heat of the day.” In response he said to one of them, “Look, pal, did I wrong you? You did agree with me for a silver coin, didn’t you?  Matt 20:1-13 

What Does it Mean?

In the first article in this series, I introduced you to a model of human cognitive and spiritual development called Spiral Dynamics. That model defines several broad Levels of Consciousness. We are going to look at the parable of the Vineyard Workers from the point of view of four of these levels. At each level, we will ask the question, “How does this parable challenge me to grow? … i.e. What does it mean?”

Purposeful, Authoritarian (Blue)

What is important to us when this meme is our center of gravity?  Life is all about order. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. It is important to be in integrity. It is important to be fair. We work hard now to earn our just reward later.

At this level, the parable challenges our notion of what is ‘fair’Why did those who came late to the work still get the same reward? One meaning we might find at this level is that it is never too late to say ‘yes’ to God. Anyone who accepts God will be rewarded in heaven. We might also interpret this as a call to surrender. God is in charge. We will never understand God’s ways, and we do not need to. Our job is to surrender and accept.

Achievist, Strategic (Orange)

At this level, our most important value is self-empowerment. We use our intelligence and skill to create our good.

At this level, the parable challenges our notion of how we achieve our goodHow is it possible that those who worked one hour earned just as much as those who worked all day? That isn’t how the world works! One lesson we might take from this parable is to question what is the true source of our good – our labor or Spirit? If our good only comes from the efforts of our ego self, the parable makes no sense. If our good comes from Spirit, then the story encourages us to become co-creators with God.

We might also see that the silver coin represents all that we need in the way of supply – the divine flow. It makes no difference when we awaken and begin to work with God. The moment we open ourselves to the divine flow, and the wholeness of God is available to us immediately. Whether we have been working these principles for years, or it is our first attempt, anyone who aligns with God may draw on the infinite resources of Spirit.

Communitarian, Egalitarian (Green)

In this meme, we value equality. We passionately believe that everyone deserves an equal voice and an equal share of the pie.

This parable challenges our notion of equalityThe parable is a clear case of social injustice! On the one hand, we have the downtrodden masses working a full day for a silver coin. And on the other hand, we have an elite few working only an hour for that same silver coin. The proprietor is perpetuating systemic injustice! How can this be like the kingdom of heaven?!

The parable invites us to consider the idea of equality. Although people are to be valued equally, people are not all the same. It is calling us to honor diversity. The silver coin represents the equal value placed on each individual’s human worth. The different working hours represent our differing gifts and talents. Each of us has some things we are really good at and other things –- not so much. We have differing values and differing worldviews. When we try to make everyone the same, we inadvertently set people up for failure. So the parable challenges us to allow people their differences while still honoring their sacred worth. And we might also discover that the hardest people to honor are those who disagree with our belief that everyone is equal.

Integrative, Holistic (Yellow / Turquoise)

This is a level of consciousness that was not covered in the first article. It arose as a response to the previous meme’s tendency to try to make everybody the same. At this level, we see life as a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies, systems and forms. Our work is to integrate diverse people into healthy, cohesive groups. We meet people where they are at in consciousness. We respect the unique gifts of each level of consciousness. We honor people by providing them with the motivation that is most deeply meaningful to them

This parable challenges our notion of what a healthy, cohesive group looks likeThe proprietor is interacting with a wide variety of people at different levels of consciousness (represented by the different times of day). He is trying to integrate these people into a team, but it isn’t working. We can tell it is not working because people are complaining. There is tension in the team. By giving everyone the same motivation (the silver coin), the proprietor is failing to recognize that people at different levels of consciousness have different values and are motivated differently. How is that like the Kingdom of Heaven?

One meaning we can take from the parable is that we have this idea that if we successfully integrate people into a healthy, cohesive group, all the tension will go away and we will live in peace and love and harmony for the rest of our days. This is simply not true. The parable challenges us to recognize that tension and chaos are a natural and necessary part of a healthy system. If tension and chaos are skillfully managed, they become the drivers for creativity and innovation. Without them, the system stagnates and dies.

Consider the Parable of the Vineyard Workers. What do you think it means?

Almost There (The Princess and the Frog)

This whole town can slow you down
People takin’ the easy way
But I know exactly where I am going
Gettin closer ‘n closer every day
Almost There was composed by Randy Newman for the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog. This is a song about vision and persistence. On our spiritual journey, we often begin with great enthusiasm and a clear picture of where we think we are going. And then real life gets in the way. We encounter distractions and setbacks that slow us down and cause us to divert from our original path. Sometimes we abandon our vision altogether.
What we too often fail to realize is that these distractions and setbacks are not interruptions of our journey, but actually one of the most important parts of the journey. These are the moments when we have the opportunity to dive deep into our own transformation.
One of my common distractions is that I have so many calls on my time that I just never seem to “get around” to working on my vision. When viewed from the perspective of spiritual transformation, I can use this as an opportunity to look at the stories I am carrying. Do I believe I have to “do it all”? Do I believe others are not capable? Do I prefer to do something easy and familiar rather than tackling something new?  All great questions for triggering self-awareness and transformation.
One of the most important lessons we can learn on our spiritual journey is that the destination is not nearly as important as the journey itself.

Advice from an Alligator

In our ongoing series on Wisdom from Nature, today we are taking a deeper look at the alligator. Alligators are perhaps one of the closest experiences modern humans can have with dinosaurs. Not only do alligators have size, strength and razor sharp teeth, they also have thick skin which protects them from would-be predators. Alligators are quite literally armor-plated. Every ridge on an alligator’s back represents a bony plate contained within that area of skin. These bony plates make the skin very hard to penetrate.

This trait reminds me of the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  Agreement #2 says, “Don’t take anything personally.” In other words, develop a thick skin of your own.

Don Miguel writes, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…If I see you on the street and I say, ‘Hey, you are so stupid,’ … it’s not about you; it’s about me.” Nothing other people do is because of you, even if they tell you it is. What they do is because of themselves. They are reacting to something from their own story.

All people are immersed in their own story. As much as we try, we can’t really know each other’s story. We only know our own. When we take personally what someone has said, we make the assumption that they know our story. In fact, you might say we are trying to impose our story on them.

The truth is, If we take something someone else has said personally, we do so not because of them, but because of ourselves. If I take something personally, then it’s probably because, deep down, I agree with them. I might think to myself, “How does he know? Is he clairvoyant? Or, can everybody see?”

So, what someone else says or does, comes from their story. My reaction, comes from my story. There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we take nothing personally. We no longer need to place our trust in what others do or say. We simply trust the divine wisdom within us and let it be our guide.

Advice from a Bat

The baby bat 
Screamed out in fright, 
Turn on the dark, 
I’m afraid of the light. 
…a poem by Shel Silverstein
In Unity, we enjoy looking for spiritual wisdom in unusual places. This week, as part of our recurring Wisdom in Nature series, we are seeking advice from the Bat.
A bat is a creature that dwells comfortably in the dark. I, too, can dwell comfortably in the dark, when I remember that there is nowhere that God is not. Even in the midst of experiences that I find painful or challenging, I am never separate from God.
In the light of God, even darkness becomes a tool I can use for my spiritual growth. There is no human experience that I must hide from the light of God. Every experience can be part of my journey toward wholeness, if I will let it be so. When I practice self-awareness and self-acceptance, I remember that light and dark are two halves of a transcendent whole. Resting in this awareness, I am at peace.

Non-Resistance

Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents. He was president during a time of war in our country, and yet, paradoxically, Lincoln was a man who deeply understood and embraced the ideal of non-resistance.
Lincoln was once asked why he did not replace one of his cabinet members who was known to oppose him on every decision he made – a source of constant irritation. Typically, Lincoln answered with a story…
“Many years ago, I was passing a field where a farmer was trying to plow with a very old and decrepit horse. I noticed a big horsefly on the horse’s flank, and I was about to brush it off when the farmer said, ‘Don’t you bother that fly, Abe! If it wasn’t for that fly, this horse wouldn’t move an inch!”
Lincoln was saying that we need the difficult people and circumstances in our lives. They challenges us. They keep us moving forward. They prompt us to dig within ourselves for greater strength, creativity, and wisdom.
If we invest all our energy in resisting the difficult people and circumstances, then we miss the opportunity for growth inherent in a situation.
What are you resisting? What if you stopped?

Humility / Emptiness

The word “humility” has a bit of a mixed reputation. We typically believe that humble people are good – morally superior, even. We might think of humble people as saintly – so good they set a standard we mere mortals could never hope to achieve. The word brings to mind people like Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama.
Yet humility also carries the connotation of a person who is meek and submissive. We might think a humble person is easily pushed around by the more aggressive people in this word. We might say that being humble is a good thing – just not necessarily good for me.
If we look at some of the great Spiritual Masters, we can see that all of them practiced humility, and yet none of them were what you might call a pushover. The Jesus portrayed in the Gospels was strong and confident and did not cower in front of anyone.

Continue reading Humility / Emptiness

The Spirit of Money

Many of us carry unhealed stories of lack, shame and fear around money. Whether a person does not have enough, or has too much, we have learned to judge a person’s character by the money they have. We have judge others, and even more damaging, we have judged ourselves.
it is time to practice self-awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness around the topic of money.
Some people think it is a sacrilege to talk about money in a spiritual context. You may have heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.” Actually, this is the most misquoted passage in the Bible. What Paul actually wrote was, “The love of money is the root of all evils.” (1 Tim. 6:10).
Money in and of itself is neither good nor evil. It is simply a tool. We can use it to facilitate the flow of divine abundance, or use it to spread fear and lack.
When we make money the focus of our meditation practice, we create the opportunity to grow and expand our consciousness of both compassion and abundance.
Because money is a tool, we should use it intentionally, rather than unconsciously. This requires us to make conscious choices about where we send our money. To make conscious choices, we must know what is important, what our most deeply held values are. Only then can we use our money in support of those values.
Your life is your practice. Review where you have used your money in the last year. This is your current practice. Does your practice match your values? If not, what are some changes you could make to your practice?
What if we began to think of a talent for money as no different than a talent for singing or athletic ability. It is a gift to be developed and used for the highest good. And what if we celebrated the talent for money with our applause and admiration, just as we celebrate performers and athletes?
Does this thought make you uncomfortable? If so, let that discomfort be the focus of your meditation time.

Engaging the Other

As we put our spiritual tools to work on shifting toward a consciousness of inclusivity, our biggest challenge is shifting our own unexamined notions of who is ‘other’.
In his book Creating a World that Works for All, Shariff M. Abdullah suggests that the key to making this shift is to practice expanding our notion of ‘us’ to include everyone we see.
Take moment to consider who is part of your inclusive community – everyone who is…
  • driving on the same road
  • living on the same street
  • begging for change at the same bus stop
  • generating trash
  • regularly recycling
  • riding in the same car
  • riding a bicycle
  • watching television
  • refusing to watch television
  • smoking crack cocaine
  • smoking cigarettes
  • smoking spare ribs
  • self-employed
  • working for a corporation
  • working for a non-profit
  • unemployed
  • attending a church service
  • walking in the park
  • sleeping in the park
  • and on and on and on…

Continue reading Engaging the Other

Inner Inclusivity

Practicing Inclusivity is all about learning to create meaningful relationship with the ‘Other’. One often overlooked area of this practice involves developing the skills to meet the Other within ourselves.
In our Exclusivist society, built on the belief in separation, we not only separate from other beings. All too often, we disconnect from our inner selves as well. We forget the Spirit within us that is eternal, compassionate and wise. We make ourselves so busy trying to accomplish goals that we forget to take simple care of ourselves.
In his book, Creating a World That Works for All, Sharif Abdullah asks, “What do you believe would happen if you slowed down your life?” In other words, what stories are you carrying that say you would fail in some way if you did not achieve certain things within a specific time frame? Are these stories serving your highest good?

Continue reading Inner Inclusivity