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Sunday Message for March 29, 2020

BLESSED RELATIONSHIPS

It may or may not rain in April, but this week we are turning our attention to APRIL SHOWERS -- showers of God's blessings that are always pouring down upon us, through us, from us and back to us if we but open our hearts to experience them.

Today we are going to explore the blessings that are available to us IF WE BUT OPEN OUR HEARTS TO THEM in the context of relationships - you know, those one-on-one interactions we have with other human beings.

Keep A True Lent, Charles Fillmore: "We can see the power of ideas to bless or to curse. We see that he who uses his mind to curse gets the curse in return, while the mind that blesses receives blessings in return."a

We could say that . . .Relationships are a blessing or a curse, according to the use we make of them . . . could we not?

Just to touch in -- does anyone have relationships that, well let's just say, don't exactly feel like blessings? Where we don't feel really very spiritual when we are in them? Who do we have challenging relationships with - hypothetically, of course? Maybe a parent or a sibling? Maybe a leader or a politician? Maybe with ourselves.

What if -- for all of these challenging relationships -- we constructed bridges instead of walls?
What if we built each other up instead of tore each other down?
And what if we formed circles to include rather than fences to keep out?
What kind of relationships would we have then? What kind of WORLD would we have then?
I think we might say blessed, wouldn't we?

As I was thinking about this talk -- especially the question: What if we formed circles to include rather than fences to keep out? -- a limerick came to my mind that I couldn't quite remember, but remembered well enough to know I wanted to share it with you today. Thanks to the miracle of Google, here it is (by Edwin Markham):

He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.b

So our question of the morning is how do we -- and love -- (perhaps I should say "we AS love") draw a circle to take people in -- to create blessed relationships? Well before looking at some ideas for that, let's first look BRIEFLY at this concept of love. What is it really?

LOVE

The New Testament: "God is Love."c

In the Revealing Word, Charles Fillmore writes: "that love is --The pure essence of Being that binds together the whole human family. Of all the attributes of God, love is undoubtedly the most beautiful. In Divine Mind, love is the power that joins and binds in divine harmony the universe and everything in it; the great harmonizing principle known to man."d

Brother Ishmael Tetteh: "Love is seeing the good and the Divine in yourself and in all Life."d

Author of the Real Love books, Greg Baer: "Love is desiring the happiness of another without regard for what you will get in return."f

Or someone else took that idea a bit deeper: love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Those last two I can really wrap my mind around. It is here where the blessings begin to fall like manna from heaven!

About this kind of love, Hafiz (a Persian Sufi master who lived in the 14th Century) said: "Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that -- it lights the whole sky."g

I understand that kind of love completely at the level of Spirit. It is God's only desire for us to be happy. God showers His/Her/Its love, blessings, goodness, etc., etc. down upon us at all times without question, without demand, without requiring or even asking for anything back. It's always available and nothing is expected of us in return. That's my definition of GRACE.

But then, how does this apply down in the trenches -- here at the human level?

Lucy from the Charlie Brown cartoon: "I love mankind; it's people I can't stand."h

The Scripture I quoted a moment ago has a phrase before it that says: "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is Love."i

So again --
He drew a circle that shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.

So now that we have defined LOVE, how do we draw a circle of LOVE around our relationships? Someone once said: "Love is not for lazy persons, to exist in its fullness, sometimes it demands very precise and strong gestures."

Well, I want to give you 5 very precise and strong gestures this morning and then we are going to practice creating a very precise and strong circle of love. Are you up for it? Then buckle your seat belts and be prepared to have your relationships blessed as we look at allowing LOVE to point the way so that the Law can make it possible!

I chose 5 ideas because we are going to use the letters of the word "CIRCLE" to help us remember them. Because you are a sharp bunch, you are probably thinking that I either can't count or I can't spell -- CIRCLE has 6 letters! But hang with me, I do know what I'm doing!

C - COMPASSION
C - COMPASSION - Having an understanding and empathy for another person's feelings and experience.
Being compassionate means to listen without judgment, without analyzing, OR without trying to fix.
Being compassionate means asking, "How can I understand this better?'
Being compassionate means to look at every act of another human being as a call for love.

There is a certain tribe in Africa that believes that every soul has its own vibration, its own harmony, in fact its own song, which expresses its unique flavor and purpose. So, when a woman in the tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. And when they all attune to it, they begin to sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

When the child is born, the song is sung; when the child enters education, the song is sung; when the child passes through the initiation to adulthood and at the time of marriage, the song is sung; in fact, at any significant transition in the person's life, including when their soul is ready to leave this world, the song is sung.

And, there is one other occasion upon which the villagers gather to sing the person's song. If at any time during their life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the person is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then all the villagers sing their song to them once again.

You see, the tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity.

Now that is compassion personified.

I & R

With your permission and indulgence, we'll come back to these two letters in a moment.

C - COMMIT TO YES ONLY IF YOU REALLY MEAN IT
C - COMMIT TO YES ONLY IF YOU REALLY MEAN IT

Right up front I want to clarify that being loving or unconditionally caring about another's happiness does not mean saying yes to everything. Being loving can mean also saying no

But, when you say yes, if you can't say it with the pure desire for them to be happy, then you are not really loving -- you do not really have their happiness in mind. Go deeper into why you are saying "yes." Are you saying "yes" to:
Keep the peace;
Prevent someone from being upset or disappointed in you;
Look good in someone else's eyes;
So that someone won't NOT love you and perhaps leave you?

If so, then you do not really have their best interest in mind. You have YOURS! And that's not unconditionally loving. Here's a little hint to why relationship often keep going downhill. You keep giving and giving and giving from that space, but it never seems enough. The other person is never satisfied, and they keep demanding more and more.
Here's why. You have not really given the one thing they need - to be truly loved.

It's like giving only chocolate to a starving person and giving and giving and giving. And they want more and more -- why? Because chocolate isn't ever going to satisfy their hunger. It may taste good for a little while, but ultimately, it's not going to satisfy the deep gnawing hunger.

And finally, you say, exhausted and completely wiped out of chocolate, I just can't give any more. I've given all I have. But you never gave the one thing they really needed. Love - the real kind.

It is more loving to say 'no;" than it is to say "yes" and not really mean it! So this "C" is to "Commit to saying 'yes' only if you can do it because you genuinely care about the other person's happiness."

L - LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE
L - LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE

You NEVER get to control someone else's behavior! Has wishing someone would change ever made a difference? Does your judgment make things better? Let go and get over it!

E - EXPAND YOUR THINKING
E - EXPAND YOUR THINKING

Expand your thinking from "I am right" to "I am willing to listen and to understand" and, how about this -- it's extreme! "I could be wrong about something!" DEFINE WRONG: Doesn't work. Doesn't add up to a blessed relationship! Not bad; inherently flawed; worm in the dust; or anything like that!

Here's the million dollar question that I ask myself a lot: "Would I rather be loving or right?"

When you expand your thinking from "I must be right", you widen the circle and move from defending to dialoguing. Defending is a struggle of opinions and viewpoints. Dialoguing is about sharing and understanding -- and that's where magic happens.

Ask yourself, "would I rather be right or loving?" And remember, it's only the "loving" answer that will bring true happiness and blessed relationships!

Before going to I & R, let's summarize what we have covered:
C - Compassion
C - Commit to saying "yes" only if you can truly desire the other's person's happiness.
L - Let go of expectations
E - Expand your thinking from having to be right.

I & R - I'm responsible
I & R - I'm responsible

Saved to last because they are the biggies! Taken together. Not in a blaming, negative way at all -- but the fundamental belief of Unity is that we are responsible for our own experiences:

Life is either a blessing or a curse depending upon what we make of it.

I would like to share an article by Joe Vitale - written in the first person:

Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients--without ever seeing any of them.

The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he healed himself, the patient healed.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.

However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho 'oponopono, which means taking total responsibility. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more.

I had always understood "total responsibility" to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does -- but there is another way of looking at it.

The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist.

He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. The ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through the ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.

Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.

After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely, he told me. Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed. I was in awe. 'Not only that,' he went on, 'but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed.'

This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: 'What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?'

'I was simply healing the part of me that created them,' he said.

I didn't understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life -- simply because it is in your life--is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.

Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another.

Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy or anything you experience and don't like -- is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.

I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in the ho 'oponopono practice means loving yourself.

If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone, even a mentally ill criminal you do it by healing you.

I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files? 'I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again. I didn't say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance,' he explained.

"That's it?"

"That's it."

Whenever you want to improve anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you. And when you look, do it with love because loving yourself is the greatest way to heal yourself, and as you heal yourself, you heal your world.

And, I will add, and you create BLESSED RELATIONSHIPS!

So I would like to do a Circle of Love meditation with you. Just close your eyes and relax in your seat. Feel your feet flat on the floor and know that you are grounded in Mother Earth. Feel the chair supporting your body and know that you are safe here. Now think of five people that you have trouble with, perhaps even yourself. Now put those five people, that you have trouble with, in a mental circle and stand in the middle. Turn to each of them and simply say "I'm sorry, I love you."

Now as you come back to this place and this moment, say 'Thank You God, Amen.'



aKeep A True Lent, Charles Fillmore p 80
bEdwin Markham
c1 John 4:7-8
dRevealing Word, Charles Fillmore
eBrother Ishmael Tetteh
fReal Love, Greg Baer
gHafiz
hLucy from Charlie Brown
i1 John 4:7-8



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