Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Spiritual Wisdom: See the Truth in Yourself Too

When I asked Dr. Heather for some insight into this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Spiritual Wisdom and How to Follow It, she shared with me this beautiful story of enlightenment during her spiritual journey. It reminds us to give ourselves the same grace we give others and offers a simple question Dr. Heather asks herself when she needs a little more clarity.

From Dr. Heather:

The greatest piece of spiritual wisdom I can offer is that every person is a valued and a valuable expression of the Divine, starting with myself. 

It has always been easy for me to see the Divine potential in other people. I can easily forgive others who have made mistakes and still see their spiritual magnificence. It has not always been so easy to remember for myself.

The first time I became aware of the fact that I often leave myself out of the equation was in the 80’s at a spiritual class called “On Course” given by Michael and Paulette Sun. There were about fifty people in the course. We had been expressing our goals and the beliefs that were getting in the way of achieving those goals. 

I remember being deeply moved by each person’s sharing. I saw the light in each one of them. When it came to my turn to share, I could not see any of the beliefs I had about myself that had gotten in my way. I had lots of guilt about my mistakes and lots of blame about it too. 

Michael Sun said he had noticed how engaged I was in every person’s sharing. He said, “You really see the spiritual truth in all these people don’t you, Heather?” I readily agreed. Then he said, “But you don’t see it in yourself, do you?” Again I agreed. The next thing he said shocked me. 

He said, ”Do you have any idea how arrogant it is?” 

I was puzzled. He went on to say, “You believe that God is everywhere present except in you! That means that you believe that you are more powerful than God!” 

I wanted to hide, to run away or at least to protest, but after thinking about it, I realized it is exactly what I had been doing. I was awash with tears, good tears, the tears of awakening.

The technique I use to remind myself is simply to ask myself, “Could this belief  or behavior be true about God?” Almost always the answer is, “Of course not.”  So I adjust my thinking which puts me in alignment with spiritual wisdom

Spiritual Wisdom: My Answer Is Not Your Answer

When asked for some insight into spiritual wisdom for this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Rev. Pattie Mercado, the youth and family minister for our Center, responded with some wisdom that she received when her children were small. The wisdom works in all situations because we live our authentic life when guidance comes from within.

From Rev. Pattie:

The Spiritual Wisdom I want to share with everyone I received close to 25 years ago and I still use it today. I was married with two children and we really wanted to do a good job raising our kids. I took classes, read books and talked to other moms and teachers. The wisdom I got came during a parenting class from one of my amazing mentors.  The wisdom is, “I don’t have your answer, but I know you do.” 

The answer was completely dissatisfying at the time. I really wanted someone to tell me how and what, but this wise woman reminded me repeatedly: “my answer is not your answer and your answer is not my answer”. The faith to look within for my answer, no matter what the question has been a powerful tool for my growth. Over the years, I have relied upon this truth, dug in to find and know my answer, and stood witness to children and adults reminding them that their answer is within them.

Spiritual Wisdom: Everyone Is Playing Their Part Perfectly

This month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme is Spiritual Wisdom and How to Follow It. I took this opportunity to check in with our ministers and get a little insight into Spiritual Wisdom. 

Rev. Karyn Allen is our creative arts minister. She shares her beautiful musical gifts with us often and finds herself not only on our platform, but also travels to other Center's sharing her wisdom in song. It's not surprising then that she found spiritual wisdom in Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" dialogue.  

From Rev. Karyn:

One of the greatest pieces of spiritual wisdom I have received lately was from a ministerial colleague who recently made his transition.  His words forever resonate with me... "everyone is playing their part perfectly!"  To me, it brings up, and is so reminiscent of, Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" dialogue from As You Like It

 All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
To remind myself and others of this wisdom is freeing.  It allows me to recognize that I need not judge the action of others.  I am to love them for their part in this world.

Spiritual Wisdom: Kindness Can Change the World

For this month's 100 Years of Science of Mind theme, Spiritual Wisdom, Rev. Carla shares how acts of kindness and caring in some of life's most uncertain moments gave her courage. It was in the kindness of others that she found Spirits universal wisdom showing up for her in moments of need.

From Rev. Carla:

What has been the greatest piece of spiritual wisdom given to me was by the people that have touched my life through the power of Kindness.  All these people still stand out in my mind today because of their beautiful acts of kind-heartedness.  

I recall traveling in Italy and trying to purchase a train ticket with a teller that spoke no English or attempting to figure out where to get off the train because the names of the cities were different than the ones in my travel book. In those moments, some lovely person stopped what they were doing just to help me out and gave me encouragement, making me feel safe. Then, there was the nurse in the operating room that took my hand while delivering my first born, and she said “you’re doing great, you got this” as she gently stroked my head.  I also recall that there were a special handful of people that stood by me after a serious operation showing me their care, their hearts and their love. Kind acts have taught me to be more present to how I show up in this world. 

What I know for sure is that Kindness can change this world and that kind people can be our greatest teachers.  

Spiritual Wisdom: Practice What We Preach

Rev. Judee Chapman, an assistant minister at our Center, is one of the most centered, confidant practitioners of the Science of Mind that I know. When I asked her about our 100 Years of Science of Mind theme for this month, Spiritual Wisdom, she went right back to the foundation of it all and reminds us that daily spiritual practices fill us up and then causes a ripple effect in the world.

From Rev. Judee:

Spiritual Wisdom is when we 'practice what we preach' and it shows up in our lives on a daily basis.

When we squeeze an orange, what comes out? Orange juice!

When WE are squeezed, what show's up? Understanding? Forgiveness? Compassion? Peace? Kindness?

Just like the old saying "You are what you eat," the same rule applies to your beingness. You are what you think about and what you allow into your consciousness.

Our world is one of incredible beauty and energy. As we increase our connection with this energy, the more beauty we see and the more we evolve as spiritual beings.

I receive "wisdom" from many places: Dr. Heather's Sunday talks, classes, music, reading inspiring books, gatherings with like-minded people, the Science of Mind textbook, etc.

Dr. Ernest Holmes captures in this quote what Spiritual Wisdom truly is...
"Come, Thou Great and Infinite Mind and inspire me to do great deeds. Acquaint me with Thy knowledge and in Thy wisdom make me wise. I would be taught of Thee, Inner Light, and inspired by Thy presence. I will listen for Thy Voice and it will tell me of great things to be done. I will be inspired from On High. O Wonderful Presence, flooding me, filling me with Thy Light, Thou dost inspired me! I feel the inspiration of Spirit."

Insight into Our Roots with Rev. Carla

This October, our Center is offering a field study into the Science of Mind roots. It's a five-day excursion to the New England coast, led by Dr. Heather and organized by Spirit Tours, to explore the place where Science of Mind all began. It's the place where Ernest Holmes grew up; where Emerson discovered his truths; and Thoreau found inspiration on Walden Pond.

I asked our own Rev. Carla, a frequent traveler with Spirit Tours and our Center's trip coordinator, a few questions to get some insight into this adventure. 

Q: The Roots tour is really an historic look at our Science of Mind history. As a SOM student and minister, what do you think or hope people who take the tour will come away with? How might it benefit them spiritually?

Rev. Carla:Traveling is a sensory experience that you can't get from a class, a book, or a teacher.  It is an opportunity to explore one's own soul on deeper and more reflective levels. As a serious student of Religious Science, the idea of steeping myself deeply into the time and life of Ernest Holmes is a treasured prospect and my hope is that it will bring yet another layer of understanding and insightfulness to my awareness of this philosophy. In my experience, I’ve witnessed that making discoveries in a group can be so impactful; it’s like setting an intention with the power of multiplication. Something special was unfolding in the consciousness of Holmes, Emerson, Thoreau, and Hopkins and I want to ride on the wings of that realization.  (special note: Dr. Heather will offer CSL Roots class credit to anyone who takes the tour.)

 Q: The transcendentalists movement and Emerson really inspired Ernest Holmes. What do you think travelers will discover by walking the same streets or visiting the same Walden Pond?

Rev. Carla: Thoreau built his cabin in 1845, on Walden Pond, as a place to write and reflect. He wrote in a continuing stream of consciousness there for 17 years.  I believe that energy is still there for all of us to experience, explore and practice by walking and breathing in the same places as our powerful teachers/mystics of New Thought did.  

Q: You have been a frequent traveler with Spirit Tours; what makes it different than another tour company?

Rev. Carla on a Spirit Tours trip to Bali
Rev. Carla: Yes, I have travel twice to Bali and once to Ireland with Spirit Tours.  Before Spirit Tours I had never traveled with a group.  The experience was truly a pleasant surprise as I did not travel the first time with my own CSL to Bali; it was with the Santa Rosa CSL and Dr. Edward Vijion.  We traveled with a large group of 32 persons, all uniquely individual, all interested in their spiritual growth and all eager to have a new experience together with other like-minded people.  What made the trip so satisfying was that we were in spiritual practice and mindfulness throughout our time there. Waking up every morning to a spiritual practice of chanting meditation, yoga, and then an informative meeting of what the day entail and what it may hold for us.  

Also, I think it's important to note that Spirit Tours offers a unique experience for those seeking a different kind of travel. They are founded on SOM Principles and practice the teachings of Religious Science, bringing a rich and diverse background with the ability to touch a traveler’s life in a profound and lasting manner.     

Friday, May 25, 2018

Coming Home to Yourself

Today I noticed that I was really happy. I was not happy for a reason. I was simply grateful to be who I am, where I am and doing what I do. I found myself singing under my breath... in the back of my mind. It wasn't a profound song, but it was a joyful one. "Zippity-do-dah"  I always like to sing happy songs when I am happy. Being happy and singing are natural, normal expressions of joy! It occurred to me that I had finally come home to myself.

That may sound weird to you because it even sounded weird to me. But  when Spirit whispers Truth to you, you know it. I knew it. I was experiencing a Divine moment.

Nothing has happened or come about to cause me to feel so joyful. It was simply a natural experience of life. It is what life is supposed to feel like. It is what I have felt for the majority of  time since my spiritual awakening, forty years ago.

To tell the truth, I did not know I had not been feeling like my true self until I felt the authentic moment of being Heather Dawn Clark. I felt grateful, blessed and happy.

So now I look back and start gathering up all the clues along my path that I had been "out of my mind." I see that I have been judgmental, distrustful and fearful, mostly about myself. I realize also that I have been creating drama and playing the victim.

I apologize. It was unconscious of me.

For any of you who have been praying for me to awaken to the powerful truth within me -- thank you.

I want to live with a smile on my face and one in my heart. I have so much to be grateful for!

I want to live in gratitude and generosity... to see the world through God's eyes.

I want to stay connected to Source, remembering that it is only in my faulty thinking when I feel separated form It. I am bigger than that. You are bigger than that, too.

It also helps me to be physically active. It helps me to connect with people, ones I know and ones I don't know. For instance, today I went to the grocery store to pick up eggs. I parked and started to get out of my car. A woman was coming to get in to her car which was parked to my right. She glanced at me and I asked her if I had parked too close to her car, if she had enough room to get in. She declared that she had lots of room, that I had parked perfectly! It felt good to have a moment of connection. Earlier in the day, I had arrived at my step aerobics class to find that my step had already been set up in the spot I prefer. My friend who had done it, had then disappeared to work on some strength training. In my right place in my aerobics class, in my right place in the parking lot, and in my right place in life, God is great all the time!.

My question to you is are you at home in yourself?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Write a New Story About Your Name

My sister was named for her grandmothers: Kathryn Anne came from grandma Kate Clark and grandma Anna Burrell.  My brothers each had a string of names, Gerald Roy, Neal and John Douglas Lorne. They were named for my parents' brothers and best friends. My name was chosen romantically.

This is the story that I would ask to have retold again and again. I was born in a small hospital, sixty miles away from our village. My dad couldn't be present for my birth due to Saskatchewan snow storms and a case of the mumps (both he and my sister had the mumps.) Because dad couldn't be present, he sent special flowers. The story I was told and retold was that in the flowers dad sent there was a sprig of heather and the flowers came at dawn. Hence I was named Heather Dawn. I loved that story. I loved my name.

I had never seen heather but I had seen pictures. It was really unimpressive.  In those days Heather was an unusual name and felt quite exotic to a child growing up in the prairies.

Now the name Heather is much more common, but any Heathers I know, like their names! I still like mine but gradually did not treasure its origin as I had once.  Later I traveled to Scotland and found out that heather was actually a weed, growing wild all over the heavenly place. It was usually quite scruffy. I felt I had an okay name but it wasn't special.

Today I had a shift in perspective. Our administrator had a new plant on her desk, given to her by her daughter for Mother's Day. It is unusual. It is exquisite. It is exotic. It is heather.
Me and My Namesake

As soon as I heard that it was heather, I turned to it and affirmed :
"How beautiful you are! How lovely! You are unique and exquisite. The individual blossoms look like tiny fairy trumpets!You are complex and forever unfolding. Your colors are bold and pleasing and yet the shape is quite soft.  You are not at all what I thought you were. Please forgive me for judging you so harshly."

Wow! Then it hit me. The inner me needed to hear those words about myself. I needed to be reminded to forgive myself for judging and not measuring up to my self-imposed expectations. I needed to go back to the wisdom of my inner child, the one who loved romance and felt quite special.

Now, whatever name you go by and whatever you feel about it, this is a great time to recognize your beauty, your loveliness and your uniqueness. This is the day to write a new story about your name which is your nature.

See through the eyes of love.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dean Sluyter Fear Less Workshop This Sunday!

The Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley is proud to welcome back Dean Sluyter for another amazing meditation workshop right here at our center after service! Love Offerings Welcome! 


Dean Sluyter (pronounced "slighter") has taught natural methods of meditation and awakening since 1970. His five highly acclaimed books include Natural Meditation (Amazon #1 stress management bestseller, and Nautilus Gold Medal winner for best mind-body-spirit book) and Fear Less: Living Beyond Fear, Anxiety, Anger, and Addiction. Dean gives talks, workshops, and retreats throughout the United States and beyond, from Ivy League colleges to maximum-security prisons. His media appearances have included National Public Radio, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Coast to Coast AM, The Dr. Oz Show, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

A grateful student of Eastern and Western sages in several traditions, Dean has completed numerous pilgrimages and retreats in India, Tibet, Nepal, and the West. He is known for conveying authentic teachings in forms that are relaxed, accessible, and down-to-earth. When not writing or teaching, he narrates audiobooks, makes music, and happily tools around town on his Vespa.

Born into a family of musicians and political activists, Dean grew up in New York and Los Angeles. He dropped out of college to hitchhike around the country and embark on a path of spiritual investigation, eventually returning to earn a B.A. in English and an M.A. in interdisciplinary education.
Dean lived in New Jersey for 33 years, where he was married to the late artist and teacher Maggy Sluyter, with whom he raised two children. There he taught English and developed classroom meditation programs at The Pingry School and worked with inmates at Northern State Prison. He now lives in Santa Monica, California, where he leads meditation sessions regularly and is on the faculty of the West Coast Writers Conferences. He is married to documentary filmmaker Yaffa Lerea.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Card Not Sent

As Mother's Day approaches, I am experiencing many different feelings and memories. This will be the second Mother's Day since my Mom's passing in June of 2016.

I recently stumbled across a Mother's Day card that I had not sent. I do not remember buying this for Mom but obviously I did. And evidently I was buying it on behalf of at least some of my sisters and brothers because the message inside was:
"We'd like you to have all those bright moments... all those family feelings
You know --everything it takes to make Mother's Day just what it should be. 
You deserve it." 
I wonder why I didn't send it. The probable reason was that I put it off too long, and she would not have received it until many days or weeks after Mother's Day. However, since it was from two or more, one of my sisters could have sent a card on my behalf. Or I may have misplaced it. I do not believe I changed my mind.

My mom was always a huge cheerleader for me and for the rest of her children. She did deserve to have this card, and many other words of praise.

In the years before 2015, I know that it was my habit to Skype with Mom at least once a week. So, if the card had been purchased before she had a stroke, I would have told her how much she meant to me. But I have the uncomfortable feeling that I bought this card while she was in a nursing home; it is  a brightly colored card that was meant to bring cheer to the receiver. The home was adequate, but neither bright nor pretty. While she was there, she could no longer see her television or computer monitor or even her children when we came to visit; but she could identify our voices. So I would not have been trying to Skype. One of the hardest  consequences of the stroke was that it effectively cutting off communication with Mom and three of her five children. She couldn't see or hear when we tried to call on my sister's iPad. There were many other issues: and she could not sit upright without support, she couldn't eat food unless it was pureed, she couldn't feed herself or look after her personal needs.  In other words, the quality of her life was minimal. She was now in the state of helplessness that each one of us experienced as babies.

Now I wish that I had sent the card anyway. It might have brightened her day. I know she looked forward to my sister's daily or twice-daily visits. I wish I had sent it anyway... even though she might have gotten it in June or July, at least she would have known that her most geographically distant daughter was thinking about her with gratitude and love.

There is never a better time than the present moment to send that card or make that phone call. 

I want all readers to remember that spiritually we are all doing the best we can, every moment of every day. If we had known better we would have done better. 

It does make me think about what matters to me most. If it really is family, then I could ask myself am I making connections with the other people I love? Am I sending the cards? Am I making the phone calls or am I making excuses?

Right now is the point of power and really the only time there is. Tomorrow is still a fantasy and yesterday is just a memory. As the Salutation to the Dawn continues,
"But today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore to this day."
The back of the unsent card reads:
To those who comfort with a mother's hand, we thank you.
To those who encourage with a mother's praise, we applaud you.
To those who love with and mother's heart, we honor you--
Not just on Mother's day...always!
The inside of the unsent card

Further in

Thinking of  my mom, Lela Eugenia Burrell Clark 

Lela Clark
December 19, 1919 to June 23, 2016

Friday, May 4, 2018

Through God's Eyes

W. H. Murray was a Scottish mountaineer whose love of mount climbing is evident in his life.  One of my favorite quotes comes from his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition. In it he writes:
 " ... but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money -- booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but it is of great consequence.
Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
 Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation),
 there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help the one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: 'Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.'" 
This quote contains a little more of the original quote than I had read before. Up until researching this, I thought Murray had scaled Mount Everest, but I came to find out that he could not get acclimated to the altitude. However, I also found out that he had been a prisoner of war during World War II, and that he had demonstrated the power of commitment there. While he was imprisoned, he wrote his first book, Mountaineering in Scotland. He wrote it on the only paper he could get -- toilet paper. The Gestapo found it and destroyed it and much to the disbelief of his fellow prisoners, he wrote it all over again! For Murray commitment wasn't just a great idea; it was a way of life.

I am so glad to have more details of this remarkable man's life. It has been helpful and instructive to me.

I must admit that I have become indecisive about my life. I have been feeling discouraged about the diminishing attendance in our Center. I have been wondering if it was time to retire. (Although I did not know how to do that!)

So I got clear! I reminded myself of what I am and why I am here.

I am committed to growing my own consciousness, to elevate it so that I am worthy of what one of my practitioners calls, "the best job in the world."  Indeed, it is an honor and a privilege to be in service as the senior minster here at the Center for Spiritual Living.

From that elevated consciousness, I am committed to growing our community to a place in which we  care for each other's well-being, we celebrate each other's successes and we are a place of safety and love, encouraging all who choose a path of oneness and compassion and forgiveness. My commitment is to live from possibilities, no matter what! Our community is about the people in it. It is not about where we are physically located.

We have not been working together toward a shared vision. Nor have I been clear about casting that vision. Of course, I cannot do this by myself. I will need the support and help of our members and friends.

 Just as the finale in the musical Les Miserables states:
"Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see? 
The world I long to see, is one in which we love the life we are living and live the life we love. In it we see each other through God's Eyes, with compassion, tenderness and conviction. Each one of us can live the life he or she came here to live.