Integrity

If someone would come up to you right now and ask, “Do you believe you are a person of integrity,” what would you say? I can’t think of anyone I know who wouldn’t answer “yes.” We might pause a bit (“Is this a trick question?”), or wonder what the reason was behind the query (“Do you know something I don’t?”), but I daresay most of us would proudly answer in the affirmative. We might even add a little high-bustled, righteous indignation into the tone of our answer.
And, we’d be lying.
Okay, maybe YOU wouldn’t, but I would be. I’m out of integrity every day in some way. Yes, I sincerely intend to act with integrity in all my dealings with others. When I am told something in confidence I accept that I am honor-bound to keep that information private. But there have been times in my life in which I’ve been guilty of letting something slip that I shouldn’t have.
Like I said, I’m sure you don’t have similar experiences in your life, right? I didn’t think so. Therefore, allow me to further confess my shortcomings to you. I’ve been actively doing my best to live in integrity for many years. What I’ve discovered about keeping my word and my commitments is something I find interesting. It seems I can keep my promises and act in integrity toward others far better than I do in keeping the commitments I make to myself.
Why is that? I believe it goes back to a Judeo-Christian belief of doing for others before me. In fact, as I become more aware of taking better care of myself I find there can be just a twinge, maybe a little more than a twinge at times, of guilt that I’m asserting myself for my own spiritual, mental, emotional or physical health. Also interesting is that the more I act in integrity the less guilt I feel. No, it isn’t just because I’m doing the right thing, though that’s part of it. This feeling occurs when we act from a foundation of truth and love, not from a base of spite, anger or sense of entitlement at the expense of others.
Living life to the fullest is an inside job. Please take care of yourself. There is no person, place, thing or organization that is going to wave a magick wand to “fix” your life. We are each and every one of us experiencing exactly the life we have created. If you are happy with your life then enjoy every second. If what you see in front of you is no longer desirable, consider taking a close look at what part integrity plays in your life. We may not like what we see. But if we accept that we had the power to create our own experience we also have the power to change that same experience.
When we are true to ourselves being true to others is far more natural. Give it a shot this week. Be true to yourself. Be authentic. Be YOU – there’s only one of you. That person is special, unique and precious. The rest of us are waiting with earnest anticipation to experience the wondrous person you have been hiding!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Seeking to Understand

Recently I came into contact with a man who claimed to be an experienced school counselor. The reason I became aware of him was because of an incident where he showed extreme judgment in a situation with students at the high school level. As a licensed social worker, my professional opinion was sought out to address his behavior. Sadly, when he should have been, by professional standards and ethics, a pillar of non-judgment and tolerance, if not acceptance, he chose the path of being adamantly judgmental.
This got me to thinking about the many events in which we are involved every day when we have a blank stare on our face because we truly do not understand the actions of others. On a global level we see this in the actions of governments, political parties, organizations and groups. “I just don’t understand how anyone could…” is something most of us have uttered at some point in our lives.
We all want to be understood. I know I’ve been guilty of putting my mouth into motion before putting my brain into gear. The result has been a “runaway idea” that would have been left in the mental garage, parked safely out of everyone’s sight. What may have come out of my mouth was probably the truth (at least as I saw it at the time), but the delivery was far less than stellar.
“I just don’t understand…” only promotes less understanding. I believe that there is just one consciousness in the universe and that we are all, in our individual ways, included in that oneness. That’s quantum physics, so if you disagree please don’t blame it on religion or spirituality. Take your objections to the physicists and scientists who can debate it with you. Assuming there is a collective, universal and timeless consciousness (what some mystery schools refer to as the “Akashic Records”), then everything is known…somewhere.
From the human level I know have, and will in the future, come into contact with someone whose views are diametrically opposed to mine. I can choose to fight an offensive battle to prove myself right, or I can set aside my beliefs (and even my morals and ethics for the moment) to truly understand the other point of view. My mother taught me that if my beliefs cannot withstand the test of fire then perhaps they aren’t as concrete or reliable as I might think. It’s another amazing principle she taught me and by which I live my life on a daily basis.
Any professional counselor or minister doing his/her job must maintain a neutral and non-judgmental approach to helping others. It’s not a bad way for any of us to work through situations we encounter every day. Perhaps we can each take that method to heart the next time we are faced with beliefs, attitudes or actions for which we can find no explanation. If we seek to understand, rather than seeking to be understood, we just might learn something. At any rate, there should be a little less anxious or angry confusion in our lives. And, hopefully, a lot more peace of mind for all concerned.
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,

Terry

Being Recalcitrant

Most of us have resisted change or a request from someone in our life at some point – like last week or maybe yesterday or maybe five minutes ago. The truth is, humans overall tend to resist, rather than embrace, change. Now, a little resistance can be helpful if we need to think things through or wrap our brains around a new idea. But, how long do we need to stay there gathering evidence that we don’t have to change our thinking or actions?
Being recalcitrant in our thinking or actions adds a completely different level altogether to the decision-making process. Recalcitrance is stubbornresistance or just being difficult – usually when there is no other reason than we’re just being stubborn. It’s when our inner brat starts acting out spurred on by our overbearing ego and we do absolutely nothing to stop it. We and our ideas are stuck in mental concrete while at the same time kicking and screaming.
There are times, however, when we may need to be recalcitrant. For example, what if your 16-year-old daughter wants to take a two-week road trip across country in a van full of senior college boys? Yeah, I’d be a little recalcitrant myself. I’d probably be VERY stubborn, saying “NO!” and meaning it without any further discussion. But that’s a pretty drastic example. How can recalcitrance show up in our daily lives?
A teacher of mine often says, “I am not moved by appearances. Therefore, appearances move for me.” I believe that, but when I wacked my head into a rafter in the attic last week, nearly losing consciousness and having to deal for the next week with a mild concussion, dizziness and nausea, I must admit I became a little skeptical. That rafter was way more than an “appearance” and it had no intention of moving.
I’m actually grateful that. If the rafters in the house moved from time-to-time, keeping the roof from leaking would be rather difficult, so I can see the advantage of being immoveable in this case. But how many ideas, situations and relationships do we have in our lives that require that much rigidity? Probably a lot fewer than we’d like to admit. Yet we still continue banging our heads against issues that can’t be resolved because we’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
If there’s a problem or person that has been plaguing you for a long time would you be willing to take a deep breath this week, step back and see if going over, around or under the situation might work better than banging your head against a rafter? Or, perhaps a good dose of acceptance and flexibility might be helpful? Just a thought – give it a try!
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

P.S. Yes, there was an amusing (in retrospect) metaphysical meaning to my incident. No, you don’t get to know, but suffice it to say I’m not going to venture back into the attic without a hard hat anytime soon.

Milestones or Millstones?

I’m thinking about milestones today since this week I’m celebrating 20 years of being a minister of Religious Science. Not-so-coincidently, our Center for Spiritual Living here will also re-open this week with its first Sunday Spiritual Community service. I like to give myself presents and thought that would be pretty good one!
The Center here in the Cumberland Valley will be the second one I’ve founded (the first being what is now Center for Spiritual Living Pittsburgh South) and the third organization for which I have been the spiritual leader. People often ask me exactly what is it that makes our Centers different than mainstream churches or other spiritual communities. For that answer I always turn to the source.
When asked to describe our teaching in 25 words, the founder of our movement, Dr. Ernest S. Holmes, wrote this:  “Religious Science is a synthesis of laws of science, opinions of philosophy, and revelation of religion applied to human needs and the aspirations of [humanity].” (Okay, I know Holmes wrote “man” at the end, but it was the 50s so cut him some slack.)
I think this is still the best definition of the teaching upon which I live my life. However, the one thing about milestones is that, in our reflection of how far we’ve come, we can start criticizing ourselves about why we haven’t come farther along the course we’ve set. When this happens milestones become “millstones.”
Do you know how heavy a millstone is? Depends on the mill, actually – yes, I looked it up – but even the small ones can weigh over one hundred pounds. The “millstone around the neck” analogy comes from one of the gospels (Luke 17:2, if you must know) in which Jesus is recorded as telling his followers that it would be more advantageous for a person who has intentionally caused harm to another to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied to him. Thought I’d do a little background for you since most of us aren’t picking our flour up at the mill these days and haven’t seen a millstone in a while. Some of us aren’t picking it up at all since so many of us have found going gluten-free causes less gas, but that’s a whole other topic.
The analogy is a little harsh, but I think Jesus made his point. We can’t be dragging the millstones of our past into today and expect to have a lighter future – fade in video clip of man sinking to the bottom of the ocean with a rock attached. Sure, if I could have a “do over” of the last 20 years I’d do a few things differently. I’d have not dated that “psycho-boyfriend-from-hell” last decade, that’s for sure. I’ll wager that you would change up a couple things as well. But overall I wouldn’t change most of my life. I believe very strongly that the beliefs by which I live coupled with the most amazingly transformational technique I’ve found, called spiritual mind treatment – a form of affirmative prayer – is the reason I’m quite satisfied with where I am and where I’ve come from.
This stuff works. Everyone deserves to be happy, marry the one we love, have a great career and not worry about health or finances. Our teaching can show you how. Take a look this week at what’s holding you back from having a life truly worth living, one without constant aches and pains, depression, regret, sadness or anger on a daily basis. You’ve suffered long enough. Are you willing to try something else?
See you next Thursday – or perhaps this Sunday?
In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry