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Who We Truly Are


In a sense, we’re here because we had a death experience from the unity and potentiality of that singular life from which all life springs.


And in a sense, we’re here because we had a birth experience into the multiplicity of an earthly incarnation.


And yet, from time to time, someone comes along who remembers the unity and potentiality of that singular life from which all life springs - a Krishna, a Lao Tzu, a Siddhartha, a Jesus, a Mohammad.


And in those moments that these rememberers begin to describe their remembering of the unity and potentiality of that singular life from which all life springs, religion is born.


So, in a most general sense, religion can be considered a language for remembering – each having passed through the human filters of era and geography and belief and desire and fear and even through the fallibilities of memory and translation to land on the pages of our shared history.


And what happens over time is that the human creature tends to start worshiping its language for remembering instead actually doing any remembering. The human creature tends to start worshiping its models of God, its books of wisdom, its rituals of inspiration, its ways of expression, even its buildings of practice instead of actually doing any remembering, giving rise to all manner of chaos.

  • “My language for remembering is better that your language for remembering,” is its battle cry.

  • “My models of God are bigger than your models of God.”

  • “My books of wisdom are truer than your books of wisdom.”

  • “My rituals of inspiration are better than your rituals of inspiration.”

  • “My ways of expression are holier than your ways of expression,” and so forth.

The human creature tends to start worshiping its language for remembering instead actually doing any remembering and in such moments, what is, in a most general sense, a language for remembering unity and potentiality, becomes a weapon for arguing separation and limitation.


How ironic: A language for remembering unity and potentiality becomes a weapon for arguing separation and limitation!


That’s the problem with words, really. In attempting to describe our remembering through the few, crude splinters of thought that are our human words, those human words become vehicles for comparison by the most basal self of us who would leverage them to form tribes and clans, to erect fences and walls.


Perhaps this is why the Hindu prayer begins, “Oh Thou, before whom all words recoil.”


Perhaps this is why the great Taoist text begins, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name.”


I like to think that such enlightened minds understood that for all of our good intentions, our preponderance of chitter-chatter is grossly insufficient at best and wildly problematic at worst; that our world would fare better to talk God less and to express God more.


And so it is that I welcome you to a series I call “Six Spiritual Practices for Better Living.” How do we talk God less and express God more? Through spiritual practice. Not spiritual practice that you assume on a Sunday morning with a pretty hat and a shiny shoes. But spiritual practice that you carry into Monday morning with your rush hour traffic and your obnoxious boss. Spiritual practice that you carry into Tuesday afternoon with your heart’s longings and your mind’s wanderings. Spiritual practice that you carry into Wednesday evening with your deepest losses and your profoundest needs.


In other words, how do we talk God less and express God more? The same way we get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice!


And so it is that the first in this series is simply called, Affirmations and Denials. And although affirmations and denials are among Unity’s core practices, they certainly aren’t exclusive to Unity.


To what degree have I allowed, and to what degree do I continue to allow, suggestions of highest truths to take root in my consciousness? And to what degree have I allowed, and to what degree do I continue to allow, suggestions of not-so-high consciousness to take root in my consciousness?


Now, let’s pause to say that such questions suppose that life isn’t so much happening to you as it is that life is happening through you. Such questions suppose that in some fashion, the essence of self you cultivate is causative to an essence of life you experience.


I do not interpret this to mean that we, as individuals, exercise total egoic control over everyone and everything. But I do interpret this to mean that the essence of self you cultivate is causative to an essence of life you experience; that who you are matters, both to you individually and to us collectively.


If the essence of self you carry is one of unworthiness, that is causative to an essence of life you experience.If the essence of self you carry is one of shame, that is causative to an essence of life you experience.


If the essence of self you carry is one of lack, that is causative to an essence of life you experience.


To be clearer, if the essence of self you carry is one of unworthiness, that essence of self tends to find ways to overlook, reject or sabotage prompts to the experience of your value.

If the essence of self you carry is one of shame, that essence of self tends to find ways to overlook, reject or sabotage prompts to the experience of your grace.


If the essence of self you carry is one of lack, that essence of self tends to find ways to overlook, reject or sabotage prompts to the experience of your sufficiency.


Said another way, the essence of self you carry (that totality of beliefs and expectations - fearful and faithful alike - those self-imposed ceilings, those core beliefs about the nature of your world and its people and even its God) the essence of self you carry is in the business of proving it’s right. Whether or not it’s right.


  • If the essence of self you carry is one of unworthiness, that essence of you is in the business of finding ways to say, “Told you so.”

  • If the essence of self you carry is one of shame, that essence of you is in the business of finding ways to say, “Told you so.”

  • If the essence of self you carry is one of lack, that essence of you is in the business of finding ways to say, “Told you so.”

The essence of self you carry is in the business of proving it’s right. Whether or not it’s right.


The essence of self you carry can be thought of as a set of blinders you wear that influence the life you tend to experience. It’s not that greater possibilities don’t exist. It’s that you can’t see them.


And so it is that angry people tend to live in an angry world. And fearful people tend to live in a fearful world. And loving people tend to live in a loving world. I’m reminded of Jesus who’s reported to have said that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Maybe it’s not so much a teaching about an unjust God as it’s a teaching about an unconscious mind.


And if you haven’t started to apply this conversation to your personal world yet, let me be clear: I am suggesting that you have been the unwitting recipient of suggestions of not-so-much since the day you were born; and that you – along with all of us – are living from the essence of those suggestions of not-so-much; and that hopefully, by virtue of the apparent fact that most of you are still reading, you are willing – not only to discover those suggestions but to uproot them.


Now, maybe I’m speaking to you and maybe I’m not. Many of us received suggestions of not-so-much from our systems of education. Even at a mere 56 years old, my early school days were colored, shall we say, with suggestions that there are girl jobs and that there are boy jobs; that one like me should be running and throwing and tackling – not standing in right field praying that that spinning white orb of embarrassment wouldn’t come sailing in my direction. To my mind, even if I managed to catch the thing, what with everyone staring at me and screaming, and with everything in the infield happening so fast, how could I possibly know where to throw it?


My early days were colored, shall we say, with suggestions that there are girl jobs and that there are boy jobs; that one like me certainly wasn’t built to spend hours in front of a piano like my sister. Even when the big recital event rolled around (and there are those in this room for whom this memory still makes your hands clammy), I was reminded of this not-so-much by assuming my place for the big photo – the only necktie floating upon a sea of hair bows.


Again, maybe I’m speaking to you and maybe I’m not. Many of us received suggestions of not-so-much that are more debilitating that these. We received them from our systems of education, we received them from our families of origin, we received them from our traumas of youth and yes, we received them from our houses of worship. Churches are uniquely poised to suggest your lowliness through mechanisms of authority, tradition and twisted scripture; and to perpetuate your lowliness through the mechanisms of fear, shame and tribal pressure.


While in one of the two great creation myths, God is imagined to have stood back from its creation (and I say “its” not in disrespect but it acknowledgement that the life behind all life most certainly extends beyond the confines of human gender, much less modern patriarchy; to be clearer, I say “its” because I can no longer have a male God) while in one of the two great creation myths, God is imagined to have stood back from its creation to say, “Man, that’s spot on. That’s some good stuff there. You are gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.”


And while there are many such affirming, uplifting and empowering suggestions about the essence of you in that collection of little books that would become your Judeo-Christian Bible, early church leaders launched a long history of emphasizing those suggestions that would serve matters of power and politic and self-preservation instead. Early church leaders launched a tradition of emphasizing that which would press its people down instead of emphasizing that which would lift its people up (don’t get me started).


Maybe I’m speaking to you and maybe I’m not. But I’ve known people whose essence seemed to magnetize lack. It’s not to say that the people I have in mind couldn’t make money or attract sufficiency, but rather that they couldn’t keep it. Moments of windfall would always be followed by seeming surprises and serendipities that would compromise whatever gain had been experienced.


And I’ve known people whose essence seemed to magnetize sufficiency. Again, it’s not to say that the people I have in mind couldn’t experience the unexpected expense or that they were immune to a market correction, but it is to say that they always managed to come through it. Their moments of downturn would always be followed by seeming surprises and serendipities that would counter whatever loss had been experienced.