Sunday Audio Files

Sunday Audio Files

Listen here to previous Sunday talks or download and take them with you on your phone or tablet. Rev. Pat Bessey’s follow-up messages, published with the audio files, provide additional insights and news about Unity of Greater Portland. Just click or tap on a title to reveal the audio player and message.

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The Wisdom of Gandhi: Out of the Ego Cage

portland-u-lightSunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

I have such exciting news to share with you! Our silent auction last Friday evening brought in over $6,100. We are well on our way to raising the money needed to “Turn on the Light.” We don’t have an exact figure as yet; however, it will be around $9,000.  If you were not present on Friday evening, there are a few auction items that are available, and with a generous donation they can be yours. See the list here. Another way you can support raising the remaining funds is to write a check to Unity of Greater Portland and on the memo line put “Turn on the Light.” In the foyer is a model of the completed light tower with a slit for your check to go into, or send it in the mail and we will see that it is accounted for.

A special thank you to all the donors, and those who were in sacred service, making this event such a wonderful success. YOU ALL ARE THE BEST!

We are entering the final days of Jesus’ ministry and it has been said that a third of the events that we celebrate happened in these final days. Tomorrow evening, we will be following the steps that just days before Jesus took leading up to the celebration of the resurrection on Easter morning.

Please join us for this special service that will include a hand washing (symbolic of the foot washing that Jesus gave to his disciples) as well as a spiritual and physical communion. The service begins at 7 p.m. I hope to see you there.

Reflecting back on the message this past Sunday, “Out of the Ego Cage,” we looked at when our ego is not aligned with or under the dominion of the Christ. It causes us great difficulty. Gandhi said this about the ego…”Many could forgo heavy meals, a full wardrobe, a fine house, etc… it is the ego they cannot forgo.”

I am sharing a story that if we all practiced we would see a spiritually transformed world and see an ego that is healthy.

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, he wrote in the sand, “Today my best friend slapped me in the face.”

They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but his friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone, “Today my best friend saved my life.”

The friend, who had slapped and saved his best friend, asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now, you write on a stone, why?”

The other friend replied, “When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand, where the winds of forgiveness can erase it away, but when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”

Learn to write your hurts in the sand and to carve your blessings in stone.

Gandhi would call this high teaching “selfless service.”

What is the ego cage?

Christians define giving up the ego-cage as “losing the self in God.”

Hindus define giving up the ego cage as merging with the true self.

Buddhists define giving up the ego cage as experiencing divine emptiness.

No matter how we define it, when we give up the ego-cage, we experience the power and presence of the Divine as a flow of God love, a flow of love and compassion.

So how do we move out of the ego cage?

Ram Dass says (which I can relate to and you will understand when you read it), “Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you too. It spiritualizes people naturally.”

We are called to give up the defensiveness of the ego with its perspective of separation to an awareness of being one with All — the identity of the authentic self. This is a high teaching and one that we in Unity are familiar with. We are one with the All.

Here is an affirmation for you to work with this week: “As I align myself with Spirit, I express love and compassion. I affirm my oneness with everyone and everything. I am forever free.”

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

Gandhi’s Yield and Prevail Nonresistance

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Pious Ali

Pious Ali

On Sunday, we hosted a discussion with Pious Ali, a mild-mannered immigrant from Ghana who has made Maine his home since early 2000. Ali is the first African-born Muslim to be elected to the Portland School Board. We heard from Pious how he brings experience from tested collaborative leadership through organizations like Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance, Seeds of Peace, and King Fellows and mentors and mediates with young people. He shared with us the challenges of immigrant families and their children to learn and navigate the American way of life… which most of us take for granted.

As we continue the Season for Non-Violence, I want to begin with a story that I believe exemplifies the path to non-violence. It is about William Penn. William had been accustomed from boyhood to carrying a sword at all times because it was part of the dress of a gentlemen of his time. One day it occurred to him that this was inconsistent with his Quakerism, but, on the other hand, he knew that he would feel extremely embarrassed in going without it. So he consulted the head of the Quakers, George Fox, never doubting that his leader would say, “It is a bad thing. You must stop wearing it.” However, Fox did nothing of the kind. He was silent for a few moments, and then said, “Carry thy sword until you can no longer carry it.” A year or so later Penn felt that carrying it would be more embarrassing than going without it, and he discontinued the practice quite easily.

The series Gandhi the Man continues and this past Sunday the message was, “Yield and Prevail.” Yield according to Webster is “to give up and cease resistance or contention.”  Prevail according to Webster as well is “to be or become effective or effectual.”

Gandhi had this to say, “My non-resistance is active resistance in a different plane. Non-resistance to evil does not mean absence of any resistance whatsoever but it means not resisting evil with evil but with good. Resistance, therefore, is transferred to a higher and absolutely effective plane.”

Imelda Shanklin in her book What Are You says: “You may think of nonresistance as an indifferent, spiritless yielding to whatever occurs. If you so think, you wholly miss the meaning of the word and of the act. Nonresistance is stronger than resistance; its practice requires more mind capacity than is required for resistance.”

Shanklin goes on to say,”Its appeal is to the divine thing in you. It is the essence of God. You may think of resistance as the virility that asserts, attains, and maintains dominance. If you so think, you wholly accord with the ideal of the fictitious world. Resistance is not strength; it is the weakness of ignorance that matches the puny personal against the all-conquering impersonal.”

Resistance is separation from God and from ourselves. Non-resistance is ownership.

If I’m nonresistant toward my good, my good comes to meet me. If I stop judging you and see the oneness in you, then oneness comes to me. If I stop being angry at you and start loving you, then love comes to me. It is ownership.

An affirmation for you this week is, “I let go of my attachment to outcomes. When I am nonresistant, my good runs to meet me.”

Next week is Palm Sunday. In addition to the talk will be an opportunity to participate in an Adult Spiritual Baptism and Walking the Palms meditation.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

Satyagrapha Soul Force

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

springtime budsYes, Spring is on its way! I saw my first robin this morning. You couldn’t have proved it on Sunday, however, with another attempt at giving us more snow. We had some courageous folks who showed up and we had a wonderful service. Tom Acosti provided us with great music.

We are continuing with the series the Wisdom of Gandhi, which I am hearing from some of you how much you are learning about this wonderful man. The topic for the message on Sunday was satyagrapha, which literally means Truth/Love.

Gandhi practiced satyagrapha or Truth/Love Consciousness. He believed this to be his soul-force and the strength of his being. To him it meant holding to this truth in every situation… holding to the truth of the love of God, no matter how fierce the storm.

Truth/Love comes up out of the essence of us but it must be anchored firmly in the heart of our awareness and the intention of our being. We would call this our Christ Consciousness. And this requires mental self-purification. Gandhi wrote, “Without purification, the law of love must remain an empty dream.”

Gandhi’s example was to continually look at himself and to get honest with himself first. He used these spiritual practices to do it.

(1)  He mediated and prayed every day.

(2) He daily read the sacred scriptures; the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita.

(3) He briskly walked in nature every day, reaffirming the truths he believed and proving them by living them.

(4) He believed his “work” was to become selfless by putting others first in his life and surrendering his own ego to a higher purpose.

(5) He silently repeated the name of God so that he could remember God and hold fast to the Truth of his being in all situations.

Jesus also gave us a four-step spiritual process of mental self-purification. His instructions were to: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

As Gandhi was, you and I are a participant in the unfoldment of our soul. As we hold to the truth of our being, the Spirit within us strengthens and empowers us and we see the world through the eyes of love.

An affirmation for this week…”I am a participant in the unfoldment of my soul. As I hold to the truth of my being, the Spirit within me strengthens and empowers me. I see the world through the eyes of love.”

Join me this Sunday following the service for a discussion with Pious Ali — and by the little bit I know about this man, I believe we will hear from him that Truth/Love guides and directs his life. The discussion will begin at 12:15 following lunch.

Next Sunday we will continue with Gandhi the Man and the message will be on “Yield and Prevail.”

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

Welcome A Stranger

Reza Jalali

Reza Jalali

Sunday Message by Reza Jalali, recognized as one of the eminent ethnic Americans in Making it in America: a sourcebook on eminent ethnic Americans (©2001 by Elliott Robert Barkan), is a scholar, writer and educator who has lived in Maine since 1985. As a writer, his essays, short stories, and commentaries have appeared in the local and international newspapers.

His play, The Poets and the Assassin, which is about women in Iran, has been staged at Bates College, University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College, and University of New England. Jalali has been included in 50 In 52 Journey, a national project to name “Americans who are problem-solvers, idea-generators in their communities, in their cities, and in their states and are moving America forward.”

Jalali has taught at the Bangor Theological Seminary and the University of Southern Maine. He is a student advisor at Bowdoin College and coordinates the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Southern Maine.


Rev. Pat Bessey

Rev. Pat Bessey

I am sitting in the airport in Orlando, Florida as I write to you. I have had the privilege of being in the warm weather for a few days and it has been wonderful.

However, I know you got to experience someone wonderful on Sunday. A hearty thank you to Reza Jalali for the inspiring talk he gave in my absence. I am not going to try and recap what he said; however, what I am going to do is invite you to listen to him directly, using the audio player above.

Thank you to the planning team for the Season for Nonviolence to suggest having Reza come and share his experience of when he arrived in Maine 30 years ago as an immigrant from Iran. I believe this is the beginning of a relationship that will prove to be very fruitful as we move forward in reaching out to the greater Portland community.

The days are clicking off and soon we will be enjoying an evening of fun and fun-raising. That would be the Turn on the Light evening with the Portland Playback Theater and our silent auction. The donations are coming in and it is not too late for you to donate a service. Our focus for raising money is to complete the light tower on our building. Our goal is to raise $9,000. Soon you will see an actual prototype of the light tower… this will make it real for us who are visual.

Heads up for those of you who have taken Prosperity Plus; you might want to be one of six who take a road trip with Rev. LeRoy and me. The donation item name is the “Concord Code.” It is a day trip to Walden Pond and a tour of the Emerson House. Of course, this is available to anyone. Along with this service, items donated will be either silent auction items, raffle items and live auction items. There will be a special surprise for the person who brings the most adult guests (non-Unity) with them to this evening.

Other areas of interest — the Season for Nonviolence will host Pious Ali following the service on March 22. Pious is a humble man who has made an enormous impact in the greater Portland area. We will be having a discussion period beginning at 12:15. Clear your calendar so you can attend. You will gain so much from being in Pious’ presence.

Ongoing at Unity of Greater Portland are the activities that support Unity Kindness Revolution. Each month you have service opportunities by serving at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, singing at Florence House or bringing a meal to Logan Place. For details on any or all of these events, contact Rev. Elizabeth Peterson; she will be delighted to have you join her.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat

Ahisma

Sunday Message by Rev. Pat Bessey

Woo hoo we are into March… less than three weeks to spring! In fact this coming Sunday we turn our clocks forward. March also is significant as it is the time when we have our annual meeting. That happened this past Sunday and it was well attended and we celebrated ending the year in the black. Three new board members were elected and they are Nancy Callas, Matt Purinton and Barbara Kowalska. Look forward to a great year ahead for Unity of Greater Portland.

We have reports from Ingrid Avery as President, Cristina McBreairty as Secretary, from me as Minister.  We also have a Unity Kindness Revolution report from Rev. Elizabeth Peterson.

Click on title of report to read.
President’s Report
Secretary’s Report
Minister’s Report
Unity Kindness Revolution Report

Today was a continuation of the Wisdom of Gandhi series. The topic was “Ahimsa” which translates to “lacking any desire to kill.” It is considered to be the highest law in Hinduism.

Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, says this about his grandfather, “He read the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures as well as the Vedas. Everything that he put his hands on, he read in a very friendly spirit.  He said that in each one of them he found something that was very useful and he brought that out and incorporated that in his own thinking. He said that by doing this we don’t diminish our own faith, or our own religion. We enhance it, and therefore there should be no fear in making a ‘friendly’ study and taking things from different religions.”

Gandhi himself has written in his book The Way to God, “Love is Life. If love was not the law of life, life would not have persisted in the midst of death. Life is a perpetual triumph over the grave… All the saints of the world, ancient and modern, were each, according to their light and capacity, a living illustration of that supreme law of our being that love is life.

“When the practice of love becomes universal, God will reign on earth as he does in heaven. I need not be reminded that earth and heaven are within us. We know the earth; we are strangers to heaven within us. It is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth.  There only is life where there is love. Life without love is death. Hatred ever kills. Love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.

“The duty of a human being is to diminish hatred by promoting and living love.”

Gandhi has said, “The principle of ahimsa is hurt by every evil thought, by undue haste, by lying, by hatred, by wishing ill to anybody and also by our hoarding.”

Consider your own life in this regard. How would practicing non-violence change your thinking? How would it change your way of doing things with undue haste to doing things mindfully? How would practicing non-violence as truth-telling instead of using little white lies or not being truthful to yourself or to others transform your life? How would stopping from condemning others or not wishing them ill or not hating them assist in transforming your life? How would not hoarding affect you?

These are the things we are asked to consider if we wish to practice the spiritual principle of non-violence. Non-violence calls for love in action and for strength and courage in the face of adversity.

In what areas of your life are you already able to practice non-violence?

In what areas of your life are you presently unable to practice non-violence?

Our closing affirmation:  I renounce all thoughts and acts of violence. I express the peace of God as I walk and work in ways of gentleness.

You don’t want to miss the service next Sunday as we welcome Reza Jalali as our guest speaker. Read more about Reza here.

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Pat