Happy Fourth of July! I hope you found fun things to do despite the weather. This holiday for me is the real beginning of summer. We kicked it off with a wonderful service on Sunday followed by a potluck. I love looking around Unity Hall and seeing all the tables filled with people talking and laughing. As always there was a plethora of great food.
A shout out to Rev. Todd Glacy for sharing with us his gift of music. He had us rocking in our seats! Speaking of rocking, the Fifth Friday Open Mic was a blast. Wayne Smith is excellent at organizing and MCing the event. Thank you to all who participated and to those who came to be in the cheering section.
As I was sitting there listening to a couple of folks sharing their poetry, it came to me to invite them to share with all of us their poems. So we will have a poetry corner in Heart Thoughts starting this week. If you have a poem you would like to have published here, please send it to me at email@example.com.
The message on Sunday was Our Greatest Freedom: The Freedom to Choose. I read a piece from an essay I found on Brian Wilcox. His website is Lotus of the Heart: Living in Love Beyond Beliefs.
I am going to print it here because I feel it is so important to understand what is meant by Unitive Seeing. And Unitive Seeing is the freedom to choose how we see the world.
We cannot resolve the societal divisiveness among us at the level of consciousness we are now living. To move toward mutual respect and enjoyment of peace, we ourselves must evolve to a consciousness that sees in that manner and makes us able to co-create the reality seen.
I sent friends a photo of a dandelion field near my dwelling. After leaving Northern Maine for a week, I had returned to see these lovely so-called weeds spread about everywhere, more than I had ever seen.
One friend replied, “Oh my! Makes one rethink the definition of a weed!” I replied, “Seems someone decided a weed and non-weed and since, it is assumed so, as with so much of what we have been told is so.”
Yet, we can see the weed in the non-weed and the non-weed in the weed – if we look deeply. Continuing to look deeply, we see what is before us without needing to classify it as a weed or non-weed.
“Weed” and “non-weed” are ideas. To say a dandelion is a weed is a relative statement. Yet, if one clings to the classification weed, which implies the opposite non-weed, she will never truly see the dandelion free of bias. For intimacy with the dandelion as a dandelion, the concept of weed must dissolve in pure seeing.
We are intimate in an I-I relationship with that touched deeply by a consciousness not dividing “weed” from “non-weed,” or self from either. In contemplative spirituality, this has been termed “unitive consciousness.” In this seeing, we are in communion with what is seen, not our pre-thoughts about it. I call this I-I, for unitive seeing does not negate differentiation – a dandelion is a dandelion, not a tulip. Unitive seeing honors both likeness and unlikeness.
This unitive wisdom can apply in all our relationships. Racism, for example, is widespread in the country where I live. Yet, the objectification of humanness – more so, spirit – into skin color is an apparition: a form of mass delusional thinking. Racism, however, cannot exist when a white person, for example, sees her race in the race of a person of color. Then, she sees herself, and the other is a mirror of a oneness not defined by external aspects. So, when prepared, one simply sees the other as though looking through the skin color: before she looked at the other first as the skin color.
Unitive seeing applies to religion. Though I was raised an exclusive, conservative, evangelical Baptist, when I see Christianity now, I see Buddhism. When I see Buddhism, I see Christianity. Seeing Christ, I see Buddha; seeing Buddha, I see Christ. With unitive seeing, religions can move beyond tolerance to honor the common wisdom in each path. When one moves into unitive understanding, one has no interest in thoughts of one way being superior while only being tolerant of others. Few humans can withstand this impartiality, while the matured contemplative only wills to cherish the beauty in the likenesses and unlikenesses among faith paths.
I saw long before leaving the institutional church how many Christian leaders were admitting the wisdom in other faith paths, yet often with the same old ideology that Christianity is somehow superior to all others. What is best for one person may not be so for another one.
In religion, like all else, in direct seeing, intimacy arises in which the seer and seen are united in communion, and there remains no felt need for a thought or feeling of superiority. One may determine a path is a more evolved path than another, even as one may see edifying and unedifying qualities in her path and other faiths. Yet, the claim to be the only way or the most excellent way does not arise from the heart.
Likewise, this unitive way applies to criminal offenders locked away, out of sight and out of mind. Having worked in corrections for six years, I could never see an inmate as only an inmate. I respected that she or he was incarcerated and likely guilty of criminality that led to jail or prison; yet, I saw through the appearance “inmate” or “criminal.” I knew there is something redemptive in deeply seeing another person, which is a nonjudgmental seeing. Many inmates – and many humans – have never known this kind of respect. By deeply seeing, we are more likely to arrive at redemptive means for those who enact crime. Yet, we must see beyond “criminal” and “non-criminal.” We have proven treating our incarceration system as penal is not working for the convicted or society, even as beating a child fails to teach a child to love and respect others.
As I was typing this, I got the following text message:
Hi Rev Pat. I wanted to tell you how much your wonderful your talk resonated with me. I grew up in a conservative Catholic household where I was told it was the superior religion. From my early teens, I started to form my own opinion which is very much in line with Unity. I suffered from many kinds of abuse by my family in the name of religion. They would throw their beliefs on me, and I didn’t back down. Eventually, I stopped engaging in that topic, but got thrown out of the house on Jul 4, 1980. It was because I was invited to a family’s house for dinner who were from Lebanon. Not American and def not Catholic. Thank you again for your wise and kind guidance.
It is so reassuring when I get a message such as this that I am being guided to the right material to share with you even when I question it.
Next week join Jacob Watson as he shares a message of spiritual companionship.
You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey