Sunday, December 9, 2012

UMS Founder on "WISDOM"

Sunday, December 9th, we begin a discussion on the topic of Wisdom. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Wisdom from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.


WISDOM

"In wisdom, we know all things are energy, not the physical form we behold."

Wisdom begins when you cease to cherish your own opinion. Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting in a particular way (Aristotle) and habits change into character (Ovid). When you no longer base your life or personality on the frowns and smiles of others, Wisdom becomes your constant companion. In wisdom, we wouldn't worry so much about what other people think of us, if we knew how little they actually do.

What a man stands for isn't everything; what he falls for counts too.

A wise man has something to say, a fool has to say something.

We have a lifetime of experiences that we think have made us wise, and often we have nothing but accumulated knowledge and no wisdom as to why the same thing keeps happening to us. It continues happening to all our relationships because we didn't learn. We said "I'll never love like that again. No more joint checking account. No more me doing it all."

What happens is we wind up punishing the next person for what the last person did and we think we are being wise in the process. Often we have the wrong audience.

We know that we can be so wonderful, kind, loving, and helpful. There just is not anyone worth us. When I find someone worth me, I'll be all those great things. Some think that is wisdom. Be all you can be. Know that energy is transferable. Good will always find you if you are good, and don't camouflage yourself with anger.

Good is its own reward.

In wisdom, we know all things are energy, not the physical form we behold.

The body is pure energy. Thoughts are energy. Thoughts are things.

Let's say you lend someone a thousand dollars. You feel great; you feel good in helping a friend. You experience your loving nature in an act of caring. In a short time you know the friend was using you, fooling you. Now, that hurts you. This simple hurt often causes "heaping." You start to think of all the hurts from people you tried to help. Heaping it all together really gets your emotions down and then comes the statement "I'll never help anyone again." We are now wise. Wise to people, but, I'm afraid, ignorant to self.

Nothing of itself can hurt you. We go back and heap. They forgot my birthday, they didn't remember me at Christmas, etc., etc., etc. Heaping. After a sufficient amount of heaping you can find the tears of remorse, but again, nothing of itself can hurt you. Keep this wisdom.

Let's return the mountain back to the mole-hill it really is. If you gave in love, or out of caring, then heap it that way. Remember, there is no such thing as wasted energy. Again; all energy is transferable. USE WISDOM. Do not let the person you helped change you from a person of love to a person of hate, anger or remorse.

Stay with the origin of the loving, helpful person. What they put out comes back to them. What you put out comes back to you. Don't let them change you. If you become angered, vindictive, now look what you're putting out; possibly a negative energy: greater than the offender. Be wise, hold your original place. Be in peace and your good will return its hundred fold. I guess you can call this "turning the other cheek."

Hurt has wisdom. There are things I've done that hurt me to think about, That hurt is the assurance I'll never hurt anyone again. I would rather be hurt than to hurt!

Suffering is useless, made up of bitterness, resentment and anger destructive forces to self and wisdom of the soul. I may hurt but I don't suffer.

Lone tears may even be called the Holy Water of the soul. These tears moisten the dry clay of self and allow you, the potter, to remold, rebirth your soul.

UMS Founder Damien Simpson

Saturday, November 24, 2012

UMS Founder on "TRUTH"


Sunday, November 24th, we begin a discussion on the topic of Truth. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Success from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

TRUTH


"Opposition has the ability to reposition you to a point of balance again."

Nothing ruins the truth like stretching it. We must ask, are we seeking truth or finding fault? Many use truth for scolding rather than for correcting. Seek for the truth where there is no victim nor victor, a truth that serves the good of all.

Truth blesses all seekers and never discriminates. To find truth, we must cease to play the right and wrong game.

Truth is not fearful of opposition. We think we have found a truth. We take a stand. We are taught, you must stand for truth, fight for truth, die for truth. Any form of opposition becomes the enemy, the evil one. You know the devil must, for truth, for God, be destroyed. You don't know yet it was probably sent by Him, God.

If you were going to build a room, you wouldn't but all the pillars that support the roof on the same side. At best, you would get a lean-to. You must have opposite pillars.

Opposition has the ability to reposition you to a point of balance again. Opposition exists to reposition your truth, your stand, to a point of balance, for it needs to endure stress with ease.

Get the right slant, if you will. Let the roof eave hold the gutters to let the rain pour off, otherwise we fear the day real truth rains/reigns on all gathered under the roof of personal, collective self-serving truth.

The Scripture says we must stand naked in the field. I don't think this is naked in body, but in spirit, which is our truth exposed. The reason we all hold to our truths, whatever they are, will be revealed. What is whispered in closets will be shouted from roof tops.

Truth for one is not necessarily truth for another. You can be looking at the same thing, but from different perspectives.

Another truth is often just another view we might add to our own. Often, to find truth, we need to quit cherishing our own opinion.

Example: If I sent one person outside to view a building, and he went to the front; and if I sent another and he went to the back of the building, each would have a different viewpoint or perspective.

They could get in a hell of an argument in describing the building, or add to the understanding of both, giving each a more total picture of front and back. If they talk together, they add to each other what they could not see.

I see, through you, what I could not see before. Just be gentle with me, I've never been here before!

One man's food is another man's poison.

One man's junk is another man's treasure.

True motivation or purpose never clashes with outer activities. They actually assist. People cannot change truth, but truth changes people. Do not bend truth down to save your honor. Stand up to honor truth.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Success


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for November 4th and 18th, 2012


For two weeks we discussed the subject of Success, as we referred to chapter 8 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson. 


We started this discussion with a quote from the chapter of Perceptions that deals with Success:
"Happiness usually requires that we change our definition of success."

Society trains to accept a certain definition of success: having money, owning a house, having a “respectable” career, raising children, owning cars, taking yearly vacations, being beautiful, being famous. We agreed that we should ask ourselves why we want these things. The question was posed to the group: “Have you ever found yourself striving toward something because you wanted to appear successful to others?” Many members said that this was so.

When talking about the myth of the perfect life in his book, Meditation for Dummies, author Stephen Bodian was quoted as saying:

“In my years as a psychotherapist and meditation teacher, I’ve noticed that many people suffer because they compare their lives to some idealized image of how life is supposed to be. Cobbled together from childhood conditioning, media messages, and personal desires, this image lurks in the shadows and becomes the standard to which every success or failure, every circumstance or turn of events, is compared and judged. … Whatever your version of the perfect life - perfect vacations, perfect sex, perfect health, even perfect peace of mind or total freedom from all tension and stress - you pay a high price for holding such high expectations. When life fails to live up to those expectations, as it inevitably does, you end up suffering and blaming yourself. … If only you had made more money, spent more time at home, been a better lover, gone back to school, lost those extra pounds…the list is endless. No matter how you slice it, you just don’t measure up.”

Letting the definition of success come from without (rather than within) can cause us to feel like we will never achieve success, or be worthy. And example was given in the now clich├ęd TV and movie plotlines involving a high school reunion where the main character decides to lie about their current career or achievements because they are worried about impressing their former classmates. These protagonists were allowing other people to define success for them, whether it reflected their personal desires or not.

image credit: shmilysgoods.com
Stephen Bodian also writes: "As the Buddhists say, suffering is wanting what you don’t have and not wanting what you do have." The group agreed that meditation could be one technique that would help us learn to focus on the present moment instead of always worrying about what how to achieve future goals.

An entry from the Tiny Budda blog was presented to the group, as writer Jake O’Callaghan discussed the myth that being obsessed with success will bring it (and happiness) into your life. The author relates how he had taken some advice that said he should want success as badly as a drowning person wants air, and shows how his single-minded pursuit of success causes him to be stressed out and unable to enjoy life. He says that at one time he thought, “Once I became successful, I would be happy, right?” He then discusses how he was able to turn his downward spiral around by letting go of his expectations and being present to do the things that excite him here and now. This caused him to be far more successful than the original, more stressful path.

Another example of a way to be present was given from the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, where there was a chapter devoted to “Living in Day Tight Compartments.” Our lives were compared to large ships, which have water-tight compartments that can be sealed off quickly in the event that the ship sustains damage and begins to take on water. This compartmentalizing restricts the flooding to one small area and allows the ship to remain afloat. If we live each day for itself, treating a 24 hour period like it is a sealed off compartment, we can keep our lives afloat as well. It is only when we begin to worry and focus on all of our past problems and future worries that we “flood” the show structure of our life and allow stress to “sink” us.

We discussed how we can become very wrapped up in the procession of life, always looking to the next milestone and not enjoying the view from out current plateau. Essayist Logan Pearsall Smith was quoted as saying:
 "There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want, and after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second." 
The group was asked how well do you think they enjoy the things that you have earned? Their house? Their car? Is their high paying job making a difference in the level of joy they experience versus their first job as a waiter or cashier?

image credit: blogs.longhollow.com
Comedian Greg Fitzsimmons has a bit where he says of himself and his wife, “As a single couple, we are no longer able to hang around with married couples 'cause they cannot be in our presence without getting very annoying. It's always like, 'So, when are you guys getting married? Huh? When are you getting married? When are you guys getting married?!' I dunno, you're married -- when are you gonna die? You're already married, death will be next. When are you gonna die? Because that’s the next step” Through the humor he makes a serious point when he goes on to say that fear plays a key part in the choices we make. We are afraid, don’t know what to do, so we create institutions (like marriage and careers) to help herd us through life. When we come to a crossroads, we can be afraid to make a decision, and maybe we use society’s goalposts to make a choice for us instead of using our own judgment. If we’re afraid, others can make our choices for us.

We also discussed the need to spend more time counting our blessings. We agreed that most of us do not place nearly enough value on what we already have, and may take for granted the great gifts we live with each day. We were asked to think about how much money we would take to give up some of the things we take for granted. Would you take $20 million for your right hand? How about $1 billion? What about your eyes? Your spouse, children? We were reminded that many of the things we already possess are priceless.

Many hands were raised when the group was asked who would admit to spending at least some time during the previous week fretting over things they lacked. We find ourselves complaining while we enjoy abundance.

All agreed that wealth does not ensure happiness. We chase things we don’t need without taking time to ask how the end result is going to make us feel. It was also notes that our failures can open the door to something new, and that we don’t have to let failures cause use to give up our passions. We have a choice to either get back on the horse, but also take the time to ask ourselves if this path (getting back on the horse) is what we really want to do.

We concluded our discussion with a reading from Perceptions to remind us that if we want to be a success, we would be better off not dwelling on our failures:

“Mutt and Jeff were two rats used in a behavior experiment. They were both champion swimmers, not normal behavior for this species of life. One night Mutt got caught in the wheel of his cage. He struggled all night to get free, to no avail. The technician found Mutt and freed him. The video tape kept on the cage revealed what had happened to him. Well, they gave Mutt a rest, but when the time came to resume the experiment, Mutt would not swim. Mutt just plain gave up. One traumatic experience and he forgot that he was a champion swimmer. Did you forget, so to speak, that you are a champion swimmer?


image credit: neuralwiki.org

Saturday, November 10, 2012

UMS Founder on "SUCCESS"


Sunday, November 11th,we begin a discussion on the topic of Success. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Success from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

SUCCESS


"A simple rule is to start now, be happy now." 

Dependability has a much more satisfactory market than cleverness.

Happiness usually requires that we change our definition of success. A contented man is one who enjoys the scenery along the detours. Many people have the right aim in life, but they fail to release the bow to send forth the arrow of desire to the target.

A simple rule is to start now. Be happy now. That attitude will put you at your optimum and when you are at this state you automatically do your best. Doing your best, combined with persistence, will bring you success. If we don't reach success it is because along the way we decided that all the effort it takes is not worth the goal. This can be a wise decision. So many are determined to be successful, even if it kills them, and even if they are indeed unhappy. There are many unhappy but very successful people. They are among those who need to change their definition of success.

One other deadly attitude to success is the "if only": If only I were younger.—If only I were smarter. — If only I knew him/her.

The "if only" attitude is an excuse for not trying. This is an example of a judgment that has nothing to do with the truth.

Success is affirmed daily, felt daily, lived daily.

In Dr. Irene Kassorla's research book,"Go For It," she found that successful people failed 75% of the time.

Now let me tell you a story Dr. Kassorla told me about Mutt and Jeff.

Mutt and Jeff were two rats used in a behavior experiment. They were both champion swimmers, not normal behavior for this species of life.

One night Mutt got caught in the wheel of his cage. He struggled all night to get free, to no avail.

The technician found Mutt and freed him. The video tape kept on the cage revealed what had happened to him. Well, they gave Mutt a rest, but when the time came to resume the experiment, Mutt would not swim. Mutt just plain gave up.

One traumatic experience and he forgot that he was a champion swimmer. Did you forget, so to speak, that you are a champion swimmer?

Nothing of itself hurts, it's when we heap it all on ourselves that it hurts. We go back and gather all the hurts together and then we cry. Heaping kills the ability within us to take the lesson straight on, and thus be victorious.

Bucky Fuller said, "When you find you're up against the wall, it doesn't necessarily mean to quit or stop. It may mean make a left or right turn."

Blame no one. Thank everyone. You made it here. Yes, you are here. Let's go on, SUCCEED. Your essence is still THERE.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Faith


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for October 28 and November 4, 2012


For two weeks we discussed the subject of Faith, as we referred to chapter 7 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.


We reviewed some definitions of the word Faith:

  • A strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence
  • Trust in God, and in His actions and promises
  • A conviction of the truth of certain doctrines of religion, especially when they are not based on reason
  • Confidence or trust in a person
  • Any set of firmly held principles
  • Allegiance or loyalty, as to a cause or person


image credit: notsalmon.com
As a group, we asked the question, “What is faith?” and we arrived at four different types of faith that we could immediately recognize:


  • Blind Faith
  • Child-like Faith
  • Experiential Faith
  • Spiritual Faith


Blind faith, we discussed, is a faith that is not based on proof. The expression “Faith is blind” means that we will accept information or ideas at the word of another without evidence. Some people believe that God will provide for them regardless of empirical evidence that this is so.

Child-like faith appeared to us to be an innate trust (found typically, as the name suggests, in children) that we will be taken care of. We noted that child-like faith can be destroyed when ideals are not met in the real world, such as when a parent fails to protect a child from harm. This requires the faith to be rebuilt over time, and when this is not possible, it may now look more like the next type of faith we discussed: Experiential faith.

Experiential faith is that which is based on experience, proof, or a high probability that events will unfold in a specific way. This type of faith is not innate, but built up by the individual via their history of experiences. Many people feel most comfortable with this type of faith because they know that there is evidence to support it. They are able to have faith that the Sun will come up every day, because it has come up every day in past.

image credit: store.moa.byu.edu
One participant gave an example of this type of faith by relating the story of “The Miracle of the Gulls”, in which the first Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake City area of Utah experienced in 1848 a devastating onslaught of insect pests (now known as the Mormon Cricket, a type of katydid) that was quickly destroying their crops. According to some pioneers’ accounts, a hoard of seagulls arrived at that time and began to prey upon the invading insects, and ultimately their crops were saved. This story is used as an example within the Mormon faith as a real life proof that God will take care of them.

Spiritual faith appeared in our discussion as a faith which is based on our belief in a higher self or higher order to the Universe. This type of faith hinges on an understanding that “it all works”. That there is a larger order to things, and that our purpose is to find where we fit into that order. One of the ways that we can do this is to simply “jump in and flow” with the tide of events. It was suggested that if you have not found that feeling of “finding home”, you should maintain faith that there will be an answer to whatever is going on in your life. That things occur as they are supposed to, and that no matter where you are walking, you are on the right path.

Sometimes, situations can arise that shake our faith in this Grand Plan. How do we know that we are on the right path? We each may choose different ways to assure ourselves that we are moving in the right direction: some of us devote attention to taking better care of themselves, or making different decisions. For some, it involves listening to their Higher Power or intuition. For many, they know they’re on the right path because it just “feels right.” It was observed in continuing this line of thought, we need to pay attention to when something feels wrong as well, as this intuitive warning system may be able to prevent us from continuing down a wrong path.

Others believed that there is no such thing as a “wrong” path - that we can ever be in the wrong place, and that we will always be where we need to be to learn what we need to learn.  An example of this was given by a member who lost job after 30 years of service. He was scared. What would he do now? But as events unfolded, he saw that everything fell into place.  This experience has taught him to believe that things happen the way they are supposed to happen, and may not necessarily be what we have planned.

Someone stated: Without faith, you cannot have hope. When it came to the subject of hope and faith, we asked if it was possible to have one without the other. One participant said that he thought that hope must come first, before we can have faith. It was noted that within 12-step programs, such as AA, that people are asked to get rid of their expectations. We discussed whether expectations were the same thing as hope. One member said that she tries not to have expectations, and that this helps her avoid having her expectations go unmet.

As story from Perceptions was used as an example of the metaphysical aspect of how our expectations manifest, sometimes despite what we hope for:

“Let me tell you a little story told to me by my first teacher. A woman reading the Scripture is moved by the words, "If you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain into the sea." She thought these were holy words and faith could do all things.
While reflecting, somewhat EUPHORIC, out her garden window, she noticed the pile of leaves she had raked together earlier in the day. Thinking of the Scripture, the words so fresh and strong, as if looking for a chance to be proven or expressed, she thought, "If faith can move mountains, then I believe I can move that pile of leaves." She went to bed that night with faith that the leaves would be gone. When she woke in the morning, she rushed to her garden window. With a sigh she said, "Just as I thought, they're still there."

Faith is this case is a confidence that something will happen.

image credit: loadpaper.com
This prompted another member to discuss the need for Faith + Works. The idea that faith needs works; that nothing will simply be handed to a person because they have faith. He used the example of mountain climbers who set out to scale Mount Everest. They can have faith that they will make it to the top, but they must also put forth the effort (the works) to get there. Someone in the group said: “You’re never really lost unless you give up.”

What is faith? Faith is something in our minds and in our souls, our way of life, and our beliefs.

Can we say experiential and spiritual faith go hand in hand? In a way all faiths go hand in hand and we are capable of having more than one kind of faith at the same time. In fact we are all connected in the word faith.

Expect miracles.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

UMS Founder on "FAITH"


Sunday, October28th, we begin a discussion on the topic of Faith. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Faith from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

FAITH


"So much of us is so often in despair that we do not see what's coming in, only what's going out."

 A belief in things unseen. Faith is your own belief system realized. By your faith, you are made whole. A man of faith knows little of fear, a lot of hope, possibilities; therefore he is more loving. Being more loving works a different law of attraction for it attracts loving people, not lonely desperate beings. Be of good faith.

So many of us see and give our undivided attention to what is leaving our life; what we have lost, could lose and never replace. So much of us is so often in despair that we do not see what's coming in, only what's going out.

One of my favorite spots on this beautiful planet is a pond on a ranch. It is a rather big pond, if you will. It holds a great deal of water. The ducks live on it, the swans glide on it, guests swim in it. A lot of life. The best part is I had it built, for I always wanted a little lake - big pond.

As I stand and watch this dream come true, I see all the water going out of the little lake, and then I look and see all the water flowing from our stream into the lake. What is leaving is because of what is coming into it. Energy rushes to fill a void. Some people have no faith. They are FULL of emptiness. If I didn't let the water flow out, we would be flooded. If I don't let the water flow in, the lake will be empty.

I'm not talking about what I'm talking about.

Anxiety is a lack of faith; faith is a lack of anxiety. We can pray, believe and receive; or pray, doubt and do without.

Let me tell you a little story told to me by my first teacher. A woman reading the Scripture is moved by the words, "If you had the faith of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain into the sea." She thought these were holy words and faith could do all things.

While reflecting, somewhat EUPHORIC, out her garden window, she noticed the pile of leaves she had raked together earlier in the day. Thinking of the Scripture, the words so fresh and strong, as if looking for a chance to be proven or expressed, she thought, "If faith can move mountains, then I believe I can move that pile of leaves." She went to bed that night with faith that the leaves would be gone. When she woke in the morning, she rushed to her garden window. With a sigh she said, "Just as I thought, they're still there."

It's written that as a man believeth in his heart, so it is with him.

I remember asking the late Bucky Fuller if he believed in God. He answered me rather strongly, if not disgustedly, "NO, I do not believe in God!" Gosh, my heart sank as if my faith depended on this man's genius, his 48 honorary Doctorate Degrees. To me, if he said, "Yes", I'd get a boost in faith to lift me high enough to see it for myself. After a slight pause, his voice said in a firm, unconditional tone, "I know there is a God." (Thanks from all of us, Bucky.)

I learned this lesson that day. When you believe something is true, you no longer need to believe it. You act upon it! There are no words, no actions that will convince you of a truth you do not want to believe.

Have Faith:

The will of God will not lead where the grace of God cannot keep you.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Judgment


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for October 14 and October 21, 2012


For two weeks we discussed the subject of Judgment, as we referred to chapter 6 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.


We started off our discussion reading from Perceptions, and one passage called out the differences between Judgment and Discernment:

"Your judgments could have nothing to do with the truth, they are just your judgments. The most important of all is the "Last Judgment." You will look back at your life and see what you have or have not done with that life. All the judgments you have placed on others will stand before you and by those judgments you will be judged. It is written, "Judge not and you will not be judged." 
Discernment, on the other hand, is a gift of the Spirit. It allows you to know where YOU should or should not identify yourself without needing the belief that someone different is wrong. You judge whether an experience or a thing is right or wrong for you without thinking or saying what is right or wrong for another."

We talked about how we often find ourselves suffering from the Why-can't-everyone-be-like-me? disease, and how this can cause us to judge others when they don't think and act like we do. We discussed that while it can be frustrating and even upsetting if others do not think or act like us, that the alternative, which would be to have everyone thinking and acting alike, would be even less desirable. As Damien stated, "If twelve people think alike, eleven are unnecessary."

Many people noted that it was sometimes easier for us to judge those who are closest to us. We felt that this may be due to the greater influence on our feelings caused by our loved ones. When we care deeply for a person, our interactions with them are more intense, and therefore when they take an action that harms themselves or the relationship, we judge more quickly because we have more at stake in this situation than we would have with an acquaintance or a stranger.

We agreed that we were less likely to make blanket judgments about others if we have knowledge of the other person's situation and history, interaction with the other person, and empathy for them. We saw that stereotyping people can be an easy way out - it is simpler for our minds to place people into broad, clean categories, than it is for us to really get to know someone.

We may judge others based on unrelated past events, creating a false correlation in our minds, whether consciously or not. One example given involved people's names. We may have a bad experience with someone, and then in the future, we may meet another person with that same name as the original transgressor, and already have a bad taste in our mouth for a new person that we barely know, due to the association of negative experiences with their name. Much like stereotypes (mentioned above), our mind may decide, "If one person with this name/age/religion is that way, they are all that way."

It is best, we said, to simply enjoy what we experience with and learn from another person. We should not demand or expect, but see them as another human working through their shortcomings, good or bad. In this way we won't miss the good that could come from a so-called "bad" person, or be disappointed from expectations not met from a so-called "good" person. A quote was shared from The Nature of Personal Reality, A Seth Book by Jane Roberts, that advises us to consider that our fellow human beings are each contending with their own issues:

"Your own consciousness is embarked upon a reality that basically can be experienced by no other, that is unique and untranslatable, with its own meaning, following its own paths of becoming. You share an existence with others who are experiencing their own journeys in their own ways, and you have journeying in common, then. Be kind to yourself and your companions."

Our judgments of others are useless because they come from our own personal experience of reality, and the reality of another person inherently cannot be the same as ours. What is real for us is not real for them. We can only judge what is right and good for ourselves, not for others.

We also noted that our judgments of others can reflect what we fear or hate about ourselves. What do we hope to gain from judging others? A sense of greater self-worth? Judgment is an action that harms both parties. We harm ourselves by limiting our perspective, but how do we harm others? We should ask ourselves, how do we feel when we are judged? We agreed that when we are judged that we feel stressed out, afraid, and worried. So when we judge others, we must be aware that we are now the cause of another person experiencing those negative feelings.

Image credit: richarddiedrichs.blogspot.com
We talked about the ways that our behavior can be affected by our fear of being judged by others. The story of The Emperor's New Clothes stood out as a good example - we all recalled the emperor, so ashamed that he was not able to see the clothes, as he was told by the fraudulent "tailors" that the cloth was invisible to stupid people, that he chose to walk through town naked for fear that he would seen as stupid if he admitted that he could not see his new garments. The same happened to his ministers and even the townsfolk; they feared to speak out, lest others think they were stupid as well. Finally, a child, too young to understand judgment, cried out that the emperor was naked, and this caused crown to begin to admit that they too, saw nothing, cementing the emperor's humiliation before everyone. To what lengths will we go because we are afraid of being judged?

We agreed that we will all be judged. The question is: what do we do when we this happens? Will we allow ourselves to be molded by society, family, coworkers, or friends because of this judgment? Because of expectations of what the norm should be? What is normal, anyway? We decided that when we are judged, we should try to use the situation as a learning experience - to teach us about other people, and to grow ourselves.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

UMS Founder on "JUDGMENTS"


Sunday, October14th, our discussion will focus around the topic of Judgements. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Judgements from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

JUDGEMENTS


"A weakness of many of us is that we want others to be better than we are willing to be ourselves"

Your judgments could have nothing to do with the truth, they are just your judgments. The most important of all is the "Last Judgment." You will look back at your life and see what you have or have not done with that life. All the judgments you have placed on others will stand before you and by those judgments you will be judged. It is written, "Judge not and you will not be judged."

Discernment, on the other hand, is a gift of the Spirit. It allows you to know where YOU should or should not identify yourself without needing the belief that someone different is wrong. You judge whether an experience or a thing is right or wrong for you without thinking or saying what is right or wrong for another.

We learn, through experience, to make value judgments for ourself, and this is accomplished without condemnation of another. We should judge ourselves before others have to!

Remember, an evil eye sees evil things many times where there is no evil. The act of prejudice is being down on something you are not up on. A weakness of many of us is that we want others to be better than we are willing to be ourselves.

For those who need it written in Scripture before they believe, is it not written, "All revenge is mine saith the Lord."? In many cases, the ministers have replaced God, not assisted Him. We need to assist Him in His love for all.

It takes courage to follow your own path. Many use up their courage on others, telling them where to go or how to go.

"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." -Matthew 7:5

Take the courage to change self, to express self, to be one's self. This will give courage to all who exist in your aura of life.

If twelve people think alike, eleven are unnecessary. Show people not only where you stand (so to speak,) but also where you sit.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Forgiveness


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for September 9, September 16,  September 23 and September 30, 2012

For four weeks we discussed the subject of Forgiveness, as we referred to chapter 5 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.


Week 1: September 9, 2012


Here are some thoughts that were shared during the first week of our discussion:











Without forgiveness, you cannot have love. Love causes change, it does not demand it.

"To err is human; to forgive, divine." ~from "Essay on Criticism" by Alexander Pope

"Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." ~Luke 23:34

Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

It takes energy to hold a grudge. Imagine picking up a sack of potatoes every time we don't
forgive. Our burden gets heavier and heavier.

We give others power over us when we hold onto a grudge.

How can we forgive? We can accept and let go. We can have compassion for the other person, and what they might be experiencing as well. We can say: "It is what it is"

When someone feels wronged, a relationship can feel irreparably broken, and easy to discard. But like a child who has broken his brand new toy, would it not be better to just try to fix the toy so that we can enjoy it like we meant to in the first place, rather than simply throwing it out? We begin relationships because they bring us happiness - would we not rather return to that state by forgiving those who have injured us than choosing to hold the anger and do without the enjoyment of the friendship?

Our discussion facilitator, Lara, shared with us a book by author Mark Anthony Lord called The Seven Living Words, which contains a section on forgiveness. The author uses a structure he calls The Forgiveness Circles as a framework for focusing our energy on forgiving everyone in our lives, from the very impersonal establishments and institutions of the world, all the way down to forgiving our very selves. Each day we are challenged to focus on forgiving people or groups in each circle, starting at the center and working our way out, and the author suggests specific prayers aimed at the likely possible resentments we may be holding against each.





Week 2: September 16, 2012


What happens when we do not forgive? We can become physically ill. It can cause many of us to "self medicate" through substance abuse or other addictive or compulsive behaviors. It can change the way we might otherwise live. And does this only affect us? It does not. Our anger and frustration seep out of us and have an effect on the people around us, especially the people closest to us.

One of the first people we need to forgive is ourselves. When we hold on to mistakes we have made, or negative self-perceptions, we are actively reversing any progress we might be making in our spiritual evolution.

As in week one of this discussion, the point was again made that forgiveness relieves you of your burdens, allowing you more freedom to carry on with your true pursuits.

Why do we not forgive? Perhaps we have trouble seeing things from the other person's perspective. If we make an effort to understand where another person is coming from, we may be able to be more compassionate for that person, and this can pave the way to forgiveness.

The Book of Luke 23:34 was quoted: "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." This says to us that forgiveness is a process which starts in the very midst of the injustice. It was noted that Jesus forgave his tormentors during his crucifixion, not later, after apologies had been made, or therapy had been received. We should strive to forgive immediately. Lara shared with us the story of a man whose wife and two children were killed by a drunk driver, and how this man chose to forgive the driver right at that moment. You can see Chris Williams, the man who forgave, talk about his experience by clicking here.


Week 3: September 23, 2012


Not forgiving is like a cluttered house: you are completely filled with thoughts of the past, and there is no room left for any new thoughts to be let in.

Many of us may not forgive because we feel that to forgive a wrong that was done to us is tantamount to saying that the offense did not occur at all. We find it difficult for this to agree with our personal sense of justice - if forgiveness means a denial of wrongdoing, then we refuse to forgive. The problem with never forgiving is that eventually there will be no one left who has never done us wrong and we will find ourselves alone in the world. We must realize that forgiveness allows us to acknowledge that we indeed were hurt by the actions of another, but that we have chosen to continue on our journey without carrying that hurt with us as a burden that will ultimately be of no use to either party.

If we forgive someone for hurting us in the past, does that mean that we are giving that person a license to continue to do so in the future? No. We can forgive a person for their transgressions against us, and we can use this forgiveness as a way to divest ourselves of the harmful baggage given to us by the other person, and this will allow us to move on, and remove ourselves from a bad situation so that we may avoid being hurt again. If we do not forgive, we are setting ourselves up to experience a recurring negative situation, as we are not able to move forward. In this way we can unknowingly become "stuck" in a loop of negative energy, that we are maintaining by our refusal to let go.

Sometimes the behavior of others may baffle us. Why is he doing this to me? Why is she acting like that? We should make the effort to try to understand the circumstances surrounding the other person which are causing them to act in a certain way. If we are able to view a situation from another person's perspective, we will be much closer to being able to forgive them for their actions.

A quote was shared from a book called The Nature of Personal Reality, A Seth Book by Jane Roberts:
"Your own consciousness is embarked upon a reality that basically can be experienced by no other, that is unique and untranslatable, with its own meaning, following its own paths of becoming. You share an existence with others who are experiencing their own journeys in their own ways, and you have journeying in common, then. Be kind to yourself and your companions." This reminds us that each of our fellow human beings is living out an existence that can only completely make sense to that person, and because of this we should have compassion for others, as every individual is, in this way, in the same boat. We should not make assumptions about what others should or should not do or feel, because there is no way for us to truly experience the world in the same way as any other person."


Week 4: September 30, 2012


During the final week of this discussion we talked about trust, as it relates to forgiveness.

Trust is not built overnight. Because we have forgiven someone, this does not mean that we immediately trust them again. It takes time to mend and rebuild trust. Forgiveness is given freely and is unconditional; Trust must be earned. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past; Trust is built up in the future.

Forgiveness should not be dependent upon the other person. We should not wait for apologies, or for the other party to change their ways before we forgive them. We forgive others not to grant them a favor, but to heal ourselves. Forgiveness benefits our own well being; our mental and emotional health.

When we forgive, our burdens are lifted and we are once again made whole so that we may walk a path of Love.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

UMS Founder on "FORGIVENESS"


This Sunday, September 9th, our discussion will focus around the topic of Forgiveness. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Experiences from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

FORGIVENESS


"Forgiveness is truly a gift to self, it allows love to return to consciousness where there was none."

Love frees the past, hate binds it to you! Love is asked to forgive what courtesy would have avoided. Forgiveness is truly a gift to self, it allows love to return to consciousness where there was none. Forgiveness allows light to return where darkness dwells.

That hurt or bitter feeling we hold onto so tight shows up at all the wrong times, like at great celebrations. Birthdays and weddings are but stages for these bitter feelings to steal the spotlight.

To blame anyone else for what you feel is to lose your power. Look how you choose to act, feel, to be. Choice is also your power. You may choose how you feel! There are no other rules! How you feel has, and is, always your choice. How are you doing?

Any single event, of itself, cannot hurt you. It is when you start heaping that hurt comes and brings its companion, the tear.

What is meant by heaping? Say a friend does something to hurt you, and your mind starts to remember all the other things they did or did not do. They forgot your birthday, or didn't buy you a Christmas gift. You know, "HEAPING." That's how you can get angry enough to make forgiveness seem foolish. If each event is kept in its place, it can be dealt with.

Remember, forgiveness is a gift first to self, for it allows love to return where there was none. What value is the score if there is no purpose in the game?

All too often we let those we love think the mistakes they made are behind them; and the beautiful, righteous persons we are have transmuted these experiences into tender understanding.

For so many, they are merely hidden in the closet. They are your nuclear weapons in case of emergency. They are kept to make sure, in time of necessity, that we win.

The right and wrong game becomes important. The need to be right can assimilate facts and interpret them to suit that need. All too often we set things in motion to prove we are right and times like these make us DEAD right.

In a city of millions, so few of us touch, get to know each other. How important the relationships must be, that in millions we have searched each other out, probably over lifetimes. So often we hear, "There are a lot more fish in the sea." Somehow I really don't think so.

We who have been given unto each other's keeping, must care more for each other and attack each other less. We must never tear at the fabric of each other's being.

It's like a torn garment, once it's tom. It may be mended, but it is not the same. It is a torn fabric. You will read in this book: LOVE CAUSES CHANGE, IT DOES NOT DEMAND IT. We may always make new friends, but the reason, the lesson, the joy is not as definite; somehow, each time we make new friends for old, bad reasons, something is lost.

Friends share tears together, but these tears are the holy water of the soul. When a friend is acting strange, cruel, you might remember, "Fear is the parent of all cruelty." Forgive the part that's cruel - treat and heal the part that is fear.

There are times we react because of an intimate past experience we can't tell anyone for fear they will not like, love, or respect us "if they knew." A husband can make a movement in love, but the wife remembers that move or action with a past experience of incest or rape from a friend/date. Many such experiences leave a scar, and often guilt. "I must have done something to deserve this, but I don't know what!" The wife may be afraid and keep her secret, again out of fear of what her husband might think.

What you may think of as wrong between you may have nothing to do with either of you. We must then know the difference between seeking truth and finding fault. If we make mistakes, then make them on the side of charity.

The Universal Law teaches us: "As we forgive, we are forgiven. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

Once we become mindful of forgiveness and its virtue, we then become mindful of God's forgiveness to us. Bucky Fuller stated, "On this planet we learn by trial and error, and we must give each other that right."

We must accept apologies when given, and act to show they are accepted. We need to count on forgiveness, it keeps our loving alive. Jesus stated, concerning Mary Magdalene, "Much is forgiven her for she loves much."

We, at times, cannot help but "key" into past and fearful or guilt ridden experiences. Something someone says; a red car went by ("it" happened in a red car) whatever; when these things that go bump in the night key in, our friend can be the lock by which the problem can be brought out of the cage of the past; and lock and key work together to free the mind and comfort the soul.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Experiences


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for August 26 and September 2, 2012

For two weeks we discussed the subject of Experiences, as we referred to chapter 4 of Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.


To kick off the discussion, some definitions were read as food for thought:

  • Experience: the apprehension of an object, thought, or motion through the sense of mind. An event or series of events participated in or lived through.
  • Apprehension: the fearful anticipation of the future. The act of seizing.
  • Apprehend: to take into custody, to grasp, to understand.

 Several passages were quoted the relevant chapter of Perceptions.

One participant stated that experiences are learning opportunities. He gave an example of the way "near misses" with other ships at sea are always recorded as a way of learning from these incidents in the future. Even these close calls are learning opportunities. It was said that, "You can't become old and wise until you have been young and stupid."

We asked the question, "When are experiences bad?" One person said they can be bad when we don't welcome the experience. We profit from all experiences, good, bad, and neutral, although this prompted another person to raise the question, "Why do we need to judge experiences as either good or bad at all?"

Many agreed that all forms of energy will out themselves in one way or another. It can manifest in a constructive way, but if restricted or suppressed, it can burst out in a disruptive way, like a car accident.  If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could be the recipient of such a burst of repressed energy.

We asked: What sort of events do you invite into your life based upon the type of energy you are putting out? Do we know? How does a very young child have the tools to know how to prevent a bad event? Some of us thought that through reincarnation that we set up life circumstances and lessons for ourselves, and that these may sometimes be difficult or unpleasant. Others thought that we cannot control the events themselves, but we can only control how we respond to them. One participant pointed out that even the horrible things that happen in life help to mold you into the person you are today. Another stated that we can try to learn from our experiences, and that we have a choice as to whether we react positively or negatively. He gave an example of two people he knew who had experienced a similar terrible event in their lives, and talked about how each of them had responded to it very differently, with one person turning to addiction as an escape, and other using the experience as a tool to help others deal with the same type of trauma.

Damien was quoted as saying, "It's not what you're looking at, it's what you're looking through."  People can be present for the same event and experience it different ways. Our experiences are colored by our perceptions. Someone noted that they tried to remember when having difficulty with another person, that they have no idea what the other person has been through. He stated that he used this reminder to keep himself in check when he might say something rash when he does not know the whole story. Another member noted that our opinion of a person may be different than someone else's opinion, based on our two different sets of experiences with that person. He gave an example of a family member who was held in low regard by many in his family. He talked about how their experiences with this person had been negative, so they all held poor opinions of him. His experiences, on the other hand, had been very positive, so he saw this family member from a completely different perspective. Our experiences with others can influence your relationships, which in turn can influence the path they take.

How often do we create our own experiences? We are reminded to be specific in our prayers, because tomorrow we may be praying to get out of what we prayed to get into today.



What do we do with experiences after they are done? Our facilitator, Lara, described a dream she had in which she was carrying around a backpack. She kept collecting stones to put in the backpack along her journey, and it became heavier and heavier. There came a time where she needed to take her leave of the place she was in, but the only exit was too high for her to reach. She had to decide to take the stones out of her pack, and when she did this, she was able to float away and leave as she pleased. What are the stones you carry in your backpack? With them, you are heavy and cumbersome. Without them you can float. Problems happen when we can't let go of old experiences. Where are you putting your energy? Are you using it to carry the stones or to fly to freedom?



"Most of the shadows of this life come from our standing in the way of your own sunshine." ~Emerson

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

UMS Founder on "EXPERIENCES"


This Sunday, August 26th, our discussion will focus around the topic of Experiences. If you'd like some food for thought on this subject, below you can read the chapter on Experiences from Perceptions, a book written by UMS founder Damien Simpson.

EXPERIENCES


"If I must go through this experience, this condition, thank God it is with a friend (not because of a friend)."

There is no greater fool than one who does something wrong and thinks it will come out right.

Experiences are not so much what's happening to you, but how you are happening to them. In all you experience, remember your perception governs your reality. If you say the word, REACT, you will feel it in the solar plexus. If you say the word, RESPOND, you feel it in the heart. To me, the word EXPERIENCE itself, indicates EXPIRE - death to limitations - be they good or bad. Experiences bring new understanding.


Think on these sayings in regard to experiences:

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine."  ~Emerson

Clouds in our lives are sent many times to bring showers of blessings.

No man has yet hurt his eyesight by looking on the bright side of things.

Some experiences bring a tear to the eye and are often the holy water of the soul.

If the outer world is more important than the inner world, growth usually comes through pain and struggle. Don't be a victim in all experiences. Search for a truth where there is no victor nor victim.

Remember, there are good reasons as to why things happen. Your experiences are not by chance. Correct your relationship to the higher self and the wisdom of a lifetime is yours. The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.

Experiences usually occur through friends or close acquaintances. If I am to go through a hard and difficult experience, or trial of self control, or even mastery of life situations, God grant me the grace to go through it with friends.

Too often in these times we blame our friends! Remember, in true enlightenment, we never blame anyone outside of self for what is happening to us.

Begin to affirm, "If I must go through this experience, this condition, thank God it is with a friend (not because of a friend)."


SURVIVAL IS HURT DIVIDED BY TWO.

I used to keep my hurtful experiences to myself; even worse my fears as well. One night the inner pain and fear of a certain situation was too great. I decided - in reality - I HAD to tell my close friend. I realized I didn't have to keep up the facade of perfect control, enlightenment, or whatever.

I guess it's what a friend calls letting him in - adding to his insight of you, which he then may use on your behalf. The moment I spoke of my troubles, it seemed like half of the weight of my problem fell from me.


"SURVIVAL IS HURT/FEAR DIVIDED BY TWO."

I remember a particularly hard time in my life. I was experiencing problems far removed from my consciousness or my law-of-attraction, if you will. All I could do was hold strong to the thought, "Respond, don't react."

The experience included a close friend and was even harder and more trying for him. I remember his words to me in a kind of blaming tone; "These things don't happen to me as a metaphysician. I don't attract these kinds of things."

My answer to him, "Well, neither do I ." I told my friend that if we had to go through this, we need the strength and COMFORT (com-with-fort, strength) OF FRIENDSHIP.

Friends often blame and separate when they share a difficult and hard experience, when what they really need in these times is each other. Don't look for blame, it might be neither person at fault, but a lesson of growth for each. A lesson to make both better for it, not worse.

Later proof was given to show that the trial we were going through was caused by our involvement with another person, whose jealousy was beyond control, and this third person needed to inflict suffering and create a total break in our friendship.

I repeat again, the key word here is THROUGH. What we are going through. Often you will hear someone say, "You don't know what I am going through." Remind him of the word "through" - you will get through it unless you care to stay in it. You can even determine how long you can stay in IT, even forever if that is what you choose.


Experiences are for the benefit (bene in Latin means good) so it is a good fit - if you don't become fit to be tied. It is okay to hurt but not to suffer from your experiences. Suffering is bitterness, rejection, remorse. Hurt is wisdom, tender understanding.

There are some things I've done that to this day as I think of them I hurt. That hurt (tender wisdom) assures me that I'll never do anything like that again. Hurt, yes, but now too wise to ever do or have done to me those experiences again. I don't suffer for I don't need to get even - you see, I get it (wisdom, I mean.)

The Scripture states, "Be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves." Experience does not cancel innocence. You can still be experienced, wiser and yet innocent in the peace from where you are coming - a perfect heart.

If we care to stay emotionally upset over our experiences, it must be because they have a secondary gain more important to us or our ego than the primary cause. That's another story, isn't it?

Each experience has a message sent from heaven. Don't pick up earthly static.

UMS Founder, Damien Simpson

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Misconceptions, Preconceptions, and Assumptions


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for August 5 and August 12, 2012

Over the course of two weeks we discussed the ideas of Misconceptions, Preconceptions, and Assumptions.


We started the discussion by reading some brief definitions of these words:


  • Misconception: a mistaken view, belief, or wrong idea.
  • Preconception: an opinion formed before obtaining adequate evidence, especially as the result of bias or prejudice.
  • Assumption: the act of taking for granted, or supposing a thing without proof; a supposition; an unwarrantable claim.


The root of all evil is fear. President Franklin Roosevelt's famous quote was cited:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

UMS founder Damien Simpson was quoted as saying:
"Prejudice is being down on something that you are not up on."

One of our participants talked about a discussion he was having with a Muslim coworker not long after the tragedy of September 11th. As they discussed the idea of preconceptions about groups of people based on the actions of a few, or even one person, his associate said to him, "If Al Queda represents Islam, then the KKK must represent Christianity."

Another participant related stories of how she grew up in a time and place of very prevalent racial prejudice. She talked about all of the negative things she would hear one group saying about another, and that she had to always try to make decisions about others only after consulting with her heart, because if she were only to use the ideas of others to guide her then she would be likely to misjudge people.

If we have an opinion about something we owe it to ourselves to learn as much as we can about it, and to do so with an open mind. We said that we should not make generalizations because they lead to unfair blame, stereotypes, and scapegoating.

What do we do about hatred based on fear? It starts with ourselves. We must look within to change what we see without. What we think, we manifest.

It was noted that sometime, we, as a people can become stuck in a rut, and certain assumptions can become so ingrained that sudden, jarring events of great magnitude, such as the recent shooting at the Sikh temple, or a tragedy such as September 11th, become the only means to wake people up. People are forced to examine their beliefs. We talked about the need to be aware that many of the things we fear are sensationalized by society and the media for ratings and profits. We must take the time to examine what we perceive within the grand scheme of things, and realize that what is being suggested to us may not be as bad as it sounds.

We observed that Fear and Excitement are very similar energies.

God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fear


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for July 29, 2012

During this discussion we talked about the topic of Fear.


Fear is universal. It is something we all experience from time to time.

We can be fearful that we do not measure up: that we are not thin enough, good enough, or pretty enough. We can be afraid of pain, rejection, or loneliness. Many of these fears can move us to act.

Fear is lack of knowledge.

F.E.A.R. stands for False Energies Appearing Real. Fear is not knowing; ignorance.




Package designed to create fear that will prompt a purchase.

In our culture we are manipulated through the use of fear. Advertisements and marketing use fear as a tool to compel us to purchase products, or cast our votes a certain way. Many of the implications in such fear-based suggestions can be unreal. The idea of buying insurance was one example given of this method of mass persuasion. Advertisements for insurance are often designed to make the consumer feel fearful of what will happen if they fail to purchase this service.





Motivation through fear.
Some of our fears come from our environment. We can learn a variety of fears, great and small from our families, teachings that we absorb during our formative years, from politics, and even religion. We can observe others being fearful, and if those others are people who we trust or respect, we may decide that we, too, should be fearful of the same things, assuming that these people know best.

We can even program ourselves to be fearful based on our own experiences. Perhaps we have a personal interaction or relationship that goes awry. We may now assume that all such interactions in the future will be the same poor experience, and become fearful of involving ourselves in anything similar again. The truth is, we cannot know for sure that each future experience will turn out in the same way as previous situations.

We asked : How can we conquer fear? Many of us agreed that we must be courageous and face our fears head-on. When we do this, we will find that the experience is much less frightening than we expected. We should logically think of the probability of a bad outcome, as we will many times realize that it is actually quite unlikely that anything bad will happen.

Hold Love first in your heart, and not Fear.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Courage


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for July 15 and July 22, 2012

For two weeks we discussed the subject of Courage.


Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. To stand up even when you stand alone.

Examples were given of world events such as the Enron and Barclays Bank scandals. Whistle-blowers spoke out when they saw wrongdoing, even though they knew that despite laws that exist to protect them, that they would face potentially harmful repercussions. Courage is when you see that others are doing wrong, but you choose to do the right thing. To not do this is cowardice.

We can train ourselves to be courageous by beginning with small acts of bravery. It is not necessary for it to be a momentous event for us to demonstrate courage. It could be something much more mundane. For example, if you see your group of friends making disparaging remarks about another person, you can have the courage to stand up and say that you feel it is wrong to talk negatively about someone else. If we practice these small acts on a more regular basis, once we arrive at larger situations that require courage, we will have more skill at it.

This raised the question:  Is it harder to be courageous for the large events or the smaller ones? Sometimes even the more insignificant seeming events may be harder because there is the feeling that this situation isn't important enough to bother making the effort to be courageous.

Another example was given of a fraternity president who cancelled the infamous "hell week" initiation period for his organization, and substituted a week of philanthropic work. He received a lot of push-back for this change, but he showed the courage to move forward with actions that he thought were right despite of the criticism he faced. We have to be willing to take the chance. A courageous person is not so concerned with what other people think; with the possible repercussions of their act. Or perhaps they are concerned, but they do it anyways, in spite of their fears.

The topic of Courage, Lance, our facilitator noted, correlates with Comfort/Discomfort discussion we had in June. He quoted from a blog by Keith Hicks, entitled: It Takes Courage to Grow, saying "All growth happens outside the comfort zone."



Some of us stated that they can get help in being courageous from prayer, repeating a mantra or chanting. Lance said that this brought to mind an Oprah interview in which she was talking to rapper 50 Cent, in which he said that one can either decide to pray or to worry, but that it is no good to do both.



We agreed that worry is counterproductive. The more you think about a problem, the worse it gets. The anxiety you create by worrying is probably worse than facing the problem. Lara gave an example of this that revolved around how she had put off telling her best friend that she was planning her vacation to Istanbul. She was afraid that this news would upset her friend, due to her friend's emphatic negative reaction when Lara picked up a book on Istanbul in a bookstore during the initial stages where she was deciding on a location for her trip. She didn't want to deal with the confrontation, but she discovered that this secret was making all of her interactions with her friend difficult: she had to entirely avoid a topic of conversation every time they would interact, on a subject that was prominent in her life at the moment. She finally mustered the courage to get it over with and tell her friend that she was going o Istanbul for vacation. To her surprise, her friend was fairly supportive and dealt with the revelation with a sense of humor. She noted that this scenario shows us how things won't be nearly as bad as you imagine they will be, when you envision the consequences of taking a courageous action.

A final example was given by Lance to show how we can gain courage by taking small steps. He talked about a time in his life when he was laid off and had a sudden need to interview for new jobs. He was worried about his interview skills because he had worked at his previous position for so long that had no recent interview experience. He began to receive solicitations for interview training courses, and he was so worried that he thought maybe he would need something like this. But soon he began to get lots of short term project jobs, and because of this frequent change in employment, he was able gain experience interviewing. From this, he learned that when you are afraid, and feel like you have no experience in doing something, that you should just do it! We can get experience doing the thing you fear again and again and  we will discover that it will become easier with repetition.