Sunday, July 29, 2012


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


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.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Sunday Service Discussion Notes for July 1 and July 8, 2012

For two weeks we discussed the subject of Synchronicity.

What is Synchronicity? It is defined as: "The experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. The concept of synchronicity was first described in this terminology by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s"

What do we think synchronicity means to us? A very basic idea of what the concept meant to Carl Jung, who coined the term is as follows: "Following discussions with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli, Jung believed that there were parallels between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics. Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus mundus. This deeper order led to the insights that a person was both embedded in an orderly framework and was the focus of that orderly framework and that the realisation of this was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also having elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective, synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an "intervention of grace". Jung also believed that in a person's life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person's egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness."

Our group had many personal examples to share with us of synchronous events that had occurred in their lives:

Lara recalled the time in her life when she was considering a move to Chicago - everywhere she looked, there were references to the city, as if the universe were reassuring her that this was the right move to make. One day she was attending a Highland Scottish Festival with a friend of hers and she was explaining to her friend this Chicago phenomenon. Her friend brushed it off as coincidence, but just a few moments later, as her and her friend went to view a bagpipe performance, the first pipe band up to play was from Chicago, as if to prove to her that she was not imagining things and reading into normal coincidences.

Neils discussed his lake house back east, where he said that at an earlier visit, he had discovered that a very large tree had fallen into the lake. He tasked a local man to haul the tree out of the lake and dispose of it, but various circumstances prevented this undertaking from being completed. The next time he visited the house there had recently been extensive, and seasonally uncommon rains, causing the lake to flood, and the tree to float to the surface. Now they were easily able to haul it out of the lake with a rope and cut it up into firewood. What were the odds that they would happen to be at the house just in time for the flooding, when they had no idea who they would have gotten the offending tree out of the lake otherwise?

Richard remembered when his brother, who was born in 1937, passed away. Suddenly Richard began seeing 37s everywhere that he happened to look at numbers: Restaurant receipts, addresses, phone numbers. During a phone call with his sister, she said that she was experiencing the same thing, and they both decided that their brother was trying to send a message to them. At a psychic fair which took place after this had been going on, he received a message through a medium from his mother and the first thing she said was that his brother was OK, which was not a normal conversational gambit from her, to be so direct about such a subject.

An example cited by more than one UMS member concerned a time when the church building was undergoing a remodel. The city inspectors insisted that the building have at least two restrooms, so that there would be both a ladies' and a men's room. As church members scratched their heads, wondering how they would rectify this issue on their already limited budget, a man drove by and introduced himself as a plumber. He said that he had just come from a job and had two toilets he didn't end up using, and wanted to know if anyone would be interested in buying them at a very low price, as he needed to be rid of them. Perfect timing!

A fun example was read from the book: Synchronicity & You, by Frank Joseph :
"Few motion pictures were more plagued with production nightmares than the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.  Among the lesser, although vexing, problems confronting Victor Fleming (one of five directors associated with the film) was something as simple as locating the right kind of coat for the traveling fortune-teller to wear. Incredibly, the studio did not possess a single frock coat that fit Frank Morgan, who portrayed Professor Marvel, or satisfied Fleming. He gave an ultimatum to the head of the props department, saying, "Bring me the coat I want after lunch, or you're fired!" Production had already gone far over budget, so falling behind now on its shooting schedule would result in the film's cancellation. In a panic, the props chief ran from the lot and sprinted several miles to the nearest pawn shop. There, in the back room, he found an old black coat he hoped would pacify the director. It looked about the right size, too. He returned in time for the shoot to find that the long-tailed coat fit actor Morgan perfectly and met Fleming's specifications. Months later, after filming and editing were completed and all the props were collected and returned to storage, the coat used for Professor Marvel's part hit a bureaucratic snag. The item was not in the Warner Brothers stock catalogue, and the prop chief had to explain how and where he obtained it. Turning the collar up to sew in a company label, he was surprised to find a tag bearing the name of its former owner. It read simply, "L. Frank Baum," author of the original Wizard of Oz series of children's books. Baum had already been dead for twenty years, so he could not appreciate this meaningful coincidence, made all the more intriguing because he personally identified with the character who wore the coat, Professor Marvel. The connection was appropriate, nevertheless, in that the 1939 film version did more to popularize his life's work that any publishing effort could have."
We had many questions about this phenomenon:

What counts as a synchronicity? Premonitions? Dreams? Repetition within a short span of time of the same numbers, words or phrases, objects?

Are all these incidents and occurrences happening because we are looking for them, or are they there all the time and it is up to us to use them and open ourselves to them? Or perhaps, are we simply catching an unfettered glimpse of the unifying underlying structure of the universe when our ego consciousness momentarily quiets down? We all had different opinions of which idea was closest to truth, and some of us allowed that it could be any or all of these things, depending on the situation.

During the first week of the discussion the question was asked, "What is the difference between a coincidence, a synchronicity, and a miracle?" When Rochelle, the facilitator of this discussion, was contemplating this question, she received an answer "out of the blue," that was posed as another question to her, "What is the difference between a wave and a tsunami?" The answer was: Magnitude.

The more we take note of synchronicities, the more of them we will see. The universe will show itself to us if we are willing to see it. We talked about how we have to let go of trying to control every aspect of our lives and  let the synchronicities of the world help us.

Synchronicity is a way that we can experience oneness with the universe.

"I knew I shoulda took that left turn at Albuquerque."
One participant provided an apt metaphor: We are now used to using GPS systems in our cars or on our phones. If we have set out GPS to provide us with directions to a destination, and we you go the wrong way, the GPS will re-direct us until we get where we are supposed to go. The farther off track from the destination we get, the longer and more difficult it will be to get back to the correct path. Synchronicities may be like warnings or guidance trying to nudge us onto the right path. The whole system is self-correcting. If you miss the clues, they will come around again.

We suggested the possibility of keeping a synchronicity journal, so that we may see larger patterns that we are unable to notice when we only look at each small instance separately, especially those instances where we cannot immediately see a meaning behind the event. Not only could we discover larger patterns among our synchronicities, but we would be able to take note of recurring types of incidents that may be specific to us, personally.

How can we interpret the meanings behind these events? Frank Joseph, in the book mentioned above in the Wizard of Oz story, says, "To scrutinize something like synchronicity is to diminish it. We murder when we dissect. In trying to understand the phenomenon, the degree to which we analyze it determines how it either divulges itself or escapes up. Indeed, it is less important that we consciously understand a meaningful coincidence than that we allow ourselves to feel it. What we may never understand intellectually we more certainly grasp subconsciously, with other ways of knowing. People long in contact with synchronous events believe humans have more ways of knowing than most of us realize. they regard the rational mind as a jealous tyrant at all times, who, afraid of losing control, needs to dominate all things at all times and refuses to recognize our intuitive capacity for knowledge through feeling. A concertgoer who confines his attention to the scientific principles of air set in motion through certain vibrations generated by wooden and metal instruments will hear various frequencies of sound, but no music."

As Rev. Jess said at the end of this discussion, "The answers are all there in the æther, until you ask the questions, the knowledge means nothing to you."