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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.

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.

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.

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

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 re-position you to a point of balance again. Opposition exists to re-position 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