Unity of Berkeley began a new era once again on October 21, 2012 as we move from the Chochmat HaLev Community Room to the Sanctuary and its beautiful light and Darrell Hunger’s gorgeous “earth” painting. Thanks to all who contributed!
Our annual picnic was fun, filling and great fellowship! Thanks to Steve Carter for our entrees and everyone one else who brought yummy food!
The Unity of All Traditions: Where We Connect and Intersect was the theme of the Second Annual Interfaith Symposium Sunday, Sept. 9. The Symposium gathers together representatives from various World Wisdom Traditions to share how we are all connected.
World Wisdom Guest Speakers:
Tao: Alex MacDonald & Jose Miranda – The Taoist Center
First Nations: Patricia St. Onge, Seven Generations Consultants
Africa: Kokomon Clottey, The Attitudinal Healing Connection of Oakland
Judaic: Kevin Morgan, Chochmat HaLev
Hindu: Swami Khecaranatha, Trikashala
Unity: Rev. DeeAnn Weir-Morency, Unity of Berkeley
We had a wonderful time for our first service at Chochmat HaLev. We look forward to seeing you at a service soon. Until then, here are some pictures for your enjoyment!
Our New Home!!!
2215 Prince Street
Berkeley, CA 94705
We are blessed that Chochmat HaLev has
graciously welcomed our community to hold Sunday Services in their space.
Services will continue to be held at 10:30am and we will be able to share time after service until 2pm. Of course this means that we have a beautiful new home in which to pray and celebrate.
June 3 will be our first Sunday Service at Chochmat HaLev
Giving thanks to all of you who are helping now and
continue to help in every aspect of our move.
We begin in our new home with deep gratitude,
knowing and seeing that this is a mutually loving
relationship filled with Divine Inspiration and Imagination.
I found this on the Internet and thought many would benefit by this Centering Prayer Practice.
“In Centering Prayer we sink down into the quiet depths, where there is only a simple, peaceful flow from our Source into the Ocean of Infinite Love. What serenity, what tranquillity, what peace; what vitality, what power, what refreshment! But, on the surface, a lot of activity is still going on. Thoughts are still careening along, feelings are being evoked, sounds are hitting our eardrums. And every once in a while, a flashy vessel or a particularly interesting one arrests our attention and we find ourselves surfacing-or perhaps we have fully surfaced and all but climbed aboard the enticing boat before we are aware of having left the peaceful depths.
It is at this point that we use our prayer word. We do not so much turn from the thought or feeling. We do not think (another thought) of letting it go. We simply – with the gentlest repetition of our prayer word, maybe only the faintest recollection of it – return to the Presence. The author of The Cloud says, “It is best when this word is wholly interior, without a definite thought or actual sound.” We simply, peacefully sink again into the depths. It is as gentle and effortless as that: a sinking down into the depths. If we but let ourselves go, we have a natural propensity to rest quietly in our Source. And so, throughout our prayer time, the thoughts, the feelings, the sounds, the images continue. We just let them flow along. Our attention is elsewhere. (p.75-76)
The Guidelines for Centering Prayer:
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Centering Prayer is normally practiced for 20 minutes twice a day, usually after rising in the morning and again before the evening meal at the end of the day.
Explanation of the Guidelines for Centering Prayer
from Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart, p.139-141.
1. “Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within”.
a. the sacred word expresses our intention to be in God’s presence and to yield to the divine action.
b. the sacred word should be chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspire us with one that is especially suitable for us.
- examples: Lord, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother.
- other possibilities: Love, Peace, Shalom, Silence.
c. Having chosen a sacred word, we do not change it during the prayer period, for that would be to start thinking again.
d. A simple inward gaze upon God may be more suitable for some persons than the sacred word. In this case, one consents to God’s presence and action by turning inwardly toward God as if gazing upon him. The same guidelines apply to the sacred gaze as to the sacred word.
2. “Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.”
a. By “sitting comfortably” is meant relatively comfortably; not so comfortably that we encourage sleep, but sitting comfortably enough to avoid thinking about the discomfort of our bodies during this time of prayer.
b. Whatever sitting position we choose, we keep the back straight.
c. If we fall asleep, we continue the prayer for a few minutes upon awakening if we can spare the time.
d. Praying in this way after a main meal encourages drowsiness. Better to wait an hour at least before centering prayer. Praying in this way just before retiring may disturb one’s sleep pattern.
e. We close our eyes to let go of what is going on around and within us.
f. We introduce the sacred word inwardly and as gently as laying a feather on a piece of absorbent cotton.
3. “When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.”
a. “Thoughts” is an umbrella term for every perception including sense perceptions, feelings, images, memories, reflections, and commentaries.
b. Thoughts are a normal part of centering prayer.
c. By “returning ever-so-gently to the sacred word”, a minimum of effort is indicated. This is the only activity we initiate during the time of centering prayer.
d. During the course of our prayer, the sacred word may become vague or even disappear.
4. “At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.”
a. If this prayer is done in a group, the leader may slowly recite the Our Father during the additional two or three minutes while the others listen.
b. The additional two or three minutes give the psyche time to readjust to the external senses and enable us to bring the atmosphere of silence into daily life.
Some Practical Points
1. The minimum time for this prayer is 20 minutes. Two periods are recommended each day, one first thing in the morning, and one in the afternoon or early evening.
2. The end of the prayer period can be indicated by a timer, provided it does not have an audible tick or loud sound when it goes off.
3. The principal effects of centering prayer are experienced in daily life, not in the period of centering prayer itself.
4. Physical symptoms:
a. We may notice slight pains, itches, or twitches of the body, or a generalised restlessness. These are usually due to the untying of emotional knots in the body.
b. We may also notice heaviness or lightness in the extremities. This is usually due to a deep level of spiritual attentiveness.
c. In either case, we pay no attention, or we allow the mind to rest briefly in the sensation and then return to the sacred word.
5. Lectio divina provides the conceptual background for the development of centering prayer.
6. A support group praying and sharing together once a week helps maintain one’s commitment to the prayer.
“Unity puts into practice a true ecumenical approach… Unity sees itself as a vehicle for instruction, inspiration and prayer support for spiritual seekers regardless of their religious affiliations… as an ever-expanding expression of love, light, and peace. Therefore, it freely shares its teachings and believes in the oneness and freedom of all people.”
~ The Association of Unity Churches
For the last seven years, our August World Wisdom series has brought great spiritual teachers form many faiths to Unity of Berkeley. We invite you to experience the deep river of Spirit and Oneness that flows through all the speakers that will join us in August.
August 1 ~ Hinduism
Dr. Sunil Sanon heads Divine Light Trust in order to realize his dream of serving the poor, ailing, and the underserved. An innovative thinker, he has spoken on topics related to Mind Body Medicine, paradigm shifts, and ethics. He is a devout disciple of Pandit Sriram Sharma Acharya, founder of Gayatri Pariwar.
Music: Sound Voice Healers and Members of Gayatri Pariwar.
August 8 ~ Judaism
Avram Davis, Ph.D. is the founder and Rabbi Emeritus of Chochmat HaLev in Berkeley. An international known writer and speaker sought after for his humor and joy, he is currently living in simplicity as the Farmer Rabbi. We welcome his wit and wisdom at Unity.
Music: Tad Toomay and the Unity House Band
August 15 ~ Taoism
Master Alex Feng directs the Taoist Center in Oakland and has a deep lineage in the Taoist tradition and ancient Chinese medicine. We welcome Master Feng for the third year. His presence has delighted many with great humor and insight.
August 22 ~ Indigenous Wisdom
Maria Owl Gutierrez has been serving her community as a spiritual healer and teacher for over fifteen years, pulling deep wisdom from her own indigenous identity, as well as spiritual traditions she was initiated into. Through her intentional research, dreamwork and personal experience she has come to realize her work as a multi-ethnic bridge-builder between cultures and traditions. Maria received her BA from New College of California, in Ecology & Sustainable Community. She received her MA from the California Institute of Integral Studies in Integral Counseling Psychology. Maria also holds certifications in master level Intuition Medicine and Clinical Hypnotherapy. She has been a guest speaker at New College.
August 29 ~ Sufism
John “Wadude” Laird, M.D. is Dean of the University of Spiritual Healing and Sufism in Pope Valley, California. He received his medical degree from Dartmouth and in addition to his deep loving presence, he is a master healer and teacher. Wadude will lead a Sufi Zikr as his contribution to our World Wisdom series.
Music: Charles Moselle
With situations like the one in Haiti, our hearts open in compassion and we are called to help in some way. As we continue to learn of the many ways we can be of assistance, one thing we can do immediately and jointly is pray. We invite you to join us in prayer for all those affected by the earthquake in Haiti.
As you pray, know that God is present in the midst of every situation. Envision each and every person in Haiti embraced by this Divine Presence of love, comforted, strengthened and guided in next steps. Hold an image of Divine Love in action as people offer assistance and relief by providing food, water, shelter, clothing and medical aid to those in need.
There is energy in prayer that touches the minds and hearts of all involved. United we make a difference.
Here is the link to one international aid organization that is offering immediate assistance. If you are able to do so, making a donation to Oxfam is one way to offer practical as well as spiritual help to the people of Haiti.
Passion-Ashes – Bread Crumbs from the Soul
Path Three – The Path of Passion
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I have been reflecting on my Sunday message and really going deeper inside to discover what my passion is. I missed the mark on my “bread crumbs” analogy – calling them passion crumbs instead of what I see now as passion ashes. They are the ashes left behind from the “fire in the belly” that point us and show us the path of our passion. These ashes give us evidence of the “little fires,” the sparks that Vivekananda reminded us are our “karma.” (I will re-type that passage that I shared on Sunday at the end of this writing.)
I was reflecting this morning in my mediation on my own passion ashes, in particular the evidence of a long-held desire/idea/intention of mine to write a book on the Unity teachings of the 12 powers. When I started to look back at the numerous little piles of ashes in my life I could see a steady trail that started in 1992 in Sacramento at Unity Christ Church Continuing Education Program. I was a new Unity Student and taking my first week of classes that would eventually lead to my Licensed Unity Teacher credential. (When I think back I believe that the seeds of desire to become a Unity minster were planted in that week’s experience. But that is another story.) I found a set of colorful cards describing something called Unity’s 12 Powers. I was intrigued ,fascinated and a little bit overwhelmed I didn’t know how I would ever remember 12 somethings, three to five seemed like my limit! I had never heard of this teaching and it seemed to resonate within me very deeply.
Over the next few years I began to gather all the books on the 12 powers that I could find. It was not a program or theme that seemed to interest my minster, but as I was planning to become a Licensed Teacher I was free to do my own study and focus. In December 1995, I decided to select one power to focus on each year. I would close my eyes and select one card from my stack of 12 and really be intentional in my awareness of that particular power for the following year. I remember that first year because I so wanted to pick the power of LOVE, but I got STRENGTH, which seemed rather pedestrian and not very WOW. How wrong I was! That year was one of great challenge for me and my family, and my inner Strength was just what I needed to cultivate and rely on. .
In the mid 1990s I began to create spiritual growth programs based on books. In 1998 created a six week book study for a small group study program in Santa Rosa that was based on the 12 powers. Next I created a 13 week sabbatical for my Unity in Marin minister called Claim Your Power. From the early days of New Thought Unity, later to become Unity of Berkeley, I created the tradition of having people pick a 12 Power Card at the Christmas Eve Service. One year we studied a power each month to bring more focus to the ideas. One year I tried to offer a once a month Saturday class on the 12 powers, but the energy was not strong and so that class did not continue as I had hoped. The timing was not right, not in Divine Order I guess.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day in 2007, I took a week to pray and study and once again caught the fire of writing my own book on the 12 powers. I set up a web site, www.claimyoursoulpower.com. I had wanted to call it Claim Your Power but that name was already taken. I started writing and working on the site, and then my fire went out and another pile of ashes were left on the trail.
This Sunday, when May Rose was sharing about her idea to raise funds for the church by doing a matching $1,000 challenge, I realized how much the 12 powers really mean to ME. She has been telling me that the program is not HER program. She had another idea of how to raise the funds, but due to travel and illness was not able to execute her idea. In being with all of this conversation I realized how I have put my own passion for this project on the back burner. It has been on simmer for a very long time.
Today I have been fanning the fire in my belly and looking at what transformation is happening in this fire, and what is my karma, my authentic action to take? My desire has always been to get this 12 power message out in a contemporary, compelling, current book that will offer insight and tools for personal spiritual growth. And so I am taking this action, I am writing to share with all of you.
Sometimes we share our thoughts and then find the after-thoughts are more powerful. Such has been the case with me today and yesterday and all last week. I have been living these topics, as we are Walking in the Light together for these seven weeks. I dearly hope that you are finding your passion, your deeper purpose and your spiritual power as you journey with me this fall at Unity.
I owe you a write up on our Path Two of Creativity and Abundance. I think I will let Spirit flow these transmissions in the right and perfect order for my soul growth and hopefully for each of you. I welcome your ideas, your comments and your prayers. This journey is more fun when we take it together.
The children did a belly button meditation yesterday to focus on the third chakra and the solar plexus. I hope you will have a belly laugh and find your spiritual power center as you look at the divine fires you have created and those that are waiting for your good karma, your authentic. God bless.
In Love and Oneness
Here is the reading from Sunday morning
By Vivekananda from Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, published 1955 page 5-8
“Like fire in a piece of flint, knowledge exists in the mind. Suggestion is the friction which brings it out. So with all our feelings and actions. Our tears and our smiles, our joys and our griefs, our weeping and our laughter, our curses and our blessings, our praises, and our blaming – every one of these we shall find, if we calmly study our own selves, to have been brought out from within ourselves by so many blows. The result is what we are. All these blows taken together are called karma- work, action. Every mental and physical blow that is given to the soul, by which, as it were, fire is struck from it, and by which its own power and knowledge are discovered is karma, using the word in its widest sense. Thus we are all doing karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is karma. You are listening: that is karma. We breathe: that is karma. We walk: that is karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is karma, and it leaves its marks on us……You must remember that the aim of all work, is simply to bring out the power of the mind which is already there, to wake up the soul. The power is inside every person; and so is knowledge. Different works are like blows to bring them out, to cause these giants to wake up.”