My heart is full with love as I welcome you to our very special night of “celebrating the sacred.” You are at Unity of Tustin at a very important time in your life and in the life of our mystical, spiritual community. There is no other place quite like our beloved community and it is up to us to carry the heart of its mission and vision into the next era that is dawning.
At one time the mystical, non-dual teachings that are our foundation here were largely unknown to the general population. Now they are common and we have unprecedented access to most of them at the click of a button. This wider exposure of mystical teachings brings Unity of Tustin to the leading edge in a whole new way.
Our spiritual life is like any living thing; it needs the right conditions to flourish. Meditation, devotion, service, inner work, tithing/conscious giving, and spiritual study are essential components of a deep and rich spiritual life. They each, through our attention and intention, nurture the divine seed within. Today, our individual practice alone is not enough. At the SAND (Science and Nonduality) Conference I recently attended I saw t-shirts with the phrase, “The New Buddha is the Sangha.” Sangha is Sanskrit for spiritual community and is an essential aspect to our spiritual path. It enhances our practice and gives us a container to hold all that arises along the journey. As we come together in practice, we are taken out of ourselves and immersed in something much larger than our individual lives, something we cannot and will not experience by ourselves.
Unity of Tustin is a template for the mystical, spiritual communities that our world needs now. Our gifts of practice, through service, devotion, tithing, and exploration in consciousness not only support our individual lives but they also support this amazing community we call home. Without each of us, Unity of Tustin is not possible. In Seven Thousand Ways to Listen by Mark Nepo he writes, “In truth, we mirror everything living as we climb and stumble our way up the mountain to the cliff of yes.” We are that mirror for each other and it will take us all, with our different experiences and gifts, to embody the vision that is before us. We are standing on the “cliff of yes.” Are you ready to deepen your practice and deepen our collective practice? As for me, it is a whole-hearted “YES.” Will you join me as we step into this new era?
In Deep Love,
Please also reference our 2014 Financial Vision found at http://www.unitytustin.org/2013/11/26/2014-financial-vision-for-unity-of-tustin/ and Spiritual Commitment form at http://www.unitytustin.org/2013/11/26/spiritual-commitment-card-2014/.
Our vision for 2014 reflects our commitment to continue the incredible programs and services offered at Unity of Tustin. We step into the unfolding plan of God in our life at Unity of Tustin and offer our vision of the financial commitment living that vision will require. Our deepest commitment is that everything be under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
PROGRAMS 2014: $190,000
Healing Lives, Building Dreams, Realizing God
32% of your total tithes, love offerings and income will go to support all of our programs, services, events, ministries and retreats. This is a diverse area that we can expand and contract as our resources indicate. Our budget for 2013 was $193,758. We forecast our 2013 program expenses will total $175,619.
PEOPLE 2014: $265,000
People Who Make a Difference
44% of your total offerings will go to employing our staff and support team. Our vision is to hire a part-time events and media person early in 2014. In addition to our full and part-time staff, we have an amazing selfless service team that really creates what we experience at Unity of Tustin. It is because of all of you who donate so much to our community that we are able to offer all that we do. Our budget for people expenses was $274,561. We forecast our 2013 people expenses will total $256,781.
PROPERTY 2014: $145,000
Your Spiritual Center of Radiating Light and Love
24% of your total offerings will go to our physical campus. We service our bank loan and pay our utilities, insurance, property taxes, and repairs. The amount of resources our property and buildings require, even with a lot of services and materials donated, will continue to require much upkeep and love. Our budget for property expenses was $111,653. We forecast our 2013 property expenses will total $138,452.
Total Financial Vision: $600,000
Please also read Rev. Carolyne’s letter about the 2014 vision for Unity of Tustin at http://www.unitytustin.org/2013/11/26/nurturing-the-divine-seed-within/ and the Spiritual Commitment Card http://www.unitytustin.org/2013/11/26/spiritual-commitment-card-2014/.
I recently came across my books by Leonard Jacobson (http://www.leonardjacobson.com/). He is an incredible enlightenment teacher who has been to Unity of Tustin multiple times. He offers this perspective on the relationship between consciousness, being human and being in the world. “It has been said, ‘Be in the world, but not of the world.’ To say that I am not of this world simply means that I am not attached to anything. Nor am I identified with what is happening in my everyday life. If I am not of this world then I am not attached to anything. Not to people or things or outcomes. My wanting brings me into the world. My not wanting also brings me into the world. It is my attachments that render me of this world.” From Words from Silence by Leonard Jacobson.
If you were to pass someone on the street that was being beat up, would you do something? What about if you become aware of cyber bullying? It’s more removed from your direct experience, but can be equally harmful to someone. What would you do? Now let’s talk the big issues. Ethnic cleansing, animal cruely, cloning, slavery, harmful environmental practices, etc. Most of us in the United States, especially in Orange County, California can feel immune to these. We live in a virtual paradise. But these issues affect us all. We are all one and in that oneness we are asked to look at all of what is both in the world of form and formless. But how? We know that meeting unconsciousness with unconsciousness doesn’t work; fighting anger with anger, etc are no win strategies in the end. Been there,done that. Something in us knows that there has to be another path. Enter the more transcendental perspectives- it’s all an illusion, etc. Yes, at one level. And at a more physical level this is God’s world, a world that came from and has the remembrance of the Divine. That cannot be ignored. And when behaviors, actions and so forth are not representing that, it’s our role to speak out. But again, how?
Over the last year at Unity of Tustin we have been defining and exploring what living a mystical life in a modern world looks like. At a recent Wednesday night interactive service a member was sharing how she felt called to write a letter to her senator regarding Syria. It’s a simple emailed letter, yet begins to offer a new way to engage in the world from this perspective of being in the world but not of it. It’s the quiet voice in the room that doesn’t speak from anger or righteous indignation, but knows that somewhere, somehow we must speak out. As this person was sharing what she wrote and why, I knew I wanted to share it with our greater community. It’s an example of how we can show up as modern mystics in the world. In a later email to me she wrote,
This [letter] was really born out of a curiosity…what would representatives do if we trusted them a little more to do their job? In this time of instant everything, social media and 24 hour news, everyone has an opinion, though not always well informed and many feel compelled to share every thought that comes up whether it is based in science, reason, ethics and morality or just bad information and old programming. If more moderate voices made themselves heard, the reps wouldn’t feel so compelled to bend so far to extremes. Maybe they could reflect on what is coming through their hearts and maybe some good work might get done. I know many might perceive the letter below as extremely naïve and simple. I am not an advocate of blindly following authority, that isn’t the message I am trying to convey. I actually am fairly well informed but I know my limits and my lack of security clearances that would give me access to all the information I would need to make the best decision about what to do in the aftermath of a mass murder of innocent men, women and children.
There is something very powerful in saying, “I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have all the information, but I care and I’m expecting you to as well.” It’s one of the hallmarks of an intelligent and educated society. It is also, from the spiritual perspective, a hallmark of radical, active surrender, trust and engaged compassion. From some perspectives this sounds weak, or naïve as was mentioned above. I challenge that. The person shouting the loudest and longest in an argument is often the one who ultimately is (if they are really honest) the most insecure. So, the question before us, as people who want to be in the world but not of it is ,”How?” How do we relate to a world that doesn’t give our power away and that doesn’t drag us down into the shouting match? These are important questions to ask. Are you asking them of yourself and others? The following letter to California Senator Barbara Boxer is one person’s attempt at that.
Hello Senator Boxer, I am writing because I know you will be receiving many letters on the topic of whether or not to use force with Syria. Too often it seems the more moderate voices are not heard as often as the extreme and I know this is an issue where many democrats are opposing President Obama. I am inclined to trust him, however, I am aware that I do not have sufficient knowledge or information to develop the most informed opinion. I want to register my vote of confidence in whatever decision you make in this matter. I am not equipped to make an informed judgment regarding Syria as I am not privy to the information that you will be receiving. I am asking only that you look into your heart and make the highest and best decision you know will do the greatest good as I believe you always strive to do.
I was moved by the humbleness and also the caring in the letter. It inspired me to really ponder how I’m personally being asked to get more involved in the world without losing my center. Stay tuned for more on this from me. In the meantime, what about you? You are welcome to leave your comments below or email me.
In Deep Love,
The breath is a physical manifestation of an essential aspect of the Divine. It is movement; it is the life supporting and sustaining energy for our physical being. In the subtle world, the breath is the Shakti, prana, Holy Spirit. John the Baptist recognizes this energy in Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In these scriptures, it is quoted that Jesus will baptize people with the Holy Spirit and fire. This is the spirit of movement, of change and refining.
It was in this understanding of the energy of the Holy Spirit that a team came together to vision for our fall program 2013. In a visioning session we asked: “What is Spirit’s vision for our fall program? What does it look like, feel like, taste like, sound like and smell like? What are we being asked to embrace and what are we being asked to release? And most importantly, are we willing to say yes, to be the hands and feet of the vision that has come through? We all said, “Yes.”
Coming out of our visioning, we shared what came and then set about bringing that vision into clarity and a working outline. What emerged from this time was a daring question… What is the name of this time period for our community? What does it represent to us? Now, to understand how daring this is, it’s important to remember that for twenty years our fall program has been called Adventure in Faith (AIF). It is Unity of Tustin’s history and tradition. Much has changed over the years around what happens during AIF. We have left some original components behind and embraced some new ones to keep this annual program a living, breathing system that is fresh and alive for our community. But, we have always kept the name Adventure in Faith. So now, as we enter our twenty-first year, we asked this question: “Does the name accurately reflect what our fall activities and programs represent to us now?”
In our visioning, the words connecting, three and Spirit, self, community as well as an image of an emerald seed falling into rich, dark soil came through very clearly. It was through our sharing of the vision we each received that Connecting3 : Spirit, self, community came through very clearly as the overall theme and message of what we participate in every fall. Summer is over, school is starting and there is a general feeling of coming back and reconnecting, connecting with Spirit, self, and community. We set our intention to make our spiritual practice a priority in our life and recognize how Unity of Tustin is an integral part of that.
Beginning Sunday, October 6 we will once again embark on an eight week journey. Our theme this year is “We Are Staying Close to What is Sacred.” We will use Mark Nepo’s book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen as our guide. Paperback books will be available very soon in our bookstore. I have absolutely loved this book and I know you will love too. More information on all the ways we can participate will be shared in the next couple of weeks. The ones that I particularly want you to know about now are the kick-off celebration “Pancakes on the Patio” on Sunday, October 6 and signing up to host in-home book study circles that start that same week. Check your community email and bulletin for more information on both and how you can participate.
Just thinking about C3 brings a smile to my face. I look forward to sharing this time of year with everyone, to hearing from members of our community and further exploring some of the big vision ideas we have been received in our Living Vision, Seeding Destiny sessions.
In Deep Love,
Last Sunday, we concluded our eight weeks of exploring Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Now begins the work of “daring greatly” in our lives and in our community. We are in the process of developing some of the juicy ideas that came out of our recent visioning and I will have more news about those very soon. We are also making some changes to our Sunday services, a holy experiment of stepping into the field of possibilities that will shift the way we connect with each other and with visitors as well as add more music.
I’ve recently been reading Wise Mind, Open Mind by Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. He talks about navigating life, especially change, crisis and loss, with creativity and Open Mind. “[Open mind] also known as “the field of possibilities,” “the creative void,” and even “the creative soup,” [is] the state of awareness in which we feel a sense of timelessness, openness, and unlimited possibilities. It’s the source of the most authentic and original concepts, which spring forth naturally and spontaneously. In this state, we can begin to imagine situations and opportunities that would never occur to us in our ordinary consciousness.” I find this book really helpful because it is reminding me of the inevitable and important role of change in life. “When you’re creatively toned, instead of merely dipping your toe in the water and playing it safe, you’re willing to be utterly daring. The clouds of negativity part and the light of possibility beams down upon you.”
How will you apply “daring greatly” in your life? How are you being asked to step into the field of possibilities? I would love to hear from you as we continue this journey and open to the possibilities awaiting us.
In Deep Love,
In my studies of masters, mystics and saints I have noticed a common thread; they all engaged in the world and they all came apart from the world to connect with Source, God. It is in our dance between both that the Divine pierces the soul and finds fertile ground to express through form. This is the experience of the modern mystic. This is the field we are being called to live from in the world. Unity of Tustin is a model and container for both essential parts of the mystic’s path – inner connection and outer engagement.
Most recently we have fostered this inner connection through our focus on meditation and self-reflective work. This past Wednesday, June 5, 44 people attended our first meditation service. That is 26% of our average Sunday attendance! It was a powerful statement by our community about our commitment to the practice of meditation. I invite you to join us from 7 to 8:30pm every Wednesday in June. In addition to meditation, we will offer a workshop on Saturday, June 29 with Debbie dela Cuesta and Lynn Wood on owning your wholeness through body work, shadow work and Spiritual Intelligence skills. The next day, Charles Holt will speak, sing and share his work on listening to the call of Spirit through intuition. For more information please check your weekly emails and bulletins as well as our online calendar at http://www.unitytustin.org/events/.
Our outer engagement is manifesting through the work of our Living Vision, Seeding Destiny teams. Over the years people within our community have asked that our community be more engaged in the world through ‘reaching out’ and ‘reaching in’ to serve. We have also wanted to be more connected with each other. A month ago, 37 people came together to revisit our Living Vision, Seeding Destiny Strategic Visioning work that began in 2011. We reviewed what had been proposed, what had been implemented and what was still waiting for leadership. We also asked if there was anything else looking to emerge. Many wonderful ideas have come from that weekend. Teams have been formed around certain core ideas. Those 3 teams and core ideas are:
1. Connection Team
Team Leaders: Jim & Christy White
Focus: Exploring and implementing ways for our community to connect with each other through social events, ambassador and new members programs and Youth & Family Ministry.
2. Serving the Community Team
Team Leader: Linda Witt-King
Focus: Reaching out to the community and supporting people within our community (InReach and OutReach Ministries).
3. Sanctuary Team
Team Leader: Mary Jeanne Hawes
Focus: Exploring various options and feasibility for updating our Sanctuary. Many ideas have been explored over the last year. This team will further investigate those ideas for the Board to consider.
Over the next several months you will begin to see and feel the ripples of this work. We are being called to engage in the world of our spiritual community and the greater community in meaningful ways. We will continue to communicate with you about what that looks like as more is revealed.
Over the past six months Unity of Tustin’s focus has been on listening to the soul and how to live life with courage and vulnerability. The foundation has been laid and our next steps are emerging. This is an exciting time for our community and the world. Together we are stepping through the doorway between the old paradigm and the new. How will it ultimately be revealed? That is for us to discover together as we dance between the inner and outer work that is ours to be.
In Deep Love,
During the April 28 Rev. Carolyne Mathlin introduced Ruthanne Ali and the video included below. Ruthanne was then invited up to share with the community.
To listen to the audio from the service, press play.
Video played during service (without the music)
Over two years ago our community came together on a Saturday to ask the question “What is Spirit’s vision for Unity of Tustin?” A couple of important themes and ideas emerged, many of which centered around education and technology. As we have continued to ‘follow the dots’ (as Dr. Marj Britt has so often said) we have been able to implement some amazing strategic initiatives. We have:
- Increased the Silence in the Sunday service meditation from three to five minutes
- Hosted quarterly on-site meditation retreats on a love offering basis
- Sponsored annual off-site week-long retreats
- Changed the name of our Healing Service to Sacred Circle of Light to reflect that it is a contemplative prayer service
- Formed our Men of Unity (MUTS) group
- Installed and completely paid for Solar Panels (located on our education building)
- Installed energy efficient lights & water pumps around campus
- Updated our rapidly aging technological infrastructure
- New phone & internet system
- New wiring around campus
- New server and sanctuary computer
- New projector for sanctuary
Wow! In two years there have been a lot of changes and it has all been because of amazing selfless servers who have stepped forward to champion them. Throughout this time of growth, expansion and stepping into what’s next for UoT, your Board has realized we need to look at reorganizing our structure to best respond to the unfolding vision. When we ask big questions, we often will get big, life changing answers. One of the insights that has emerged is that our approach to adult spiritual education needs to change. As a result, I want to share with you that our beloved Ruthanne Ali will be leaving us and moving to Georgia to be with family. To hear the announcement in my talk from last Sunday, please click here.
Ruthanne has served in her role as Director of School of Light for 14 years. In that time, there have been approximately 200 spiritual teachers that have come to Unity of Tustin. It has been Ruthanne’s role to coordinate their time with us and to set the field for our community to experience their teachings. Ruthanne has also been the one to oversee our weekly and monthly educational offerings. In addition to her role, Ruthanne has been a friend and spiritual support for many of us over the years. Her love, wisdom, gentle presence and warm hugs will be deeply missed! This Sunday, April 28 we will be honoring Ruthanne for all that she has meant to us here at Unity of Tustin during and after the Sunday services.
Ruthanne has asked that people share stories, memories, pictures, etc. Unity of Tustin has meant so much to her over the years and she wants to be able to cherish those memories for many years to come. She would also love to have people’s contact information so she can keep in touch with us. If you are unable to be with us this Sunday, you are welcome to send your well wishes and contact information for Ruthanne to email@example.com. We will forward the information to her.
Most of all, I invite you to surround our beloved Ruthanne and this process of transition in Love and Light. We are all taking a step into what is next and with that step we are entering a mystery, a mystery that is to be revealed. What we know is that Love is present when we are present to that Love. May we all experience that Love as we walk together through this transition. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
Rev. Carolyne Mathlin Senior Minister
What do Thich Nhat Hanh, Neil Douglas Klotz, Hafiz, Paramahansa Yogananda, Jesus, Buddha and living your soul purpose have in common? Janet Conner.
I recently read Janet Conner’s book The Lotus and the Lily and took the corresponding telecourse. Both were fabulous. And, I’m so excited that Janet will be coming to Unity of Tustin Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24 so you all can experience Janet’s teachings yourself. Janet offers wisdom teachings from teachers across spiritual traditions in ways that are meaningful for your life right now, wherever you are. Her style is to ask questions that help you look deeply into both your human patterns and the divine impulse in your life.
Her book is full of prayers, poems, practices and principle, all designed to help you consciously connect with your soul so that you are living your greatest purpose on earth. Janet’s soul program invites us to get in touch with the conditions in our life that our soul needs to fully thrive. She quotes the Buddha, “When conditions are sufficient there is a manifestation.” This book and her workshop at Unity will help us get clear on what our conditions are so that manifestation will naturally occur in our life.
I encourage you to not miss Janet Conner’s time with us next weekend. As a way to prepare for her visit on Wednesday, February 20 I will lead an introductory class, integrating several of the practices that will support what Janet will be doing with us on February 23 and 24.
On Saturday, February 23 from 1 to 5 pm Janet Conner will lead us in cultivating an understanding of the conditions and the symbols our soul needs to thrive. We will integrate our discoveries into a mandala of intention, using art supplies, your creativity and the energy of the group. If you have symbols or pictures that mean something to you, as well as any other supplies like scissors, paper, glue, etc. that you would like to bring, please do so. Note that this is not an art project, this is a soul project. You don’t have to be ‘crafty’ to participate. You just need a soul willing to express itself on paper (and everyone has a soul).
On Sunday, February 24 Janet will be our guest speaker at the 9 & 11 am service. Her talk is entitled “The Great Paradox of Prosperity.” She will then continue her workshop on the Intention Mandala from 1:30 to 4, with specific emphasis on how to be in a deep relationship with any intention you have so that it and you continue to grow together.
I encourage you to attend Saturday and Sunday. To help make it easier to attend we have priced the entire weekend at a reduced rate of $60. If you cannot make both days, come for what you can. Each day will stand on its own as well as build on each other.
Janet Conner is an up and coming powerhouse in New Thought. She takes ego-centered metaphysical teachings to the next level, inviting us to really look deeply at what our soul wants (and it’s not a new car). Her approach bridges the human and the divine in a way that allows both to express in our lives. Janet is not only a scholar but also has a compelling personal story you will want to hear, including healing from an abusive marriage, bankruptcy and more. She walks her talk and is an uplifting, inspiring, energetic spiritual teacher you will not want to miss.
There are several ways to get to know Janet more. Her website is www.janetconner.com. She also has a radio show on www.Unity.fm airing Thursdays at 11 am PST. For more information, visit her Unity.fm page http://www.unity.fm/program/TheSoulDirectedLife). Information on her visit to Unity and how you can purchase tickets can be found at http://www.unitytustin.org/2013/01/21/4134/.
I look forward to seeing you February 23 and 24 at Unity of Tustin as we welcome together Janet Conner.
In Deep Love,