INSIGHTS Blog

Read along as Rev. Dr. Rick Belous shares personal stories, anecdotes, insights and more that will entertain you, challenge you, and ultimately inspire you!

Before his call to ministry, Rick was Vice President of Research and Chief Economist for the United Way system. He was also an adjunct lecturer of economics at George Washington University. He is an ordained minister with Unity Worldwide Ministries as well as serving as an advisor to them. Rick also serves as president of Spiral-Pathways.org (a research network dedicated to studying and advancing the evolution of spiritual consciousness).

Rick lives in the Roanoke area with two of his daughters and a cat.


Unity’s Five Principles: A Metaphysical High Five

May 17, 2022

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t turn to Unity’s Five Principles to see me through. So often, they provide a firm foundation to see me through the crisis du jour. Jesus talked about building on a rock and that many people attempt to construct their lives on sinking sand.

Some examples of possible sinking sand include:

  • I have a secure future with the XYZ Corporation, and my 401(k) is my ticket to prosperity;
  • They love me, and they will always be there for me;
  • I have always been healthy, and I feel fantastic;
  • My kids are wonderful, so successful, etc.

A true story: A British scientist tried to determine where he could retire and be safe. Where was the least likely to be involved in a war, potential nuclear fallout, pollution, negative impacts from global warming, pandemics, overpopulation, economic dislocation, and stress? He collected a ton of data and ran it through computer models and numerous statistical simulations.

The result was that this man decided to move to one of the Falkland Islands, off the coast of South America. Six months after he arrived, the war between the United Kingdom and Argentina commenced. His house was on the bay where the Argentinian troops first landed, and the war was practically fought in his front yard and living room.

I have found that Unity’s Five Principles are an excellent way to build on a rock – God/Spirit – and avoid potentially sinking sand. At Unity of Roanoke Valley, we have devoted a new round of Spirit Circles to Rev. Ellen Debenport’s insightful book The Five Principles.

Spirit Circles are small groups that meet in peoples’ homes, at Unity of Roanoke Valley, and online. They are studying Rev. Ellen’s book and making friends within our fellowship. I am also devoting six Sunday messages to Unity’s Five Principles. This spring session of Spirit Circles will not only help newcomers to Unity, but it will also help Unity oldtimers re-examine and deepen their understanding of these key spiritual concepts.

A simple drawing of a hand has helped me think of Unity’s Five Principles as being like a metaphysical high five. From the thumb to the pinky, a Unity principle is on each finger, and it goes like this:

First Principle: God is

Second Principle: I Am

Third Principle: I think

Fourth Principle: I pray

Fifth Principle: I live

God is  Yes, remember in the heat of the crisis du jour that God is absolute good and is everywhere present. There is no spot where God is not. God is there in your financial challenges, your love life dilemmas, and when the election results don’t go your way.

I Am  Yes, remember that our real essence is “Christ in you – the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Divine Spark is inside you, and you are “one with the One.” In the final analysis, your real essence is not your fears, your sense of lack, the “mistake” you may have made in 1994, or any error thoughts.

I think  Yes, as the old Unity song goes:

Our thoughts are prayers,
And we are always praying.
Our thoughts are prayers,
Take charge of what you’re saying.

Our thoughts and feelings matter – and they matter big time! As the Law of Mind/Action states: “A thought in mind produces after its kind.” We are co-creators with God.

I pray  Yes, daily prayer and meditation are needed to maintain conscious contact with Spirit. All of the great spiritual masters have shown this to be true. The Unity movement started as a prayer ministry, and prayer remains at the center of all that we do. We suggest that you try Affirmative Prayer. Jesus stated it this way: “When you pray, believe that you have received, and you will receive” (Mark 11:24).

I live  Yes, it is not enough to know this stuff on a “head level.” We need to feel and act on this on a “heart level.” To obtain the benefits, we must live the spiritual truths that we know when the rubber meets the road. The medicine only works when we take it.

Let me give an example of how these Five Principles have made a difference in my life. Roughly five years ago, my wife Debbie died of cancer. I started to go through waves of grief and despair. I also sensed real fear and anger running through me.

For a few days, I felt cut off from God. But then I remembered Unity‘s first principle. I realized that if there was no spot where God is not, then Spirit was here right in the middle of this loss. I re-examined what I believed about God, and I discovered waves of deeper faith than I had ever imagined.

I also again started to sense that the Divine Spark is inside me – and all people. This is my real essence, and it does not die – as it did not die for Debbie. With this came a renewed realization that my thoughts and feelings matter. As that New Thought saying goes: “Change your thinking, and you change your life.”

I redoubled my prayer and meditation life, and this investment in time and energy paid off beyond my wildest dreams. Lastly, I started to feel hopeful and grateful as these principles unfolded in my life.

These Five Principles work – particularly when the chips seem to be down. These Five Principles seem to encapsulate so much of the spiritual wisdom of the ages. However, sometimes the most challenging part of applying these Truths to our life is remembering them when things don’t appear to be going our way.

Remember that the Five Principles are there for us during rainy days. They are there for the long dark nights of the soul and for the times when it feels so great to be alive. They are a metaphysical high five!

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

CODA: A First in Many Ways

May 10, 2022

With the war in Ukraine, a lingering pandemic, climate change, poverty, injustice, women’s rights, and rising inflation, there are so many important issues other than the Academy Awards.

My daughters and I were staying in a hotel near Washington D.C. on the night of this year’s Oscars. In the morning, when we came down to the breakfast room, the only thing everybody was talking about was Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.

I was amazed that the movie CODA won the best picture of the year. Written and directed by Sian Heder, the movie was a first in several ways. It was the first time a streaming service company (Apple) went home with an Oscar for best picture. It was the first time a deaf person won the award for best supporting actor (Troy Kotsur, who plays the father in CODA). And it was the first time a movie had drawn such significant attention to the situation of deaf families in a hearing world.

Since I am not always an “early adopter,” I had not seen CODA when it won the Oscar. I must admit I have been skeptical of Academy Award winners ever since the movie La La Land won the Academy Award for 30 seconds only to have it yanked away.

Remember that fiasco back in 2017? La La Land was announced as the winner of best picture. But then it was revealed there was a mistake in the award envelope, and Moonlight was declared the winner.

I then went to see Moonlight and felt cheated for a second time! “How could they have picked Moonlight over La La Land?” I moaned.

But this time, when I went to see the “best movie of the year,” I was positively amazed. CODA more than deserved the award. My advice to you is that if you have a chance to see the film in theaters or stream it on your home screens, do it!

Let me first tell you a bit about the film and why I think it is so important on a cultural level. Then I’d like to explain why I think it is a real turning point that a company like Apple won the “best picture” award. Lastly – and most importantly – I would like to share why this film struck such a spiritual chord with me (and I believe with many others as well).

CODA stands for Children Of Deaf Adults. Ruby (dexterously played by Emilia Jones) is a shy 17-year-old girl who lives in the seaside fishing village of Gloucester, Massachusetts. She is the only one in her family who can hear. She has had to translate the hearing world for her deaf parents (expertly played by Marlee Marlin and Troy Kotsur). With her older brother (who is also deaf and played by Daniel Durant), Ruby tries to keep the family’s fishing boat business afloat.

The hearing world often ridicules her family. It is not an easy situation for Ruby, and she can fall asleep in the middle of class in high school due to exhaustion. But Ruby loves music and has natural talent as a singer. Her colorful music teacher (played gracefully by Eugenio Derbez) spots Ruby‘s talent and tries to nurture it. He thinks Ruby could win a scholarship to one of the most prestigious music schools in the country.

But here is the conflict and critical decision. The music school is located in Boston. Attending college means that Ruby would leave her family alone at a critical time. Who would be there to interpret for them? Who would be there to help them function in a hearing world?

Ruby‘s family is starting a wholesale fishing cooperative to fight back against some of the sleazy practices in the fishing industry. It couldn’t be a worse time for Ruby to go away to college in Boston. And yet, Ruby will pay a high price if she does not follow her passion for music and sacrifices herself for the family business.

On top of this, Ruby is falling into her first love affair with a fellow music student (played charmingly by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). My college roommate grew up in a town just north of Gloucester. I remember the “lakes” in the old rock quarries up there. The water was freezing! I hope that Emilia and Ferdia did not have to do 33 takes of their love scenes swimming in the bone-chilling rock quarry water!

The family, of course, does not understand Ruby’s passion for music. At first, Ruby walks away from even trying out at the prestigious music school. But then her family members, starting with her father and brother, get it! When she finally auditions for college, Ruby incorporates sign language into her music.

There are so many scenes that touch one to the core. Ruby and her mom, for example, are sitting on the bed. She courageously asks her mom, “Were you disappointed when you learned that I was not deaf?” Ruby’s mom admits that she did feel disappointed. Ruby asks her why and her mom signs back, “I was afraid that as a deaf person, I would fail you as a mother.” It takes a lot of courage to ask a question like that, and it also takes a lot of courage to give such a heartfelt response.

Throughout the film, there is humor and gaiety as well as tears. Yes, this is a movie about a deaf family. However, I believe many families could relate to Ruby’s clan.

So what is so important about CODA on a cultural level? First, in many places, the movie uses subtitles. You will need them if you don’t know how to read American Sign Language. Also, in several key places and scenes, there is no sound. You start to view the world from the point of view of a deaf person. The level of empathy generated in CODA is extraordinary. There are so many things we hearing people just take for granted.

So what is so important about CODA in terms of Apple winning the best picture award? It is a clear indication of the growing dominance of Big Tech in the entertainment industry. Should we care about this? Back in the days of Clark Gable and the Hollywood studio system, we were concerned that the movie industry was a very tight oligopoly with only a few large corporations. Our political system responded by placing limitations on how much of the film distribution system could be owned by the large movie studios. Later we also created constraints on how many local TV and radio stations the big networks could own.

Are we now comfortable with a few Big Tech firms controlling our entertainment and news industries? I can watch CODA on an iPhone. Guess which brand of smartphones Ruby’s family uses in the movie? Let me place all my cards face up: my computer is a MacBook Air, and the cell phones in our house are Apple. I am also a subscriber to Apple’s music streaming service. Apple does many things very well. But we say we believe in checks and balances. The British philosopher Lord Acton said: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.“ CODA indicates that these issues are not going away anytime soon.

What about CODA and spirituality? The movie does an excellent job of portraying real-life situations and challenges. There is often not a clear “good guy” on one side and “bad guy” on the other when applying spiritual values. At the age of 17, Ruby faces a complicated dilemma. Should she stand by her family in a crucial moment, or should she fulfill her need to achieve, what psychologist Abraham Maslow would call, self-actualization?

Dr. Maslow saw something even more profound than self-actualization in the last years of his life. He called it transcendence. We might call it spiritual enlightenment or being one with the One.

For Ruby, the road to self-actualization and transcendence is not an easy or straight path. I believe that is the case for many of us in real life – unlike so often in the movies. However, I hope you make a straight line to see CODA – if you have not already seen it.

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Science & Religion: A Match Made In Heaven?

May 3, 2022

Do you remember the song Love and Marriage? It went like this:

Love and marriage, love and marriage
They go together like a horse and carriage.
This I tell you brother,
You can’t have one without the other.

Frank Sinatra first made this song famous in a TV production of Thorton Wilder‘s play Our Town. It was then released as a single and made it to the top of the Billboard charts.

Not to be outdone, Dinah Shore stopped seeing the USA in her Chevrolet long enough to record a cover of this tune. Her version of Love and Marriage also made it to Hitsville. (To listen to Old Blue Eyes singing the song, click here. To listen to Dinah’s cover of it, click here. I’d be interested in hearing from you which version of the song you like best.)

If a similar song were to be sung about Science and Religion, it might go like this:

Science and religion, science and religion
Don’t coo together like doves and pigeons.
This I tell you sisters,
The wars they’ve had can give you blisters.

If you ever get a chance to see Bertolt Brecht’s incredible play, Galileo, you can sense the struggle that has taken place in the past between the two. Walter Isaacson’s excellent biography of Leonardo da Vinci also reveals this historical tension. Or see the movie Inherit The Wind, starring Spencer Tracy, about the famous 1920s Scopes “monkey trial” trial in Tennessee.

Is this tension just a thing of the past? Given the recent trends of polarization in our society and recent book banning and curriculum censorship attempts, I don’t think so. I also don’t think it has to be this way. Both science and religion should be seeking truth. We should not have to pick between the two.

Albert Einstein hit the nail on the head when he said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.“ Einstein also believed that both science and religion – in their best forms – produce a sense of awe and beauty.

I feel very grateful that Charles Fillmore, a co-founder of the Unity movement, was a great lover of science and spirituality. Of course, spirituality played a central role in Charles‘ life. But so did science, and he kept up with the latest scientific discoveries and theories of his day.

For example, Charles was electrified by the early discoveries of radio waves. He was one of the first theologians to use radio to broadcast his message. His last book, Atom-Smashing Power of Mind, was published in 1948 (the same year he made his transition) and indicated his intense interest in science.

I am so glad that Unity does not ask us to check our brains at the door. Modern Unity thinkers have been interested in the latest developments in neuroscience, artificial intelligence, research about the possibilities of the metaverse, and more.

Given all of the above, I have been very interested in learning about Rev. Pamela Conrad. I hope to meet Pamela someday soon. She is the rector of Saint Albans Episcopal Church in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Pamela is also a research scientist at Washington DC‘s Carnegie Institution of Science, a member of the tactical operations team for the Mar’s Perseverance rover mission, and a researcher with NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Pamela says that being an Episcopal priest and an Astrobiologist has given her two heavenly pursuits. Reporters often ask her how she got interested in both these fields. Concerning science, Pamela points back to a night in 1957 when her dad – who was a scientist – pointed out a tiny dot in the sky that was moving very fast. He told her that was Sputnik – the USSR‘s first satellite.

She was fascinated and “kept looking up at the stars.“ Her father made a model of the US launch rocket and satellite Explore. “I ran all around the house with it, captivated by the idea of exploring something as big as the sky,” Pamela says.

Twenty years later, Pamela was in graduate school studying geology. Her focus was on Geobiology, and it wasn’t long before she became interested in the geobiology of the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

So, where did the love of religion come in, you might ask? Like many of us, Pamela went through several long dark nights of the soul. From this came several profound spiritual and mystical experiences. It was more than a hop, skip, and a jump, but in 2017 Pamela became an ordained Episcopal priest.

Pamela sees science and spirituality as being intertwined. “Both are ways of understanding what God has created … It’s OK to explore what God has made, letting science guide us. Science is a tool God has given us. Science teaches us that we are continuously growing in our understanding, something Faith teaches as well,” she insists.

She says that “whenever I see a new image come from Mars, I’ll take a look at the landscape and go, ‘I am so sorry God that I made you too small. Look at that! You are everywhere! You are so much bigger than we can imagine.’”

I am glad that the science and spirituality of the 21st-century are so much more simpatico than the science and traditional religion of the 19th century. You, too can be a lover of both science and spirituality. You do not have to pick one or the other!

A long time ago, Saint Augustine said that if your interpretation of Scripture disagrees with the latest in sound science, then there is something wrong with your interpretation of Scripture. I am grateful that the early pioneers of the Unity and New Thought movement stressed metaphysical interpretations of the Bible.

At the same time, the key issues raised by modern science are too important to be left to just scientists. Get involved! Science and religion can and should be a marriage made in heaven.

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Forgiveness: Where The Rubber Meets The Road

April 26, 2022

I imagine that many of you have heard the saying: “Holding on to resentment is like drinking a bottle of poison and expecting the other person to die.”

I suspect that most of you – if not all of you – would agree with the wisdom of this aphorism. However, I also suspect that while many of us (and that includes me) believe this, we often have a difficult time putting this principle into action when the rubber meets the road.

This is what Unity’s 5th Principle is all about. It is not enough to know this stuff intellectually. We need to put these principles into action in the midst of “front line” situations.

I remember when my wife, Debbie, would say to me, “Rick, you sound resentful about ‘X.’”

“No, I am not. What makes you say that?,” I would growl back.

“Your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and the entire posture of your body,” she would respond.

“Well, I am not resentful. And you can take your own inventory if you’d like,” I would snark.

A day or two later I would sheepishly come up to Debbie and say, “Remember when we were talking about ‘X’? … Well, I’ve been thinking: Maybe I still have a wee degree of resentment about it….”

Not only had I been hanging on to a major resentment, but I was not really willing to consciously admit or feel that resentment. Then I could admit to a very small hardness of heart about it. It was only, say, a week later that I admitted ‘X’ was really a major festering sore inside of me. It was several weeks after that when I was actually willing to do the forgiveness work that Jesus, and all of the great enlightened masters, encourages us to do.

There is a reason why our Way Shower and all of the other spiritual teachers spent so much time on the topic of forgiveness. It is so central and a key foundation for our spiritual growth.

Recently, I was in the basement of our house with my seven-year-old daughter, Therese. She was swinging around on a basement pillar, and she asked me what would happen if the pillar fell down. First, I told her that I doubted the pillar would fall down from her swinging on it. But second, I said that if this pillar fell, the house would still stand because the pillar was not carrying a lot of the house’s weight.

Then I showed Therese another pillar in the basement. “If this pillar were to go, you could expect a lot of the house to start caving in. This pillar is a central load carrier,“ I pointed out. Similarly, forgiveness is a central load-carrying pillar of our spiritual house. Medieval cathedrals have been able to stand for centuries because of flying buttresses that carry away much of the massive weight of the stones.

I am always on the lookout for teachers who can help me get better at growing a forgiving heart. I don’t want to be like the pharaoh in the Bible who had a “hardness of the heart.“ For these reasons, I was recently struck by the advice of Sabra Ciancanelli, who is an editor of Guideposts magazine. Guideposts is a journal that Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale founded.

Sabra explains some of her challenges with forgiveness. A classmate stole one of her favorite toys in kindergarten – a small cat figurine. Usually, Sabra kept it in her pocket to give herself a feeling of safety and comfort, like a security blanket.

Decades may have passed, but Sabra still had this feeling of being violated. She was at her 20th high school reunion when she saw the woman who stole the cat figurine. All of the old feelings flashed inside of Sabra.

Later that night, both Sabra and the former kindergarten thief were side-by-side in the food line. “I remember you,” The woman said to Sabra. “I almost didn’t come tonight. I hated school. Glad I’m here, though,” she added.

During the reunion, Sabra did some deep Forgiveness work. “I forgave her. Just like that, the resentment I had carried for years disappeared. Sometimes forgiveness just happens; other times, it takes effort,” she commented.

Sabra listed some excellent tips about how we can let go of our anger and resentments and “grow a more forgiving heart.” I have followed many of her suggestions, and I have discovered that they work – at least for me. Maybe some of these will work for you too.

Sabra suggests that we:

  • Decide to forgive: In many cases, forgiveness starts with a conscious decision. Dr. Fred Luskin, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, writes that “forgiveness changes the present, not the past … It’s a choice you make to heal yourself.“
  • Be patient: “Sometimes, a hurt you thought was healed might resurface. If that happens, look at the situation from where you are now. Recognize you have grown and will continue to grow,” Sabra says. I would add that it takes what it takes to get us where we are today. Also, where we are today is not where we will be in the future!
  • Surrender the idea that you are right: “Instead of rehashing an offense, try to be kind, compassionate, and understanding,” she suggests. For me, this is one of the hardest things that Sabra suggests! But I remember an old saying in 12 Step fellowships: “Would you rather be right, or would you rather experience serenity?“
  • Breathe out past hurts: At times when we feel locked in anger and resentment, it makes sense to take a deep breath in and let ourselves relax. As we breathe out, Sabra suggests we say, “I’m ready to forgive and move forward.”
  • Write your apology or letter about burying the hatchet: In some cases, the person we feel anger toward may no longer be living or has moved to a different part of the world. We can always write that letter of apology and make peace. Even if the person has died, we can read that letter to the spirit.
  • Walk away hurt: Instead of eating a carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or compulsively spending, a better way for me is to go on a good walk. I have found the Blue Ridge Mountains to be such great partners in the process of forgiveness.
  • Cultivate a Forgiveness plant: “Use a plant that you have, or buy a peace lily or a purple hyacinth, which traditionally means ‘I’m sorry.’ Every time you water it, picture yourself releasing bitterness, regret, and finding peace,” she suggests.
  • Forgive yourself: Maybe this one should go at the top of the list? Give yourself a big hug and a smile! Be ready to let go and let God, concerning any guilt or shame that you might feel. And when it comes to God, we are all more than forgiven!
  • Look to animals for inspiration: I learned much about forgiveness from dogs and cats.
  • Turn to Scripture: Sabra suggests 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5 (“Love is patient and kind … and it keeps no records of wrongs.”) I suggest Psalm 37:4 (“Delight in the Lord, and you will have the desires of your heart.“)
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff: Let it go, and Let God!
  • Envision a bright future: “Focus on feeling better by releasing the pain or guilt of wrongdoings. Every moment is a new opportunity to grow a more forgiving heart,” she notes.

I feel very grateful for two wonderful teachers about forgiveness: Sabra, and my wife, Debbie. I bet there have been great teachers about forgiveness in your life too.

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Dolly Parton: Dream Big and Pray Big

April 19, 2022

I guess most pop stars would spend a great deal of time thinking about how they could get themselves into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Located in Cleveland, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has become a Mecca for pure out-and-out rock idols. It also has included some artists – like Billy Holiday – who might only have a tangential relationship to rock.

Why is this Hall of Fame located in Cleveland, you ask? Well, the story goes that legendary disc jockey, Alan Freed, was one of the first – if not the first – to push rock music on the airwaves. Some say Freed coined the term rock-and-roll. Freed was big in Cleveland before he transformed radio in New York.

So here is Dolly Parton, up for election to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She could be included with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Janis Joplin. This year, Dolly is on the ballot along with Pat Benatar, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, and Duran Duran.

Many rock critics and aficionados believe that Dolly would be a “shoe-in” to get elected. And that is why many were surprised when Dolly said she wanted her name removed as a nominee for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In an Instagram post, the 76-year-old singer/songwriter said that she was flattered and grateful to have been nominated, but she feels she has not “earned the right.” Think about that for a moment. Dolly Parton – Working 9 to 5, more than 50 studio albums, and many Grammy awards to her name – did not think she had “earned the right” to be elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “I do hope the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again – if I’m ever worthy,” she added.

Several people close to Dolly Parton said she did not feel she had done enough in the rock genre to qualify for a seat in the Cleveland hall. She saw herself more as a country/pop singer than a rock star. All I can say is, “Wow, how many other entertainers would have shown such clearheaded humility?”

When I read about Dolly’s request to be removed from this year’s ballot, fond memories came back to me about the time I met Dolly Parton. It was several years ago, and the place was Pittsburgh. The United Way was holding its annual convention in the former steel capital of the world, and as a United Way staffer, I was looking forward to the meeting.

Many great thinkers and speakers would be on the program at these United Way conventions. It was also a time to catch up with old United Way friends and go out to dinner and let your hair down.

That year, one of the main speakers at the convention was The New York Times columnist and Public Broadcasting Service commentator David Brooks. I have gained so much from Brooks’ columns and books. He tends to be more conservative than me. But even if I do not always agree with him, he dares to ask the tough and central questions, I believe.

At every United Way convention, a speaker is assigned an “angel.” This “angel” is a United Way staffer who is there to answer any questions the speaker might have and make sure they get to the right place at the right time. I was honored to be chosen as David Brooks’ “angel” and enjoyed our conversations about spiritual values in the modern world.

David, it turned out, is Jewish and is active in a synagogue. He was pretty funny telling stories about getting his son Bar Mitzvahed. I also learned a great deal from David as he spoke about how he applied spiritual values to contemporary geopolitical issues.

David Brooks was not the only headliner at that Pittsburgh convention. Believe it or not, the great Dolly Parton and her band would also be on stage. For a moment, I fantasized what it would be like to be Dolly’s United Way “angel” – which of course, I wasn’t. But then I came back to reality: “You are David Brooks’ ‘angel.’ Count your blessings. Serenity comes from gratitude for what you have and not whining about what you don’t have – and never will have.”

Why would Dolly come to a United Way convention? Plus, there were rumors that she was not charging United Way any money for her being there. Again, this gets to the nature of the kind of woman Dolly is. She is the founder of something called Imagination Library. This incredible nonprofit works to get books into the homes of people who cannot afford to buy books. Imagination Library places books in the hands of underprivileged and underserved children.

I was walking in the convention hall when the UW chief-of-staff rushed up to me and said, “Rick, get as many folks on your team as possible and go down to this room pronto. Brian (the CEO of United Way) and Dolly Parton want to speak with you!”

The reason Dolly was in Pittsburgh was to partner with United Way. She felt a partnership between Imagination Library and United Way would help her step up the distribution of books to children in need. I was being asked to this meeting because Dolly wanted to “speak with the numbers people.” So there we were – United Way’s market research team with Dolly Parton.

Dolly is smart as a whip. She asked us excellent questions about marketing trends, demographics, costs to do certain things, and more. “Oh, this will be a good partnership,” Dolly smiled.

After discussing markets and numbers, Dolly started talking about her past. “We were dirt poor,” she said. But then she said something that struck me. “We might have been poor back then. But I always dreamed big and prayed big!” What an incredible outlook on life!

I have often thought of those words from Dolly Parton – “Dream big and pray big.” All too often, I think we let fear, scarcity, and lack thinking crowd out dreams and affirmative prayers. But as the great American teacher of mythology, Joseph Campbell, said, “What we truly want is in the cave that we really fear.”

One of my favorite lines in the Bible is in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He wrote to them, saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“ (Philippians 4:13).

I often think of Dolly and that afternoon in Pittsburgh when I think of these words. When I walked into the room to meet with her and the CEO of United Way, I was amazed by how short Dolly is. She is only 5 feet tall. But in so many ways, she is truly a giant.

I hope you Dream Big and Pray Big!

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

The Saturday Experience Before Easter

April 12, 2022

Several years ago, an older friend who was a senior executive with a leading firm on Wall Street said to me, “You know Rick, it was just so delightful to meet and talk with somebody from your generation who actually knows something, is an excellent speaker, and is really doing something.”

In a non-spiritual mood, one might think, “With friends like this, who needs enemies?” But I was centered in that moment, so I just asked him which “baby boomer” he had the pleasure of meeting?

He chimed in, “It was Ken Burns. You know the guy who made that wonderful PBS series on the Civil War.”

I nodded, “At least one person of my generation made it good.”

At the time, I thought back to a great scene from the Beatle’s first movie, A Hard Day’s Night. The Fab Four share a compartment in a British railway car with some very conservatively dressed English bankers.

The Beatles rub the upper crust financial titans the wrong way, and one of the bankers says, “I fought the war for your sort.”

Ringo responds, “Bet you’re sorry you won.”

It can be a great feeling when somebody from your generation, childhood, community, and social or ethnic roots “makes it big.” Well, that is the way I feel about Rev. Teresa Burton.

Teresa and I were ministerial students together at Unity Institute and Seminary. You knew that there was something exceptional about Teresa. When Teresa talked in class, you would sit up and listen. When you had a chance to hear Teresa give a message/sermon in the Fillmore Chapel at Unity Village, you did not miss the opportunity to listen to her.

You made time to sit and talk with her at the Unity Inn. I will always treasure the time we headed to downtown Kansas City for an enjoyable Indian lunch. You knew that Teresa was going places and would have a significant positive impact on the Unity movement.

But despite knowing all of this, I can’t tell you how amazed and proud I was when I learned that Teresa was named Editor of The Daily Word. Wow! What an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. I just knew she would do a great job, and she has.

The Editor of The Daily Word has always played a crucial role in promoting positive change in the Unity movement. For example, for many, many years, the Editor of The Daily Word was a powerful and positive woman named May Rowland. Her books and articles are still read and referenced to this day. The conference room in the Unity Village education building is named after May Rowland.

So with all of the above in mind, I could not wait to read an article written by Teresa in a new Unity booklet called Release and Renew 2022: A Spiritual Practice for Lent. You can get a free copy of this booklet by going to unity.org.

Teresa says that for many years she really concentrated on the painful crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and on the triumphal resurrection on Easter.

“Of course, crucifixion experiences are often obvious. It’s the sudden shocking news that shakes us to the core. The death of a loved one, a dire diagnosis, the collapse of a financial safety net, or the loss of a home can constitute a death to life as we know it,“ she writes. Even Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Also, it is easy to celebrate the glory days of victory. There are ticker-tape parades for winning the Super Bowl, receiving the gold medal, being awarded the Nobel prize or an Oscar, accomplishing the task that you never thought you would successfully complete, and taking that victory lap.

Recently, Teresa has been thinking about the length of time Jesus was in the tomb between crucifixion and resurrection. She notes that it was relatively short – essentially the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Teresa notes that this Saturday experience for many of us “can feel as if it will last forever. As the memory of life before the crucifixion feels further and further away and the resurrection seems still out of reach, the tomb becomes the life we know,“ she adds.

I think Teresa is on to something. In terms of pastoral counseling and speaking to many people, I believe there are many folks in this Saturday experience. It is after the body blow, but before that phoenix is rising from the ashes.

“This is where a steady, compassionate presence can make all the difference. Not to hasten the dawn but to keep the faith that a new day is coming … We can consider it (this Saturday Experience) a call for compassion, an invitation to enter the mystery of the tomb – that space between endings and beginnings – and know the truth for those who may have lost sight of it,” she says.

I was touched by Teresa’s notion of the Saturday Experience. If you are going through a similar experience and feel like you are in the tomb, then I would ask you to remember something that the Buddha emphasized time and time again: Nothing in this earthly realm (what Unity calls the Relative Realm) lasts forever. Hold on for your Easter. It will come!

How do I know this? Because I have been there, seen it, and gotten the t-shirt! And as Jesus told doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who believe this and have not gotten the t-shirt” (The Long Island translation of the Bible).

You are one with the One even in the tomb. As Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore so often said, “Look beyond appearances. These spiritual truths apply to you and cover you.” – Yes, you!

I love how Teresa points out that “the joy of resurrection is felt anew in each person who has borne witness to the darkness.”

Hold on because Easter is coming!

Love and blessings,

Rev. Rick

Lent and the Power of Elimination

April 5, 2022

So many people have memories of Lent that include giving up things like chocolate, alcohol, or meat on certain days.

I remember eating dinner at a good friend’s house, whose family had a Scandinavian background on both the mother’s and father’s side. Their Lenten dinner included eating something called lutefisk, a very salty cod preserved in lye. Needless to say, lutefisk is an acquired taste that I never acquired.

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, the cofounders of the Unity movement, made some very good suggestions about “how to keep a true Lent.” But their ideas were very different from just giving up candy or adult beverages and eating lutefisk.

The Fillmores felt that Lent was a time for us to work on giving up, what they called, error thoughts. Examples of error thoughts include thoughts of scarcity and lack; thoughts that we are unworthy; thoughts that if something good happens to us, it will be taken away from us; and thoughts of negativity, resentment, and fear.

They saw the image of the cross as a good way of reminding ourselves of a need – and way – to “cross out” these error thoughts. Yet many of us who have tried to cross out these error thoughts have time and time again failed in the process.

If that includes you, then don’t worry because you are in excellent company. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul said he “kept doing things” that he didn’t want to do, and he “wasn’t doing things” he did want to do.

In both the case of the apostle Paul and we 21st Century humans, I think the fundamental problem is that we are trying to do this “crossing out” with our egos which are not strong enough (or disciplined enough) to do the job in the long run. The Fillmores suggested a better way to do this Lenten task.

They spoke about the 12 Powers in each and every one of us. In URV’s Youth and Family Ministry, our children have been learning about the 12 Powers. We just finished an adult class on the 12 Powers, and I also devoted a recent Sunday message to a new way of looking at the 12 Powers. To listen to this service, please click here.

While the powers of Faith, Love, Wisdom, and Strength are often talked about, there is one power that usually gets somewhat short-changed. That is the power of Elimination or Release. This significant power is inside of all of us. It is the ability to get rid of what is no longer serving us. It is the ability to clean out our metaphysical closet to make room – as it were – for a beautiful new wardrobe. Spirit wants to give us this fine clothing, but first, we have to make room for it.

When we move beyond our everyday egos and start using powers like elimination or release, we are “crossing out” error thoughts. We will find that when we are in difficult situations, we are handling them much better than before.

Unity World Headquarters just published a new booklet entitled Release and Renew 2022: A Spiritual Practice for Lent. This booklet is free! Visit unity.org to download a copy or order a print version.

There are many fantastic articles in this booklet. One that resonated with me was written by Rev. Gaylon McDowell, senior assistant minister at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago. He writes:

“Easter is a story about the overcoming power of God in an individual life. Easter is a reminder that we have within us the power to overcome any obstacle in our way … The Christ in you is your true spiritual wholeness that transcends your mental and physical natures … God can never be kept in the tomb of fear, despair, lack, sickness, confusion, and doubt. Jesus understood the power within him, and he urged his followers to accept the Truth about themselves.”

The editors of this wonderful booklet note that:

“Lent is the perfect season to practice letting go of dark worries and renewing our awareness of the good that always surrounds us. If you want to give up something for Lent, consider releasing the thoughts that keep you from expressing your higher self. If you want to celebrate the light that Easter brings, practice renewing your mind with uplifting thoughts and inspiring affirmations … in this Lenten season. Know that you are blessed with the power to release any thoughts, feelings, or behaviors that have been holding you back.”

So this Lent, I would suggest that we all do a few things:

First, we pray and journal about the error thoughts that keep us from being all we can realistically be.

Second, we don’t even expect our egos to do the job that needs to be done! It is good to have a right-sized Ego in your metaphysical car. But it is a mistake to let that ego sit in the driver’s seat.

Third, We remember our 12 Powers and all of their children who live inside each of us. We turn to the power of Release, and we let go and let God!

Fourth, we start and continue to thank and praise Spirit for – what Paul also told the Romans is – “the renewing of our minds.”

And lastly, we remember that sometimes progress is a step-by-step process, and thank God “the road goes ever on” (to borrow a phrase from J.R.R. Tolkien).

I don’t think there is any lutefisk in The Lord of The Rings.

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Come On, Get Happy and Other Things from the Harvard Business School

March 29, 2022

So what is the hot new course at the Harvard Business School?

Is it a course on mergers and acquisitions or classes on leveraged buyouts? Is it Financial Consulting 101? Maybe it’s how to be an expatriate senior executive for a Fortune 500 company. But then again, it might be sessions on leadership for 21st Century organizations.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the popular new course at America’s leading academy of capitalism is none of the above. Instead, Wall Street Journal reporter Lindsay Ellis says the latest in-demand course that Harvard Business School students flock to is managing happiness. “One of the toughest parts is just getting a spot in the course,” she writes.

There are 180 spots in Harvard Professor Arthur Brooks’ Leadership and Happiness course, but they fill up quickly. Many students who don’t get into the class ask fellow students for copies of their notes and lecture summaries. One of Professor Brooks’ central beliefs is that to be a good leader, you also have to be happy.

Brooks has his students look at happiness in four key areas: family, friends, meaningful work, and faith or life philosophy. He has various exercises where students can determine if they are “over-indexing” (or “under-indexing”) in each of these areas. The hope is that students will emerge from this class with tools to master their work-life balance better. Brooks feels it is important that executives learn to enjoy both work and life.

The Wall Street Journal’s Ellis reports that while this class might sound “touchy-feely” in the world of hard-nosed business, it is highly simpatico to the thinking at several leading corporations. “Many companies are scrambling to boost morale, reduce turnover, experiment with new ways of working – even offering wellness retreats for employees,“ Ellis notes.

The Harvard Business School does not seem to be alone in this trend, and other leading business schools are now offering classes on similar topics. For example, the Stanford Graduate School of Business has Organizational Behavior 374: Interpersonal Dynamics, which teaches self-awareness techniques for improving communication and relationships. Meanwhile, the Yale School of Management offers Mastering Influence and Persuasion, which tries to help students more authentically persuade and motivate people.

Ellis interviewed MBA students who knew they needed more balance in their lives. They knew they could be very easily career-obsessed to the point of seeing love relationships dissolve. Also, some were aware that they could still feel empty even after achieving their career goals.

This new interest in happiness has expanded to include Nobel prize winners in economics. Princeton University’s Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in economics for his studies on what causes happiness.

A second Princeton professor, Angus Deaton, won another Nobel Prize in economics for looking at how we measure economic activity. Standard gross national product measures of the nation’s output only look at things like how many cars were produced or how many tons of coal were mined in a year. The standard measure does not look at how much pollution was caused by these activities and whether or not people are happier because these products exist. Professor Deaton has created measures that attempt to look at the happiness levels within a nation. His studies have shown that it is not always the case that more money produces more happiness both within a nation and an individual.

I am delighted that Brooks’s Harvard Business School class deals with faith and life values. I believe these “touchy-feely” areas have an important influence on executives at all types of organizations.

But turnabout is fair play, as the saying goes. While the business schools are introducing happiness and life values classes into their curriculum, many seminaries are now offering classes on how to read a balance sheet, lead a congregation in financial matters, and creatively market projects. Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute has added financial management and marketing class to its core curriculum in recent years.

All this talk about happiness brings back recent memories of our URV Spirit Circles reading of The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who recently made his transition.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu make an important distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness can be produced by very ephemeral things which can leave you high and dry at the drop of a hat. True joy is much deeper than happiness and is the result of a spiritual connection with God – and there is not one and only one way of how God can be defined or experienced.

I think it is vital for all of us to, every once in a while, take time to sincerely journal, pray, and meditate on the four areas detailed by Professor Brooks. Where are we ‘under-indexing’ or ‘over-indexing?’ What can we do to bring ourselves back into balance? Our egos may not be strong enough to do the job of rightsizing. But as Jesus affirmed, “All things are possible with God.”

I too suggest that we go for joy and not surface-level happiness. When we feel this joy we can feel peace – and be effective leaders – even in very difficult situations.

Also, I suggest that when we do this journaling work, we do not just think about these observations in our minds or say them with just words. I suggest we write them down. Somehow when we write them down we get a better picture and richer results.

Lastly, with all this talk about happiness, I can’t help myself. I want to share two songs with you. First, click this link to listen to that happiness song from the Partridge Family. Second, click this link for Pharrell Williams’ Happy video. I wonder if Professor Brooks shows these YouTubes to his Harvard class?

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Clicks and Mortar: Churches of the Future?

March 22, 2022

Recently when I was in Austin, Texas, visiting my son, he asked me, “Dad, have you ever been to an Amazon store?”

I responded by saying, “I admit often to buying things from the Dark Lord.”

“No, Dad,” my son responded. “I know you have an Amazon Prime account, and you shop online. But have you ever been inside an Amazon brick-and-mortar store?

“You mean a physical Amazon store with four walls, a roof, and a literal cash register? .. Well, errr, no. Do such things exist in the material world?” I asked.

“Indeed they do, would you like to see one? Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar store in Austin,” my son replied.

“We’ll lead on,” I chimed.

And ‘lead on’ he did. The actual physical store that we visited was incredible. Every square inch of the store was so well thought out. Amazon must have used every speck of data to design and run such an excellent store. I went to the spiritual/religious books and items section – the design of this area was like feng shui plus.

Meanwhile, my little daughter, Therese, was in toy land heaven. What she experienced was lightyears beyond the typical brick-and-mortar toy store. Children and grownups alike were being encouraged to play and participate. Say what you want about the Dark Lord, but this Amazon physical store was a delight.

Then we arrived at checkout. The cashier had more information on you than the CIA and FBI combined. As the gentleman ahead of me was checking out, the cashier encouraged him to sign up for Amazon’s Audible recorded books. “Audible has all of the books written by Lisa Jewell online. You could listen to them as you drive to Memphis and get stuck in a traffic jam on the bridge over the Mississippi River.”

“How did you know that Lisa Jewell is one of my favorite writers, and I commute over that bridge into Memphis every workday?” the man asked. He eagerly took the information about Audible.

Since I am already an Audible customer, I did not think I’d be “upsold” for audiobooks. The cashier – whom I have never seen before – looked at me and said, “Hi, Reverend. You should go to our clothing department. Your congregation deserves to see you in a new suit.”

I left Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store, and I was amazed. But I kept asking myself: Why would Amazon do this? Yes, it was incredible. But with all Amazon has going for itself online, why would they get involved in a brick-and-mortar operation?

I decided to really research the matter and was astonished to discover how many leading online retailers are building brick-and-mortar stores. Okay, I thought. But there is an excess of store capacity happening across the US. You see empty shopping malls with stores closed down everywhere. However, some experts believe what is causing the empty shopping malls is mostly “weak brands.” The Sears of the world are ‘not selling what people want in a way that people don’t desire,’ resulting in empty retail space. If you provide people with a shopping experience that engages and delights them, you have built a field where people will come (to borrow a line from that great movie Field of Dreams).

Online corporations like Amazon are banking millions of dollars on the ‘weak brands’ hypothesis, and they know they are ‘strong brands.’ I researched and discovered that many online giants believe most customers want and need to try out the product before buying, and they want a physical store for customer service. The data indicate that when Amazon builds a physical store in a community, it does not decrease its online sales and profits – it actually increases the company’s sales and profits in that community!

Why do I bring this up? Because I believe it has a direct application to churches, synagogues, etc. This may not be easy for some of us, but try picturing many churches as ‘weak brands.’ When I lived in Northern Virginia, outside of Washington D.C., the parking lots of many traditional churches were sparsely populated on Sundays. But you could not find an empty space at several ashrams, and even a few Pentecostal churches in Northern Virginia. The parking lot at my then-home church, Unity of Fairfax, was often full.

Jim Collins, the business school guru from the University of Michigan, talks about all types of organizations that have gone from “good to great.” I would like to see Unity, and all New Thought spiritual centers, go from “good to great,” delighting spiritual seekers with their message and experience. But I think those churches, spiritual centers, and more that can do this will have to be like the online retailers who are not just on the internet. Churches will have to go from “good to great,” both in-person and online. The future successful churches will follow the “clicks and mortar” model.

What does this mean for Unity of Roanoke Valley? I think it means having strong face-to-face services and having great online experiences. Almost every Sunday, I meet somebody in the URV sanctuary who says, “Rev. Rick, I have been watching your YouTube services every week, and this is the first time I have come to a live service at Unity of Roanoke Valley.” Often we will first meet the spiritual but not religious online before we meet them face-to-face in the sanctuary.

Our online services, online classes, and online fellowships should not be second-class citizens compared to our more traditional in-person activities. Online activities should not be seen as temporary things that will soon pass away once we are entirely out of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would love to get your ideas about what going from “good to great” in terms of “clicks and mortar” (meaning in-person and online offerings) would look like for you. Please send me an email at hp4360@gmail.com or text or call me at 571-215-9481. Or speak with me in person. I look forward to your ideas! Remember: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).

For me, a true story that drives home all of the above is about a hospital chaplain, Adam Ruiz, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Adam works in one of the leading hospitals in Louisville. When COVID-19 struck, the hospital chaplains were banned from going into most patients’ rooms. This was especially the case in the COVID-19 ward. Adam was told he could communicate with patients via Zoom or FaceTime. But when a patient is on a ventilator, these online communication systems are cold and heartless. The online stuff just didn’t work, Adam believed.

So Adam got a group of chaplains together to develop “safe” procedures that let the chaplains minister even in the COVID-19 rooms. Adam said they looked like astronauts ready for a walk in deep space. His heart broke when he tried to serve a person who was about to make their transition, and they were on a ventilator. The powers-that-be considered and approved most of what Adam’s team was proposing. Adam was happy to go back into patients’ rooms and minister in person.

But this is not the end of the story. People around the country involved in hospitals started hearing about the hospital in Louisville, where things changed for the better. Eventually, Adam established a web page, regular Zoom meetings, and email exchanges. Adam said the internet and things like FaceTime and Zoom got his message out there much sooner than it would have by a writing campaign. Adam was also able to connect patients with great online resources. Adam says that “clicks and mortar” saved the day, and ministries need to be very good with online and in-person services.

I, of course, agree with Adam. We need to go from “good to great” in both online and face-to-face activities. And I believe URV can do it!

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick

Uploading Your Consciousness: Or Is It Already Uploaded?

March 15, 2022

Welcome to the future!

We can now do many things that were only science fiction back in the olden days (say back in 2022). For example, now, when you die, we can upload every little last bit of your consciousness into supercomputer networks in the cloud.

Of course, uploading your consciousness is a costly proposition, and you have to have a lot of money to do this. Most people can’t afford to upload anything when they die. Even if you are fortunate enough to upload your consciousness, there is the question of which “computer heaven” you will be uploaded to.

These “computer heavens” are like resorts, and some of these heavens are more exclusive than others. I mean, you wouldn’t want to spend eternity in a cheap resort with the wrong sort of people – now would you?

The above is the general premise and set up for an interesting show you can stream on Amazon Prime Video. The show is called Upload, and it is the brainchild of Emmy award-winning producer Greg Daniels. He was the force behind such shows as The Office and Parks & Recreation. In essence, the key proposition presented in Upload is this: If you have the money and the right earthly connections, you can pick your afterlife experience.

The show centers on Nathan Brown, who is a 27-year-old computer programmer. Nathan thinks it is wrong that two or three tech company behemoths have total control of the “computer afterlife market.” He is writing a program that he intends to provide as “open to all” software, making uploading consciousness available to almost everybody.

Nathan’s girlfriend, Ingrid Kannerman, was born into wealth, and she has other dreams for Nathan. Alas, Nathan won’t follow Ingrid’s script. Then one night, Nathan gets into his computer-driven sports car, which starts misbehaving. In the end, his self-driving car crashes, and the impact kills Nathan.

Ingrid has Nathan’s consciousness uploaded to Lake View, which is probably the most exclusive afterlife resort that exists. At Lake View, Nathan meets the consciousness of one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs that ever lived. This former mogul tells Nathan that the car crash was probably not an accident. If Nathan had successfully released his program, it would’ve cost the tech giants billions of dollars. No, says the mogul. That was not an accident. You were murdered!

But that’s not all that is going on for Nathan in the afterlife computer resort. You see, Lake View is so posh that each guest has a concierge/customer service representative/handler. This “friend” is a living, flesh-and-blood person behind a computer screen with headphones on. In Nathan’s case, his handler is a young woman by the name of Nora. Naturally, this customer service/handler relationship soon develops into a real friendship, which of course, develops into a love relationship.

A love relationship between a living handler and a dead resident at Lake View is strictly forbidden by the tech company’s code of something. But … there is always illicit uploading. As Shakespeare put it, “The course of true love never did run smooth on the Internet.”

The entire issue concerning the future of uploading a person’s consciousness is fascinating. I have been reading two books that interestingly raise the possibility that uploading and downloading consciousness is already happening. These books more than suggest that uploading and downloading are an integral part of this universe – and all of the other universes that exist. Before you dismiss all of this, I ask you to read on.

The first book is One Mind: How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters, by Larry Dossey, M.D. Dr. Dossey believes that consciousness is not just something that happens within the human skull. He believes that our individual consciousness is part of something that extends way beyond our skulls. Individual consciousness is connected to – and a part of – an infinite, collective dimension of consciousness. He calls this infinite dimension One Mind.

Dr. Dossey believes this reality helps explain near-death experiences, epiphanies, premonitions, non-local experiences such as healing at a distance, and more. He presents a ton of evidence from a wide range of fields to support this One Mind hypothesis. Dr. Dossey also points out that mystics and spiritual sages have pointed to a One Mind experience down through the ages.

Dr. Dossey says that if it is true that there is no spot where God is not, then this universe (which he believes is part of a far larger metaverse) is like a hologram. The complete image is in every part of a hologram. For Dr. Dossey, it is not a question of uploading or downloading anything since everything is already at any spot you could pick.

For students of Unity, this is not an unimaginable jump. We speak of Divine Mind, and a key goal is to align our consciousness with Divine Mind. Unity pioneers pointed to consciousness as existing beyond the individual physical skull. We often don’t call it death – we call it a “transition.” I loved how Dr. Dossey brings out the implications for our daily living in the material world in light of the One Mind hypothesis.

The second book is Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness, by Dr. Eben Alexander. As a Harvard University professor and a leading neurosurgeon, Dr. Alexander says that the last thing in the world he was expecting to have was a near-death experience. But that is exactly what happened to him, and it was highly documented. This incident led Dr. Alexander to explore the nature of consciousness, and it also led him to reach many very similar conclusions as Dr. Dossey.

Both doctors do not think the evidence supports a materialist hypothesis of consciousness. They believe that it doesn’t boil down to a few chemicals and neurons flashing. There also seems to be some uploading and downloading between our brains and something beyond – call it One Mind, Cosmic Consciousness, God … you fill in the ___________. Also, both doctors do not believe that the Mind is just the wet matter inside our skulls. Mind does not equal Brain. Both doctors see this metaverse as being like a hologram with the entire “image” – or consciousness – at every point.

I more than recommend both the Dossey and Alexander books. I would also recommend a classic in the field: Life After Life, by Dr. Raymond Moody, Jr. And, if you can, why not stream a few episodes of Upload?

Let me give the last word to Saint Francis: “And it is by dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Many blessings,

Rev. Rick