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Monday, January 13, 2020

How Can I Love What I Cannot See

It's easier to love something you can touch and see, than it is to love something invisible, like Spirit.  

Why not begin where you are, loving what you can, until your love leads you to a solid conviction that back of everything is an invisible Intelligence.  

Devotion is the practice of loving the Infinite through whatever actions the devotee is engaged in. It is in the doing that we meet the Divine, so to speak, when we look through the action and appearances, to the Power that produces all.

To see this week's video on YouTube, click here.

Science of Mind teaches us that we are in an endless process of thinking and what we dwell upon must in some way become a form. This is why we used to often say that thoughts are things. In reality, thoughts are not things; they are the origin of things, situations, and events. What does your mind dwell on regularly? Do you think about the worst- or best-case scenario for your life and the lives of your loved ones? What about for our country, or our world? Where do you let your thoughts hang out?

Imagine if you were to take time daily to let your thoughts dwell on the beauty and magnificence of the Living Spirit Almighty. That practice is called devotion and must produce beneficial results. You are a spirit with a definite presence and a creative mind. As such, you are free-flowing in your thoughts, you are creative, and you can use your mind to dwell on whatever you want. I invite you to devote yourself this month to the contemplation of the Living Spirit which appears in you as a unique, kind, loving spirit.

Warm regards,

Edward Viljoen 

Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" on Unsplash
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Monday, January 6, 2020

Imagine a Love that Wants You to Be Completely Free

What were you taught about God's love? And what do you believe now?  These are some of the questions I was asked in my early spiritual education in  Science of Mind.  

It was tricky answering the questions because I had to put aside everything I knew about human love.  Human love is not always a useful model for exploring what Divine Love is.  

Our human love is, well, interesting.  We tend to have conditions on our love.  We can undoubtedly feel justified not loving the people we don't like, and people we once loved me may feel distant from.  In other words, it's changeable.

To understand what absolute love means, I had to go beyond the human model.  It may be challenging to get there, yet it is essential to understanding how the Science of Mind works.

To see this week's video about Absolute Love on YouTube, click here.

Someone once said to Dr. Raymond Charles Barker, a well-known Science of Mind teacher, that “… as I listen to your lecture, I do not have a sense of the Presence of God, because you are always telling us the mechanics of the Law of Mind.” Dr. Barker reflected that it was possible that, by focusing on practical spirituality, he may have forgotten about the Thing which makes it all work. 

After that conversation, Dr. Barker wrote, “There is an impelling force for good. It is God. It is in all, through all, and equally distributed in every person. Its main characteristics are intelligence and love.” 
This month we are focusing on clearly seeing the Love that is the Divine and tuning into its inspiration and warmth. There is an overshadowing Presence that is always with us; it is the loving, creative action of Life. We are still in It and It is always in us.

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Monday, December 30, 2019

When a World Leader Starts Saying Crazy Things, What Must You Do?

Chanukah and Science of Mind

Give up your identity, culture, and faith, or you will perish.  This was the ultimatum given to the Jews by King Antiochus Euphanes.  

It's an ancient story replaying in our recent history: minority faith groups are sent to reeducation camps in China to unlearn their culture; Native American's made to abandon their indigenous language and culture in the United States and Candada; British colonizers forcibly imposed their culture on new colonies.  So the question is fresh for us today.  

What must we do when a world leader starts saying identity, culture, and beliefs, do not matter?

Click here to see the video on YouTube.

This month we are celebrating the many ways various spiritual traditions observe the Holy Days. Today we are exploring the Jewish tradition of Chanukah and how the Jews responded to King Antiochus.  Chanukah is a festival of lights remembering the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.   On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a candle is lit on a unique candelabra called a menorah. This year, Hanukkah began on Sunday, December 22, and ends on the evening of Monday, December 30.

Hanukkah means dedication and also commemorates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the one vial of oil that lasted for eight full days to illuminate the Temple.  Whether you are Jewish or not, the story may well provide the inspiration you are seeking to know what to do when facing your own trials of identity.  

Warm regards,

Edward Viljoen

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
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Monday, December 16, 2019

Winter Solstice, Christ's Mass, and Science of Mind on Jesus

This month we are celebrating the many ways various spiritual traditions observe the Holy Days. Today we are exploring the Solstice, that day when the night is longest and the day is shortest. Celebrations of solstice are varied and include activities honoring the return of the sun as well as the natural cycles within life, spiritually and physically. This year, Solstice 2019, falls on December 21, very close to our Candle Lighting Ceremony on

To see this week's video on YouTube, click here.

December 24, at 6 and 8 pm when we light candles for personal reasons. You may light your candle in memory of a loved one, to honor the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, to celebrate a personal rebirth of light, or as an intention for the world.

Solstice reminds me of how everything is reciprocally connected. Dark is connected to light, giving is connected to receiving, and beginnings are connected to endings. Understanding these cycles allows us to be in a dance with the flow of spiritual life rather than working against it. 

In January, I will be teaching a five-week course titled “Circulation: Joining the Dance,” which focuses on five key ideas: Giving, Receiving, Gratitude, Asking, and Forgiving. Check out the article on page two of today’s bulletin for more information about the class. I look forward to your joining me to learn about where and how you can step more fully into the abundant flow of life.

Warm regards,

Edward Viljoen

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Joe Rodota Trail, Unsheltered Community, Kwanzaa, Rohatsu, Science of Mind

This week's video may be seen on YouTube here.

Across the highway from our Center’s main entrance, the bushes and growth were cleared away last week. Now the unsheltered encampment on the parallel bike trail next to the highway can be seen in stark reality. One local grassroots movement, Sonoma County Acts of Kindness, is organizing meal drop-offs for the unsheltered. Individuals can sign up for breakfast, lunch, or supper. Feeding the over 170 inhabitants can be overwhelming. Not only that, there is much disagreement about how to address the unsheltered.

Whether a person thinks the city, or the faith communities, or individuals, or underfunded agencies should be doing something, the fact is the encampment is in plain view almost on our doorstep.

I marvel at how consciousness works: Things move into focus when a person takes a stand for such ideas as a world that works better, a world in which there is continued sharing of resources, in which people have enough food and adequate shelter, and so on.

I understand the frustration in my community about the situation, and I understand the pushback from concerned folk about making things worse through maintaining the encampment. I, too, have some conflicted feelings as a result of our property being broken into, from having bikes and statues stolen from our Center (and then retrieving them from the encampment.) I am a cyclist who has had items thrown at me on that path, and I no longer bike on it.

And still, I can’t do nothing. And I can’t ignore the vision we have for our world. I learned in Science of Mind that Principle is not bound by precedent. In this case, it suggests to me that I ought not to let my past wounds control my current decisions and future actions.

I’m thinking of the lyrics in Jana Stanfield’s song: I cannot do all the good that the world needs me to do, but the world needs all the good I can do.

So, although I don’t know what the physical solution is, I am leading my community in Spiritual Mind Treatment. At the same time, we are claiming a spot with that organization to feed some people. We have started collecting money for that purpose.

Some in the community object to this approach and feel that partnering with severely underfunded and understaffed community agencies that are familiar with the unsheltered population is the better way to go. (Our Center in Santa Rosa already has a history of supporting nonprofit organizations that are doing the work in the world that we are not skilled to do. We have been doing that for 16 years.)

Some in our community are concerned that issues such as severe addiction to methamphetamine, and mental illness, cannot be easily solved by sporadic good intentions. They express concern that volunteerism can cause things to get worse. Others are concerned that generosity and compassion will be taken advantage of by people who are not motivated to leave the encampment.

Nevertheless, there are people living on that trail who are not addicts, who are not criminals, but who are caught in traps that are difficult to escape from. If you’ve ever been low on resources and someone helped you out, you probably already know the power of loving-kindness. I’ve never been homeless, but I’ve lived close to the edge of not having enough to pay for anything other than my rent. That was terrifying. (I’d love to hear from any colleagues who have struggled with this.) Had it not been for the kindness of others, and what I learned in Dr. Bitzer’s Hollywood Church of Religious Science from Dr. Polifrone, who knows what might have become of me.

One organization that is inspiring me is Sonoma Applied Village Services. Their motto is “Shelter with Dignity.” They are working in encampments throughout Sonoma County to provide as many basic services as they can, such as case management, donation distribution, wellness checks, basic applications like ID and social security, and connecting to services like veterans and women’s support. They, I believe, provided portable restrooms on the trail, an action that is both applauded and criticized.

What is the unsheltered situation in your town like, and what in your town’s leadership has inspired you related to the issue?

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

This month we are celebrating the many ways various spiritual traditions observe the Holy Days. Today we are exploring Kwanzaa, an African American celebration of life introduced to the United States in 1966, in part to provide an alternative response to what some see as the commercialism of Christmas. The core principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

The last day of Kwanzaa is the beginning of the new year, January 1, and is a time of self-reflection and recommitment to values and vision. People who celebrate contemplate the answers to these questions:

Who am I? Am I really who I say I am? And am I all I ought to be? It is also a time, if necessary, to recommit to our highest values.

If you would like support getting grounded for the new year, and recommitting to who you are as a spiritual being, consider signing up for our free Lunch Time Learning series which takes place on Wednesdays at noon, January 8, 15, 22, and 29. Bring a pen, a bag lunch, and spend some time exploring your spiritual identity and setting your intention for how to navigate the year 2020. All are welcome, but everyone must register at the Information Table.

Warm regards,

Edward Viljoen
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Monday, December 2, 2019

Science of Mind and Rohatsu

This month we are celebrating the many ways various spiritual traditions observed the Holy Days. Today we are exploring Rohatsu, a Japanese Buddhist celebration of the moment the Buddha achieved enlightenment.  Rohatsu in Japanese means the eighth day of the twelfth (lunar) month, which means it sometimes falls in January. After the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the celebration became fixed on December 8 and is sometimes called Bodhi Day. Bodhi means awakened or enlightened. Those who celebrate Rohatsu sometimes extend each evening's meditation, making it longer than the previous evening and culminating in a night-long meditation.

To view this week's video on YouTube, click here.

Also, this month, we are paying tribute to the Christian tradition of Advent by focusing on the qualities of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in our free Wednesday Wisdom classes at 7 pm. Rev. Tara Steele, Rev. Siota Belle, and Rev. Joyce Kinzel will be facilitating the first three Wednesday evenings; and then on December 25, we will have one service only at 10 am on Christmas morning, focusing on love, and facilitated by Rev. Ruth Barnhart. All are welcome.

If you would like support in your meditation practice, Rev. Siota Belle is hosting a Wednesday evening meditation, from 6 to 6:45 pm starting on January 8, called Inviting the Sacred. Watch this bulletin for more information about how to start your new year off on the right spiritual footing.


Edward Viljoen

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

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Monday, November 25, 2019

How to Talk to People With Radically Different Points of View

How do we talk to other people who have radically different conclusions about the way life works?  How do we disagree and argue while maintaining respect and kindness?

The Science of Mind teaching calls us to align with our spiritual nature, which we inherit from divinity, while respecting the divinity of others. Science of Mind is a prayerful approach to life, that instead of laying out a one-size-fits-all mindset, invites us to contemplate and pursue the highest good for all.

In this video, I'll share ideas about how to talk to people with radically different points of view, as well as make suggestions for how to engage in our world without becoming overwhelmed.

Our founder, Dr. Ernest Holmes, in How to Change Your Life, wrote that we ought to be thankful for the splendid design of this Universe that has planted within us a guide to right conduct. He called that guide conscience and said that we may access it through our spiritual intuition. He taught us that by knowing the Truth (which means to contemplate the nature of the Divine) we will be compelled to act in a correct way.

If we take time daily to sit quietly and think about what the Divine is to us (and that idea will no doubt change with our growing understanding) will it not become impossible for us to want to harm another, take what is not ours to take, or be deceitful?



Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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Sunday, November 10, 2019

You Have A Self. Aware, Permanent, Holy

Part of the spiritual journey is to discover the hidden power of the Self within and to bring it out into expression in our lives. Today's message explore the obstacles, celebrations, and joys of the spiritual journey.

The Nonprofit Partner Program is an outreach program of the Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa. Each year since 2004 twelve nonprofit partners have been selected from nominations submitted by individuals in our Spiritual Community who are either associated with a nonprofit or have benefited from the services of a nonprofit. Nonprofits may not nominate themselves. Nominations are received in the fall of each year. 

A committee meets to review the nominations, vet them to make sure they have a nonprofit tax ID number, and to ensure that the mission of the nonprofit is harmonious with the values and teachings of the Center for Spiritual Living. From the nominations, twelve are selected, and each nonprofit is assigned a month of the year. During their assigned month, representatives of the nonprofit are invited to make a 2-minute presentation during all three of our Sunday morning services, and also to staff a table in our Social Hall with information about their work and volunteer opportunities. 

This year your committee selected the following organizations from your nominations for our 2020 Nonprofit Partners:

• Aids Lifecycle Ride (nominated by Jerry Huffaker, Jeff Basham & Nancy Reynolds)
• Clean River Alliance (Cindy Collins)
• COTS 572 (Giving Intention Team)
• Knights of Sonoma County (Jeffrey Sanders)
• Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary (Ronni Berg)
• Positive Images (Alicia Carroll)
• Seeds of Awareness (Lauren Darges)
• Shoes4Kidz (Lucas Hensley)
• Sonoma Bach (Christopher Fritzsche)
• SRJC Shone Farm (Robin Zolotoff)
• Verity (Edward Viljoen, Linda & Dennis O’Rear)
• Zariki Nursery and Primary School (Elisa Baker)

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash
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