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Monday, February 19, 2024

Is It Going to Be a Tough Year in 2024?

As we stand on the threshold of 2024, I find myself contemplating the journey ahead. It's tempting to say it's going to be a tough year, but perhaps that's not the most empowering stance to take. Instead, I believe it's crucial to recognize the power within us—a power that connects us to everything, enabling us to see clearly, think wisely, and act decisively. This inner strength is what will guide us through the year, not just in navigating our personal lives but in the broader context of social and political engagement.

The Role of Positive Thinking

Affirmative thinking and positivity are powerful tools, yet they come with a caveat. They must not lead us into a state of complacency or avoidance. The story of the grasshopper and the ants, as told by Aesop, serves as a poignant reminder of this truth. While the grasshopper lived in the moment, enjoying the summer without a care, the ants worked hard to prepare for the winter. This fable highlights the importance of preparation and foresight—qualities that are especially relevant as we approach a year filled with challenges and decisions.

2024, an election year in the United States, will undoubtedly call upon us to engage with social issues, platforms, and the values of those who aspire to lead. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of this task or to believe that our efforts won't make a difference. However, adopting a mindset of slow, steady, and deliberate action can empower us to learn, decide, and act in ways that align with our deepest values.

Spirituality in an Election Year

This year, I am committed to making every day count. I refuse to succumb to the notion that my voice doesn't matter or that I am powerless to effect change. Instead, I choose to believe that each of us has a unique and vital role to play in shaping our world. It's about finding a balance between living in the moment and planning for the future, between joy and responsibility, between the grasshopper's spontaneity and the ant's diligence.

As part of this commitment, I am engaging with the electoral process in a more intentional and informed way. I am asking myself what issues and values are most important to me as a voter. I am scrutinizing the funding and positions of candidates, not just accepting their messages at face value but seeking to understand their hearts and the implications of their policies. Through text messages and direct inquiries, I am actively questioning candidates, demanding answers that go beyond generic responses. This approach is not about finding a perfect candidate but about ensuring that those who seek to represent us are aware of what is spiritually, emotionally, economically, and humanitarily important to their constituents.

Learn, Grow, Contribute

This year is not just about facing challenges; it's about embracing the opportunity to grow, learn, and contribute to a more compassionate and understanding world. It's about recognizing that our spiritual values can and should inform our political decisions. By starting today, we can make 2024 a year of meaningful change, both within ourselves and in the world around us.

Let's embark on this journey together, equipped with clarity, compassion, and the courage to ask the hard questions. Let's make this the year we embrace our power to create change, guided by our deepest values and the unshakeable belief in our collective ability to make a difference.
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Sunday, February 18, 2024

How to Change Your Mind

Changing one's mind, especially on deeply held beliefs or opinions, is a complex process that involves several steps and is influenced by various factors. The journey to change one's mind can be broadly outlined in stages, each with its own challenges and benefits. While specific models can vary, a general process can include:

  • Encountering Contradictory Information: The first step often involves exposure to new information that challenges existing beliefs or opinions. This can occur through reading, conversations, taking spiritual classes, or personal experiences.
  • Cognitive Dissonance: The new information creates a conflict with existing beliefs, leading to cognitive dissonance. This is the uncomfortable feeling of holding two conflicting thoughts without being reactive, which motivates the individual to resolve the inconsistency.
  • Openness to Change: The individual must be open to considering new information and perspectives. This openness can be influenced by various factors, including curiosity, the source's credibility, and the individual's willingness to admit another way may be possible.
  • Critical Evaluation: The person critically evaluates the new information, as well as their existing beliefs. This involves reflective thinking, seeking out additional sources, and weighing the evidence.
  • Adoption of New Beliefs: If the new information is persuasive enough, the individual may adjust their point of view to embrace it. This can be a gradual process, where beliefs shift over time as more information is absorbed and reflected upon.
  • Integration: Finally, the new belief is integrated into the individual's broader worldview, influencing their actions and attitudes.

Challenges

  • Confirmation Bias: The tendency to favor information that confirms existing beliefs and to dismiss information that contradicts them.
  • Personal Identity: Beliefs closely tied to one's identity can be particularly resistant to change, as changing the belief might feel like a loss of self.
  • Social and Environmental Factors: Social pressures, group identity, and environmental factors can reinforce existing beliefs and discourage change.

Benefits

  • Growth and Learning: Changing one's mind in light of new evidence is a sign of intellectual growth and adaptability.
  • Improved Decision-Making: Being open to changing one's mind can lead to better decision-making, as it allows for the incorporation of a broader range of information.
  • Enhanced Relationships: Flexibility in thinking can improve relationships, as it fosters understanding and reduces conflict.

Research

Research in psychology and neuroscience shows that changing one's mind is both possible and part of human nature. Studies in cognitive dissonance, persuasion, and neuroplasticity demonstrate that the brain is capable of adapting to new information and changing beliefs. However, the ease with which a person changes their mind varies widely depending on the belief's nature, the individual's personality, and the context.

For example, research by Festinger and Carlsmith (1959) on cognitive dissonance provides insight into how encountering conflicting information can lead to a change in beliefs or attitudes to reduce psychological discomfort. Meanwhile, studies on persuasion and attitude change, such as the Elaboration Likelihood Model proposed by Petty and Cacioppo in the 1980s, explore the conditions under which people are more likely to be persuaded and change their minds.

While changing one's mind can be challenging due to psychological biases and social factors, it is certainly possible and can lead to significant personal and spiritual benefits. The key lies in fostering an inner environment that encourages openness, critical thinking, and a willingness to consider new information.


View the Center's Spiritual Education Calendar here: https://cslsr.org/education-calendar/


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Saturday, February 17, 2024

Are You Falling into The Same Hole Again? February 18, 2024, with Dr. Edward Viljoen


Tomorrow, we'll dive into "Autobiography in Five Chapters" by Portia Nelson. This story is a simple yet powerful reminder of how easily we can fall into familiar patterns and the strength it takes to choose a different path. It's about recognizing our habits, understanding their impact, and consciously deciding to make a change. This discussion is timely, especially as we navigate the complexities of our lives and the world around us.  The topic is "Pain Pushes until Vision Pulls."

Additionally, we have a book exchange event scheduled between the first and second services. This is more than just swapping books; it's an opportunity to share knowledge, experiences, and interests with one another. Don't worry if you don't have a book to bring; there will be plenty available for you to choose from and take home. This event is a testament to our community's generosity and openness.

Tomorrow's topic is a reminder of the importance of being present, intentional, and open to change.  We will also explore what it means to change your mind.  Life is full of unexpected turns and learning opportunities. It's up to us to embrace them, grow, and support each other along the way.

I look forward to seeing you at the Center.

Warm regards,

Edward Viljoen
Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa

P.S. The book exchange is a great chance to find something new to read and share. Whether you brought a book or not, you're sure to leave with something that sparks your interest. 


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Friday, February 2, 2024

Lessons in Uncomfortability: A Journey Toward Inclusion and Spiritual Growth - Sunday February 4, 2024 With Edward Viljoen

In the heart of every struggle lies the seed of growth—a principle vividly illustrated in the history of Black Americans. As we delve into February's theme of Divine Discombort, we uncover invaluable lessons on the power of confronting uncomfortable truths, the resilience of the human spirit, and the transformative power of consciousness and intention.

Acknowledging Uncomfortable Histories


The path to a more inclusive and equitable future is paved with the acknowledgment of our uncomfortable past. It's imperative to confront and learn from the experiences of Black individuals in the United States, whose lives and contributions have often been overshadowed by systemic injustice. By recognizing these histories, we not only honor their struggles but also understand how these injustices have shaped our present, guiding us toward a more compassionate society.

The Power of Resilience


The extraordinary life of Harriet Tubman exemplifies the incredible resilience and determination required to confront systemic oppression. Her journey from slavery to freedom—and her efforts to help others achieve the same—highlights the capacity of individuals to effect profound change. Stories like hers inspire us to persevere through our challenges, emphasizing the impact one person can have on the world.

Evolving Consciousness for Growth


Our growth, both personal and societal, hinges on the evolution of our consciousness toward greater spirituality, inclusivity, and unity. This journey often encounters obstacles, both within ourselves and in societal structures, that hinder our progress. Overcoming these challenges requires a deep self-awareness, honesty, and a commitment to confronting uncomfortable truths head-on.

The Creative Mind's Role in Change


The concept of the Creative Mind introduces the idea of a divine intelligence that operates through individuals to manifest their deepest desires and overcome obstacles. This belief in the interconnectedness of individual intentions and a larger cosmic will suggests that we can influence broader societal transformations through our thoughts and actions.

Embracing Discomfort for Transformation


Discomfort and a hunger for change are not impediments but catalysts for transformation. By embracing the challenges and tensions that arise in our pursuit of diversity, inclusivity, and compassion, we edge closer to realizing these ideals in our lives and communities. This journey requires us to confront our discomfort head-on, using it as a springboard for growth and change.

Letting Go of Limiting Beliefs


The journey towards spiritual and societal transformation is also a process of releasing limiting beliefs and attitudes. Daily spiritual practices aimed at fostering a mindset of peace, thriving, and openness to change can help us shed these barriers, allowing us to appreciate the rich tapestry of life and the diversity of the human experience.

The Inspirational Impact of Role Models


Role models like Harriet Tubman and Howard Thurman serve as beacons of hope and change, demonstrating the profound impact individuals can have on the course of history. Their lives remind us of the power of love, engagement, and the relentless pursuit of justice to inspire others to action.

As we reflect on these themes, we are invited to consider our place within this larger narrative. The journey toward greater awareness, equality, and spiritual growth is both personal and collective, challenging us to examine our beliefs and actions.

Join us at the Center for Spiritual Living this Sunday, February 4, 2024, for our Sunday Celebration as we continue to explore these themes and celebrate the power of Creative Mind within us and our journey of discovery, transformation, and, ultimately, liberation for all.
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Saturday, January 27, 2024

Embracing Our Spiritual Truth: A Reflection Inspired by Dante - With Dr. Edward Viljoen January 28, 2024 9 and 11 am

Dante did something revolutionary for his time: he wrote in the Tuscan dialect, the language of the ordinary people, instead of the conventional Latin. This choice was an act of giving voice to the common folk, distancing himself from the prevailing political-religious institutions that would eventually exile him. His courage to speak in a relatable voice has been a source of inspiration for many, including President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who both referenced Dante's work in their speeches.

What Did Dante Say? But why am I sharing this with you? Because, like many, I assumed the quote often attributed to Dante was his direct words. It was only upon deeper research that I realized it was an interpretation of his ideas. This realization is a reminder to look beyond the surface and delve deeper into truths, especially in our digital age, where information is so readily shared and often accepted without question.

Dante's actual words describe the fate of those who remain neutral in times of moral crisis. This strikes a chord with me, especially when reflecting on our discussions about social issues, human rights and the responses I've received. Some express their desire to keep our spiritual community free from such topics, preferring a sanctuary from the world's conflicts. However, this creates a dilemma, as my role is to uphold the teachings of the Science of Mind and interpret the Global Vision of our organization.

Guided by Spiritual Principles

Our vision speaks of a world where spirituality intersects with all aspects of life, guided by principles like unity, collaboration, equity, equality, forgiveness, and compassion. It's similar to the sentiment of Jill Jackson-Miller’s song, "The Peace Song," which aligns with our Global Vision. The idea of "Let it begin with me" resonates with us, but it's challenging when confronted with the realities of others' painful and oppressed experiences.

How do we, as spiritual beings, navigate this? The Global Vision encourages us to live in alignment with our highest spiritual truth, not imposing our beliefs but embracing a larger idea of the world. It's about understanding and respecting the diverse spiritual paths that people take, including our own journey to align with what we truly believe.

Reevaluate and Realign

I've realized that even our highest spiritual truths can be clouded by our biases and limitations. We need to constantly reevaluate and align ourselves, much like adjusting a bicycle to fit our unique measurements. If we ride out of alignment, even slightly, it can lead to discomfort and problems. This metaphor applies to our spiritual journey as well.

In our pursuit of a larger understanding, we must consider the impact of our beliefs and actions on the world around us. We see this in our support for causes like the Aids/Lifecycle team and our awareness of global issues like the struggles in Gaza, as reported by the Washington Post. It's not about political statements but about staying informed and aligning our actions with our vision of a compassionate and interconnected world.

As Ernest Holmes said, "Whatever is true of the Universe as a Whole must also be true of the individual as some part of the Whole." This invites us to consider how we live in alignment with the Universe's truths and how that shapes our interactions and responses to the world's challenges.

So, as we gather tomorrow, let's reflect on this and explore how we can be spiritually active in a world that desperately needs compassion, understanding, and action. Let's embrace our individual truths while contributing to a larger vision of peace, love, and unity.

In closing, I invite you to meditate on these words from "A New Design for Living": "We are all incarnations of [the Divine], [the Divine] is what we are. We never need to prepare to meet our [Divine]; we are meeting [the Divine] every day. But what we do need to do, and what we will always be doing, is to express more and more of [the Divine's] nature through ourselves."

Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

With love and light, Edward Viljoen, Senior Minister


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Saturday, January 20, 2024

Embarking on a New Journey: Sunday, January 21, 2024, with Dr. Edward Vijoen

Oliver Wendall Holmes, a renowned Supreme Court justice, once said, “I find the greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand but in what direction we are heading. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind, sometimes against it, but we must sail, not drift nor lie at anchor.”

In the spirit of these wise words, our focus this Sunday is to explore not just our destinations but what might be holding us back from leaving the safety of the harbor and sailing into new possibilities.

This Sunday, January 21st, we invite you to join us for a special celebration service at 9 AM and 11 AM, themed “It’s a New Day.” It’s a time to ponder, reflect, and embrace the new beginnings that each day offers.

Letting go is a complex process, unique for each of us. For some, it means releasing an unhealthy relationship; for others, it might be letting go of a past hurt or a limiting belief. Whatever it is, we all face obstacles that hinder our journey into newness.

This Sunday, we’ll delve into the concept of ICOT - an acronym to help us navigate this process. ICOT stands for Imagination, Commitment, Openness, and Trust.

  • Imagination: It's about using our imagination to envision the end result, even if it seems abstract or unattainable at the moment. Remember, many great inventions were once thought impossible.
  • Commitment: This might be the most challenging step. Commitment involves saying yes to your vision, even when you don't have all the details on how it will unfold.
  • Openness: Being open means staying alert to life’s clues and cues. It’s about being receptive to guidance in various forms, even from unexpected sources.
  • Trust: Trust bridges the gap between our efforts and our goals. It's about having faith in the journey, even when the path is unclear.

Our service will include inspiring stories and practical advice on how to apply these principles in our daily lives. We’ll explore the importance of embracing our visions, committing to them wholeheartedly, remaining open to new possibilities, and trusting the journey, even in the face of uncertainty.

Moreover, if you're feeling anxious about change, we’ll share insights from Nona Brooks, the mother of Divine Science, and the soothing words of Saphire Rose’s poem, “She Let Go,” offering a breath of fresh air and a sense of relief.

Together, we’ll engage in a moment of reflection, envisioning our desires and dreams, and opening our hearts to the endless possibilities that life offers.

So, come join us this Sunday. Whether you’re a long-time member of our community or new to our family, we welcome you with open arms. Let’s set sail together into the new day, embracing change, growth, and the endless potential within each of us.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Edward Viljoen, Senior Minister


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Saturday, January 13, 2024

Inner Work and Outer Manifestation - Will You Be There? Sunday Service on January 14, 2024

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy of Social Justice

This Sunday, we gather to commemorate and honor the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a beacon of equality and justice. Despite facing formidable challenges and danger in his pursuit of social change, Dr. King's profound impact continues to inspire movements for justice worldwide. In our service, we delve into understanding and embodying the principles of social justice in the spirit of Dr. King. Join us as we explore how his vision aligns with our shared aspirations for global awakening and oneness.


The Global Vision: A Call for Personal Responsibility and Action

Our focus extends to the "Global Vision," which perceives all life as expressions of the divine, envisioning a world unified in spiritual magnificence and interconnected peace. This vision offers a deeper understanding of why celebrating figures like Dr. King is essential and why personal engagement in the world's challenges is necessary. We will explore how envisioning a peaceful world is only the beginning and discuss how we can take concrete steps towards making this vision a reality. This includes learning about global issues, advocating for change, and aligning our actions with our highest spiritual principles.

Engaging in Practical Service: Honoring Dr. King's Legacy Through Action

We also focus on practical ways to engage in service and positively contribute to the world, particularly around January 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our service will highlight opportunities for community involvement, such as participating in local service events, supporting first responders, engaging in educational projects, and organizing fundraising efforts. These actions embody the spirit of Dr. King's legacy, nurturing compassion and contributing to a society rooted in equality, justice, and love.

Balancing Inner Growth with Social Action

Our Sunday service is not just a commemoration; it's a call to action. It's an invitation to balance inner spiritual work with meaningful social change. We encourage reflection on personal biases and privileges, understanding that creating a better world starts within each of us. Together, we will explore how we can actively participate in crafting a world that mirrors our ideals of unity, peace, and justice.

Join Us in This Journey

We warmly invite you to join us this Sunday, January 14, 2024, for a service dedicated to reflection, action, and honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let's come together to learn, grow, and take steps towards a world that reflects our highest aspirations. Your presence and participation are vital in this journey of collective awakening and transformation.

Together, let's honor the past, embrace the present, and shape a future founded on the principles that Dr. King so passionately advocated for.

Edward Viljoen Santa Rosa, January 13, 2024

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Thursday, January 11, 2024

Thomas Maddens - The Most Blatant, Well-Funded, Sophisticated Oppression


Thomas Maddens, a documentary maker, has expressed a strong and impassioned viewpoint on the situation in Palestine, as seen in his various videos. His perspective is marked by a deep concern for human rights and a clear stance against injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people. 
He prefaces his point of view by saying that in no way does he condone any violence of any kind towards any civilians or any people.  Here's a breakdown of his viewpoints as I understand them:

  1. Definition of Genocide: Maddens is adamant about labeling the situation in Palestine as a genocide rather than a war. He views the ongoing conflict as a systematic and deliberate attempt to destroy a group of people, which qualifies it as genocide.


  2. Humanitarian Crisis Documentation: Through his documentary work, Maddens has spent considerable time in conflict zones, including Gaza and Israel, gathering testimonies from genocide survivors. His work aims to shed light on humanitarian crises and amplify the voices of those affected. Maddens describes the situation of the Palestinian people as "the most blatant, well-funded, sophisticated oppression" he has witnessed. He witnessed a process of dehumanization against Palestinians and warns of its potential escalation into an outright genocide.


  3. Critique of Leadership: He expresses disappointment and disbelief at the lack of action from European leaders, accusing them of supporting what he sees as a genocidal regime. Maddens advocates for several actions: dismantling what he calls the apartheid state, bringing war criminals to justice, freeing Palestine, and ending the occupation. He sees these steps as crucial to achieving peace.


  4. Stance on Anti-Semitism: He strongly refutes the notion that criticism of Israel's policies or advocating for Palestinian freedom is anti-Semitic. Maddens distinguishes between criticism of a state's policies and hatred toward a religious or ethnic group.


  5. Account of Violence and Inaction: He provides a grim account of violence against civilians, including children, and criticizes the global community's inaction. Maddens sees the lack of response to the global calls for ceasefire, sanctions, and humanitarian access as a failure of international policy. Maddens notes that support for Palestinian liberation often comes from groups who have experienced oppression themselves, like people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. He finds hope in the growing number of people who are recognizing the situation.


  6. Ultimately, Maddens calls for a ceasefire and an end to what he views as a double standard in international policy. He sees these steps as essential for genuine peace.

Why is it important to me to keep learning about world issues? Because of the vision our movement follows, which compels us to work in consciousness, word, and deed toward a world that works better for everyone. The vision, The Global Vision, compels me to stand for an immediate cease-fire.

The Global Vision:  A World That Works For Everyone

We envision all people, all beings, and all life as expressions of the Divine.

We see a world in which every person lives in alignment with their highest spiritual principle, emphasizing unity with the Divine and connection with each other; a world in which, individually and collectively, we are called to a higher state of consciousness and action.

We envision humanity awakening to its spiritual magnificence and discovering the creative power of thought, a world where every person discovers their own personal power and ability to create an individual life that works within a world that works for everyone.

We envision a world in which we live and grow as One Global Family that respects and honors the interconnectedness of all life, a world where this kinship with all life prospers and connects through the guidance of spiritual wisdom and experience.

We envision a world where personal responsibility joins with social conscience in every area of the political, corporate, academic, and social sectors, providing sustainable structures to further the emerging global consciousness.

We envision a world where each person has enough food, a home, a sense of belonging, a world of peace and harmony, enfranchisement, and justice.

We envision a world in which resources are valued, cared for, and grown and where there is generous and continuous sharing of these resources.

We envision a worldwide culture in which forgiveness (whether for errors, injustices, or debts) is the norm.

We envision a world that has renewed its emphasis on beauty, nature, and love through the resurgence of creativity, art, and aesthetics.

We envision a world that works for everyone and for all of creation

The Global Vision
What We Are
“What We Believe” by Ernest Holmes
Five Spiritual Practices
About Science of Mind
About Ernest Holmes
Frequently Asked Questions


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