Cast Book Study – Week 4

Unity’s core belief and mission statement talks about “awakening to our Divine nature through…personal transformation”.  Part of this Awakening process is understanding that there are teachings we have inherited through our society that are not in alignment with who we really are.  Studying the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson opens us up to a new realization that we have been part of a deep rooted system that unjustly suppresses some people and lifts up others.  

This caste system has become second nature to us and as we learn the depth of the horror and injustice of it, we come to realize there is a lot of work to be done to correct it.  It will take a collective effort and it won’t happen overnight.

What can we do to help the process?

Education is fundamental.  It’s a shameful history but we must not let the emotion stop us in our tracks.  It’s important to learn about this history and how it still lives on today and then to turn that knowledge and emotion into action.

See no one as a stranger.  When we listen to the stories of others, we relate to them as humans who carry hurt and love their families just like we do.  We are all connected by our similar emotions and desires.  

Everything is a call for love.  If someone is acting in an unpleasant way, beneath it all is an unhealed wound and a desire for acceptance and love.  Every time we see beyond the unpleasant action to the hurting soul and extend love and forgiveness, it moves us further along the path to healing.  Jesus taught us to love our enemies.  Acting on this example of unconditional love benefits the perceived enemy as well as the one extending love.  We realize there is an unlimited amount of love to give and express.

Love yourself first.  We cannot give what we don’t have.  When we care for ourselves and show ourselves honor, respect, and love, we then have more capacity to extend those gifts to others.  One way to care for ourselves is to feel our emotions – without the story that brought that emotion.  Suppressing emotions builds up tension within us that may explode onto someone else.  Sit with the uncomfortable feeling without telling the story behind it and it will disperse.  Letting go of fear and negative emotions opens us up to choose love as our primary force.

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal.  This truth was not available for everyone when it was written, but over time we are getting closer and closer to allowing all people to feel and experience that equality.

We have the awareness and ability to facilitate change within ourselves and in our world.  With our hearts open, there is room for hope.  Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

Can’t watch the video but want to listen in? Check out the audio version above! (TIP: For a better listening experience, download the Sound Cloud app on your mobile device)

It’s hard to fathom that the Nazis looked to the United States for direction and inspiration when moving quickly to implement plans for racial separation and purity.

America has a reputation for being a land of opportunity, where dreams come true, and freedom rings.  As we learn more about the backbone of how our society was built, it was literally on the backs of suppressed people who were tortured and murdered to grow and uphold the upper caste.  It’s disturbing and embarrassing to think of America as being a motivator for Nazi Germany.  The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  There is a huge contradiction between what the document states and the reality of what people of the lower castes have experienced.  Native Americans have been massacred.  Chinese were discriminated against with the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first immigration law that excluded an entire ethnic group.  Irish Americans were oppressed and persecuted.  African Americans were enslaved, abused, and slaughtered.  Other groups such as Middle Easterners, Hindu, East Indians, and Japanese have also been oppressed.

The trajectory of this nation is slowly moving in the right direction but our past is more sinister than most of us realized.  Our caste system is systemic within our institutions and creates a deep economic disparity between white Americans and other groups that extends for generations.  It will take many more generations before suppressed groups can enjoy equal opportunities to acquire wealth, good health insurance, safe neighborhoods, and have equal opportunities for higher education, career placement, and job security.

Unity’s second principle states that each person is a unique expression of God with sacred worth and goodness.  We cannot fully awaken to our Divine Nature individually until we take steps to make comprehensive institutional changes in our society.  Our role right now is to actively take part in the transformation of our society to bring about these changes to level the playing field for all Americans.

See the problem – recognize that it exists.

Sit with the pain – endure the pain and loss that comes from it.

Heal – once the problem and pain is acknowledged, healing can begin.

Healing includes a shift in consciousness as well as action.  First, we must look within ourselves and find where we are upholding and keeping the caste system and racism alive.  How can I educate myself about the suffering of others?  What thoughts and feelings do I have about certain groups?  What assumptions am I making?   And then make a decision to divert those thoughts and feelings into more accurate ones, not influenced by what society teaches us.  As our thoughts change, our actions will change.  We will be more likely to befriend someone that is not like us, give them a hand up, encourage them, vote for them, hire them.  Collective action over time bridges the divide.

Progress doesn’t happen in a straight line, but in stair steps.  Our willingness to be courageous in our exploration of understanding each other, having compassion for each other, and feeling the pain of others, opens our hearts and allows us to see through the Christ perspective.  When we embrace and uplift others, we ourselves are uplifted, and all people move towards a more equitable, peaceful, and happy existence. 

Today we continue our Fall book study with the second of four video podcast episodes where Rev. Neusom and Rev. Ana will be discussing the book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson.

If you haven’t seen our week 1 episode, you can tune in here. We’ve also prepared a study guide that you can download here. Don’t forget to join us next Thursday for the Virtual Book Study group with Rev. Neusom Holmes.


Caste – The Origin of Our Discontent:  Week Two

Let’s start with a definition of Caste.  It is a fixed ranking of human value to pursue supremacy of one group against the inferiority or presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of ancestry and traits, neutral in the abstract, but with meaning in a hierarchy favoring the dominant caste.

Caste is about power.  The system stigmatizes those deemed inferior to justify the dehumanization necessary to keep the lowest ranked people at the bottom and rationalizes the enforcement of the caste system.

Race in the United States is the visible agent of the unseen force of caste.  Caste is the bones and race is the skin.  Physical traits have been given meaning and judgements are made based solely on them.  Caste is the powerful infrastructure that holds each group in its place.  What lies beneath each label of race is centuries of assigning assumptions and values to physical features in a structure of human hierarchy.  

It’s tricky because people of the highest caste, white people in America, can say “I don’t see race” or “I’m not racist” but still enjoy the privileges of the caste system.  The term Racism puts the emphasis on our emotional state but Caste tells the larger story of the systemic privilege for those of the higher caste.  Privileges of the upper caste include physical safety, learning opportunities, job opportunities, economic opportunities, positive assumptions being made about their character, and countless others.

The caste system dominates our overall experience in life, even though personal relationships don’t always follow the caste system.

There are several ideals that have upheld this caste system in America:

  • Divine will and the natural order – the Bible was used to justify originating the caste system.
  • Not allowing people of different castes to intermarry or have relationships – laws were on the books in the U.S. against interracial marriage until 1967.
  • Purity and pollution – the upper caste is pure and the lower caste is polluted.  They do not not shake hands, swim in the same pool, or drink from the same water fountain. 

In our current time in history, videos are exposing the dominance and terrorization inherent in the caste system whether it be police shootings of unarmed black men or a woman in Central Park terrified of a black man bird watching.

We can share the same last name, same level of education, same place of birth, same religious upbringing, and still identify as a different caste by the visual characteristic of skin color and physical traits.

In Unity, we like to say that we have access to Divine Mind, but we also have access to the Collective Unconscious.  Sometimes that collective unconscious provides wisdom and sometimes it provides harmful attitudes and emotions.  Once a caste system has been held in place for a long time, it begins to bubble up unconsciously.

It will take enormous effort to transform ourselves and break this unconscionable cycle of caste in America.  We can do our part by examining ourselves, our beliefs and actions, and making a conscious effort to transform them to be more equitable.  But it will take some time to transform the collective unconscious.

In the words of Marianne Williamson, “May judgement of others, bigotry, racism, and intolerance be washed clean from our hearts.  May God’s unconditional love and acceptance allow us to accept everybody.  May our lives be turned into instruments of resurrection that the sins of our fathers might be reversed through us”.

Can’t watch the video but want to listen in? Tune in to the audio version of today’s dialogue.

Today we are starting our Fall book study with the first of four video podcast episodes where Rev. Neusom and Rev. Ana will be discussing the book “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson.

To get you started, download your book study guide, and tune in to today’s dialogue in video format (shown above) or audio format (below at the end of this post).
Download your Study Guide Here


The death of George Floyd, and the many others before and after him, has uncovered for a lot of us what we knew existed, but didn’t understand the scope or depth of.  There is a segment of our population that for over four hundred years has gone through, and continues to go through, unfair and unprovoked deprivation of their rights. 

People are treated differently than others in America because of the caste system in our country.  This caste system, first by law and now by social custom, places people of African descent among the lowest caste, not much different from the caste system in India where the Dalits are of the lowest caste.  

In the movie The Matrix, artificial intelligence takes over humanity with a program called the matrix and people didn’t even realize they were trapped.  One character started to wake up to the idea that his reality wasn’t actually reality.  He was courageous enough to take the red pill in order to wake up to the truth of life, as unpleasant as it may be.  This is somewhat like Unity’s idea of waking up to a reality other than what we may have been taught or experienced.  And not so different than us choosing to wake up and acknowledge the complexity of the program American has been running on for centuries.

The word “racism” has a lot of shame associated with it which can sometimes lead us to not want to have a conversation about it, much less concede to its current prevalence.  The book Caste explains America’s system in terms of a hierarchy rather than race which allows a bit of room for examination.  It educates us without invoking shame and embarrassment by showing us that this system has groomed us to believe in the caste structure.  It’s almost understandable that we would each take our place within it without question.  

But with our eyes open to seeing this system’s cruel and discriminatory nature, we can choose to change our thoughts and behaviors to help raise up all people to be treated with the worth and dignity they deserve.  We can ask ourselves “What beliefs do I hold that I have not seen before and are ready to be dissolved?”.  We hope to gain a deeper understanding of what others experience, have compassion for them, and to be willing to step up and be their companion and ally.

For members of the highest caste, the ego takes hold and wants to keep the caste system in place because it affords power, money, status, and privileges.  Unity’s second principle says that as humans, we have the divine essence of God within us.  Giving in to our ego rather than honoring this divinity within others leads us away from Truth.

We are all divine beings, one with the Presence and with each other, and we have the ability to progress in our consciousness, raise our vibration, and create a better and more equitable world for us all.

Join us next Friday as we delve deeper into Caste – The Origins of Our Discontents.

Can’t watch the video but want to listen in? Tune in to the audio version of today’s dialogue.

Earlier this Summer, Rev. Neusom and Rev. Ana had the opportunity to dialogue with several members of the Unity Women of Color group and our Music Director, Tim Smith on their experience and views concerning race relations in America.
We’ve compiled these conversations (available on our YouTube channel) and are including some additional resources to compliment these discussions.

As we prepare for our upcoming book study, we are sharing some educational resources to learn more about ways in which we can take stand and shift our thoughts into a more inclusive, accepting and united community.

CHECK OUT THE RESOURCES



Harvard Implicit Association Test After agreeing to terms and conditions, choose the “Race IAT” Find out what your hidden biases are. :
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice  This article is continuously updated, now at 97 things :)
https://resources.betterup.co/microaggressions-be-aware-of-what-you-say?language=en An NPR audio discussion on Microaggressions
https://onbeing.org/programs/robin-diangelo-and-resmaa-menakem-in-conversation/ An NPR audio discussion with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility and Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands

A CONVERSATION WITH MEMBERS OF UNITY WOMEN OF COLOR – PART 1 AND 2

A CONVERSATION WITH TONYA & TAYLOR DEBNAM – PART 1 AND 2

A CONVERSATION WITH TIM SMITH

“Listen for the deepest wisdom
before you really make a strong bold action”

– Rev Neusom

Just as harnessing electricity changed the outer world, when we learn how to harness the true power and intelligence of the heart, everything will change about how we think and feel, and how we relate to one another. Hear how a new understanding of “heart” is emerging and is so needed during this important time in history.

If you missed any of the the talks, the weekly virtual group study meetings, or you simply want to tune in again, you can access all of the Sunday in 7 video recaps, and our Virtual Video Study Zoom meetings right here! To make it easier to access, we’ve paired each of the Sunday talks with their corresponding zoom meeting video link.

Topic: Virtual Book Study – Jun 3, 2020 06:10 PM
Meeting Recording:
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/4dVMIbXqsWhJRq_Pt2WEf5MxH5j7T6a8hHNPq6IPyU0dkXIKavVCVyd4lj9vUjA1

Scientific studies show that the heart sends many more signals to the brain than vice versa.  It’s also better at prediction than the brain.  Its field is larger and stronger than our mind’s.  True spirituality lies in listening and learning from the heart; following its intuition and wisdom.  The heart is primary. 

If you’re being led towards something that may seem risky or scary, ask your heart for guidance and look for signs from the universe.  If you don’t get an answer right away, keep asking.  Sometimes you need time to be prepared for the answer.  And sometimes the answer comes by showing us what not to do by our mistakes.  Living from your heart is not an escape from heartache, anger, worry or any other emotion.  It’s not an escape from the world, but by being in your heart, you become a resource for the troubles of the world.

As we hold our heart’s awareness as wide as possible, what we see, feel, and think during that moment, the world will send back to us.  Our heart is the messenger to and from the universe.  Our true power lies in being able to direct our heart’s desire to touch the world.

Finding your own depth through your heart connects you to all that is, to the wisdom of the world.  Let this powerful and infinitely loving aspect of yourself be your guide.

Topic: Virtual Book Study – May 27
Meeting Recording:
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/3-B4N-uvyD9IUpGV-lzCRJ4xP7nnX6a80SIe-_UMmEt9S2BC6dfzBGWJMKtPbMAy

Have you ever considered that loving yourself could improve the world around you?  When you are internally healthy and happy, it strengthens your relationships with family and friends.  Healthy individuals and families are a building block of a healthy society.  Loving yourself is key to your happiness and that happiness is infectious to those around you.

Self love consists of building self esteem and integrity, positive self talk, and accomplishing something.
 

  • Self confidence entails telling the truth to yourself and others.  It builds trust within yourself and builds a sense of worthiness based on your integrity. 
  • What you say to yourself is more important than what anyone else says to you, so speak sweetly to yourself.  It’s a critical part of self love and feeling good about yourself.  We tend to be attracted to people who feel good about themselves.  We like them because they like themselves.  Be kind to yourself in your actions as well as your words.  Take good care of your body – take a hot bath, go for a walk, get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy meal.
  • Your life is increased when you accomplish something, even if it’s something small.  It makes you feel good and builds self esteem.


Almost every successful event or person has failures behind their achievements.  Failures can open up possibilities to new ideas that never existed.  So you don’t have to be perfect, just do the best you can and use failures as opportunities or learning experiences.  Persisting even when you hit obstacles builds character, strength, self awareness, and strength of will.  

Let your heart open to yourself.  You loving yourself is a foundational spiritual practice.  Be kind to yourself, speak sweetly to yourself, have integrity, accomplish little things, love yourself even when you fail.  There’s nobody more important in your life than you.

Spiral Meditation

Topic: Virtual Book Study – May 20
Meeting Recording:
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/u5RrI7j-609JWdaV4lj0AqIPIYW9aaa8gClI-vYNyRpt090DxJyhqKYnxKrfxFaG

The core of who we are, the depth of who we are resides in our heart.  What is in our hearts is more of what people feel than what we’re thinking.  The heart’s energy is 100K times larger than the brain’s.  When the heart opens, magic can happen; conversations come from a place of kindness and love and relationships shift.  When our hopes, dreams, and intentions resonate through the heart, they are better received and have a better chance of manifesting.  We live in a cooperative universe that responds more to how we feel.  Developing a loving, open, powerful heart is part of the practice of creating the world you wish to see.  

To help the heart open, we can practice gratitude and forgiveness.  When we look for reasons to see beauty in the world, the heart feels safe to open and expand.  Another way to open the heart is to practice acts of kindness.  Taking the emphasis off ourselves and giving to others creates a pathway for the heart to follow.  When we express love, it sets the conditions to feel love back which is one of the great joys of life.  We don’t have to be close to a person to send love to them.  It’s an energetic broadcast that can be focused on one person or sent out generally into the world.

With your heart open, you are a blessing as you walk down the street.  Your very essence is giving something positive into the world.  The world benefits, and you benefit in how the world responds to you.

Start each day with your hand on your heart, breathing into your heart, and imagine something or someone you love and feel into it.  Try to keep this feeling as you go throughout your day and fee the human connection deepening with each other and the world.  

Many of you have been involved with our fall and winter book studies and some of you have permanent groups that meet regularly throughout the year. To you, the main difference is that this fall we will be using videos instead of a book to spark the discussions. The theme of the videos is our declaration of who we are:

“We are a spiritual community, awakening to our divine nature through love, service and personal transformation.”

So our topics for the 4 weeks will be:
1. Community
2. Love
3. Service
4. Personal Transformation

For those of you who are new to these discussion groups, let me give you a brief outline of a way to organize the discussion. After everyone has gathered in comfortable seating and tea has been made or not made, consider having a brief prayer, a short meditation, and/or a sacred reading. I am hoping that most people will have seen the video for the week ahead of time, but with most of them being in the 20 minute range, it is possible you may watch it together. Let the discussion begin organically or start with the questions in this guide. Please participate in the discussion, and yet please do not hog the air time. One of my hopes is that these discussion will not only deepen our understanding , but build connections between us. Honesty, acceptance and vulnerability are hallmarks to a meaningful group discussion. I hope you meet friends for life in your group.

Week 1: We begin with exploring ideas about expanding community

In this entertaining video Pastor John Gray invites us to bridge differences to expand our love and community. 

Questions: Who is it that you are not accepting now? What is the cost? What do you think about taking our own point of view more lightly? With all the “political correctness” in play today, what role do you think shame played in the last election?

Always a favorite, Brene Brown discusses how to trust and be trustworthy. She coins the acronym “braving.”

Questions: Do you find people easy or hard to trust? What allows you to trust somebody? What makes you trustworthy? Where are you not as trustworthy as you would like? 

Week 2. We will be exploring self-love this week

This is audio only. Ram Das is talking about “self-acceptance” as the basis for self love. 

Questions: What is the source of not accepting yourself. Can you remember when you decided to not accept yourself. How has that decision affected your life? 

This is audio only. Ram Das is talking about your perfection and enlightenment at this moment. 

Questions: Do you sense the picture he is painting is true, when we are beyond time that all your lives are existing at the same time? Can you sense or feel your awakened state right now?

In this video Teal Swan proposes a practice of asking, “What would a person who loves themself do in this situation?”

Questions: Does this practice sound challenging to you? Could you try it for at least a week?

Week 3.  This week we are exploring service

In this video Oprah Winfree addresses the graduating class of Spellman College. One of her three must do’s is service. Her speech is so Unity, I hope you don’t mind that this is not just about service.

Questions: Where in your life do you feel like you are doing the best service to others? When you are doing that service, and what is your intention? How have you learned to make your service significant? How does your service reflect the statement “you are a child of God”?

Week 4. This week we explore personal transformation

This video has Joe Dispenza explaining how to transform yourself by leaving the past and creating a new future. He talks about meditation, having a vision, living in the present, and managing your thoughts. While this is a longer video, you might be able to listen to it at a faster speed if you are short on time. (Speed is found in Settings in the bottom right of the screen -the Settings symbol looks like a sprocket) 

Questions: Even without attending a workshop, do you have examples of transformation by yourself or in your circle of acquaintances? How does one escape repeating the same thoughts over each day? Do you have a vision for your life? Have you ever tried Joe’s suggestion for meditation, becoming aware of the darkness behind your closed eyes? How might you take the next step in creating yourself the way you want to be?