May 24th, 2020 Sunday Service Message: Twelve Powers Dyad – Faith & Imagination

Manifesting Your Good

The Daily Word for today encourages us to “invest Faith only in possibilities for good.”  This seems like it is sensible, straightforward advice, and it is, but for this to have true meaning we must know what we mean by “good.”  It also requires that we have an understanding of what is meant by “possibilities.”

This week, Rev. Joanne continues with the fifth talk of her six-part series based on the book The Twelve Freedoms1 by Unity minister Phillip Pierson.  Discussing what Pierson calls the “Manifesting Dyad” of Faith & Imagination, we learn that Imagination can help us evolve our lives into an ever more fulfilling experience by using Faith to bring our vision into manifestation.

It is clear that everyone does not share the same idea of exactly what “good” is.  Even a cursory glance at human history shows people the world over now and as far back as we can trace, that not only do different people have different ideas of what is good, but very often ideas of good are diametrically opposed to one another – Christian vs. Muslim, Catholic vs. Protestant, Sunni vs. Shiite, Tutsi vs. Hutu, Communist vs. Capitalist – the list is nearly endless. 

There are volumes upon volumes of spiritual, theological, and philosophical writings on the topic of “what is good,” so it is clearly beyond the scope of this short essay to fully define what it is.  However, for the purposes of this blog post, I will use the definition of good to be - that which advances the experiences of an individual person, group of people, or the world as we know it without causing harm or detrimental effects to another.

The world is a complex place.  That is obvious.  It is not possible to know with 100% certainty that any action we might take, however grounded in “good” it might be, will not be harmful to someone else, immediately or in the future.  Even if it is true, we must not allow ourselves to then be paralyzed by the fear of harming another.  Sometimes when actions are required, no matter what we do there may be negative effects upon another.  That does not mean that the action we may have taken was not good, only that we must do the best we can, in good conscience of honorable intentions, and move forward from there.

What is meant by “possibilities?”  Merriam-Webster offers the following – Possibility:  1) That which may, or can be; that which can occur;  2) Potential or prospective value.   In Unity, we teach that the words we use and the meanings we give them have the power to influence our actions and our lives.  It is a “feel good” idea to believe that whatever we can Imagine we can make into a reality, if we have enough Faith.  This is not what Unity teaches.

Many people in the self-help industry use the “if you can dream it, you can be it” mantra as a sacrosanct tenet of faith.  That sells a lot more books than what is actually true – to achieve or be something you must first imagine it and do the work toward that end, but this does not in any way guarantee success.  So if we are imagining the possibilities (for good) in life propelled by faith, it always includes the second definition of possibility - potential or prospective value.  However, it will only include the first definition - that which may, or can be; that which can occur – only under certain conditions.  I can use my Imagination all day long that I can, at age 58, become a NFL quarterback.  Guess what?  Ain’t happenin’ folks.  As powerful, imaginative human beings with the agency to direct our lives we can achieve much.  But the the rest of the world has agency too.  Benevolent, malevolent or neutral, the world goes its own way.

Rev. Joanne reminds us that our imagination is the collection of ideas, pictures, and stories that are constantly going on in our heads.  Positive use of Imagination invites creativity, inspiration, vision and optimism.  But just as with all of the other Twelve Freedoms, Imagination can be used in a negative sense.  This appears as worry, anxiety, fear, and pessimism.  When we recognize that we have slipped into a place of fear and pessimism we can, as we learned last week, use our power of Will to change our mind to live from a place of vision and optimism.

When we operate from the place of Positive Imagination, it is crucial that we do not ignore the actual conditions around us.  Discussing what she called “the elephant in the book,” Rev. Joanne addresses Pierson’s idea that holding in mind that we will not catch a cold reduces the possibility.  While it may seem uplifting and empowering to hold the view that we can control the effects of our environment by holding positive thoughts, it is particularly pertinent now to say that under certain conditions not only is that not possible, but inadvisable. 

The Twelve Freedoms (that which Charles Fillmore originally called The Twelve Powers) are, and can only be, complementary to one another.  Pierson says that because he has Faith that he will not catch a cold, that it reduces the chances of that happening.  But Wisdom tells us that we must take action based on our assessment of potential risk versus the cost of mitigating risk to lower levels.  The risk to one’s health of catching a cold, even when they had Faith that they would not, is very low.  That is not true with other things in life.  Whether that is having Faith that you won’t be bitten by a growling dog or catch Covid-19 simply because you have Faith that you won’t, each person must decide for themselves their risk/reward ratio.

Just as when we are Imagining and acting in Faith from a place of good, but cannot know that zero detrimental effects will occur as a result of our actions, neither can we reduce all risks in life to zero.  The day we are born risk begins.  There is risk in learning to crawl, to walk, to talk.  There is risk in asking for a date.  There is risk in saying ‘yes’ to a date.  There is risk in going to college.  There is risk in not going to college.  There is risk in opening the global economy.  There is risk in staying in lockdown.

One of the things I respect about Rev. Joanne is her willingness to ask questions that she may or may not be able to answer and to ask questions that either have a different answer for each of us, which may have no answer, or no “good” answer.  While being asked in the general sense, within the context of our current Covid-19 situation she asks us to consider – what do you need to move beyond the level of argument, distraction, separation, and limitation so you can see things from a place of love?  Can you put Faith in the idea that you have the Divine Presence and Power of God within you?  As you engage in using each of the Twelve Freedoms can you move forward in your thoughts, words and actions from a place of love?  Not a small task, but one worthwhile working toward.

Scripture:

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’  Matthew 25:21

Spiritual Practice:

Take time this week to meditate/contemplate the Manifesting Dyad of Faith/Imagination.  Consider where you have been “seeing” what you don’t want!  Change your mind.  See it right!  How does “seeing it right” impact Faith?  Do you have faith that what you “see” can be?  How do you need to grow your faith in order to manifest your desire?

Greg Skuderin

1Pierson, Phillip, The Twelve Freedoms: An Understandable Path to Total Freedom, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 16, 2015).