This column is published every other month in the Unity of Harrisburg newsletter.
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Reverend Dr. Terry Drew Karanen, Spiritual Leader
The teachings of Unity are positive, uplifting and life-changing. Most of us who have come into this philosophy from other religions found Unity to be the way we always thought religion should be. The first time many of our members walked into our Sanctuary they immediately felt like they’d come home.
Our teachings are truly “a positive path for spiritual living,” as our new slogan says. But what does that mean? Just because it’s a positive path doesn’t mean that everything in our lives is always going to go the way that we want it to go. When we begin to put into practice the spiritual teachings of Unity we may find our lives don’t get better right away. In fact, just the opposite might be the case. Our situation might actually get worse. Why would that occur?
Just as we pour clean water in a glass to wash out the dirt and grime, we pour the clean and pure Truth of the Universal Principles into our consciousness. In the process, all the dirty, grimy thoughts with which we have been living for so long have to go somewhere. They bubble up to the surface and the process can be quite uncomfortable, if not downright painful. It is by moving through the process, walking the walk through a dark tunnel or two that we come out into the light – clearer and a lot happier.
When Abbot Bhante Sujatha visited us in February he remarked about how western philosophy seeks peace and happiness, but eastern philosophy seeks contentment. Without contentment first, he said, true peace and happiness will continue to elude us. With contentment comes all that we desire. I’ve been working on that concept in my own life since his visit. I keep asking myself if I’m truly content in various areas of my life or if I’ve become complacent and lazy. I’ve meditated on whether I’m really content or merely settling for what is in front of me. It’s been an interesting and unfolding process, which brings me back to the slogan which includes the phrase “a positive path.”
Our lives are most definitely a path. Sometimes there are hard rocks on path, detours we must take, or traveling companions we rather not entertain. Should we simply put on a smile and pretend to be positive, meaning that we are happy regardless of the situation? I don’t believe so. I see that as about as effective as putting whipped cream on garbage. The whipped cream is pretty to look at and covers up the garbage for a while. Eventually, however, the whipped cream melts and we are left with the same garbage, only now it’s soggy and sour from the melted whipped cream.
Being positive doesn’t mean being happy in the face of tragedy, never being sad or feeling like we can’t have a bad day. Pretending we are better when we are not is evidenced by the fact that 26 percent of the American population is suffering with a mental illness of some kind, much of which is unrecognized and undiagnosed. 26 percent! We have to be willing to tackle our problems – physical, mental, emotional or spiritual – head on and do whatever is necessary to get to the healing.
There is nothing that we cannot move through and beyond with the use of prayer. Those prayers, however, may be supplemented with counseling, therapy, medications, a change of lifestyle or making adjustments in our life that are long overdue. Whatever your challenge, be gentle with yourself when you have situations that are unpleasant. It is said that “this too shall pass.” It will. It always does. In the meantime, Unity of Harrisburg and its minister are here to walk with you.