Sermon 10/28/2017 By Diane Donovan-Vaughn

In the past couple of weeks, I have been listening once again to the Beloved Community Ministerial Abundance lessons by Marianne Wilson. Not only have I done these lessons several times, I have had the privilege of mentoring many ministers in training through them as well. The homework assignments can be challenging like following Sufi wisdom to keep your word for fourteen straight days or to spend an imagined amount of expanding money every day for thirty days. Marianne offers laws for having abundance the first of which is forgiveness, getting rid of old baggage and letting go. The second law is the attitude of gratitude.

Think about how these abundance laws and the homework assignments can correct our human nature to complain. I have heard it said that women complain to bond and men insult each other to bond. If that is true, how sad are those two activities to create a bond? We all know that complaining and criticizing are easy to do. Over and over I say it in here and continue to correct and notice the brain’s tendency to focus on what is wrong. It can easily be our default thought pattern to notice what is out of order, what we find disagreeable or what we lack. Unfortunately, this default negativity blocks abundance and self-love or self-compassion in our life. Complaining gives attention to the problems, blocks the solution and gives us a belief in inadequacy.

The universe is abundant and yet with our negativity we have the free will to believe that the universe has lack. It is easy to create this feeling of lack simply by focusing on some perceived reality of lack and to complain about our problems and the problems in the world. Haven’t we all cringed at the litany of problems we see on the news or scrolling through our Facebook and yet these same types of themes can endlessly cycle through our own thoughts, like a background noise of dissatisfaction.

The cure for all this negativity and complaining is easily seen whenever you observe how you block your own abundance. Start first by observing your own complaining negative thoughts. Place a stop sign in your mind and begin by forgiving yourself. Look at all the ways you do not keep your word especially with yourself. Did you say you would go to bed early and stay up late, missing the sleep you need? Did you use the word ‘yes’ when you really meant to use the word ‘no?’ Look for the ways you withhold self-care and self-nurturing. Let go of beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve your abundance. Complaining and criticizing will block your abundance.

Direct your mind to see and hear the abundance you have in your life, to be grateful for the solutions that already exist. In order to exercise self-care and self-compassion, one would first see and hear that life can and is already abundant and wants to meet our needs. Most importantly, notice that you are the source of your inner negativity and the universe is the source of abundance. Which one sounds like the better choice to you?

Think about these concepts again. Complaining is the mind focusing on so-called problems, real or imagined. Gratitude focuses on the solutions that already exist, the blessings that are too numerous to name. Gratitude allows the universe to fill your cup and your cup runs over. Rumi said, “Today, let us swim wildly, joyously in gratitude.” Remember that the universe is your source of light. Surrender to the light. Allow it to fill you. Abundance must be received to enjoy it. Imagine receiving all the abundance of the universe.

Self-compassion follows as you keep your commitments for self-love and self-care including the commitment to focus on all that is right with your world. Even though it is easy and natural to focus on problems and complaining, the reward of focusing on forgiveness, gratitude and self-compassion is never-ending abundance.

Today we begin with Self-Compassion, Section Four in A Year of Living with more Compassion – 52 Quotes and Weekly Compassion Practices (Edited by Richard Fields) pp. 54-55, Chapter 17.Chis Germer offers this quote from Transforming the Mind by His Holiness The Dalai Lama. “For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare. Caring for others requires caring for oneself.”

Now let’s practice. Close your eyes and take deep connected breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Relax as you exhale. Sigh and exhale very slowly. Release your tension. Place your attention on the center of your chest and find your true self. From the position of your soul, higher self or true self observe your thoughts, your feelings and your physical sensations. Observe what your mind believes are your problems. Now, gently imagine that you have no problems. All that you believe to be your problems are solved in the most beneficial way that spirit could solve them. Remember that the universe is your source and is completely unlimited. In a way, you are dreaming that you have a problem and now you can wake up from the dream, finding that the problem no longer exists and in fact was only in your imagination anyway. Sigh as you realize you are safe and everything is going to be OK. Namaste.