08 December, 2015

Once Again Out of Necessity

Dear Dr. Anna Price, Dr. Robert Price, Dr C Wil Mercer, Dr. Durrell Watkins, Mr. Mark Hicks, Rev Sherri James, Dr. (Bishop) Barbara King, Rev Donna Caldwell (aka “Mom”), Tuyet Julie from Facebook Unity Group, and lastly to my beautiful partner in crime Ireene Joanne:

Back in 1999 when I decided to formally train and pursue acting, I made it adamantly clear that my intention was to be an actor; not a singer, not a comedian, not a dancer, but an actor.  It was na├»ve on my part because learning the foundation of each of those other disciplines would augment my skills and craft as an actor.  The last thing I viewed myself as was a writer.  I felt that there were tons of talented playwrights and screenwriters out there to create those wonderful roles to portray and my focus was to develop my acting craft.

A few years passed and out of sheer frustration, I found myself adding “writer” to my title along with “actor.”  One could only audition for the “angry Asian guy, the nerd, the Americanized dutiful son coming out of the closet to immigrants from Asia parents,” and “the villain” for so much.  So I began writing in order to create roles that I personally would’ve loved to audition for.  

I felt compelled out of necessity to hang my shingle out as a writer as well as an actor back in 2001-05 when I became a part of the San Francisco Asian American Theater Company’s New Works Incubator collaborative unit, serving in both capacities. 

Nowadays, I’m beginning to get that same itchy compelling feeling regarding the teaching and ministering of New Thought based Truth.    

I don’t consider myself a minister by any means.  In fact in 1997 I spent my entire summer in Asia with The Salvation Army USA Western Territory Service Corps program.  This was a program where college-aged, early career young adults were assigned to a summertime mission, oftentimes overseas.  A part of the reason for the program is to compel those in the program to consider becoming a Salvation Army Officer (minister) and to undergo their Officers Training Program.  It was during that trip that I concluded that I was nowhere near being such material and for the next two years after Service Corps, I contemplated what to do next in my life.  That’s when I returned to school (California State University, Hayward) to finish my BA in Ethnic Studies and to pursue acting full time after graduation.  

I lived the life of a “true artist” going from one project to the next temp job to the next gig while attempting to remain “faithful to Christ.”  When I say that, I’m talking about the basic evangelical POV with the concept of Original Sin and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I was at one point convinced that I was going in the “right” direction when I was attending a church that was pastored by someone who was trained at the infamous NYC Neighborhood Playhouse (a world famous acting school founded by the legendary acting guru Sanford Meisner) I even attempted to convince myself that I was going in the right direction as I visited various mega churches in Singapore, including City Harvest Church, which has been the center of a recent church scandal.    

When I signed up for a personal development class that came highly recommended by an acting colleague in 2007, my spiritual life started taking drastic and sudden abrupt turns.  Actually my life in general began to take drastic sudden abrupt turns afterwards. 

The further down the personal development rabbit hole I traveled, the more materials from the New Thought Movement I began to study, unaware what New Thought was.  The first “A-ha” moment for me was when I first read Eric Butterworth’s Discover The Power Within You back in 2010-11.  This was a book that to me, reconciled this wedge I felt between my initial beliefs in Evangelical Christianity and the personal development courses I underwent from 2007-11. 

Soon afterwards, I dug up an older book I had placed in storage because a Sunday school teacher told me to burn it, and I don’t believe in burning books that people tell me to burn.  Back in 1995 when I began to attend church, I came across a book called Transform Your Life by Dr. Barbara King and was inspired by what I read.  As an appreciation for the mentoring I received from my then Sunday school teacher, I gave him a copy of the book, only to have it returned to me with the “polite suggestion” for me to burn my own copy of the book as it was determined that it was not truly a Christian book per se.  I may not have burned it, but I placed it away from reach over the years both physically and even mentally.  I did not know at that time that both Dr. Barbara King and Eric Butterworth were both part of the same theological/philosophical vein. 

If there were such a thing as “geeking-out on New Thought,” that would’ve been perhaps the most accurate description of me especially after May 2011 when I officially left the mainstream (Evangelical) Christian church and began attending New Thought based CENTERS.  While clearing out my apartment recently, I must’ve came across as least $8-10K worth of books and home-study courses on New Thought, meditation, and law of attraction.  Unfortunately, “geeking-out on New Thought” does not necessarily guarantee a healthy return on investment from all those courses and books, in-person courses, and tithes.  Nevertheless I continued to explore the possibility of creating a teaching/facilitating forum in Singapore and inquired about formal advanced teaching through Unity School of Christianity only to find out that they were no longer Unity School of Christianity.  The academic dean at that time inquired about my interest via email and I explained to him that I was interested in helping plant Practical Christian churches in Southeast Asia particularly in Singapore.  His response was that they were no longer Unity School of Practical Christianity, that they discontinued the Masters of Religious Studies program I was inquiring about, and was I aware that Seicho No Ie is based out of Japan?  Because of the bizarre last reply, I decided to hold off on looking for another place to pursue advanced studies in New Thought. 

If there ever was a “bottom” from geeking out in New Thought, it’d probably was back in the fall of 2013 while receiving a free meal from the local foodbank with a Joseph Murphy prosperity book in tow.  From that point until now things have finally turned around.  Slowly but surely I’ve had meals to thank God for, a return to full-time employment in 2014, prayer chaplaincy in 2014 with my local Unity church, a trip to Manila in 2015, and lastly, my new bride in November 2015.  Though there were numerous spiritual panic and frustration moments, I can now savor situations to be thankful for. (Although truthfully even in the panic moments are there lots of things to be thankful for) 

Eventually, I contacted the Fillmore College, (Run by Dr. Charlie Smith), Barbara L King School of Ministry, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, and the Samaritan Institute of Sunshine Cathedral where I’ve had the privilege of taking courses from both JCTS with Dr. Robert Price and Samaritan Institute with Dr. Durrell Watkins. 

My wife grew up Catholic and I’ve been very thankful that she has a very open heart and mind.  She became very active with my Unity church the moment she stepped through the doors.  She asks a lot of questions about what the teachings are and where in the Bible was it based off of.  The more we discussed, the more I see the urgency for this teaching to continue to grow in Southeast Asia.  Hence why again that gnawing inside is urging me on continuing the route to further my studies and plant and grow the movement there.  When I visited her and her family in Manila back in February 2015, I was unable to connect with the Unity center there because of the travelling distance between the center and where I was staying. I know that counties like the Philippines and Singapore would gravitate towards the New Thought teachings. 

But my wanting to spread the teachings of New Thought isn’t so much a Southeast Asian thing.  As I type this, we are now recovering from the aftermath of the shooting that took place in San Bernadino, California which was a month after another mass killing episode in Paris, France.  People from polarized sides are coming out of the woodwork debating about what can be the solution to all of this carnage.  For those of us in the New Thought arena, I present a “what if” scenario:

What if the teachings of New Thought regarding accepting personal responsibility in both thought and actions became common knowledge amongst the entire world population instead of it being some sort of debated theory, that the vast majority of humanity (70% or highter)knew and believed in assuming self-responsibility for their thought and actions? Would that and could that have made a difference in either of the two incidents?  Would either of the incident have even taken place in the first place under such a premise? 

So you could see the importance of why the teaching of New Thought should be spread, not so much as some sort of religious revival, but as a means to empower people with tools in order to cope, deal, and thrive with life in general.  The collective consciousness of humanity currently operates out of a premise of scarcity when in Truth, abundance abounds.  Even personally I have a struggle to remind myself in the Truth of abundance as demonstrated with my food bank visit a couple of years back.  It’d sure would be easier to be reminded if more people were around to remind me, and that’s the thing about spreading the teachings.  The more people learn about what is taught in New Thought, the larger pool of support you, me, us are surrounded with. 

Here’s the deal with the current world situation.  Nothing that the mediots (media+idiots) present to the public will ever go away whether they’d be news of the dismal state of affairs or the corresponding polarized suggested solutions.  We as metaphysicians know it’s an “inside job.”  I’ve shared this on one of my assignment submitted with Dr. Durrell Watkins:

"This is not a humanity problem per se, this is a Divinity problem. The root cause of all the problems we’re currently observing is that we created a world where we choose not to acknowledge one another's humanity within a Universe that created, designed, and wired us to affirm our Divinity."

Let that sink in for a bit.  In a Universe where we’re created in the image and likeness of our Creator, we created a world that doesn’t even acknowledge each other’s humanity, let alone our Divinity.  We’ve created this artificial pecking order on who’s entitled to this artificially scarce resources while treating and reacting to each other accordingly.  

So again I present this scenario: if we have more of our population aware of an abundant universe while tapping into this Divine consciousness, honoring each other’s humanity AND Divinity, while accepting full responsibility for our thoughts and actions, how much different would everything be? 

So how’ bout it…who’s with me in stepping up and spreading the tools to uncover our Divine self?  We’re told to visualize the end result.  What is the end result that you see of what I proposed?  Is it possible?  Then can we start?  What about now?

Who's down?  

19 November, 2015

NSNK Indeed.

If I had to rely on a New Year's Resolution to get a book done, it'd take me more than twenty plus years to get it done.  Hence why I taken the steps to advocate the concept of taking a daily resolution practice.

Years ago, I was mentored by someone who was an openly unapologetic advocate of the 12 steps program of recovery.  (What they were recovering from is irrelevant and their business only)  One of his greatest gift he passed along to me was the concept of "Just for Today."

This mentor was able to stay free from his addiction for over a span of 27 years when I met him, so I asked him what exactly did he do and how was he able to get where he was up to that point.  I even questioned whether or not he actually had the addiction in the first place.  He shared with me his lowest point and situation his addiction led him to and his journey for the 30 years since.  (He had about 2-3 years of "finding his way through" so to speak) What he said to me was profound.

"I just decided that JUST FOR TODAY I will not cave into my desire.  Then the next day I made that same decision, and then the next day.  Now it's been twenty seven years."  

So I asked him what if he decided to give into his desire.

"Tomorrow is a new day that I can decide THAT DAY to not give in.  But TODAY, I decided that I will not ___________"

That conversation took place in the mid 90s.  Actually it took place during the Holiday Season of 1998-99.  So he continued to go off on a semi-tangent about New Years Resolutions.

"You know, before I decided to take this One Day at a Time, I used to make New Year's resolutions all the time that I would handle my situation.  I'd say, 'this year, I'll handle it.' That'd only last for a week, two weeks, one year it was a whole month.  Then I'd give in and thought oh well, I'll just try again next year.  That was stupid.  I didn't know that my gift of today was all I had for that moment. New Years Resolutions? Stupid, don't work for me.  Now daily resolution, if I fail, I can wake up the next day and start over again."

Basically using the elephant analogy, it does something like this: If it was a new year or a time period transition (like a birthday or something) I can resolve to eat an entire elephant.  But what my mentor was doing was that for that day and that day only, he was going to eat a certain amount of the elephant.  The next day, he decided to eat another portion of the elephant, and so on and so on.  Finally at some point many days later, the elephant was completely consumed.

Then he decided to move on to another elephant or another animal per se.

So throughout the years, I decided to write a book on what I was passionate about.  I thought of the title, the bylines, the subheader, some of the wittiest lines to include.  Then I open my computer and draw total blanks.

 If only I decided to keep it simple and just focus on one line at a time, which would lead to one paragraph at a time, which eventually would lead to one page at a time, then one chapter (or section) at a time.

Back in 2009, I was at 189 pounds.  Now for someone like myself at 5 feet, 9 inches, that was a little too much.  I had enrolled in a 90 Day Goal program which assigned me 4 goals to set and meet at the end of 90 days.  One goal was career and/or money oriented, one goal was relationship oriented, one goal was on physical, and the last goal was spiritually oriented.  My physical goal was to get to 167 pounds by the end of that 90 days.

On day 90 of  that 90 day goal program, I hit a weight of 174.  I was seven pounds short of my goal. (Target weight of 167 pounds)

That haunted me throughout the summer of 2009.  At the fall of that year (like September) I re-weighed myself (yes, I stop weighing myself after that last weigh-in back in May) and noticed I was up to 178.  So I got construction paper out, drew with crayons a photo of a scale with feet on them (and I wrote "MY FEET" with arrows pointed at the haphazardly drawn pair of feet) with the scale saying "167"  Next to that, I wrote "December 31, 2009 NSNK"  "NSNK" means "no sh*t, no kidding."  It was sort of a mantra during that 90 day period when my coach would issue an ultimatum.

I had book a trip to Asia leaving the states on December 6, and returning January 10, 2010.  Yes I was going to spend an entire month in Asia.  I had plans to keep my eating to a minimum and actually sign up for a single month membership at one of the gyms in Singapore where I was scheduled to stay for the 2.5 weeks of the month there.  That was curtailed when my back went out on the first morning in Hong Kong.  I was supposed to meet my friend in Hong Kong for dim sum that first day I arrived, but my back went out on me that day.  I was taken to a local Dit Dat specialist. (Traditional Chinese Medicine Orthopedics) who placed me to bedrest the next 48 hours.  Sadly, I missed the meeting and had the doctor explained to her on the phone why I was unable to meet her at the bus station.  Luckily my back recovered somewhat to be able to make the flight to Singapore.  After a couple of days, I booked a trip to Davao City, Philippines in anticipation of spending Christmas with my girlfriend and her family.  When she inquired where was I going to stay accommodation wise, I realized the Christmas plans were not going to happen, so I rescheduled the whole trip and cut it short.  I only scheduled 4 days there instead of the initially planned 10.  On the evening of the first day in Davao, I ended up with food poisoning.  The following day my entire food intake was a bottle of Sprite.  The following day was my flight out.  Upon returning to Singapore, I was stopped by the health ministry because my body scan indicated a fever and I was coming out of the budget terminal.  It was "recommended" that I remain at my hotel for another 72 hours, which included Christmas, so that cancelled out the option 2 Christmas plans.  Finally I was able to take a bus tour of Malaysia two days after Christmas, to return to Singapore on the 30th.  Luckily there was nothing out of the ordinary there and I was able to enjoy the local cuisine.  On New Years Eve, I met my friends for a NYE dinner and decided to head to our favorite dessert place to kick off the New Year.  It was closed.  The only spot opened was a nearby Mc Donalds.  Knowing that I was on a 12 year streak of not eating McDonalds food, my friends only ordered a Coke for me and did not allow me to eat any of their food.  Upon returning to the hotel, I asked for a scale and was given a digital scale in the metric system.  It read "74.5"  I then went online to convert the weight.  It was 164.24 pounds. (2 1/2 ahead of my "NSNK" goal)

Be careful what is declared because it'll happen sooner or later, and in this case it happened in such a way that was not the most comfortable nor pleasant way.

Now, instead of going through with all that, I could've broken things down to a daily resolution.  Today I'll eat this and do this XYZ workout.  Then the next day I'll eat that, then do the ABC workout.  The following day, I'll splurge and enjoy this dessert.  The following day, 2 meals with just veggies, and dinner with chicken and goto yoga.  At some point, I'll get to that 167 range and most likely feel good physically about myself too.

Just one moment at a time.

06 November, 2015

Sh*tty Conclusion for "C*ty" Harvest Church

People were approaching me about my reaction to the scandal that rocked City Harvest Church in Singapore because of my deep love and appreciation of Singapore, my spiritual background, and the fact that if you were Christian, visited or lived in Singapore, you were expected to have attended at least one service there.  Attending a City Harvest Church service was sort of like a "bucket list" item for Singaporean Christians.

Honestly, I have no reaction.  Like I stated on the previous post, church scandals will come and go.  People place some sort of artificial meaning to the church.  It is an enterprise that's no different from a government agency, a business, a school, or any other organization that has people in it.  Yes, it is SUPPOSED TO BE the responsibility and function of a church to create an optimal environment for it's attenders to connect with Spirit, Divine, God, ect, but they don't always create such an environment and/or different people have differing needs.  I have stated indirectly on almost all my blogs on spirituality that the function of any religious or spiritual institution boils down to 2 functions/purposes:

1) Enable the follower to connect with Spirit
2) Enable the follower to optimize their life experience through the teachings and application of spiritual principles.  (See #1)

Hence why I left the mainstream Christian church and embraced New Thought Christianity.  It's a lot more challenging to learn and apply in life, but at least the negative dogma of us versus everyone else is out the door.

Let me re-visit my only experience at City Harvest Church to offer a background into my borderline reaction of indifference and jubilation:

In November of 2008, actually Thanksgiving week of 2008, I trekked to Singapore as I've done twice annually from 2005-2010.  At that point, I confessed my interest in a young lady whom I've attempted to court from 2006-08 only to find out her interest in me was merely as a shopping tool.  (She had a taste for Coach bags)  Anyhow, she began to attend church service at City Harvest and invited me to attend service with her one Sunday morning.  In the slight possibility of any sliver of hope that our relationship would somehow blossom, I accepted her invitation.

Upon entering the Singapore Expo Centre (where Sunday services were held at that time for both City Harvest aka Sh*tty Harvest Church and Faith Community Baptist Church, aka Fake Community Baptist Church) our seats were covered by an envelope.  During the service, the senior pastor Kong introduced a guest speaker from Texas who proceeded to explain the meaning of the envelope.  For those who will pledge in the envelope a minimum of at least $1500 SGD, God will prosper them and anyone who doesn't place anything in the envelope and turn in the envelope was going to receive the wrath of God through a devastating financial curse. (The "curse" applied to those who turned in nothing and/or any significant lesser amount)  I found that quite disturbing and confused because he was addressing the members of CHC.  He didn't leave any explanation on how to apply this to the visitor or guest which was the category I fell into.

At the conclusion of service, I did what I always done when I visited a church for the first time: Introduce myself to the pastor.  At that point, I was "handled" by the pastors' bodyguards.  Apparently since I did not make an appointment to talk with the pastor, I was forbidden to go near him.  I was then continued to be "handled" by the bodyguards (shoved back) It was a shock for me personally to the point that for the remaining part of the trip, I skipped church on Sundays, and upon returning to the States, I was also MIA at my regular church for about a month.

That's my 1st (ONLY) impression of CHC

It is my personal opinion and observation that both megachurches in Singapore (CHC and FCBC) is more showmanship and speak in pseudo-Christianese/Sin-glish rhetoric than actual Christian teaching even for the "standard brand" mainstream Christian "holy-roller" dogma.  I personally question the sincerity and integrity of the leadership for both organizations.  So in light of the guilty verdicts in Singapore against Kong and the CHC leaders, I simply shrug.  As a New Thought practitioner,I don't have issues with how much a minister decides to pay him or herself.

I even predict a much more bigger scandal to emerge out of the FCBC camp, simply because of the "he doth protest too much," rhetoric coming from the pastor.  Normally the "s/he doth protest much" rhetoric tends to proceed a scandal of irony and hypocrisy.

If there's ever a true spiritual harvest to emerge out of Singapore, it's a ripe moment to plant seeds of New Thought there.  That has been a vision of mine since I finished reading Eric Butterworth's Discover the Power Within You back in 2011.  Like I stated, what's categorized as The Prosperity Gospel "heavily borrowed" from New Thought, and The Prosperity Gospel is the dominant Christian ideology/paradigm in Singapore, plus New Thought does have a respect for other faiths including the Hindu, Buddhist, and various local spiritual traditions whereas most other Christians do not.

And yes, I am looking for an excuse to be over there again.  I miss my kaya toast, duck rice, teh tarik, and chicken rice!

06 September, 2015

Not The First nor Last

The sex scandal in religious circles are as synonymous as violence in pro-football.  Just when you think the religious figures begin to settle down, out comes another scandal.  Now you can see my reluctance in becoming a full-time minister.  I just don't want to get caught up in anything controversial.  I know I'm going to have sex when I want it with whom I want it with, and I refuse to apologize when I get it.  The very first time I traveled outside the United States, it was with The Salvation Army which was a Christian organization, so I left my royal oats in the sack, and I regret that decision to this very day.

First of all, these two recent high profile sex scandals bored me to tears.  Sorry, but there are other worthy news items worth discussing about other than who got caught stalking who.  Seriously, there was a high scale corruption case that drew a million protesters out in Kuala Lumpor Malaysia last week and it got little attention from the mediots.  Instead it was all about Ashley Madison leaked passwords, Josh Duggar, Subway Sandwiches, and Jared Fogle.

Doesn't the media have more important things to inform the public about?

You have two public self proclaimed "do-gooders" who got caught up in a scandal...actually more than one scandal.  For some reason, people love to see a sexual downfall of self professed religious figures.  It's like rubbernecking on the freeway during an auto accident.  They don't give a shit about whether or not the drivers behind them need to be somewhere, their nosyness is more important.

Likewise, the selfish extreme vengeful activists didn't give a crap other than hurting those who spoke against equal opportunity for marriage.  They didn't care about the victims of the sexual crime; they were outed.  In the case of Duggar, it was his own sisters.  So sexual victims rights took about a step or two backwards because of these self-centered extreme activists who were determined to take out the Duggars just because of the family's beliefs as conservative Christians.  That's straight up hypocrisy.  Its no better than the Conservatives.  When you become so determined in taking out someone who disagrees with you to the point that you victimize others besides your intended target, you set the entire group you're advocating for back because of your selfish behavior, which meant that they inadvertently took about 2-3 steps back on behalf of the LGBT community.  You don't publicize the identity of anyone who's been sexually violated, especially if they were underdaged at that time.  So they believe that the LGBT lifestyle is "sinful" and "wrong."  Does that make it right to out a sexually violated victim?  It's wrong on so many fronts.  It's a step back on bridging the LGBT community with the conservative religious community, and at this point this episode demonstrates that I shouldn't expect any bridge to be built between these two groups anytime soon.  It's a step back on victims rights.  And here's the big kicker to all of this: those responsible for leaking out the information may or may not have been members of the LGBT community.  They simply leaked the information out just to exploit the Duggars sexual dirt.

Jared Fogle set up a children's charity organization to pretty up his image.  He had ulterior motives.  So he had the hots for underaged females, and he used his organization as a front to find them.  OK.  And how was this different from the first church I ever attended?

I was "introduced to Jesus Christ" at a Chinese community church based out of Oakland California.  It was headed by a non-Chinese pastor who "felt led to save the Chinese 'HEATHENS.'"  I wish I was exaggerating, but unfortunately I'm not.  This was a church who utilized "Chinese" on their name, but culture-shamed the community they outreached to.  If you attended their church activities for a certain period of time and become absent, someone will be ringing your doorbell from the church, armed with their Bible and with ready to refer to verses to convict you of your "wayward ways."

Eventually this church started a private K-12 Christian school back in the 1970-80s, which still "serves" the Chinese community in the East Bay, but they expanded and moved out of Oakland into one of the East Bay suburbs.  All the while, this pastor was "counseling" specific students.  He also had the following criteria of those he "counseled:"
1) Female student of the school grade 8-12
2) Parents were immigrants with limited English skills.
3) History of family brokenness such as alcoholism/addiction, ect. amongst the parents.
4) Were also consistent attenders/ preferably full time members of the church
5) Were considered "disciplinary challenged" female students either in school and/or church.

For those of you too dense to "get it," when I say this pastor "counseled" these troubled female students, I meant that he flat out sexually violated them.

In other words, this pastor had a very comfy cushy operation going on there.  Even if the girls could've and would've spoken up, (and in the beginning some attempted to) the power structure he created kept his victims at bay.  And it was indeed a power structure he took advantage of.  He shamed his church of their Chinese heritage so much, they worshiped this guy even to the point of raising money to buy him a car.  He was a "can do no wrong" in the eyes of his congregants.  Calling him out would've been viewed as a sin by that community.  He targeted his victims well because of the reputation of both the student and their families.  Their word against his.

Basically Jared Fogle could've taken advice from this pastor.  Bear in mind there was no social media during the time the pastor took advantage of those young ladies.  This was during the 1980s and 90s, where Asian culture, specifically patriarchal Chinese culture was combined with this conservative independent baptist culture; therefore it wasn't conducive to come forward.  Those women basically had nowhere to go.  If the situation sounds eerily similar to the situation of the Cosby victims, well yes it's a combination of the power structure and the (lack of) technology and communication resources available then.

So for those who did came forward about the situation, how do you think it was handled?  It was handled initially in a very similar way as the Duggars situation.  No, not the recent Ashley Madison, but the other situation within the Duggar family.  You see, this was a church who also advocated Institute of Basic Life Principles like the Duggars, so the solution to the situation were handled similarly.  It was a "God will deliver a solution" to all of this.  Even though I don't mention nor identify the church directly, no matter how much you'd "Google" this situation, you will never see any news item on it even though it actually happened and the church is still one of the most prominent Chinese community churches in the San Francisco East Bay Area.  The most they did was remove him as pastor after all the damage was done.

I know, I'm an IBLP "alumni."  In fact while re-auditing the IBLP seminar 20 years ago, I ran into one of the pastor's past victim.  She was taking the courses in order to "heal" her life.  So it doesn't surprise me at all that the Duggar family handled their situation the way they did initially.  The way IBLP is structured and what it teaches, there's a method to the madness in how to handle every situation.  Everything is a "sin" problem, so what does the Bible say about handling "sin?"  Confession and forgiveness.  Here's the catch: according to the IBLP, not forgiving is also a "sin."  So if a Duggar or a pastor or a Fogle "confesses," the person whom they violated, if they too are part of that community or circle, must "forgive" that confessor, otherwise their "sin" of not forgiving is considered to be as bad as the "sin" the confessor confessed.  Got all of that?  So that's why the Duggar sisters want to move on, and that's why Josh's wife will remain his wife.

As for that Fogle dude...

I guess he should've became a Christian pastor to a community of color where English is a second language; then he could've enjoyed his perversity a little while longer before getting caught.***

***-Please note sarcasm...

As for that church, one of the aftermath footnote about it was the fact that the community was so cultured-shamed to the point that when the replacement pastor was Asian descent like the congregation members, a portion of the church split to find a "more qualified shepherd,"  to pastor their group.  What was the "more qualified?"  NOT being Asian.

28 August, 2015

Lack of Activity

There has been a lack of new entries on this blog lately, and it's not because I abandoned my spiritual journey or anything.  On the contrary.  I'm more immersed in it.  It's just that as of now, I'm currently a Masters of Theological Studies candidate through The Samaritans Institute.  The courses are short, sweet, to the point, and are well grounded in the fundamentals of New Thought Christianity.

It's what I was looking for since 2011 when I first read Eric Butterworth's Discover the Power Within You.

When I was a part of The Salvation Army's Service Corps program back in 1997, as a person who didn't complete his undergrad work, it was indirectly implied that I was to be groomed into a ministerial lifestyle.  My heart has always been in the performing arts, and they offered me opportunities to perform through that channel. On the flip side, I witnessed first-hand "behind closed doors" type of ongoing regarding the ministers and I completed the program with absolutely no interest in any type of ministerial endeavors.

It may appear as a "change of heart" because I'm studying for an MTS in Divine Science as well as pursuing a Divine Science Practitioners credential, but I'm doing so because of the lack of channels to voice this teaching that I personally find valuable.  It's out of necessity.  Very similar when I started as an actor with absolutely no interest in writing; I began to write out of necessity after a year of auditioning for roles that did not have my best interest at heart.  It's a similar situation here.

Theology and teachings that fall into the category of New Thought, has become influential not only in theology, but in business, psychology, and especially the personal development movement.  Yet very few centers and churches rooted in New Thought are thriving.  Outsiders may easily conclude it's because the teachings that's considered New Thought has become irrelevant and obsolete.  However one needs to simply turn on Oprah Winfrey Network, Joel Olsteen, or pop in the DVD, Secret to see that elements from New Thought is a $13 BILLION a year business!

That's why it's upsetting to see the current state of New Thought churches and other establishments.  I know first-hand how the teachings have benefit me, and the personal development has created a money making mechanism to become an outlet to teach what New Thought teaches, but at a price.  I just simply want the teachings available to as many people as possible, period.  Plus I am well aware that one of the "band-aid" approach to the current situation is that the established New Thought entities are distancing themselves from any affiliation with Christianity resulting from the media backlash such as the notoriety of Westboro Baptist Church, the Duggar scandal, and the recent John Oliver expose on the Prosperity Gospel.

That is where I disagree with such an approach.

To me, this is an opportunity to show the world that a good message, a great message can be associated with Christianity without the judgment and hypocrisy.  Also, it can show and distinguishes the difference between New Thought approach to prosperity as opposed to the Prosperity Gospel, the more new agey Law of Attraction, and the more accepted "Think and Grow Rich" approaches.  Yes, there are definite overlaps, but there needs to be a distinction communicated to the general public.  For example, yes in New Thought tithing is important.  However unlike the Prosperity Gospel, it is not a "seed" nor will you be "financially cursed by God" if you choose not to donate.

And that's another reason the urgency to help spread the message.

No one should be coerced into anything.  Whether it's signing up for a personal development course, giving your time, treasure or talent, or making any sort of purchase of goods or services.  What I learned from New Thought is that any actions or decisions motivated by fear will only allow the fear-based mentality and results to multiply.  True religion, true spirituality is to set people free, and fear does not set anyone free.

I spent the last two years angry and frustrated with the powers that be who run the Unity establishment.  They have been making decisions to the detriment of the people they're supposed to teach and to the teachings itself.  But expressing that frustration will not resolve anything which is why I'm focused on what I've been focusing on lately.  So I may post a response or two whenever a decision or announcement is made from them, but I will not dwell on it whether or not I think it's consistent with my perception of the teachings.  There are enough resources out there to teach and reinforce the teachings.  I will no longer "wait" around for any organizations to get its act together and lament out loud that I'm not learning anything because they won't, nor will I wait for any splinter group to step up and fulfill that role.

If it's truly true, it'll surface.

19 May, 2015

Minister Hearted, NOT Necessarily Minister Material...

My weekends are accounted for.  I can easily be found at Unity Church of Castro Valley every Sundays.  Saturdays are my "catch-up" days since I work Monday through Friday.  It's a weekly clockwork routine regularly interrupted by the inconsistent service level of BART.  For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, you may wonder why I choose to trek from Daly City all the way to Castro Valley simply for church service.  For starters, I serve in several capacities for UCV: prayer chaplain, treasurer, sound person, coffee/hospitality, and that is every single Sunday.  That doesn't include the fact that the Rev has entrusted me enough to comfortably take more time off as I share the message on selected Sundays.  (Of course that was beginning in 2014 after my attendance began in November of 2011)  For those of you not familiar with the SF Bay, travelling from Daly City to Castro Valley is definitely a commute.  If I had a car, the commute would be 45 minutes.  With BART, the commute is 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

The closest Unity to where I live is in San Francisco, located 3.8 miles away from home according to Google Maps.  It’d be a 10 minute commute by car if I had one, however with public transit and walking, the commute is more like 30-45 minutes.  Not much of a difference than with commuting to Castro Valley.  Aside from all that, I live in San Mateo County.  There are a total of 0 Practical Christianity, New Thought, or Unity centers in San Mateo County.  The nearest Unity directly south of the aforementioned location in San Francisco is Unity of Palo Alto which is a part of Santa Clara County.  The distance between locations is about 40 miles. 

Long story short: I’m in the East Bay every Sunday.  Period.  Let’s just keep it at that. 

I’d given up on mainstream Christianity out of sheer disgust back in 2010.  What sustained me over that period was a support system created through the personal development program I'd undertaken back in 2008-09.  It was brought to my attention that there existed a “link” per se between those programs and what fragile religious practice I futilely struggled with back then.  That link was New Thought Christianity and/or Christian Metaphysics.  In 2011 I made it a point to find and locate a center to grow.  It was unfortunate that those were the years that most centers affiliated with New Thought and their leadership decided to distance themselves from any identification with Christianity altogether.  It was a disheartening discovery as I felt that books by Eric Butterworth and Barbara L King helped me restore my faith in God. 

I’m grateful to the internet because I was able to research and receive information needed at that time.  I don’t believe in coincidences, but the fact that Truth Unity was developing into an online resource when I needed resources convinced me that this was indeed “a God thang.” 

I contacted Unity Institute and inquired about advanced training around 2011-12 and received such a bizarre response I decided not to have anything to do with them and went through different avenues including Hillside, Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, and eventually Samaritans Institute.  As a prayer chaplain and as the substitute speaker at Castro Valley Unity, people often wonder if I’m being groomed in the event of the current minister’s retiring.  The answer is absolutely no.  1) She’s not going anywhere, and 2) I still do not view myself as a long term minister in any capacity, and 3) Castro Valley isn’t where I want the teachings of New Thought Christianity taught and spread.  I have a heart for Oakland California and for Southeast Asia.  Thankfully, Oakland has Lakeside Temple while we need some serious inroads into Southeast Asia. 

I am an actor at heart.  I’ve always have been.  People often think that acting and doing ministry are compatible because ministry requires public speaking.  Yes and no.  I’m undergoing the training that I chose to undergo simply because of the lack of teachers and centers out there, and because Christian Metaphysics/New Thought Christianity is a passion as up there with acting.  I’m undergoing the ministry training for the same reason I began writing screenplays and plays 15 years ago: out of sheer necessity and frustration.  As an actor in the beginning, roles that I was auditioning for simply weren’t compatible with my inner artistic voice, so I began to write in order to create such roles.  Likewise, it’s frustrating of the lack of centers and like-minded communities with a passion for the teachings and practice of New Thought/Christian Metaphysics while other centers place an emphasis on the "guru/energy healer of the month."  

Think about it.  As of this typing, the overall religious discussion has been about the Pew research and findings regarding American religious practices.  First of all, I find the report to be somewhat inconsistent because people who attend services and activities provided by Unity, Religious Science (Center for Spiritual Living), UFBL, Divine Science and other New Thought would most likely identify themselves in the survey/research under the “Noner/nothing in particular” category whose umbrella category includes atheists and agnostics, the “other Christian” category, the “other world religion” category, and most likely the “other faith” category.  And here’s the thing: while the overall Christian category dropped about7%, the “nothing in particular” had grown about 4%.  How many of that 4% include those attending New Thought locations? 

Needless to say, there is a need for more available resources to teach and spread the message of New Thought.  Although the internet has been a godsend, filling gaps worldwide, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction.  As I stated, I live in a county with an area of 450 square miles, and a population of 750,000.  There are no New Thought centers located within that county.  (At least to date of this writing) 

Another thing: I attend Unity Church of Castro Valley with a weekly average attendance of 15 people and an average age of 70.  While the teaching is more welcoming and can resonate with a younger generation, members of such a younger generation cannot attend if they don’t know that such teachings existed.  If you look at the mainline Christian churches, you’ll see an aggressive proactive outreach towards that age group.  Now we've made attempts in outreach to that group such as Facebook and Meetup, but unfortunately the responses have been from those who had their own personal spiritual agenda.

And that leads to the next reason why I decided to undertake the ministerial route.  From the time I first entered a Unity center back in 2011 and from all my experience and interactions with other people undergoing the New Thought approach, I observed first-hand how existing New Thought based churches and centers have been utilized more as a platform for these entitled eclectic spiritual energy figureheads pushing their own personal agenda at the expense of the core teachings of New Thought.  That isn’t fair to those who are sincere in their pursuit of studying New Thought.  Hiring a third party consultant on marketing your organization while abandoning your core teaching is only a band-aid, short-term, temporary approach if it had worked at all. 

I was hesitant and had reservations about whether or not to pursue advanced training in New Thought Christianity.  As I stated, I identify myself more as an actor and as a performer.  Secondly, I did do a short-term missionary assignment years ago through The Salvation Army in Asia and although the experience was enriching, it was also simultaneously constricting.  This was my very first trip outside of the United States, and my first trip to Asia.  I didn’t get laid at all.  It was like walking through numerous buffets and not eating.  I wouldn’t want to subject myself to that all over again.  Thirdly, I also served in various youth counseling capacity within the church and from what I observed regarding what the pastoral kids were subjected to, (aka, “Preachers’ Kids) I decided that I wouldn’t subject my own children to that kind of political BS.

But perhaps the most compelling reason of my reluctance to ministerial training could be summed up by this hypothetical example:

Not only have I pursued acting professionally for over 18 years, I’ve practiced Chinese traditional martial arts and its peripheral arts of lion and dragon dance for over 30 years.  Let’s say I decided to pursue a PhD in Martial Arts.  The study is 3 years of academics including 1 academic year of different post graduate courses and 2 years of a doctoral thesis.  Meanwhile my martial arts school accepts this new student at the same time.  During the course of my 3 years of academic study, this student has learned just one set (set of choreographed movements) during his first 6 months upon joining.  In addition, he consistently undergoes the physical conditioning and workout regimen from Day 1.  After he learns his first set and from month 6 to the time that I’m awarded my PhD, all he did was his physical conditioning/workouts, hand-to-hand drills to practice the techniques from the set, and the set itself.  If he were to enter a martial arts tournament, most tournaments would categorize a year 3 student as “intermediate,” so for the purpose of this example, he’s considered an “intermediate” student.  Also for the sake of this example, I did not practice or learn during the past 30 years; instead I “studied” the martial arts entirely through my Ph D. program. 

Having established the groundwork of this working example, in the aftermath of my reception of my PhD in Martial Arts studies, I accept a full-contact match with this intermediate student.  Oh in addition, let’s also say that as part of that post graduate courses taken in year 1 included an academic quarter learning ju-jitsu, an academic quarter learning Choi Li Fut Kung Fu, and an academic quarter learning penjek silat in the form of an upper division "physical education" classes.

So on paper, there’s an “intermediate” martial student having a match with a “doctor” of martial arts studies.  On paper, who looks like who is going to win the match?  In the actual fight, who’s most likely going to win the match, and why?  At the end, who is really the "expert" in martial arts?

So now you can see why I wasn’t in such an urgent state regarding my advanced/ministerial/teaching studies of the New Thought Christian curriculum.  Why spend up to 2-3 years studying something where at the end, my prayer life, happiness, overall life satisfaction may or may not be in the upper echelon?  Why pursue the studies if I’m not going to live it?

Here’s the thing: people will not express or pursue an interest in such a teaching until they witness first-hand what a positive impact it made on our lives first.  Whether or not I receive a Masters or Doctorate, or a certificate, or an ordination, if my prayer and faith isn’t impacting my own life for the better, then why am I there up front?

Then I’ll just be “acting.”  Hmmm...

11 April, 2015

K.I.S.S. The Process of Keeping It Stupidly Simple

It’s no secret that I spent the last decade focused on personal development in the aftermath of my mother’s passing.  Her death triggered the surfacing of deep rooted layers of anger, resentment, and shame that I’ve accumulated throughout my then 35 years of existence.  I then pursued relentlessly my quest for a “comfortable” career in the arts and entertainment field, specifically in acting. 

From 2011 to now, the drive to pursue acting slowly dwindled.  Though I still have my agent in San Francisco, I volunteered to attend auditions for features filmed locally in the Bay Area which means the auditions are pretty non-existent.  That enabled me to focus on my job at the California Judicial Council. 

Also from 2011, specifically May of 2011, I decided to move away from the mainstream Christian theological paradigm.  I could no longer reconcile the lessons that Jesus taught to the overall “us versus them” mentality perpetuated in all the mainstream Christian churches.  Just as I was about the walk away from church life altogether and just focus on what I learned from all the personal development courses I’ve taken from 2007 to 2011, New Thought theology came to my awareness.  That alone reconciled my aforementioned issue as well as my belief in God to my personal development experience. 

So from 2011 to 2014, I became this spiritual acolyte junkie.  I invested every extra cash on every possible book or home course from every possible New Thought “guru.” 

And I got absolutely nowhere.  Not, “NOW HERE,” but “NO WHERE.”

It didn’t matter which meditation course I purchased that month or how fresh the coffee I made at Sunday church service, or which book I’m currently reading.  I got absolutely nowhere.  During my spare time, I could be found at the lounge of Philz Coffee reading my latest book on prayer, attitude, goal setting, and Universal Spiritual laws. 

And I still got nowhere.

So from 2011 to 2015 I read different books, took different courses, and supported different ministries yet got nowhere.  So perhaps what I was taking the time to learn wasn’t legit?  Or I had to cope with the fact that it simply doesn’t work.  Or I was going about this all wrong.

I’ve practiced traditional Chinese martial arts, lion and dragon dancing off and on for over 25 years.  Awhile ago my Sifu (“master” or “teacher”) was observing my practice session and pulled me aside to tell me something.

You know so many sets, but you haven't learned one move!

An explanation to the comment: a “set” or a “form” are choreographed set of movements for the martial artist. Each “set” has an emphasis on a specific technique.  Our “sets” are considered “short,” compared to other martial arts styles, meaning the typical “set” or "form" of ours has about 24-28 movements max.  Some sets from other styles have up to 108 different movements per set.  Even our “long sets” can be broken down in sections of subsets, which is like 16-24 movements per subset, placed together in sequence to create one "long set."  

It’s true, over the course of 25 years I’ve learned about 12-18 different hand and weapon forms from this organization, and at the most, I probably remember the movements of 8 forms at the max.  Even at the drop-off of quantity, that’s the least of my master’s concern.  His concern was the fact that I have yet to learn a single specific technique to the point of mastery.  By that definition of “mastery,” he means that the body parts required to perform the specific technique are developed and conditioned, (not to mentioned that my entire body should be that) that the fluidity and strength is effortless, that I can be able to naturally discover and apply 8-12 different variations from that specific technical move, and to be able to discover other supplemental movement that can proceed and follow afterwards naturally. 

So what does this have to do with my spiritual journey from 2011 to now? 

You mean you can’t see the connection here? 

I’ve taken the time to read so many books, but haven’t truly studied ONE author.  I’ve collected an extensive list of affirmations, but memorized NONE.  I’ve learned the PSI relaxation cycles, Silva Mind technique, The Children of the Light Wholeness Meditation and Blessing, Oneness Meditation, and The Quantum Jumping technique on meditation.  (Not to mention the Ch’i Kung meditation my Sifu taught me)  Yet, I don’t sit still and relax quietly for more than 12 minutes per day, if that. Side note: for those of you who are familiar with Silva or any other types of guided meditations, how can the “Mirror of the Mind,” “Case Working,” or “Workshop” be effective for us if we haven’t even learned to be consistent with the basic “relaxation cycle?” 

It wasn’t like I wasn’t familiar with this concept of taking the time to learn one thing at a time.  After all, I was pursuing acting for more than 18 years.   I’ve came across so many fellow actors who would jump from one acting class to another, one voice training program to another, one dance/movement class to another, and then they wonder why their performance wasn’t up to snuff either on set or on stage, or why they were “so heady," and not "in the moment."

And that’s the thing about certain specific well-known, recognizable actors we see on film and television: on one hand, we actors and even some public audience members would often criticize them for being too “one dimensional” or “hitting the same note over and over,” or “lacking a wide versatile acting range.”  On the flip side, who are we to criticize their work, after-all they ARE working as actors.  They've “mastered” a single move, so to speak and are being compensated accordingly.

So what was the “payoff” for being “busy” with all the materials purchased, consumed and processed from 2011 to now? 

That was it, the state of remaining “busy.”  It wasn’t the payoff of spiritual enlightenment or mastering the art of manifestation.  I mean, that’s what I told myself and that’s what I told others back then, except that results don’t lie. 

So the comment my Sifu made was taken to heart.  It was a gut check.  On top of that, about the same time he made that comment, I completed a prayer chaplain curriculum, and with this new found title as prayer chaplain, I felt simply lost. 

So I packed up all my books into a box, and took out just three books.  Two of them are in my possession at all times.  I put away all the CDs and audio downloads to simply listen to just the Silva guided relaxation or the short version Silva relaxation.  Eventually I learned to just shut my eyes, shut my mouth, sit, relax and breathe.  All I did was study one of the three books, and listened to one of the relaxation tracks on a regular basis.  In other words, I simplified things.  I’ve been practicing just one of the sets on a regular basis only. 

Slowly but surely, the results began to improve: the tax refunds, the regular work, the trip to Manila, the much improved relationship, the redone kitchen and bathroom, (that wasn't really asked for, I just put on a notepad about "getting the bathroom and kitchen working better," and I came home one day to a new shower area, toilet, fixed kitchen sink, and new stove) the speaking opportunities. 

Most importantly, I discovered myself lashing out less and becoming more comfortable in my own skin.  Yes, I still get irritated and still lash out at times, but those time period between the lashing out episodes have gotten longer and longer.  Yes, sometimes I wish I were somewhere else or even someone else, but that too is less frequent than a year, two years ago.  Even problems and/or challenges that do come up tend to lead to a solution much quicker. 

All because I went back to the basics and focused on one thing at a time, or at least fewer things at a time. 

Oh, so you want to know the three books I’ve focused on since September of last year?

That’ll be shared on my next entry…

21. "It is not whoever says to me, 'My Lord, my Lord,'
who enters the Kingdom of Heaven,
except whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven.
22. "Many will say to me on that day,
'My Lord, my Lord, did we not prophesy in your name
and in your name cast out demons
and in your name perform great powers?'
23. "And then I will declare to them that, I never knew you,
go away from me, workers of abomination.
Matthew 7:21-24 Aramaic Bible to English Version