UNITY OF VANCOUVER
3814 FRANKLIN ST. VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON 98660  360-696-0996

The Hidden Curriculum of Life
Reverend Bernadette Voorhees
  October 3, 2021

 All Rights Reserved

 


MEDITATION



I invite you to close your eyes and begin to prepare yourself for a time of quiet by simply thinking the thought, "Peace be still."

As that thought begins to move into your body, your body cooperates and becomes still.  Your busy thoughts cease as your heart seeks the presence of God. Here in the silence, in the Presence of God, remember your oneness with God, and know that whatever you might think about in life is truly an expression of God at the point where you exist.  In this awareness I give voice to thoughts about this God journey.

Who am I?  How am I to be in this world?  In which direction is my horizon?  As I have walked along life's journey, some told me who I am, some told me how to be and tried to set the direction for me or wanted to choose the road I was to travel.  For a time, when others told me how to be, I did my best to live up to their expectations. When someone pointed out the direction in which my life was intended, I followed their way until it ended.  When others declared who I am, I believed and lived as someone else but found it was quite untrue.

I no longer listen to the guidance of outer voices telling me what to do. Now I take time to hear an inner voice, and learn I am more than I ever thought myself to be.  From the depth of my being, in the holy places of my soul, the Spirit of God speaks the truth to me in a language beyond the mind and heart.  It tells me the essence of all that I am.  In the silence, I listen and allow myself to be the greater self-God designed me to be. (Pause)

I listen to the voice of God and trust as it confides the secret of my wholeness and reveals the treasure that I am.  God is working around me and through me supporting me to bring something wonderful and powerful into every area of my world and into all the experiences of life.

I share the treasure of my being with those who invite me into their world.  We work together for a common cause, to bring God more fully into expression in this life.  Working with others, I sense the Truth about them and revel in the treasure of who they are.  I honor the power and grace of their being.

I trust my ability to clarify what is important for I live with God's good in mind.  I have total trust in the power and presence of God within me and all around me to direct the movement of my life.  I see the Spirit of God shining before me life a beacon of light and follow it without hesitation toward a brighter horizon.  Amen.


THE HIDDEN CURRICULUM OF LIFE

In this lesson we are going to talk about finding more meaning and purpose in our lives --by looking at past, present, and future events--good and bad---- to see if we can find a hidden curriculum there; to see if it all had meaning and if it has helped your life.

Through numerous surveys, George Gallup identified the following six basic spiritual needs of Americans:
1.  The number one need is the need to believe life is meaningful and has a purpose.  Gallup reports that two thirds of those interviewed didn't believe churches were effectively meeting this need.
2.  The second need is for a sense of community and deeper relationships.
3.  The third need identified is to be appreciated and respected.
4.  The fourth is the need to be listened to and heard.
5.  The fifth is the need to feel that one is growing in faith
6.  The sixth is the need for practical help in developing a mature faith.

This is one of the great strengths of Unity. We are a spiritual educational center that teaches Practical Christianity. The following story that illustrates what I am talking about.

A young man who had made excellent grades in high school and college, entered a special school to learn a foreign language. He was really having a hard time and barely passing.  He went to talk to one of his teachers and asked, "What's the matter with me? I do my very best and I'm getting low grades.  I've never gotten low grades before.  Do you think I can make it through this course?" The teacher answered, "So you had a habit of making good grades?"

"Yes," replied the young man.  The teacher said, "It's a good thing to be jolted out of complacency at times.  I believe you are going to make it here, but you're going to have to give it everything you have.  If the lessons were just a bit easier you could come through with very high grades, but they are just a bit harder than you can easily master. You are likely to find every lesson is like that throughout this course.  Has it ever occurred to you that they were designed that way?  The students who couldn't or wouldn't give concentrated study to this were weeded out the first month.  You are among the students who remain, the ones who can do it, but you are going to have to keep on your toes all the way."  The young man said, "I can keep on my toes if I know I'm going somewhere."  "You are", the teacher said, and the young man went back to work with renewed courage.

This young man's experience speaks to all of us.  The goal has been placed just beyond easy reach.  But we must keep on trying, because as we continue trying, we are going to make it.

Do you want to be one of the people who flunk out in the first month?  Do you want to drop out of the class and go for a lower grade where the work will be easy?

Anyone with spiritual courage answers with a loud, "No! I am endowed with a special power as a child of God, and I am destined for a life on the heights of human experience.  I can do what I ought to do and with God, I will learn these lessons."

So many of the goals you long to achieve seem just above your easy reach.  They have been designed that way.  The people we call saints and heroes rose above the things that would turn ordinary people back.  Jesus calls us to be his disciples and take the course of spiritual mastery.  He said, "It you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (Mt. 17:20)

If you have a mountain looming in the distance, right in the middle of your path, give thanks for it, because you have within you the spiritual resources to enable you to master that lesson.  Whatever appears to block your path know that with God, there is a way over it, around it, or under it or through it.  This is what Jesus taught and it is the basis of Unity’s Practical Christianity. You will succeed but not by using only human ingenuity and wisdom. You will succeed by tapping into the divine power that is within you. As Jesus said, “Nothing is impossible to God.”

On the human level you may say, "I just can't do it. I can't learn. I can't reach the height I want to reach in my life."  But the human level is only a part of you. You also have a spiritual level that is a Unity with God, and you can do anything when you know you are a child of God; with God you can do the impossible.

We learn from all the things that happen to us in life--good and bad.  When we look back, we realize there was a hidden curriculum.  It appeared that something was happening on the surface, but something was happening under the surface too.
If we are humanly alive and living our lives, we are enrolled in earth school. We are always taking a course.  If you handle it the right way, you pass that course.  And if you don't handle it the right way, you get to take it again, and again, and again.  When that happens, you learn a tremendous amount.  All of life is a school--you are in classroom 101; everything that happens to you teaches you something. Life is a lot easier when you understand this fact and cooperate with God rather than trying to force solutions from only the visible or human side of life. You can’t solve a problem from the same level of mind that created it.

There is a lot more going on here than just a material world.  You are more than just a body with some gray matter called a human brain.  You are a spiritual being with a soul that is growing.  That's why we are here, to experience the hidden curriculum for soul growth and to become as magnificent as we can possibly be. Every obstacle arrives for the purpose of our soul growth. As we release more of our God essence, we expand our consciousness.

There is a lot of talk in scientific circles about how in the future, someone may clone you for spare parts.  In the future, science may find a way to duplicate your hands, arms, body, even the gray matter we call a brain, and build someone that looks exactly like you. But that new creation wouldn't really be you because there would be a different soul in that body.  There are lots of people who look alike, (how about twins, triplets, etc.) but there are different souls within those bodies. They may look exactly alike on the exterior, but the interior is unique. Likewise, I could buy two identical cars, but the drivers would be different so the cars would appear quite differently to you on the highway.  One driver may be courteous and the other may drink.

There are always two things developing simultaneously in life.  The material side of you:  the who you are and the what you do.  And the soul growth that is going on that has nothing to do with your career--that's just on the material side. There is always a hidden curriculum going on in our lives through everything we face.

That's one of the greatest teachings of the movie “It's A Wonderful Life."  The main character, George Baily went through life and at a certain point he thought nothing was working and he hadn't gotten anything he wanted in life.  There's a winter scene with him standing on the bridge looking at the water, ready to jump in and end it all, because he never got anything he wanted in the material side of life, life on the surface. The movie goes on to reveal that he was getting everything he needed through the hidden curriculum of his life. He had all the answers to all the problems he thought existed in his life within him.  Everything he wanted was there all the time.  He just couldn't see it.  It's a wonderful life when you realize this is true in your life too.

There's a great teaching story about a tourist driving down a country road.  He came face to face with a sign that said, "Road closed, do not enter."  The road ahead looked pretty good to him, and having had great experiences as a traveler, he ignored the sign and drove on.  Five miles down the road he came to a bridge that was out and had to turn around and retrace his route.  As he reached the place where the warning sign was, he read the words printed on his side of it, "Welcome back stupid."

On the human level, we experience problems that we can't get out of because we are not just one-dimensional beings.  I’ll say it again, “You can't solve a problem from the same level of mind that created the problem.”  You must use a higher level of mind. There are always two levels of life going on.  The life of the physical body and the soul life.

Charles Fillmore, co-founder of Unity told this story about a man who had gone blind.  Charles said that he prayed with the man for months for his eyesight to be restored, but the man was not healed.  As a result, the man experienced some real anger about his eyesight not being healed.  His family said, "You're crazy for following all this stuff.  It's not helping you at all.” Despite the challenge with his vision, during the great depression this man was still able to provide financially for his family. In fact, his business prospered.  Many years later he said, "Thank God I went blind and sought help through prayer with Charles Fillmore, because I found an inward light through prayer that I had never known before.  There was a hidden curriculum going on in my life.”

You hear words all the time.  Words you know are not true. For example: “life is simple, follow these three easy steps to a new complexion, easy to assemble, no tools required; Four simple steps to losing weight, Take the work out of work, the worry out of traveling, the calories out of eating, and leave the driving to us.”

Life is not simple and putting the Unity teachings into practice in your life isn’t easy either. We are one of the most difficult spiritual teachings around because our main credo says, "We have personal responsibility to practice the Presence of God.  God is with us, but God is also within us, and it is up to us to do the inner work to let God be God through us. God can only do for you what you allow God to do through you.”

There would be no soul growth if we said to God, "I'm going to leave the driving to you.  You do it all."  I might learn a few things by watching, but nothing like I would if I drove myself.  Even if I went down the wrong way and had to turn around and read the sign, "Welcome Back, Stupid."

In a study made of 1,000 students, Psychologists found that the students fell into two distinct patterns:  the Helpless Pattern and the Mastery-Oriented Pattern. In the Helpless Pattern, the children seemed to feel trapped when they experienced any difficulty. This failure was attribute it to lack of intelligence.  Even when they proved their abilities in other areas, they still often said, "I'm just not smart enough."  They felt upset about the pressure being placed on them, slackened their efforts and lost sight of their objectives.  These students truly believed their level of intelligence was something they could never change. They believed that they would fail.

In contrast, the Mastery Oriented students believed that they could become more intelligent by striving at just a little bit higher goal. They used effective problem-solving strategies and felt excited and spurred on by any difficulty, rather than threatened or anxious. As a result, intelligence played a very small part in these student's success at school.  Even with average intelligence, the Mastery Oriented students achieved much higher grades than their highly intelligent, but Helpless Oriented peers.

Shortly after the capture of France by the Germans in World War II, Winston Churchill called a cabinet meeting and outlined the grave situation that confronted them. England stood alone against Germany's war machine. The faces of the cabinet members reflected great despair.  Churchill was silent for a few moments; then he smiled and said, "Gentlemen, I find it rather inspiring."

The Unity outlook is to look at a mountain that seems to loom in front of us, blocking our path forward and to find it inspiring while inwardly we say, “I wonder how God is going to solve this one through me.” When confronted by a surprise problem in my life, I calm myself by saying, “I can’t wait to see what God is trying to do here through me.” The miracle of God with us is that everything always works out and it works out better than I had even dared to hope that it would.
On the human level, it is ok to say, “This goal (mountain) is a little bit higher than I can reach with my present consciousness and that is by divine plan.  So, I'm going to go ahead and reach for the stars anyway, because I know there is a hidden curriculum for my soul growth here, in this moment.  I'm not going to be helpless, frightened or make excuses for myself and accept defeat.  I'm going to meet this moment in life head on with God as my partner and master it.

I’m going to close this lesson with a prayer I wrote for myself to remind myself of the Hidden Curriculum of Life. Once you read it, perhaps you can write a prayer for yourself. Writing your own personal prayers and affirmations empowers your prayer life.

“Today and every day I remember to thank God for my life. I remember to thank God for all the love, prosperity, and health in my life. I give thanks for my growing sense of inner peace. No matter what outer conditions are before me, I remember to thank God, the good omnipotent. I let go of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and helplessness and free myself to receive the unending flow of good from God’s loving Spirit, whose will for me, as a beloved child, is good and only good.
I thank God for the joy of knowing that I am cared for by the greatest Power of all.  I experience the peace that passes understanding. I feel a divine contentment deep within my soul.  Thank you, God. Amen.


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