Unitarian Universalists, Closet Theosophists or Christians? Let’s Form a Committee to Find Out

Friday Night Conversations in Theosophy

Featuring Barry Dun Kley

Excerpts from the Lodge Secretary’s Minutes:

In the 1980s, [Barry] was brought back from the edge of death, and had a discussion with Joe Miller about religion. Joe said, “You are an Idiot of God. You have no religion, and no religion has you.”
Barry went on to discuss the similarities and differences between Theosophists and Unitarian Universalists. He read the Seven Principles of the Unitarian Universalists, and drew out the parallels with the Three Avowed Objects of the Theosophical Society. Barry also shared his own experiences at the Unitarian Universalist church in which he participates, including teaching comparative religion to teenagers.
A lively discussion followed.

This wonderful talk was given by Barry Dun Kley, who is lifetime member of the SFTS, and a retired Sergeant in the NYPD.

There is a link to the .mp3 audio file below.

You will also find a link to a .pdf text file, which contains a sermon that Barry offered as the handout for his talk.

Two caveats —

1. The talk was given remotely, via VOIP, from Barry’s home in New England.

2. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, the first few moments of Barry’s talk are not recorded. As mentioned in the Minutes excerpted above, Barry started off by talking about his first discussion with Joe Miller, on Joe’s walk in Golden Gate Park many years ago; and remarking that his spiritual quest had begun after several close encounters with death.

For the sermon Barry offered as a handout, click here.

Recent Developments in Cosmology and the Vast Deep

Friday Night Conversations in Theosophy

Featuring Jeff Curtis

Excerpt from Lodge Secretary’s Minutes of the Meeting:

Jeff distributed many of his photographs of space, and discussed several recent articles in the Scientific American on recent discoveries concerning the birth of “the Vast Deep.” He talked at length of the evidence for dark energy: 1) Supernova explosions, 2) Cosmic microwave background radiation, 3) galaxy configuration, 4) gravitational lensing, 5) galaxy clusters … Our universe is approximately 15 billion years old. When we look into space, we are looking backward into the history of the universe. … Our hearts and minds were expanded.

NOTE: The video linked to below was made for friends of the Lodge living in Estonia, so the first few minutes includes some personal greetings and messages of love, and a tour of the SFTS, after which, you’ll get to enjoy Jeff’s spectacular presentation.

Dzogchen Rime: The Great View — Spiritual Action, Spiritual Healing & Spiritual Awakening in Our World & Ourselves

Friday Night Conversation in Theosophy

Featuring AJ Dickinson

AJ Dickinson is a SFTS member who has lived and traveled extensively in Tibet, Nepal and other parts of Asia. He now lives in Kyoto, Japan, teaching and writing. AJ speaks at the STFS whenever he is stateside.

Look below for the link to the .mp3 audio file of this talk.

Excerpt from Lodge Secretary’s Minutes for the Meeting:

Rime is a Tibetan term, means “non-sectarian.” Dzogchen, the Great View is a perspective. How do we make a difference? … How do we view ourselves? Our tiny, blue-green globe hanging in vast space … In vast space, our globe is barely a speck of dust amongst so many galaxies. This scientific/visual perspective has changed our personal perception, it changes our awareness … Perception, training. The one thing we know about our universe is that we don’t really know. Spiritual action requires we take care of our home …. Dzogchen uses vast space … A lively discussion followed.

Dzogchen Toss Up

Friday Night Conversations in Theosophy

Featuring Peggy Tahir

Peggy is a gifted poet. In this delightful talk, she explores Dzogchen with a unique insight, and tosses some of her poems into the presentation.

Excerpt from the Lodge Secretary’s Minutes of the Meeting:

The essence in transmission is to introduce one to the origin of the natural mind — by an experience of direct understanding, without thoughts or distractions. … Dzogchen “neither abandons nor adopts.” The state of equilibrium that requires nothing special, other than natural awareness.

Tibetan Book of the Dead

Friday Night Conversations in Theosophy

Featuring Bob Dewhurst

Bob has studied the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and related teachings in other spiritual traditions, for many years. His grasp of the lore, and his understanding of the essential truth of it, makes this talk memorable.

Excerpt from Lodge Secretary’s Minutes for the Meeting:

Take a moment & feel the love for all beings past, present and future, and dedicate this gathering to a stable foundation for all who tune into it…

A beautiful exploration of the immediate, practical, and uncomplicated nature of mystical truth

Fritz Peters

By Ramsey Tietjen

Wonderful, uplifting experiences have a way of turning into ideas and becoming dead. The stuff in your head is all yesterday and tomorrow, all dead stuff. If you read and study mystical things, you may find yourself thinking about the path to liberation, realization, illumination, enlightenment: things that somebody experienced yesterday and you hope to reach tomorrow. A real teacher, a guy like Joe Miller, is always trying to bring you relief, NOW! After all, if something uplifting is going to happen, it will have to occur now, to the first person in the present tense. When else can it happen, and to whom?

Many spiritual teachings tell us that we are not the physical body; yet the body is your present tense. You don’t have to be an acrobat, Olympic weightlifter, or master of the martial arts to live in it. The thoughtless present tense of the body, out of the vortex of mental babble, is waiting for us when we remember to drop into it. It is a simple remedy for an overheated, uneasy state of mind. There are no special qualifications, no ideas like enlightenment or self-realization, required to find relief there.

The following excerpt from “Balanced Man” by Fritz Peters struck me as a beautiful exploration of this immediate, practical, and uncomplicated nature of mystical truth:

What I think most of us came to understand (and I am not speaking primarily of the children at the Prieuré) is that life is an incredible adventure and that death – whatever else it may be – is also at least a potential miracle. Man’s impulse to fly into outer space, climb Mount Everest, hunt man-eating sharks, go around the world in a sailboat alone, dive to the bottom of the sea, etc. seems to me to be only the physical counterpart of the search for and development of a higher self. So I find the daily risks of life anywhere (why freeze to death in the Alps, when you are just as likely to drop dead if you fall off a ladder in the bathroom?) as exciting as any other hazardous occupation; and it’s a lot less expensive.
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Selected Poems of Peggy Tahir

SFTS Secretary’s Note: The life of the SFTS Lodge has been enriched by many musicians and poets. Here is a sampling from the work of one of our poets, Peggy Tahir. In upcoming SFTS Journal entries, we’ll post some more of Peggy’s poems, as well as selections from some other Lodge poets. We will also be posting, as time goes on, selected minutes of Lodge meetings both recent and from the distant past.


I bring the bag of meyer lemons home.
Nearing Easter, nearing revelations
I decided on angel food. The stones
In the yard gleamed. A quiet summation

Of ingredients: check cupboards and fridge.
A robin sings on the back fence. I leave
To buy eggs and pastry flour. The bridge
Across the river is raised; small boats weave

Through the channel toward the turning basin.
I break eggs using the three-bowl method.
After the whipping and folding, no sins
Emerge. The yolks, the grated zest, the melted

Butter. I stir as the finch sings, and brings
To the maple its twigs and fluff and string.


[Read more…]

Judgments, Comparisons, & Opinions… OR… Standing on The Edge of a Cliff

Part I: Judgments, Comparison and Opinions
Jan Black, SFTS Lodge May 2006

A large part of my identity has always been left-brain. I’m a great sorter, logical thinker, and linear kind of gal. Compare and contrast? Let me at ’em! So when I first heard people talk about letting go of judgments, comparisons, and opinions… Impossible! I thought. No one can function this way. Isn’t every decision made up of comparisons and opinions (with a judgment generally thrown in there somewhere)? How could you ever decide what to have for breakfast even? You’d become immobilized at the first step down this path and be forever standing there like a duck on one leg with his head tucked under his wing. I dropped the whole idea like a hot tamale and moved on to much more comfortable notions such as “we’re all one” and “love one another”.

It was years and years before the mist began to drift away from this concept enough for me to consider looking at it again. Maybe it isn’t really about HAVING the judgments, comparisons, and opinions because they’re ain’t no stoppin’ ’em. It’s about the energy that burns and churns with them. Oh, the righteousness of it all. How many times have I been able to let someone express a differing opinion without “enlightening” them on the better, higher view that I have. If they would only see the light… Heck, I can’t even let my friend wash lettuce without telling her a better way to do it, which is of course, MY WAY. OK, yes, I have control issues but let’s not get distracted here.
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Need for Trust to Live in A Healthy and Harmonious World Where Duality Exists

Talk given at S.F. Theosophical Society

by Reverend Pamela McHenry

Trust is a very important concept to grasp. When there is chaos and confusion in our life and minds and we are having difficulty, whether it’s being frustrated or upset about missing a bus, missing a deadline, flipped off by another driver, rudely spoken to by another, feeling helpless about the state of our world affairs, not having enough money to eat a good meal or to have a comfortable life style. The list goes on and on – there is in most cases a knee jerk reaction that can stimulate within us a very dark energy that can overtake us both mentally and emotionally if not recognized, harnessed and dealt with properly. As we all may know from personal experience, unleashed anger, fear and other negative energy can consume us in a matter of seconds, take our lives over, ruin our lives and cause havoc in all those lives around us. A perpetuated, totally self-destructive energy results and devastation can happen, totally draining us and wiping us out. Any hope of goodness, love and kindness, faith and trust, peacefulness and balance maybe temporarily or permanently lost and regaining balance may become difficult when we lose touch. We may lose friends when we are in this state. The body fills itself with toxic poisons immediately, which ultimately result in sickness and disease.
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