The Gospel According to Maritha

Maritha Pottenger

This season is the culmination of a year marked with more than usual soul-searching. In my editorial role (for ACS Publications) I have had occasion to read many manuscripts offering spiritual insights. I have seen ideas (in print and not) which I felt were constructive and many I felt were destructive. I have been asked to explain the beliefs of our church (the L. A. Community Church of Religious Science). I have been told by students that, as valuable as the astrological expertise gained at Intensives is, what they treasured most was the philosophy promoted by Zip and by me. My reaction to all of the above is this attempt to distill those beliefs on paper.

PREMISE 1: What I believe now is tentative, my “best guess” hypothesis and far, far from Ultimate Truth. As I grow and evolve, my guesses may get better.

PREMISE 2: God exists. This is an article of faith for me, based on personal preference (I’d much prefer to believe in a Supreme Being than in random chance) and emotional reactions (when I experience moments of “life is perfect,” or “this is incredibly wonderful/synchronistic/amazing,” I cannot believe there is NOT God).

PREMISE 3: God is unknowable/inconceivable to the mind living in a physical brain. Call God energy or consciousness (and of course all the omnis—omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, etc.) and we get some faint inkling of a portion of the truth. God is larger, more powerful, more loving, more everything than we can possibly imagine.

PREMISE 4: I am in charge of my life (within some very broad “rules” to which I agreed when I incarnated and even these rules can be superseded by superior knowledge-power if I evolve enough. For example, some yogis can generate immense heat or can put their hearts into fibrillation and back into normal beating). My conscious and unconscious desires and drives create or attract appropriate experiences into my life.

PREMISE 5: What goes around, comes around. What I put out to the universe, I will receive back from it. This does not refer to specific events, but to feelings and issues. Love breeds more love.

PREMISE 6: It isn’t the big things in life that matter. A friend sent me a postcard: “Character is not made by crises, but exhibited.” Too many people focus on big dreams or big accomplishments: “I want to find the cure for cancer.” I am not putting down large visions. But I do believe that it is day-to-day living that truly creates character. Curing disease, establishing foundations, fighting for the downtrodden and many other large-scale projects are an important part of the picture, but what truly makes you who you are are all the little things you do and do not do every day.

Do I smile at people passing in the streets?

Am I courteous and pleasant to friends, strangers, salespeople, etc.?

Do I stop to help when someone looks lost, is stranded, looks ill or seems to need assistance?

Do I give compliments easily and naturally? Do I enjoy telling people what I admire in them?

How often do I tell the truth as opposed to remaining silent, evading the issue or using a polite lie?

How often do I reach for another piece of candy/drink/cigarette/etc. and how often do I find other ways to gratify myself?

What proportion of my day is spent in mentally stimulating activities and what proportion is spent in numbing my mind?

How often do I consider the ethics of a situation?

Do I engage in some kind of productive effort every day—something that gives me a sense of making a contribution to society?

Do I share my deepest self with others, enjoy intimate associations and allow myself to be vulnerable?

On a scale of 1 to 10, what kind of care am I giving my body? my mind? my emotions? my soul?

PREMISE 7: We’ve lived before and we shall live again. (Reincarnation makes more sense to me than anything else—except random chance which I am prejudiced against.) Everything that we are and do has been influenced by our past and influences our future. Our attitudes and actions determine what issues we will face in the future.

PREMISE 8: The meaning of life is learning, experiencing and expanding. “Success” has to do with being myself as fully and completely as possible. The more I use all my potentials and capacities, the more successful I am. (This also means success is totally individual as far as measurement. What challenges me might be a cinch for another person, while a third might find some of my reactions far beyond his/her reach. This also means no one of us has the right to judge the “success” or “failure” of another.)

PREMISE 9: A full life integrates the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Each of us strives for balance and unconsciously attracts underdeveloped issues through events or other people (who may overdo what we underdo).

PREMISE 10: Go with the flow! When life is working, it works VERY WELL. What feels good is often healthy (but sometimes is merely a bad habit I have established or an addiction—questioning the flow occasionally is not a bad idea).

I could probably go on, but I think this covers most of the basics. I would like to mention a few ideas that I’ve seen elsewhere with which I DISAGREE.

1. The “Golden Age” is coming. Sorry, but as Zip says, we’ll have a Golden Age when we have golden people. In my time table, that’s still eons off.

2. There will be a worldwide cataclysm (earthquakes, tidal waves, polar shift, huge meteorite strike, alien invasion, etc.—take your pick) and only the truly evolved will be saved. Sounds like another version of the “chosen few” (“good guys”) go to heaven and the multitudes (“bad guys”) go to hell. I don’t buy that either.

3. I was an Atlantean princess, an Egyptian pharaoh, Napoleon, Mozart, etc. in my past life. Admittedly, SOMEONE was, but the odds that it was me are very, very infinitesimal. Personally, I’m quite suspicious of “famous” past lives. I suspect one of my own recent past lives was as a very lazy, complacent peasant wife who was overly fond of chocolate and underly fond of thinking. I suspect I came in this time to deal with both those issues.

4. Karma is literal (e.g., you murder someone, you must be murdered). I don’t buy such a simplistic universe. As Premise 6 states, it is not events or big things which matter so much as all the little accretions on the soul. If we are destructive of life, we will have to face that issue, but it may not be through being murdered ourselves. Perhaps we will come to a time when life is harsh and one has to labor arduously just to grow enough food to survive, so that we can begin to cherish life in any form. There are lots of variations. We face issues—NOT specifics.

5. Channeled beings are fonts of wisdom. Where did this crazy idea emerge that just because a being is on the other side, s/he is automatically a wonderfully enlightened soul? Sounds highly unlikely to me. England has Hyde Park Corner and I am sure some entities feel the same way about people opening themselves up to channeling. What a lovely opportunity for an ego trip!

6. My soul mate is out there; I just need to find him/her. When I was little, I believed in Prince Charming too. Life is made of up many, many layers interweaving with one another and people are a complex, contradictory mixture of many drives and needs. There is not ONE single soul mate for each of us. But—better than that—there are a NUMBER of people with whom we can interact and relate on an intimate level in order to know ourselves more fully, to enhance our growth and theirs.

7. Truly spiritual people don’t need sex. Ah, our Puritan heritage! Sex is one of the reasons I believe in God. Only a truly loving Supreme Being would have created such a stupendously satisfying potential. I believe we are here to deal with the physical as well as the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of our being. Sex is a part of physical reality and pleasure is a part of life. Denying the physical is out of balance and our psyches will unconsciously strive for balance by attracting TOO MUCH of some other form of physicality into our lives. (This does not mean that sex is an important experience for everyone. We are on this plane to handle physical issues, and sexuality is one form of our physicality, but those issues can be handled in many different routes. Denying sexual needs out of a drive to be labeled spiritual, however, is likely to create imbalance.)

8. The most highly evolved souls live on mountain tops and have renounced our materialistic, competitive society. OR The most highly evolved souls are happy, successful, rich and admired. Both of these myths (my opinion!) are simplistic generalizations. The first assumes the spiritual is more important than anything else, while my premise is that life calls for balance. If we were ready to be purely spiritual, we wouldn’t be here. Here, we have to learn to integrate the material with the spiritual so they work together. The second myth assumes that “making it” in society’s terms is the same as fully utilizing one’s potentials. Is that happy, successful, rich and admired individual making the most of her physical, emotional, spiritual and mental potentials and contributing to the well-being of the world? If so, then she is evolved in my book. If not, then she is merely successful in society’s terms—but not on a cosmic scale. How would she answer some of the questions listed in Premise 6?

* * * * *

To close, I’ll give my version of “New Year’s Resolutions” in terms of goals I have for myself. Some of these I meet easily, almost every day. Others are quite challenging.

1. I will eat largely healthy (non-processed) foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. I will eat relatively little sugar and fried foods. I will not deny myself drastically; if I really want a dessert, I will eat it, enjoy it and not feel guilty.

2. I will exercise daily, with at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity. To support this, I will choose something I ENJOY doing, e.g., swimming.

3. I will work at a job I find enjoyable, mentally stimulating, broadening and exciting. If it ceases to turn me on, I will find work which does.

4. I will share my positive impressions with people when I feel them.

5. I will strive to leave everyone with whom I interact feeling at least a tiny bit better about themselves/happier about life.

6. I will get sufficient rest, relaxation and recreation every day.

7. I will channel love, dedication, care, attention and energy into maintaining a supportive network of friends and family through letters, phone calls and visits.

8. I will share an intimate relationship with at least one other human being. This will include sharing hopes, wishes, fears, frustrations and dreams. It will include sensual and sexual exchanges. It will mean I must face the Shadow sides of my own psyche to assist me in growing and transforming myself.

9. I will maintain openness to new ideas, alternatives, options and multiple possibilities in our world.

10. I will enjoy the game of life and do my best to help others enjoy it as well! This means I will eschew needless perfectionism and that I will remember that life is a journey. Getting there is not the point; enjoying the trip is!

Copyright © 1987 Los Angeles Community Church of Religious Science, Inc.

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