Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Principles as Spiritual Practice – Introducing the Intent (I.2)

Over the past several days, I have been discussing this project of looking at the Seven UU Principles through the lens of spiritual practice with one of my ministerial mentors. Through those discussions and a few others, I have realized that I need to add another segment to my introduction of this project. Undoubtedly, this will not be the last segment to the introduction.

Through this series of reflections, essays, and practices, I have a three-part goal. I hope to inspire people to look for ways to deepen teachings and ideals that are already a part of their lives, to the level of living those aspects of their lives spiritually. I hope that a few people out there can find the practices and ideas of this series helpful, in seeking to practice the ideals we claim we hold within our daily lives. I also hope to generate discussions that take the principles out of theory and abstraction, out of hopes and dreams, and work to provide a practical reality upon which moral and ethical lives can be built.

I intend to arrive, at the end of this project, at a systematic personal spiritual practice of Unitarian Universalism… but by no means do I intend it to be the only systematic practice of our liberal faith. I hope others join me in similar exploration.

Quite a pretentious set of goals for a seminarian… but anyone who knows me would not be surprised at such pretention. I’ve never been one to wait on degrees, credentials, or certifications… I learn best by doing. I have always been one to push ahead, having the faith that I will make mistakes, sometimes seem quite silly, but in the end it will be worthwhile. Such is the faith I hold in this project.

There are also some specific things I do not intend with this project. Though at times my language may imply such, I do not intend this to be an exclusivist practice of this faith. There are more ways to be a Unitarian Universalist than there are Unitarian Universalists. I’m not even sure I am adequately describing how I relate to our liberal faith movement.

I also do not intend these practices and ideas to be a cause for guilt. If you are working with one of these practices, and for awhile you do not do so in the way you intend, then just come back to the practice. There is no negative reflection upon yourself, or your practice of Unitarian Universalism. I will in many of these essays discuss my own personal struggles with each of these principles.

I also do not want to pull anyone away from practicing one of the “well worn paths” of spirituality. If you have a regular practice of prayer, or a yoga practice, or a practice of meditation, continue it. If you are interested in one of these paths, follow it. I have a Zen Buddhist meditation practice. I intend these practices and ideas to be in addition to such well trodden paths of spiritual depth, not in place of them. For some, they might find these ideas work for them in their lives, as I intend to center them around the awareness practice of “three conscious breaths” as much as possible, so that these practices can be an integrated part of daily life.
And the last thing (for now) that I do not want is to be working on this project in isolation. I am in consultation with my supervising minister, with my Zen teacher, and with several other UU ministers and seminary students as I work with these ideas, but I would also like to hear from you. If you have a story to share, email me. If you are a UU and have an insight that might benefit the project, add it as a comment or email me. I decided to work on this project publically because I wanted that kind of feedback… but know that any ideas you share, I may use when it comes time to put together a more formalized version of this project.

Thank you for being on this journey through the Principles as Spiritual Practice with me.

Yours in Faith,


Next in series: Those not Known

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