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Architects of Love – Lola Wright

By March 4, 2019February 10th, 2020Events, Home, Messages

Listen, watch, or read as Lola Wright kicks off our March Series, “We Are All In This Together” with her Sunday talk “Architects of Love.”

This “talk” is electronically transcribed. Please excuse any errors or omissions.

Lola: So in 2005, I showed up in this community and in 2009, I left this community. And I left this community in 2009 because I had a laundry list of critiques and it was well-curated. It was guidance for all of the leaders, guidance for the staff, guidance for the board, guidance for you. It was well-appointed and it was right. And surely, you can understand why I had to leave because I was right and this place was wrong.

Lola: And a few years went by and Nathan and I started going to First United Church of Oak Park. It was a union church between UCC and Presbyterian. Now I have very clearly declared myself not Christian, but they had a great youth program and I had a whole bunch of kids. So there I was, taking the membership class. And they were very progressive, very liberal so I could swallow the pill.

Lola: Except, we got to the point where you then had to go to the community and say, “I am a disciple of Jesus the Christ.” Nothing wrong with that, it just didn’t feel true in my soul. There was a context that lived in that community that just didn’t feel true for me. What’s true is that I absolutely identify as a student of a master teacher named Jesus and I just wasn’t comfortable inside of a Christian context going before a community of people making that declaration.

Lola: So I sat in that angst. My kids continued to enjoy the youth program and Nathan and I began to have some divine discontent. There is something more for us. We long, we desire community.

Lola: So the spiritual director at the time got wind of our interest in returning. He and I had not spoken for a couple of years. He called me and he said, “Lola.” And I was sort of startled. I was pulling into my garage at the time. I sat there for a long period of time and chatted with him. He said, “There is something very important that you must know. Do you remember the long list of critiques that you had about the community?” I said, “Oh yes. I do.”

Lola: He said, “It turns out those critiques can still be made. It turns out that if, in fact, you return, which is what I’ve heard, that you will still be able to make those very critiques. And I just want to make sure that you know that before you create a lot of suffering for you, but more importantly, for me.”

Lola: I said, “Well, thank you for the warning.” And shortly thereafter, Nathan and I returned. And he was absolutely right. The same critiques that I had once before still remained, except that I had a shift in consciousness between 2009 and 2012. What I realized through my own exploration, my own development, was that if I was going to show up with a critique, it turns out you don’t always have to articulate it. One learning.

Lola: Second learning. I could be a complaint in the space or I could be cause in the matter of something new showing up. Yeah, that’s my mom. But actually, to know yourself as the source of solution. You know, a lot of times we’ll show up in a space inside of a transactional relationship. I’m here to get something from you and I expect you to deliver it up. And if ever there was an invitation on the planet that is evidenced by our political scene, it is that we must stop outsourcing our security approval and control.

Lola: We must affirm that we have agency and what I’ve come to realize being in a very progressive community is that the same virus of the mind that gets fixated on being right can live in the most progressive of spaces no differently than it can live in the most fundamentalist of spaces, the most conservative of spaces.

Lola: And so we gather here to practice curiosity and wonder because here is what I know to be true. If we get self-righteous (and we may be right) it makes no difference, because we gather here to refine ourselves, to develop ourselves into being effective human beings. Being right and ineffective makes no difference. Being right whatever that means and effective, in fact does make a difference.

Lola: So I was struck by this word community because we call ourselves a community and if you look at the Latin roots of that word, it comes from communitas, come meaning together, munas meaning the performance of service. So in fact, a community means together we serve. Together we serve. So this month, we are exploring this notion that we are all in this together. Now to be in something together means to transcend the individual wants and needs.

Lola: That was the big idea of the beloved community, formulated by Josiah Royce, made popular by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the beloved community stood for the idea that all of humanity could share in the wealth of the Earth. But there’s a caveat. In order for that to be realized, we must have the capacity to transcend our individual wants and needs and to show up in service.

Lola: Now this community exists not because of the four-person, full-time staff; I’m sorry, the three-person, full-time staff, recently three full-time staff, yeah? Okay. This community exists because people serve. I want to draw the distinction between the quality of being a volunteer and the quality of being of service.

Lola: In the paradigm of volunteerism, you show up usually because the organization can’t afford to pay you, so there is sort of a charitable construct set up. It’s based on a scarcity model. And then you get to feel good about yourself because you volunteer where there is not enough of something. Clear?

Lola: Service is very different. Service is an activation of love, an activation of generosity. It is a transcending of the individual wants and needs in circulation of good. Not because where I’m serving is broken and wounded and needs me, but because I need to serve. My neuroses need me to serve. When I serve, I get out of myself.

Lola: The two most powerful ingredients of any recovery program that has any legs that I am aware of is service. Why is that?

Lola: Do you remember we started the year with It’s All About You? Really, what that meant was all of life is a projection of your world of beliefs. It doesn’t actually mean that the world should orient itself around you. So as we move into this next iteration of this community, I want us to really ask, “How can I serve?” How can I serve? What must I become such that I can be a contribution on the planet?

Lola: Often times, in recovery spaces, it is said, “I don’t have enough to give. I can’t serve.” You can’t afford not to. You cannot afford not to. So as you ask yourself what is mine to give here, don’t look at your deficiencies. Look at your gifts. Look at your talents. Focus on the abundance. Look at the overflow of your life.

Lola: The other day, I was with our executive director, Jonathan Hoffman, and two community members, [Erin Gabriel 00:13:39] and John Cook. And we were looking at a new building. I am very excited about this new building. You’ll get to hear more about that process on March 17th.

Lola: At the end of the meeting, we sat in a little cafeteria kind of restaurant. I didn’t really say much other than the rooftop deck looked amazing. I could see a DJ and yoga classes happening up there, but just that. That was it.

Lola: And I said to John and [inaudible 00:14:18], I said, “As community members, what are your thoughts on this? What do you think of this place?” And John said, “Lola, do you remember just about three months ago, I don’t think it was even three months ago, you said to me, ‘John, we need a building.'” And I said, “Okay.” And I said, “By when?” And you said, “Do you remember the date?” I said, “I do not.” He said, “You said by March 1st. Less than three months later, do you know what today is?” He said, “February 28th.”

Lola: I was like, “Wow.” I said, “Well, what do you think?” He said, “I think it’s perfect. It’s everything this place needs.” And I sat there and I looked around the table and I thought this is the most glorious demonstration of service. Two community members that stepped forward by way of a call on a Sunday morning to say I have a unique gift and talent that I can contribute.

Lola: And I sat at that cafeteria table and I looked around. And I was like, “I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room here. I can actually rest in these beings who are brilliant.”

Lola: To serve is to love. To serve is to give. To serve is to transcend the neurotic state of fixation on yourself, the obsessive-compulsive looking at what’s wrong.

Lola: Did any of you watch the Michael Cohen hearings this week? At the very end, Representative Elijah Cummings gave a very powerful word, a beautiful, beautiful demonstration of what it looks like to transcend righteousness. A beautiful demonstration. He said to Michael Cohen, he said, “You got caught up in it.” You got caught up.

Lola: Do you know the one in you that gets caught up in fear? Do you know the one in you that gets caught up in the problem? Do you know the one in you that gets fixated like a dog with a bone and you’re right about it? Watch the tendency to get caught up in it.

Lola: So there is this brilliant man. His name is Ernest Holmes. He is one of my great teachers. He was a big deal in the ’20s and ’30s. He came out of a Judeo-Christian context. He was a spiritual philosopher during the period of time in this country where there was really a pushing of the envelope. What if, in fact, the presence of God is not some externalized authority pulling the puppet strings of your life? What if, in fact, there is a presence inside of you that is moving and breathing and having it’s way?

Lola: And he was asked at the time to create this in sort of a Christian context because that was really what there was a capacity for, a familiarity with. And he said, “I don’t wanna create another religion. It seems to me we don’t need one more religion.” And so he said, “I would prefer to call this a philosophy.” Great. So he called it a philosophy.

Lola: He wrote this book called “The Science of Mind.” And in that, he writes, “Find me one person,” I mean, I don’t know if he said it like that, but … “Find me one person who is for something and against nothing, who is redeemed enough not to condemn others out of the burden of his soul and there I will find another savior, another Jesus, an exalted human being.”

Lola: Can you be for something without being against something? That right there is the work of mastery, to be for something and against nothing. Because the against something lives as a burden in your soul. Your soul is your subconscious mind. It is the houser of your beliefs, your thoughts, your feelings, your opinions. And if you do not tend to that place in space, it wreaks havoc on the planet.

Lola: So here we are to tend to the soul. To take radical responsibility for the judgements, the biases, the opinions, the beliefs that live in the soul, the subconscious mind, such that we can be for something and against nothing.

Lola: As I’ve told you before, much of my time spent from about 13 to say, 35, was me shouting at white people. And as I’ve told you before, it turns out it’s not a very effective strategy. It turns out that no matter how right I may be, people don’t like to be yelled at. Good awareness. Because guess what I’m committed to? I’m committed to transformation. I’m committed to evolution. I’m committed to change. I’m less committed to being right.

Lola: And if I want to be an effective human being, I must get related to the burdens of my soul so that I can be for something and against nothing.

Lola: [inaudible 00:20:28], a great Buddhist monk, says, “The essence of generosity is letting go.” Pain is always a sign that we are holding onto something. Generosity is an activity that loosens us up. So if you are experiencing pain, sometimes we call this a mood state, a fixation on something, it is each of our responsibility to look at the source of that. All of the cosmology that enables that to be in place.

Lola: Because the practice of mindful awareness is to have loose knees. To be with life how it shows up. Not to have lax knees, dig your heels in and be right. Nothing is available there.

Lola: So we are all in this together. What is this? This community? This together we serve? If you notice the one in you that shows up like a consumer inside of a transaction, which is great to notice if you have an interest in getting yourself to rub up against other people and find all the things that you can critique about this place, get into service.

Lola: It’s good for your soul to notice the critique, the perpetual critique. Guess where that lives inside us? The ego construct. That is the moment that we begin to deepen our commitment to separation, separation being the antithesis of oneness. Does that mean we cannot disagree? Absolutely not. We can disagree and wouldn’t it be beautiful to develop a community of people that have the capacity to disagree in a transcendent way outside of righteousness? We have very little muscle for that. Humanity has very little muscle for that.

Lola: What I watch in our classes here are human beings that have wonderful positions that I may agree with, but lose impact because of righteousness.

Lola: So there is this brilliant man named Michael Beckwith, who perhaps you know. He’s one of my favorite humans. He has a book called spiritual liberation. He says, “Architects of the beloved community are spiritual revolutionaries who realize that the solution to global challenges is a spiritual one, that conquest through war is at best temporary. Only conquest by love is permanent.”

Lola: So if we are looking … You know, Einstein says you can’t solve the problem with the level of consciousness that created the problem. Michael Beckwith said it’s a spiritual issue. If you keep hitting your head against the wall at the level of effect, you’re going to yield nothing.

Lola: You might map this onto your life. What is an area of your life that you feel you’re in the struggle of and do you keep addressing it at the level of the problem? That was the beautiful thing of Elijah Cummings in the closing part of the hearings. He was a demonstration of grace in the face of the ugliest perhaps. You got caught up in it.

Lola: You can have perspectives. You can have opinions. You can have thoughts. You can have feelings. You can have beliefs. But when those thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs start to play you, you’re in a trance. Put on the thoughts, feelings, opinions and beliefs, serve a higher idea of what’s possible, rise in the conscious naivete and create from that place. You can still have your perspectives, but transcend the realm of righteousness. It’s boring and you’re here for something bigger.

Lola: He goes on to say, “We are not here to save the world.” Just sit with that for a moment. Notice how much of your life you’ve oriented around saving someone or something. We are not here to save the world, but to serve an emerging paradigm of love, connectedness and generosity of heart. To serve is to become a channel, an outlet, an inlet for the self-givingness of the spirit, the presence of love that it may use you to save something implies the past, a fixation on the past.

Lola: To save something implies that it is fundamentally broken. Ernest Holmes said, “There is nothing to be healed, only God, only the presence, only love to be revealed.” There is an arrogance that we walk in when we think we must save someone or something.

Lola: How is everything that is occurring in your life whole and holy, perfect and complete? How is it a call, an invitation for you to rise up into your transcendent self to release the attachment to your egoic self and to walk with wonder and curiosity and contribution? We’re here to have that impact.

Lola: He further goes on to say, “Fear escalates negative change while love escalates affirmative change.” So I am not a believer that you will ever get rid of fear. My experience is as long as you are in this dimension of reality, you will experience fear. And you can choose because you have agency to move it consciously or to get taken out by it. That requires a discipline.

Lola: So the question becomes what is your practice to cultivate the discipline such that you can transcend the addictive nature of fear, the seductive nature of fear? Can I acknowledge fear, can I feel fear and can I not be taken out by fear?

Lola: When someone approaches you around something they want your support around and the essence, the underpinning is oriented in fear, do you have an attraction or an aversion? You might collude at the level of fear, in which case you might find an attraction. But if you are in an awake state, you will realize that it’s a dead end.

Lola: This is my great critique of the progressive movement today. It’s using the very same tactics and being right about it and you wonder why we have a 50% voter turnout. People don’t wanna participate in that nonsense. I do think you should vote. Just my opinion out of an acknowledgement for ancestors that gave their life for the rights and privilege and no matter how brilliant you are from your progressive perspective, you can be playing at the very same vibratory level.

Lola: So we are all in this together in this community. And I wanna invite you in to … I wanna try this, okay? This is just gonna be a little practice that you might do. This has been the practice that came through me this morning.

Lola: This is a couple of lyrics from a Rickie Byars tune. So she says, “How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, i will go.”

Lola: I wanna ask you to sing this with me. This is like a prayer. How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today, sweet spirit? Spirit is the infinite, the eternal presence, the realm of all that is, that is forever speaking through you. How can you serve that? How may you hear it? So some of you know this tune.

Lola: How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: Would you stand up for just a moment? I wanna practice this together. A little old school, but it’s all right. It’s good. Because when you add your voice to something, something happens at a vibratory level. And I’m not these ladies, but it’s just a demonstration that you can add your voice to anything.

Lola: How can I serve today, sweet spirit? How can I serve today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: Let’s do it like this. How can I change today? How can I change today, sweet spirit? How can I change today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: How may I love today? How may I love today, sweet spirit? How may I love today? Oh Lord, speak in ways that I may understand. Where you lead me, I will follow. Where you lead me, I will go.

Lola: Take a deep breath. I invite you to turn your head up. There is a powerful gesture of turning your head up to a higher state of consciousness rather than looking down in some movement of unworthiness. Look up into the high altar where all things are possible. The presence of love. The presence of grace. The presence of peace. The presence of joy. That is the nature of life itself.

Lola: I invite you to place your hand at your heart. Knowing that you are a divine and holy channel for all that is, you are the presence of grace itself. You are the presence of love itself. You are a transcendent portal that can go well-beyond the realm of right and wrong, good and bad into a high state calling forward the evolutionary impulse of humanity.

Lola: What I know and affirm is that this beloved community, both in this room, online and all over the world is a vibrational match for the presence of love, is a vibrational match for the presence of love. I call forward the mystical traditions, the great movement leaders of [inaudible 00:35:38]. Truth force. The capacity to shift consciousness, not inside of the ego identity, not in reaction to something.

Lola: This community is here for a holy appointment. This community is doing something unlike most places and spaces and it sometimes looks messy, but I trust the wisdom that lives here. I trust the dharma that is encoded in this beloved community. I know that we show up in service of so that we can be changed, so that we can love more gracefully, so that we can know and affirm our impact on the planet.

Lola: So I give great thanks for this extraordinary community, this holy appointment to be a portal, to be a channel, to be a conduit for the presence of grace, the presence of love and know all is well here. For that, I am deeply, deeply grateful. Together we sing and so it is.



Bodhi is a conscious community in Chicago, IL. We offer in person and online experiences for people who are ready to transform themselves and their world. Bodhi uses media, education, entertainment, and like-minded community to support transformation.

One Comment

  • Judith J Bentley says:

    Thank you, Lola, for your message and invitation to each member of your community to reflect on how to serve, change and love.

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