Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Master of Spiritual Leadership

My Master of Spiritual Leadership Essay
I have always felt spirituality as part of my life. I have always thought of it as normal, as something with meaning to me. I remember as a young boy, sitting at the kitchen table at my late grandmother's house listening to her as she read from her bible. As a teenager a attended church now and then, and at one point I even seriously considered becoming a priest, when I was 16 years old. But after being discouraged from that idea, my life took another route. As an adult, I kept these feelings and beliefs pretty much to myself, in fear of rejection, in fear of criticism. And indeed I experienced just that when I first became ordained, it was so overwhelming that one day I found myself bursting into tears while paying for groceries at the store. I guess it hits hard when the negativity comes from your own loved ones. I could not fight back the tears. The cashier looked at me for a moment, she did not say a word. That little episode helped me to finally make up my mind and not hide it anymore, and to continue with what I want to do for the rest of my life, which is being a minister.
I have lived a normal life, not caring too much about things other people seek, like money and pleasures and power. Things that are definitely going to do harm in their lives and the lives of the ones around them. I have never been the party animal type, never hung out in bars or pubs, I just never found it interesting enough, even as a younger man. I have always been a stay home kind of person. I prefer a more relaxing and peaceful life. This course has definitely fitted right into my life. It has helped me realize more and more that things like benevolence, compassion and gratefulness are far more important. The more love we give, more mercy, kindness, compassion, the better we will be. We humans must have spirituality in our lives; it is what we should be aiming for. We all must choose a path to follow in our lives and I have chosen the path of ministry.
This course has also helped me to have a clear and solid definition of my core values. I am able to focus more on these, and let go of all the negativity and other things that are very poisonous and harmful, such as anger, hate, and lust, among others. It helped me to keep moving in the positive direction, to keep believing. We must avoid becoming involved in activities that could end up doing us harm. We must always try to maintain a stainless mind and a gentle heart. We must use the lessons of our cosmic teachers to attain tranquility. We must try to live simple and humble lives. We must be grateful for the blessings we receive and for the love we are able to offer in our lives.
One of the lessons that I enjoyed a great deal is lesson #17, The Lord's Prayer. It explains and goes deep into it, and it helped me understand it better, to see it more clear and in a meaningful way. We need to have God in our lives. It helped me understand that in life, we are not alone and that love is always there for us and that we have a chance to offer our love to others.
One thing that I have always felt good doing is helping the homeless, in fact I have been a volunteer in homeless shelters before. But now after being ordained and studying this course I feel that this is one activity I want to do more. A lot of people just do not understand that, sometimes even losing a job or a loved one can derail someone into becoming homeless. Good people, with careers even, can end up on the street. Drugs and alcohol are also a huge factor. I have witnessed that. And it is very difficult to return from that state. But, some people prefer to turn their backs to that situation. I intend to face it, and help as much as I can, for as long as I can.
There is too much hate and anger in the world. People lie and cheat and do horrible things to get what they want. They look for happiness in the wrong places. They destroy each other for the wrong reasons. They destroy the environment. They want comfort and status, and they step on each other to get them. But they have a choice, we all do, to reject those ways, to keep them away from our minds and hearts, and to find love in everything we do, to offer our love to others. The compassion, kindness, generosity that we can give to others can go a long way. It can be of great benefit to a lot of people. We can reject all selfishness and just aim to benefit others.
We can get so caught up in things that in the end, are worthless. And sometimes we don't even realize it until it is too late, until we have hurt others. When we place our ego before the well being of others, then we become lost, and only love can truly bring us back to our feet. We must take the time to meditate, and choose carefully what we do and say and realize that we can be better, we can achieve amazing things in our lives. Day after day, life is filled with decision making. We have the choice of living our days with jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, anger and hate. Or we can choose to live with sincerity, honesty, gratefulness, generosity, and love, and that is so much better. We can look the other way when we see people in need, or we can take the time to help others. This is something that has become very clear to me.
The love we offer, cleanses our spirits and our souls. A lot of people do not see it that way, they believe that it is all giving and receiving and if they do not receive anything they won't give anything. People cling to one another looking for that happiness, they believe there is no life unless they have someone giving them love and affection. And that is a sure path to suffering. We must offer our love freely, without expecting rewards or looking after ourselves. We must abandon selfish desires, and seek a life of truth, a life of significance. My ministry will be based on both the teachings of Jesus and Buddha. I believe both have influenced my life profoundly. I believe I can live a better life that way and maybe even helping the lives of other souls. This is a lifetime commitment for me. A lifetime of study, of learning, of sharing ideas and maybe even teaching. I will continue studying with the ULC, and I hope I get to experience many meaningful and significant experiences during my ministry life.
 Armando U Arbolay

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