On October 7, 2018, Rev. Tony Ponticello addressed those attending the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering in San Francisco, California. Below is a lightly edited transcription of this talk.
It is October 7th. I haven't spoken in awhile.
Happy to be here. The title of my talk is "Trust2." That is "Trust Squared." That's what that little "2" means. I made sure to spell it out so you really get it. Let's have a little math instruction here. When you square a number it means you multiply it by itself. So 32 is three times three or nine. 82 is eight times eight or 64. 102 is ten times ten or 100. So obviously the higher the number is, when it is squared, then the result is a very high number. As the numbers get higher, the result gets higher and the increase is what is called "exponential." So it has an exponential increase. It doesn't increase evenly like a straight line going upwards. It increases like this (Rev. Tony uses hand and finger to draw an exponential curve in the air. See the picture on this page for a curved exponential graph). It's a curved graph that grows faster as it goes forward.
So trust squared – I think it's time to increase our trust. Actually I think we are increasing our trust as a species. I am going to try to prove that. I think what we are seeing, and what we are going to feel more of in the future, is this exponential rise in our trust experience. Just like a square is when a number is multiplied by itself, the greater increase of trust is when we begin to trust our trust. We trust in the fact that we trust in the Divine to handle all our issues, problems, and all the issues and problems that are in the world. So trusting our trust is really trust squared and that's a huge value because trust is a huge virtue. So huge times huge is ... really huge. I am talking about something huge today, really huge. (laughter)
Send CMC a tax-deductible donation via PayPal or your Credit Card to support this work. "Thank you!"
First of all trust, trust is a very common idea or virtue. It's talked about a lot in A Course in Miracles. In the Manual for Teachers, in the "What Are the Characteristics of God's Teachers?" section, it talks about trust, how trust is developed, and what the stages of trust are. That is a very interesting and frequently referred to section.
Trust is listed as the first of ten characteristics of the Teachers of God. There are ten characteristics of the Teachers of God and trust is the first one. Then A Course In Miracles tells us that trust is the foundation of the other nine. It says, "This is the foundation on which their ability to fulfill their function rests." (OrEd.Mn.4.3) Everything that we are going to do as Teachers of God, all the miracles that we are going to do and our part in the atonement, it's all founded on trust.
Let's think about the word "foundation" and where it comes from. The foundation of a home is the structure that the home is built on top of. If you are building a house, what you do, hopefully, is clear away the topsoil and the loose material until you get to something solid. You put the most solid parts of the house on top of that. Things like cement blocks, or cemented together bricks or stones go on top of the solid ground. You are putting something truly solid on top of something truly solid. You level the blocks, bricks, or large stones off and that is the house's foundation. Then you build on top of that foundation. A foundation is that solid thing, that rests on something even more solid. In San Francisco this is a huge issue because to have a legal foundation here you have to go down to the bedrock because we are earthquake prone here. To be earthquake proof, you are supposed to anchor down to the bedrock. So all those big buildings downtown have to go way down into the bedrock. Builders have to sink iron bars very deep in order to build seismically fit skyscrapers here.
Think about that. That is what trust is. It's that solid foundation upon which everything else is built. There is an example that I am sure we all know to help us understand foundations. It's The Three Little Pigs. Remember The Three Little Pigs? The first little pig built his house out of straw which didn't have any foundation and it didn't last too long when the big bad wolf came along. The second little pig built his house on the dirt with sticks. In other words, not much of a foundation either. That house didn't last very long when the big bad wolf came along either. But the third little pig, the smart pig, built his house of brick on a brick foundation. He built a solid foundation. Upon that foundation the big bad wolf huffed and puffed and could not blow that house down.
Think about that. We need that kind of solid foundation. The solid foundation we need is trust. We need to trust our trust. We need to square that trust so our experience of being a miracle worker is exponentially increased. I think that is what is happening. That is a very very powerful thing to do – to trust your trust. A Course in Miracles says "When this Power has once been experienced, it is impossible to trust one's own petty strength again. Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him?" (OrEd.Mn.4.4)
When we have that solid foundation then we are anchoring in the Divine, the power of God, the power of who and what we are. We are like eagles, flying, soaring to whatever heights we want to. We're not sparrows flying lowly. We are eagles flying high. A Course in Miracles uses that sparrow eagle analogy, a metaphor. That's a real metaphor. A Course in Miracles uses it twice. That reference was also from the Manual as is the section about trust. The nine other characteristics of God's teachers rest on trust. That is why it is so very important. trust squared will enable us to fly like an eagle.
One last quotation on trust. This was in the section that was read to us earlier. "Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself."(OrEd.WkBk.181.1) So we must have trust. We have to trust that our brothers and sisters are fulfilling their particular function, their particular role, just in the way they are supposed to do that. That is challenging.
It is challenging in the world right now. It's challenging in the political arena. A lot of people were challenged this week with what was going on in the political arena. We need to trust our brothers and our sisters who are one with us, that they are all doing the exact thing that they have to do for the greater good, because all things are working together for our good. (See: OrEd.Tx.4.69) We need to trust that. We need to see the Christ in all these people and affirm the Christ within ourselves.
So that's a little bit of the theory. That's a little bit about what A Course in Miracles was talking about. I want to talk now about what I latched onto this week about what is going on in the world. There is an amazing thing going on in the world. I don't hear too many people talking about it and I want to start this conversation.
First of all it's Uber. Let's talk a little about Uber, okay? In 2009, Uber started and where they did they start? Here in San Francisco! Uber started in San Francisco. Uber is a way to bypass the regular cab industry. People drive their own cars and they are their own employers.They decide when they want to work and when they don't. You, as a consumer, connect with another person through an app and you trust this person. You trust them. You trust this person who probably isn't a professional driver. They probably do not have a professional car.
There was something legitament about taxis – you assumed those were professional drivers who had some particular kind of license. They had to have a particular type of authorization, and they were in a car that was authorized. There were all those societal things implemented so you paid them partly becasue you trusted these authorizations. Uber mostly bypassed all of that. I mean they had to have some kind of regulation, but they bypassed a lot of it. Basically you just connected with another person like you who had a car. You got in their car and rode somewhere with them. That is an amazing demonstration of trust. We are trusting these people who aren't professionals. They didn't have the usual professional accoutrement and licenses.
In 2012, Lyft started. Where was Lyft started? Here in San Francisco. Lyft actually evolved out of something called Zimride which existed before Uber. Lyft came in and it's very similar to Uber. Again, you connect using an app with other people who are very much like you. When Lyft first started, the drivers and the riders were supposed to give each other a fist bump. They were supposed to be affirming just how alike they were to each other. Lyft came out with a big pink mustache that they put on the cars. Obviously they were from San Francisco, right? (laughter) They were having a little more flair with it. They ended up doing away with the mustaches. They found out that businesses, professional people, didn't like showing up to their work and meetings in this car with this big pink mustache on it. (laughter) So they changed that.
This totally changed the taxi business. It is really a whole new business model now. The Uber and Lyft prices are truly set by market pricing, not by corporations. It's a very different model based again on trust.
In 2009 another ride share developed. It's called GetAround. Our own Rev. Lucas used GetAround just a couple weeks ago. It's when you connect with a neighbor and you just take their car. You drive their car for a day or two or a week or whatever. You need to run an errand. You need to take a trip. They trust you, and you just take their car. You trust them that their car is running and in good condition. What an amazing amount of trust that is.
We used to rent cars from companies that were licensed, the cars were elaborately inspected, and they had a different business model. Now we are so trusting. We just connect with a neighbor through an app and go take their car. Market pricing determines how much you will exchange. You do that and everyone feels real good about it. GetRound was started in 2009. Where? In San Francisco! (cheering)
One more – AirBnB. Think about it. This is where people think they want to make some extra money. "Hey, I've got an apartment. I've got an extra room. I'll just put it on the internet and people who are traveling can come stay here. They can stay in my extra room." There is a little bit of regulation with it, or a little bit of regulation has evolved, but think about it. The travelers trust. They are going to stay with a stranger, in a strange home, that they don't really know. The stranger host is trusting these other strangers are going to come in, stay at the host's home, bypassing the usual hotel business. That started in 2007. Guess were that started? (many in the audience also join in) "San Francisco!" San Francisco must be the epicenter of trust. It must be. I don't know what it is, but we are just a trusting lot here. There is lots of diversity, different people you brush elbows with. We just get used to everybody and we start trusting everybody.
I think these are amazing things. They are all part of a larger movement of shared resources. We do this with cars. We do this with bicycles now. We have those Ford Go-Bikes. You don't have to own a bike anymore. There are bicycles everywhere and you rent them for the hour that you need them. We've got other bike rental companies now too.
There is this whole model on how to live – especially in an urban environment – to be able to live with fewer resources. We are sharing resources. Beyond this trust that we have, society is changing drastically and I don't know if people are really noticing it. But I have noticed it, and I wanted to talk about this a little bit today. I think it's an amazing accomplishment. It shows the world healing in a way that I don't remember seeing it do ever before, in a new way. The implications this is going to have on our culture, on our society, in years to come is unfathomable. We don't really know how this is going to all work out but you've got a whole population of people working together, pooling their resources, communicating together on these amazing communication devices that we all carry around (Rev. Tony pulls out and holds up his iPhone) that have access to the whole world's data. This is a new era; this is a new age. A lot of it is based on trust.
A lot of it is also based on this principle called "market pricing." I talked some weeks ago about this book that I'm reading, and that I've listened to a couple of times called The Better Angels of Our Nature. The author talks about this concept of market pricing. It is one of the factors that is helping make us less violent. We are learning to let the market, the society, adjust a price on things and we as individuals are doing things with market pricing that before we would not have.
If a friend of yours wants to buy something that you have – let's say you are selling your car and your friend wants to buy it. You check the market for what the car is worth and you charge your friend what the Blue Book value is and that is just considered fair. That's a good way.
Years ago that might not have happened. Your friend might have been insulted that you wanted to make a fair amount of money for your car. He's your friend. You should have given him a great deal. You should have just given him the car for free. So this idea that friends can now relate with market pricing is a great practice of fairness and a great practice of trust. It is a great thing that is going on with our civilization. It's a great thing that's helping reduce violence. The author of Better Angels has this reasonable argument that market pricing is helping reduce violence in our world and in our culture.
Understand for car sharing, things like GetAround, the market sets the price. You borrow your neighbor's car for the market price. Years ago – that was your neighbor and he should have just lent you his car for no charge. "No." Now you borrow his car, but you pay him the fair market value for what that service is worth. We can embrace this. This is actually a good thing that's helping us live together. It's helping us be more civilized in a new way. It's helping us be one. It's helping us trust. It's helping us reduce violence.
I think that is what trust squared is actually doing. We are building our trust upon our trust. That's an incredible foundation. That's an incredible bedrock. "Faithfulness is the teacher of God's trust in the Word of God to set all things right – not some but all." (OrEd.Mn.4.21) We need to have that faith. We need to have that trust, that foundation that we have anchored in the bedrock of the word of God. We are now anchored in so firmly that it is going to set all things right. Not some things, all things. Trust in that foundation.
Recently we've had challenges here at Community Miracles Center. We needed to have a new place to hold our Sunday Gatherings. Where we are now was always considered a temporary place, but the fact it was truly temporary came home to us even stronger when the building was being sold. We needed to find a new place. It was a challenge, but we had trust. Now a new place has opened up through the help of our Board Member, Minister, long-time Supporting Member Rev. Vincent Fuqua. Hi Rev. Vincent! (Rev. Tony waves to Rev. Vincent in the audience.)
We've gotten a new place in a wonderful building. We will only be here two more weeks. We are moving to 25 Van Ness Avenue. For those of you watching the LiveStream, the backdrop might look exactly the same but we'll be in a place that's new. I have to have trust in everything. I had to have trust that it would work out. Why did I have trust? Because we are anchored in the bedrock of the word of God and the power of the Divine.
I'm working on my taxes. I need to have trust that by October 15, I think that is next Monday, that I will have them done. It's a lot of work because my bookkeeping is complicated and I got to get through all my 2017's bookkeeping. I was behind with it, but I'm working on it. I'm plugging along. When I get anxious, I remember trust. I remember that I trust my trust. I've got trust squared and that's a very powerful exponential. I trust that it's all going to work out.
I had a challenge last night. I'm going to share it. I went for my regular medical check-up this past week. They did all the regular tests, all the regular blood tests and urine tests. Everything seems healthy. Everything seems really good. Then last night I get an email from my doctor that they found blood in my urine and now he wants me to go in for more tests. This could be something serious. It could be something not so serious. We don't know. I gotta go in for more tests.
Nobody likes to get news like that. Nobody is happy with that kind of email. I got my old anxious response, but I'm way better off now because I trust. As I quoted earlier, I trust in the word of God to set all things right, not just some things. I trust this is going to get set right, and I don't have to worry about it. I can just move forward, because I've got trust on trust. I multiply my trust by trust. I'm bedrocked in the word of God. I've got trust squared. I turn it over to the Holy Spirit, and I move forward in faith.
Thank you for listening and that's my talk for today. (applause) ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He is also the President of the CMC Board of Directors. His official title is Executive Minister. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the February 2019 (Vol. 32 No. 12) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.