Hinduism; Parts of a Whole

August 16th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Hinduism
Parts of a Whole
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The Bhagavad Gita does not counsel that we all become monks or solitaries. Rather, the true synthesis is found in a life-long purification of motive, intention, and focus in our world of action. The Gita calls the active person to a life of interiority and soul discovery. How can we do “pure action”? Only by gradually detaching from all the fruits of action and doing everything purely for the love of God. —Richard Rohr

Several central ideas affirmed by Jesus were already formed in the ancient Hindu Vedas, then unfolded by the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Three of these ideas are advaita, karma, and maya.
The word advaita is loosely translated as “having no duality,” implying that the proper or spiritual way of understanding things is outside the realm of comparison or judgment. The contemplative mind sees things in their unity and connection before it separates them as not completely one, but not two either. If you first emphasize dissimilarity and distinction, it is almost impossible to ever get back to unitive consciousness or similarity, from which most compassion, or at least tolerance, proceeds. If you start with advaita, you can still go back to making needed and helpful distinctions, but now love and union is prior to knowledge and information.
That is the unique and brilliant starting place of so many Eastern religions, as I believe it was for Jesus! Read Jesus’ words: “My Father’s sun shines on the good and the bad; his rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45); “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me” (Matthew 25:40). With a dualistic mind, such statements are just idealistic poetry, which is largely how many Christians have read them.
For the Hindu, karma is the nature of the universe and moves us toward purification of motive and honesty about why we are doing what we are doing. Karma is an absolute law of cause and effect. What goes around comes around—eventually! We are responsible for our own thoughts and motives—which create the Real—and we cannot avoid the consequences. Negative thoughts will destroy us. We are punished by our sins more than for our sins. Goodness is its own reward now; we do not need to wait for heaven later.
I am convinced that Jesus taught the karmic world view, but many Christians understood him inside a reward and punishment framework. Here are just a couple illustrations: “If you show mercy, mercy will be shown to you” (Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:37); “The standard you use will be used for you” (Mark 4:24).
The third supreme idea of Hinduism is maya. This is often translated as “illusion,” but a better translation might be “tricky.” When Hinduism (or Buddhism, which is a child of Hinduism) states that all the world of forms is maya (or emptiness), it is trying to help you look deeper and broader so as not to be tricked by the short term pay-offs of the ego.
The Upanishads illustrate maya as “tricky” using the familiar experience of finding a rope on a path. We jump back, thinking it’s a snake, but it isn’t. Mirabai Starr says, “Wisdom comes with being able to engage in inquiry with curiosity (with childlike wonderment as Jesus calls it) [in order] to see what really is, and to discover it’s not something we have to defend ourselves against.” [1] Reality is hard, maya says, but also benevolent.
All phenomena pass themselves off as total and final in their independent and free existence. But just wait a while, look deeper, and you will see that all things are parts of much larger ecosystems of connection and life. In their separateness, they will pass. Everything is qualified and provisional and contingent on something else. The illusion of our separateness makes it hard for us to see and seek the common good or to rest in Divine Union.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning

MEET ME in early morning splendor. I eagerly await you here. In the stillness of this holy time with Me, I renew your strength and saturate you with Peace. While others turn over for extra sleep or anxiously tune in to the latest news, you commune with the Creator of the universe. I have awakened in your heart strong desire to know Me. This longing originated in Me, though it now burns brightly in you.

When you seek My Face in response to My Love-call, both of us are blessed. This is a deep mystery, designed more for your enjoyment than for your understanding. I am not a dour God who discourages pleasure. I delight in your enjoyment of everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Think on these things, and My Light in you will shine brighter day by day.

ISAIAH 40: 31;But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they.

PSALM 27: 4; One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the.Lord

PHILIPPIANS 4: 8; Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there.

 

Stages of Life

August 15th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Stages of Life
Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Beginning with Jesus’ four kinds of soil and receptivity (Matthew 13:4-9), to John of the Cross’ “dark nights” and Teresa of Ávila’s “interior mansions,” through the modern schemas of Jean Piaget, James Fowler, Lawrence Kohlberg, Eric Erikson, Abraham Maslow, Carol Gilligan, and others, each clarify that there is a clear direction and staging to maturity and therefore to human life.

Unless we can somehow chart this trajectory, we have no way to discern growth and what might be a full, fuller, or fullest human response. Neither do we have any criteria for discerning an immature, regressive, or even sick response. When pluralism itself becomes the goal, a postmodern dilemma is created. There must be a direction to ripening, but we must also recognize that any steps toward maturity are by necessity immature. An understanding of ripening teaches us the wisdom of timing, love, and patience, and allows us to be wise instead of judgmental.

Hinduism teaches that there are four major stages of life: (1) the student, (2) the householder, (3) the forest dweller or hermit (the “retiree” from business as usual), and (4) the beggar or wanderer (the wise or fully enlightened person who is not overly attached to anything and is detached from everything and thus ready for death). I once saw these four stages represented in four stained glass windows in a Catholic church in Bangalore, showing how central this cultural paradigm is to the wider Indian culture, not just practicing Hindus.

Western cultures tend to recognize and honor only the first two stages at best. We are an adolescent culture. Seeing these missing pieces in our societies, I helped develop men’s initiation rites and have explored later stages of life. [1] My experience tells me that when we do not intentionally cultivate the third and fourth stages, we lose their skills and fail to create the elders needed to understand the first and second stages and guide us through and beyond them.

This is foundational to the spiritual problems we are experiencing in Western religion and culture today, and probably why we now seem to have an epidemic of mental and emotional illness. It seems so many people are angry and afraid, especially at religion itself. I hope they do not waste too many years there because reactivism is an early-stage response. They are angry because we do not honor variety, staging, interiority, or depth in most of organized Christianity; but their attachment to that very anger becomes a hindrance.

Becoming a “forest dweller” and “beggar” is a slow, patient learning and letting go. This ripening is a seeming emptying out to create readiness for a new kind of fullness, about which we are never sure. If we do not allow our own ripening, resistance and denial set in. Yet when we surrender to our own natural journey, we find authentic hope, hope that is not identified with outcomes or goals.

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August 15 MORNING
I AM THE GOD OF ALL TIME and all that is. Seek Me not only in morning quietness but consistently throughout the day. Do not let unexpected problems distract you from My Presence. Instead, talk with Me about everything, and watch confidently to see what I will do. Adversity need not interrupt your communion with Me. When things go “wrong,” you tend to react as if you’re being punished. Instead of this negative response, try to view difficulties as blessings in disguise. Make Me your Refuge by pouring out your heart to Me, trusting in Me at all times.

Psalm 105:3-5
3 Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
4 Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth,

Psalm 55:17
17 Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.

Psalm 32:6
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.

Psalm 62:8
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning and Evening Devotional (Jesus Calling®) (Kindle Locations 5668-5670). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Hinduism; Ways of Praying and Knowing

August 14th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Hinduism
Ways of Praying and Knowing
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hinduism emphasizes concrete practices (yogas) which allow practitioners to know things for themselves. I often wonder if conservative Christians are afraid of the word yoga because they are in fact afraid of concrete orthopraxy! They prefer to strongly believe things but have very few daily practices or yogas that would allow them to know things in an experiential or “real” way.
The summary belief in Hinduism is that there are four disciplines, yogas, toward which different temperaments tend to gravitate. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit for the yoke which unites the seeker with the Sought. Hindus believe that all four yogas can lead one to enlightenment; in other words, there are at least four foundationally different ways of praying and living in this world.
The four basic Hindu disciplines are:
Bhakti yoga—the way of feeling, love, and the heart, preferred by Christianity and most mystics
Jnana yoga—the way of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, or head-based enlightenment, preferred by some forms of Buddhism and intellectual Christians.
Karma yoga—the way of action, engagement, and work, which can be done in either a knowledge way or a service/heart way, preferred by both Judaism and Islam
Raja yoga—this roughly corresponds to experimentation or trial and error with mind and body through practices and empirical honesty about the inner life and the world, preferred by Hinduism itself (We see this clearly in Gandhi and his “experiments with truth” and frankly in Mother Teresa who was formed by India more than most Catholics probably care to admit.)
Each of these paths can and will lead each of us to union with Supreme Reality, if we are fully faithful to them over time. For example, Raja yoga focuses on the mind’s ability to discover the spiritual world through eight sequential steps, ending in enlightenment:
Yamas—five moral “thou shalt nots,” calling for non-violence, truthfulness, moderation in all things, no stealing, and not being covetous
Niyamas—five “thou shalts,” requiring purity, contentment, austerity, study of the sacred texts, and constant awareness of and surrender to divine presence
Asanas—physical postures (Westerners typically use the word yoga to simply mean asanas.)
Pranayama—breathing exercises
Pratyahara—withdrawal of the senses
Dharana—concentration of the mind
Dhyana—meditation
Samadhi—enlightenment, union with the Divine

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

August 14,2018

I AM YOURS FOR ALL ETERNITY. I am the Alpha and the Omega: the One who is and was and is to come. The world you inhabit is a place of constant changes— more than your mind can absorb without going into shock. Even the body you inhabit is changing relentlessly in spite of modern science’s attempts to prolong youth and life indefinitely. I, however, am the same yesterday and today and forever.
Because I never change, your relationship with Me provides a rock-solid foundation for your life. I will never leave your side. When you move on from this life to the next, My Presence beside you will shine brighter with each step. You have nothing to fear because I am with you for all time and throughout eternity.

REVELATION 1: 8; I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

HEBREWS 13: 8; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

PSALM 102: 25– 27; Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all …

PSALM 48: 14; For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

Widening Circles

August 13th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Widening Circles
Sunday, August 12, 2018

What is required is a meeting of the different religious traditions at the deepest level of their experience of God. Hinduism is based on a deep, mystical experience, and everywhere seeks not simply to know “about” God but to “know God,” that is, to experience the reality of God in the depths of the soul. —Dom Bede Griffiths [1]

Like so many Westerners, I grew up knowing almost nothing about Hinduism, even though it is by far the oldest of the “Great Religions.” Because Hindu dress, various gods, and temples seemed so foreign to our faith practices, we did not take Hinduism seriously. That’s what happens when everything is seen in relation to one’s self—whenever one’s nationality, era, and religion are the only reference points.

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church issued its historic conclusions that still stand as inspired and authoritative. In the Council’s document Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), it specifically addressed other world religions, naming what was good and eternal in each of them. Followers of Hinduism are recognized as they “contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry.” [2]

I was only slowly introduced to Hinduism’s profound mystical depths through two very special authors. I admit that I first trusted them because they were both Catholic priests, scholars, and even mystics themselves. One was Dom Bede Griffiths (1906-1993), an English Benedictine, who in the pivotal year of 1968 was asked to take charge of an ashram in India to combine Western and Eastern spirituality. Griffith’s writings are still monumental and important. From the time of his arrival in India in 1955, Dom Bede built a huge and holy bridge, which many have now walked over with great effect.

The other author who led me deeper in Hinduism was a son of a Spanish mother and a Hindu father, Raimon Panikkar (1918-2010). Panikkar’s intellect and spirit astounded all who heard him or read his words. Somehow Panikkar’s ancient roots, stellar mind, and his Christian love all came through. He saw the Christ as the fully adequate Christian symbol for the whole of Reality. I never felt Panikkar compromised his Christian belief even though he was quite able and willing to use metaphors for the same experience from Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact, it was his Hinduism that often led Panikkar to the depths and the full believability of his Christian experience. I would say the same for Bede Griffiths.

The great mystics tend to recognize that Whoever God Is, he or she does not need our protection or perfect understanding. All our words, dogmas, and rituals are like children playing in a sandbox before Infinite Mystery and Wonderment. If anything is true, then it has always been true; and people who sincerely search will touch upon the same truth in every age and culture, while using different language, symbols, and rituals to point us in the same direction. The direction is always toward more love and union—in ever widening circles.

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Infinite Forms
Monday, August 13, 2018

If you have ever traveled to India, you realize that Hinduism is less a religion and more a 5,000-year-old culture, formed by such ancient sources as the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita, and communicated in thousands of other ways. Hinduism is the product of millennia of deep self-observation, human history, a confluence of cultures, and innumerable people seeking the Divine and seeking themselves.

Hinduism has been described as the most tolerant of the world religions. Hinduism is much more comfortable with mystery and multiplicity than are the three Abrahamic religions. This is symbolized by thousands of gods and dozens of primary deities in Hindu literature and tradition.

Inter-spiritual teacher Mirabai Starr says that “Hinduism is actually quite monotheistic or better said monistic. The Upanishads assert that there is only one supreme, divine reality.” [1] The ancient, diverse tradition led to the overwhelming consensus and conclusion that the Atman (True Self/Individual Consciousness) is the same as Brahman (God). This is summarized in the well-known Sanskrit phrase Tat Tvam Asi, loosely translated as “Thou art That.” This is the final extent and triumph of nondual thinking (advaita): God and the soul are united as one.

Reflect on how the Perennial Tradition’s emphasis on the oneness of God with everything is presented in these sacred texts from both Hinduism and Christianity:

My true being is unborn and changeless. I am the Lord who dwells in every creature. Through the power of my own appearance, I manifest myself in finite forms. —Bhagavad Gita 4:5-6

In the beginning was only Being; One without a second. Out of himself he brought forth the cosmos and entered into everything in it. There is nothing that does not come from him. Of everything he is the inmost Self. —Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6, 2:2-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Through him all things came to be, and not one thing had its being but through him. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwells among us. —John 1:1, 3, 14

From his tradition of Judaism, rabbi Rami Shapiro offers this rather simple explanation of these profound texts: “Just as the same lump of clay can take on infinite form and remain itself unchanged, so God takes on infinite form while never being other than God.” [2]

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Sarah Young Jesus Calling,

August 13, 2018

LEARN TO ENJOY LIFE MORE. Relax, remembering that I am God with you. I crafted you with enormous capacity to know Me and enjoy My Presence. When My people wear sour faces and walk through their lives with resigned rigidity, I am displeased. When you walk through a day with childlike delight, savoring every blessing, you proclaim your trust in Me, your ever-present Shepherd. The more you focus on My Presence with you, the more fully you can enjoy life.

Glorify Me through your pleasure in Me. Thus you proclaim My Presence to the watching world.

Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Read verse in New International …

John 10:1011 New King James Version (NKJV). 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and …

Jude 1:2425 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our …

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality; Walk in Beauty

August 10th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality
Walk in Beauty
Friday, August 10, 2018

 

In 1969 when I was a young deacon in Acoma Pueblo, one of my jobs was to take the census. Because it was summer and hot, I would start early in the morning, driving my little orange truck to each residence. Invariably at sunrise, I would see a mother outside the door of her home, with her children standing beside her. She and the children would be reaching out with both hands uplifted to “scoop” up the new day and then “pour” it over their heads and bodies as if in blessing. I would sit in my truck until they were finished, thinking how silly it was of us Franciscans to think we brought religion to New Mexico 400 years ago!
The Navajo or Diné—the people—see the world through the lens of hozho: all the goodness to be found through harmony, balance, beauty, and blessing. Read this well-known Navajo prayer aloud:
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
Looking for beauty all around us is a contemplative practice, an exercise in opening our hearts, minds, and bodies to the divine image. In indigenous traditions, such opening practices often take the form of dance, drumming, song, and trance, embodied forms that Western, and particularly Euro-centric, Christianity has neglected.
I invite you to return to this Navajo prayer when you have the space and time to literally move or walk with it. If you’re able to walk, you might take off your shoes and walk barefoot. Move slowly, noticing the sensations in your body—discomfort, surprise, challenge, pleasure, ease. Take in your surroundings with a soft, receptive gaze. What do you see? Listen to whatever there is to hear—your own breathing, birds, traffic. You may choose to pay attention to one sense at a time or try to hold two simultaneously. Be present to what is. Walk or move in this way for several minutes or even half an hour. When you have ended, bow in gratitude for your body, for the beauty surrounding you, and for the beauty that will continue to follow you everywhere you go.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning Devotional

August 10, 2018

RELAX IN MY HEALING, holy Presence. Allow Me to transform you through this time alone with Me. As your thoughts center more and more on Me, trust displaces fear and worry. Your mind is somewhat like a seesaw. As your trust in Me goes up, fear and worry automatically go down. Time spent with Me not only increases your trust; it also helps you discern what is important and what is not. Energy and time are precious, limited entities. Therefore, you need to use them wisely, focusing on what is truly important. As you walk close to Me, saturating your mind with Scripture, I will show you how to spend your time and energy. My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path.

ROMANS 12:2 NKJV; And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable 

PSALM 52:8; But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

EPHESIANS 5:15–16 NKJV; Walk in Wisdom – See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

PSALM 119:105; Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

 

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality; At Home in the World

August 8th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality
At Home in the World
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Much of indigenous spirituality exists on the edges of society without validation or integration from the government and popular culture (though it is often appropriated for commercial or selfish purposes). Native lands were largely invaded by Christian colonizers. Native peoples were forced to leave their homes. Their children were taken to schools where their culture was often stripped away.
From this marginalized position, Native peoples have a unique “bias from the bottom” that we would do well to pay attention to. We could learn from them, among other things, that land cannot be owned and Spirit cannot be divided. The Earth and all its inhabitants belong to the Creator who made them. We are called to live in harmony with each other and all created things. Creating harmony is a central idea in most indigenous religions.
Similarly, Huston Smith described “primal peoples” as:
. . . oriented to a single cosmos, which sustains them like a living womb. Because they assume that it exists to nurture them, they have no disposition to challenge it, defy it, refashion it, or escape from it. It is not a place of exile or pilgrimage, though pilgrimages take place within it. Its space is not homogenous; the home has a number of rooms, we might say, some of which are normally invisible. But together they constitute a single domicile. Primal peoples are concerned with the maintenance of personal, social, and cosmic harmony. But the overriding goal of salvation that dominates the historical religions is virtually absent from them. [1]
Primal and indigenous spiritualities are not primarily concerned with salvation as a way to escape from a sinful world and go to heaven or the next world. Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon write, “They make it clear that we humans are not here simply as transients waiting for a ticket to somewhere else. The Earth itself is Christos, is Buddha, is Allah, is Gaia.” [2] As Jesus taught, heaven is here and now, within us (Luke 17:21).
When Pope John Paul II met with Native Americans in Phoenix, Arizona, he told them that they knew something that is taking most Catholics a long time to learn: that the Creator has always been giving and is encountered in the natural world, just as it is written in our own Scriptures (Romans 1:20). From his address:
[Your ancestors’] ways were marked by great respect for the natural resources of land and rivers, of forest and plain and desert. . . . Here they worshipped the Creator and thanked him for his gifts. In contact with the forces of nature they learned the value of prayer, of silence and fasting, of patience and courage in the face of pain and disappointment. [3]
Unfortunately, many Christians moved the knowing of God largely into the realm of argumentative words, which narrowed the field of truly knowing and actually experiencing.

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Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

August 8, 2018

I SPEAK TO YOU from deepest heaven. You hear Me in the depths of your being. Deep calls unto deep. You are blessed to hear Me so directly. Never take this privilege for granted. The best response is a heart overflowing with gratitude. I am training you to cultivate a thankful mind-set. This is like building your house on a firm rock, where life’s storms cannot shake you. As you learn these lessons, you are to teach them to others. I will open up the way before you, one step at a time.

PSALM 42:7–8 NKJV; He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

PSALM 95:1–2; Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock … 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

MATTHEW 7:24–25; Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on a firm foundation.

 

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality; Other Ways of Knowing

August 7th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality
Other Ways of Knowing
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
Though I have no family ties to indigenous religions, I have great respect for their wisdom. I was honored to serve as a deacon at Acoma Pueblo many years ago and I continue to learn about the Pueblo, Diné (Navajo), and Apache peoples here in New Mexico. But I only know enough to know that I don’t know much at all! Indigenous spirituality is not intended for non-Native use or understanding. When we try to interpret or apply these teachings in our own context, we run the risk of “drastic adaptation” and “severe reinterpretation to fit our conceptions of reality.” [1]
I also don’t want to romanticize Native spirituality. As in every religion, there are times, places, and people who “get it”—the mystery of divine/human union—more than others. There are different stages and states of consciousness, and all are part of the journey. We are accustomed to identifying stages of development as lower and higher. To some extent that may be true, but Western models of development usually focus on the rational mind, which offers one way of knowing reality. In fact, there are many other ways of perceiving and expressing human experience. We shouldn’t dismiss unfamiliar modalities as immature, superstitious, or silly just because we haven’t exercised those sensory muscles.
Barbara Holmes, one of our CONSPIRE 2018 teachers, writes:
I am grateful that terms such as primitive and preliterate are no longer acceptable descriptions of indigenous cultures. . . . [These are problematic words] used to preserve imperialistic presumptions about people and their cultures. This is particularly true since [as Graham Harvey writes] “indigenous religions are the majority of the world’s religions.” [2]
Most Native American tribes depend on oral teaching and story-telling more than written language. This very lack of codification allows the oral traditions easier access to nondual consciousness and embodied forms of knowing. Religious historian and Methodist minister Huston Smith (1919-2016) wrote that:
[Orality guards against the loss of] the capacity to sense the sacred through nonverbal channels. Because writing can grapple with meanings explicitly, sacred texts tend to gravitate to positions of such eminence as to be considered the preeminent if not exclusive channel of revelation. This eclipses other means of divine disclosure. Oral traditions do not fall into this trap. The invisibility of their texts, which is to say their myths, leaves their eyes free to scan for other sacred portents, virgin nature and sacred art being the prime examples. [3]
That really makes sense to me, even though I also know it is open to abuse, just as the three “religions of the book” (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have always been open to abuse in the hands of immature people. Still, one of the nondual gifts of Native traditions is their openness to inspiration and wisdom from community, ancestors, dance, drumming, nature, beauty, and signs and symbols that speak deeply to the unconscious. Because they are not tied to one sacred text, they are freer to discover and honor the sacred everywhere.

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Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

August 7, 2018

UNDERSTANDING WILL NEVER BRING YOU PEACE. That’s why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding. Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again: searching for understanding (mastery) instead of seeking Me (your Master). The wisest of all men, Solomon, could never think his way through to Peace. His vast understanding resulted in feelings of futility rather than in fulfillment. Finally, he lost his way and succumbed to the will of his wives by worshiping idols. My Peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze. Actually, you are always enveloped in Peace, which is inherent in My Presence. As you look to Me, you gain awareness of this precious Peace.

PROVERBS 3:5–6; Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

ROMANS 5:1; Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 THESSALONIANS 3:16;  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.

 

 

 

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality; Finding the One in the Many

August 6th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Primal and Indigenous Spirituality

Richard Rohr
Finding the One in the Many
Sunday, August 5, 2018

Over the next several weeks, I will explore the divine image and likeness in many spiritual streams throughout history and around the world. I can’t even attempt to give an exhaustive study—there are so many wonderful examples from the Perennial Tradition. I’ll simply focus on the religious expressions which have most influenced and broadened my own life.
The Jewish mystical teacher Rabbi Rami Shapiro writes:
To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you speak, the more nuanced your understanding of life becomes. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multilingual. [1]
Shapiro describes Perennial Wisdom as “the fourfold teaching at the mystic heart of the world’s religions”:
all life is a manifesting of a single Reality called by many names: God, Tao, Mother, Allah, Nature, YHVH, Dharmakaya, Brahman, and Great Spirit among others;
human beings have an innate capacity to know the One in, with, and as all life;
knowing the One carries a universal ethic of compassion and justice toward all beings; and
knowing the One and living this ethic is the highest human calling. [2]
I want to emphasize contemplative insights and practices that help us heal our sense of separation and isolation, experience connection and community, and awaken a sense of responsibility for all beings. I hope to show how each of the great spiritual traditions can help us rediscover our True Self—indwelled by God—and live into our fullness as co-creators of our world.
In the words of my friend and one of our CONSPIRE 2018 teachers, Mirabai Starr:
Taoism offers context for the entire spiritual enterprise in the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching: The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. Buddhism affirms that there is only one of us, and therefore we are each responsible for every link in the web of being. Christianity offers us the unconditional mercy of an incarnational God who permeates the whole of creation with love. Judaism urges us to demonstrate our love for God in the way we treat each other and care for creation. Hinduism kindles the fire of devotion for reunification with the Beloved who is no other than our own true Self. Islam shares the peace that comes with complete submission to the One. [3]
All wisdom traditions stream toward the same ocean of union.

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Primal and Indigenous Spirituality

Richard Rohr

Shamanism
Monday, August 6, 2018
Hiroshima Day

Some of the earliest evidences of human expression—dating over 40,000 years ago—can be found in the caves of Indonesia, France, and Spain. While the original meanings of these paintings are unknown to us, many anthropologists suggest “shamanism” or what we might call mystical consciousness and connection to the spirit-filled world.

There are no doubt significant differences in belief and practice between ancient traditions (as there are today between Christian denominations, other religions, and Native spiritualities). However, religious historian Karen Armstrong gives us a glimpse into what this spirituality may have looked like:

We know that shamanism developed in Africa and Europe during the Palaeolithic period and that it spread to Siberia and thence to America and Australia, where the shaman is still the chief religious practitioner among the indigenous hunting peoples. . . . [We learn from today’s shamans that] shamans have bird and animal guardians and can converse with the beasts that are revered as messengers of higher powers. The shaman’s vision gives meaning to the hunting and killing of animals on which these societies depend.

The hunters feel profoundly uneasy about slaughtering the beasts, who are their friends and patrons, and to assuage this anxiety, they surround the hunt with taboos and prohibitions. They say that long ago the animals made a covenant with humankind and now a god known as the Animal Master regularly sends flocks from the lower world to be killed on the hunting plains, because the hunters promised to perform the rites that will give them posthumous life. Hunters often . . . feel a deep empathy with their prey. . . .

The [Kalahari] Bushmen [or San] say that their own rock paintings depict “the world behind this one that we see with our eyes,” which the shamans visit during their mystical flights. They smear the walls of the caves with the blood, excrement, and fat of their kill in order to restore it, symbolically, to the earth; animal blood and fat were ingredients of the Palaeolithic paints, and the act of painting itself could have been a ritual of restoration. The images [on the cave walls] may depict the eternal, archetypal animals that take temporary physical form in [our] upper world. All ancient religion was based on what has been called the perennial philosophy, because it was present in some form in so many premodern cultures. It sees every single person, object, or experience as a replica of reality in a sacred world that is more effective and enduring than our own. [1]

Even in such an early, primal religion we can see the idea of this world as “image and likeness” of Ultimate Reality, and how the perennial idea of our connectedness with everything calls us to be respectful and compassionate toward all.

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Sarah Young; Jesus Calling

August 6, 2018

WHEN THINGS SEEM to be going all wrong, stop and affirm your trust in Me. Calmly bring these matters to Me, and leave them in My capable hands. Then, simply do the next thing. Stay in touch with Me through thankful, trusting prayers, resting in My sovereign control. Rejoice in Me—exult in the God of your salvation! As you trust in Me, I make your feet like the feet of a deer. I enable you to walk and make progress upon your high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility.

JOB 13:15 NKJV; Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. 

PSALM 18:33; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 

HABAKKUK 3:17–19 AMP; Though the fig tree does not blossom And there is no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive fails And the fields produce no food, Though

 

What Do You Want?

August 3rd, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

What Do You Want?
Friday, August 3, 2018

A good gauge of spiritual health is to write down
the three things you most want.
If they in any way differ,
you are in trouble.
—Daniel Ladinsky, inspired by Rumi [1]

Big Truth was manifest in reality itself before it was ever written in books. All disciplines and religions are looking at reality from different angles, goals, assumptions, and vocabulary. If we are really convinced that we have the Big Truth, then we should also be able to trust that others will see it from their different angles—or it is not the Big Truth.
As my fellow faculty member Cynthia Bourgeault says, “We begin to discover that our Buddhist and Jewish and Islamic and Hindu friends are not competitors. Religion is not a survival of the fittest. There is a deep understanding that we all swim together or we sink together. Each religious tradition reveals a color of the heart of God that is precious.” [2] As the old saying goes, do you want to be right or do you want to be in relationship?
If it is true, it is common domain, and “there for the mind to see in the things that God has made” (Romans 1:20). Or, as Aquinas was fond of saying, quoting Ambrose (another Doctor of the Church), “If it’s true, it is always from the one Holy Spirit.” [3] The important question is not, “Who said it?” but, “Is it true?”
The deepest truth is that we are one—with each other and Ultimate Reality. Mirabai Starr, one of our CONSPIRE 2018 teachers, explains it so well (as she always does!):
I have glimpsed the same shining thread running throughout the tapestry of our perennial wisdom legacy and appreciated the ways in which we sing the one song of the human heart. It has become clear that while all the world’s religions cannot and must not be reduced to one truth, their core teachings are unifying; they are all calling us to the truth of our essential oneness. This unity in diversity is a cause for celebration. [4]
At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others. Pope Francis insists that mercy is at the very top of the Christian hierarchy of great truths [5], and everything falls apart whenever mercy is displaced by anything else or anything less. Bourgeault writes:
When the center starts to wobble, it’s a pretty sure bet that what’s lacking is not means but depth: a vision rich and sustaining enough to contain all this restless striving and shape it into a more universal and subtle understanding of human purpose. “Think; take stock; what do you really want?” This is the traditional terrain of Wisdom. [6]
What do you want? If it’s union with Love, then listen to that longing and it will be a reliable guide to truth and intimacy.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning

August 3, 2018

WATCH YOUR WORDS DILIGENTLY. Words have such great power to bless or to wound. When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself. This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in My image. You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly. Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Ask My Spirit to help you whenever you speak. I have trained you to pray—“Help me, Holy Spirit”—before answering the phone, and you have seen the benefits of this discipline. Simply apply the same discipline to communicating with people around you. If they are silent, pray before speaking to them. If they are talking, pray before responding. These are split-second prayers, but they put you in touch with My Presence. In this way, your speaking comes under the control of My Spirit. As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your Joy will amaze you.

PROVERBS 12:18; There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

JAMES 1:19; My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

EPHESIANS 4:29; Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those…

 

 

Knowing Our Source and Ground

August 2nd, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Perennial Tradition

Knowing Our Source and Ground
Thursday, August 2, 2018

David Benner, a friend and wise teacher, has been a part of several Christian traditions over the years, including fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and now contemplative Anglicanism. He reflects on universal truths across denominations and religions:

All wisdom traditions have something to say about four important matters: (1) the nature of ultimate reality, (2) the possibilities for human knowing of this ultimate human reality, (3) the nature of personhood, and (4) the goal of human existence. . . .

1. However named, God is the Ultimate Reality. Language does not serve us well to describe this Ultimate Reality since it is so profoundly supra-human and trans-personal. . . . All names for this foundation of existence point to the same reality—a reality that . . . is both transcendent and immanent, not set apart from the world of humans and things but deeply connected to everything that is. . . .

Ultimate Reality is the source, substance and sustenance of all that is. Nothing exists without it. To be removed from this vital connection would be to instantly cease to exist. We exist because we are in relation to Ultimate Reality, or, more precisely, because we exist within it. . . .

2. The mystics of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition assert that direct, immediate knowing [of Ultimate Reality] is possible. They tell us that such knowing is not based on reason or deduction, but on communion. . . . Knowing is intimate, and this intimacy is transformational. We come to resemble that which we know. . . .

3. There is a place in the depths of [the human] soul in which Ultimate Reality alone can dwell, and within which we dwell in Ultimate Reality. . . .

4. The knowing that humans seek, in every cell of our being, is to know the source and ground of our existence. This, the Perennial Wisdom Tradition teaches, is the goal and meaning of being human. Life has a direction. All of life flows from and returns to Divine Presence. . . . Union with Ultimate Reality is sharing in the divinity of Christ. It is participating in the Divine Presence. This is the fulfillment of humanity. . . .

[For Christians,] the moral of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition is, “Don’t settle for anything less than the truth of your Christ-self.” The ego-self, with which we are all much more familiar, is a small cramped place when compared with the spaciousness of our true self-in-Christ. This is the self that is not only at one within itself; it is at one with the world, and with all others who share it as their world. . . .

Awakening is the expression of that grace in which we see through our apparent separation and notice that we are already one with divine Presence and with all that is. All that is missing is awareness.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning

BRING ME THE SACRIFICE OF YOUR TIME: a most precious commodity. In this action-addicted world, few of My children take time to sit quietly in My Presence. But for those who do, blessings flow like streams of living water. I, the One from whom all blessings flow, am also blessed by our time together. This is a deep mystery; do not try to fathom it. Instead, glorify Me by delighting in Me. Enjoy Me now and forever!

PSALM 21:6; Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

JOHN 7:37–38; On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

PSALM 103:11; For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

PSALM 34:3; Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to.