Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Song ("I'll Tell You A Story," by Judith Beckman and Rose Engel):

I'll tell you a story that's old and yet new, A story that each generation finds true;
A tale of our fight against tyranny,
A tale of our fight for our right to be free...with dignity.

Antiochus, King on the Syrian throne; He ordered the people:
"No god of y0ur own; to Greek idols bow!"
Against Syria's might, the Jews were despondent, no spirit to fight (to fight)

From Mod'in came Judah and his Macabees: brothers courageous against Epiphanes.
Though small was their band, though long was their fight,
Their victory at last rekindled God's light (eternal light).

Reader: Chanukah is a festival of light. Each day another candle glows: one becomes two, two become three, until the Menorah is full of candles and the room is full of light. On Chanukah we learn that light can grow, if we do our part. It is we who must kindle a light for ourselves and others.

Reader: "My Thread" by David Hofstein

Travel-stained with my wanderer's stick and ancient pain,
O world, I have brought a white linen thread
dipped in red wine for the new wick of freedom's torch.
To that new wick of freedom's torch, thick-woven, with threads of many colors,
I too bring a thread.
When it burns and the red is black with smoke,
I shall not know the one I brought
Enough to know that I too brought my thread
for freedom's torch!

Reader" With joy and gratitude we greet this season of our freedom. Not by might was it won, not be power was it gained, but through strength of spirit, the spirit of God within us. (from Zechariah 4:6)

Reader: Since that day when the land was re won, and the Temple restored to the worship of the Holy One of Israel, we have won and we have lost, we have suffered and rejoiced. We have struggled to keep our faith alive. For all our deliverance's, we give thanks.

Reader: May all who are not free go forth from bondage; may all who suffer find healing and peace.

Song: ("Dona Dona" words by Aaron Zeitlin, music be Shalom Secunda)
On a wagon bound for market, there's a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him flies a swallow, winging swiftly through the sky.

How the winds are laughing; they laugh with all their might.
Laugh and laugh the whole day through and half the summer's night.
Dona dona, dona dona dona dona, dona dona dona dai,
Dona dona dona dona, dona dona dona dai.

"Stop complaining," said the farmer. "Who told you a calf to be?"
Why don't you have wings to fly with, like the swallow, so proud and free?"
Calves are easily bound and slaughtered, never knowing the reason why,
But whoever treasure freedom, like the swallow must learn to fly.


We pray for all who live in darkness: let light shine upon them.
We pray for the hungry, the poor, the weak; let the sun of a better day shine on them.
We pray: may we be among those who bring this day to pass.

A reading from the Gospel of Mary

...the Blessed One greeted them all, saying: "Peace be with you-may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you! Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you by saying: "Here it is!" or "
There it is!" For it is within you that the Son of Man dwells. Go to him, for those who seek him, find him. Walk forth and announce the gospel of the Kingdom.

Reader: Let the lights we kindle shine forth for the world to see. May they illumine our lives and fill us with gratitude for those who came before us, whose will and courage, time and again, kept the flame of faith from extinction.

("LIGHTING OF CHANUKAH CANDLES, with blessing and Ma-oz Tzur.)

Call to Conversation:

(except from "The Four Zoas" by William Blake"

Reader: It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer's sun, and in the vintage, and to sing on the wagon loaded with corn. It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted, to speak the laws of prudence to the homeless wanderer, to listen to the hungry raven's cry in wint'ry season, when the red blood is fill'd with wine and the marrow of lambs.

Reader: It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements, to hear the dog howl at the wint'ry door, the ox in the slaughterhouse moan; to see a god on every wind and a blessing on every blast; to hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies' house; to rejoice in the blight that covers his field and the sickness that cuts off his children, while our olive and vine sing and laugh 'round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.

Reader: Then the groan and the dolor are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill, and the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field, when the shatter'd bone has laid him groaning among the happier dead.

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity.

Closing Song: "Light One Candle"

Light one candle for the Maccabee children, give thanks that their light didn't die.
Light one candle for the pain they endured when their right to exist was denied.
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice justice and freedom demand.
Light one candle for the wisdom to know when the peacemakers' time is at hand.

Don't let the light go out, it's lasted for so many years.
Don't let the light go out, let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need to never become our own foe
Light one candle for those who are suffering the pain we learned so log ago.
Light one candle for all we believe in, let anger not tear us apart.
Light one candle to bind us together with peace as the song in our heart.
What is the memory that's valued so highly that we keep alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died when we cry out, "They've not died in vain?"
We have come this far always believing that justice will somehow prevail.
This is the burden and this is the promise and this is why we will not fail!
Don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out, don't let the light go out!

We ask for your coments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

Om Namah Shivaya is known as the great redeeming mantra also known as five-syllable mantra. It means “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity, your self. According to Hindu mythology there are three Gods who run this creation: the Brahma, who creates the universe, the Vishnu, who preserves the Universe and the Shiva, who in the end destroys the universe. Among the three deities, Shiva, though considered as destroyer, also symbolizes the inner self which remains intact even after everything ends. In this mantra the chanter (one who repeats the mantra) bows to Shiva: his or her true self. Om Namah Shivaya.


Introductory Reading

--chanting the many names or mantras of the Gods and Goddesses--is perhaps the most important technique in Bhakti yoga. Although the practice itself is very simple, the internal process that it stimulates is vast and mysterious. Externally, we’re just singing repetitive songs with simple melodies and a few Sanskrit words. We’re asked to try to put our analytical minds to the side (easier said than done), and sing from our hearts. We’re told that whatever emotion we’re feeling, even anger, can be passionately channeled into the song. We’re told that it doesn’t matter the slightest bit what our voices sound like. Then the magic happens. Walls constructed long ago come crumbling down. Wounds that we never knew were there begin to heal. Long submerged emotions, both joy and sorrow, come to the surface to be offered up into the chant. And somehow, effortlessly, we move into a meditative state that creates a safe, calm haven for the flower of the heart to unfold. Whether or not we understand the meanings of the words, these chants become vessels to carry our deepest unspoken prayers to the infinite soul of God.

One of the amazing things about Kirtan as a practice is that it welcomes any mood or emotional condition. We can sing softly, like a mother to her baby. We can sing sensually, as if to a lover. And we can sing with the powerful energy of an angry warrior. Our whole being is offered. Whoever we are at any given time, whether happy or sad, shining with light or hidden in darkness, our prayers are perfect in the eyes of unconditional love. Finally, one who embraces the path of Bhakti very quickly stops doing these practices to get anything or feel anything. Rather, the Kirtan becomes an outpouring of love and emotion to the beloved, an unburdening, an offering . . . Truly, the essence of Bhakti is surrender, offering our individual selves to the great ocean of pure consciousness, gently resting in the loving embrace of the Divine Mother, saying, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

The Songs: The Sanskrit words that we sing in these Kirtans are mantras, or divine names. A mantra can be thought of as a sonic embodiment of the supreme being who, through grace, takes infinite recognizable forms. When touched by the blessings of an enlightened master or the longing of a pure heart, these mantras become fully alive and have the power to carry us back to the One, the universal heart. These ancient words hold within them the very presence of the deity; they are prayers, they are vessels for our prayers, and they are that One to whom we are praying. The chants don’t tell stories and aren’t actual sentences. Rather, they are like simple road maps to help the mind leap from mental remembrance into the deepest heart essence, where we actually meet and commune with that being who is the source of all. And, really, it’s okay if we don't fully understand the translations or pronunciations. Through these simple Kirtans, we can communicate with our hearts, with our souls; we can cry, we can laugh, we can dance.

(Jai Uttal, “Kirtan! The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant,” Sounds True, 2003)

First Kirtan

“Sita Ram Sita Ram Sita Ram Jay Sita Ram”
Sita is the infinite Goddess, the Divine Mother, the embodiment of devotion and loyalty, the bestower of all blessings, the daughter of the earth in eternal union with Ram. Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and abundance. She is thought of as the Kundalini Shakti, or power of God, residing within and all around us. Ram is the infinite, all-pervading supreme being, an embodiment of dharma, truth, the protector of the earth. Ram is an avatar of Vishnu, Lord and protector of the created universe, the one who preserves the stability of the worldly and heavenly realms, the supreme consciousness. . . Jay is translated as glory to, victory to. Sita and Ram are recognized as the divine couple, the union of male and female, lord and devotee, microcosm and macrocosm, Atma and Paramatma, Kundalini and Shiva (consciousness).
Approximate translation: Glory to Sita and Ram.

Second Kirtan

“Nataraj Nataraja Jay Shiva Shankara Nataraja Shivaraj Shivaraja Shambho Shankara Shivaraja Om Namah Shivaya Namah Shivaya”
Lord Shiva is the cosmic energy of change and transformation, the fire that burns away all that stands between us and freedom. He is the absolute pure consciousness, the embodiment of auspiciousness. He is known as the Lord of time, of dreams, of the unconscious mind, of ghosts, of death. He is the exhale that creates room for the inhale. He is destruction that opens up the way for rebirth. Creation, preservation, and destruction happening every moment. When we sing to Shiva, we offer ourselves to Him to be cleansed, purified, transformed, liberated. We offer our sense of separateness, our ego-driven self-will to the will of the divine. Nataraja means Lord or King (raja) of the dance (nata). This is an epithet of Shiva, referring to his tandava, his ferocious dance of fury which causes the entire world to crumble into dust. This is the auspicious and sometimes frightening clearing away of the old to make way for the creation of the new. Shivaraja means Lord or King Shiva. Shankara is an epithet of Shiva, meaning “the annihilator.” Shambho is another epithet of Shiva. Om is the cosmic sound, the sacred syllable, the core sound of creation, preservation, and destruction. Namah Shivaya is translated as: I bow to, I surrender to, I honor, I offer myself unto Shiva, the great Lord of yogis and of transformation, the indwelling higher self.
Approximate translation: Lord of the dance, Lord of the dance, glory to Shiva, glory to the annihilator, the Lord of the dance, Lord Shiva, Shambho, Shankara. Lord Shiva please perform your tandava dance of annihiliation upon the demons of ignorance and ego within me! Please grant me liberation. Om, I bow to Shiva. Thy will be done.

(Jai Uttal, “Kirtan! The Art and Practice of Ecstatic Chant,” Sounds True, 2003)

Call to Conversation

Closing Reading

A reading from the Gospel of Mary (trans. Karen King)

The soul replied, saying, “What binds me has been slain, and what surrounds me has been destroyed, and my desire has been brought to an end, and ignorance has died. In a [wor]ld, I was set loose from a world [an]d in a type, from a type which is above, and (from) the chain of forgetfulness which exists in time. From this hour on, for the time of the due season of the aeon, I will receive rest i[n] silence.”

We ask for your thoughts/comments to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.