Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Call to Silence & Opening Meditation

"Once you experience [God's] presence in all beings, all debate comes to naught!"

from the Indian mystic Kabir quoted from One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, by Matthew Fox (New York:Jeremy P.Tarcher/Penguin,2000),17

"The worship of the different religions,
which are like so many small streams
move together to meet God, who is like the ocean"

from the Indian mystic Rajjab, quoted as above from Matthew Fox,page 18.

Readings from the Gospel of Philip

(trans. from the Coptic by Jean-Yves Leloup, The Gospel of Philip, Rochester,Vermont:Inner Traditions, 2003)

Light and darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers and sisters. They are inseparable. This is why goodness is not always good, violence not always violent, life not always enlivening, death not always deadly. (logion 10:1-5)

The Truth makes use of words in the world because without these words, it would remain totally unknowable. The Truth is one and many, so as to teach us the innumerable One of Love. (logion 12:7-10)

It is impossible for anyone to see the everlasting reality and not become like it.

The Truth is not realized in the world:
Those who see the sun do not become the sun; Those who see the sky, the earth, or anything that exists, do not become what they see.

But when you see something in this other space, you become it. If you know the Breath, you are the Breath. If you know the Christ, you become the Christ. If you see the Father, you are the Father.

Those who say that the Lord first died, and then was resurrected, are wrong; for he was first resurrected, and then died. If someone has not first been resurrected, they can only die. If they have already been resurrected, they are alive, as God is Alive. (logion 21)

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary (Leloup trans.)

Peter said to him: "Since you have become the interpreter of the elements and the events of the world, tell us: what is the sin of the world?"

The Teacher answered: "There is no sin. It is you who made sin exist, when you act according to the habits of your corrupted nature; this is where sin lies. This is why; the Good has come into your midst. It acts together with the elements of your nature so as to reunite it with its roots." Then he continued: "This is why you become sick, and why you die; it is the result of your actions; what you do takes you further away.

Those who have ears, let them hear."

Call to Conversation:

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

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Call to Silence & Opening Meditation


A Reading from Parker Palmer

When my first grandchild was born, I saw something in her that I had missed in my own children some twenty-five years earlier, when I was too young and self-absorbed to see anyone, including myself, very well. What I saw was clear and simple: my granddaughter arrived on earth as this kind of person, rather than that, or that, or that.

As an infant, for example, she was almost always calm and focused, quietly absorbing whatever was happening around her. She looked as if she "got" everything-enduring life's tragedies, enjoying its comedies, and patiently awaiting the day she could comment on all of it. Today, with her verbal skills well honed, this description still fits the teenager who is one of my best friends and seems like an "old soul."

In my granddaughter I actually observed something I could once take only on faith; we are born with a seed of selfhood that contains the spiritual DNA of our uniqueness-an encoded birthright knowledge of who we are, why we are here, and how we are related to others.

We may abandon that knowledge as the years go by, but it never abandons us. I find it fascinating that the very old, who often forget a great deal, may recover vivid memories of childhood, of that time in their lives when they were most like themselves. They are brought back to their birthright nature by the abiding core of selfhood they carry within- a core made more visible, perhaps, by the way aging can strip away whatever is not truly us.

Philosophers haggle about what to call this core of our humanity, but I am no stickler for precision. Thomas Merton called it true self. Buddhists call it original nature or big self, Quakers call it the inner teacher or the inner light. Hasidic Jews call it a spark of the divine. Humanists call it identity and integrity. In popular parlance, people often call it soul...

What we name it matters little to me, since the origins, nature and destiny of call-it-what-you-will are forever hidden from us, and no one can credibly claim to know its true name. But that we name it matters a great deal. For "it" is the objective, ontological realty of selfhood that keeps us from reducing ourselves, or each other, to biological mechanisms, psychological projections, sociological constructs, or raw material to be manufactured into whatever society needs-diminishments of our humanity that constantly threaten the quality of our lives.

"Nobody knows what the soul is" says Mary Oliver; "it comes and goes/like the wind over the water." But just as we can name the functions of the wind, so we can name some of the functions of the soul without presuming to penetrate its mystery:
The soul wants to keep us rooted in the ground of our own being, resisting the tendency of other faculties, like the intellect and ego, to uproot us from who we are.
The soul wants to keep us connected to the community in which we find life, for it understands that relationships are necessary if we are to thrive.
The soul wants to tell us the truth about ourselves, our world, and the relation between the two, whether that truth is easy or hard to hear.
The soul wants to give us life and wants us to pass that gift along, to become life-givers in a world that deals too much death.

All of us arrive on earth with souls in perfect form. But from the moment of birth onward, the soul or true self is assailed by deforming forces from without and within; bu racism, sexism, economic injustice, and other social cancers; by jealousy, resentment, self-doubt, fear, and other demons of the inner life.

Most of us can make a long list of the external enemies of the soul, in the absence of which we are sure we would be better people! Because we so quickly blame our problems on forces 'out there,' we need to see h ow often we conspire on our own deformation: for every external power bent on twisting us out of shape, there is a potential collaborator within us. When our impulse to tell the truth is thwarted by threats of punishment, it is because we value security over being truthful. When our impulse to side with the weak is thwarted by threats of lost social standing, it is because we value popularity over being a pariah.

The power and principalities would hold less sway over our lives if we refused to collaborate with them. But refusal is risky, so we deny our own truth, take up lives of 'self-impersonation,' and betray our identities. And yet the soul persistently calls us back to our birthright form, back to lives that are grounded, connected, and whole.

From A Hidden Wholeness (Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint, San Francisco, 2004)pages 32-34

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

"Then I said to him:'Lord, when someone meets you in a Moment of vision, is it through the soul[psyche]that they see, or is it through the Spirit[Pneuma]?' The Teacher answered:'It is neither through the soul or the spirit, but the nous between the two which sees the vision..."

"And Craving said:'I did not see you descent, but now I see you rising. Why do you lie, since you belong to me? The soul answered: 'I saw you, though you did not see me, nor recognize me, I was with you as with a garment, and you never felt me." Having said this, the soul left, rejoicing greatly.

(LeLoup translation as quoted in The Magdalene Mystique)

Call to Conversation

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Call to Silence & Opening Meditation

A Reading from One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springs from Global Faiths, Two Quotations

Nicolas of Cusa:

"Humanity will find that it is not a diversity of creeds, but the very same creed which is everywhere proposed...Even though you are designated in terms of different religions yet you presuppose in all this diversity one religion which you call wisdom."

(Nicolas of Cusa was a fifteenth century theologian and scientist and cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church)

The Dalai Lama:

"I believe deeply that we must find, all of us together a new spirituality. [Interviewer: Which wouldn't be religious'?] Certainly not. This new concept out to be elaborated alongside the religions, in such a way that all people of good will could adhere to it. [Interviewer: Even if they have no religion or are against religion?] Absolutely. We need a new concept of lay spirituality. We ought to promote this concept with the help of scientists...[but] everything starts with us, with each of us. The indispensable qualities are peace of mind and compassion. Without them its useless even to try. Those qualities are indispensable; they are also inevitable. I've told you: We will surely find them in ourselves, if we take the trouble to search for them. We can reject every form of religion but we can't reject and cast off compassion and peace of mind."
Both quotations from One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Spring from Global Faiths, Matthew Fox, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguine, New York, 2000, page 3.

Readings from A Conversation on Science and Theology

[from Belonging to the Universe: Explorations on the Frontiers of Science and Spirituality (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991)pages 46-49. The conversationalists are David Steindl-Rast, Thomas Matus, both members of the Benedictine Community in Big Sur, California, and Fritjof Capra, physicist and systems theorist and founder of Elmwood Institute, an ecological think tank in Berkeley, California.]

David: Do we agree then that there is a paradigm shift in theology that is comparable to that in science?

Thomas: I certainly agree that there's a paradigm shift in theology today, but whether and to what extent it is really comparable to the one in science is still not clear to m e.

Fritjof: In science, in order to sustain the development, whether its the gradual development in the periods of normal science or the revolutionary development in periods of paradigm shifts, you have to continually do this systematic observation that is part of the scientific method. It would seem that in theology, if you want to refine your dogmas and your understanding of faith, the reflection on religious experience, you would also have to rely on continual religious experience. Now, as far as a I can see, this is not the case today. ;And maybe I could even make a stronger statement and say that in Christianity this was never a strong point. ;The mystic were always soft of marginalized and often persecuted.

Thomas: I think you have to nuance this with regard to the different epochs of what we're calling paradigms in Christian theology.

Fritjof: Could you give us a short summary of these paradigms?

Thomas: During the first thousand years of Christianity, it was generally recognized that theology had to be the fruit not only of a profound intellectual conviction but above all of an intense personal experience of faith. This as the epoch of the "Fathers" of the Church - excuse the sexist language, but practically all the early Christian writers were men! There is hardly one of these Fathers whom you wouldn't also call a mystic: think of Origen and Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzen in the East, Ambrose and Augustine and Pope Gregory the Great in the West.

The crisis of mysticism and deep religious experience in Christianity coincides with the emergence of the great scholastic paradigm. This as the period of Thomas Aquinas adn Bonaventure in the thirteenth ceantury, and the energy, you might say, of the Scholastic paradigm continued on into the sixteenth century...[since] that time there has been a constant tension between the theologian as the professional scholar of the contents of Christian teaching and the spiritual person who is trying to life this teaching on a deep level of practice and experience.

David: Are you saying that, roughly, before the thirteenth century, the mystic were the theologians, and vice versa?

Thomas: Certainly, in principle at least, it was axiomatic that the two were inseparable. And the attitude of the theologian was first of all that of a listener, a person of faith who is searching for adequate ways to explain the Christian experience and connect it with other knowledge...What is basically the same view of theology's purpose: to initiate the believer into a genuine gnosis, an experimental knowledge of God. Not a purely intellectual knowledge, but one that totally transforms and, as many early writers say, 'divinizes' the believer.

Fritjof: And from the thirteenth century on, you were saying, there was this tension between the theologians on the one hand and the mystic on the other.

Thomas: It was the paradigm itself that imposed this division and almost forbade the theologian to become too mystical. He had to remain on the intellectual level. Let me add, though, that the crisis of mysticism was something that happened largely in the West. The Eastern Church continued, for the most part, in the lime of holistic theology. But by then the two churches had excommunicated each other.

Fritjof: This makes it, of course, very difficult for this whole parallel between science and theology. If religious experience has not been the ground of theology in the theological establishment for the past seven centuries, how do we expect new-paradigm thinking to emerge if it does not come with a renaissance of religious experience?

David: It must come with a renaissance of religious experience, and it does come today with a new explicit appreciation of religious experience. The sense of a deep inner communion with God was thought not long ago to be the privilege of 'mystics.' Today this sense of inner communion is widespread. Today we recognize that every human being can be a mystic of sorts. Of course, we should not forget that countless Christian throughout the ages were living in the strength of the divine life at the core of their being. Thus they were truly mystics. People like Meister Eckhart of Jakob Bohme of Julian of Norwich or John of the Cross, people whom we label mystics, were often those who gained notoriety by getting in trouble with the establishment. Countless others were nourished by sources of mystical life within their hearts and may have never even reflected on it. What keeps faith alive is always experiential knowledge of God's spirit within us.

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

"...This is why I tell you 'Be in harmony...'If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature.

Those who have ears, let them hear."
After saying this, 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.

Call to Conversation