NB Go HERE for blog dedicated to interfaith interspirituality
The InSpirit (HOLISTIC) SACRED STUDY PROCESS & PRACTICE
The Inter-spirituality Course suggests a holistic ‘study process’ & practice – designed to be whole-person. It is interfaith in that it combines elements from Christian, Islamic, Quaker, Buddhist, Baha’i etc sources. NB it’s for groups or individual use – for individual personal use the dialogue is inner dialogue’!
1a Bell – Short chant or piece of music.
1 b Bell – Short period of silence “Breathing in I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.” (1 min = approx 20 breaths!) see HERE http://eiab.eu/mindfulness-practice/daily-practices
2 Bell – Text – experienced via ‘whole-person reading’ (inspired by lectio divina & ‘looking & listening for the inner light’)
a) Read text slowly
b) Quietly absorb and ponder
c) Listen to what text is saying to you by the text – express aloud if you wish – but no dialogue or comments.
d) Listen for your response, formulate it & express it – express aloud if you wish – but no dialogue until after Step 3
3 Bell – Short silence – breathe
4 Bell – Dialogue – a) Text – b) Forming questions-agenda – c) Facilitating dialogue (see separate handout)
5 Bell – Final Short silence – breathe
6 Bell – Choose a ‘breath-mantra’ for the upcoming week – from a key phrase or idea in the text.
Use your breath-mantra during the week – for walking meditation and as part of the practice of mindfulness and helping you live in the now.
PRACTICE & CELEBRATION – can mean many things for us, and you may have your own established practice but for many at the core are these activities;
Reading, reciting, or chanting the spiritual food of inspiring texts, silence, stillness, mindfulness, breath-centred meditation (punctuated by the bell ‘speaking’ to bring us back to ‘now’) –
“Breathing in I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”
HOLISTIC STUDY PROCESS – DEFINITIONS & NOTES
1 First define your terms! Meditation and contemplation are used in these ways. In contemplation (“to admire something and think about it.” ) there are (at least) two ‘things present – the contemplator and that which is contemplated. In meditation as I mean it the goal is to let go the egotistic lower self, i.e. to lay down the burden of self, and, via a temporary unitive state, experience oneness – as in this poem;
The birds have vanished into the sky,
and now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountains and me,
until only the mountains remain.
Li Po (701-762)
Such an experience is of course an experience at some level of mystical unity, a letting go and letting God’ as some would say. It is not an experience of or with the Godhead – Baha’is please note! That would be mistaken or even blasphemous, because it would require that the finite become the Infinite, the created the Creator. It is an experience of the Whole or of God through His creation – experienced when the egoic self is subdued temporarily to a non-dualistic i.e. unitive state.
2 Some prefer to see (EVERYDAY) THOUGHT – PONDERING/CONTEMPLATION – MEDITATION as a continuum deep, deeper, deepest, – though others would say that in meditation we are in a different state of being, which might be shown in a brain scan.
3 Eckhart Tolle we should remember says in his wonderful ‘Stillness Speaks’ – ‘Lost in thought: the human condition.’ Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in one of his talks says that ‘thinking is often less than being’ and in his book SL p504 says, “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” Awakening to the unitive and to Oneness is a function of laying down the burden of self, via a temporary unitive state. Blessed relief! From such experiences inherent wisdom and insights can flow.
4 The four movements of Lectio divina: read, meditate, pray, contemplate. This seems to reverse my chosen definitions for ‘contemplation’ and ‘meditation’, but it doesn’t matter so long as any two sides understand the reality and adopt common terms for the sake of dialogue.
5 Breath-mantra is my term for using a phrase that is particularly powerful (for you) to use – perhaps to untie a particular ‘knot’ or to bathe’ in e.g. ‘healing’ or to encourage the growth of a quality or virtue – as you remember to ‘follow the breath”. The wonderful Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching has been simplified to, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” He teaches , “Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.” See HERE for a description for beginners and an advanced account the Anapanasati Sutta is HERE.
Updated 27th Sept 2012