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From wordlessness to words to wordlessness – the gift of Transcendence as the ultimate context of our faith

Presentation for Crawley Interfaith Network – by Roger – Dr Roger E Prentice

“Like the bee gathering honey from the different flowers, the wise person accepts the essence of the different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions.” attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

INTRODUCTION:   We begin with Rumi, the 13thC Sufi mystic poet; “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”  I’m told someone once said to Rumi, “If you believe in silence, why have you done nothing but talk and talk, and write and sing and dance?”  He laughed and said, ”The radiant one inside me has never said a word.”  Father Thomas Keating added. ….”In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God.  Perhaps learning to rest in God is resting in Awareness?

Spirituality & ReligionSpirituality  is what we ultimately are.  It is the life-force that through us flows. It is our capacity to reflect virtues, and the Names and Attributes and Qualities of God – in our acts as well as in our being.  We are a being within Being. For all of us our message to the world is what we actually do. Religion is the institutionalization of the spirituality that fountains from the Revelations of the Messengers of God – or, if you are a very modern theologian, around and from Ultimate Reality. Spirituality exists everywhere, including outside of religions.  Some parts of some religions, some of the time, show very little of the sweet water of spirituality that was the intention of the Messengers or High Prophets that founded those great Traditions.

Outline of this presentation – Realizing Oneness is the means to peace. We are enriched if we look for sameness in other Traditions – The Oneness is best illustrated by the great seers; Lao Tzu to Socrates and Heraclitus, from Plotinus and al-Hallaj to Meister Eckhart and St. John of the Cross and up to and including contemporary spiritual teachers such as Rupert Spira and Reza Shah-Kazemi.

They teach us to let go our egoic self and sense the presence of God – through the Messengers of God.  The Messengers enable four things.  Firstly they repeat the eternal spiritual truths. Secondly they give a set of social teachings. Thirdly they act as ‘Transformers’ of God’s Infinite power into ‘potential and manifest capabilities’ – for us humans. Fourthly they act as Perfect Mirrors, or exemplars, so that we learn to reflect in the mirrors of our hearts their perfect reflection of the qualities of God.

Because of the constraints of time I focus on how in all great Traditions we are challenged to realize the Oneness behind the great traditions as evidenced by teachings from the seers and other outstanding teachers. In particular I present teachings concerning the two realms – the dual and the Nondual.

What is  Nonduality in a nutshell? – ‘Nonduality is, when we stop ‘self-ing’ enough, to be surrendered within the Whole, out of which the ‘I’ appears.  Then we shall see that ‘I = Awareness’

The Interspiritual Way is the same as e.g. the Taoist Way except inspiration is drawn primarily from seven Traditions.  Nonduality is the ‘center pole’ or ‘backbone’ of the One Garden interspiritual reading of self & life. From the teachings of the various Traditions I hope we come to see that we are all set the same challenge in life.  The briefest description of that challenge that I’ve ever seen is from a Zen Master, “No self; no problem.”  Now let’s see what the seven Traditions say about Nonduality & duality. Each Tradition points to the insight of the two realms but provides a different aspect on the subject;

FROM JEWISH TEACHINGS: The great Jewish poet, philosopher & activist Rebbe Abraham Joshua Heschel describes the two worlds exquisitely ;

“The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding.

Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh.

We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore.

Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another.  Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap.

They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath.”Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion.

A simpler way of presenting the key idea is to be found in  this metaphor: “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of mystery.”  Notice that even reason stops at the shoreline of mystery. The key is that to realize Nondual Reality we have to surrender to the impossibility that language, words, concepts, even mind and reason  can play no part. We either feel the Nondual whole or we don’t. But the good news is that we can clear away the inner clutter that comes with the ‘dual world’ and find that our true Self is there all the time. This is Awareness, but Awareness is us only when we have stopped ‘selfing’. Then, relatively, we sense that God is closer to us than our life-vein as in We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Qur’an 50:16).  As in the one set of footsteps in the sand God carries us, even when we are not fulfilling our covenantal obligation.  To transcend we have to get our false egoic self sufficiently surrendered to allow our true Self to be reflected from our heart.

FROM BUDDHIST TEACHINGS: – The two realms are pointed to in this ancient Zen teaching telling us that the great Master Dogen taught, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and  to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”……… To be enlightened by the 10,000 things is to recognize the unity of the self and the 10,000 things.

FROM SUFI ISLAMIC TEACHINGS:  Rumi in one of his poems says; “Not Christian or Jew or Muslim. Not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system.  I am not from the east or the west. Not out of the ocean or up from the ground. Not natural or ethereal. Not composed of elements at all. I do not exist. Am not an entity in this world or the next.  Did not descend from Adam & Eve or any origin story. My place is the placeless, a trace of the traceless – neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one & that one call to & know, first, last, outer, inner, only that breath, breathing, human, being.” – Rumi – 13thC  Sufi mystic – (C Barks).

FROM HINDU TEACHINGS:

“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the

individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the

self same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the tree;                                                    the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.

“The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the

divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he

recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his

glory, he grieves no more.”   -0-     SOURCE This trans. is in ‘The Upanishads, Breath of the Eternal’, by Swami Prabhavananda.

FROM CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS:

Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.” The Gospel of Thomas HERE

Fr. Richard Rohr comments; “Western Judeo-Christians are often uncomfortable with the word “nonduality.” They often associate it (negatively) with Eastern religions. I am convinced, however, that Jesus was the first nondual religious teacher of the West, and one reason we have failed to understand so much of his teaching, much less follow it, is because we tried to understand it with a dualistic mind.”  – Fr. Richard Rohr, in The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See.

FROM BAHA’I TEACHINGS:  “The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence.” – Bahá’u’lláh – Gleanings XXIX

The goal for the individual is to; “Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more.” – Bahá’u’lláh – Persian Hidden Word No 40

FROM TAOIST TEACHINGS: The first chapter of the Tao Te Ching says; The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery & manifestations arise from the same source…..  

This speaks of the two realms & of the ‘Way’ as being beyond what we take as being the normal or real world. The (Nondual) Way cannot be described in words or concepts.  With mind you always end up with your own limitations. The key, whether you’re a sage or a Mr or Mrs J Bloggs, is to overcome or transcend ‘self’. Why? Because self as an autonomous, self-subsisting entity is an illusion & as our Buddhist teachers show us is the source of all of our self-created suffering. Only God is Self-subsisting.

  1. This all sounds very deep – is there a simpler way to understand Nonduality? Some beauty or goodness or truth, or breath meditation, or art, ‘takes us out of our ‘egoic-self’.  We all have had some experiences such as this – as captured by the 8thC Chinese poet known as Li Po;

“The birds have vanished from the sky, / & now the last clouds slip away. / We sit alone, the mountain and I, / until only the mountain remains.”  

Yes we kick ourself when we realize how simple Reality is . What is your true self?  It’s what we already are –  if we only we can get our egoic self out of our way – & out of The Way.  

FROM CONTEMPORARY SPIRITUAL TEACHERS WE HAVE:  “Every thought in consciousness has been born into form, a temporary form and then it dies and goes onto another form……..the whole world is consciousness having taken birth as form, manifesting as form temporarily, and then dying which means dissolving as form. What always remains is the “essence” of all that exists – consciousness Itself.” – Eckhart Tolle.  We must avoid exclusivism & making the ‘other’ the enemy.  Self is the only enemy.

What then is The Interspiritual Way?  instead of drawing on just one great Tradition, the One Garden worldview draws, primarily, upon 7 Traditions. At the heart centre of them all is the magnetic force of love – love makes of us, & every ‘thing’ the Transcendent Whole. Love makes a group of people into a family. The Interspiritual Way is the same as the Taoist Way but draws in the transcendent heart-centre of the other Traditions.  Love is what enables us to transcend our egoistic self and ascend to the heaven of our true self. Our sole theology = “All in God; God in all.” ( panENtheism). Each of us a being within Being.

Our true Self is love, & our place to be is the One Garden. Love is the spirit, the energy, the life-force, the ‘chi’ – the river of life that through us flows. You don’t ‘get a life’ – you are life. Love is the magnet of compassion that unites, makes of parts wholes. It is peace & the bringer of peace. We need the spirit of love but we also need forms through which love may flow. Love is the reality, the hub, the mystic heart around which all can centre. As Ibn ‘Arabi says; “I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take, that is my religion & my faith.”  From Rumi there is an ocean of inspiration concerning love & gardens.

‘One Garden’ for us is the ‘state of being’ in which we realize Oneness behind all Traditions, & it is also the chosen name of our face-to-face groups. Other metaphors include many pathways but one summit, many rivers; one Ocean. Intellect & the ‘word’ are God’s gift. However as Rumi says “Silence is God’s first language,” so all our words are merely ‘pointers’ that might gift us insights with which to transform & see the Nondual, the light of heaven, Nirvana or bliss. There’s no need to change our ‘faith community’ to realize the Oneness behind all. It’s there in all great Traditions.

 

Being interspiritual I suggest is to walk the path of life Awakening, Detaching & Serving others better …. the perennial framework, also taught by all great Teachers – and it is our spiritual legacy, ancient but perpetually new.  With love as the’ river ‘& ‘perennial wisdom’ as the ‘river-bank’ of structure we have another metaphor for the Inter-spiritual Way.

Our primary purpose as people on the spiritual path, & members of various faith traditions, is to live in the presence of God, or Nowness i.e.in Nonduality – as sages & mystics have taught as a golden thread down through the ages. In so being we can become agents of unity, & crafts-people for peace-building.  The ‘key’ lies in resisting any claims of ‘exclusivity’ instead we can ‘centre on the Oneness at the heart of all great traditions’. When a religion loses its mystic heart The Interspiritual Way & interspiritual living, engender “recovery of ‘the shared mystic heart’, beating in (us & in) the centre of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions”Rabbi Shapiro.

You are what you seek- You cannot possess awareness because awareness is not a thing. Awareness is not an object. You cannot become aware or develop awareness because you already are awareness. The only thing that is required of you is to stop identifying who you are with the many forms that awareness takes. As soon as you stop identifying with form, which is the “content” of awareness, then all that is left is pure awareness. YOU.

Awareness is open, transparent, and always aware of itself. Awareness is absolute spaciousness, and this spaciousness includes everything, keeps everything within its embrace, and lovingly lets all things exist in whatever way they choose. What happens in this space does not corrupt or debase it. Everything in existence emerges from and falls back into this pure, immaculate, and incorruptible space; be it emotions like pain and anger, battles and armed conflicts, despotic dictators, all manifestations of weather including rain, wind, snow, and the clouds that float across the sky, as well as the people in our lives whom we cherish the most. The “you” that you think you are also arises in this space that you are.

Close your eyes and take a moment to simply be aware of the vast space that is immediately within and before you and which surrounds you. It has no beginning or end, yet it always has, always is, and always will, exist as this changeless, eternal, still, and immediately available ground of beingness.

There is an aspect of you that has accompanied you through all of your life experiences as your very nature. Can you identify what this is that is perpetually unmoving and always present? Wise men and women from time immemorial have talked about an “all-embracing ultimate reality,” which is none other than your very own ordinary present awareness. Try not to stray from this profound simplicity.

Just be aware of a sense of presence that is always here. Now, don’t think about what you have just read. Simply notice the presence that is seeing the world through your eyes now and is always seeing the world through your eyes. This seeing is timeless and never leaves you. What is looking, the watcher in you, is this pure awareness, this ultimate presence. The truth of who you are is that actual awareness, which has always been free. You are that freedom.    -0-

IN SUMMARY: All the great traditions teach the same core truths.  At the deepest level our life-journey takes us from ‘apparent reality’ to ‘true Reality’.

We realize our true Self as shown by Rumi and all of the great Sages and Teachers. How? We find that we are citizens of two realms that in the final analysis are One.  “God in all; all in God.” This is the paradox that Reality, God, is wholly Immanent and wholly Transcendent.  Ultimately we need to transcend our lower selves in order to be faithful to our Tradition, and to attract God’s good pleasure.

From the dual realm we need to realize as Albert Einstein did that, “Reality is merely an illusion,’ However he added, “albeit a very persistent one.”

In the Nondual realm we have to realize as Rumi did that no words suffice for what is ineffable

Our unity, and therefore the peace of the world, and the longing in all peoples for justice as well as truth, beauty & goodness, depends on the transcendence of realizing the Oneness behind our Traditions

Rumi and all of the other great teachers are teaching us that ‘Nonduality is, when we stop ‘self-ing’ enough, to be surrendered within the Whole, out of which the ‘I’ appears.  Then we shall see that ‘I = Awareness’

Realizing Oneness is the means to peace.  Inner peace is the way to national and international peace.

Rumi by the way teaches us to transcend.  One way he does this is by ending many of his poems by pointing us back to silence i.e back to the Nondual – as in;

“Be silent now…………                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let yourself become living poetry.”       from ‘Rumi – Bridge to the Soul’

 

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A contributor ‘Maria’ wrote a piece HERE

under the heading of ‘A Tour of Advaita via the Books of Dennis Waite’

As a summary of advaita some may find it useful;

Summary

• Advaita uses various methods (prakriyA-s) to analyze topics about which we have mistaken beliefs in order to reveal our errors and to demonstrate that there is only Brahman.

• The method of discriminating between who we are (the seer) and what we are not (the seen – body, mind etc.) is called dRRigdRRiSya- viveka.

• Who we really are – Brahman – is beyond description and immaculate.

• The body is nothing more than the food we have eaten, yet we worry about its comfort, aging and death.

• Consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the mind. Everything “appears” in Consciousness.

• We do not “think” thoughts – they arise and we witness them.

• The mind assumes the power of Consciousness in the way that an iron ball in the fire becomes hot.

• Attachment to emotions occurs similarly and we must cultivate dispassion (vairAgya). Peace is beyond all emotions.

• The ego is a construction of concepts and its power is destroyed once the truth is understood. This is the basis of “Self-enquiry.”

• ahaMkAra is the process by which we identify with ideas, emotions, roles etc. All disappear in sleep so we cannot be them.

• Neither are we the mask of a “person.” We are the changeless “I am,” the essence of the changing forms.

• The sheath model (pa~ncha-kosha-prakriyA) is used to illustrate the various levels of identification.

• The true Self has nothing to do with the body and mind etc, just as the moon has nothing to do with the bough of the tree on which it appears to rest.

• We are constantly lured by the form and miss the essence.

• Everything transient is first rejected (neti, neti) in order to discover who we truly are, the eternal unchanging. It is then realized that the changing, too, is none other than the non-dual Self.

• Just as dreams are seen to have been nothing but the mind itself on awakening, so the world is seen to be the Self on enlightenment.

• If it can be spoken of, I am not that. Truth is beyond language, which is necessarily in duality. I am the eternal subject. Reality is self-evident.

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Shambhala Sun – Life is Tough: Six Ways to Deal With It (March 2013).

Life Is Tough: Six Ways to Deal With It

An ancient set of Buddhist slogans offers us six powerful techniques to transform life’s difficulties into awakening and benefit. Zen teacher NORMAN FISCHER guides us through them.

There’s an old Zen saying: the whole world’s upside down. In other words, the way the world looks from the ordinary or conventional point of view is pretty much the opposite of the way the world actually is. There’s a story that illustrates this.

Once there was a Zen master who was called Bird’s Nest Roshi because he meditated in an eagle’s nest at the top of a tree. He became quite famous for this precarious practice. The Song Dynasty poet Su Shih (who was also a government official) once came to visit him and, standing on the ground far below the meditating master, asked what possessed him to live in such a dangerous manner. The roshi answered, “You call this dangerous? What you are doing is far more dangerous!” Living normally in the world, ignoring death, impermanence, and loss and suffering, as we all routinely do, as if this were a normal and a safe way to live, is actually much more dangerous than going out on a limb to meditate.

While trying to avoid difficulty may be natural and understandable, it actually doesn’t work. We think it makes sense to protect ourselves from pain, but our self-protection ends up causing us deeper pain. We think we have to hold on to what we have, but our very holding on causes us to lose what we have. We’re attached to what we like and try to avoid what we don’t like, but we can’t keep the attractive object and we can’t avoid the unwanted object. So, counterintuitive though it may be, avoiding life’s difficulties is actually not the path of least resistance; it is a dangerous way to live. If you want to have a full and happy life, in good times and bad, you have to get used to the idea that facing misfortune squarely is better than trying to escape from it.

This is not a matter of grimly focusing on life’s difficulties. It is simply the smoothest possible approach to happiness. Of course, when we can prevent difficulty, we do it. The world may be upside down, but we still have to live in this upside-down world, and we have to be practical on its terms. The teaching on transforming bad circumstances into the path doesn’t deny that. What it addresses is the underlying attitude of anxiety, fear, and narrow-mindedness that makes our lives unhappy, fearful, and small.

Transforming bad circumstances into the path is associated with the practice of patience. There are six mind-training (lojong) slogans connected with this:

Turn all mishaps into the path.
Drive all blames into one.
Be grateful to everyone.
See confusion as buddha and practice emptiness.
Do good, avoid evil, appreciate your lunacy, pray for help.
Whatever you meet is the path.

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Transcript: is HERE – http://www.eckharttolle.com/article/Eckhart-Tolle-Oprah-Winfrey-O-Magazine-Interview

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‘ONE GARDEN – Masters of Wisdom’ – Session 5 – 5th Feb 2013 Cafe Coho 10am – updated

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Two juxtaposed passages today, one from Hinduism, one from Baha’i – plus links to other great sources. I consider myself a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, a Christian, a Moslem and a Baha’i – and a Humanist and sometimes even an a-theist! See my One Garden videos course on a page – HERE

In Sufism, or Islam generally, or Hinduism or Buddhism – in fact in all of the great faiths there are descriptions of the stages of spiritual development. These are the way-stations on our spiritual journey. For the true, sincere & committed seeker these describe the challenges through which the seeker can achieve her or his desire to reflect the name, attributes and qualities of God.

*HINDUISM – The Bhagavad Gita is one such piece of scripture – text & chanting in English HERE My favourite passage from the Bhagavad Gita as many of you know is this;

“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the

individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the

self same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the

tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.

“The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the

divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he

recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his

glory, he grieves no more.”

It’s my favourite because it encapsulates a complete answer to the question that I laboured so long to answer, “What is it to be fully & positively human?” My 80,000 answer, a doctoral dissertation, is HERE (Ahhh the joys of brevity!) It also answers the question, “What is reality?” AND provides the heart of The Perennial Philosophy/the mystical core of all of the great faiths traditions.

BUDDHISM – I suspect that 8 and four etc are more the stages in Buddhism – but what joy there is in the pure forms of its teachings – see HERE on mindfulness.

JEWISH – with Abraham Joshua Heschel as the ‘gate provider’ – see HERE

SUFI – For a fascinating way into a Sufi presentation of 7 stages see HERE

CHRISTIAN – Haven’t yet found a really good co-equivalent from within Christianity – but I suggest you explore this fascinating site – HERE

*BAHA”I – SUMMARY OF THE SEVEN VALLEYS

1 The Valley of Search The valley of search is described as the first step that a seeker must take in his path. Bahá’u’lláh states that the seeker must cleanse his heart, and not follow the paths of his forefathers. It is explained that ardour, and patience are required to traverse this valley.

2 The Valley of Love – The next valley is the “Valley of Love” and in this valley the seeker is compared to a moth who has found a flame. Bahá’u’lláh writes that the heart of the seeker is touched, and the seeker has fallen in love with God.

3 The Valley of Knowledge – The knowledge referred to in this valley is the knowledge of God, and not one based on learning; it is explained that pride in one’s knowledge and accomplishments often disallows one to reach true understanding, which is the knowledge of God. It is explained that the seeker, when in this valley, begins to understand the mysteries contained within God’s revelation, and finds wisdom in all things including when faced with pain and hardship, which he understands to be God’s mercy and blessing. This valley is called the last limited valley.

4 The Valley of Unity

The next stage is the valley of unity, and it is explained that the seeker now sees creation not by its limitations, but sees the attributes of God in all created things. The seeker, it is written, is detached from earthly things, is not concerned with his own self and has no ego; instead he praises God for all of creation.

5 The Valley of Contentment

The next valley for the seeker is the valley of contentment, where it is explained, that the seeker becomes independent from all things, and even though he may look poor or is subjected to suffering, he will be endowed with wealth and power from the spiritual worlds and will inwardly be happy. Happiness is explained to be the attribute of the true believer, and it cannot be achieved by obtaining material things, since material things are transitory.

6 The Valley of Wonderment

In the valley of wonderment the seeker, it is written, is struck dumb by the beauty of God; the seeker becomes conscious of the vastness and glory of creation, and discovers the inner mysteries of God’s revelation. Being led from one mystery of creation to the next, it is explained that the seeker continues to be astonished by the works of God.

7 The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness

The final valley is the valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness and it is the furthermost state that the mystic can reach. The seeker, it is explained is poor of all material things, and is rich in spiritual attributes. It is explained that it is the state of annihilation of self in God, but not an existential union: the essences of God’s self and the mystic’s self remain distinct, in contrast to what appears to be a complete union in other traditions.

The sentence underlined is the Baha’i argument – the finite cannot apprehend the infinite.This is the best overall plain language model I’ve found so far. If you find others let me know! NB The above summary is to be found on WikiPedia

FULL TEXT of THE SEVEN VALLEYS (+ The Four Valleys) –

the above is only a ‘cold’ summary – read the real thing online –

full text HERE

NB The introduction is long – I suggest you go straight down to the ‘Valley of Search’

* PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION including Fowler’s Stages of Faith

Faith is seen as a holistic orientation, and is concerned with the individual’s relatedness to the universal. Fowler defines faith as an activity of trusting, committing and relating to the world based on a set of assumptions of how one is related to others and the world.

  • Stage 0“Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
  • Stage 1“Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious.
  • Stage 2“Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic.
  • Stage 3“Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to religious authority and the development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
  • Stage 4“Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
  • Stage 5“Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
  • Stage 6“Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment“. The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.

CONCLUSION: Whether the stages are 7 or 8, or any number, the stages go through Awakening: Detachment from ego & Service – & the final stage is always ‘no-self’. There are many paths to the top of the mountain but reality at the summit is One.

SUPPLEMENTARY QUESTIONS

Have you found what you are looking for?

How do you know? – what are your criteria to know that you have found what you are looking for?

Do you recognise any stages in your journey so far?

Do you recognize your journey in any of the models you have so far seen?

How far and it what ways do you need to a) have a satisfactory notion of what it is to be human, b)

Please add any other questions you feel the group should discuss?

Namaste – Roger

TABS: spirit, spiritual, spiritual progress, personal development, Sufi, sufism, Islam, Baha’i, perennial philosophy, search, love, knowledge, unity, contentment, wonderment, true, poverty, absolute nothingness, no-self, the void, spirit and form, formlessness, mysticism, mystical oneness, oneness, One Garden, One summit, reality, ultimate reality, awe, wonder, wonderment, happiness, joy, God, truth, beauty, goodness, service, attachment, detachment, awaken, awake, awakening, awakened, heart, journey, seeking, changeless faith of God, the mystic, mystical bond, infinite, finite, infinite God, Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Sufi (Islam),

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Suggested key practice

to re-balance our tendency to ‘live in our heads’ and bring us back to

now

and to wholeness –

mindfully:

Many of us long for the happiness of at-one-ment .

We also long to reduce the pull of the lower self. How?

By staying ‘awake’ more. How? Through mindfulness.

How? a) Creating short periods of stillness and silence

b) staying conscious of the breath, c) as thoughts and feelings arise acknowledge them but don’t fight or chase them – say “Hello – thank-you – goodbye.”

If things stop or get interrupted just go back to stillness and the conscious breathing.

“Breathing in I know that I’m breathing in.” “Breathing out

I know that I’m breathing out.”

“Smile: Breathe: Go slowly.”

– Zen master – Thich Nhat Hanh


RECOMMENDED BOOKS & VIDEOS:
Books non-religious 1) One Moment Meditation – stillness for people on the go by Martin Boroson, Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world (INCLUDES A CD) by Mark Williams & Danny Penman.
VIDEOS: Buddhist – just put ‘Thich Nhat Hanh’ into YouTube!

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MEDITATION – Vipassana – Professor Shrader’s teaching plus two suggestions from RP

Below is the couple of sections in which is the form of meditation that Prof, Shrader teachers his university students – in the time it takes to change classes!

TWO NOTES from RP
i) I would say do what he says but start with Breathing in I know that I’m breathing in, Breathing out I know that I’m breathing out – ….. Tolle says several short sessions during the day, minutes or even seconds are better than one long one – especially if you tend to fall asleep!

ii) I also remember a teaching, and use it. When a thought or feeling arises say. “Hello – thank you – and goodbye!”

Prof Shrader’s instruction is as follows:

Sit up straight. Rest your hands lightly in your lap or on your knees. Do not close your eyes entirely, but let your lids relax so that the eyes become half-closed/half-open.

Without moving your head, lower your gaze to approximately 30˚ below the horizon.

Do not look at anything in particular. Do not think about anything in particular. Do not worry about anything in particular.

As thought come to your mind, as they surely will, simply acknowledge them and let them pass. Do not follow them. Do not try to suppress them so as to have a blank mind. Simply observe and let them pass. So too with feelings or emotions. Acknowledge them for what they are. Accept their presence. Do not try to suppress them, but do not follow them. Let them pass.

We sit silently for five minutes. For some students, it seems like an eternity. They shift nervously in their seats, occasionally opening their eyes a bit wider or turning their head to see if anyone is looking at them. At the end of the allotted time, I instruct them to slowly open their eyes and gradually return to a consciousness of the room in which we sit. I ask:

So how do you feel? Rested? Relaxed? Calm? Energized? Centered? Focused? Do things look and feel a little differently than they did five minutes ago? Do you find yourself becoming acutely aware of details in this room that had heretofore escaped your attention? Are you perhaps more aware of – do you perhaps even feel more connected to – the people who occupy a space adjacent to your own? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have caught a glimpse of the power of vipassana.

In its simplest form, vipassana cries “timeout” to the stream of cognition and concern that

constantly berates our being.

In the quiet space that remains, one finds – not unconsciousness as some might suspect – but rather an inexplicably virginal – untapped, unused, unassuming, and unspoiled – abiding awareness.

“How can this be?” a student will sometimes ask. “I thought I knew my mind, but now I

find the mind I thought I knew may not be mine at all. The self I thought I knew – the me

identified with thoughts and feelings that float across a canvas of mind much like

shadows across the wall of Plato’s cave – this self may not be real at all. More pointedly,

this self (even if real) – which I took to be me – is not me.”

VIPASSANA – In Mahayana Buddhism contexts, it entails insight into what is variously described as sunyatadharmata, the inseparability of appearance and emptiness, clarity and emptiness, or bliss and emptiness.

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TAGS: spiritual practice, mindfulness, spiritual development, breath, breath-work, wholeness, holistic, health, healing, meditation, InSpirit, happiness, atonement, religious experience, interfaith, inter-spirituality, meditation books, key practice, awakening, detachment, serving others, stillness, silence, self, lower self, Self, conscious breathing, breath meditation, breath-mantras, Thich Nhat Hanh, balance, Vipassana,

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Back to the Eckhart Tolle discussion – intellectuality & the mind are as spiritual as prayer & meditation

sun-and-plant

In the context of discussion with contributor ‘Patrick’ I offer a contribution to the issues I raised concerning the brilliant Eckhart Tolle. I do this via a beautiful poem that describes, with exquisite simplicity, the mystical experience of non-duality, or oneness. The poem is by the renowned Chinese poet Li Po;

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)

IMHO

1 Clearly for Li Po there was, to start with, on that occasion, duality.

2 I’m assuming that Li Po returned from non-duality, back in to duality – unless he sat there until his bones turned to dust.  I assume he returned in order to do the laundry, chop wood, carry water.  Of course he would now do them on the bed-rock of enhanced consciousness derived from his mystical/aesthetic experience of non-duality.  Both wings of being human would be beating – as he scrubbed and carried and chopped. Enlightenment is now – if we let it.

In this world – the contingent world, the world of duality, the ‘Kingdom of Names’ – the complementarity of duality and non-duality is the key. Duality is not a curse, or a failing. When in dynamic inter-relation with non-dual experience it is heaven and perfection. Without non-dual experience it is hell, including the hell of relativity. The purpose of life is not just transcendence and timelessness – it is also immanence and being in time, moment by moment. Complementarity is the key.

3 The non-duality or mystic state is the same as the state of creativity (or the truly aesthetic experience).  We are ‘taken out of ourselves’ as we say in modern parlance.  Art  and ‘religion’ are not similar, they are the same – as Coomaraswami says.  It is the forgetting of self, a loss of ego boundaries, a letting go and letting God etc.  But the artist as well as the mystic comes out of the non-dual state back into the dual state. – and s/he becomes someone who lives with what s/he has created. What s/he has produced might even be a bit of a shock – a bit like the dumb panda who jumps when she sees that something is moving on the floor beneath her i.e the cub to which she has just given birth.  The artist becomes nurturer/appreciator/critic – more or less. They in duality are the left-brain evaluator (criticality mode) to complement their non-dual right-brain creativity mode. Complementarity is the key. One mode, and only one mode is in the foreground at any one time. Duration is from milliseconds to hours in the case of non-duality.

4 The question is are both states normal, desirable and, if the term is acceptable, God-given, i.e. both part of the life’s teaching-machine from which we are supposed to learn.  Or is one state bad, immature, to be got rid of, so that we can be non-dual 24/7?

5 Intellectuality is not the same as intellectualism, just as individuality is not the same as individualism.  In both cases the first is normal, healthy, proper, desirable.  In both cases the second is excessive, unbalanced, undesirable and pathological.  The same difference incidentally exists between sexuality and sexual-obsession. Tolle IMHO makes the mistake of not distinguishing between ego and the egotistic. He also can give the impression that he is trying to invalidate mind per se instead of distinguishing between true mind and the neurotic egotistical mind, trapped as it is by attachment.

Awareness, raised consciousness, is true mind. True mind is ‘xin’ heart-mind, interiority bathed in the light of the intellect and the warmth of true love, without attachment to forms – derived from the complementarity of the modes of duality and non-duality. ‘Without attachment to forms’ doesn’t mean without love of forms. Forms are the means (the only means) by which we can come to understand the essentiality of formlessness.

True love as Tolle says is realization of oneness – complementary to which is the glory of diversity.

God loves our celebrating diversity with Him as much as wanting us to realize oneness.

The one who is awakened is a one as well as a not-one – the Buddha was not non-Buddha – at least as a gateway, a pointer.

Spirituality or transcendence or consciousness is not increased by a diminution of intelligence, or more correctly a diminution of intellectuality. The intellect as enlightened heart-mind is the human spirit. Enlightenment comes from realization of the true Self, as opposed to self, that is the eternal. Unlimited Whole, the Silent One, God the Father, God without Name, the Nameless One etc.

Complementarity is the key. Yin is lovely only in the balanced presence of yang – and vice-versa.

6 ‘Before all else, God created the mind.’ (Koranic tradition)  The intellect is the supreme gift of God to man, the pinnacle of the way in which we are made in His image – providing we realize that all rivers flow back to the one Ocean, from which those parts also have their origin. Complementarity is the key.

7 The fear and misunderstanding of the term ego. The ego is simply the part of the self – the dimension or mode – that deals with immediate reality. As such it is neutral – like the heart or lungs or kidney. Whether it is healthy or diseased – now that is a different matter. The ego is as much part of the enlightened one as with the crass self-obsessive.

God celebrates His Creativity in the uniqueness of me, as well as in His Creation of our species.

We believe what we believe – some we choose to believe, some is ingrained.

The happiest of worlds is one where we can believe different things without feeling an obligation to kill each other! Complementarity is the key.

The ultimate sickness is to know who you are through knowing who you hate.

Enough

Namaste!

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