BREATH MATTERS – YOUR FIRST, LAST BREATH ….and all the ones in between

BREATH MATTERS YOUR FIRST, LAST BREATH and all the ones in between Session 34 26th Aug 2015

“I’m gonna lay down my burdens down by the riverside

Down by the riverside down by the riverside……”

breathCheck out lots of intersting stuff at


Many people for whom ‘God’ is a problem are carrying unnecessary baggage.  Perhaps they have got used to it as a barrier – we often are attached, if not addicted to, our pain.  Alternatives to anthropomorphised God include ‘Ultimate Being’ or ‘Mystery” or ‘The Whole’ or Source – or ‘Breath of the Holy Spirit’ (chi?) that unites  We are referring to the ‘All that isn’t you’ – unless you insist on being the Godhead and all its manifestations!  Such egotism in us is usually because of the ‘negatives’ of fear, depression and anxiety.

A good old hymn that we used to sing at my secondary-modern school was “Breathe on me breath of God.”

1 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.
2 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.
3 Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.                                                  by Edwin Hatch

Look again at such ‘simple’ teachings in the light of say Eckhart Tolle. All things do get made new.  Part of the joyous benefits of developing an interspiritual world-view is discovery how profound were at least parts of the early spiritual experience that we had rejected.  The process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis is something that many of us go through.  The purpose of this session is to praise and appreciate this longish extract from Richard Rohr’s brilliant talk given in Australia.

Richard Rohr’s wonderful books are HERE

Richard Rohr;  I don’t want to come to Townsville and not give you my best, although it’s not mine at all. But I want to give you a practice. I believe that if we are going to have a lay spirituality, it’s going to depend not on giving them new doctrines to believe or new dogmas to believe which ask almost nothing of you in terms of real transformation or enlightenment. We have to move from a belief base to a practice base. We don’t believe things because Fr said, or the Bishop said, or even the Pope said it. You believe things because you have walked a journey and you know it to be true for yourself. That’s what spiritual practice is. That’s what lay spirituality needs to be. And I’m going to give you a practice and without exaggeration, could, and for some of you, I have no doubt, will change your life. Because I get probably two letters or emails a week telling me that is exactly the case.

About six years ago, I went to a conference in Santa Fe, that’s the capital of New Mexico, and every year, the last weekend in April there is a national conference on the convergence of science and religion. Any of you who come from a scientific background you know this is surely one of the most exciting things happening. After the enlightenment, for some reason, we considered science the enemy of religion. And now in many cases we find your great scientists to be open to mystery, to non-dual thinking, to living with relativity to mystery, to both. Light being a particle and a wave, for example. They can live with hypothesis. It seems much easier than we clergy can. We can’t live with hypothesis, we have to have an answer for everything that settles the dust.

So I went to such a conference, where these brilliant gathering of PhDs. It was so expensive I wasn’t going to go, but a doctor paid my way and said, “Richard, you’ve got to hear these guys”. Well, there were four lectures a day, and usually after the second lecture I was so brain-dead from excitement and stretching of my awareness of the cosmos and universe we live in, that I just had to go back to my hotel room and journalise.

On the second day, the speaker was a Jewish Rabbi, and a scientist too. And he said amongst other things, “You know, you Christians, never really understood the meaning of the commandment to not take the name of God in vain, you seem to think that it means you shouldn’t say ‘God Damn you’. It isn’t very nice to say and I hope you don’t say it to anyone, but it doesn’t even come close to the meaning of the commandment. Vannas(?), or emptiness, to speak in vain, to speak with emptiness, is in fact to speak the name at all.”

When you use the name God, don’t use, don’t speak it, because you think you will know what you are talking about and you don’t. It’s always mystery. It’s always beyond, beyond, beyond, and any box you build will be too small of a box.   (Rabbi or RR?)

Wow. Now I knew, and I’m sure you’ve been told, but we don’t know for how many centuries this was strictly followed. But we do know for a certain amount of time it was followed and that is, we never spoke with our lips the sacred name Yahweh and it was during that period that the word elohim and adoni because the sacred name was never to be spoken.

Then he went on and he said if any of you studied Hebrew, you know this is true, but when you write Hebrew, all you write are the consonants and what it means to be an educated Jew, is that your eye automatically fills in the appropriate vowels and there are four consonants in the sacred name Yahweh, and he said, “Did you know that those consonants if correctly pronounced do not allow you to close your lips or use your tongue”. In fact the reason the name could not be spoken is it could only be breathed, in fact the sacred name Yahweh was an attempt to imitate and replicate the sound of inhalation and exhalation. (Fr Richard slowly breathes in and out several times with a whispering sound.)

He did it about 30 times in this crowd of PhDs and I’m not exaggerating. But at the end of it I heard sobbing in the room, that people got it. God is as available as the breath, the air, the wind and the words are the same in many languages.  Ironically, paradoxically, truthfully, was there some intuition here? The one thing you have done since you came out of your mother’s body is take in that breath and put it out, and you are doing it now. It’s the only constant, along with the beating of the heart. The beating of the heart starts even before.

Breathing is uniquely the phenomenon of this world and of course that moment comes, and we’ll all be there one day, and we’ll take in that breath for the last time. This could change your life, it can certainly change your prayer life. Because now you know that prayer is not something so much you do it’s something that’s done to you. You allow it. You say yes to it. You bring it to consciousness. You bring it to awareness. You awaken to the mystery and the miracle that is happening around you, within you and through you, all the time.

And then I finally understood why Paul says in two of his letters, “Pray always”. I tried and I couldn’t say Our Fathers or Hail Mary’s all day. It just didn’t work. Because we have defined prayer largely in a verbal way – in saying words to God. Then I realized, as I try to do this practice myself, and found it allowing me to live in the “naked now”, without my opinions, my judgements, my fears, my angers and my agenda.

To simply live in the moment and to be present to the moment in all that it offers. I realise and I hope you already have, that there isn’t a Catholic or protestant way of breathing. There’s not an Australian or an American way of breathing. There’s not a Chinese or an Iraqi way of breathing. There’s not a gay or a straight way of breathing. This just becomes too big a world, too big a truth, maybe we don’t even want it.

Maybe we don’t want a God who is that good a news, who is that giving, who is that accessible, who can really change us that much, on whose life we, moment by moment, second by second, depend. I give you this gift. Some of you will forget it as you walk out the door, but a handful of you will try it. Maybe, I hope, even more than a handful. It works for me, like last night waking up with jetlag all night, & I just go back to my breath, & I’m out of my racing mind into my body, where God it seems has chosen to dwell as a tabernacle.  And there I can rest, there I can be grounded, there I can trust. There love comes much more easily. See, the mind space is always closing down, but the heart space just desires to be open. It desires to receive what is, as it is, moment by moment.

This I offer to you, surely, possibly, I think, the most solid & most universal foundation for a lay spirituality.

If the Christian church is to continue on its path of renewal, if it is to continue to discover its own depth and its own breadth and its own beauty and its own possibility for the world it’s going to come from such transformed people. Not people who just have right ideas, but people who live inside of the world in a new way, that is much bigger and much broader than just ideas. As Jesus puts it, “Loving with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole mind, your whole body and with your whole strength”. When all of that can come together, and it doesn’t come together naturally, usually we are eliminating one part of our self, but whenever all of you is there, you’re praying. Where all of you is there, whatever you are doing is giving glory to God. That is the work of much spirituality.

Because what we tend to do is eliminate the body, we eliminate the mind, eliminate the heart. We can never allow them all to live together in one gracious symphony. That is the work of your whole life. It doesn’t happen by 15, it doesn’t happen by 25, and I guess I have to say it doesn’t happen by 66, except now and then. All it needs to happen is once in a while, just enough so you know it’s true, and hence forward God is not out there, which is innocuous religion when God is no longer out there, and not just in here but in all creation, in everything that lives. What you experience is what the same Thomas Merton said so well, “When you finally know, what you will know is that the gate of heaven is everywhere”.   

It was both St Francis and St Ignatius who told both of their communities and became the motto of both of our communities, “To see God in all things”. My God and everything else. When you can see that broadly and that deeply, when you can see through that veil, secretly joyfully and clearly, you will have seen, and you will have seen indeed.     -END-

RP: Yah……weh = the first, final & ultimate breath-mantra!


Wish me a good death as I wish you: ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’ – poem by John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away, And whisper to their souls, to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say,’The breath goes now,’ and some say, ‘No:’
Marion and I knew a wonderfully spiritual woman the report of whose passing was as Donne writes.  Her name was Florence, a nurse in the 1st WW –  and she was held as a baby in the arms of  Abdu’l-Baha!


Silence is an ocean.  Speech is a river. – Rumi (juxtaposition)

Silence is an ocean.  Speech is a river. – Rumi


… to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that man’s river floweth into the mighty Sea, and draweth from God’s ancient source His inspiration….. – `Abdu’l-Bahá

‘Cuttings’ – the Newsletter of the One Garden inter-spirituality group for 2nd July 2014




Hi Everyone

Suggested breath-mantra for this coming week ;

On the in-breath; “I rest…

On the out-breath; “….in the presence of the Whole”


This week I have started to look at how three sources speak to us about themes within inter spirituality, particularly that of ‘presence’.

​QUESTION: D​o each contain ​’​keys ​’​to insight to be gained from within the others?

1 Abraham Joshua Heschel, from Chapter 5 of his book ‘Who is Man?’;

  • In his great vision Isaiah perceives the voice of the seraphim even before he hears the voice of the Lord. What is it that the seraphim reveal? “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”

  • Holy, holy, holy — indicate the transcendence and distance of God. The whole earth is full of His glory — the immanence or presence of God. The outwardness of the world communicates something of the indwelling greatness of God.

  • The glory is neither an aesthetic nor physical quality. It is sensed in grandeur, but it is more than grandeur. It is a presence or the effulgence of a presence.

  • The whole earth is full of His glory, but we do not perceive it; it is within our reach but beyond our grasp. And still it is not entirely unknown to us.

  • In English the phrase that a person has “a presence” is hard to define. There are people whose being here and now is felt, even though they do not display themselves in action and speech. They have a “presence.” … Of a person whose outwardness communicates something of his indwelling power or greatness, whose soul is radiant and conveys itself without words, we say he has presence.

  • Standing face to face with the world, we often sense a presence which surpasses our ability to comprehend. The world is too much with us. It is crammed with marvel. There is a glory, an aura, that lies about all beings, a spiritual setting of reality.

  • To the religious man it is as if things stood with their backs to him, their faces turned to God, as if the glory of things consisted in their being an object of divine care.

  • Being is both presence and absence. God had to conceal His presence in order to bring the world into being. He had to make His absence possible in order to make room for the world’s presence. Coming into being brought along denial and defiance, absence, oblivion and resistance.


​2 ​
From Eckhart Tolle; If you have a copy of The Power of Now why not re-read Chapter 5 – if not here are some of the key statements by Tolle;

…..we can’t think about presence. The mind can’t understand presence – understanding presence is being present.


When we are in the state of presence we are free of thought. Being present is also to be in a state of alertness.


Presence is like waiting (RP To ‘wait upon the good pleasure of’)


( RP To be present of course is to be in the now)


Brief moments of presence = nomind, satori.


Listening really listening is to experience beauty but behind external forms there is the ineffable.


This reminds me (RP) of this statement by T S Eliot ‘Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.’ – T S Eliot


Tolle says Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are one and the same? Would it be there without your presence? Go deeply into it. Find out for yourself.


When you become conscious of Being, what is really happening is that Being becomes

conscious of itself. When Being becomes conscious of itself – that’s presence. Since Being, Consciousness, and Life are synonymous, we could say that presence means consciousness becoming conscious of itself, or life attaining self-consciousness.


When consciousness frees itself from its identification with physical and mental forms, it becomes what we may call pure or enlightened consciousness, or presence.


what is stillness other than presence, consciousness freed from thought forms?


Don’t get attached to any one word. You can substitute “Christ” for presence, if that is more meaningful to you. Christ is your Godessence or the Self, as it is sometimes called in the East. The only difference between Christ and presence is that Christ refers to your indwelling divinity regardless of whether you are conscious of it or not, whereas presence means your awakened divinity or God-essence.


Jesus attempted to convey directly, not through discursive thought, the meaning

of presence, of self-realization. He had gone beyond the consciousness dimension governed by time, into the realm of the timeless. The dimension of eternity had come into this world.


Eternity, of course, does not mean endless time, but no time.


God said: “I AM THAT I AM.” No time here, just presence.The “second coming” of Christ is a transformation of human consciousness, a shift from time to presence, from thinking to pure consciousness,


You will soon realize that there is no “mine” or “yours” in presence. Presence is one.


​3 ​
From Baha’i Teachings -The Hidden Words by


Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.


All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.

And also from from The Hidden Words in Arabic (no 13) – Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.


​NB D​on’t forget Tim Freke is organizing a monthly online event – see HERE Talk to Annie-Leigh if you are interested and if you are interested in a one day Mystery Experience with Tim in Brighton.

To discover the other inspirational texts, questions & answers you’ll have to come on Wednesday! Hoping to see you!

Namaste and All good wishes,


My preferred meaning for ‘namaste’ – “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”


What is interspirituality?

Inter-spirituality is “the shared mystic heart beating in the center of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions.”

Inter-spirituality is; ‘…the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions.’ WT p26 The Mystic Heart

“Humanity stands at a crossroads between horror and hope. In choosing hope, we must seed a new consciousness, a radically fresh approach to life drawing its inspiration from perennial spiritual and moral insights, intuition and experience.

We call this new awareness Interspiritual, implying not the homogenization of religion, but

the recovering of the shared mystic heart beating in the center of the world’s deepest spiritual traditions.” –


One Garden groups

We meet together as agnostics,Sufis, secularists, Christians, Baha’is etc – seeking the way forward toward peace as the outcome of realizing oneness – interspirituality is the next stage for interfaith.

We are inspired and learn from Wayne Teasdale, as the supreme map-maker of the ‘interspiritual territory’, along with Eckhart Tolle, Ken Wilber & Aldous Huxley. The One Garden is pointed to by teachers from within 7 of the world’s great traditions – to help live the interspiritual life, centered on Oneness, as a way to personal and global peace.

Cuttings the Newsletter of the One Garden group for 2nd July 2014

To contact Roger email;

onesummit AT gmail DOT com



IF YOU RUN A GROUP – please circulate for me – thanks – Roger


– or FaceBook HERE

– and stay in touch here – MeetUp:

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering) – Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness poem by Thich Nhat Hanh set against beautiful video;

Published on 23 Jun 2013

The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering) – Read by Thich Nath Hanh, chanted by brother Phap Niem.
May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos.
Even in the darkest spots, living beings are able to hear it clearly,
So that all suffering in them ceases,
Understanding comes to their heart And they transcend the path of sorrow and death.

The universal dharma door is already open.
The sound of the rising tide is heard clearly.
The miracle happens:
A beautiful child appears in the heart of the lotus flower.
One single drop of this compassionate water
Is enough to bring back the refreshing spring to our mountains and rivers.

Listening to the bell, I feel the afflictions in me being to dissolve –
My mind calm, my body relaxed,
A smile is born on my lips.
Following the sound of the bell,
My breath brings me back to the safe island of mindfulness.
In the garden of my heart, the flowers of peace bloom beautifully.

Eckhart Tolle @ Watkins Books 25th of October, 2013

A lovely relaxed interview with Tolle at Watkins Books

Eckhart Tolle is a German-born resident of Canada, best known as the author of The Power of Now and A New Earth. In 2011, he was listed by the Watkins Review as the most spiritually influential person in the world.

In 2008, a New York Times writer called Tolle “the most popular spiritual author in the United States.” Tolle has said that he was depressed for much of his life until he underwent, at age 29, an “inner transformation”. He then spent several years wandering and unemployed “in a state of deep bliss” before becoming a spiritual teacher. Later, he moved to North America where he began writing his first book, The Power of Now, which was published in 1997 and reached the New York Times Best Seller lists in 2000. Tolle settled in Vancouver, Canada, where he has lived for more than a decade. The Power of Now and A New Earth sold an estimated three million and five million copies respectively in North America by 2009. In 2008, approximately 35 million people participated in a series of 10 live webinars with Tolle and television talk show host Oprah Winfrey.[6] Tolle is not identified with any particular religion, but he has been influenced by a wide range of spiritual works.

The 8 Snowmass principles by Fr Thomas Keating

The 8 principles, by Fr Thomas Keating and other Snowmass Conference members (+ prayer) are commented on in Bro Wayne Teasdale’s great book The Mystic Heart and are the mystical framework for interspirituality, to use the term Teasdale coined.

Go HERE to read the full article.

St. Benedict's in Snowmass, Colorado

Rabbi Hoffman’s first visit to Snowmass was in 1963, when he was 16. When he returned in 1995, it was not as part of an Outward Bound mountain climbing trek, it was to participate in a unique conference of spiritual teachers.

The conference, held since 1984 by Father Thomas Keating of the St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, has invited “deep practitioners” from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, and Islamic traditions to compare notes, connect, and clarify. One result has been to distill out some profound points of agreement shared by each of the participants.

Until 2006, few people even knew about these encounters, so the publication of “The Common Heart, An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue,” was a great gift to the world in providing a window into this rarefied spiritual “think tank.”

As a sample of the richness of this book, here is Fr. Keating’s short list of points of agreement that he reports in his introduction: 

  1. The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate Reality, to which they give various names.
  2. Ultimate Reality cannot be limited by any name or concept.
  3. Ultimate Reality is the ground of infinite potentiality and actualization.
  4. Faith is opening, accepting, and responding to Ultimate Reality. Faith in this sense precedes every belief system.
  5. The potential for human wholeness – or, in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transcendence, transformation, blessedness – is present in every human being.
  6. Ultimate Reality may be experienced not only through religious practices, but also through nature, art, human relationships, and service to others.
  7. As long as the human condition is experienced as separate from Ultimate Reality, it is subject to ignorance and illusion, weakness and suffering.
  8. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with Ultimate Reality.

Bro Wayne Teasdale in his seminal book, ‘The Mystic Heart’ added to the Snowmass list ‘prayer’.

God is love – inspiration & structure for One Garden groups

The ONE GARDEN– Meditation & Dialogue celebrating the Oneness behind diverse traditions via

exquisite inspiring interspiritual beauty,truth & goodness – for justice & peace. God is love!

JUDAISM: Blessed are the men and women who are planted on your earth, in your garden,

who grow as your trees and flowers grow, who transform their darkness to light.

Their roots plunge into darkness; their faces turn toward the light. All those who

love you are beautiful; they overflow with your presence so that they can do

nothing but good. There is infinite space in your garden; all men, all women

are welcome here; all they need do is enter.

SOURCE – The Odes & Psalms of Solomon –

HINDUISM: For those who set their hearts on me/ And worship me with unfailing devotion and faith,/ The way of love leads sure and swift to me. Krishna – Bhagavad Gita – SOURCE

CHRISTIAN: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.            –                                                                                                                  SOURCE 1 John 4:16

SUFI/ISLAM: O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.

My heart has become capable of every form:

it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,

and a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaa’ba,

and the tablets of the Torah and the book of the Quran.

I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,

that is my religion and my faith.

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi: The Treasure of Compassion ‘Tarjuman al-Ashwaq’ Theosoph Pub House 1911.Poem XI

RUMI: I profess the religion of love,

Love is my religion and my faith.

My mother is love

My father is love

My prophet is love

My God is love

I am a child of love

I have come only to speak of love

BAHA’I: Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.

Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul.

Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things.

Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next.

Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul.

Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the diverse elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms.

Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe.

Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization …. SOURCE

TODAY’S BUDDHISM:“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh

NB Below: our Meditation & Dialogue framework- it is a way of life, a mission, a vision, a curriculum

‘One Garden groups’– our focus = practicing healing Wholeness via perennial wisdom


”Sipping the healing perfume, nectar & wisdom from various spiritual flowers!”

The ‘One Garden’ goal = living in balance – 2 wings i) realizing mystical connection to the whole & ii) dialogue-ing Perennial Wisdom/Philosophy. Together their concern = Awakening:Detaching:Serving

‘One Garden’ groups are about having a supportive ‘family’ to inspire living in the interspiritual way.

We are a sacred space for practice & dialogue – using eternal wisdom sources. Why? – for greater happiness & peace, both as individuals & for the wider community, the planet’s global family.

OUR 3 SPIRITUAL CHALLENGES – awakening; detaching; serving.

Awakening is primarily learning to stay mindful in our connection with the Whole (God if you prefer), conscious breathing is for many the No 1 re-minder.

Detachment is learning to reduce the average level of ‘radio’ interference (ego) as we serve others within consciousness of the Whole.

Service is action dedicated to the well being of others – starting with a our friends, family & workmates – through to planetary concerns.

INTERSPIRITUALITY (21stC inter-faith) = “…the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions.” – see Teasdale’s The Mystic Heart & Tolle’s The Power of Now etc.

They teach the 2 ‘wings of spirituality’ – A) Connection with the Whole + B) perennial wisdom & dialogue for 1) Awakening: 2) Detaching: 3) Serving.

1) to AWAKEN – “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” T N Hanh SL p504

A) • There’s a reality beyond the material world & its life force: • Which is uncreated. • It pervades everything, • but remains (as a Whole) beyond the reach of human knowledge & understanding.

2) to DETACH – “A (wo) man is a slave to anything s/he cannot part with that is less than her/himself” – George MacDonald –

“Mindfulness allows us to spend more time in eternity! ” (RP)

B) • You approach that reality by: • Distinguishing ego from true self • Understanding the nature of desire • Becoming unattached • Forgetting about preferences • Not working for personal gain • Letting go of thoughts • Redirecting your attention • Being devoted • Being humble • Invoking that reality • Surrendering etc.

C) • That reality approaches you through: • Grace • The ‘way’ or the teacher seems to appear whenever we need to move on up through the next stage.

D) • You’re transformed – enlightened – so that you embody or reflect that reality by:

• ‘Dying’ and ‘being reborn’ (i.e transformed & living more via the true higher non-egoistic Self).

3) to SERVE – “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” – Albert Schweitzer

E) .You then find (even better) ways to serve – realizing that all work done in the spirit of service can be ranked as worship. NB the 3 Awake:Detach:Serve work synergistically – we can start anywhere.



Our One Garden a) PURPOSE =Awaken:Detach:Serve b) PRACTICE = Smile:Breathe:go mindfully

CONTACT: Roger (Dr Roger Prentice) onesummit AT gmail DOT com

Correcting teachings that misrepresent Islam – a contribution by Dr Hesham A. Hassaballa


Alhambra_Generalife_fountains (1)Alhambra

I often wonder why the real scholars and the ‘good guys’ don’t stand up to throw off the (apparent?) control by fundamentalists.

If you go to some sites it seems as though Islam is teaching that anyone who is not a member of Islam is something close to less than human.  The issues that surround the status of non-Moslems centre around terms such as kufr and kafir in the Qur’an.

Dr Hassaballa himself was surprised when he did some research;

In the Name of God the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

During an extensive conversation about the relationship of a Muslim with non-Muslims, the issue of who exactly is a kafir , or one who “denies the truth” (frequently translated as “infidel”), came up. Yet, when I delved deeper into the meaning of the words kufr and kafir in the Qur’an, I learned that these words have a much deeper, more profound meaning. And it has nothing to do with “being infidels.”

The late Muhammad Asad (God’s Mercy be upon him) eloquently defined the meaning of kufr and kafir in the Qur’an:

This meaning is easily grasped when we bear in mind that the root verb of the participial noun kafir (and of the infinitive noun kufr) is kafara, “he (or “it”) covered (a thing)”: thus, in Quran 57:20 the tiller of the soil is called (without any pejorative implication) kafir, “one who covers”, i.e., the sown seed with earth, just as the night is spoken of as having “covered” (kafara) the earth with darkness. In their abstract sense, both the verb and the nouns derived from it have a connotation of “concealing” something that exists or “denying” something that is true. Hence, in the usage of the Quran – with the exception of the one instance (Quran 57:20) where this participial noun signifies a “tiller of the soil” – a kafir is one who denies (or “refuses to acknowledge”) the truth” in the widest, spiritual sense of this latter term: that is, irrespective of whether it relates to a cognition of the supreme truth – namely, the existence of God – or to a doctrine or ordinance enunciated in the divine writ, or to a self-evident moral proposition, or to an acknowledgment of, and therefore gratitude for, favors received…………………………………….

In the last part of Asad’s statement lies my rediscovery of the meaning of kufr. A kafir can refuse to acknowledge the favors given to him or her, i.e., be ungrateful. In fact, the opposite of the word shukr, or “gratitude,” in Arabic is none other than kufr. The Qur’an explicitly uses the word kufr to mean “ingratitude”:

To read Dr Hesham A. Hassaballa ‘s article go to

The article ends with this striking paragraph;

This is truly amazing. For so many years of my life, I had always thought a kafir was an “unbeliever.” I realize now how primitive and naive such a belief truly is. The Qur’an is such a profound book, with so many layers of understanding that are waiting to be discovered. The more I delve into the Qur’an, the more I want to keep swimming in its words and meanings. And the more I understand why God asks the question, ” Will they not, then, ponder over this Qur’an? – or are there locks upon their hearts?” (Quran 47:24).

For me this a fine article, for which many thanks.   Still it would be nice to know that I am not an infidel – perhaps there is another article for Dr Hassaballa to write?

Are you a green parrot or a drop from the ocean? – a view on reincarnation and Oneness

A useful site on Hindu teachings presents two analogies.

The first is the ‘drop and the ocean’ analogy in which

The soul is compared to a drop of water and liberation to its merging into the vast ocean which represents the Supreme Soul (God).
According to the advaita schools, the soul and God are equal in every respect, and liberation entails realisation of one’s Godhood. Thus, one’s mistaken sense of individuality is dissolved, and one merges into the all-pervading Supreme.

The second is the ‘green parrot analogy in which

The individual soul is compared to a green bird that enters a green tree (God). It appears to have “merged”, but retains its separate identity.

  • The personalistic schools of thought maintain that the soul and God are eternally distinct and that any “merging” is only apparent. “Oneness” in this case refers to:

unity of purpose through loving service realisation of one’s nature as brahman (godly) but maintenance of one’s spiritual individuality.

  • Liberation involves entering God’s abode, though many schools teach that those souls who have become free from material contamination are already liberated, even before leaving the material body

The two analogies are to help explain two views’ on the process of attaining ‘moksha’ a freeing or liberation from samsara, the endless round of repeating cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation);

practically all schools consider it a state of unity with God, the nature of such unity is contested. The advaita traditions say that moksha entails annihilation of the soul’s false sense of individuality and realisation of its complete non-difference from God. The dualistic traditions claim that God remains ever distinct from the individual soul. Union in this case refers to a commonality of purpose and realisation of one’s spiritual nature (brahman) through surrender and service to the Supreme Brahman (God).


Firstly I should say that the conventional understanding doesn’t work for me. Instead I see reincarnation as every moment in which I prompt myself to return to the ‘body of my true Self’, away from any egoistic, lower self, attachment.

Oak trees produce acorns but the don’t become again the acorn from which they grew. Life is progressive in terms of the after-life. But in this world every time we repeat the same ego-driven mistakes we ‘reincarnate’ ourselves into our lower self.

In unitive meditation we merge with the Whole, but not as a co-equal partner with the Godhead – the finite cannot claim to comprehend the Infinite. That which we become at-one with is Creation not the Creator.

On this subject listen to the 8thC Chinese poet known as Li Po;

“The birds have vanished from the sky,

and now the last clouds slip away.

We sit alone, the mountain and I,

until only the mountain remains.”

If the ego is sufficiently quietened for us to be ‘absorbed’ it is a unity with Creation not the Creator.

To the Chinese poet I would add a Baha’i perspective the holds that in the afterlife we commune with souls with whom we have associated;

13. As to the question whether the souls will recognize each other in the spiritual world:

This fact is certain; for the Kingdom is the world of vision where all the concealed realities will

become disclosed. How much more the well-known souls will become manifest. The mysteries

of which man is heedless in this earthly world, those he will discover in the heavenly world, and

here will he be informed of the secret of truth; how much more will he recognize or discover

persons with whom he hath been associated. Undoubtedly, the holy souls who find a pure eye

and are favored with insight will, in the kingdom of lights, be acquainted with all mysteries, and

will seek the bounty of witnessing the reality of every great soul. Even they will manifestly

behold the Beauty of God in that world. Likewise will they find all the friends of God, both those

of the former and recent times, present in the heavenly assemblage.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Bahá’í World Faith, p. 367 –
This Baha’i extract is from Dr Bill Huitt’s excellent compilation HERE


The two views illustrated by ‘the green parrot’ and ‘the drop-ocean’ analogies are resolvable via this perspective. In so far as we mirror the higher Self and quieten the ‘chattering monkey’ of the lower self we attain Moksha, Nirvana, Heaven. This is a moment by moment switching until we are enabled to maintain a more constant connection with the higher Self. Experiences of unity are sublime, ineffable, bliss-full but we are not then at-one with the Godhead, just sufficiently ego-less to feel at-one with the rest of Creation! We get close to God in this limited sense through living a life that obeys the Covenant of eternal verities found in the mystical heart of all great faiths.

From Zen we learn

The great Master Dogen said,

“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 ten thousand things is to recognize the unity of the self and the ten thousand things.

A limited at-one-ness – through seeking the True Self within – and enjoying endless dualities of this world are the two wings through which we fly spiritually (including spirituality as intellectuallity).

It is certainly true that ‘all is God’ but our reality and our powers are devolved not co-equal.


to visit the ISKCON site from which I took inspiration for this article.


Interspirituality, the 21stC version of perennial wisdom, celebrates the Oneness behind the jostling exclusivist-ic world-views!

Is non-duality good and duality bad?

Thanks for the discussion and your question about non-duality and teachers of non-duality.

From a quick listen to Rupert Spira so far it seems to be high quality teaching. The design of his site is exquisite! See HERE

As with other luminaries e.g Tolle and Wilber I would make the following comment;

In brief non-duality & duality are both gifts of life (God if you prefer or the Whole) – both are essential, both are ongoing. We need to work both wings in complementary harmony. The goal of life is not to eliminate duality, but to have strong, complementary synergistic experiences of duality and non-duality! Harmony requires diversity and vv.

The separate self is good – hallelujah! The small self is good – without it we would have no mastery of self. Without it no comedians would lift our spirits. Without it no artist would create.

As the great Zen Master Dogen said,

“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 ten thousand things is to recognize the unity of the self and the ten thousand things.


This is an enormous field – see the work by Jerry Katz HERE (1000+ very long pages!) and HERE

I tried to build some of these ideas into the 60 Seconds Meditation (for galloping frenetically-busy people) – HERE


Or as Stuart GuruStu Rosen HERE put it

Exquisitely beautiful Baha'i chant in English


“Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!” – Bahá’u’lláh

(From album entitled – Luke Slott “Create in Me a Pure Heart”)


Would you like to start a One Garden Interspirituality group in your area?


The ‘One Garden’ – A General Introduction for newcomers to the One Garden Groups


Game, set & match! – If you have realized the Oneness behind the diversity you are already a ‘member’ of the ‘One Garden’ – welcome home!

AIM & PURPOSE OF THE ‘ONE GARDEN’ COMMUNITY – to celebrate, experience, explore & practice oneness/Oneness – from within the enlightenment teachings of great spiritual teachers – in a frame work of perennial wisdom or Perennial Philosophy (see below) context .

In our meetings we use mainly contemplative dialogue but start and end with short silent meditations. On a daily basis group members practice according to what they choose – some may still be happily within mainstream faith communities, some might be refugees from painful experience in mainstream religions, some have simply realized that behind the myriad world-views there is Oneness.

We see the overall spiritualizing process as 2 ‘wings’ that together enable spirituality.

i) All spiritually alive people use the first wing to stay connected to the Whole i.e.

– it requires that the ‘ego & mind’ be quietened, (this is our heart-centre & right-brain).

ii) The second wing with which we fly spiritually is dialogue (left-brain, head-centred).

We achieve a sense of connection with the Whole, (it ebbs and flows, unless you are one of the great masters), via mindfulness – or more correctly mind-less-ness!

The two wings need to be in harmony – if one wing is overdeveloped we flap and go round in circles and never fly upwards at all!

OUR MAP-MAKERS: As map-makers of the ‘territory’ we have Eckhart Tolle, Aldous Huxley, Wayne Teasdale & Ken Wilber – and for a popular historical perspective – Karen Armstrong.

Other great teachers: Thich Nhat Hanh, Christian Contemplatives, Shaikh Kabir Helminski, Abdu’l-Baha,, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Quaker Universalism, Deng Ming-Dao, Albert Einstein, Prof John Miller (great champion of Holistic Education) – and ‘wonder-full’ poets & philosophers!

All are ‘gate-keepers’, or pointers as Buddhist teachers say, to realizing ourselves in the ‘One Garden’!

If you like reading see suggested reading list below

WEEKLY – BUT NO NEED TO ATTEND EVERY WEEK – each session is ‘stand alone’. You don’t have to buy books or read lots – materials provided.

WHO IS IT FOR?: For all on a path to realizing their true self .

HOW’S IT WORK? – each week we have a topic/question: One way we work is simply to put ‘spiritual jewels’ next to each other e.g. by juxtaposing these two pieces by Rumi & Abraham Joshua Heschel;

1 Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing – by Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.


2 Concepts & Amazement – a quote by A J Heschel

“Concepts are delicious snacks with which

we try to alleviate our amazement.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel – Who is Man p.88


EXAMPLE TOPIC: Being at-one

EXAMPLE QUESTION: Where & how and through what are we one?

DEVISING THE AGENDA: One way we use is following a short period of silence and a short introduction including quotations the group, we work in pairs, and consult to generate the questions that will make up the agenda for the main group dialogue. Sometimes we have free-flowing dialogue or ‘rounds’.


“Most of the great wisdom traditions agree on an age-old model which says about both the Cosmos and about our human nature:

1. Spirit, by whatever name, exists.

2. Spirit, although existing “out there,” is found “in here,” or revealed within to the open heart and mind.

3. Most of us don’t realize this Spirit within, however, because we are living in a world of sin, separation, or duality-that is, we are living in a fallen, illusory, or fragmented state.

4. There is a way out of this fallen state (of sin or illusion or disharmony or non-integration), there is a Path to our liberation.

5. If we follow this Path to its conclusion, the result is a Rebirth or Enlightenment, a direct experience of Spirit within and without, a Supreme Liberation, which

6. marks the end of sin and suffering, and

7. manifests in social action of mercy and compassion on behalf of all sentient beings.”

The above is KW’s model of The Perennial Philosophy.

RP’s shortest model = ‘Awaken: Detach: Serve’

Namaste & all good wishes – Roger

NB We contribute a minimum of £3.00 where a room is hired – OR just £1.00 toward running expenses handouts, MeetUp fees, travel etc. – thanks.

More ‘One Garden’ quotes HERE

The Perennial Philosophy model

a) Shortest version (RP) = Awakening:Detachment:Service

b) A Christian-Buddhist comparison (Very short version)

  1. There is something bigger than us – the Mysterious Whole

  2. We either are (West), or seem to be (East), separated from it (Victims?)

  3. Through various means we can become reunited with it (or realize that we already are).

  4. Once the separation is overcome, we will lead larger, richer, fuller lives.

In Christian terms, the four steps are:

  1. God

  2. Sin

  3. Faith (or works)

  4. Salvation

In Buddhist terms:

  1. Nirvana (the state of the Absolute)

  2. Illusion or Ignorance

  3. Practice (devotion or meditation)

  4. Enlightenment


If you prefer videos check out the stunning range on YouTube by Tolle, Teasdale, Wilber, Thich Nhat Hanh, Karen Armstrong & especially the dialogue between Wayne Teasdale and Ken Wilber


On my personal journey I wanted a heart connection with those who both described the territory of the One Garden and those who lived it as well as taught it. Below are those who became my ‘gatekeepers’ to the One Garden – the map-makers and the teachers.


First I strongly recommend you read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now – that is enough!

Want more – then read The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale or Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy

Then Ken Wilber and Karen Armstrong



Taoism Deng Ming-Dao 365 Tao

Hinduism Ved Vyasa The Bhagavad Gita

Buddhism Thich Nhat Hanh Happiness

Judaism Abraham Joshua Heschel Who is Man

Christianity Wayne Teasdale The Mystic Heart

Sufism (Islam) Shaikh Kabir Helminski Living Presence

Baha’i Abdu’l-Baha Paris Talks (I will put together a compilation)


Aldous Huxley The Perennial Philosophy

Albert Einstein (A compilation – see online)

All seem to me to point to the One Garden, and the books listed provide a gateway into the One Garden.

You might like to start with the tradition with which you are most familiar.

As a first step in reading, if you want, I suggest you reread The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

I know there are more teachers – but the above is all I can handle – along with some extracts from from poets and philosophers!

IF YOU WANT TO PRACTICE: Listen to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: “ Smile, Breathe, Go mindfully.”

His teachings on practices from over 60 years are gathered into one book ‘Happiness: essential mindfulness practices.’

Eckhart Tolle’s book on practice is called Practicing the Power of Now

There is also a summary of practices taught by ET – see HERE

If you a) practice – Smile, Breathe, Go mindfully” – and b) read and the bell hasn’t rung – practice some more – or worst case scenario – take up fishing!



1) ”One Garden’ – dedicated site for the, ‘One Garden’ groups – is HERE

2) Soul Needs: peace through realizing oneness = celebrating the human spirit via;

i) THE ARTS – especially (street) photography,

ii) PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT & human-centred studies,


iv) INTERFAITH inter-spirituality & Perennial Wisdom, including the ‘One Garden’ project.

v) WHOLE-PERSON LEARNING, radical renewal of child education + healing for adults – (via a) to d)!) – –

vi) THE NEW PROJECT – ‘HEALTH MATTERS’ – surviving IPF as long as possible!

NB Usually posts for all ‘6 Projects’ start or end up on the ‘Soul Needs’ site – RP

3) The ‘Quotations Treasury’ – just quotations –

‘Cuttings’ the newsletter of the ‘One Garden’ groups Edition 21st July 2013

Please forward to your friends who might be interested


– the newsletter of the ‘One Garden’ groups

Edition 21st July 2013

Quote of the week:

‘Sanctity/holiness is realizing how much we are being conditioned by the ego’ – Bede Griffiths quoted by Wayne Teasdale

Teasdale goes on to say that once we have this perspective we have a tool to transcend it (the ego)! – POW!

Wilber comes back with ‘spirit is that ever-present noticing’ – DOUBLE-POW! See Video 7 HERE

NEW RESOURCES UPDATE – the latest, or updated, sets of resources – as promised recently to group members is below – if I have forgotten any please email me.

1 Interspirituality is ‘…the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions.’

Wayne Teasdale in The Mystic Heart p26


2 NAMASTE: “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.” – Namaste!


3 THE WHOLE & THE PARTS: “Behind every moment, behind every particular, is the enveloping Whole. Two wings; connection to the Whole, delight in every particular.” (RP)


4 PLEASE SIGN UP TO i) SoulNeeds & ii) the One Garden WordPress sites

5 The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley – HERE online


6 Ken Wilber & Wayne Teasdale videos HERE


7 Key article on Vipassana meditation and MindfulnessHERE


8 The ‘Spirituality & Practice site – film reviews, book reviews etc – HERE


9 SACRED MUSIC sublime examples of sacred music and chanting:-

The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra chanted by Hein Braat – HERE

The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum – HERE

Music in a public place – HERE

Thich Nhat Hanh – HERE

Exquisite Baha’i chant for the departed – HERE

A Maronite Chant to Mary – HERE

PS I would like these included in my funeral!

10 Mission Statement & summary of the One Garden ‘curriculum’HERE

Photo source WP HERE

Dialogue between Wayne Teasdale & Ken Wilber

This is the first of 7 short videos that together show the full dialogue between Teasdale and Wilber.
THE FULL 7 videos
PART 1 (above ) PART 2 – A likely Story

PART 3 – Intellectual illumination

PART 4 – All Reality in One Moment

PART 5 – Psychosis or Mysical State

PART 6 – Picking a path

PART 7 – Out of the self into the light


UPDATE Justfound that someone has strung the 7 together


Exquisitely Beautiful Chanting – Hein Braat

Great art speaks across cultures – deep spirituality transcends religions – this is both to the highest order.  Now 1.3 million hits for a niche interest!

900,000+ hits and rising!

Astonishing artistry, exquisitely moving.
BEST SUMMARY COMMENT I’VE FOUND RE TRANSLATION (ON YOUTUBE)  – It roughly means, Oh God. How I revel in you, you are the fragrance of life. Help me know wisdom. Like the fruit on the vine, eventually it will fall and rot away, and then begin anew as another vine. Like the fruit bound to the vine, such am I bound to the unnecessities of life. Help me become free of them so that my spirit can grow and become one with you again.


Mantra text

The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra reads:

In Devanagari:ॐ त्र्यम्बकम् यजामहे सुगन्धिम् पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माम्रतात् ।।In (IAST transliteration):Om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanamurvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt

In some Hindu Religious books the complete mantra has been mentioned as:-

“OM Hrom Om Joom Sah Bhurbhuvah Swh Om tryambakam yajāmahe sugandhim pushti-vardhanam urvā rukamiva bandhanān mrityormukshīya māmritāt Bhurbhuvah Swarom Joom Sah Hrom Om”

which is its Tantric version.

[edit]Literal Meaning of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

Word to Word meaning of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra:-

ॐ aum = is a sacred/mystical syllable in Sanatan Dharma or Indian religions, i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism,[3]
त्र्यम्बकम् tryambakam = the three-eyed one (accusative case),
यजामहे yajāmahe = We worship, adore, honour, revere,
सुगन्धिम् sugandhim = sweet smelling, fragrant (accusative case),
पुष्टि puṣhṭi = A well-nourished condition, thriving, prosperous, fullness of life,
वर्धनम् vardhanam = One who nourishes, strengthens, causes to increase (in health, wealth, well-being); who gladdens, exhilarates, and restores health; a good gardener,
उर्वारुकमिव urvārukam iva = like the pumpkin (in the accusative case),

Note:- urvārukam: ‘urva’ means “vishal” or big and powerful or deadly. ‘arukam’ means ‘disease’. Thus urvārukam means deadly and overpowering diseases. (The pumpkin interpretation given in various places is also correct for the word urvārukam, but not apt for this mantra). The diseases are also of three kinds caused by the influence (in the negative) of the three guṇas and are ignorance (avidyā), falsehood (asat, as even though Vishnu is everywhere, we fail to perceive Him and are guided by our sight and other senses) and weaknesses (ṣaḍripu, a constraint of this physical body and Shiva is all powerful).

बन्धनान् bandhanān = “from captivity” {i.e. from the stem of the cucumber} (of the gourd); (the ending is actually long a then -d which changes to n/anusvara because of sandhi)

Note:- bandhanān: means bound down. Thus read with urvārukam iva, it means ‘I am bound down just as by deadly and overpowering diseases’.

मृत्योर्मुक्षीय mrityor mukshīya = Free, liberate From death
माम्रतात् mā amritāt = (give) me immortality, emancipationy

[edit]Simple Translation

OM We worship Shiva, the Three-eyed Lord who is fragrant and who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As is the ripened cucumber (with the intervention of the gardener) freed from its bondage (to the creeper) May He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality. OM[4]

As one commentator said – “There’s no place like aum!”

New Group ‘Wisdom Questions’, St Augustine and Perennial Philosopy




Wisdom Questions


“Wisdom is the faculty of making the use of knowledge, a combination of discernment, judgement, sagacity and similar powers. If knowledge is the accumulation of facts and intelligence the development of reason, wisdom is emotional and spiritual discernment. More than knowledge, it is the right application of knowledge in moral and spiritual matters, in handling dilemmas, in negotiating complex relationships. Wisdom is nine-tenths a matter of being wise in time. Most of us are often too wise after the event! It is insight into the heart of the matter.” Wise people see beyond the facts and figures. They avoid problems before they occur. Wisdom is gained through experience, patience and listening.       Definition by Evan Owens CEO of CentreSource – HERE

Some questions to ‘kick-off’


Does anyone want to make out a case for the wisdom of woman being different to, or the same as, the wisdom of men?


Is science the only method for connecting to reality?


Do the great wisdom traditions really teach the same about what it is to be wholly & fully human – in the world with others – in relation to the mysterious Whole?


Are the arts a means to reality – or just self indulgence?


If we base the education of our children on whole-person leaning might they contribute toward a better world?


Do we agree with Evan Owens in his definition (see above) ?



Are (some) children wiser than many experienced adults – if yes why & how is this?


Some friends and I are starting a new group – both locally in Brighton and online.  Online details below.


The suggested group title is a play on a) the wisdom we have (should) question – ourselves, our world and reality – AND we can have fun, enjoyment and learning in framing questions to ask of ‘our accumulated, or realized, wisdom’!




Here is an ancient poetic summation of the state of being human, and implicitly of The Perennial Philosophy –  from the Bhagavad Gita;


“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.”


This so beautifully describes …. well what do you think?


Stunningly just yesterday I discovered that St Augustine wrote……….


The fact, which is now called the Christian Religion,” he boldly says, with the earlier Apologists, “existed among the ancients, and was never lacking from the origin of the human race.”  –

C C Martindale SJ –  SOURCE



Those who want to dig deeper can compare the above two quotations with the contemporary re-presentation of Perennial Philosophy in Aldous Huxley’s The Perennial Philosophy or Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now or Stillness Speaks – or Ken Wilber or Karen Armstrong, or Wayne Teasdale, or Thich Nhat Hanh, or Thomas Merton or Shaikh Helminski etc. – each I suugest speaks in different language and cultural clothing but teach the same message?



This is St Augustine not me! –  Lol



Picture source and helpful list of facts on Augustine & Aquinas by Jeffrey Hays – HERE



The ‘Wisdom Questions group ON-LINE


My contributions to this group’s interests will go to my general blog – – along with my other core projects


1 whole-person learning,
2 photographic art,
3 social justice,
4 inter-spirituality
5 transforming IPF, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis into something life-enhancing


i.e. is a metablog of all my blogs


however the dedicated site for Wisdom Questions and inter-spirituality is – – you can comment on or add ‘gems’ to either or both!



All good wishes









Kabir Helminski on Individuality Spiritual Transformation

A beautiful talk on Spiritual Transformation by Kabir Helminski;

Kabir’s sweet, gentle, loving and wise teaching is my Islamic gateway into the ‘One Garden’, the Islam-inspired path to the One Summit – interfaith inter-spirituality at its best!

Some biographical background is HERE


TAGS: interfaith, interspirituality, Kabir Helminski, inter-spirituality, Universalism, oneness, Islam, Sufi, One Garden, Onesummit, InSpirit

COMPASSION: Awakening the heart with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Awakening the heart with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (8/14/2011) Chanting 1-3

The words are simply “Namo Avalokitesvarya”.
You can think of “Namo” as meaning “praise” or “adoration” and Avalokiteshvaraya is the name of the Boddhisattva of Compassion. They are singing the name in each syllable and the effect is that it sounds like lyrics. SOURCE
NB The first time you might want to start about 8 mins 30 seconds into the video

Insight (52 Meditations)

In-sight is the interior version of physical sight.


It is a seeing into the reality of things – self, relationships, scientific problems – into reality as a Whole, or some part of reality.


In-sights expand our space.  They expand the parameters.  They expand our sensibility.


But they also re-order priorities and tweak life-perspectives.


According to the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh




In-breath:I ask my spirit
Out-breath: light breaks forth


Words from a spiritual master;


“…while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit.
In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit
and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.


Words from another spiritual master;


A lightning flash:

between the forest trees

I have seen water.

Shiki Masaoka




TAGS: Zen, insight, meditation, interspirituality, intermysticism, interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh, Abdu’l-Baha, spiritual masters, reality, spirituality, spiritual development, spiritual federalism, interfaith, universalism,

‘The One Garden – many gateways’ project – in service of ‘Spiritual Federalism’



The contemporary Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Happiness (pp20-21) writes about an experience when he first came to feel a connection with ancient Europe through the sounding of church bells.  His description resonated with me because I also have been yearning for ways into ‘feeling at-one’ with major wisdom traditions.  Why?  Well in order to experience the oneness that I believe is at the centre of them all.

In honouring the sweet simplicity of everything that Thich Nhat Hanh does and teaches, and imagining a large walled garden, I have decided to call it the ‘One Garden’ project – ‘One Garden; many gateways’.

Thich Nhat Hanh is my Buddhist gateway to our One Garden.  The other gateways to the One Garden include Abdu’l-Baha, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shaikh Kabir Helminski, – see HERE for a fuller list.

The project, and learning and teaching about it, is about encouraging realization of oneness – what the Baha’is call the ‘changeless faith of God’.  That oneness is to do with our being human – we are one because all people of goodwill recognize, through compassion, that all humans suffer, laugh, love and struggle to feed their families. That oneness is also to do with the inner oneness of all of the great wisdom traditions – even though men have done terrible things in the name of those traditions – everything from current wars, to the persecution of Baha’i and other minorities in Iran, to making hundreds of millions of people in India into sub-human ‘untouchables’.

But misuse of the wisdom traditions is no reason to ignore the gems of wisdom they contain.  In one sense this is a humanist (small ‘h’) and humanistic project because it is looking for ways to best answer the ultimate question, ‘What is it to be positively and fully human?’.   This includes however looking beyond those horrors men have done in the name of religions to the jewel-like true teachings.

PROCESS: we have evolved a study process that includes head, heart and action, left-brain and right-brain, mythos and logos etc

Contemplative Study Process: head, heart and action!  (includes silence, contemplative reading & dialogue as preparation for better action)

1 Short period of silence (just discovered 1 min = approx 20 breaths!)

2 TEXT – experienced via ‘whole-person reading’ (based on lectio divinia & ‘looking & listening for the inner light’)

a) Read text slowly

b) Quietly absorb and ponder

c) Listen to what it is saying to you by the text – express aloud if you wish but no dialogue

d) Listen for your response, formulate it & express it – express aloud if you wish – but no dialogue until after Step 3

3 Short silence – each can use, if they want, a choice of SHORT phrases from chosen text for repetition as a mantra –

4 Dialogue – as per Prof Matthew Lipman’s philosophical inquiry system

5 Final Short silence – only in silence are we truly at-one!

One thing is missing from this study process and that is creativity.  Go create! – in whatever medium takes your fancy.  Thich Nhat Hanh recommends the writing of poetry as a practice in spiritual development, and as with everything, so far as I can see, he ‘walks the talk’’  But most other art forms can add that vital dimension to personal and group learning.

PERSONAL PRACTICE: This is down to each participant.  We can’t do all the practices of all of the wisdom traditions – there wouldn’t be time to eat or sleep!  In any case this One Garden project isn’t yet another religion, but it does show that we can be a Spiritual Federalist i.e. be happy with our given or chosen tradition and also be at-one with the inner golden core of all of the great wisdom traditions (just as in a federal system like Germany has a person belongs to a region and to the nation as a whole.  However you can’t go far wrong if you start with Breathe; Smile and Go slowly – these simple three everyone can do.  They all bring us back to now and help us stay mindful and balanced.

ACTION: It’s down to each participant.


Perennial Philosophy is the structure of the spiritual journey we all take and a model of the universe in which we undertake that journey – seeHERE



The metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being. – Aldous Huxley

Perennial philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis “eternal philosophy”, also Philosophia perennis et universalis) is the notion of the universal recurrence of ….. insight independent of epoch or culture, including universal truths on the nature of reality, humanity or consciousness (anthropological universals).


Concerning Universalism I make the following distinction.

To subscribe to Perennial Philosophy you almost certainly will hold a ‘pan-religious’ and inter-faith position including some theological ideas such as pan-en-theism – which seems to hold the view that God is both immanent and transcendent – at one and the same time – which I take to be the case.  My favourite quotation that celebrates this idea is;

“God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere.”   Empedocles/Anonymous, ‘The Book of the Twenty-four Philosophers‘ (12thC)

On the other hand a universalist in my view however can have an open and respectful mind and an open and generous heart whilst staying with her/his cultural roots.  Such a person I call a ‘Spiritual Federalist’.

Barack Obama (I hope) is one such example. More striking is the specificity of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s traditional Hasidic faith as compared to the Universalism of his heart and astoundingly deep insights into core mystical and eternal reality, and especially the nature of being human in the world – with others.

Either way the world has no more desperate need than an increase in the ability of people to see the oneness in, and beyond, specific belief systems – whether they do it from a truly Perennial Philosophy position or as a Universalist cum Spiritual Federalist.

In an earlier post I introduced the idea of Spiritual Federalism HERE and ‘One Garden – many gateways’ is my personal project in favour of Spiritual Federalism.


NB The ‘one garden; many gateways’ metaphor is of course an alternative metaphor to ‘many paths: one summit’!

MEDITATION: take a 60secs time-out

Take a 60  second time – out of the day’s hustle and hassle.

Breath consciously.

At work or home or out and about:-

“Light is light for us all whatever the source.

Every now and then through the day be silent and still, starting with

just a few moments.


Enjoy three conscious breaths.

BREATHING IN I know that I’m breathing in….Breathing out I know that I’m breathing out….


Let your breath breathe you – bringing you back home to Wholeness and anchoring you in the now.

Let whatever thoughts or feelings emerge arise to the surface.


As you breathe see your mind as a movie-theatre.

Witness each thought or feeling that arises

entering onto your inner movie screen, left or right, up or down.

Don’t resist or chase any thought or feeling just witness them.

Say to each thought or feeling that arises

Hello.  Welcome.  Thank-you.  Goodbye.

Then see the thought-feeling exit left, or right, from the movie-theatre.


Breathe the breathing.

Let the breathing Breath breathe you.

Sense the Whole to which we all belong.


Invite the quietness.

Be still.


Breathe into your stillness.


Give thanks.


Return slowly to the here-and-now.

-0- END -0-


On returning to our world of dualities we find concepts –

“Concepts are delicious snacks with which

we try to alleviate our amazement.”

( A J Heschel)

As a whole we should fly with two wings – the nonduality of ‘oneness via unitive meditation‘ and the duality of ‘me and my concepts & things‘.

Both wings are needed.

When meditatively, we are in amazement/awe/wonderment we are at-one, nondual, ego-less or ego-quietened.  We rest as Awareness.  I = no-self Awareness.

When we return to thought as in thought-forms ‘I-me’, ‘I-IT’, ‘I-we’, ‘I-thou’.’ In thought-forms – we always have duality, subject and object, twoness.


Neither is bad, together they are wings though which to fly spiritually.

Work only one wing and we are crippled – flapping on the ground going round and round in circles.


Nonduality is where we let go and instead let be the Universe, the Source, the Whole, Ultimate Reality, God (choose your preferred term). We rest as Awareness.  “I = no-self Awareness.”

Duality is where we chop wood, carry water, do the laundry, feed the kids, earn a living………………….


Hooray for our two wings of being!

We are a being with Being.

The core of all Traditions is One.

There are many paths upward but only One Summit.

“Theologians may quarrel, but the mystics of the world speak the same language.” – Meister Eckhart


Updated 6/06/2017