Thursday, February 4, 2021

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH -- 4


Praying without ceasing is not ritualized, nor are there even words. It is a constant state of awareness of oneness with God; it is a sincere seeking for a good thing; and it is a concentration on the thing sought, with faith that it is obtainable.

― Peace Pilgrim

+ To make The New Earth a reality, we need to focus on Praying without ceasing.  A critical mass of humanity praying constantly for compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance will make it so.  We are evolving.  We are becoming a species which is moving away from constant ego gratification to a sincere and effective commitment to work for the common good of all.  So, a huge increase of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance is within our grasp.  Really.

+ Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.

Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.

Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.

Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.

Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

-- An Ute Prayer

+

Bodhisattva Prayer For Humanity*

May I be a guard for those who need protection,

A guide for those on the path,

A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.

May I be a lamp in the darkness,

A resting place for the weary,

A healing medicine for all who are sick

A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles.

And for the boundless multitudes of living beings

May I bring sustenance and awakening,

Enduring like the earth and sky

Until all beings are freed from sorrow

And all are awakened.

 - Shantideva

*performed daily by the Dalai Lama

+ Navaho Prayer:

The mountains, I become part of it.

The herb, the fir tree, I become part of it.

The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters, I become part of it.

The wilderness, the dew drops, (the snow flakes) the pollen,

I become Part of it.


Sunday, January 31, 2021

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH -- 3

+ This post offers an inspirational poem by John O'Donohue that can be useful for any new beginning.  There is a particular new beginning for which I am offering this poem.  On February 1, 2021, the Facebook group SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS 2020 will become THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH Facebook group.  I got to see this poem because it was posted recently on the Weaving Home Facebook page.

A NEW BEGINNING

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

From his books 'To Bless the Space Between Us' (US) / Benedictus (Europe)

Ordering Info: https://www.johnodonohue.com/store


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH -- 2

On February 1, the Facebook Group called SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS 2020 will become THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH

May this new title be understood as a paradigm for humanity to shift away from fear, suspicion and violence to compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all. Please consider joining this group if you are not already a member. I hope this group will be a source of hope, encouragement and support as we strive to "make it so." We can do this. We, the people of the earth, can do this. But we must work together on a common dream of a planet made new as we move beyond nationalism and denominationalism, plutocracy and authoritarian hierarchy Yes, we can do this. We can do this because we are being energized anew by participating in the beloved community. 

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is: non-hierarchical, free, open, loving, caring, compassionate, healing, energizing, inclusive, humble, non-judgmental, fun, creative, yours, mine. 

It is not a new religion. It has always been here. It is humanity being who we really are. We have all too often gone off track. Now is the time to assert who we really are, "the beloved community," the awakened community, the family which knows no bounds and has no need or desire to oppress or marginalize anyone. 


#TNFFTNE

Sunday, January 17, 2021

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH -- 1

The numbered #TNFFTNE posts as of 1/25/21

#TNFFTNE 1 > The New Faith for the New Earth > #TNFFTNE is essential for all creation. #TNFFTNE is an idea whose time has come (again). Ideas go round and round. They come.  They go.  They come again. So #TNFFTNE is not a new idea but is as old as life itself.

#TNFFTNE 2 > THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is now here and you are an essential participant right now.  You know what it is as well as I do because we are one.

#TNFFTNE 3 > THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH unites all creatures everywhere with this CREDO > We are intimately, intricately, infinitely connected to a matrix of unconditional, unlimited, uniting Love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous. (NOTE: In late 2020 the preposition "to" was changed to "in.") 

#TNFFTNE 4 > THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is: non-hierarchical, free, open, loving, caring, compassionate, healing, energizing, inclusive, humble, non-judgmental, fun, creative, yours, mine.

#TNFFTNE 5 > THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is happening now.  It is essential.  You know when you see it.  It is all of us creating more and more Compassion, Peace, Justice and Sustainable Abundance.  You can consider more ideas at http://abundancetrek.com

#TNFFTNE 6 >  Since THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is mysterious, it is hard to describe.  Actually it is impossible to describe.  But we have clues.  I have a take on what #tnfftne is and that's what I am writing about.  Sometimes I will be right and sometimes I will be wrong.

#TNFFTNE 7 > THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is open to correction, revision, new ideas, new visions, new possibilities, new directions.  Let us all be open and committed to discovering new ways to create more compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

#TNFFTNE 8 > we are creating the new faith for the new earth which is creating #compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all breath after breath.

#TNFFTNE 9 > we are creating the new faith for the new earth which is creating #compassion, peace, justice and sustainable #abundance for all thought after thought after thought.

#TNFFTNE 10 > In the essential practice of #stillness you discover who you are, your purpose, your message, your path and there is simply no other way for you learn that. http://abundancetrek.com/stillness.html

#TNFFTNE 11+ The New Faith for The New Earth is essential for all creation. Humanity is evolving rapidly now so now is the time to create far more compassion, peace, justice & sustainable abundance throughout the planet.

#TNFFTNE 12 + It is simply urgent that we embrace the #GELF, the Great Evolutionary Leap Forward. 

#TNFFTNE 13 + So far this hashtag has not gone beyond me but the day will come. Why? Because whether people know it or not, we are all creating THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH + http://abundancetrek.com

#TNFFTNE 14 > We need to learn as much as we can about how to be effective in our efforts to create more compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance here, there and everywhere.

#TNFFTNE 15 > "When (people of all the religions) ... open ... to the transcendent mystery, going beyond word, beyond thought, simply opening themselves to the light, to the truth, to reality, then meeting takes place. That is where humanity will be united.” -- Bede Griffiths

#TNFFTNE 16 > It is such a battle to be myself. It is an essential battle because being myself is absolutely required by divine decree. This is how I contribute something essential to the universe.

#TNFFTNE 17 >  Connections are everywhere just waiting for you to notice them and become blissful in this awareness.

#TNFFTNE 18 > “The voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -- Marcel Proust + This is one of the Quotes of the Moment at The Church of I AM > The Spirit of Now > peterrussell.com

#TNFFTNE 19 > We must move beyond the narrow confines of our nations, our denominations, our religions, our cultures, our opinions, our beliefs, even our perceptions of reality.

#TNFFTNE 20 > The New Faith for the New Earth is only created when there is an abundance of stillness in your life. In stillness you discover who you are, your purpose, your message, your path and there is simply no other way for you to learn that. + http://abundancetrek.com/stillness.html

#TNFFTNE 21 > The universe is a free lunch but finding the restaurant that serves it is often tricky.

#TNFFTNE 22 > There is stuff going on in your mind right now which is far more amazing than what you are thinking right now.

#TNFFTNE 23 > Breathe deeply. Breathe fully. Be still. Be silent. Be centered. Be grounded. Lighten up. Loosen up. Let go. Let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over! Something wonderful is happening. This is bliss.

#TNFFTNE 24 > The New Faith for the New Earth is growing by Leaps and Bounds. Be awake, aware and connected and you can't miss it.  This is bliss.  This is a Great Evolutionary Leap Forward.  This is growing compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

#TNFFTNE 25 > Here is a great series of meditations on creating a New Story > https://cac.org/themes/a-new-story/ + This is what The New Faith for the New Earth is all about and we are growing.  Compassion, Peace, Justice and Sustainable Abundance for all.

#TNFFTNE 26 > “Humility is the awareness that there’s a lot you don’t know and that a lot of what you think you know is distorted or wrong.” ― David Brooks, The Road to Character

#TNFFTNE 27 > “We are participants in a vast community of being, and if we open ourselves to its guidance, we can learn anew how to live in this great and gracious community of truth.” — Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak

#TNFFTNE 28 > Tune into this moment. Isn’t it wonderful?  See. Hear. Touch. Taste. Smell. Feel.  Remember.  Imagine. Breathe. Pray.  Create.  Connect.

#TNFFTNE 29 > “There comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other.​” -- Wangari Maathai

#TNFFTNE 30 > “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely, when you are in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafiz

+ To see new numbered #TNFFTNE posts, go to Twitter and search for #TNFFTNE


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS 2020 -- 1


I am so glad you are reading this.  It is my aim to welcome your ideas, visions, hopes, concerns, experiences, teachings and more during 2020.  I hope you will write some posts and comments.

I have been on a quest for wisdom and new ways to practice my faith for as long as I can remember.  This quest has grown in intensity year after year and especially during the last two decades.  I began Abundancetrek.com 20 years ago and began blogging about 15 years ago.  This website and 2 blogs have plenty of spiritual wisdom and practices which I have collected and put my own stamp on.  I am heavily indebted to Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat of Spirituality & Practice who have inspired me and guided me in so many ways during these 2 decades and even before when they offered spiritual and cultural resources in pre-internet publications, particularly Cultural Information Service.

Approximately 7 years ago I began to study InterSpirituality under the guidance of Dr. Edward Bastian.  This has been an amazing experience which led, in 2017, to my attaining an InterSpiritual Mentor certificate from Ed’s Spiritual Path Institute. 6 of us received these certificates.  We had worked with Ed mostly via online meetings for about 5 years before we “graduated” and celebrated at a wonderful weekend together in Granite Falls, Washington in October 2017.  I had never hung up any previous diplomas or awards in my study.  This one is hanging where I can see it and be reminded of my commitment to InterSpirituality.

I do not regret my career as a Presbyterian Pastor.  Indeed I am still committed to this ministry as a participant at First Presbyterian Church, Utica NY and in the Presbytery of Utica.  But I always felt like something was missing as I have participated in the activities of my denomination and local congregations. What was missing was this emerging paradigm of InterSpirituality. I believe InterSpirituality is a critical way for us to get beyond all those walls which separate us from the rest of humanity and so many creatures.

It was about 10 years ago that I changed THE NEW CHURCH FOR THE NEW AGE to THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH.  I resonated with a book by Harvey Cox called THE FUTURE OF FAITH and a book by Eckhart Tolle called THE NEW EARTH.  Here is a brief description of what I mean by THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH:

THE NEW FAITH FOR THE NEW EARTH is:
non-hierarchical, free, open, loving, caring, compassionate, healing, energizing,
inclusive, humble, non-judgmental, fun, creative, yours, mine.

Christ never meant for the church to be a closed, hierarchical, authoritarian, nationalistic and denomination-alistic institution. Same for the Faith Communities following The Buddha, Muhammad, Moses, Lao-Tse, and other Great Spiritual Teachers.

This description has been on the Abundancetrek.com homepage for just about as long as the website has been around with that significant change just mentioned.

In this first Spiritual Explorations 2020 post I want to provide links to several sources of Spiritual Wisdom and Practices. I hope to come back to these sources again and again in future posts and I hope you will find inspiration and illumination from these wonderful sources. Here goes:
·         Abundancetrek.com > This is the website I have offered for two decades with pages on 9 Heavenly Attributes and 12 Spiritual Practices.
·         Spiritual Paths Institute > You will find The Seven Steps of InterSpiritual Meditation and The Mandala of 12 Spiritual Styles, 12 Spiritual Questions and 12 Spiritual Sources.  
·         Spirituality & Practice > The best website in the universe.  See for yourself.  Book Reviews, Film Reviews, E-courses, Meme Galleries, Practices, Teachers, Blogs, Quotes and more.
·         Inner Frontier > Joseph Naft offers hundreds of pages of excellent, informative spiritual guidance.
·         Wahiduddin’s Web > This is a comprehensive offering of the Sufi Wisdom of Hazrat Inayat Khan.
·         The Center for Action and Contemplation > Father Richard Rohr offers inspiration, guidance and wisdom on a daily basis. 
·         One Spirit Learning Alliance > NYC seminary renowned for their Interfaith and InterSpiritual courses
·         Peter Russell > Great philosophical thinker
·         One Point Mind > Inspiring and practical teaching by Zen Master Miyohae Do’an Prajna of Lotus Heart Zen
·         The Charter for Compassion

You could spend the rest of your life finding guidance from even one or 2 of these amazing websites.  And, of course, there are many other great spiritually oriented websites

I hope I can offer a post in the near future where you provide  a list like this of websites you have found offering spiritual guidance.

I invite you to join a group I have begun called SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS 2020 >  https://www.facebook.com/groups/567789840446209/


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE LISTS -- 1

+ Here is the link to the Abundancetrek.com page with the title THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE LISTS > http://abundancetrek.com/lists.html

+ Beginning today, June 11, 2019 I intend to share some of my favorite lists one by one and write about some of the items on each list.  Perhaps my Facebook friends and others will add a few reflections and maybe even offer some great lists I could add to that Abundancetrek web page.

+ Here is one of my first favorite lists > THE EIGHT POINTS OF PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY > https://progressivechristianity.org/the-8-points/ 

+ I will take these points one by one.

+ Point One is "By calling ourselves progressive Christians, we mean we are Christians who… Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life."

I have been a Christian all of my life but I have always been interested in other wisdom traditions which also "lead to an awareness of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life. So I am glad that this is the first point since it affirms that this path is not the only path.  It's a good path, a great path, but not the only path.  And we can learn so much from people who have followed different paths.

Recently I revised the Abundancetrek.com home page and added a list of ten wonderful websites for spiritual wisdom and practices.  If you look at these websites, you will see that I have found a lot of wisdom and practices from different spiritual paths.  Only four of the ten can clearly be categorized as Christian in their primary orientation.  I have 2 shelves of favorite books.  One shelf has books that are clearly Christian (about 40 books) and the other one has books that are Buddhist, Taoist, Sufi, Hindu, Shamanic and more (also about 40 books).



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

LITURGICAL YEAR -- 3

ADVENT 2

+ The liturgical year begins with Advent which is a precious holy season of watching, preparing, rejoicing and beholding as the meme here suggests. How can we make this holy season significant for people of all faiths and traditions? Can Advent become a gift of the Christian wisdom tradition to the “new thing” going on, this movement of InterSpirituality? Can we be guided by traditional Christian Advent themes and practices but also include wisdom and practices from other traditions and even create new ones?

I hope so.  Perhaps this is a good time to offer some thoughts and resources on InterSpirituality. 

Here are some of the people, past and present, who are leading this new and, I believe, essential movement: Rumi, Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Wayne Teasdale and Edward Bastian.

Let’s begin with Wayne Teasdale.  I am in awe of the amazing contribution he made to our knowledge of many wisdom traditions including but not limited to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Taoism. You can find this in three books I highly recommend: A MONK IN THE WORLD, THE MYSTIC HEART and THE MYSTIC HOURS. It is interesting that he wrote these great books toward the end of his life after having accumulated so much wisdom and experience. But he not only wrote about InterSpirituality. He lived it as both a Roman Catholic monk in the world and a Hindu monk in the world. 

Here are several quotes:
·         “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.”
·         “As our world becomes smaller, through a growing common culture, the true test of community will be our tolerance for our most profound differences and love for the most challenging among us.”
·         “The real religion of humankind can be said to be spirituality itself, because mystical spirituality is the origin of all the world religions. If this is so, and I believe it is, we might also say that inter-spirituality – the sharing of ultimate experiences across traditions – is the religion of the third millennium.”

Edward Bastian has written a couple of books which offer practical tools for creating a powerful InterSpiritual practice: InterSpiritual Meditation: A Seven-Step Process from the World’s Spiritual Traditions and Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Path – – An InterSpiritual Process. For mor information and to order, go to https://spiritualpaths.net/books/. I highly recommend these books as well as the courses for which they are designed. 
   
Future posts will draw heavily on these practices since they can do so much to unite people of all traditions as we create The New Faith for the New Earth and build am InterSpiritual Liturgical Year.

+ Here are links to the first 2 posts >

Saturday, December 2, 2017

LITURGICAL YEAR -- 2

ADVENT 1


+ The season of Advent is a precious holy season when we expect something wonderful to happen but must wait.  But it might happen at any moment.  Better yet, it IS happening now.  So, it is a good time to work on Being Present.  And, of course, Spirituality & Practice comes through with a multitude of resources and great memes for the essential contemplative, meditative and prayerful practice of Being Present.
Advent is a time when we look back and look forward.  But most of all, we embrace the here-and-now and strive to make the here-and-now come alive in a heavenly and eternal way.

There is perhaps too much of an emphasis in Christian circles on looking back. Advent can become a time of sentimentality rather than a penitential time of seeking to be transformed and renewed in the likeness of our ideal teachers and guides.  When Christians look forward, we look for the Second Coming and that's what is emphasized on the First Sunday of Advent. Looking back and looking forward are important aspects of Advent and, for that matter, always important.  We can even say that it is always Advent because we are always looking back, looking forward and, most of all hopefully, being present, coming alive in the here-and-now.  Here is where we can learn so much from other wisdom traditions, particularly Buddhism with its emphasis on mindfulness.       

Some of us have found it useful to have an advent wreath in the home, lighting the first candle on the first Sunday of Advent and then the next 3 on the second, third and fourth Sundays of Advent. On the First Sunday in Advent the tradition calls for us to be aware of the Coming of the Day of the Lord which will be a surprise and may come at any time. So, we might call this candle the Surprise Candle or the Mystery Candle or the Be Prepared Candle.  For many years it has been called by many the  Candle of Hope.  A song for the occasion is Be Here Now by George Harrison.

LITURGICAL YEAR -- 1


+ Welcome to an experiment in creating new liturgy for The New Faith for the New Earth. I hope this becomes a community of people committed to InterSpirituality who want to honor great traitions which continue to work for us but also create new ones for an evolving humanity.  

I have been a Presbyterian all my life, soon 71 years.  I became a Minister of the Word of the Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on June 1, 1975.  It was an exciting time to be involved in a new liturgical direction for Presbyterians.  We joined with other denominations including Roman Catholics to create liturgy which we could all share.  Now, it seems to me and others, is the time to go beyond the confines of the church to The New Faith for the New Earth.  

Since the liturgical year for Christians is a powerful tool for ongoing spiritual transformation, I will be using the plentiful resources of this tradition which goes back at least 1500 years.  Support for the liturgical year has gained momentum in recent years as Protestants and Catholics have been finding ways to renew this powerful tradition. Now can we add Jewish prayers, Muslim prayers, Hindu prayers, Buddhist prayers and many more prayers, rituals and beliefs? I hope we can join together in doing so because the planet needs InterSpiritual liturgy as a way forward to build more compassion, peace, justice and shared and sustainable abundance.

The traditional liturgical year begins with Advent on the Sunday nearest November 30.  In coming posts I will offer Advent themes, prayers, rituals which Christians have been sharing for centuries.  But I also hope to discover ways and even create ways for this first season of the liturgical year to become InterSpiritual.  

Let us do this for the entire Liturgical Year which includes some very familiar holy days and holy seasons but also some less familiar holy days and holy seasons.  We can even create new ones but let us honor tried and true beliefs and practices from all of our wisdom traditions which continue to inspire us and transform us into a more compassionate humanity.

Do you have some ideas for creating InterSpiritual liturgy based on the holy seasons and holy days of Christianity or other wisdom traditions?  I invite you to share them here or on the Abundancetrek Facebook page or by email: john@abundanctrek.com

Sunday, January 1, 2017

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 367


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+ This is the first Spiritual Exploration post of 2017. Unlike the 366 Spiritual Exploration posts of 2016, this post may last for a while with changes and additions.  Your reflections are welcome and can be added. 

+ How to know God? By being still. How to be still? By practice of meditation. Meditation is the art of being still in body, in mind, in heart, in will, in the entire inner being, and enabling the higher Divine Consciousness in us to have direct, immediate perception of God.
-- Omkarananda

+ Be still, and the world is bound to turn herself inside out to entertain you. Everywhere you look, joyful noise is clanging to drown out quiet desperation.
-- Barbara Kingsolver in High Tide in Tucson

+ You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
-- Franz Kafka

+ We began this journey a year ago exploring the practice of stillness. You can easily reach the 40 SE posts on the practice of stillness since the links can be found on the Abundancetrek Stillness page and on the page with all 366 links. Stillness is an essential practice, the foundation for all spiritual practice since it is the one practice which stops the chattering monkey which gets in the way of our connection to Greater Reality.  So, let’s begin again practicing stillness and see where we go in our spiritual explorations in 2017 and beyond.  It’s an amazing journey.  I am anticipating finding new ways to explore the 9 Attributes of Heaven and 12 Spiritual Practices. Suggestions welcome.

We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

We can remember who we are and what we can do because we are gloriously free to put our attention on creating and enjoying a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all with every breath.

Breathe deeply. Breathe fully. Be still. Be silent. Be centered. Be grounded. Lighten up. Loosen up. Let go. Let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over!

This is bliss.

+ You can send an email with the subject “Spiritual Explorations” or “Guest Post” to john@abundancetrek.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 366

WE ARE EXPLORING THE HEAVENLY ATTRIBUTE OF FREEDOM


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+ To this day I believe we are here on Earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.
-- Rosa Parks
This was the Gratefulness Word for the Day on January 15, 2016

This is it, the final post:  Spiritual Exploration 366.  I did not know whether I could do it or not but I am writing this on December 14, 2016 with the satisfying realization that I accomplished my goal of posting 366 Spiritual Exploration posts in the leap year of 2016.  All 366 will be posted as of this day, December 14, 2016.  Thank you fellow explorers for sharing this adventure with me.

The daily posts on Facebook and Twitter and at abundancetrek.com will  come to an end as of December 31.  I am anticipating finding new ways to explore the 9 Attributes of Heaven and 12 Spiritual Practices. Suggestions welcome.

Let us renew our belief in the promise of freedom as Rosa Parks put it so clearly:

To this day I believe we are here on Earth to live, grow, and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

We can do this because:

We are intimately, intricately and infinitely connected by a matrix of unconditional, unlimited and uniting love which is miraculous, mysterious and marvelous.

We can remember who we are and what we can do because we are gloriously free to put our attention on creating and enjoying a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all with every breath.

Breathe deeply. Breathe fully. Be still. Be silent. Be centered. Be grounded. Lighten up. Loosen up. Let go. Let God. Celebrate. Enjoy. Be glad all over!

This is bliss.

+ The meme is in the Spirituality & Practice 12s Gallery on Attention.

+ I have work to do on the Abundancetrek Freedom page. Maybe you can help.  Send an email with the subject “Freedom” or “Heavenly Attributes” or “Guest Post” to John@abundancetrek.com.

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 365

WE ARE EXPLORING THE HEAVENLY ATTRIBUTE OF FREEDOM


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+
Just come to see that everything is passing on,
That nothing in your mind remains
The same for even the span of a breath.
If you see like that for even a moment,
Then for that moment you are free.
- Ji Aoi Isshi
This was the Daily Zen post on November 10, 2015.

+ Take this moment right now to see things as they really are and be free ... even for the span of a breath. Enjoy your freedom to embrace reality in its glorious, fascinating, infinite variety. It really is amazing.  You really are amazing.  Go ahead.  Freely enjoy reality.  As Anne Lamott puts it:

I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world -- present and in awe.

We are free to do so.  This is bliss.

+ I would love it if you offered a guest post.  And, I have work to do on the Abundancetrek Freedom page. Maybe you can help.  Send an email with the subject “Freedom” or “Heavenly Attributes” or “Guest Post” to John@abundancetrek.com.

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 364

WE ARE EXPLORING THE HEAVENLY ATTRIBUTE OF FREEDOM


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+ “Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” - Eckhart Tolle

+ No matter who you are, you are an amazing expression of divinity.  You are free to discover within yourself the beauty of your glorious heavenly identity right now, right here, always.  This is the truth. Accept the gift of freedom and embrace your fantastic, amazing heavenly identity.  You are a heavenly being and always will be.  Keep learning.  Keep discovering. Keep growing.  Enjoy.  This is bliss.

+ The meme for this post comes from the Spirituality & Practice 12s Gallery on Teachers.

+ I would love it if you offered a guest post.  And, I have work to do on the Abundancetrek Freedom page. Maybe you can help.  Send an email with the subject “Freedom” or “Heavenly Attributes” or “Guest Post” to John@abundancetrek.com.

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 363

WE ARE EXPLORING THE HEAVENLY ATTRIBUTE OF FREEDOM


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+ The movement of grace in our lives toward freedom is a mystery. So we simply say “Thanks."
-- Anne Lamott

+ In our freedom, we discover so much as we live our lives.  We are free to do so.  And there is always more to discover and enjoy.  This is bliss.

Here’s more wisdom from Anne Lamott:

I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world -- present and in awe.

And we are free to be present and in awe right now, right here and forever. Yes, this is bliss. 

+ The meme for this post is in the Spirituality & Practice 12s Gallery on Creativity.

+ I would love it if you offered a guest post.  And, I have work to do on the Abundancetrek Freedom page. Maybe you can help.  Send an email with the subject “Freedom” or “Heavenly Attributes” or “Guest Post” to John@abundancetrek.com.

SPIRITUAL EXPLORATIONS – 362

WE ARE EXPLORING THE HEAVENLY ATTRIBUTE OF FREEDOM


+ We are called to create and enjoy a realm of compassion, peace, justice and sustainable abundance for all.

+ Our pressure cooker society pushes us to our emotional limits. We deserve relief from getting crucified by daily stresses. We deserve to be happier, to be more comfortable in our own skins, to have nurturing relationships. . . .It's lunacy to put up with being chronically anxious, fatigued, or depressed as so many of us have. I rebel against that cheerless status quo, and hope you will too. . . .

Though we commonly think of freedom as uncensored speech, emancipation from slavery, and the right to vote and worship as we choose, you can't achieve total freedom until you learn to take charge of emotions, instead of them running you. This is a radical paradigm shift we all can make, regardless of our present anxieties or past hardships.
-- Judith Orloff in Emotional Freedom

+ It really is important to devote time and energy to this important work of overcoming this lunacy which our society has produced in so many of us. So, what follows is some very wise guidance by the brilliant Edward Bastian who has been our guide before during these spiritual explorations, particularly during our exploration of the practice of Heavenliness. Freedom is one of the big questions Ed explores in Mandala: Creating An Authentic Spiritual Path: An InterSpiritual Process.

Here is a rather lengthy excerpt from his chapter on the question of Freedom (If not now, maybe you can find some time later to read and reflect on his wise counsel):

What is freedom?
Is true freedom possible?
How can I be free?
Do I have free will and freedom of choice?
Can there be freedom without bondage?

Growing up in American, we are constantly bombarded by the claim that American is the Land of the Free. Here in America we proclaim the inalienable rights for “Freedom from Tyranny,” “Freedom to Vote,” “Sexual Freedom,” “Freedom of the Press,” “Freedom of the Marketplace,” “Freedom of Self Governance,” “Freedom of Equality,” “Freedom of Religion,” and “Freedom to be Happy.” Of all these Freedoms, the “Freedom to be Happy” has always been the most perplexing to me. For amidst all the other Freedoms, the “Free to be Happy” was the most illusive. While all the other Freedoms pertain to our external relationship with others in society, this last one, “Freedom to be Happy” is uniquely personal and internal.

When I was young and separating from my Iowa home, one of the Freedoms I most valued was the freedom to leave my home and travel the world. I was free to explore the world’s cultures, ways of life, and religions. As a hitchhiker through Europe, Africa, and Asia I was picked up by an extraordinary variety of people, rich and poor, who took me to their homes so I could experience their lives. In my brief stint with civil rights movement in Alabama and Mississippi I came in contact with Freedom Fighters who struggled for political, economic, and social equality. As a film-maker I documented the religions of Asia and the effects of religion on the lives of ordinary people. As a photographer I documented the war in Viet Nam. As a Buddhist scholar and practitioner, I lived in India among the impoverished refugees from Tibet.

One of the most striking conclusions of all these experiences is that there is no direct correlation between external freedom and economic circumstance and internal happiness. I have witnessed people in pain and poverty with no apparent economic, political, and social freedom who have inner lives of peace, contentment, and empathy. Happiness I discovered, is the result of inner freedom from the causes that bind and imprison us. This fact doesn’t alleviate the need and responsibility to struggle for the other external freedoms. But in our struggles, we need to be cognizant that inner freedom and happiness does not automatically arise just because we experience the external freedoms.

I first heard this message from an unlikely source. It happened as I was headed to Viet Nam to experience and document the war as a free-lance photographer. Ironically, America’s rationale for the oppressive war was to liberate the Vietnamese people from the threat of Communism. I had landed in Bangkok, Thailand where I was waiting for a flight to Saigon the next day and free to wander the streets and clubs that night.

It was in one of these clubs that I met a couple of young Thai women who invited me to join them on the dance floor and of course being a young red-blooded American man I obliged. After about an hour, one of them asked me if I would like to go home with her. I had heard about the rampant prostitution in Bangkok that was so popular among tourists and soldiers and I frankly wasn’t interested in that. But as I was about the decline her offer, she said, “I am not a prostitute. I was married to an American soldier who was killed in Viet Nam and I would just like your company.” With that I agreed and off we went to her apartment near by.

In the morning, after a lovely night together, she told me that her father was on his way over for breakfast. With that I offered that it was time for me to go, but she begged me to stay saying it is important for me to meet him. So we sat together in the kitchen savoring a cup of tea waiting his arrival. Within a few minutes, we heard a gentle knock at the door and in walked a diminutive Buddhist monk who was her father that she wanted me to meet. He was so warm and friendly that I was immediately at ease in his company. His questions to me were translated by his daughter, and soon I was asking him questions about Buddhism.

So it was under these circumstances in that small Bangkok kitchen that I received my first teachings on Buddhism about how we can achieve Freedom. He explained to me that material things and sensual experiences cannot make me happy that my happiness and freedom must come from within. “So long as we believe happiness will come from outside, we will be unhappy,” he said. Then he told me about the Four Noble Truths which encapsulate all the Buddha’s teachings. These are: (1) All beings are in a state of suffering; (2) Our suffering is caused by our ignorance, desire, and anger; (3) Freedom from suffering is possible; (4) Buddhist practices can eliminate these internal causes of suffering and enable us to be free.

I must admit that as a healthy young man who had just enjoyed an unexpectedly wonderful night with his daughter, that these teachings presented quite a challenge. But I revered this simple monk and his wisdom. Somehow, deep inside me I knew they were true, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up my illusion of happiness. Over the following years, his wisdom continued to work within me and once I learned enough from a plethora of material and sensual experiences that were fun but not the source of happiness, I increasingly became drawn to the Buddhist perspective. I began searching the world’s religions for my own inner path to happiness.

The process for internal freedom begins with knowledge that our “self” is not a permanent independent unit that is separate from others. This “selfless” knowledge is both understood intellectually and experienced meditatively. It is the truth of our inter-dependence with all other beings and the environment in which we live. It is the truth of universal reciprocity between all forms of life. It is a genuine empathy for others, knowing that our well-being is intertwined with
theirs.

If our sensual and materialistic activities are tempered by this knowledge and experience of inter-dependence and empathy, then we don’t engage in the objects of our desire with the expectation that they will cause our lasting happiness. This knowledge in turn lessens our desire, craving, grasping, and dependence on external stimulation for internal well-being. For the external causes of happiness are fleeting and impermanent. If our happiness is imprisoned by these, we can never be free.

I have found meditation to be an important tool in the happiness process and I have adapted a classical Buddhist technique for this purpose. The underlying assumption, of course, is that our minds have the natural capacity to be in a state of peace, tranquility, and equanimity when the causes of unhappiness have been healed and removed. Sometimes, my meditation on emptiness and inter-dependence focuses on the actual unhappy emotion I am feeling. Through this meditation, the negative emotion is transformed into feeling of equanimity and contentment. This meditation can be practiced at any time and in any place.

I begin by simply being mindful of the unhappy feeling. I objectively observe it without passing judgment on it. Rather than allowing it to compound and grow, I observe how this emotion is effecting my body through my stomach, head, neck, or back and notice how this single unhappy emotion can set off a chain of reactions including pain, stress, anger, and depression. Then I put this unhappy emotion under my mental microscope to discover what it is made up of and what caused it. For example, it might arise from my fear of too little money to support me in my old age. It might be the result of my unfulfilled desire for a female partner, a soul mate, to accompany me through the next phase in my life. It might arise from my worry about my children and other family members. Without judging or rejecting this emotion I examine what caused it and I realize that it is my unrealistic expectation that financial security, a relationship, or the well-being of my family will be the sole cause of my happiness.

Then, in the case of a desire for relationship, I realize that this hope it clouded by my own past relations with other women, including my mother. Because of these, I projecting my ideals of a perfect soul mate onto a woman whose body and personality resonate with an archetypal “soul mate image” in my own subconscious mind. Then I remember that my projected archetypal image of that person will come into conflict with the actual personality of any woman that I meet. When I fail to meet someone who matches this archetypal image, or when a particular woman fails to fulfill my projections, I will become unhappy and might treat that person unkindly. I then realize how this whole chain of unhappy emotional and physiological events started with my false assumption that a relationship with someone could be the cause of my happiness. I conclude that a relationship in and of itself cannot be the caused of my happiness, especially if it is solely predicated on my own selfish needs and projections.

From a Buddhist perspective, I meditate on the impermanence of relationships and how they are empty of the inherent capacity to create happiness. I empty myself of the false projections I have unconsciously formed about potential partners. I remind myself of the inter-dependence of all things and that my well-being is dependent on the well-being of others with whom I am in relationship.

To recap, my antidote to an negative emotion is the following: 1. Objectively and dispassionately observe the negative emotion. 2. Focus my attention on my breathing to pacify the secondary mental and physiological effects of this emotion. The breathing will create a gap between the stimulus of desire and my response to it. It is in this gap that I can… 3. Examine the cause of the unhappy emotion and see that it is my own unrealistic expectation that another person can make me happy. 4. Remind myself that no external thing, sensation, or relationship can cause me to be happy. 5. Focus on the impermanence and emptiness of my desires, projections, and the unhappiness they create. This, along with the breathing, and allows the effects of emotion to dissipate. 6. Experience the mental equanimity that arises from gentle breathing and from pacifying a desire based on false expectations. 7. Allow the natural state of equanimity, contentment, peace and happiness to rise up and enjoyed that feeling within me. 8. Remind myself that even this equanimity is inter-dependent and refrain from attachment to it. 9. Replace the unhappy emotion with a compassionate intention for the happiness of the person on whom I projected false expectations.

In this way, every unhappy emotion can become an object of meditation and can be healed thus allowing our natural state of happiness to emerge. Gradually, Buddhist meditations can replace external desire with internal contentment. This meditation does not negate the importance for compassionate engagement with each and every person. But it quells the self-centered projections that create unhappiness when others fail to live up to our false expectations.

This type of meditation can be practiced on all negative emotions like greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, that arise from unhealthy desire and attachment for money, possessions, and relationships. When we apply this meditation successfully, our mind is released from the suffering of desire and can reside in a natural state of happiness and internal freedom from the vicissitudes of unrealistic and unhealthy desires.


+ I would love it if you offered a guest post.  And, I have work to do on the Abundancetrek Freedom page. Maybe you can help.  Send an email with the subject “Freedom” or “Heavenly Attributes” or “Guest Post” to John@abundancetrek.com.