Monday, February 17, 2014

Discovering the Roots of Your Own Spirituality, Session 2

Discovering the Roots of Your Own Spirituality

Session 2: 

Your Spiritual Life Path: Words, Objects, and Senses That Capture the Mystery for You

 The Class should have:
__ Bring a very short reading (Not over 2 pages) that has touched you
small group experience:  groups of four to “hear” into the reading.

__Please bring an object that captures your spirituality—picture, statue, natural object, etc.

Chalice Lighting Reading

Moses and the Shepherd (Rumi)

Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying,
where are you? I want to help You, to fix Your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash Your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring You milk,
to kiss Your little hands and feet when it’s time 
for You to go to bed. I want to sweep Your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and my goats
are Yours. All I can say, remembering You,
is ayyyyyyy and ahhhhhhhh.”

Moses could stand it no longer.
“Who are you talking to?”

“The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.”
“Don’t talk about shoes and socks with God! 
And what’s this with Your little hands and feet? 
Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like 
you’re chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows needs milk. 
Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!
Even if you meant God’s human representatives,
as when God said, ‘I was sick, and you did not visit me,’
even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.

Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the Origin,
not for Allah.”

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation
came then to Moses. God’s voice:
You have separated Me
from one of my own. Did you come as a prophet to unite,
or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.

Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better 
or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and it’s all right.

It’s not Me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshippers! I don’t hear the words
They say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends
with your burning. Burn up your thinking 
and your forms of expression!
those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn are another.”

Don’t impose a property tax
on a burned out village. Don’t scold the Lover.
The “wrong” way he talks is better than a hundred
“right” ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn’t matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn’t need snowshoes!
The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn’t need markings.
God began speaking 
deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here, poured into
and through him. He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It’s foolish of me
to try and say this. If I did say it,
it would uproot our human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways,
like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
recording his wandering state.

Moses finally caught up with him.
“I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
Say whatever
and however your loving tells you to. Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion. 
Through you a whole world is freed.
Loosen your tongue and don’t worry what comes out.
It’s all the light of the Spirit.”

The shepherd replied,
“Moses, Moses,
I’ve gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped
out of itself. The Divine Nature and my human nature
came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can’t say what has happened.
What I’m saying now
is not my real condition. It can’t be said.”

The shepherd grew quiet.

When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The fluteplayer puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The Fluteplayer!

Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it’s always like this
dear shepherd’s simplicity.
When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
and again,
“This is certainly not like
we thought it was!”

1.      Check in.  Answer questions that have come up from the readings.

2.      Small group experience.
a.      using the technique of Group Spiritual Direction:  respond to the reading, noting where it touches your own life or triggers a song, piece of art, memory.  Build connections, avoid simple analysis of the reading as “truth” or “literature”.
b.      Put a minute of silence between each reading and your response.
c.       Come back together and share what one thing you will take away with you today from hearing the various readings.

GOING DEEPER:  How do you use literature, scripture or poetry in your spiritual life?  Try the technique

of Lectio Divina and take some time to journal about what arose for you.

Lectio Divina Instructions

Choose a short passage- just a few verses or a short passage or line of a poem. Make yourself comfortable in a place that is as free from interruptions as possible. Begin with silence for a few minutes.

When you are ready, begin reading and praying through the four movements, described below with both the Latin and English word that summarizes each one. With time and practice, these movements will become so simple and easy, because they flow naturally from one to the other:

Lectio (READ): On the first reading, simply open yourself to the presence of God. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully, allowing short pauses between sentences. (Over time you will discover whether it is more helpful for you to read silently or out loud- try them both…) As you read, take in the words and the overall flow of the passage. Then allow a time of silence following the reading- continue to open yourself to the Mystery.

Meditatio (REFLECT): On the second prayerful reading of the passage, listen for a particular word or a phrase. You will notice your attention being drawn to something (or if this doesn't happen, just choose a word). Once you have "received" the word or phrase, begin to silently meditate on that. Reflect on why the divine would highlight this for you today. Remember that the focus is on listening to what Mystery has to say to you.

Oratio (RESPOND): On the third prayerful reading of the passage, listen now for a deeper invitation, and respond from your heart. The Living Mystery is always inviting us in some way... to let go of something, or to take up something; to do something or be something… the invitation can take innumerable forms. Following the reading, continue to listen for an invitation and then respond silently or out loud from an honest heart.

Contemplatio (REST): The focus of the fourth prayerful reading of the passage is to simply rest in the present moment. Let the words wash over you- there is no further need to reflect or respond. Linger in this place of deep connection, for you are being filled and refreshed for your continuing journey.

We encourage you to take a word, phrase or image with you when it is time to return to the day...
Adapted to reflect more inclusive language from the website:

3.      Yang Shen Qigong- we did the simple practice of this lovely meditative movement.

GOING DEEPER:  How does meditative movement affect your relationship with ultimate reality, the mystery or what other name is comfortable for you?

4.      Break for restroom and refreshments

5.      Whole body experiences of spirit— unearthing the images, sounds, touch, tastes and smells linked with how you best come at the world:
Guided meditation—the walk in the forest. Discussion.

GOING DEEPER:  How does your primary sense affect your everyday experience of the sacred?

6.     Who we are as individuals and as a group: Creating a group altar...each person shares briefly why they brought what they did and if they have had any insight from the above two exercises that sheds light on their “natural” or “innate” modes of personal spirituality.
a.     We had a pen, a picture of Grandchildren, a black rock with rambling white inclusions, a Happy Buddha statue (Hotei), a shell, an offering of space and emptiness, a passport from Germany, a small labyrinth, to name a few items.
GOING DEEPER:  What object did you need to “see” today?  What was its message to you?  Take up your journal and explore not just the thought-meaning of the object, but the emotional/intuitive sense you have about that object.

Readings this time included :

Introduction-Page 10: Single File, The Experience of Presence and Apologia.  Doris Grumback. The Presence of Absence.  Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1998.

Chapter 6: Isn’t God a Trip? (pgs.104-133).  Barbara Bradley Hagerty. 
Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality.  New York, NY:  Riverhead Books, 2009

Preparing for the next session:

Please bring a photocopy, ipad image or the “real thing”...a piece of art that you can share that touches you spiritually.

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