Tuesday, March 31, 2015

No Pain, No Gain

The Spirit is the Great Integrator of the Mind-Body. And spiritual energy is the aspect of "self" we pay the least attention to. We educate the intellect, we exercise the body....but the mind and body continue to work together without our real awareness (a Spiritual awareness; a non-biased energetic awareness), often in ways quite traumatic to our balanced being - panic attacks, anger issues, overactive empathy, addictions of all kinds, emotional outbursts - while the mind is able to observe these run-away body responses, these physiological and psychological "habits," it often finds itself at their mercy. The body reacts and the mind justifies it.

Meditation is a practice that turns the attention toward quieter, more subtle levels of mind. Meditation, or spending time in silent prayer, is the pump-iron method for the Spirit. Practicing quiet time allows the mind time to integrate its "better judgment" or "no judgment" circuits with emotional centers in a way that subdues their reactivity. The scientific explanation for this is that meditation encourages the development of our prefrontal cortex, the evolutionarily newest area of the brain, and the region responsible for reasoning and executive functioning. The prefrontal cortex has authority over the evolutionarily older limbic (emotional) centers and can temper their reactivity into controlled response...or no response.

The benefits of meditation, or sitting in silence (no thinking), have been understood for thousands of years. But we now have objective evidence through scientific inquiry that this practice has profound effects on the autonomic nervous system (the fright/flight mechanisms that influence heart rate, blood pressure and a host of other physiological reactions associated with our basic need for survival, triggered in times of fear anger, embarrassment - these can be viewed as misdirected Spiritual energy or a lack of Spiritual integration of the mind-body.

You can talk about this in the language of Christianity. Our being in Christ-minded spirituality means to be aware/enlightened/integrated in mind-body so as to be a "logos" or ordering principle in life. Logos or "word" even implies that we "communicate" in an orderly, self-aware way; the way of Jesus.  The title, Christ is derived from the Greek term Khristós meaning "the anointed one." The symbolism of anointing in this sense is recognition of something spiritual, sacred and Godly. Khristós is also related to Keres, associated with anointing to purify or heal the body or rid the self of negative influence. Thus, as is the case in Paul’s writings, anointing can be understood as a state of mind (and body) in which both negative influences are dispelled and a greater state of sacred Godliness is assumed; or in the context of "re-ligare" or reconnecting (religion) to the Divine nature, to perceive with an illuminated or enlightened awareness.

You can talk about mind-body integration, enlightenment and self-awareness in other religious contexts and world philosophies. Human spirituality is fundamentally the same, regardless of how we contextualize it. Certainly, eastern religions have discussed this same human condition for thousands of years. Now we have science, and at the least, psychology, to describe the way we humans maintain a balanced mind-body relationship. In fact, psychology practices have been prescribing meditation as a means of treatment for "disorders" like those mentioned above for going on 50 years now.

But the real focus of this blog is on a step in the spiritual journey that is one we don't much like. It is called different names by different authorities, and it is the step in which our greatest spiritual growth can take place.  It is a time, intrinsic to change, that we will meet again and again during life, a time when things are no longer the way they were. It is threshold....and it signals either arrest or transcendence. These times of chaos cannot be avoided. As much as we try to avoid them, we often just don't see them coming. This step in the spiritual journey, or threshold time, is called samsara or wandering, wilderness or desert, depression (some forms), dark night of the soul, the wall, the shadow, suffering, midlife crisis, and more. 

Once again, it is that time when things are not the way they were -- and very likely we'd say, things are no longer as they "should be." 

The Buddhists say we suffer because our mind argues with what is. Many people who are not practicing awareness and spiritual growth intentionally will hit these bumps and not really understand what whats going on. They will look only at the outer circumstances and react to them. But no matter what the circumstances, the deepest and most essential (spirit means essence, btw) challenge for a person traversing these times is to keep the mind-body coherent and that is a spiritual job.

Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, in her book, When Things Fall Apart, says this: "Sticking with uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.
For practitioners or spiritual warriors - people who have a certain hunger to know what is true – feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back."

The spiritual path is a path of truth, even if it hurts. It is a path of intention toward integration of the mind-body, such that one can respond to life changes and know the self as a vessel of generative relationship, loving presence within and without. Love your wounds, love the thresholds, for they teach you to be a compassionate force in the world.

Namaste, _/\_Peggy @ ECUMENICUS

Art: Jennifer Broussard

Friday, March 20, 2015

Like Fog

We are all born with a rich and expansive inner universe and the inner senses to apply it to the outer universe. Inner sensing, intution, emotion, imagination...these tender elements of our selves are ubiquitous, like the fog, like airborne hydrogen atoms clutching oxygen in vapor. When we are young, these essentials of our being find expression in the joy and unencumbered playfulness of our doing.....and then they lift and dissipate, as the suns of conformity burn them away. And we are taught that we have 5 senses: sight, smell, hearing. touch and taste. We are rewarded for our intellect on tests if we choose the right answer. The lucky ones take art, music, dance, write poetry, and these allow a modicum of creative self expression. But the rest of our inner senses are destined to hide behind the defensive judgment maneuvers of yours and mine, right and wrong, behave yourself, seen and not heard. Today I am lingering in the fog, that deep stillness the water vapor holds in place, allowing the voice of my inner world to coalesce and sing the fearless harmony of being to my outer world of doing. 

May you give your self the gift of these quiet, foggy moments to remember how to sing all the parts!

~Peggy @ https://www.facebook.com/ecumenicus

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lords Prayer In Aramaic - Our Father Who Art in Heaven

Reliance on particular words and facts that cannot fully describe experience is a significant factor maintaining the illusion of separation from divine Oneness.  I call this over-objectification. The experience of Oneness is found in the subjective, the unique meaning each of us imparts to what is through our personal inner eye. For every outer phenomenon, there is an inner phenomenon. This is wisdom, as opposed to intellectual assent.

Taking the language of scripture back to its roots can be a revelatory technique in many ways. Remember, words and letters are symbols. We limit experience when we use them to define rather than reveal. Symbols always point to something beyond facts, they expand into experience through meaning, and subsequently, value. Modern day language, in and of itself, tends to limit and confine the meaning of words. In the language of today, words have found greater definition, precision, and discreet implication. But ancient languages, Greek, numerous Middle Eastern languages and Hebrew dialects, Latin, etc find more space around words as symbols, allowing their implications to expand experience rather than point to one factual aspect of the experience.

This is the case with the various renditions of the Lord's Prayer from earlier languages. Many agree that the original Aramaic (a language with origins in the 10th century BC) cannot be retrieved, but a diversity of transliterations from early sources allow the Lord's Prayer to be taken back to a more fundamental, and subjective, articulation. It makes a difference. It creates a space for consciousness raising through experience.

Below is a word by word, symbol by symbol, translation of the first line of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven" or Abwoon d'bwashmaya in "Aramaic" by Sufi and Religious studies scholar, Neil Douglas-Klotz, from his wonderful book, Prayers of the Cosmos.

1. Our Birth in Unity

Abwoon d’bwashmaya: "Our Father who art in heaven"

A = the Absolute, the Only being, The pure Oneness and Unity – source of all power and stability (echos the ancient sacred sound AL and the Aramaic word for God, Alaha, literally, “the Oneness”).

bw = a birthing, a creation, a flow of blessing, as if from the “interior” on this Oneness to us.

oo = the breath or spirit that carries this flow, echoing the sound of breathing and including all forces we now call magnetism, wind, electricity and more. This sound is linked to the Aramaic phrase rukha d’goodsha, which was later translated as “Holy Spirit.”

n = the vibration of the creative breath from Oneness as it touches and interpenetrates form. There must be a substance that this force touches, moves, and changes.
This sound echos the earth, and the body here vibrates as we intone the name slowly:

Shem = means light, sound, vibration, name, or word. The root shm indicates that which “rises and shines in space,” the entire sphere of being.
Shem is the “name” the renders Abwoon knowable

-aya shows that this shining includes every center of activity, every place we see, as well as the potential abilities of all things.

Shmaya = the vibration or word by which one can recognize the Oneness – God’s name – is the universe. (The Aramaic conception of heaven)

English translations:
O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos, You create all that moves in light.

O Thou! The Breathing Life of all, Creator of the Shimmering Sound that touches us.

Respiration of all worlds, we hear you breathing – in and out- in silence.

Radiant One: You shine within us, outside us-even darkness shines-when we remember.

Name of Names, our small identity unravels in you, you give it back as a lesson.

Wordless Action, Silent Potency-where ears and eye awaken, there heaven comes.

Be still and know that I AM
Be still and know
Be still .

Experience is fullest when our minds are quietest, when the "interpreter" is asleep. As you rest in the space of Universal Love, may all light surround you, ground you, and guide you!

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus