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Showing posts from April, 2012

Universalism and Holistic Spirituality

I saw this quote attributed to Rumi: "I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. Doing away with duality, I saw the two worlds as one. I seek One, I know One, I see One, and I call One. "  I have no idea if he actually said this, but I find the sentiment powerful beyond measure.  


The past day or two has really helped me realize that I am not a traditional anything religious-wise.  I am not a traditional nor orthodox Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Thomasine etc.  I am both comfortable with all of these and yet also outside of them.  
I have a passionate love of God and yet am just as comfortable dropping God language and speaking of the sacredness in every-day life or in nature.  I can speak of Goddess or the Gods.  It all works.  Somewhere along the way, I have embraced (or have I been embraced) by a holistic spirituality.  I relish the writings of the various scriptures and yet can also appreciate the scripture of nature.  I am far from perfect, yet feel embraced and ut…

Original Innocence

I want to point you to a post by T Thorne Coyle called "Invoking Random Kindness".  She really taps into what I call Original Innocence.  Those who love the Gospel of Thomas will recognize the theme.  This post is beautiful as it is profound.  Enjoy!

Seeing The World Through Devotional Service

I find the path of devotional service very challening and wonderful  The path of action is to awaken to our unity with the Divine.  I have never been one advocating complete withdrawal from the world.  After all my early tutors in spirituality were social justice oriented Roman Catholic priests, and I have never outgrown their passionate love for all humanity and nature.

So how do we "do" devotional service.  There are several possible ways.  One is to simply go through the day seeing each person you come across as an image of the Divine and serve and love them as God.  Try to maintain that focus throughout the day, that each person you come across is a living manifestation of the Divine.  (Yourself included.)  Another way is dedicate everything you do as a holy offering to the Divine.  Do not cling to the results.  Do your best, do it with goodness, compassion (toward others and yourself), and with the mindset that all you do today is a simple offering to the Divine presence…

Finding Love

I remembered one of the things I noticed when I first read the Gospel of Thomas was what I thought was a lack of reference to the love of God.  Now many years later I find God's passionate love in almost every saying in the Gospel of Thomas.  I find a God who's desire is that we be whole, that we be free, that we know ourselves.  I see a God who desires that we protect our brothers and sister like we would protect our own eyes from harm.  I see a God who desires his children to remember their heritage and who they really are.  This God loves us with a mature passionate love.  He is not a jealous God.  He does not rage against things that are not important.  God merely loves us as a parent loves their children of any age and longs for them to reach their fullest potential.  With that we receive promises that God is within us, and without.  That God is in nature.  God is in our brothers and sisters.  This is the God I believe in.  This is the God I love.  This is the God I know.…

Did You See That!?

Jesus said, "Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be revealed to you.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed.  Saying 5 of the Gospel of Thomas

The teacher here speaks of seeing reality as is.  To know what is in front of your face.  In meditation, I face the challenge to sit with my monkey mind.  It seeks to jump from thought to thought to thought.  It creates fantasies and even delusions that often reveal how I see the world.  The master instead challenges those who he called as disciples to be aware of the present moment - to know and be aware of what is before us.  To make a mental step back and simply observe something for what it is.  To let go of what you want it to be or want it to lead to, and to truly live in the present moment.

When we do this, something amazing happens.  When we experience something purely in the present moment, we experience gratefulness and are able to see through the delusions of clinging and aversion. …

Knowing the Self

"But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty." Gospel of Thomas 3

The goal of the spiritual life is to know the Self.  By this I do not mean the transitory self that is influenced  by circumstances of life.  Rather, I believe Jesus is pointing to something else...a knowing of the Divine within.  The Spirit of God within.  Our truest self is that of God.  Using the metaphor of God as Father or Mother, then as children of the Divine we take after the very nature of our Father/Mother.

In sitting in meditation, one observes the coming and going of many thoughts, feelings and impressions.  Who is the observer?  Who is the self?  If you lost your arm in an accident, would you still be yourself?  What about both arms?   Arms and Legs?  Would there still be a you?  Yes!  We are not our body.  We inhabit this body but are so much more.  We are not our transitory thoughts, emotions, fears, or joys or sorrows.  The Observer within us is none less…

What's in a Name?

Not to be difficult, but I know some of my readers have difficulty with Jesus, immediately associating him with "churchianity".  While there is good and bad in the institution of the church, I am not a part of it.  I follow Jesus as my guru, through his words in the Gospel of Thomas.  I practice Vedanta/Hinduism.  These two are not separate for me.

The Art of Letting Go

Gospel of Thomas 21. Mary asked Jesus, "What are your disciples like?"
He said, "They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, 'Give us back our field.' They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them.


Life is funny.  We are funnier still.  I sometimes wonder if God is a cosmic jester wondering who will get the joke.  For example, look at my life.  I want something.  I pine for it.  I check my account to see if I can afford getting it.  I go to the store, getting happier as I get closer.  I walk in and buy it.  A day or so later, the joy has passed and I now want something else.   Rinse...Repeat.

I am the only person like that.  Wait?  What?  You are like that too?  Many of our lives are caught up in the hamster wheel of attachment.  I want something and suffer until I get it.  Then if it is something really valuable, I suffer t…

Illumination and Enlightenment

I find it interesting that the early church spoke of illumination/enlightenment.  This seemed to be an awakening that happened at the initiation ritual.  I know in the Gospel of Thomas one hears the same kind of talk.

Jesus said that we should seek until we find, and then we will be agitated, then will be astounded then reign over the all.

I find this to be the journey to enlightenment.

Seeker Stage:
There are those who long for something more.  They search for meaning, peace, wisdom, or enlightenment.  Seekers are not shunned or looked down on in the Gospel of Thomas as we all must start here.  I remember this stage in myself, and often find myself returning here to start around the spiral to the center yet again.

Finding Stage:
It is here where one receives an epiphany of the spiritual life.  They start a practice and devour learning.  This initial finding may last for years.  It is a passion for the spiritual life.

Agitation Stage:
Here is the time of spiritual dryness or doubt.  Every…

By Your Grace

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Making the Two-One

There is a reoccuring theme in the Gospel of Thomas of Oneness. Jesus, time and again speaks of reconciling the two into one. In my journey the past few months and particularly the past week or so, I have had to do a lot of soul searching. For the past 5+ years I have been a Thomasine, a devotee of the Gospel of Thomas. I have wrestled, struggled and meditated on the sayings found in that wonderful book. Then several months ago, I had an experience of all nature as being alive and divine. This "vision" was so mind-blowing I could not return to the GoT with the same eyes. Like Thomas Aquinas when he experienced God, I saw my writings and speculations as an "epistle of straw". I felt lost and confused..should I somehow serve God in nature? Was this what I was called to do? I am a person who needs structure and community, and looked back to my time I was a Hindu. Here, I told myself, I could serve God in nature and still respect the Gospel of Thomas, which …

Karma Yoga

As I read in the Bhagavad-Gita last night I read a passage about Karma Yoga.  Karma Yoga is the path of selfless service.  To serve, to give, to do with the intent of serving the Divine Presence in all people and things.  There is no clinging to the outcome to cause a clouded mind.  You do what is right and good (your dharma) simply for the sake of serving God.  How beautiful is that!  To serve God in all we do.  Whether it is at your job, with your kids, or at your job...act as if it were a worship of God.  One practice I had done in the past is to see that of God (however you envision the Divine) as dwelling in each person and honoring that divine presence in them, seeing them as God appearing as "Bob" or "Melanie".

A Western Hinduism

I have been thinking what a Western Hinduism might look like. One of the books I am reading is called American Veda by Philip Goldberg which explores how Vedanta and Hindu philosophy came to America. One area I found fascinating was how Hinduism was re-packaged for an American audience and culture often by Indian teachers. I think many Americans would be less reluctant of calling themselves Hindu if we had a uniquely Western expression of Hinduism. I know friends who fall in love with Hinduism but then experience culture shock when visiting a temple because they may be the only non-Indian there. I also know people they cannot be Hindu because they are not Indian or should not speak of dharma and such as they do not know Sanskrit and thus should not speak of Hinduism at all.   I know for me I felt as if I were somehow inadequate or faking at being a Hindu as I stood out like a sore thumb.  I think however Buddhism has largely succeeded in speaking to a Western audience, and welcomi…

Why a Vedantic Spirituality?

For me it is not a conversion, but rather a reversion...going back to the faith I practiced.
I ran away primarily for one reason, but another was there as well.  I ran away due to an unhealthy experience with a guru and the fact I could not separate the Indian culture from the spirituality (my fault there).  Enough time has passed to have let go of the pain from the first, and somehow, almost naturally, I have been able to separate the two...culture and spirituality.  There is nothing wrong with the culture, but I am not trying to be something I am not.

So why I am I returning?

It already fits what I believe and hold to be true.  God is one and many.  God is in nature.  God is both male and female and yet more than these.  Reincarnation.  Spiritual Practice.  Dharmic LivingI can still appreciate nature and the Gospel of Thomas.  Hinduism has no problem with Jesus.  He may be seen as a divine avatar or guru.  Community-As a Thomasine, I knew only one other person who followed it as their…

Joy

Ever wake up so filled with joy that you can hardly contain it?  I woke up this morning that way.  A love song came on the radio and I just sang and sang to God.  What could be better?

Big Tent Religion

As I had mentioned in my blog in the past, at one time I was a Hindu monk..for three years to be exact.  I left due to an unhealthy relationship with my guru, and seeing him cross lines that should not be crossed.  That said, my friend Eric and I have been talking about Hinduism and what a Western expression would look like.

It embodies a wide diversity of theologies (including mine!) and all the best that I love from the Gospel of Thomas.  When he first mentioned it, I really had to do some soul searching...could I return to it?  I prayed on it and slept on it, but honestly...yes I could.  Yes, I can.  Yes, I am.  I have been stumbling since no longer identifying as a Thomasine...or a better way of putting it...expanding beyond just a Thomasine worldview...which is still beautiful and a part of me.

As neither of us are Indian, there comes the point where we must work through what is Indian and what is Vedanta.  I made the mistake when I first became Hindu of trying to be Indian, not …

Making the Two, One

Silence

"Let all mortal flesh be silent, with fear and trembling stand."
Here I have tried to walk away from something that has been my path for years, but I am finding that I do not have the words as I try to find a way to put into words who or what I understand the Spirit to be, and how I am called to live that.  Right now it is silence.  I simply do not have the words.  I feel pregnant and ready to birth something, but...not yet.  I do know this.  This monastic calling still is there.  A monk in the world.