I commend those who participated in Holy Listening, you did a wonderful job of understanding and using this method of opening yourselves to the Spirit and I sensed movements of the Spirit in what we all shared.
It was wonderful to hear so many folks comment about their experiences and reflections on last session's theme. I found this video of "Give Me Your Eyes" about which one of our members spoke. The song came into her mind while reflecting on her way home from out last evening session and then proceeded to come on the radio as she drove. God does some amazingly surprising things.
We spent a good deal of time reflecting on Pilgrimage as not just a trip from A to B but as a journey of transformation on the way to a sacred destination. We discussed Pilgrimage as a series of sacred steps. When we look at life as a Pilgrimage we find the sacred by being fully open and present to life's ordinary events. I've attached Tolstoy's pilgrimage story of Two Old Men here that speaks simply of the Pilgrimage experience.
The topic of the evening's readings was transcending the limited understanding we all have of what it means to be human beings in community. The readings talk about the spiritual awakening of mind and heart. In New Seeds of Contemplation Merton wrote: "Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name."
In decades of work spent building on the foundations of Thomas Merton, the Christian Contemplative tradition and modern psychology, Fr. Thomas Keating has developed an understanding of the Human Condition. His work explains how humans build to the false self system through early life experiences and socially constructed realities associated with their families, communities and the societies they grow up in. An over-reliance on satisfying false self system needs (safety/security, affection/esteem, power/control) in order to achieve happiness is enforced by ego. The Human Condition gets in the way of our True self which knows joy through Selflessness and True Love. The Spiritual Journey is the process of our false self dying and continual rebirth to our True self. This inner renewal is the an ongoing discarding the layers of false self just like "old snake skin".
Many people were touched by how Marcus J. Borg's reading demonstrated the universally the theme of "daily dying and rising with Christ" was across different faith traditions. The following examples come from the Another Voice reading:
- Christianity: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, renounce yourself, and take up your cross every day and follow me." (Luke 9:23)
- Judaism: Following "the way" involves a new heart, a new self-centered in God.
- Islam: Surrender one's life to God by radically centering in God. Muhammad is reported to have said, "Die (spiritually) before you die (physically)."
- The heart of the Buddhist path is "letting go". According to the Tao te Ching, "If you want to become full, let yourself become empty; if you want to be reborn, let yourself die."
Finally, we had a discussion about Saint Benedict's Rule for Monks which instructed monks to remember every day that they would die. As we discussed this, there was unanimous agreement that reflecting on our death was a very positive reminder to live life to the fullest, to remember Psalm 118: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.". We were reminded that we can be so deadly serious with ourselves and our sacred journey through life that we lose site of joy and gentleness that is the fullness of life and the purpose to which God created us.
As we shared, I was reminded of a similar, end of day quote used in Buddhism which served to remind practitioners that they had 24 hours less to live but I could not find the exact quote. Instead, I found a quote by Thích Nhat Hanh which is reminded me of the Psalm:
- “Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”