The Monastic Life – The Path To Spirituality?

[ad_1]

INTRODUCTION

Elijah and John, like other hermits (a monastic way of life) lived in the deserts. Jesus did not. What then is the pathway to spiritual maturity? Is it the life of the monk or otherwise? What we achieve, it must be noted, the monastic life or otherwise, is by the grace of God. God looks at the heart. What was Jesus’ first miracle? In which ceremony did he perform it? If Jesus performed a miracle in a wedding feast, thus promoting joyful celebration (though, with limitations), is this not a hint that, the monastic, celibate or ascetic life is not godlier than the wedded, celebratory life? Is monasticism the path to spirituality? Although there are good principles in the monastic life, it must be emphasized, echoed and re-echoed that only God can bring us to spirituality. From the foregoing, spirituality is not by works of righteousness but indeed by His grace alone.

1. DEFINITION OF TERMS

a. Spirituality

The term spirituality is defined as living the Christian life with a consciousness or sensitivity to religious values. Striving or aiming for perfection and making particular use of prayer are therefore very important considerations in many different Christian circles. However, it must be emphasized that spirituality assumes various forms in several Christian traditions, for instance, from the solitude of the Orthodox monks to the activism of the Pentecostals.

b. The monastic life

The monastic life refers to a way of religious life that is usually pursued within the confines of a monastery where the residents take several vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, living by the rule of the order to which they belong. Generally celibate and universally ascetic, the monastic individual separates himself or herself from general society either by living as a hermit or anchorite (religious recluse) or by joining a society of others who profess similar intentions. It is believed that although St. Anthony is viewed as the founder of monasticism, the founder of the rule of life is St. Benedict. The goal of the monastic way of life was the achievement of personal salvation with God through a continual spiritual battle with temptation. It is therefore reasonable to note that “the chief aim of the monk, therefore, is personal sanctification…” (Cross, 1975, 914).

c. Monastic spirituality

Monastic spirituality implies a single-heart solitary seeking of God, an approach to Him in response to His invitation found in Scripture, for instance, “seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Mt. 6:33). It is meant to be carried out in a lifetime and perfected or finalized in eternal life after one’s death. It is a “way of life… that requires a certain discipline to dispose oneself to meet the living God” (Monastic Spirituality 2004). It therefore flows from a belief in a God who comes to those who are disposed to listening, who will persevere in seeking God even when it seems pointless boring. The forty-eighth verse of The Rule of St. Benedict states, “do not be daunted immediately by fear and man away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset” (The Spirit of Benedictine Life, 2004).

2. TYPES OF THE MONASTIC LIFE

The Encyclopaedia Britannica generally divides monasticism into two, organizational or institutional, and hierarchical and status types. The organizational or institutional type could be further divided into eremitic, quasi-eremitic, cenobitic, quasi-monastic, and mendicant monks. The two subdivisions in the latter group include sacerdotal, and secondary and religious orders.

A common feature of true eremitic institutions is the emphasis on living alone on a strict contemplative life. Quasi-eremitic institutions had loose organizational structures with no external hierarchies. In cenobitic monasticism, ascetism was to be pursued in community life and in obedience. The quasi-monastic groups are Christian military orders. Strictly defined, mendicant monks are those who live by begging.

3. CAUSES OF THE MONASTIC LIFE

Several reasons could be attributed to the rise of monasticism. An important influence was the philosophical. The dualistic view of flesh and spirit, with its tendency to consider flesh and evil and spirit good- so characteristic of the Orient- influenced Christianity though the Gnostic and Neoplatonic movements. It was thought that retirement from the world could “help the individual crucify the flesh and to develop the spiritual life by meditation and ascetic acts” (Cairns, 1967, 163).

Secondly, it would appear as if some Scriptures seem to justify the monastic life. I Corinthians 7 is a case in point. Some early Church Fathers like Origen, Cyprian, Tertullian and Jerome, urged celibacy to support correct interpretation of the Scriptures. Furthermore, it is observed, Antony, probably the first monk, “in response to those words (Matt. 19:21), disposed of his property and gave the proceeds to the poor, reserving only a portion for the care of his sister” (Gonzalez 1984, 141). He even disposed of the small reserve fund that he had kept for his sister, placed her under the care of the virgins of the church, and left for the desert when a later verse “do not be anxious for tomorrow” (Matt. 6:34) moved him. Although we do not really know when the flight to the desert really began, “Antony first embarked on the life of a hermit shortly before the year 270; but it seems that he had predecessors” (Lawrence 1984, 5).

The total spiritual poverty that is demanded of Christians and to which monks respond without hesitation appears to be lovingly granted through in the Beatitudes. This is the core of the Benedictine Spirit – adhering to His teachings, ultimately following Him who has trodden the same path from His baptism in the Jordan through the trials, misunderstandings and humiliations of rejection, to His glowing obedience to His Father and the final unblinking act of sacrifice. Furthermore, thirdly, certain psychological tendencies strengthened the desire for a monastic life. In period of crisis there is always a tendency to retreat from the harsh realities. The late second and third centuries saw the beginning of civil disorder which was to become so prevalent in the later history of the Empire. It is evident therefore that “many left society for the monastery as a means of escape from harsh reality and the moral contamination of the times” (Cairns 1967, 164). Historically, there was increasing moral deterioration, especially of the upper classes in Roman society and monasticism became a haven for those in revolt against this growing decadence of the times. Geographically, the warm dry climate and the multitude of caves in the hills along the banks of the Nile were conducive to separation of the individual from society.

4. BENEFITS OF THE MONASTIC LIFE

It is a truism that there is so much evil in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that we have to critically evaluate and learn to accommodate each other in the Christian faith. No denomination has it all right. There are strengths in the different denominations and the Christian needs to have a receptive spirit to learn from each. The monastic life is not an exception. There are several good points in this way of life worth mentioning. It is observed that monasteries “are necessary because the world is not Christian. Let it be converted, and the need for a monastic life will disappear” (Chrysostom, 1972, 52-53). History has not vindicated his hope. Monasticism has a unique testimony to the world. It is firmly believed that “monasteries were the conservators of learning and the centers of missionary and philanthropic work. The monks were the writers, preachers, philosophers and theologians of the age….” (Vos, 1994, 122). This is why Cross believes that “the monks were the chief teachers of Europe and an influential civilizing power” (Cross 1957, 104).

The life of the Church between Constantine and the Reformation reveals that “almost everything in the church that approached the highest, noblest and truest ideals of the gospel was done either by those who had chosen the monastic way or those who had been inspired in their Christian life by the monks” (Noll, 2000, 85). Douglas, Cairns and Ruark argue that “the monks were prominent in the Origenist controversies, intervened tempestuously in the fifth-century christological disputes, and became Byzantine Church’s ‘democratic front'” (Douglas, 1978, 671). Leaders of the Reformation such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranner and Menno Simmons used the writings of the monks to draw support for their theology. Luther and Calvin, for instance, repeatedly consulted the works of Augustine. In fact, “it should be remembered that Luther, Erasmus, and many other critics of the papacy had monastic backgrounds” (Vos, 1994, 122).

The monastic life was not only limited to manual labour but also extended to copying MSS., teaching, art, all kinds of scholarly research and translating the Bible. A realistic summary of the influence of monastic life to Christianity could be summarized thus:

If we read the Scripture in our native languages, we benefit from a tradition of biblical translation inspired by the monk Jerome (ca. 342-420). If we sing the praises of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we follow where the hymn-writing monks Gregory (ca.540-604) and Bernard of Clairvaux… If we pursue theology, we (are) indebted to the monks Augustine and Thomas Aquinas (ca.1225-74). If we pray for the success of Christian missions, we ask for blessing upon enterprises pioneered by monks Patrick (ca.390-ca.460), Boniface (680-754), Cyril (826-69) and his brother Methodius (ca.815-85) and Raymond Lull (ca.1233-ca.1315). If we glory in the goodness that God imparted to the created world, we follow where the friar Francis of Assisi blazed the trail…(Noll, 2000, 85).

5. SPIRITUALITY OF THE MONASTIC LIFE

From the foregoing, a question that readily comes to mind is whether the monastic way of life is really a path to spirituality? Clebsch realistically observes that Antony’s retirement from the world is, at the very least, an ambiguous retreat, for though he separates himself from the distractions and nagging pressures of ordinary human community, the wilderness to which Antony flees holds more significant challenges and dangers. When Antony finds no relief from an enthusiastic crowd during a rare visit to the city, “he assures those around him that he must contend with equal numbers – of demons – at his cell in the wilderness” (Clebsch 1980, 8).

Monasticism preaches separation from society, which lives according to the elements of this world, and from its economic, political and social problems. This generally led to the flight to the desert and the later autonomous existence of communities that care for the needs of their members. The monastic republic is Mount Athos, for instance, is a striking example of a social, self-governing life, separated from the world and even opposed to it. The thorny issue is that since everyone cannot realistically share this vocation, the monastic solution remains limited. It is not the solution for the world in its totality.

Even though the researcher is coming from a war torn land (Sierra Leone), he has come to realize that forgiveness and love are ways to demonstrate true spirituality. It must be noted that monks “headed the Inquisition and persuaded multitudes to participate in the crusades” (Noll, 2000, 140). The question is why was this so If the monastic life aimed at personal sanctification? As Christians, we must be honest to admit that “as they unfolded, the Crusades never accomplished as much good as supporters hoped, while evil consequences, unintended and unforeseen by proponents like Urban, proliferated” (Noll, 2000, 140). Even in Christianity, it is not farfetched to say that the Crusades sealed the Schism. It is unimaginable to note that people living the monastic life took part in political warfare.

The conviction of Protestants (including the researcher of this paper) about the centrality of justification by faith is bound to raise questions about whether the monastic life encouraged harmful notions concerning the possibility of salvation by works. A legitimate question worth asking is whether what the monks vowed to do did not obscure the fundamental or foundational reality of God’s grace. Paul got it right when he observed that “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2: 8-9). Obtaining salvation by works is nothing but a legalistic approach which is consistently condemned by Scripture. The tense of the verb in Ephesians 2:8 establishes the necessity of faith in Christ as the only means of being made right with God. How central is the teaching of grace? This is a question the someone living the monastic life would have to struggle with.

Does the ascetic privation of the body by the monk affect the true seat of sinfulness? In response, it is vehemently argued that “the bent of the heart, rather than the mere disposal of the body, is the key matter in godliness” (Noll, 2000, 103). In fact, an issue in our recently concluded module was sex and spirituality. Although Catholics believe that sex is only for procreation, the Protestant views sex between husband and wife for pleasure also as true spirituality. Even Bro. Lawrence was honest enough to admit some of the problems of a type of monastic life. It is interesting to note that Brother Lawrence began to doubt the wisdom of his decision to live in the desert, wishing instead to live within a Christian brotherhood… Members of the group could edify and exhort one another, protecting themselves against the changeableness of their individual whims (Lawrence, 1982, 78).

CONCLUSION

In all fairness to monasticism, the institution “owes its origin to the desire of leading a life of perfection in greater security than is normally possible in the world” (Cross 1975, 914). Monks for more than a thousand years sustained a lot of noble qualities in the Church. It is reasonable to note that the monastic life, “though never perfect, always in need of reform, and occasionally sunk in corruption- remains today, more than seventeen hundred years after Antony went into the desert, a guide and inspiration to large sections of the Church” (Noll, 2000, 104). However, it would be farfetched to state that monasticism is a path to spirituality. It is incontrovertible that there are good principles in the monastic life. This notwithstanding, one must hasten to note that only God can bring us to spirituality. It is not by works of righteousness but indeed by His grace alone. The environment is really not the issue. I believe that the inside of the man is the real issue. The philosophers believe that if a man is sick, he will still be at the same place if you were to remove him from the gutters to the palace. Why? The answer is that he carries his disease with him. Did Jesus avoid non-Christians? No. What does He mean when He observe that though the Christian is in the world, he is not of it? The researcher observes that these words suggest or recommend a very unique ministry. This ministry seems to show itself above the desert and the city, since it is called to surpass every form in order to express itself everywhere and in all circumstances. How can monks be given birth to or monasteries be populated without the life on the other side of the monastery? It is suggested that there is only one spirituality for all without distinction in its demands, whether of the bishop, monk or layperson. St. Seraphim left the extreme practices of the hermits and returned to the world. He was no longer a monk retired from the world nor a man living among people. He was both, and surpassing both, he was essentially a witness to Biblical spirituality.

WORKS CITED

Beaufort, Lawrence. The Practice of the Presence of God. New Kensington : Whitaker House, 1982.

Cairns, E.E. Christianity Throughout the Centuries. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zondervan Publishing

House, 1967.

Chrysostom, John. Her Nature and Task, in Bible, Church Tradition : An Eastern Orthodox View,

Collected Works, Vol. 1. Maryland : Norland, 1972.

Clebsch, W.A. The Life of Antony and the letter of Marcellinus. New York : Paulist Press, 1980.

Cross, F.L., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London : Oxford University Press, 1975.

Douglas, J.D. E.E. Cairns and James E. Ruark, The New International Dictionary of the Christian

Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan : Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1989 ed. s.v. Sacred Offices and Orders.

Gonzalez, J.L. The Story of Christianity : the Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation, Vol. 1

Cambridge : Harper and Row Publishers, 1984.

Lawrence, C.H. Medieval Monasticism : Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages.

London : Longman, 1984.

Monastic Spirituality. Available [online]: http://www.christdesert.org/noframes/

scholar/monastic_spirituality.html. Accessed 20th September 2004.

Noll, Mark A. Turning Points : Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids,

Michigan : Baker Academic, 2000.

The Spirit of Benedictine Life. Available [online]: http://www.christdesert.org/noframes/

scholar/benedict/benedict_spirituality.html. Accessed 20th March 2004.

Vos, H.F. Introduction to Church History. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994.

[ad_2]
Source by Oliver Harding

The Spirituality of Success

[ad_1]

Frankly, for me, it was a damn sight easier to make money hand over first before I became all spiritual. I could do whatever it took to squeeze the lemon dry and win those trophies called Net Profit and Annual Budget with one arm behind my back. Little did people know that the arm was behind my back hiding something…. no not a knife, but close.

There are clearly two paths to success as an entrepreneur or leader and they are, as radically different as chalk and cheese and anything in between is a guaranteed failure.

Path 1. Present the public image of compliance in order to disguise the real tiger behind the curtain. A rather tenacious and aggressive approach to success in which there’s a magical awareness of what people want to hear versus what is really going on. The capacity to “split” in two or three is the key to success here.

Path 2. Become Sadly and Heroically committed to authenticity and therefore Brutally Honest with self and others. Sadly because there are huge tracts of market that must remain unploughed because such authenticity is confronting and distasteful to at least 90% of the mass market, and, heroically because it’s incredibly demanding to make yourself so “exposed and vulnerable to criticism”

The easiest and most successful path is the first, path 1. It presents a united and homogeneous face to those around us and feels safe and secure in the belief that there is no transparency between what goes on and what really goes on.

For those of us “cursed” with intuition, such homogeneous faces are transparent and this in itself is upsetting primarily because it means our own attempts to present a united front never seem safe. If we can see through the disguise, others can see through ours. And the key to these masks of split life is “never being caught.”

My switch came quite by accident” – while running a successful business and family life, wearing the masks of many disguises, I just got sick and tired of being such a fake. The day I made the choice to “bare everything” was the day success in the classical language of money and longevity of relationship, blew out the window.

The spirituality of success really does involve the harder road. Although many marketeers will claim that the “secret” and other magical books can save you time and energy for success, the truth is far from it. In fact, if you want fast, money based success, learn to lie. If you want a healthy heart, a happy soul and success, it’s the slow boat, but it’s the most joyful.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hang my dirty laundry out for all to see. I don’t reveal my skid-marks on my undies to everyone, no, I still maintain a public and a private persona. That’s a part of life as the Buddha once supposedly said, “tell em what they want to hear until they’re ready to hear what you want to teach” (Aussie Buddha)

There’s no success in sharing how sad you are, or disappointed you are. That’s your private truth, but the spiritual side is that you hold it private not because of shame or guilt, but because it’s not the emotion you wish to impart to others, and this is where the real shift must happen for spiritual or authentic success.

The emotions you express in public are chosen because they are the emotions you want to share and awaken in others. Life becomes a process of gifting others, not self-gratification.

[ad_2]
Source by Christopher J Walker

Spirituality Information – Beingness Creates Doingness

[ad_1]

Spirituality information is being in a state of flow. What you are being dictates what you are doing.

Think about this statement. Whatever you are doing you are doing it because of your state of being.

Your beingness creates your doingness

We are physical creatures and because of this physicality we are more often concerned with what we are doing than what we are being. In the big scheme of things we are all too often focused on the action rather than the cause of the action. We discount our intentions and forge full steam ahead looking for results to something that seems to need to be accomplished when all the while we don’t really know why we are doing what it is that we are doing.

Does this have a ring of truth to it for you? I know that when I was sleepwalking through life (living my life in a very unconscious manner), I was often caught up in the importance of my doingness and never all that concerned about who I was being at any given time. Only when I began to wake up to myself and seek to really know who I was at a much deeper level did I begin to become aware of the concept of my beingness.

You Are In A Constant State of Being

You see, we are always being something, just as we are always doing something. The correlation between what we are being and what we are doing is absolute. Whatever you are doing you are doing as a direct result of what you are being. You don’t “do happy.” First you “be happy” and then you “do happy things”. Happiness is a state of being and from that state of being you will “do” all manner of things that exemplify what happiness is.

Just look at what you have been doing and you will be able to determine your state of being. If you are cheating on your golf score, you are being a cheater. If you are lying to friends in order to look better, you are being a liar. If you are talking about your friends behind their back then you are being a gossip.

Everything you “do” stems from what you are “being”. The great revelation here is that you can consciously choose who you want to “be” in any given moment. Even better is that you can consciously determine who you want to be as far as your whole persona is concerned. If you choose to be a person who is loved by all the people they know then you must “be loving” yourself. If you choose to be a person who is respected by all the people they know then you must “be respectful” of all the people you know. If you choose to have prosperity in your life, then you must “be prosperous” to others around you by helping them in their prosperity.

This is the nature of the universe in which we live. Spend more of your time concentrating on who you are being rather than on what you are doing. It is your state of beingness that is important to you because;

“Your Beingness Creates Your Doingness.”

[ad_2]
Source by Richard Blackstone

India – The Center of Spirituality

[ad_1]

India is one of the centers of spirituality for over 4,000 years. In fact, the Land of the Vedas and Temples can be found in India is the World’s Capital of Spirituality. Everything about India including its people, buildings and even its soil nurture spiritualism that develops and strengthens the religion itself.

Other religion such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism were formed and strengthened in India. They got support and sought refuge in India when they were mistreated in their own country.

India offers sanctuary and enlightenment not only for religion alone but also for numerous sages, philosophers and founders of other religions as well. The quest for spirituality becomes a need because people are trying to change and achieve the capitalistic way of life, which is why this goes on until now even after so many years.

India‘s Spiritual Destination

India has several destinations for spiritual activities. If you are trying to search for your spiritual self, a visit to one of the spiritual place can help you. It can help you in nurturing and discovering your spirituality within yourself by looking into the rich spirituality of the country through its history.

There are a lot of spiritual tours in India that can take you to several spiritual destinations which are very much known for their religious and spiritual contribution to the country and its people. These places are all over India and tourists visit these places to allow them to experience the peace and tranquility that they have not experienced for a long time in their life.

Among the top religious and spiritual destination of India are: Golden Temple and Anandpur Sahib in Amritsar; Varanasi, Mathura, and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh; Somanth in Gujarat; Dargah Khwaja Saheb in Ajmer; Rishikesh and Haridwar in Uttrakhand; Pushkar in Rajasthan; Jagannath Puri in Orissa; Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh; and Bodh Gaya in Bihar.

These places have inspired other religious people from different parts of the globe to go on a spiritual tour and to discover the beautiful meaning of one’s life and find the meaning of one’s physical existence.

[ad_2]
Source by Lavanay Bhadwal

Spirituality from the Hebrew Bible: 10 Major Themes

[ad_1]

The major themes of the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament) surely include God, man, sin, righteousness, grace, covenant, law, atonement, and holiness. A final theme we will examine is the Messiah. Nearly everyone would agree that these ten themes are among the most important. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

God – From its opening verse, the Hebrew Bible affirms the following important truths about God: Regarding time he is timeless, regarding power he is limitless, and regarding knowledge he is infinite; He is one and not two or more, He is creator not creature, and He is both loving and holy.

These characteristics, and many more besides, define who God is, and lie at the heart of the Old Testament revelation of Him. He is primarily revealed, however, not in abstractions or propositions, but in relationship with human beings.

Man – In contrast with God, human beings are limited: they have a beginning and are mortal, they have only limited power and knowledge, and they are certainly not always loving and holy. To be sure, the history of humankind has some heroism and stories of noble thoughts and deeds, but it documents the sad history of failed potential, squandered opportunities, and perverted purposes.

The original pair of human beings comes into existence in relationship with God, objects of His grace and love and reflections of His likeness. Unfortunately, however, they give up their standing with the Lord. In the name of independence, they become slaves to sin, in need of deliverance. The progress of their descendants reaches the climax when Genesis 6 says, “Every inclination of the heart of man is only evil all the time.”

Sin – The Hebrew Bible reveals the nature of sin primarily in narrative form–in other words by telling the story of what happened to real people. Human beings were created in a sinless state, even as even now they are born into the world pure and innocent. Sinfulness is abnormal for human beings; it is out of alignment with what God designed us to be and to do.

Since we bear the image of God, sin is whatever contradicts God’s own nature. Because God is true, lies are sin. Because God is holy, defilement is sin. Because God is love, hatred is sin. Because God is unity, division is sin, and so on. This is best expressed in Leviticus 19:1, where God says, “You must be holy, for I am holy.” All through Leviticus, the moral precepts announced are tied again and again to the affirmation, “I am the LORD.”

Doing what is right and experiencing the blessing God brings with it is what the Old Testament means by knowing that God is the LORD (see statements in Ezekiel and elsewhere over and over).

Righteousness – If sin is rebelling against reflecting God’s nature in our lives, then righteousness is living in harmony with that nature. It is maintaining a relationship of trusting obedience with God. Righteousness involves faith, but it also bursts forth from the loyal heart into faithfulness in one’s walk.

The Hebrew Bible describes the righteous person as being devoted to God in with your heart, your soul, and your strength. A right relationship with other human beings accompanies this right relationship with God. The Old Testament portrays the righteous person as treating others as they would want to be treated, with acting toward them as God would act.

Grace – Some readers have the impression that they will not encounter grace in the Hebrew Bible, that it only becomes a primary emphasis in the New Testament. This impression is a false one, dispelled by nearly every book of the Old Testament.

God’s graciousness to human beings begins with the first couple and continues as a constant theme in the Old Testament symphony. The LORD is “abounding in steadfast love” and willing to forgive to a thousand generations. Again and again He reveals His great patience and His tender mercy toward sinners. Unfortunately, some have only focused on passages in which He reveals wrath against sinners, a counterpoint melody to be sure, but one that always plays out in the context of covenant-love and faithfulness.

Covenant – The sovereign, almighty, transcendent Creator-God is willing to stoop to enter into agreements with human beings. These agreements are called covenants, and they provide much of the framework on which the Hebrew Bible unfolds.

The major covenants of the Old Testament include the ones with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses (and all of Israel), Aaron & Levi, and David. Each of these covenants involves promises God makes and expectations He has for the subjects of the covenant. The Hebrew Bible also looks forward to a New Covenant, which is what the New Testament is all about.

Law – The covenant God made with the nation of Israel is called the Law (Torah, or Law of Moses). In the Law, God rehearses the saving acts by which He has placed the nation of Israel in His debt and then challenges them to agree to live in relationship with Him, experiencing the blessings that attend that relationship. Of course, He also warns them of the curses they will bring upon themselves if they break the covenant. Basic to the Law are the Ten Commandments, which lay out the fundamentals of living in harmony with God.

Atonement – Under that same covenant with Israel, God provided a means of gaining forgiveness through a system of animal sacrifices. These offerings were a way the believer had of removing offenses and pleading to God for a renewal of the close relationship the sin made impossible.

According to the Old Testament, atonement was only possible through the shedding of the blood of a perfect sacrifice. This laid the groundwork for the New Covenant’s eternal sacrifice of the Perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Holiness – In the Hebrew Bible, to be holy means to be dedicated to God. Holiness is a part of God’s nature and is imparted by Him to human beings in a right relationship with him. God intends for all human beings to be holy all of the time. Sin, however, defiles us and puts us in need of atonement so that we can be holy once more.

Messiah – The Old Testament anticipates the coming of the Holy One of God who would have a miraculous conception, live a perfect life, serve as the ideal human being, and then voluntarily offer up Himself as the once-for-all sin offering so that human beings could be restored to God and made holy again.

Over a period spanning more than 1,000 years, inspired prophets foretold aspects of the life of this Holy One. The accumulation of their predictions paints a perfect portrait of the birth, life, character, death, and even resurrection of Jesus Christ. Several of these prophecies in the Hebrew Bible describe him as “the Anointed One” (Hebrew: Meshiakh), or “the Messiah,” in keeping with the practice in Old Testament times of pouring olive oil on the head of a person specially appointed by God to accomplish His purposes.

[ad_2]
Source by Steve Singleton

Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality

[ad_1]

Take a look at the world around us, and it becomes readily apparent that we are living in a time of simultaneous convergence and deconstruction. As there is a resurging interest in spiritual practices in many circles, there is also a breakdown in the patriarchal, hierarchical church structures. The specter of clergy sexual abuse intermingles with a worldview promulgated by the church about the nature of relationships and sexuality that no longer has meaning for people today – men and women, young and even middle-aged. The gender roles we were raised with have broken down and blurred. The image of nuclear family as mom, dad and 2.4 children has been superseded by a far greater spectrum of family possibilities. Bisexuality, androgyny, gender fluidity and polyamory are more and more common, especially among the twenty something generation.

Erotic energy is far more than sexual energy. It is life energy. As our culture has evolved splits between mind and body, head and heart, heart and pelvis and sexuality and spirituality, we have forgotten what it means to be fully alive.

“Erotic energy is not just about having sex,” continues Suzanne Blackburn, whose participation in sexuality and spirituality work has catapulted her personal and spiritual growth. “It is about living.” As we have become disconnected from our bodies, hearts, souls, spirits, one another and the divine, we have lost touch with many of the most beautiful pleasures and experiences possible in being human. So many people today are searching for meaning and purpose, most often expressed through job dissatisfaction, addictions and broken or troubled relationships. The rise of industrialization, urbanization, the nation-state, global dislocations, war and poverty all contribute to the sex-spirit split for us both individually and collectively.

“Because our culture has repressed sexuality so much, it is repressing everything,” acknowledges Blackburn. “People who have repressed sexuality have also repressed other areas of their lives. If you are not joyful about your sexuality, it is hard to be joyful about watching a sunset or watching kittens play. Hopefully, by breathing life into one, you breathe life into all of it. It’s like giving birth. When the baby comes out of the birth canal and takes a breath, the baby pinks up. When we open up, breathe deeply, have fun, when we dance, we pink up.” This backdrop provides fertile soil for an emerging movement working to integrate sexuality and spirituality.

Living in the Midst of a Paradigm Shift

Bob Francouer, a teacher of graduate and undergraduate classes in Human Sexuality at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Sexuality notes, “Sexuality and spirituality have always been joined and interwoven from the very beginning of the human race. It is only in the last 2000 to 3000 years of Western civilization that the two have been separated. And they have not just been separated, but have been seen as antagonistic to each other. The split between sex and spirit came out of the Greek philosophy of dualism, and a dichotomous view of humans as matter/evil/female and spirit/good/rational/male.”

Just as Western civilization went through a period of major cultural upheaval 2000 to 3000 years ago, we are undergoing a period of major cultural turnover and paradigm shift now. “The institutional churches are losing their credibility in dealing with sexuality and spirituality. They are losing their authority,” continues Francouer. Francouer is well versed in the changing paradigm worldwide. The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality is written by 300 experts in 60 countries on 6 continents. The encyclopedia includes in depth reports of all aspects of sexuality. Each country has a section on religious and ethnic influences. Having collected information from many cultures all over the world, “it becomes very clear the spiritual traditions are undergoing major revolutions in their patterns of thinking. People in many cultures worldwide are thinking now not in terms of marital and procreational values, but in terms of individual self-enrichment and fulfillment. The spiritual is a very important part of the new perspective.”

Significant leadership in the sexuality and spirituality is coming from women. Francouer acknowledges, “As women in developing nations are exposed to Western concepts and experiences of human sexuality, they are linking their religious traditions with the visions of Western sexuality. As women become more empowered in third world nations, they are gaining more control over their bodies and sexuality, turning more to their spiritual heritage.”

“When the human psyche reaches the point of convergence and breakthrough into a new level of consciousness,” reflects Francouer, “diversity is the first thing that happens. The energy spreads out and explores all kinds of possibilities. There is no one ideal paradigm nor five ideal paradigms. All the models we have had in the past have real difficulties being applied in today’s world. So people are creating their own models and patterns.” The new paradigms created need to include and consider the collective as well as the individual.

A Quiet Movement and Its Roots

The emergence of the sexuality and spirituality movement is very quiet. For one, the subjects of sexuality and spirituality are each daunting. Many people are frightened at the thought of delving more deeply into either one. Too, Ani Colt, publisher of Spirituality and Sexuality magazine and founder of the Sexuality and Spirituality Union Network (SUNetwork) points out, “One of the things that energized a lot of movements was the common experience of feeling oppressed. A sense of oppression contributed to the emergence of blacks, women and homosexuals. But the oppression of our sexuality is not even recognized because sex is always in front of us. It’s in ads, on TV, in the movies. It is much more subtle oppression. As a result, it hasn’t given us that organizing energy that has created the feminist movement, the civil rights movement and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans gendered community.”

Sex educator, sex coach and author Loraine Hutchins adds, “Erotophobia/sex-negativity is hard to battle because it is all pervasive and systemic. It doesn’t affect any one group at the expense of another like racism. However, erotophobia, like racism, really hurts everyone and diminishes us all. I think sex-negativity is a function of heterosexism, a system of oppression created by patriarchy, involving male supremacy and mandatory heterosexuality. This oppressive system hurts men as well as women. The parallel is in looking at how whites are made less by racism, in contrast to non-whites. The hurts are different and need different remedies.”

“Organized religion is of little help in the sexuality-spirituality field,” Shalom Mountain Retreat Center founder Gerry Jud acknowledges. “I make a big distinction between religion and spirituality. Religion is about controlling behavior. Spirituality is about development and liberation of consciousness – becoming consciousness itself. Sex permeates all of life. When people are intimate with each other, touch each other, look into each other’s eyes, dance ecstatically with each other, the sexual component is out front. You cannot take an effective spiritual journey without taking into account that we are sexual beings.”

The first nationwide survey on sexuality and spirituality was conducted by Gina Ogden, a sexuality therapist and author of Women Who Love Sex: An Inquiry into the Expanding Spirit of Women’s Erotic Experiences. She is presently writing a book based on her survey results and hopes that the data will provide a baseline for broadening definitions of human sexuality, especially for women. Oggen contends that the field of sexology itself has reinforced the split between sexuality and spirituality. While she was a visiting scholar at the Radcliffe Institute, she happened upon the earliest sex surveys – conducted by women MDs. “The first survey, a century ago, was filled with hand-written responses about sexuality and spirituality,” notes Ogden. “But since the 1930’s when male scientists took over the surveying of sexual behavior, sex research became focused on what was easy to count and measure – performance by way of intercourse, orgasms and spasms, the mechanical part.” In her 25 years of experience as a clinician and workshop leader, Ogden found these mechanical features to be only a fraction of what women said was important.

“Almost 4000 women and men answered my survey with an outpouring of stories about sexuality and spirituality, about love and empathy and meaning and sex as a direct path to the divine. What is fascinating is that these stories echo the responses from those early surveys, as if they’re filling in almost a hundred years of blanks, the mysterious black holes in the history of the sexuality and spirituality movement. Maybe the scientific arm of the present day movement begins with Celia Mosher, who conducted that first survey in 1892!”

Ogden continues, “There is brain research coming out now because with advanced technology like MRI’s and PET scans we can really look at what is going on in the human brain over a period of time, like stop action. Researchers are finding that during sexual stimulation more than one center of the brain is lighting up. This demonstrates an organic basis for arguing that sexuality and spirituality are connected, that sexual response is multi-dimensional. This is in direct disagreement with all the sex research that focuses on performance, and the medical diagnostics that say if you can’t perform to their standards, it’s called dysfunction. There may be a political and social movement going on, but it’s important to remember that the capacity for connecting sex and spirit is in us. It is in our cells and our brain structure. It is built in. It has taken us 3000 years to remember it, to rediscover it, to validate it.”

A Wide Spectrum of Trainings and Practices

Many trainings, practices and methods have evolved to help people learn to work with sexual, spiritual, and life energies in their bodies, relationships and lives. These methods have been developed by visionaries who have built a community or network of people around them. There is some cross-fertilization between these communities, but more often the right hand doesn’t even know there is a left hand yet, never mind what it is doing.

Existing practices and trainings approach integrating sexuality and spirituality from many different directions. For example, the Human Awareness Institute approaches this work from an emotional and interpersonal direction, giving people skills for deeper intimacy and connection through its Love, Intimacy and Sexuality workshops. Tantric work, on the other hand, approaches the body and its energy field from a rootedness in spiritual philosophy. Sterling community work focuses on distinguishing the differences between male and female energy.

One of the common threads amongst the many approaches is the creation of a safe, sacred community circle. Joining together in holy ritual is a basic human need. We are starving for this kind of sacred circle. Trainings and workshops such as those profiled below provide help meet this need. I have selected a handful of significant programs in the sexuality and spirituality field, all of which have evolved over the past several decades. The purpose is to illustrate a range of what is available.

The Human Awareness Institute: Restoring the Purity of Heart and Soul

Stan Dale, 73, founder of the Human Awareness Institute, that has offered Love, Intimacy and Sexuality workshops worldwide for thirty four years, found himself on a path of integrating sexuality and spirituality while stationed in Japan when he was twenty seven years old. Having had a successful career in radio prior to being drafted, Stan worked at the Armed Forces Korea Network while in the service. He was put on temporary duty in Tokyo for the Far East Network, and was invited to a cast party for a motion picture being filmed there, “Joe Butterfly.” The cast party took place at a geisha house, a stunning 22-acre facility with trees, butterflies and flowers and buildings that looked like palaces. Through a twist of fate, he ended up living there for seven months when an old man who lived there invited him to stay. The old man told everyone at the geisha house to treat Stan like his son. The head geisha, nearly 70, gave Stan a quartz stone.

“She said to me,” remembers Stan, “‘What do you see?’ I said, ‘a stone.’ She said, ‘Yes…but come back and tell me what you see later.’ This went on for three days. I knew it was a trick. I examined it, had a magnifying glass, asked others what they saw…At the end of the three days, she asked me what I saw. Like a bolt of lightning, I saw the beauty of the universe. The words came out of my mouth.”

“At an event that night, the head geisha stood up. She gave me an honorific bow and said, ‘If you can see the beauty of the universe in a stone, you are now a geisha.’ I hadn’t known what geisha meant, but I sensed it was very special. The geishas taught me to look beyond everything I look at, to listen beyond everything I listen to, to go beyond what I touch. I learned an old adage to live by. If God wanted to hide, God would hide in human beings, because that is the last place we would think to look to find God.”

Stan learned to look for and see the spark of God, the magnificence that is every human being which may be camouflaged or obscured as we take the hard knocks of life. “As we walk through life in this world, the garbage keeps getting dumped on spirit,” notes Stan. Sufficient garbage gets dumped that people don’t recognize their own heart and spirit. “When something is in the body that shouldn’t be there, when it is taken out, it heals itself,” acknowledges Stan. “The heart heals itself. The soul heals itself.”

Just as the heart, soul and spirit get obscured by the garbage of life, sexuality has been equally misunderstood. “When we get the craziness and dirtiness out of the word sex, and put it where it belongs in spirit, heal and soul, then we get purity. “My vision is for every human being to be aware that their spirituality and sexuality is who you are, not something you get. My vision is for every person on this planet to see what is available when the garbage is indeed taken out.”

Shalom Mountain Retreat Center: Sustaining Spiritual Growth and Intimacy

Gerry Jud, now 83, is one of the true pioneers in the sexuality and spirituality movement. After getting a Ph.D at Yale, he started his career as a pastor in New Haven, CT. “I became interested in the question of why, in religious groups, the level of intimacy is exquisitely limited. People who get started in the field of a religious path soon level off. The journey comes to a halt. This troubled me as a church person, and so I began to study a way in which intimacy could be found among such people who are seeking a spiritual life, and how it could be sustained.”

He did his research and development work at Kirkridge, a major Protestant retreat center in Bangor, ME. Influenced by leaders in the human potential movement, including the folks at Esalen and in humanistic psychology, Gerry reached a turning point in his work when he worked with primal therapy techniques. “My first wife drowned after seventeen years of marriage. We had three little children. As a religious person, I did the best I could with that tragedy. It wasn’t until I got into primal scream work that I was able to release my anger. That changed everything for me.”

“That led me to see that people on their spiritual journey are not stuck in their conscious minds. They are stuck in the twilight,” a deeper subconscious layer that is often inaccessible to the conscious mind. For people to move forward in their growth work, Gerry recognized they needed to work at this deeper level, which he called the “twilight zone.” He developed a system in which he created an intensely tender, loving group of fifteen people. He would work with each person, one at a time, using deep breathing to put them into an altered state of consciousness.

Gerry initially started working with clergy and their wives, but his work soon grew to include people of all different religions and cultures. He eventually left his church job and founded Shalom Mountain Retreat Center in 1975. He found his work growing to include sexuality as it became apparent that the journey to God needed to include working with sexuality. Gerry’s pioneering work helped give birth to yet another body of work, the Body Sacred.

Suzanne Blackburn describes the Shalom experience as “a beautiful blend of all that we know in modern psychology and all that we know about love. It’s community at its best – a community that holds people to their truths and never withdraws love regardless of that truth.”

Body Electric School: Learning About Erotic Energies

The Body Electric School for Erotic Massage was founded by Joseph Kramer in the early 1980’s. Suzanne Blackburn speaks to the essential contribution of this work. “Kramer realized that men were compartmentalizing orgasm. For most people, initially men, if they were orgasmic, their experience happens within a five inch radius around the genitals. Kramer was interested in developing a body of knowledge to make orgasm a lot more – a full body, full person, full spiritual experience. He went on a quest to find out how to do this and created an experiential school for teaching about erotic energies.”

As we live with breakdown and deconstruction at so many levels of life, one thread that emerges is a hunger and longing, both spiritual and erotic. Suzanne Blackburn, reflects, “We are in a culture of dis-remembering in a lot of ways including the natural flow of erotic energies through and around us. Alex Jade of the Body Electric School uses the term ‘erotic amnesia.’ A lot of work is now available to help us re-member.”

Kramer drew upon ancient traditions and modern wisdom, and blended this knowledge in a new way that is accessible to men and women today. Body Electric work teaches people to wake up to their own bodies through breath, movement and touch, including Taoist erotic massage.

“Body Electric work translates ancient wisdom into practical exercises people can do in the here and now. We carry these ancient teachings in our bodies. It doesn’t take a whole lot of teaching for our bodies to wake up and remember. Our bodies hold the wisdom,” comments Blackburn. “In our culture it is generally not okay to take your clothes off with strangers, to talk about your genitals and erotic experience. The facilitators of Body Electric workshops are able to create a very safe space that allows people looking to be more alive in their bodies, to heal shame, open to more intimacy, celebrate living, and most importantly, to reconnect genitals and heart.”

Growing out of the AIDS devastation, the sudden linking of sex with death and attempting to recover from this, the school was exclusively for men until twelve years ago. “In response to women’s interests in this work, Joseph sought out women teachers,” chronicles Blackburn. The school currently offers a women’s program and a small mixed gender curriculum.

Sterling Men’s and Women’s Weekends: Distinguishing Between Masculine and Feminine Energy

An outgrowth of the human potential movement that offered us an opportunity to explore what it means to be human, Sterling men’s and women’s weekends provided a forum to explore what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

Joe Boyer, who is involved in leadership in the Northeast region for this work, speaks to the evolution of the men’s and women’s weekends. “Throughout the history of the world, masculine and feminine roles were established that worked for many years. In more recent years of civilization, these roles have unraveled with politics, the industrial age, wars and all the conditions that called for the women’s movement. The women’s movement pushed us towards equality, but this posed new problems. The divorce rate went up. As a society, and as men and women, we had lost touch with the essence of the male and female roles that had worked for millions of years.”

Sterling work explores the essence of what it means to be male and what it means to be female, and what each gender’s roles and responsibilities can be. The goal is for men and women to be able to come together and have relationships that work. What is being distinguished here is energy – what is true masculine energy and what is true feminine energy. “The more unisexed a couple gets,” reflects Boyer, “the more it loses its vitality.” Rather than becoming androgynous, which implies a melding of gender energies, we need to become more clearly rooted in our masculine and female energies. “We need the distinction of masculine and feminine energies to understand who we are and what our inner selves are trying to tell us. This is not to say a man should shun his feminine energy. The key is learning to distinguish it.”

An example of the difference between male and female energy is the way each gender feels a sense of essential expression. Men feel a sense of essential expression when they provide and act. Through acting, men connect with the resources of the world, helping do what needs to be done to move things forward. Women feel a sense of essential expression when they nurture and foster connections. To nurture, you have to fully connect with another human being, to be able to plug into another, experience what they are feeling and empathize with them. In this way, women keep the relational fabric of society together.

When we look at the symbols for male and female, the male symbol is like an arrow, pointing or directing, and the female symbol includes a circle, bringing together and including. Men may take women’s nurturing efforts for granted. Unfortunately, women may not recognize the expression of emotional energy by men. When women nurture and when men work, each gender comes from their heart. This expresses an intention to emotionally be there for another. It is their way of trying to emotionally connect. For men and women to relate and get along, being able to recognize and appreciate these essential energies and their expression is fundamental.

A big piece of Sterling work is empowering people to become the men and women they always wanted to be. Our culture delivers lots of messages about what a man or women is supposed to be, but these messages may not ring true within an individual man or woman. “The Sterling Men’s Weekend is promoted as a modern initiation into manhood. This culture lacks this kind of initiation. The closest thing we have is the military. The military, however, makes you into the man they or we want you to be. The Sterling weekend is about making you into the man you always wanted to be.”

In order to serve the world at large, we need to have a clear strong sense of self, including a clear sense of gender identity. In this light, Sterling work helps men and women get rooted in that sense of self, so they can then come together to help shape a better world.

Conscious Relating: The New Paradigm for Love

While we have made progress in accepting same sex relationships between men and men and women and women, the culture as whole still offers a pretty narrow view of what constitutes an acceptable loving relationship. Our high divorce rate illustrates that even straight heterosexual men and women struggle in the most accepted form of relationship called marriage. Sexuality, intimacy and emotional needs are often difficult to talk about in relationships, and as a result it is hard for many people to be truthful in their expression of their sexuality.

Deborah Taj Anapol, a pioneer in the field of exploring conscious relating and integrating sexuality and spirituality, speaks of the new paradigm for love. “Right now what is occurring in consciousness is a marriage or blending between the masculine and feminine. With this shift comes an understanding of love as consciousness, rather than feelings for an object or love as something finite. The new paradigm for love is one of partnership, rather than a dominance/submissive form of relating.”

Relationships are based on honesty when they come from a climate of mutual respect and emotional safety. In the old paradigm, when relationships fail, partners often distance from themselves and each other with lies of omission and commission. When intimate relationships are formed from a utilitarian base, responding to social expectations, economic necessity, or gender role expectations, it is hard for men and women alike to find an authentic way of relating. When relationships are formed from a more spiritually integrated place, one comes to a partner freely, from a place of unconditional love and choice.

When people are ashamed or afraid to admit their needs to themselves, never mind their partners, it is hard to have a paradigm for love. Learning to know ones emotional, sexual and intimate needs becomes a spiritual journey. For many people, alternative lifestyle options are needed for authentic and vital relating and expression. As we move through a paradigm shift, forms of relationship may need to adjust to accommodate our individual and collective growth and change. Committed relationships may range from marriage to God with a celibate lifestyle to polyamorous relationships where people are both emotionally committed and sexual with more than one partner. Some people commit emotionally to a primary relationship with a person of one gender, yet engage sexually with another person or other persons of the other gender. Some individuals and couples choose to study and practice sacred sexuality to increase both their sense of connection and pleasure.

Bob Francouer comments about the shifting paradigm, “I think the outcome is going to be a much greater, more open, tolerant diversity. Once premarital sex was taboo. Today, in many circles, including mainstream circles and even churches, premarital sexual relationships are taken for granted. We will see different lifestyles that are socially responsible and fulfilling for the individuals. As we live into our seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond, some people will change their pattern of relationships.”

Where we will evolve to will be an interesting question. Women are taking a leading role in bringing an sex-spirit integration into the culture. More and more men are realizing they need to heal their wounded hearts to bring themselves more fully into their own lives and relationships. I am excited about the healing potential this emerging movement has for life on Earth. Perhaps, as we reconnect with our bodies, our hearts, our souls and one another we will indeed create a world that can live in greater harmony and peace.

The Boston Area Sexuality And Spirituality Network

In response to a groundswell of interest, the Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network was founded in May 2002. The group exists to create a forum for people interested in integrating sexuality and spirituality to meet, dialogue and exchange resources. At the first meeting of BASSN, one of the themes was the need for an umbrella organization that embraced ALL forms of sexual, spiritual and gender expression. One member stated, “I can find a group of bisexual women pagans, but that group may not dialogue with transgendered Christians or hard-wired straight monogamous people.” BASSN offers an umbrella, welcoming people who identify with the many dimensions of gender identity, orientation, sexual expression and spiritual identity.

What BASSN members have in common is the desire to create a community or tribe where INTEGRATION is possible, creating a safe space where people can explore and learn from both differences and common threads. The group sponsors monthly meetings, which are like mini-workshops. Topics the group has addressed so far include: integrating sexuality and spirituality: what does it mean?, the essence of gender, safe touch, ways of loving: forms of relationship, and sexual energy.

The group will be organizing a Sexuality and Spirituality Leadership Forum, gathering together pioneers in the S and S field to share their visions and work, and to see how everyone can work together to support one another and this emerging field.

©2002 Linda Marks

[ad_2]
Source by Linda Marks

The Spiritual Gift of Grace in Silence

[ad_1]

In the throne of silence are manifest the perfections of spiritual beauty.

– Miguel de Molinos (c. 1675)

Just as we cannot suppose that achieving spiritual perfection is possible, like all spiritual things these must be tried on, for spirituality is experience. It isn’t a craft to be mastered but practiced.

Ordinarily we could not encapsulate the words spiritual and perfection in the same sentence, as if they were referring to each other, because we cannot make the assumption that we can perfect our spirituality. We cannot come close to perfection in the spiritual realm, but we can come to experience the perfection of spirituality through silence.

Silence is a beautiful thing, whether we are with others and trying to help, or by ourselves, or wrestling with pain we can’t resolve. But silence is inappropriate at times, like when the truth needs to be brought to light for the protection of vulnerable individuals.

But… back on point:

Silence is the secret language of surrender when there is no answer.

Silence is powerfully vocal yet in an obviously inaudible way. Have you ever noticed how people who can keep silent can communicate in such powerful ways? They are able to hold their peace at a time when just about nobody does it. And, of course, there are oracles of wisdom about silence from the ancient book of Proverbs. There have been so many great things written about silence.

Whenever we are overwhelmed in any way our immediate state of spirituality can be improved if we are silent. It may still feel that our head is blowing apart, or that our heart is about to shatter.

Being silent doesn’t silence the pain,

but it does nullify the damage that pain often causes,

and that is most encouraging when the pain won’t go away.

What we discuss here are the mystical features of battling spiritually in a spiritual life.

We need to be careful when it comes to discerning spiritually, because, even though we tend to under-discern the spiritual dimensions of life, we easily tip the balance too far the other way, and over spiritualise everything. But silence puts us in a position where we can hear from God. He speaks to our spirit usually in inaudible tones. And He will never speak anything contrary to the Word of God.

Silence when it comes to listening is such a powerful tool for equipping others in their healing. As we positively get out of the way, we allow another person the ability by giving them precious space to speak truths about their experience and perception, perhaps as they utter truths never spoken aloud before. Such a moment has incredible potential and healing power, and I have seen numerous times people come to have a first-in-a-lifetime experience. Just because there was silence.

Our silence gives them the space and time they need.

Take the situation of our personal pain. I have never known the powers of God to be more potent to heal me in my pain than when I was on my knees in silence. To be right, the healing never occurs in the moment, but there is something in experience that leads us to a hope this world cannot provide.

When we can access hope in our pain

we have direct access to our healing.

Silence as a spiritual gift of peace and grace contributes well-being and order to everything. Silence is the destroyer of chaos. Under silence, all chaos that ordinarily overwhelms us is allowed through the power of surrender, and we overwhelm what overwhelms us with peace. It can come only through God, in the name of Jesus.

In Him who could not be corrupted, and who did not suffer corruption, is the power over all evil.

He bequeaths to us this power when we act as peace like He acted as Peace.

[ad_2]
Source by Steve Wickham

Essential Oils – What is the Role of Magic and Spirituality?

[ad_1]

From the beginning, man has been preoccupied with the question of divinity-who is responsible for us being here and how do we relate to the Creator. All primitive peoples have developed some kind of world-view which they expressed through myths, legend or stories. All life was viewed as dependent on a force which transcended the visible world. This force was honored through specific rites and rituals. How was illness and environmental disturbances or disasters interpreted in this world view?-as discord or disharmony between the human, environmental, and spiritual realms. Disease was viewed as disunity and so early on the art of healing was bound up with an ability to appease the spirit world, please the gods and counter curses.

The Role of Incense and Aromatics

In these world views, fragrant odors were thought to be favored by the gods and were a way of appeasing their anger and wrath and ensuring divine favor and attracting special attention to prayers. Since scent delighted the human senses, it was assumed that the deities found it very pleasing in fact it was considered the “food of the gods.” These odors were thought to work like a drug on the minds of the gods as well as on the minds of men and thus the gods would look kindly on the misdeeds of man. In Syria and Mesopotamia, incense smoke was used as a form of divination to calm the wrath of the gods so they would be inclined to give positive oracles. It was also used as a means of purification-cleansing the human soul before the face of the god.

Many herbs and aromatics were also considered to have magical properties including healing. Temples erected to honor the gods had great urns for the burning of incense before the gods. Early on, burning incense in the sick room was a common way to cure. The Sumerians and Babylonians burned incense as a means of purification to please their gods, the Hebrews used burning incense (generally thought to be frankincense) to veil the presence of God in the holy tabernacle, the early Persians used incense in their worship which is depicted on their monuments at Persepolis, the Muslims still offer incense in the shrines of their saints today. The Roman Catholic church, Anglican and orthodox Christian churches still use frankincense and myrrh incense to honor God in their rituals.

Incense was absolutely indispensable in ancient Egyptian rituals. The ascending smoke was seen symbolically as a vehicle to carry one’s prayers to the deities and to bridge the realm of human and spiritual. This is particularly true for their elaborate ceremonies surrounding death.

The Hebrews also used incense to carry their prayers to God.

“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2.

The use of perfumed ornaments like necklaces made of saffron, orris, musk and Benjamin were used in black Africa and throughout Asia to appease the spirits. In India, the sacred plant of basil was made into sacred beads and rosaries. In Tibet, dry incense is worn as a talisman to ward off evil spirits and in Mexico to this day, a clove of garlic is still hung around the neck of a newborn as a protection. Amulets are commonly used in magical rites in many cultures and often include aromatic plant materials. In today’s world, many users of essential oils are now wearing “diffuser” jewelry to ward off germs from others and protect against bacteria and viruses. For travelers, especially on airplanes, this simply makes good sense. When enough people begin performing this action, a ritual will be established that says-this is how we ward off “evil spirits” like bacteria and viruses. Are you wearing diffuser jewelry

Want to know more about essential oils and how they can help us stay healthy? Consider becoming a certified clinical aromatherapist. The Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy teaches classes throughout the United States on aromatherapy and energy healing.

[ad_2]
Source by Linda Lee Smith

What Is A Spiritual Relationship?

[ad_1]

A Spiritual Relationship is when the two or more parties involved experience harmony, joy, understanding and peace. With a spiritual relationship the persons involved are connected at the heart. Emotionally they sense the deep connection they have together, and it is felt at their core or heart. A spiritual relationship is one that has a spiritual union felt both physically, mentally and at other levels. Both parties feel like their spirits are connected. There are certain people we connect to instantly. These are people to whom we have karmic connections. The same holds true for people we can’t stand immediately. We have a karmic connection with them as well. Both of those types of relationships are spiritual because our spirit as or essence either is attracted or repelled beyond our conscious control.

A soul mate is another spiritual relationship that many folk encounter in a lifetime. With a soul mate there is a karmic connection that can span several lifetimes or incarnations. We can have more than one soul mate and they can be incarnation with us in a lifetime or serve as a spirit guide if they are not incarnated in our lifetime. Soul mates have shared many experiences with us and know us inside out. This kind of spiritual relationship can be very deep and stir both positive and negative emotions out of us. Just because someone is a soul mate does not make him or her always peaches and cream with us.

For the most part, a spiritual relationship has a lesson for us to learn. They give us the tools to develop characteristics and qualities that we need as human beings. A relationship founded on spirituality can also be identified with the patterns we pick in relationships. Issues of abuse, abandonment, love, manipulation, power struggles, intimacy and rejection all fall under the category of karma and spiritual relationships. These situations all teach us a lesson or two. The trick is do we really learn from these types of experiences or ignore the lesson. This is particularly true when one partner executes power over the other as a dominating person over a dependent person. The karmic lesson is the struggle that ensues as the dependent person struggles to regain the independence and get their power back.

Sometimes we become spiritually stuck and cannot evolve in a relationship. These are not spiritually based relationships. These types of relationships hold us there not allowing for growth or other experiences. It is true that being a victim, martyr, persecutor, rescuer or love addict may have a karmic lesson but in this case the spiritual lesson is learning how to let go.

In conclusion a true spiritual relationship is one where both parties feel wholeness and complete together. It is the harmonization of male and female energy, which creates freedom within the relationship to accept each other unconditionally without hidden agendas. In a true spiritual relationship one know how to give or take without being asked and to meet the other parties needs without question.

To find out more about spiritual relationships check out http://www.soulsynastry.com

[ad_2]
Source by Regina Schwartz

The Definition of a Spiritual Catalyst

[ad_1]

Many people have heard the terms “Guru” or “Spiritual Leader”. But it may be true that not many people have heard the term “Spiritual Catalyst”. While still similar in nature, the vocation of a Spiritual Catalyst can be quite different from the vocation of a Guru or Spiritual Leader. A person who is by definition “Spiritual” is someone who holds an essential, incorporeal, perhaps even supernatural approach to life, as opposed to someone who approaches life from a purely physical and corporeal standpoint.

A Catalyst by definition is a thing which precipitates an event or change, often without itself being affected. Therefore, a Spiritual Catalyst is a person who precipitates an event or a change on the level of spirit (the essential, incorporeal part of someone or something). Spiritual Catalysts, like gurus have attained a high level of spiritual authority, awareness and knowledge which enables them to guide others. They do not however, wish to become “Leaders” to their disciples as much as they wish to cause their disciples to question themselves and find answers within themselves.

It is the belief of a Spiritual Catalyst that if a person is caused to initiate their own exploration on the level of spirit, that a person will then become the conscious leaders of their own lives. As well as that if a person becomes the conscious creator and leader of their own life, it will inevitably lead to a form of living enlightenment; thereby allowing that person to live in a state of internal peace and joy.

[ad_2]
Source by Teal Swan