Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual practice’

Since there have been institutions, whether it is service clubs, political parties, businesses, government, religions or even capitalism there has been those who are “in” and those who are “out”. These are dependent on pre-set rules by the in-group (or in the case of religion, the righteous) to the stratification of the other. This is the challenge when hearing the ancient stories of Brother Jesus.  For in the last 100 years we have been taught to take a literal reading of the biblical text. It ignores context, or history or anthropology or sociology of the time. But it goes beyond that, it also strips the hearing of the story as the literature it is. A Gospel is a political manifesto woven into a life narrative.

Pause and think about that. By sharing this story each hearer, speaker and recorder was putting their very life on the line. Why? Well treason is a big thing today, and it was a bigger thing back in the day when certain folks weren’t even seen as people. But I digress.

Whether it is the Gnostic texts, synoptics, Johannine, other gospels or this Aquarian it is written in such a way to percolate contemplation, discussion and questioning of the societal norms of the era it is from, but also within the era of today.

Simply take today’s text, Aquarian Gospel 119:

The people of Capernaum welcome Jesus. Matthew gives a feast. The Pharisees rebuke Jesus for eating with sinners. He tells them that he is sent to save sinners. He gives lessons on fasting and on the philosophy of good and evil.

1. The news soon spread through all the land that Jesus was at home and then the people came in throngs to welcome him.
2. And Matthew, one of the twelve, a man of wealth, whose home was in Capernaum, spread forth a sumptuous feast, and Jesus and the foreign masters and the twelve, and people of all shades of thought, were guests.
3. And when the Pharisees observed that Jesus sat and ate with publicans and those of ill repute they said,
4. For shame! This man who claims to be man of God, consorts with publicans and courtesans and with the common herd of men. For shame!
5. When Jesus knew their thoughts he said, They who are well cannot be healed; the pure need not be saved.
6. They who are well are whole; they who are pure are saved.
7. They who love justice and do right need not repent; I came not unto them, but to the sinner I am come.
8. A band of John’s disciples who had heard that John was dead were wearing badges for their dead;
9. Were fasting and were praying in their hearts, which when the Pharisees observed they came to Jesus and they said,
10. Why fast the followers of John and your disciples do not fast?
11. And Jesus said, Lo, you are masters of the law; you ought to know; perhaps you will make known your knowledge to these men.
12. What are the benefits derived from fasts? The Pharisees were mute; they answered not.
13. Then Jesus said, The vital force of men depends on what they eat and drink.
14. Is spirit-life the stronger when the vital force is weak? Is sainthood reached by starving, self imposed?
15. A glutton is a sinner in the sight of God, and he is not a saint who makes himself a weakling and unfitted for the heavy tasks of life by scorning to make use of God’s own means of strength.
16. Lo, John is dead, and his devoted followers are fasting in their grief.
17. Their love for him impels them on to show respect, for they have thought, and have been taught that it is sin to lightly treat the memory of the dead.
18. To them it is a sin, and it is well that they should fast.
19. When men defy their consciences and listen not to what they say, the heart is grieved and they become unfitted for the work of life; and thus they sin.
20. The conscience may be taught. One man may do in conscience what another cannot do.
21. What is a sin for me to do may not be sin for you to do. The place you occupy upon the way of life determines what is sin.
22. There is no changeless law of good; for good and evil both are judged by other things.
23. One man may fast and in his deep sincerity of heart is blest.
24. Another man may fast and in the faithlessness of such a task imposed is cursed.
25. You cannot make a bed to fit the form of every man. If you can make a bed to fit yourself you have done well.
26. Why should these men who follow me resort to fasting, or to anything that would impair their strength? They need it all to serve the race.
27. The time will come when God will let you have your way, and you will do to me what Herod did to John;
28. And in the awfulness of that sad hour these men will fast.
29. They who have ears to hear may hear; they who have hearts to feel may understand.

Stories like this have been preached on out of the canonical gospels for centuries. They are used to show how the most heavenly minded can be of no earthly good as the cliché goes. Yet the point of the cliché itself is missed. Or, as I have found easy to do in my teaching, show how religion can be the opiate of the people by those in power creating oppressive rules that literally convince groups of people unless there is radical change, or purchase they will never be in paradise.

Yet there is more depth to this, as you take in the idea of literature and begin to unpack the characters. A few spiritual practice challenges for you:

  • Re-write the story from the perspective of the Pharisee. What have you learned of them? More personally what of them exists within you?
  • Re-write the story from who the religious then and today would save is the “sick/sinner”. What have you learned of them? More personally what of them exists within you?
  • If you are creative minded, take time to mindfully contemplate the story, then create a dream mandala using images from newspapers and magazines to illustrate the feast with today’s labels. What have you learned of this dichotomy within you?

Within each community, we have crisis. We have those who want to create false dichotomies based around being saintlier than others. I am sure in each of your neighbourhoods you can think of an issue where labels are reigning over the greatest commandment:

37Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment.39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’…

-Matthew 22:37-39

For that is the essence of the passage above with the feast. It is Brother Jesus listening to the Pharisee postulating all these rules and divisions of life, while sitting there eating with those who are spat upon and living love.

Quite a political statement on who gets life? Who is connected to the source. Who lives into and out of the Holy Mystery’s love incarnate in the Cosmic Christ. Brother Jesus who was so heavenly minded he actively worked to destroy the hierarchal system and oppressive structures of his day. He lived a life so scandalous because of the all-embracing love. A simple labourer who lived into and out of the love of the Holy Mystery that he could see each and every person as those crafted at the beginning and called blessed and very good.

So, with your spiritual interior soul work. Coupled with reflection on your own community. Where are you needed to tear down some walls, build some bridges, and simply do as Brother Jesus and feast?

Who is at your table today?

There has been many creative arts I have learned in regards to spiritual practice, that Jesus’ travels in India allow for a different perspective in, so the following reflection will actually be some whole chapters interjected with a spiritual practice, I would suggest doing one a day for the next several days to go deeper, some of the practices can be done from more than one perspective.

This is a short series, within my series of reflections on the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ to share some with you.

We start in Chapter 22.

Chapter 22

The friendship of Jesus and Lamaas. Jesus explains to Lamaas the meaning of truth, man, power, understanding, wisdom, salvation and faith. Continue reading here.

Jesus and his friend enter into the illusion before us, and how to go deep into the unity that is the true reality. The perceived separation, the idea of the “Fall” and “Rapture” being covertly spoken out against.

This was a familiar metaphysical writing style in the early 1900’s, and showcased classical philosophy.  But where can we see some “classical philosophy” being put forward in the 21st century? What about Youtube, or a news radio show…

Re-write chapter 22 as one of these that resonate with you, with the roles of Jesus and Lamaas. What modern equivalents would be created or used to explain the truth you have contemplated here.

It is interesting as one sits and ponders life. Some call it mindfulness, others prayer or meditation, still some rumination… what it really is though truthfully is being fully connected with your emotions and understanding the 5 W’s and H around them. This is a hard process when it comes to hard things in life that we face–illness, death, bankruptcy, finances, school, being a parent, being a support for parents, older life sibling strife/rivalry… Essentially any change small or major in life that then transforms into grief in our own life.

There are many ways to understand grief, their is the book Good Grief by Westberg; there is the U theory of change  or as anyone who has worked in life recovery knows the idea and practice of addiction is essentially a symptom of deeper issues so journeying with another while working on the 12 Steps are some formal ways to work through one’s past and emerge into the now.

There is always the recommendations for Spiritual Direction; Counselling; Spiritual Mind Treatment (Affirmative Prayer), Reiki or other formalized spiritual praxis that deals with the spiritual gunk that clogs our energy systems that once released can unburden our physical, mental and emotional selves.

But it comes back to our own personal decisions to understand one major thing: We are perfect and divine already. We do not have to seek out anything to affirm that we deserve the best and highest good. It is a hard thing to understand, which is why Rev. Marjorie’s talk at Calgary Centre for Spiritual Living today inspired this post. To understand that spiritual practice is not about making ourselves perfect, but coming into an understanding that we already are. She shared a simple mantra to be able to live in the now that came from a newsletter from Dr. Carol Carnes:

I am here,

it is now,

all is well.

And so it is.




Historically Monastic Communities (Monasteries & Convents) have been the domains of celibate singles, and segregated by gender.  Families, couples and those not called to celibacy can access these spiritual practices by joining a third/lay/secular order based around the same Charism.

Yet as we move forward with renewal for religiousity as a whole, what about renewal for these forms of spirituality.  What about a couple, or family called to the actual order and to live monastically? How would this change the idea of vocation within the church, but more importantly how would this change the monastic communities for relevancy, outreach and ministry within their local, national and international contexts?

Is this a renewal call the church is willing to answer?