The Essene Communions

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The Essene Communions
"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in
paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And
not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16 NKJV
MEMBERS HANDBOOK
Information about World’s Major Religions
“Connecting you with your Divinity and with your
Spiritual Truth –your free gifts from Source”.
 The Tau Tree of Life Healing Community for Light Workers 2007.
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Contents:
The Tau Vision:
Forward by Founder of Tau Community:
The Nazarene Essenes
Beliefs Religions Spirituality:
Christianity:
Islam:
Judaism:
Shamanism:
Shintoism:
Sikhism:
Sikhism and other religions:
Paganism:
Daoism /Taoism:
Kabbalah:
A-Z World Religions:
Prayer of Saint Francis:
Franciscan Spirituality:
Sacred Symbols and their meanings:
World Religions Spiritual Feasts:
S
tillness is the only thing in this world that has no form. But then, it is not really a thing,
and it is not of this world.
Eckhart Tolle
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The Vision of the Tau Tree of Life Healing Community (UK)
The Tau vision is to enhance the daily lives of all members from within and without the
interfaith communities by offering a hand of friendship to unite as one spiritual family whose
purpose is to live in peace and harmony and make our world a safer and more peaceful place
for our children’s children.
To achieve this we aim to establish a Tau Community who will facilitate that vision providing
respite, educational facility and a holistic framework of practical support for carers, light
workers and members within the local and national community.
In addition, we aim to develop an effective two-way communication within all interfaith
groups through education and training revisiting our shared values as members of society
based on truth and mutual respect for culture, diversity, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation,
disability and eco friendly initiatives that will safeguard our very survival into the next
millennium.
The Tau Community aim to develop a network of creative vibrant communities delivering
educational and practical support in some of the most challenging and demanding
neighbourhoods in the UK and beyond. We aim to deliver an educational holistic service that
is hands on, flexible, user-friendly, value for money and reliable.
The Tau vision meets the current government's criteria of promoting cohesion and reducing
social exclusion. Interfaith work is a government priority and we believe that the Tau
Community has the basic foundation on which to develop a series of strong projects using our
unique spiritual dimension.
This vision is based on the reality of interlinked global diversity, which colours the local
environment. People of different cultures, faiths, languages and ethnicities living side by side
reflect this spectrum of colours. Different in certain ways, yet bonded together by similarities
to make the whole.
Differences of spiritual belief give us beauty like the colours of the rainbow but they can also
result in challenges that need to be overcome to help us achieve sustainable and cohesive
communities. The vision of Tau is to offer a hand of friendship and work within local
interfaith communities thus resolving centuries of misunderstanding, religious bigotry,
persecution and adopting the principles of the ancient Essenes as well as that of Saint Francis
whose core values inspired many to embrace a unique pathway inspiring peace and a deep
rooted respect for the landscape and eco issues of the day.
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Forward
Without making plans for the future, Sean, relying completely on Divine Providence, believes in going
"where God opens the door." It is that deep and constant faith in the Lord, which has called Sean
Bradley to act on God's invitation to do the impossible, through Him, who accomplishes the
miraculous. The need to establish a place whereby all faith believers can unite as one spiritual family
and sing the praise of God to God is a challenge for all who say they believe in a loving God.
Prayer is about God and our relationship to God. How we understand God’s relationship to
us is very important. If I use distant and remote language to speak of God, then I will
imagine that God is distant and remote. If I use only male language to speak to God, I
will imagine that God is male. If I use language of humility and love to pray to God, then
I will believe in a God who is humble and loving. The God to whom I pray is the God who
directs my life; thus my image of God, the kind of God I believe in, is crucial to the way
my journey of prayer proceeds.
Is God essentially engaged with me or disengaged? Is God primarily judge or saviour for
me? Do I treat God as ruler or lover? Is God faithful and interested in my world?
In his book The Social God, Kenneth Leech looks at various images of God that have
governed Christian belief throughout history. For example, those who believe in a
transcendent, spiritual God who does not get involved with the messiness of the world
believe that the material world is irrelevant because only truly spiritual activities are
important. Prayer to this type of God can be self-centered and present peace, stillness
and tranquillity as ends in themselves.
Followers of a God who is not passionate about creation and therefore never becomes
angry or jealous promote a nice, safe God of love, life and joy. Because Jesus is a nice
guy, the reality of the passion and the role of God in our ambiguity, messiness and sin is
avoided. These types are like the flower children of the ’60s who always proclaimed that
everything is beautiful and “all you need is love.”
On the other hand, some people may think of God as distant and authoritarian. Prayer is
duty—not real communication or personal relationship. God is often in the way of
everyday life because God is a harsh judge who uses the world as a courtroom. These
people often live in the fear of God’s judgment and possible punishment in eternal life.
There are many other images but the bottom line is: The way we experience God is the
way we experience the world and all that is in the world. That is why to talk of a
Franciscan journey or path of prayer means talking about a particular way of experiencing
God.
Growth in prayer is the measure of our journey to God. In the monastic tradition, the
idea of journey meant that the created world motivates a person to turn inward in the
search for God. In order to know true reality, a monk or nun had to transcend this world
and contemplate the one above.
Brother Sean
The Barefoot Angel Man of God

Founder of the Tau Tree of Life Healing Community
22nd February 2007
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The Nazarene Essenes
The Tree of Life
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Contents:
Jesus the Essene:
Page: 2
The Essene Principles:
Page: 4
The Essene Communions:
Page: 7
The Nazarene Way –Modes of Prayer:
Page: 36
The Nazarene Way – Philosophy of prayer:
Page: 36
Nazarene Meditations-
Page: 42
An Essene Perspective on Healing:
Page: 46
An Essene technique of Gratitude:
Page: 47
An old Essene exercise of Purification/Health:
Page: 51
An Essene Invocation, re: World/Culture:
Page: 54
Essene advice for Healthy Eating-the hidden
virtues of Food:
Page: 58
Mary the Essene Virgin:
(The birth of the Master Jesus):
Page: 60
The Nazarene Way Of Life:
Page: 65
The Tree/Circle of God:
Page: 71
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Jesus and the Essenes
The Master Jesus was a very simple man who walked in
the street in the middle of the people, who spoke directly
with them and who lived in the company of his few
disciples. Of course, there was a goodness, a purity, a
royalty which emanated from him; but he was nothing
like the "inaccessible high Master" which all of the
churches have completely fabricated.
The Master Jesus was completely accessible,
simple, yet imposing, and that is what pleased the
crowd. When he was in town, people knew his habits
and waited for him in the places where he often gave a
teaching through parables, stories and discussions with
those who asked him questions or who tried to trip him
up. Everybody could come and participate in his talks,
and anyone could speak. The Master gave a veiled
teaching; he did not reveal all of his thoughts. Those who
were interested by this first approach could follow him
and become one of his disciples. One could be such a
disciple without abandoning one's family or one's work.
Then the Master gave other teachings--deeper, more practical,
more direct. He explained the meaning of the parables.
One of the higher steps for the circle of disciples was to repent
and to receive John's baptism. It was the close disciples of the
Master, the 12 apostles, who were to baptize the students who
were
entering
a
deeper
level
on
the
path.
Once a candidate had received the baptism, he entered an
inner circle of a more restricted and secret School. Inside
this circle, the Master transmitted a profound initiatic
teaching, as well as certain precise methods. He said that he
was working on the future of humanity through the
intermediary of his students who had been thus prepared. The
students of this secret School included women as well as men,
although men were in the majority because of that time period.
The discipline was strict, as in the Essene communities, but the
presence of the Master meant that joy, laughter, and love
circulated abundantly from soul to soul. The students had to do
a lot of exercises, and work on themselves, on their own
matter, according to the directives which were taught.
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The Master said that, when a group of
people gather together freely around a
divine idea and begin to work on
themselves in the direction of this idea,
then, if there are enough of them, they
carry within themselves all of humanity
and they can make it evolve. From their
work emanates a communal spiritual
strength, which is like a sun in the soul of
the earth and of humanity. This sun, in
turn, works throughout time to attract
the divine idea and to bring it to life
within the reality of the earth.
The Master had given very precise directives for this work, and
during some very beautiful communal ceremonies--notably the
washing of the feet--he had made it understood that each one
of them was becoming one with him in the Christ, that each
one of them was becoming a part of the Christ on the earth,
and that the final incarnation of the Christ inside all humans
depended
on
the
work
of
each
one
of
them.
He had also transmitted songs, sounds, words, dances and
movements which had to be done in a particular state of
mind and with a great inner purity in order to produce
certain effects within oneself and within the soul of the earth.
He taught that, in this way, certain very pure spiritual beings
who live inside the soul of man and of the earth could be
awakened, nourished, and strengthened in the will of the
Heavenly Father.
The students had also to take the Nazarite vow not to eat
meat or drink fermented drinks anymore. The Master
said that, if a human being ate meat, he could not
receive his word. This discipline was, at the same time,
for both the external side and the internal side of life.
The Master taught that physical vegetarianism had to be
coupled with psychic vegetarianism, an attitude of inner
life filled with a living morality, an active pacifism, a
tenacious and serene will, a clarity and openness of
mind. Like the Essenes, the Master attached great
importance to cleanliness and purity. The purity which
the Master taught was a lot less rigid than the one
preached by the Essenes. It was alive, in movement,
dynamic. The Master Jesus was very tolerant and very
open. These rules applied only in the inner circle of his
School. His teaching had several degrees, according to
the state of consciousness and the level of evolution of
the being who was in front of him. The Master loved all
beings and wanted each one to be able to receive and
participate in God's word at his own level. For some
people, this word took on a tone of reprimand, of
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severity, even of condemnation. For others, one of
consolation and hope. And finally, for the prepared
students, it opened up the doors to the sacred path of
the initiation of the soul into the eternal mysteries.
Master Jesus liked the atmosphere to be
pure, and that is why, before he came, the
students prepared and purified themselves
in their thoughts, feelings, and desires
through rhythmical exercises, movements,
and dances. They used certain kinds of
human-shaped waves which had the power
to vivify, purify and improve the quality of
the atmosphere of a place.
Master Jesus himself was always careful about the place in
which he taught or practiced the works of his Father-Mother
with his disciples. Thus, when he was in Jerusalem, he went
and taught the crowd in the square of the Gentiles or in certain
places in the streets of the city. People knew where they could
find him. With his disciples, he liked to go outside of the city.
Thus, he often arranged to meet the members of the inner
circle in the garden of the 12 palm trees, which was located
close to Bethany. There was a spring there, and the Master had
explained at great length that this place was tied to the work
which his faithful disciples would have to accomplish in the
world in the centuries to come. He had revealed to all of them
the purpose of his mission, the future history of humanity, the
different incarnations of his disciples, and the role they would
have to play in this history to serve Christ. Once again, he had
alluded to the mysterious role of the Apostle John, and he had
placed him in parallel with John the Baptist, the prophet Eli and
the Essene Brotherhood-Sisterhood.
At the time when the Master Jesus was present among his
disciples, he had already named the Master St. John as the
leader of and the person responsible for this inner and
secret School. It is the Master St. John who was put in charge
of teaching in this School and of ensuring that the exercises
were done correctly.
Thereafter, the Master St. John continued his task, even after
Jesus' departure. He remained faithful and opened inner
Schools in most European countries. These Schools continued
to exist in secret and have propagated themselves right up to
our own time, keeping Christ's teaching pure, exactly as the
Essenes had kept pure Moses' secret and authentic teaching.
Today, parts of this Teaching and of its techniques are being
extended to the outside world because a new time of
harvesting and sowing has arrived.
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The Essene Principles and Rules of Life
The rules of life, and the very strict discipline which went
with them, were not a constraint, but were freely
accepted as ways to forge character and to develop in
one's highest being.
Above all, their foundation in wisdom was
recognized by everyone, using his own intelligence.
No arbitrator reigned in the Brotherhood-School.
The Essenes received many teachings of the ancient
universal wisdom, which they had to bring to life inside
themselves as a sacred service to humanity. They were
fully aware that the major part of this wisdom was for a
future humanity; and they thought that the great
Masters who would come in the future could make use of
their work. They believed that, without them--the
Masters--the benefactors would not be able to help
human beings, and that people would, therefore, sink
into the darkness of ignorance and depravity, and
eventually destroy one another through wars and other
unspeakable atrocities.
This enlivening of the Teaching of Light occurred in
groups during ceremonies; through songs, dances and
movements; or even during work in the fields or the
vineyards, or some other manual work or construction. It
was also accomplished through individual work, in the
solitude of one's personal temple.
Each Essene was required to respect the privacy of others--their
solitude, their intimate and private lives. Solitude was regarded as
sacred, because, when one was alone with oneself, one was in the
presence
of
God,
the
Sublime
One,
the
Source.
The life of a couple was also regarded as sacred, as was community
life. These were the three degrees--one's private life corresponded
to the inside of the temple; the inner life, to the couple; and the
external life, to the community. The student was to look closely at
himself in these three lives, and remain honest, morally upright,
pure and authentic in all three.
There was a rule forbidding them to reveal the Teaching to people
who were not prepared to receive it. The law of silence and
discernment was strictly imposed.
Thus, an Essene never tried to convert another person to any belief.
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"Do not give pearls to pigs for fear that they will trample them
underfoot and turn towards you to devour you." (The words of
Christ)
The
Essenes
practiced
hospitality
regularly, and they had buildings set aside
especially for that purpose. The way in
which they healed the sick inside of these
buildings--that is the origin for the
existence
of
our
modern
hospitals.
Through them, hospitality became very farreaching, because they learned very young
to see the divine part of each person. And,
thus, it was God who visited them in the
guise of the individual, and they had to
understand what He wanted to say to them
or wanted from them. In this way, they
were following the teaching of Toby and
Abraham, who, in offering hospitality to
men, had, in reality, been welcoming
angels.
By taking care of the individual, they were taking care of
the Being of beings who was behind him. That is the
profound meaning of all true medicine and of every therapeutic
process.
The body and the person were, for them, the outer shell of the
Universal Spirit. Therefore, they were not disdainful of these
things--but they did not ignore the Divine Spirit. Without the
Divine Spirit, there is no true hospitality; and that is why, in
our time, money has replaced the vision of the Supreme One.
The Brothers and Sisters in the white tunic, as they were
called then, also practiced a great many humanitarian
acts, helping the poor and the outcasts. A large number
of Essenes in the external circles of the order
reincarnated and became the source for all of the great
modern humanitarian organizations. Of course, these
often escaped their control and went astray, because the
holy initiatic order was no longer there to support them.
Without initiation, no salvation is possible and no help is
effective, because good is transformed into evil, and vice
versa.
The Essenes recognized the equality of the sexes, and
accorded to women, in the greatest secrecy, the place
which was rightfully theirs. Thus, women were able to
participate
in
all
of
the
spiritual
activities.
The Essenes studied an esoteric teaching on androgyny,
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which provided them with a perception of the soul
beyond the dualistic conception of sex. The white-linen
robe was a symbol of this vision of the soul's unity.
The School strongly condemned slavery and all forms of
servility.
No Essene could have a servant; that was a sin. So was
working only to make money--which, in the end, translates into
a certain kind of slavery.
Slavery and servility were, for them, things related to the
existence of dark and demonic entities, and belonged to what
they called the world of divine anger.
Any man (or woman) who was even merely affiliated with the
community had to free his slaves and abstain from eating
meat. For them, slavery was also tied to the fact of being
carnivorous, because he who could not stop eating animal flesh
and drinking blood could not control the passions of his
animalistic nature--and, therefore, could not think in a clear
manner. He was reduced to slavery by his nature.
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The Essene Communions
THEIR ACTUAL PRACTICE
Fragmentary records of ancient traditions which have come down to
us show that during eons of time man has gradually begun to
develop within his being, a certain receptive apparatus through which
he is able to absorb the currents of force flowing in and around him,
and consciously utilize them as sources of energy, harmony and
knowledge.
The Essenes considered that the development of these receptive
centres was an essential part of the individual’s evolution. They also
considered that systematic and daily practice of a correct method
was necessary for the development of them.
The First part of their Communion taught the meaning and purpose of each
of the fourteen terrestrial and cosmic forces. The Second part of the
Communions, was the actual practice or technique by which this apparatus
can be developed. Through this practice, the subtle centres of the body can
be opened and access given to the Universal storehouse of cosmic forces.
The purpose of this was to put the organs of the physical body in harmony
with all beneficial currents of the Earth and the cosmos, so that they can be
utilized for the evolution of the individual and the planet.
Many early peoples had a similar technique. The Sumerians, the
Persians at the time of Zoroaste, and the Hindus in their yoga
systems, nine of which have survived the original fourteen, all sought
to attain the same ends.
The technique which the Essenes handed down by word of mouth
from generation to generation, through thousands of years, was
given to the neophyte (student) in their Brotherhoods only after
seven years’ probationary training had been completed. He then had
to take the Great Sevenfold Vow, never to reveal the communions
without permission, and never to use the knowledge and power
gained through them for material or selfish purposes.
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PROLOGUE TO THE COMMUNIONS
Previous to speaking the actual words of a communion, the Essene
solemnly and reverently repeated the following prologue:
“I enter the Eternal and Infinite Garden with reverence to the
Heavenly Father, the Earthly Mother and Great Masters, reverence to
the Brotherhood of the Elect.”
He then thought reverently about the angel or force with which he
was about to commune, contemplating its meaning and purpose in
his own life and body, as taught in the First Communions.
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THE MORNING COMMUNIONS
The Communions with the Forces of the Visible Realms
DAYS
CONTEMPLATIVE
FORCE
Saturday
Sunday
Earthly Mother
Angel of Earth
Food
Top Soil Growth
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Angel
Angel
Angel
Angel
Angel
Trees
Beauty
Sunrise
Blood, Rivers, etc.
Breath
of
of
of
of
of
Life
Joy
Sun
Water
Air
Nutrition
Regeneration
Glands
Vitality Life Force
Harmony
Fire of Life
Circulation
Energies of
Atmosphere
THE NOON CONTEMPLATIONS
The Peace Contemplative Communions
DAYS
PEACE WITH THE
Saturday
Kingdom of the Heavenly Father
Sunday
Kingdom of the Earthly Mother
Monday
Culture
Tuesday
Humanity ( Social Peace)
Wednesday
Family ( Feeling Body)
Thursday
Mind (Thinking Body)
Friday
Body (Acting Body)
THE EVENING COMMUNIONS
The Communions with the Powers of
DAYS
CONTEMPLATIVE
Saturday
Angel of Eternal Life
Sunday
Angel of Creative
Work
Monday
Angel of Peace
Tuesday
Angel of Power
Wednesday
Angel of Love
Thursday
Angel of Wisdom
Friday
Heavenly Father
the Invisible Realms
FORCE
Superior Planets
Overcoming Gravity
Bees
Creative Works of Man
Crescent Moon
Stars Superior
Acts
Superior Feeling
Superior
Thoughts
Cosmic Currents
Peace Within
Nervous System
Cosmic Ocean of Life
Emotions
Cosmic Ocean of Love
Thinking Body
Final Union with Cosmic
Ocean
“ May He bless thee with every good,
May He keep thee from all evil
And illumine thy heart with the knowledge of life
And favour thee with eternal wisdom.
And may He give His Sevenfold blessings upon thee
To everlasting Peace.” From the Manual of Discipline of the Dead Sea
Scrolls .
THE SEVENFOLD PEACE OF THE ESSENES
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The Sevenfold Peace of the Essenes was the summation of their inner
teaching.
Their Tree of Life and the Communions taught man his relationship with
the fourteen forces of the visible and invisible worlds. The Sevenfold Peace
explains his relationship to the parts of his own being and to his fellow
men, showing how to create peace, harmony in the seven categories of
his life.
Harmony to the Essenes meant peace.
They considered that human life can be divided into seven departments or
compartments:
! Physical
! Mental
! Emotional
! Social
! Cultural
! Relationships with Nature
! Relationships with the entire Cosmos.
Man, it was held, has three bodies that function in each of these
departments:
! A Feeling Body – the feeling body’s highest Power is LOVE.
! A Thinking Body – the thinking body’s highest Power is
WISDOM.
! An Acting Body – the acting body’s FUNCTION is to translate the
WISDOM of the Thinking Body and the LOVE of the Feeling Body
into ACTION in an individual’s social and cultural worlds and in his
utilisation of the Terrestrial and Heavenly Forces.
The Sevenfold Peace explains the utilisation of these Powers and Forces
with the utmost clarity. Every Noon, a Peace Contemplation was held with
one aspect of Peace; and every Sabbath was collectively dedicated to one,
the entire cycle covering all phases of man’s life being completed in seven
weeks’ time.
PEACE WITH THE BODY
The word used by the Essenes to indicate the physical body, both in
Aramaic and in Hebrew, signified the body’s function, to act, to move. This
differs greatly from other concepts. The Greeks, for instance, exalted the
body for its esthetic qualities, its proportions and beauty and were
unaware of any deeper purpose. The Romans looked upon the body
simply as an instrument of strength and power for conquering nations,
planting the Roman eagle in far lands. The medieval Christians disdained
the body, considering it the source of all man’s troubles, a barrier between
man and God.
The Essenes had a much deeper understanding than any of these, they
knew that in the acting body, evolving through hundreds of thousands of
years, are manifested all the laws of life and the Cosmos; in it is to be
16
found the key to the whole universe. In their detailed studies of man’s
role and relations with the universe, they considered that man had three
roles:
! One of individual evolution.
! A function in regard to the Planet on which he lives.
! A purpose as a unit of the cosmos.
The acting body has its part to play in all three of these roles. It is a
Divine product, created by the law for the purpose of the Creator, in no
way inferior to any other instrument of man, nor to anything else in the
universe. It is waiting for man to make conscious use of its terrestrial and
spiritual energies.
The Essenes knew that man is not an isolated being alone in the universe,
but one among other beings on earth and on other planets, all of whom
have acting bodies which are evolving even as is man’s own. All of these
acting bodies are therefore related to each other and effect each other.
Every individual’s bodily health and vitality is consequently of the utmost
importance both to himself and to all other beings on earth and on all
other planets.
The daily practices of the Essenes were derived from this dynamic allsided concept of the acting body as an integral part of the whole universe
and their extraordinary health and vitality was a result of it. those who
joined the Brotherhood were taught:
! How to adapt the body to the constantly changing field of forces in
which it lives and moves.
! The effects on the organisms of different foods and the different
natural forces of earth, the sun, air, and water.
! How disease is created by deviations from the law and how to heal
diseases from these deviations.
! The qualities and curative powers of different herbs and plants, of
heliotherapy and hydrotherapy, and the proper diet for every
ailment. They were instructed in right breathing and in the power
which thought holds over the acting body.
! The spiritual and material value of moderation in all things, and
that fasting was a way to regenerate the body and to develop the
will and in this way increase spiritual power.
These practices brought peace and harmony to the acting body. But
undue importance was never attached to it. the consideration and care
they gave it was solely to keep it in good health as an instrument through
which they could perform acts of wisdom and love for their fellowman. In
this way the acting body participated in the evolution of the individual, of
the planet and the cosmos, thus enabling the individual to become a cocreator with the law and with God.
11 – PEACE WITH THE MIND
At the very heart of the teachings of the Essene’s way of life was Peace.
They perceived Peace as being the Creator of thought. This was reflected
17
in the Sevenfold Peace. The Essenes considered thought to be a superior
force, more powerful that the force of either feeling or action, because it is
the instigator of both. The totality of an individual’s thoughts was his
thinking body. The Essenes considered an individual’s thinking body, like
his acting body, has three functions, an individual. A planetary and a
cosmic function. The Essenes knew that only a small minority of mankind
makes use of the great capacity of the thinking body. They knew that the
majority use their thinking bodies quite haphazardly, unaware of their
thoughts can be used to build or to destroy.
According to the Essenes, if man fails to become consciously aware of the
Law, he deviates from it unknowingly for he is surrounded by fields of
inharmonious forces prompting him to deviations. These deviations create
all the imperfections in his world, all the limitations and negations in his
thoughts and feelings and physical well-being, in his environment, in
society and the entire planet. Every time man creates or accepts an
inferior thought, he is accepting an inferior force into his world. So every
individual who has a negative feeling, emotion and thought, a limiting,
negative or inharmonious thought starts a chain reaction of deviations
which spreads throughout the planet and the planetary worlds, causing
even further deviations, negations, limitations and inharmonies. This
inharmony is contagious just as many diseases are contagious.
The great Essenic masters taught man how to prevent these waves of
inharmony, right at their source, before the first inharmonious thought is
created. They taught man the right way of thinking, the way of never
deviating from the Law, never receiving or accepting into the
consciousness any thought less than perfection.
111
PEACE WITH THE FAMILY
The Third Peace of the Essenes, peace with the family, concerns harmony
in the feeling body, harmony in the emotions. By the term family, the
Essenes meant those in the individual’s immediate environment, the
people he contacts in his daily life and thought, his family, relatives,
friends and associates. According to the Essene tradition, harmony with
these people depends upon the feeling body.
The natural function of the feeling body is to express love. Mankind has
been told this over and over again by the Great Masters, Jesus, Buddha,
Zoroaster, Moses and the prophets. He has been given the law that he
should love his Creator with all his thinking, feeling and acting bodies. Life
in all its spheres, aspects and manifestations is the demonstration of
creative love.
Divine love is a great cosmic power, a cosmic function. It is the law of all
man’s bodies, but it is expressed most powerfully through the feeling
body. All of the Great Teachers of humanity through thousands of years
have warned man of the consequences of deviation form the law of the
feeling body. Buddha pointed out how it results in suffering, suffering for
the individual and suffering for humanity.
18
The Essenes showed that the feeling body can be the most powerful
instrument for the production of health, vitality and happiness, and that
through its right functioning in expressing love, man can create the
kingdom of heaven in and around himself and the whole human family.
The Essene peace with the family is the great Law in its expression of
men’s love toward one another, a law revealed to little children but often
hidden from the minds of men.
1V – PEACE WITH HUMANITY
The Fourth peace of the Essenes referred to harmony between groups of
people, to social and economic peace.
Mankind has never enjoyed social peace in any age in history. Man has
always exploited man economically, oppressed him politically, and
suppressed him by military force. The Essenes knew these injustices were
caused by deviations from the law. The very same deviations that produce
inharmony in man’s personal life, in his acting, thinking and feeling
bodies, produce wealth and poverty, masters and slaves, social unrest.
The Essenes regarded both riches and poverty to be the result of
deviations from the law. They considered great wealth is concentrated into
the hands of the few because man’s exploitation of man, in one-way or
another. This has caused misery for both suppressor and suppressed. The
many feel hatred and its kindred destructive emotions. This produces fear
in the hearts of the exploiters, fear of revolt, fear of loosing their
possessions, even their lives.
Poverty was held to be an equal deviation from the law. A man is poor
because of wrong attitudes of thinking, feeling and acting. He is ignorant
of the law and fails to work with the law. The Essenes showed that there
is abundance for every one of all that a man needs for his use and
happiness.
Limitations and over-abundance are both artificial states, deviations from
the law. They produce the vicious circle of fear, and revolt, a permanent
atmosphere of inharmony, affecting the thinking, feeling and acting bodies
of both rich and poor, continually creating a state of unrest, war and
chaos. This has been the condition throughout recorded history. The rich
and poor alike suffer the consequences of their deviations.
The Essenes knew there was no escape from this circle of oppression,
hatreds and violence, wars and revolutions, except through changing the
ignorance of the individuals in the world. They knew that it takes a long
time for individuals to change his ideas, thinking and habits and learn to
cooperate with the law. The individual has to do the changing; nobody
else can do it for him.
The solution, which the Essenes offered for economic and social harmony,
can be applied in every age, the present as well as the past. It contained
four factors:
19
1. Separating from the chaotic conditions of the mass of mankind,
which refuses to obey natural and cosmic law.
2. Demonstrating a practical social system based on natural and
cosmic law.
3. Communicating these ideas to the outside world through teaching,
healing and helping others according to their needs.
4. Attracting to their communities other individuals who are
sufficiently evolved to be willing to cooperate with the law.
The Essenes withdrew from the inharmony of cities and towns and formed
brotherhoods on the shores of lakes and rivers where they could live and
work in obedience to the law. They established there economic and social
systems based wholly on the law. No rich and no poor were in their
brotherhoods. No one had need of anything he did not have; and no one
had excess of things he could not use. They considered one condition as
deteriorating as the other.
They demonstrated to humanity that man’s daily bread, his food and all
his material needs can be acquired without struggle through the
knowledge of the law.
Strict rules and regulations were necessary for all lived in accord with the
law. Order, efficiency and individual freedom existed side by side. The
Essenes were extremely practical as well as highly spiritual and
intellectual.
They took no part in politics and adhered to no political factions, knowing
that neither political or military means could change man’s chaotic
condition. They showed by concrete example that exploitation and
oppression of others were completely unnecessary. Many economic and
social historians have considered the Essenes the world’s first social
reformers on a comprehensive scale. The brotherhoods were partly
cooperative –each member of the group had his own small house and
garden large enough for him to grow whatever he especially desired. But
he also took part in communal activities wherever his service might be
needed, such as in pasturing of animals, planting and harvesting of crops
most economically grown on an extensive basis. The Essenes were
proficient in agriculture with a thorough knowledge of plant life, soil and
climatic conditions. In comparatively desert areas they produced a large
variety of fruits and vegetables of the highest quality and in such
abundance they periodically had surplus to distribute to the needy.
Their scientific knowledge was such that they could do all of this in a
comparatively few hours each day, leaving ample time for their studies
and spiritual practices. Nature was their Bible. They considered gardening
educational, a key to the understanding of the entire universe, revealing
all its laws, even as does the acting body. They read and studied the great
book of nature throughout their lives, in all their brotherhoods, as an
inexhaustible source of knowledge, as well as of energy and harmony.
When they dug in their gardens and tended their plantings they held
communion with the growing things, the trees, sun, soil, rain. From all of
20
these forces they received their education, their pleasure and their
recreation. One of the reasons for their great success was this attitude
toward their work. They did not consider it as work but as a means of
studying the forces and laws of nature.
The Essenes knew it takes many generations to effect changes in people
or in mankind as a whole, but they sent out teachers and healers from
their brotherhoods whose lives and accomplishments would manifest the
truths they taught and little by little increase mankind’s understanding
and desire to live in accord with the law. The Essense brotherhood at the
Dead Sea for many centuries sent out such teachers as John the Baptist,
Jesus and John the Beloved. They warned again and again of the
consequences of man’s social and economic deviations from the law.
Prophet after prophet was sent forth to warn of the dangers incurred by
social injustices that existed then even as they exist today.
The mass of mankind failed to listen, failed to gain any understanding of
social and economic peace. Only the few more evolved individuals heeded.
Of these, some were selected to work in the brotherhoods as examples of
peace and harmony in all aspects of existence.
The Essenes knew that through the cumulative effect of example and
teaching the minority who understand and obey the law will someday
grow through the generations to become, finally, the majority of mankind.
Then and then only will mankind know the fourth peace of the Essenes,
peace with humanity.
V
PEACE WITH CULTURE
The Essenes held that man can take his rightful place in the universe only
by absorbing all possible knowledge from the great teachings which have
been forth by the Masters of Wisdom. According to Essene traditions,
these masterpieces represented one-third of all knowledge. They
considered there are three pathways to the finding of truth. They are:
1.
The path of intuition.
2.
The pathway of nature, that of the scientist.
3.
The pathway of culture, that of the great masterpieces of
literature and the arts.
The Essenes perceived many precious manuscripts in their brotherhoods,
which they constantly studied by a method found in no other school of
thought in antiquity. They studied them by following the first two
pathways to truth: intuition and nature.
Through
intuition
Through
express
intuition they endeavoured to apprehend the original higher
of the master and so awaken their own higher consciousness.
nature, from which the great masters drew comparisons to
their intuitive knowledge to the masses drew comparisons to
21
express their intuitive knowledge to the masses, the Essenes correlated
their own intuitive observations with the teachings of the masters. By this
continual comparison between nature, their own intuitions and the great
masterpieces of culture, their own individual evolution was advanced.
The third part of all wisdom, represented by the culture of humanity, was
held by the Essenes to be necessary for man’s evolution. In no other way
could he gain an all-sided understanding of the laws of life through
contact with the cosmic ocean of thought.
This contact, through the eternal thinking body of a great master, is the
sacred purpose and the priceless privilege of peace and harmony with
culture.
VI – PEACE WITH THE KINGDOM OF THE EARTHLY MOTHER
The sixth peace teaches harmony with the laws of terrestrial nature, the
kingdom of the Earthly Mother. The unity of man and nature is a basic
principle of the Essene science of life.
Man is an integral part of nature. He is governed by all the laws and
forces of nature. His health, vitality and well-being depend upon his
degree of harmony with earth-forces; and that of every individual, every
nation and the whole of humanity will always be in direct proportion to
man’s observance of terrestrial laws.
Universal history shows that every nation reached its greatest splendour
by following the great law of unity between man and nature. Its vitality
and prosperity flourished when the people lived a simple natural life of
cooperation with nature. But when the nation or civilization deviates from
unity and nature, it inevitably disintegrates and disappears.
The unity of man and nature has never been so heavily transgressed as in
the present day. Modern man’s building of cities is in entire variance with
nature. The city’s stone and concrete walls are the symbols of man’s
separation from nature, of his aggressive way of life with its urges to
subjugation of others and to constant competition, one with another. His
present centralized, technical and mechanized life creates a chasm
separating him from nature, a chasm which never was wider or deeper.
Unity with nature is the foundation of man’s existence on the planet. It is
the foundation of all economic systems, of all social relationships between
groups of people. Without it, the present civilization like those of the past
will move toward decline and decay.
The unity between man and nature has been given its most complete and
poetic expression in the second chapter of the Essene Gospel of John in
which Jesus borrowed his whole terminology from nature to show that
man is an integral part of it. Jesus gave a last warning regarding this unity
and the necessity of returning to it.
22
Antediluvian man, the Zoroastrian, the Brahman, the Buddhist, the
Essene, all consider the forest and nature to be man’s friend and
protector, the mother providing all his earthly needs.
Man needs today to learn harmony and peace with nature more than in
any other age in history. There are enormous regions over the earth
where he is letting the topsoil deteriorate and disappear. Never before has
there been such wholesale destruction of forests, not only in one or two
countries, but all over the five continents. As a consequence of this lack of
cooperation with nature the desert areas of the world are increasing,
drought is more and more frequent, floods periodically inundate the land.
There is an unmistakable deterioration of climate; excessive cold,
excessive heat and increasing hordes of insect pests damage crops
throughout the world. Instead of following the noble tradition of the
Essenes contemporary man fails to recognise the great law of unity and
cooperation with nature, and seems bent on deteriorating his heritage,
refusing to read the great open book of nature which reveals all the laws
of life and shows the way to ever increasing happiness for man.
The Essene teaching shows the only way of organizing man’s life on this
planet, the only foundation for a healthy humanity, peace with the
kingdom of the Earthly Mother.
VII – PEACE WITH THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER.
This, the seventh peace, includes all other aspects of peace. The kingdom
of the Heavenly Father is the universe, the entire cosmos. It is ruled by
the One Law, the totality of all laws. The Heavenly Father is the Law.
Law is everywhere present. It is behind all that is manifest and all that is
unmanifest. A stone falls, a mountain forms, seas flow according to law.
In accord with law solar systems arise, evolve and disappear. Ideas,
sensations, intuitions come and go in man’s consciousness according to
law. All that is, concrete or abstract, material or immaterial, visible or
invisible, is used by law, the One Law.
The Law is formless as a mathematical equation is formless. Yet it
contains all knowledge, all love, all power. It eternally manifests all truth
and all reality. It is man’s teacher and friend, showing him all he must do,
and know, and be to evolve to the being which he will someday become.
The Law guides man in every problem, through every obstacle, telling him
always the perfect solution.
Peace with the Law means peace and harmony with the cosmic ocean of
all the cosmic forces in the universe. Through this peace, man makes
contact with all the cosmic space. Through it he is able to attain
realization of his unity with all the forces in the universe, those of earth
and those from all other planets in the solar systems.
Through this peace he can become united with the highest values in the
universe. Through this peace is awakened the inner intuition which was
23
followed by the mystics and prophets of all ages. Through this peace man
contacts his Creator.
This peace completes man’s evolution. It brings him total happiness. It is
his final goal. Man is a part of the totality of the universe.
The Essenes spoke of the three parts of man:
! The Material Body
! The feeling body.
! The thinking body.
But they were always aware that these three parts were not a division in
reality for they are all parts of the one higher body, the spiritual body.
And this spiritual body is one with and part of all else in the universe.
Man’s failure to understand this causes an infinite complexity of false
limitations. He not only limits himself in regard to the supply of his
material needs, but in regard to his capacities, his abilities and powers of
thinking, feeling and acting. He lives a life of mediocrity because of these
false ideas of limitations which he fastens upon himself.
Peace with the Kingdom of the heavenly Father is therefore only possible
as man eliminates these deviations and learns to cooperate with the Law,
establishing peace and harmony with each of the aspects of the Sevenfold
Peace, the acting, thinking and feeling bodies, the family, humanity,
culture and nature. Only then can he know the seventh peace, total
peace.
The Essenes taught this peace to humanity so that they could overcome
all limitations and contact their universal Source, the same Source with
which the great masters throughout the ages have united their
consciousness when they gave forth their intuitive teachings showing man
how to become conscious of the law, understand it, work with it, and
manifest it in action.
All history is a record of the self-imposed limitations of man and his
efforts to overcome them. These efforts have been made individually, by
groups or nations, and in a planetary sense. But they have almost always
been made negatively, inharmoniously, through struggle and further
deviations from the law. Thus they have bound man in further limitations,
further inharmony and further separation in thought from his Source.
The Kingdom of the Heavenly Father is always open to him. His return to
the universal consciousness, universal supply, is always possible. Once he
makes the decision to return and puts forth the persistent effort, he can
always go back to the Source, his Heavenly Father, from whom he came
and from whom he has never in reality been away.
The great peace of the Essenes teaches man how to go back, how to take
the final step that unites him with the cosmic ocean of superior radiations
24
of the whole universe and reaches complete union with the heavenly
Father, the totality of all Law, the One Law.
This was the ultimate aim of all Essenes and governed their every
thought, feeling and action. It is the final aim, which all mankind will one
day achieve.
THE SEVENFOLD VOW
The vow which the neophyte (trainee) was required to take before being
given the words of the Communions was divided into seven parts in
keeping with the Essenes’ use of the number seven. The vow was as
follows:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
I want to and will do my best to live like the Tree of Life, planted
by the Great Masters of our brotherhood, with my Heavenly
Father who planted the Eternal Garden of the Universe and gave
me my spirit; with my Earthly Mother who planted the Great
Garden of the Earth and gave me my body; with my brothers
who are working in the Garden of our brotherhood.
I want to and will do my best to hold every morning my
Communions with the angels of the Earthly Mother, and every
evening with the angels of the Heavenly Father, as established
by the Great Masters of our brotherhood.
I want to and will do my best to follow the path of the Sevenfold
Peace.
I want to and will do my best to perfect my Acting body, my
Feeling body and my Thinking body, according to the teachings
of the great Masters of our Brotherhood.
I will always and everywhere obey with reverence my Master,
who gives me the Light of the Great Masters of all times.
I will submit to my Master and accept his decision on whatever
differences or complaints I may have against any of my brothers
working in the Garden of our Brotherhood; and I shall never
take any complaints against a brother to the outside world.
I will always and everywhere keep secret all the traditions of our
Brotherhood, which my Master will tell me; and I will never
reveal to anyone these secrets without the permission of my
Master. I will never claim as my own the knowledge received
from my Master and I will always give credit to him for all this
knowledge and power I have gained through initiation from my
Master for material or selfish purposes.
With the coming of the day
I embrace my Mother,
With the coming of the night
I join my Father,
And with the outgoing of evening and morning
I will breathe Their Law,
And I will not interrupt these Communions
Until the end of time.
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From “The Manual of Discipline” of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Essene Psychology
The Essenes expressed an exceptional knowledge of psychology in
their practice of the Communions with the natural and cosmic forces. They
knew that man has both a conscious and subconscious mind and were
well aware of the powers of each.
In making one group of their Communions the first activity of the
morning, they consciously set in motion forces that became the keynote
of their whole day. They knew that a thought held strongly enough in the
consciousness at the beginning of the day influences the individual
throughout his waking hours. The morning Communions consequently
opened the mind to harmonious forms of energy into the physical body.
The evening Communions, performed as the last act in the evening
before sleep, applied the same principle. The Essenes knew that these last
thoughts influenced subconscious mind throughout the night, and that the
evening Communions therefore put the subconscious into contact with the
storehouse of superior cosmic forces. They knew that sleep can thus
become a source of deepest knowledge.
The average man experiences this at times, finding a problem
solved during sleep. Many writers, scientists and other creative workers
have also found that their inventions and ideas have come to them during
the night or in the early morning.
The knowledge received during sleep is a working of natural law.
The Essenes knew that the higher forces set into action before going to
sleep, when the earthly forces of the myriad activities of the day are
stilled, would result in the progressive attainment of the lofty objectives of
their evening Communions. They also knew that any negative or
inharmonious thought held in their consciousness would lower their
resistance to the negative forces in the outside world.
The Essenes had a profound knowledge of the body and also of the
mind. They knew that the two could not be separated as they form a
dynamic organic unit, and what affects one, affects the other. The Essenes
antedated psychosomatic medicine by several thousands of years.
In addition to this they paid great attention to the food they ate,
that it might harmonize with natural law, but they were equally careful of
their diet in thought and emotions. They were fully cognizant that man’s
subconscious mind is like a sensitised plate registering everything the
individual sees, or hears, and that it is therefore necessary to prevent all
interior thoughts, such as fear, anxiety, insecurity, hatred, ignorance,
egotism and intolerance from entering the gate of the subconscious mind.
The natural law that two things cannot occupy the same space at
the same time was clear to them and they knew a person cannot think of
26
two things simultaneously. Therefore if the mind is filled with positive,
harmonious thoughts those that are negative and inharmonious cannot
lodge in it. The subconscious can be regenerated by a diet of good and
harmonious thoughts and feelings administered all during the day, but
especially at those moments of borderland consciousness when receptivity
is at its best. When it is thus regenerated it will become a source of
energy and harmony to the mind and body. It will be a friend sending
constructive harmonious messages to every part of the body, causing
them to function efficiently.
Certain facts known to the Essenes about introducing a thought or
thoughts into the subconscious mind. The natural law that two things
cannot occupy the same space at the same time was clear to them and
they knew a person cannot think of two things simultaneously. Therefore
if the mind is filled with positive, harmonious thoughts those that are
negative and inharmonious cannot lodge in it.
Positive harmonious thoughts must be introduced into the
subconscious to replace all inferior ones, just as the cells of the body must
constantly be replaced by food, water, air as the old cells of the body are
broken down.
The subconscious mind can be regenerates by a diet of good and
harmonious thoughts and feelings administered all during the day, but
especially at those moments of borderline consciousness when its
receptivity is at its best. When it is thus regenerated it will become a
source of energy and harmony to mind and body. It will be a friend
sending constructive harmonious messages to every part of the body,
causing them to function efficiently.
Certain facts known to the Essenes about introducing a thought into
the subconscious have been rediscovered by modern psychologists. It is
known that when a person is fully conscious, his subconscious mind does
not easily accept a purposeful suggestion. And when he is in a
subconscious state he cannot of course influence his subconscious
consciously. But there are moments when the consciousness is only half
submerged in the subconsciousness, moments such as occur just before
going to sleep, just after awaking from sleep, and sometimes when in a
state of reverie such as is occasioned by beautiful music or poetry. At
such moments the subconscious mind is most receptive to what is given
to it.
Many teachings of great religions and practices of ancient and
modern philosophical systems, both those of the East and of the West, as
well as those of the Essenes, utilize this all-important psychological fact.
The subconscious is dynamic, ever changing, even as the cells of the
body, and it is constantly being fed by the experiences and impressions it
receives from the conscious mind. These experiences include all thoughts
and feelings held forcefully enough to create an impression upon it. The
traumatic experiences of childhood are those, which have been felt with
great intensity and fed into the subconscious mind, but never replaced by
new and more constructive impressions and experiences.
27
The subconscious has been defined as the totality of an individual’s
experiences from birth to the current moment. Every dynamic new
experience changes it; and it can be consciously changed according to the
degree of the intensity of the impression put into it. The more intense the
impression the more lasting it will be in the subconscious.
Certain other factors were known by the Essenes to govern the
acceptance by the subconscious mind of a thought or feeling. One was
that if the conscious mind does not accept the thought as a reality and a
possibility, the subconsciousness would also reject it.
Another was the necessity of projecting the thought to the
subconscious without effort, spontaneously. If an effort is made, the fully
conscious state is evoked and the subconscious cannot be reached. To act
spontaneously and without effort requires complete relaxation of mind and
body. This was part of the Essene practice.
They accomplished the first step in relaxation by releasing the
tensions or contractions of one group of muscles after another over
various parts of the body. The second step was shallow breathing. This
lessons the transport of oxygen in the lungs and thus decreases the
activities of the nerves and other parts of the organism since activity and
relaxation cannot occur at the same time. The third step was to avoid
thought. Through these steps, the Essenes brought a kind of semi
consciousness into which a new thought or feeling could be readily
introduced into the subconscious.
The thought introduced in this way should be rhythmic enough to
maintain the state of relaxation and semi-consciousness. And it should
have sufficient power to penetrate into the subconscious and be
completely accepted as reality. These preconditions of consciously placing
thoughts and feelings in the subconscious mind were perfectly met in the
practice of the Essenes.
The Essene’s knowledge of the conscious mind was as profound as
their understanding of the subconscious. Their concept of psychology was
so all-sided they knew the objectives of their Communions could not be
attained through the intellectual processes alone, but that the force of
feelings is also necessary. Knowledge must arouse an emotion before
action is produced.
Feeling is not merely an involuntary process, as many people
believe. It is part of the activity of will. The Essenes considered will
contains, or is the mechanism of three factors: thought, feeling and
action. This concept can be illustrated in modern terms by comparison to
the parts of the automobile. Thought is the steering wheel; feeling is the
motor or force; action corresponds to the wheels. All three parts must
work in collaboration. An objective is thought of, a desire or feeling is
aroused, action takes place. Feelings can be mastered! Few believe this!
Of the three forces, thought, feeling and action, thought is the
youngest, and consequently the weakest influence in man’s
28
consciousness. The Essenes believed man should analyse his thoughts and
feelings and determine which give him power to carry out a desired action
and which paralyse it. There is always a feeling behind every action. A
right feeling is necessary to produce a right action. Right feelings are
sources of energy, harmony and happiness. If they are not sources of
these qualities, they are not only valueless; they are dangerous. Feelings
can be placed into one of these categories: those that create energy and
those that exhaust it. Through this analysis man can begin to develop will.
The feeling that creates the greatest energy is love; in all its
manifestations for love is the primordial source of all existence, of all
sources of energy, harmony and knowledge. Manifested in terrestrial
nature it gives all that is necessary for health.
The three enemies of will are dispersion of energy, laziness and
sensuality. These three can lead to another formidable enemy of will:
disease. Good health is the will’s great friend. A dynamic healthy
individual commands, and the will obeys; whereas muscular pain or
nervous weakness paralyses the will. This was one of the reasons the
Essenes laid such stress on good health and the way of living and thinking
that produces health.
The practice of the Communions required continual exercise and
use of will. They considered every great value in human culture owes its
creation to the exercises of the will, and that the true values were only
produced by those who use the will.
Through their profound understanding of psychological forces the
Essenes Communions taught man the way of freedom, the way of
liberation from blind acceptance of negative conditions either in the
physical body or the mind. They showed the way of optimal evolution of
both mind and body.
“He assigned to man two spirits with which he should walk.
They are the spirits of truth and of falsehood, truth born out of the
spring of Light, falsehood from the well of darkness.
The dominion, of all the children of truth, is in the hands of the
Angels of Light so that they walk in the ways of Light.
The spirits of truth and falsehood struggle within the heart of man,
behaving with wisdom and folly.
And according as a man inherits truth so will he avoid darkness.
Blessings on all that have cast their lot with the Law, that walk
truthfully in all their ways.
May the Law bless them with all good and keep them from all evil,
and illuminate their hearts with the insight into the things of life
and grace them with knowledge of things eternal.”
From “The Manual of Discipline” of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
THE EARTHLY FORCES
The following are the meanings and uses of the earthly forces.
29
1)
The sun is a very important source of energy and its solar
power is to be contacted and utilised to the utmost every day in the form
that is best for the health and well being of the individual.
2)
Water is an essential element of life. It is to be used in the
proper way in diet and a bath in water is to be taken every morning
throughout the year.
3)
Air has a tremendous role in the health of the body and as
much time as possible is to be spent outdoors breathing pure fresh air and
utilizing the energies of the atmosphere for health.
4)
Food is to be of the right kind and taken in the right amount to
supply another vital force to the organism.
5)
Man was considered to be a force representing each one’s right and
responsibility toward his own evolution. Each individual is to use every
moment to further his progress in life and it is a job, which no one can do
for him. He is to know, and understand, his own potentialities and find the
most practical way of developing and utilizing then in the service of
mankind.
6)
Earth represents the two aspects of the generative force, which
creates more abundant life on the planet. The one creates life from the
soil, producing the trees and vegetation. The other manifests sexual
energies in man. The individual is to understand and utilise the most
optimal ways of growing plants and food, and of a harmonious sexual life.
7)
Health is dependant upon man’s harmonious relationship with all
the forces of earth, with the sun, water, air, food, man, earth and joy. The
individual is to realise the importance of good health for his own sake and
for the sake of others; and he is to practice all ways of improving his
health, in thinking, feeling and acting.
8)
Joy is man’s essential right and he is to perform all his daily
activities with a deep feeling of joy surging within him and radiating
around him, understanding its great importance for himself and others.
These are the forces of nature which man is to learn to understand and
utilize. The following eight powers of the cosmos are even more important
in man’s life, for he cannot live in complete harmony with the earthly
forces unless he is also in harmony with the heavenly powers.
THE COSMIC FORCES
1)
Power is manifested continually through man’s actions and deeds,
both of which are the result of his cooperation or lack of cooperation with
all the other powers and forces, in accord with the iron law of cause and
effect. The individual is to understand the importance of good deeds; and
he is to realize that his personality, position and environment in life are
the result of his past deeds, even as hit future will be exactly what his
present deeds make it. He is therefore to strive at all times to perform
good deeds that express harmony with the laws of both nature and the
cosmos.
2)
Love is expressed in the form of gentle and kind words to others,
which affect the individual’s, own health and happiness as well as that of
others. Sincere love toward all beings is to be manifested by harmonious
feelings and words.
30
3)
Wisdom is manifested in the form of good thoughts and it is man’s
privilege and right to increase his knowledge and understanding in every
way possible so that he may think only good thoughts. He is to seek to
grow in wisdom so as to understand more and more the cosmic order and
his own role in it. Only by attaining a degree of wisdom can an individual
learn to hold only good thoughts in his consciousness and to refuse to
entertain negative destructive thoughts about any person, place, condition
or thing.
4)
Preservation of values and concerns the power to preserve all that
is useful and of true value, whether a tree, plant, house, relationship
between people or harmony in any form. When anyone destroys, or lets
any good thing go to waste, deteriorate or be damaged, whether material
or immaterial, he is cooperating with the negative destructive forces of
the world. Every opportunity is to be used to prevent damage to whatever
has value.
5)
Creation signifies the necessity for man to use his creative powers,
since his role on the planet is to continue the work of the Creator. He is
therefore to try to do something original and creative, something new and
different, as often as he can, whether it is an invention of some kind, a
work of art, or anything, which will benefit others.
6)
Eternal Life concerns man’s sincerity with himself and others in all
he does and with all those whom he meets. He is to be deeply sincere in
analysing his relationship, his understanding and utilization of all the
forces of nature and the cosmos; and he is to make every effort to
evaluate himself honestly as he actually is without rationalizing or
justifying the things he does or says or thinks.
7)
Work is the precondition of many other values. It means the
performance of one’s daily tasks with care and efficiency. It is an
individual’s contribution to society and a precondition of happiness for all
concerned, for when one person does not perform his work properly,
others have to do it. Man is to learn to have a deep feeling of satisfaction
in his work so that he may return to society all he receives from it.
8)
Peace is to be created and maintained by every individual within
and around himself that he may be an instrument in helping to prevent
inharmony, enmity and wars, since the condition of the whole of humanity
depends upon the condition of its atoms, the individuals who compose it.
The individual is to feel deeply the need for this inner peace and to do all
he can to establish and maintain it wherever he is.
The person who evaluates himself according to these sixteen elements of
life will know clearly wherein his personal development may be improved,
and in what ways he can help more fully in the evolution of humanity.
By so doing he will move further toward his final goal, the goal toward
which all mankind is moving, union with the Heavenly Father.
“ I have reached the inner vision and through Thy spirit in me
I have heard Thy wondrous secret.
Through Thy mystic insight
Thou hast caused a spring of knowledge
To well up within me,
31
A fountain of power, pouring forth living waters,
A flood of love and all-embracing wisdom
Like the splendour of eternal Light.”
From “The Book Of Hymns” of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Dead Sea Scrolls
32
The Nazarene Way
~ The Modes of Prayer ~
The History, Philosophy and Practice
of Communication with God
Prayer is an offering of communication or praise to a God or other deities. The
existence of prayer is attested in written sources as early as 5000 years ago, and
anthropologists believe that the earliest intelligent humans practiced prayer as we
would recognize prayer today.
Prayer Practices: Introduction
The actual act of praying can take on many different outward forms. Most
religions or religious subgroups have certain forms that they recommend,
usually more than one; occasionally, there may be specific forms that are
forbidden. Prayer may be done privately and individually, or it may be
done corporately in the presence of fellow believers. Some outward acts
that sometimes accompany prayer are: ringing a bell; burning incense or
paper; lighting a candle or candles; facing a specific direction (i.e.
towards Mecca or the East) or making the sign of the cross.
A variety of body postures may be assumed, often with specific meaning
associated with them: standing; sitting; kneeling; prostrate on the floor;
eyes opened; eyes closed; hands folded or clasped; hands upraised; and
others. Prayers may be recited from memory, read from a book of
prayers, or composed spontaneously as they are prayed. They may be
said, chanted, or sung.
They may be with musical accompaniment or not. There may be a time
of outward silence while prayers are offered mentally. Often, there are
prayers to fit specific occasions, such as the blessing of a meal, the birth
or death of a loved one, other significant events in the life of a believer,
or days of the year that have special religious significance.
Details Corresponding to Specific Traditions.
The Sources of Hebraic/Christian religious traditions
In these traditions, prayer incorporates adoration, praise, petition,
thanksgiving, intercession, and communion. These are all found within the
Bible, which in both the Old and New Testaments contains many
examples of prayer and various instructions and teachings about prayer.
Prayer in the Old Testament
In the life of the patriarch Abraham prayer seems to have taken the form
of a dialogue--God and man drawing near and talking to each other (Gen
33
18, 19); developing into intercession (Gen 17:18; 18:23,32), and then
into personal prayer (Gen. 15:2; 24:12 ); Jacob, (Gen 28:20; 32:9-12,
24; Hos 12:4). The patriarchal blessings are called prayers (Gen 49:1;
Deut 33:11). Not very much prominence is given to formal prayer during
the period of the Law. Deut 26:1-15 seems to be the only one definitely
recorded.
Prayer had not yet found a stated place in the ritual of the law. It seems
to have been more of a personal than a formal matter, and so while the
Law may not afford much material, yet the life of the lawgiver, Moses,
abounds with prayer (Ex 5:22; 32:11; Num 11:11-15). Under (Joshua
7:6-9; 10:14), and the judges (Book of Judges 6:7) we are told that the
children of Israel "cried unto the Lord." Under Samuel prayer seems to
have assumed the nature of intercession (Books of Samuel 7:5, 12; 8:1618); personal (1 Sam 15:11, 35; 16:1). In Jer 15:1 Moses and Samuel
are
represented
as
offering
intercessory
prayer
for
Israel.
David seems to regard himself as a prophet and priest, and prays without
an intercessor (2 Sam 7:18-29). The book of Psalms is composed of
prayers, song verses and poems by various authors, with attribution to
David, and has been used by Jews and Christians for centuries, in
corporate and individual prayer. In the Psalms prayer takes the form of a
pouring out of the heart (e.g. 42:4; 62:8; 100:2). The psalmist does not
seem to go before God with fixed and orderly petitions so much as simply
to pour out his feelings and desires, whether sweet or bitter, troubled or
peaceful.
Consequently the prayers of the Psalmist consist of varying moods:
complaint, supplication, confession, despondency, praise. It is in the
Psalmist that is rooted the tradition of daily public prayer made within the
Church: "Seven times a day I have praised Thee" (119:164); also
"Evening and morning, and at noonday will I speak and declare..."
(55:18).
The prophets seem generally to have been intercessors, e.g., Elijah (1
Kgs 18). Yet personal prayers are found among the prophets (Jer 20 —
both
personal
and
intercessory;
33:3;
42:4;
Amos
7).
The neglect of prayer is grievous to the Lord (Isaiah 43:21-22; 64:6-7).
Many evils in life are to be attributed to the lack of prayer (Zep; Dan
9:13, 14, cf. Hos 7:13-14; 8:13-14). It is a sin to neglect prayer).
Prayer in the New Testament
•
•
•
•
To pray is a positive command (Col 4:2; 1 Thes 5:17); one is
commanded to take leisure or a vacation for prayer (1 Cor 7:5).
Prayer is God's appointed method by which we obtain what He has
to bestow (Dan 9:3; Mt 7:7-11; Mt 9:24-29; Lk 11:13).
The lack of the necessary blessings in life comes from failure to
pray (Jas 4:2).
The Apostles regarded prayer as the most important employment
that could engage their time or attention (Ac 6:4; Rom 1:9; Col 1:9).
34
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Lengthy passages of the New Testament are prayers or canticles,
such as Lk 1:46-55; Lk 1:68-79; Jn 17; and Eph 1:3-14.
The Apostles frequently incorporated verses from Psalms into their
writings. For example, Rom 3:10-18 is borrowed from Psalms 14:1-3 and
other psalms.
Jesus encourages the disciples to pray in secret in their private
rooms partly as a corrective to the ostentatious show of the Pharisees (Mt
6:6).
Prayer is a public office of the Church, seen from the earliest
moments (Ac 3:1).
Jesus frequently seeks to pray alone, for hours at a time, e.g. Lk
6:12.
Prayer of petition is found e.g. "And whatsoever you shall ask in
prayer, believing, you shall receive" (Mt 21:22).
References to contemplative prayer are found e.g. "Mary has
chosen the best part" (Lk 10:42).
Jewish Prayer
Prayers said by Jews are described in the entry on Jewish services. The prayers of the
Jewish services are collected in a prayer book called the Siddur. The most important
Jewish prayers are the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O Israel") and the Amidah ("the
standing prayer").
Christian Prayer
Liturgical
The Roman Catholic Mass is the oldest Christian liturgy.
Seasonal prayers such as found in the Breviary, which provides
prayer for each liturgical season including Advent, Christmas, Lent,
Easter, and Pentecost, as well as the other parts of the liturgical year. The
Breviary developed over the centuries. Different religious orders
sometimes have their own breviaries.
•
Prayer to saints: in Catholic and Orthodox tradition, prayers of
petition may be addressed to saints. This may be done at Mass, within the
Breviary, or privately during vocal prayer (see below). It is understood
that the saints answer such prayers by means of their own prayers to God
on behalf of the petitioner. Catholics often refer to this in connection with
the "treasury of merits"¹, and distinguish between latria, i.e. prayer of
sacrifice due to God alone, and dulia, or prayer of praise due only to a
creature such as a saint. Other Christians, mostly Protestants, reject the
notion of prayer to saints, and feel that it leads to polytheism.
•
Prayer for the dead: Roman Catholics believe that prayers for the
dead can diminish their suffering in Purgatory; for this reason, requiem
Masses are offered for the repose of the faithful departed. Eastern
Orthodoxy rejects the notion of Purgatory, but offers prayers for the dead
asking God to have mercy upon them; in particular it believes that
Christians who have fallen asleep remain part of the Church, and as such
are both able to pray and to receive the benefits of prayer for them,
•
•
35
whatever those may be. Protestants have historically rejected the notion
of prayer for the dead, believing that such prayers cannot affect the fate
of departed souls. The appeal of this sort of prayer to those in mourning
exerts constant pressure on this theological position, however. It is also
possible to pray for the dead in one's private vocal prayer, without the
prayer being part of a liturgy.
Vocal
Vocal prayer, of course, is prayer made with the lips, normally producing
sound. The Christian considers it necessary to make first some act of
recollection. The sign of the cross is an important first step. Liturgical
breviary prayer will normally entail prayers that (a) renounce distraction,
(b) request to be worthy to be heard, (c) request enlightenment, and (d)
request that one's prayers be united with the praises that Jesus offered,
e.g. "whilst Thou wast on earth".
If one is engaged in private prayer, a moment of recollection may be a
question of placing oneself in the right disposition; in all cases the
Christian strives to avoid mechanical prayer. Some prayers may
nonetheless sound mechanical, yet the Christian is normally pondering on
various levels while praying so that the prayer itself is not simply a
moving of lips. The rosary is a good example: while repeating the Hail
Mary there are mysteries of Jesus to be contemplated. The saints enjoin
their fellow Catholics to "consider who it is that you are addressing" (St.
Teresa of Avila) to be correctly disposed in prayer.
Vocal prayer may be prayer of petition, perhaps the simplest form of
prayer. Some have termed it the "social approach" to prayer. In this view,
a person beseeches God for a need to be fulfilled; God is thought to listen
to prayer and to be free to grant the request or not. Vocal prayer may
also subsume prayer of adoration, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and
communion.
Particularly common vocal prayers include the Lord's Prayer; the Psalms;
the Jesus Prayer; the Hail Mary; the Canticles throughout the Old and
New Testaments; Grace, a prayer of thanksgiving usually before,
sometimes after, a meal; and prayers associated with the rosary and the
prayer rope.
Meditative
This is prayer of a more interior character than vocal prayer would tend to
imply. Christian theology, e.g. St. John of the Cross, teaches that this
type of prayer is intended to help "obtain some knowledge and love of
God" (Ascent of Mount Carmel). In this prayer, "thought is subordinated
to love" (Gabriel, p. 449, see References below). A Christian seeking to
meditate may commence by reading from a holy book of some kind,
perhaps the Gospels or any spiritual book that seems suitable.
36
Then, when a suitably affective recollection takes hold, the book will be
gently laid aside, and the person will pray interiorly. The person may form
sentences mentally, or may simply bask in what the Christian would
consider the love of God. Christians are especially likely to select works
written by the Saints, as these are people who have already led lives of
prayer and left behind themselves writings intended to help others.
Subjects for meditation include any of the mysteries of Jesus or the
events described in the Gospels, or the presence of God in the subject
about which one has been reading. The Christian may meditate on the
condition of Man according to Christian theology: "Although I am but dust
and ashes, shall I speak to You, O Lord? Yes, from this vale of tears...I
dare to raise my eyes and fix them on You, supreme Goodness!" (St.
Peter of Alcantara)
Christians believe that the Gospels are actually true, so that one is
praying within the context of actual events and receiving actual graces. In
other words, Jesus, i.e. God, actually did die to effect our salvation, and
we really can be united with such a loving Father Who allowed His Son to
be sacrificed in expiation for the sins of Man; so awful is the sinfulness of
Man that such a sacrifice is necessary: these are the roots of Christian
meditation.
In other religions, a more general conception of truth or creation may
serve the same meditative end; the Christian would posit that the source
and the long-term result are different. Other religious traditions have a
meditative component, but the Christian believes that the source and
subject of the meditation is fact, not philosophy; the philosophy flows
from the facts for the Christian.
Prayer of Recollection
St. Theresa of Avila teaches that this is "the highest of the active forms of
prayer" that "depends upon our volition"; that is, it is not a given state of
prayer, as is contemplative prayer. In this prayer, we seek to
"concentrate entirely on God present within us, and there at His feet will
be able to converse with Him to our heart's delight" (Gabriel p. 457).
Again, the Catholic Eucharist is essential to understanding Christian
mystical experience.
The Catholic believes, with all the love his or her soul can open herself
[the soul is feminine in Christian theology] to experience, that God
literally comes to him or her in the humble form of the Eucharist. It is
within that theological setting that this prayer can be understood: God's
presence within us takes on a very real meaning for the mystics; and
those mystics teach furthermore that we are all called to that union with
God. The prayer of recollection, then, is the last volitional stage where the
soul can endeavor to be still and know that God Is.
37
Contemplative Prayer
The progression from vocal, to meditative, to contemplative prayer is not
a straight road, nor does the Christian travel in one direction. Rather, the
soul enters into contemplation, then returns to reflect in a more discursive
vein, and may suffer from distractions at any point along the way. This
stage of prayer, the mystics teach, is one into which God conducts the
soul. The person praying cannot will to enter into contemplation. A
modern exponent of the details is Fr. Thomas Dubay, who has a number
of books and videos about this subject.
St. John of the Cross teaches that this phase of prayer begins with
purifying aridity that marks the beginning of infused passive love that is
stronger than the love corresponding to the period during which the soul
received consolations, i.e. the prior experiences of prayer. Here, God does
the work of reaching to the soul, yet the soul must be sufficiently mature
to grow without requiring constant consolations.
Many of the Saints experienced years of dryness and spiritual desolation,
as God effectively tested their love for God. St. Pio, recently canonized,
prayed deeply over how difficult faith is; St. Therese of the Child Jesus
experienced years of agonizing dryness immediately after joining the
convent: these people became saints because their love for God gave
them perseverence, and they entered into contemplative prayer, and a
state of "loving attention to God". The soul is not passive during
contemplative prayer, but rather learns to keep that attention to God in a
loving way.
Charismatic Prayer
In the past 100 years a form of prayer has regained popularity amongst
Christians, called praying in tongues. According to practitioners, the Holy
Spirit comes into the body of the person praying and speaks on the
Christian's behalf in a celestial language. The person praying may later
deny any knowledge of what they said while praying. If done in public, it
may be followed by another person claiming to give an interpretation of
the prophecy, also through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Some deny that
this is a revival and suggest it is an innovation. A characteristic of this
prayer pattern is that people will make unusual sounds or adopt unusual
postures. For example, a person may emit shrieks, or may lie on the floor
face-up with the hands in an askew posture. It is a prayer pattern that
resembles quietism.
Eastern Religions Other than Christianity
Islamic Prayer
Muslims pray a brief prayer service called Salah in Arabic, facing Mecca,
five times a day. The Call for prayer is called Adhan or Azaan. Some of
the early Christians whom Mohammed observed and from whom he
38
adapted elements of his religion prayed in the posture for which Moslems
are now famous.
Bahá'í Prayer
Bahá'ís are required to recite each day one of three obligatory prayers
revealed by Baha'u'llah. The believers have been enjoined to face in the
direction of the Qiblih when reciting their Obligatory Prayers. The longest
obligatory prayer may be recited at any time of day; another, of medium
length, is recited once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the
evening; and the shortest is recited at noon.
This is the text of the short prayer:
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and
to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to
Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but
Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Bahá'ís also read from and meditate on the scriptures every morning and
evening. There are also many other revealed prayers in the Bahá'í
scriptures, most for general use at the choice of the individual and some
for specific occasions.
Hindu/Vedic Prayer
The Vedic faith system, known today as Hinduism, is known to stretch
back to around 3000 BCE. Over its lifetime, it has incorporated all sorts of
prayer systems from fire-based rituals to philosophical musings. Prayer
was part and parcel of the Vedic lifestyle, and as such permeated their
books.
Indeed, the highest sacred texts of the Hindus, the Vedas, are a large
collection of mantras (sacred hymns of Hindus, later adopted by
Buddhists) and prayer rituals extolling a single supreme force, Brahman,
that is made manifest in several lower forms as the familiar gods of the
Hindu pantheon.
Hindus in India have numerous devotional movements. Stemming from
the highest Creator God called Brahma, prayer is focused on His many
manifestations, including the most popular deities Shiva, Vishnu, Rama
and Krishna.
Before the process of ritual, before the invoking of different deities for the
fulfillment of various needs, came the human aspiration to the highest
truth, the foundational monism of Hinduism, pertaining ultimately to the
one Brahman. Brahman, which summarily can be called the unknowable,
true, infinite and blissful Divine Ground, is the source and being of all
existence from which the cosmos springs. This is the essence of the Vedic
system.
39
The following prayer was part and parcel of all the Vedic ceremonies and
continues to be invoked even today in Hindu temples all over India and
other countries around the world, and exemplifies this essence: "Asato Ma
Sad Gamaya/Tamaso Ma Joytir Gamaya/Mrityor Ma Amritam Gamaya/Om
Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi." This means: "O Lord Lead Us From The Unreal
To The Real,/Lead Us From Untruth To Truth,/ Lead Us From Darkness To
Light/ Lead Us From Death To Immortality/ AUM (the universal sound of
God) Let There Be Peace Peace Peace." (Rig Veda)
The Gayatri mantra is Hinduism's most representative prayer. Hindus
recite it on a daily basis, not only contemplating its straightforward
meaning, but also dwelling and imbibing its sound, regarded to be
pregnant with spiritual meaning. For this reason nearly all Hindu prayers
and mantras are sung.
The Gayatri was first recorded in the Rig Veda (iii, 62, 10) which was
written in Sanskrit about 2500 to 3500 years ago, and by some reports,
the mantra may have been chanted for many generations before that.
Having prayed for enlightenment and peace through unity with God, the
transcendental and final goal of the Hindu religion, the Vedas proceed to
lavish all sorts of encomia and praise of Brahman's many aspects, typified
by representative gods and goddesses that stem from one source.
The Upanishads
Around 1500 BCE or so, the first of the Upanishads came into existence.
These are also known as Vedanta (the end of the Vedas), informing all
that the Vedas find their culmination in the thought of the Upanishads.
For this reason, the Vedas and Upanishads, collectively known as the
Vedas, form the core of Hindu religion. The Upanishads expanded on the
monist framework and their terminology became more abstract, though
not completely divorced from the earlier Vedas.
All Upanishads start with a prayer, - prayer to the guardians of the
quarters, the deities or the manifestations of God, who rule the whole of
creation, that we be blessed with health and understanding in order to go
into the secrets of the Upanishads, to meditate upon them and to realise
the Truth proclaimed in them. "Om. That supreme Brahman is infinite,
and this conditioned Brahman is infinite. The infinite proceeds from
infinite. Then through knowledge, realizing the infinitude of the infinite, it
remains as infinite alone." (Mandukya Upanishad)
The Hindu Prayer Aum
Hindus believe that Aum is the enigmatic, universal, divine sound. It is
said to represent everything from the three (and ultimate fourth
transcending) states of consciousness to the Trinity of Hinduism. It is
analogous to the concept of the "word of God," but seems to transcend it
by maintaining that everything emanates from Aum, exists in Aum, and
ends in Aum. It is known as the pranava or root mantra of Hinduism.
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Included in all prayers, from the Vedas and onwards, regardless of the
nature of the prayer, it is the ultimate self-contained prayer for the Hindu
mind. Many sages of the Hindu tradition claimed (and still do) that if
nothing else, the lover of God could pray through that one sound alone.
The Upanishads define it in depth, and one such definition is as follows.
Bhakti Yoga, or the Yoga of Devotion
Described in the Bhagavad Gita (a sacred Hindu and Yoga scripture from
sometime between 500 to 200 BCE), Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and
devotion. On Bhakti Yoga: ";.... those who, renouncing all actions in Me,
and regarding Me as the Supreme, worship me... of those whose thoughts
have entered into Me, I am soon the deliverer from the ocean of death
and transmigration, Arjuna. Keep your mind on Me alone, your intellect on
Me. Thus you shall dwell in me hereafter." (B.G., Chapter 12, Verses 68).
It is essentially the process of enlightenment found through worship of
God, in whatever form one envisions. Prayer is achieved through pooja
(worship) done either at the family shrine or a local temple. We can see
from Krishna's injunction that prayer is fundamental to Hinduism, that to
dwell constantly on God is key to enlightenment. Prayer repitition
(through mantras) using maalaas (Hindu prayer beads) are a strong part
of Hinduism.
Hindus in India have numerous devotional movements. Stemming from
the highest Creator God called Brahman, prayer is focused on His many
manifestations, including primarily Shiva and Vishnu. Some other
extremely popular deities are the Lords Krishna and Rama (incarnations
of Vishnu), Ma Kali (Mother Kali, the feminine deity, or Mother Goddess,
aka Durga, Parvati, Shakti, etc.) and Lord Ganesh (the famous elephantheaded God of wisdom). It is epitomised by the devotion of the monkey
God Hanuman for his Lord Rama. Another major form of prayer for Hindus
involves a heavy focus on meditation, through Hindu yoga that stills the
mind in order to focus on God.
Buddhism
The religion of Buddhism, well known for being non-theistic, for the most
part utterly discards worship and places devotional emphasis on the
practice of meditation alongside scriptural study. Although God and
deities are recognized as present, Gautama Buddha claims it is mankind
who by their own free will possess the greatest capacity and potential to
liberate themselves and are urged to do so without exterior assistance.
Therefore, prayer is not as central to devotion as in its neighbouring
Asiatic faiths. In some later Mahayana related practices, especially Pure
Land Buddhism, there is an emphasis on prayer-like mantras that are
recited by devotees.
41
Prayer in Jainism
Although Jains believe that no spirit or divine being can assist them on
their path, they do hold some influence, and on special occasions, Jains
will pray and meditate for right knowledge to the twenty-four
Tirthankaras (saintly teachers).
Philosophy of Prayer
Christian Philosophy of Prayer
For the Christian, union with God is a paramount purpose of religion. A
Christian believes that God Himself came to earth in the person of Jesus
to provide a religion, for which the Hebrew faith was preparation. A
Christian further believes that God is actually seeking union with His
creature, Man. Within the religion given by Jesus, prayer is the expression
of the soul seeking to speak with God as two friends may converse. As
friends may converse in various forms, at times using words, at times in
each others' silent mutual company, so may a person pray.
St. Therese explains: "For me, prayer is an uplifting of the heart, a glance
toward heaven, a cry of gratitude and of love in times of sorrow as well as
of joy" (Story of a Soul). The Christian seeks to raise the mind as well as
the heart to God. Prayer, as discourse with a friend, is not constrained,
but rather is spontaneous.
Certain prayer events are organized, of course, as in the case of the
Breviary, or the Mass, or other liturgical events; yet even during such
events the specific discourse between the soul and God may be
spontaneous. A Psalm, for example, may offer different meanings
depending on the mood of the person praying. For the Christian, prayer is
love, and to "Pray always" (Lk 18:1) is to love always.
The Christian grows spiritually through the life of prayer. A classic way to
distinguish among phases of growth is three-fold: beginners start on the
"purgative way", later comes the "illuminative way" with "affective
prayer", and eventually one may experience the "unitive way".
Christians who have been especially helpful in developing an
understanding of prayer include St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of
Avila, both Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. In the purgative way,
the Christian attempts to leave behind a life of sin, for "sin is iniquity" (Jn
3:4). The Christian is enjoined to recall that "my sin is always before me"
(Psalms 51:5). Growth toward holiness is ongoing, as the Apostle writes
"he that is holy let him be sanctified still" (Apoc 22:11). Next, in the
illuminative way, the soul seeks the imitation of Christ to "have the light
of life" (Jn 8:12).
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There is a famous book by Thomas A Kempis titled The Imitation of
Christ. While in purgative prayer one is mostly engaged in vocal prayer, in
the illuminative way one tends to be more affective along the lines
suggested by St. Therese, above. Affective prayer of this sort may best
permit us to fulfill the command "always to pray and not to faint" (Lk
18:1). Last, in the unitive way the soul now seeks to say "I live now not I;
but Christ livith in me!" (Gal 2:20). For Roman Catholics, the Eucharist is
a key expression of this union with Jesus.
Other religions may share aspects of this seeking of
union with God.
Inter-religious attempts to understand prayer
Over time a number of attempts to re-conceptualize prayer have evolved
among philosophers and branches of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian
communities. Medieval neo-Platonic and neo-Aristotelian philosophers
influenced prayer, and their influence is felt to this day. One can find
much intellectual cross-fertilization between Jews, Christians and Muslims
during parts of the middle-ages, and some convergence among the
philosophers of that era. A convergence is sought by modern
philosophers, and indeed a number of philosophical questions emerge
within Humanism and other schools of thought involving prayer to an
omnipotent God, namely:
If a person deserves God to give him the thing he prays for, why doesn't
God give it to him, even without prayer? And if a person is not deserving
of it, then even if that person does pray and request it, should it be given
just because of his prayer? Why should it be necessary to pray with
speech? Doesn't God know the thoughts of all people? If God is
omniscient (all-knowing) then doesn't God know what we are going to ask
Him for even before we pray? How can a human being hope to change
God's mind? Why should human prayers affect God's decisions? Do
human beings actually have the ability to praise an omniscient and
omnipotent God? Praising God is difficult to do without describing God,
yet how can a finite human being know anything about God's ultimate
nature? This question was the subject of heated debate among many
religious philosophers; one such debate took place in the 14th century
between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam of Calabria.
Christian theology provides ready answers to such questions. For
example, God doesn't simply give a person what he needs in such a
manner as to obviate prayer because God is concerned that Man has
turned away from God; God knows what Man needs, and the primary
thing Man needs is to turn to the Creator, Who is perfect love and all
good.
This idea has its roots in the Fall, that Man fell from grace through the sin
of pride. God, in his mercy, continues the theology, has given Man a
chance to return to God, and prayer is an act by which Man shows his
43
good will to God. A similar answer is available to why God knows what we
are going to pray before we pray: indeed He does know, but He has the
right to insist that we orient ourselves rightly. And after all, we don't
know what we are going to do until we do it, so we can make ourselves
pray, as we act in time, such that we act conclusively in a way that shows
our love for God.
Why should it be necessary to pray with speech? It isn't: Christian prayer
subsumes affective and contemplative prayer that is effectively
speechless. How can a human hope to change God's mind? God is outside
of time and already knows the outcome, but we act within time, and must
act with true charity, which we show through prayer. Do we have the
ability to praise our Creator? Indeed, much as we might praise our own
parents. Praise of God is praise of God's infinite glory and goodness; it is
certainly true that we can never praise God enough.
For this reason one can always go further in the unitive way. Indeed, the
theologians affirm that to stop going forward toward God is to commence
slipping backward. All of the foregoing could be richly footnoted with
points from Scripture, the Summa, Denziger, and the Church Fathers.
Nonetheless these questions have been discussed in Jewish, Christian and
Muslim writings from the medieval period onward. The 900s to 1200s saw
some of the most fertile discussion on these questions, during the period
of Neo-Platonic and Neo-Aristotelian philosophy. Discussion of these
problems never ceased entirely, but they did fall mostly from the public
view for several centuries, until The Enlightenment reignited philosophical
inquiry into theological issues.
All of these questions have been discussed in many Jewish, Christian and
Muslim religious texts. Stemming from these discussions, one may
glimpse various concepts or approaches to understanding prayer, in a way
that may be thought to transcend any specific religious tradition.
Philosophical Speculation and Kabbalah
An educational conceptualization of prayer posits that it is not a
conversation with God. Rather, it is meant to inculcate certain attitudes in
the one who prays, but not to influence God. Among Jews, this has been
the approach of Rabbenu Bachya, Yehuda Halevy, Joseph Albo, Samson
Raphael Hirsch, and Joseph Dov Soloveitchik. This view is expressed by
Rabbi Nosson Scherman in the overview to the Artscroll Siddur (p.XIII);
note that Scherman goes on to also affirm the Kabbalistic view (see
below).
A rationalist understanding of prayer is that it helps train a person to
focus on God through philosophy and intellectual contemplation. This
approach was taken by Maimonides and the other medieval rationalists; it
became popular in Jewish, Christian and Islamic intellectual circles, but
never became the most popular understanding of prayer among the laity
in any of these faiths. In all three of these faiths today a significant
minority of people still hold to this approach.
44
The experiential concept of prayer is to enable the person praying to gain
a direct experience of God (or as close to direct as a specific theology
permits). This approach is very significant in Christianity and widespread
in Judaism (although less popular theologically). In Eastern Orthodoxy,
this approach is known as hesychasm. It is also widespread in Sufi Islam,
and in some forms of mysticism. It has some similarities with the
rationalist approach, since it can also involve contemplation, although the
contemplation is not generally viewed as being as rational or intellectual.
It also has some similarities with the Kabbalistic view, but it lacks the
Kabbalistic emphasis on the importance of individual words and letters.
People involved with kabbalah (esoteric Jewish mysticism) often reject
rationalist reinterpreations of prayer outright, but they also reject the
social approach, in which prayer is viewed as a dialogue with God.
Instead, this approach ascribes a higher meaning to the purpose of
prayer, which is no less than affecting the very fabric of reality itself,
restructuring and repairing the universe in a real fashion. For Kabbalists,
every prayer, every word of every prayer, and indeed, even every letter
of every word of every prayer, has a precise meaning and a precise
effect.
In Kabbalah and related mystical belief systems, adherents claim intimate
knowledge about the way in which God relates to us and the physical
universe in which we live. For people with this view, prayers can literally
affect the mystical forces of the universe and repair the fabric of creation.
Among Jews, this approach has been taken by the Hassidei Ashkenaz, the
Zohar, the Kabbalist school of though created by the Ari, the Ramchal,
most of Hassidism, the Vilna Gaon, and rabbis such as Yaakov Emden and
Kalonimus Shapira. In the 1800s some European Christians were
influenced by Kabbalah.
Epistemological Issues Raised by Christian Prayer
Geoffrey K. Mondello (see References below) writes that because mystical
experience is a certain historical fact, and given the facticity and logic of
writers such as St. John of the Cross, religious mystical experience is not
irrational exuberance but is rather "a profoundly rational experience" with
consequences for the structure of knowledge.
A dimension of this influence on knowledge is the extent to which the
purgative process rectifies our relationship to God which "has become, as
it were, eccentric; that is to say, God is no longer central to ordinary
consciousness [after the Fall], but rather exists on its periphery as only
one of a multiplitity of notions competing to varying degrees for primacy
in consciousness..."
This implies that the theological story of Christianity has no disjunction
with reality, that the Christian contemplatives reveal that knowledge is
rooted in that story. For example, "the finite not only can be, but as a
matter of course is accommodated to the infinite without engendering any
45
contradiction whatever." Christian mystical experience, then, borne in a
life of prayer as described above (purgative - illuminative - unitive), has a
mutually validating relationship to knowledge.
Prayer and Alternative Medicine
Several alternative medicine studies have claimed that patients who pray
for their health or are being prayed for recover more quickly or more
frequently. One such study includes "Positive therapeutic effects of
intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population", a double-blind
study that shows with a p-value of 0.0001 that intercessory prayer to the
Judeo-Christian god had a positive effect on a coronary care unit
population.
Critics have attributed this recovery to the placebo effect. Typically, the
scientific establishment ignores studies of the occult and esoteric, but in
1999, media reports on prayer studies prompted a comprehensive review
of such studies in The Lancet. The result: "Even in the best studies, the
evidence of an association between religion, spirituality, and health is
weak and inconsistent."
A 2001 double-blind study of the Mayo Clinic found no significant
difference in the recovery rates between people who were (unbeknownst
to them) assigned to a group that prayed for them (five people praying
once a week for 26 weeks), and those who were not. In 2003, a second
MANTRA study by Duke University contradicted the first MANTRA study's
findings that intercessory prayer improved recovery rates in heart
patients.
A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health in the
United States, found that in 2002, 43 percent of Americans pray for their
own health, 24% pray for others health, and 10% participate in a prayer
group for their own health.
Historical Polytheistic Prayer
In Graeco-Roman paganism, ceremonial prayer was highly formulaic and
ritualized. The Iguvine Tables contain a supplication that can be
translated, "If anything was said improperly, if anything was done
improperly, let it be as if it were done correctly."
The formalism and formulaic nature of these prayers led them to be
written down in language that may have only been partially understood
by the writer, and our texts of these prayers may in fact be garbled.
Prayers in Etruscan were used in the Roman world by augurs and other
oracles long after Etruscan became a dead language. The Carmen Arvale
and the Carmen Saliare are two specimens of partially preserved prayers
that seem to have been unintelligible to their scribes, and whose language
is full of archaisms and difficult passages.
46
Roman prayers and sacrifices were often envisioned as legal bargains
between deity and worshipper. The Roman formula was do ut des: "I
give, so that you may give in return." Cato the Elder's treatise on
agriculture contains many examples of preserved traditional prayers; in
one, a farmer addresses the unknown deity of a possibly sacred grove,
and sacrifices a pig in order to placate the god or goddess of the place
and beseech his or her permission to cut down some trees from the
grove.
47
~ The Art of Meditation ~
The Strategies, Purpose, and Applications of Meditation
Meditation usually refers to a state of extreme relaxation, in which
the body is generally at rest and the mind quieted of all surface
thoughts. Several major religions include ritual meditation;
however, meditation itself need not be a religious or spiritual
activity. It is widely thought to be of Eastern origin.
Meditation is closely akin to prayer and worship, wherein the practitioner
turns spiritual thoughts over in the mind and engages the brain in higher
thinking processes. The goal in this case is the receipt of spiritual insights
and new understanding.
Strategies common to many forms
Meditation generally involves avoiding wandering thoughts and fantasies,
and calming and focusing the mind. Meditation does not necessarily
require effort and can be experienced as "just happening". Physical
postures include sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and walking
(sometimes along designated floor patterns). Quiet is often desirable, and
some people use repetitive activities such as deep breathing, humming or
chanting to help induce a meditative state.
Purposes of Meditation
The purposes for which people meditate vary almost as widely as
practices. It may serve simply as a means of relaxation from a busy daily
routine, a means of gaining insight into the nature of reality or a means of
communing with a God or Deity. Many have found improved health,
concentration, awareness, self-discipline and equanimity through
meditation. The self-disciplining aspect of meditation plays a central role
in most types of Buddhism.
Health Applications of Meditation
Meditation has entered the mainstream of health care as a method of
stress and pain reduction. For example, in an early study in 1972,
transcendental meditation was shown to effect the human metabolism by
lowering the biochemical byproducts of stress, such as lactate (lactic
acid), and by decreasing heart rate and blood pressure and inducing
favorable brain waves. (Scientific American 226: 84-90 (1972)
As a method of stress reduction, meditation is often used in hospitals in
cases of chronic or terminal illness to reduce complications associated
with increased stress including a depressed immune system. There is a
growing consensus in the medical community that mental factors such as
48
stress significantly contribute to a lack of physical health, and there is a
growing movement in mainstream science to fund and do research in this
area (e.g. the establishment by the NIH in the U.S. of 5 research centers
to research the mind-body aspects of disease.)
Dr. James Austin, a neurophysiologist at the University of Colorado,
reported that Zazen or Zen meditation rewires the circuitry of the brain in
his landmark book Zen and the Brain. This has been confirmed using
sophisticated imaging techniques which examine the electrical activity of
the brain.
Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind-Body Medical Institute, which is affiliated
with Harvard and several Boston hospitals, reports that meditation
induces a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body
collectively referred to as the "relaxation response." The relaxation
response includes changes in metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood
pressure, and brain chemistry.
Jesus and Meditation
Jesus often left his apostles and the crowds to distance himself in the
wilderness areas of Palestine to engage in long periods of dynamic-mind,
spiritual meditation wherein he communicated with God. The 40 days
following his baptism were spent in such a manner.
Samadhi
In the Samadhi or Shamatha, or concentrative, techniques of meditation,
the mind is kept closely focused on a particular word, image, sound,
person, or idea. This form of meditation is often found in Buddhist and
Hindu traditions including Yoga, as well as in Medieval Christianity, Jewish
Kabbalah, and in some modern metaphysical schools. Eknath Easwaran
developed another, related, method. He called it "passage meditation" -silent repetition in the mind of memorized inspirational passages from the
world's great religions. Easwaran believe that, "The slow, sustained
concentration on these passages drives them deep into our minds; and
whatever we drive deep into consciousness, that we become."
Mindful Awareness Traditions
Vipassana and anapanasati are parts of broader notion of mindful
awareness, which is part of the Noble Eightfold Path, the ultimate goal in
Buddhism that leads to Enlightenment, and expounded upon the in the
Satipatthana sutta. While in anapanasati meditation attention is focused
on the breath, in vipassana, however, the mind is trained to be acutely
aware of not only breathing, but all things that one comes to experience.
The concept of vipassana works in believing that the meditator's mind will
eventually take note of every physical and mental experience "real-time"
or as it happens, the goal being that it will gradually reveal to the
49
practitioner how one's mind unknowingly attaches itself to things that are
impermanent in nature. Thus, when such things cease to exist, one
experiences the suffering from its loss. This very wisdom, achievable
solely through vipassana meditation, in turn gradually frees one's mind
from the attachment that is the root of suffering.
For one practicing this form of meditation, it is also very important to note
that the wisdom presents itself into the mind of meditator only when
he/she is NOT thinking but yet possessing an acute awareness of what
goes on in their mind, body and surrounding. The nature of vipassana is
sophisticated; one may desire a veteran instructor to provide initial
guidance.
In other words, in Vipassana (insight, or seeing things as they are)
meditation, the mind is trained to notice each perception or thought that
passes without "stopping" on any one. This is a characteristic form of
meditation in Buddhism, especially in some Theravada traditions, and is
also a component of Zazen, the term for meditation practice in Zen.
However, in at least some forms of vipassana, one does not attend to
whatever perceptions arise, but purposely moves one's attention over
their body part by part, checking for perceptions, being aware and
equanimous with them, and moving on. This form of meditation has some
resemblance with "choiceless awareness" — the kind of meditation that J.
Krishnamurti addressed.
Specific Traditions
Specific classifications include:
Observation (e.g., exploring the mind and all its thoughts)
Focus (e.g., exploring one thought to the exclusion of all else)
Trance (experiencing emptiness)
Theravada Buddhist practice involves both Samadhi and Vipassana,
as well as the developing of "loving kindness" (Metta).
•
Zen Buddhism practices Zazen, similar to Vipassana.
•
Abrahamic Traditions practice forms of meditation that use God,
Saints and/or Prophets as concentration focus
•
Some people, including the controversial Guru Rajneesh (also
known as "Osho"), taught forms of "Dynamic Meditation" that involve
violent exercise and hyperventilation, akin to aerobic exercise or those
like the Sufi whirling.
•
Meditation based on questioning "Who am I" draws from various
traditions, especially Vipassana, Insight Meditation, Zazen, and with the
express purpose of getting to know one's true nature, and/or experiencing
Kensho, Satori, Enlightenment. This method teaches to be wary of trancelike states of relaxation, and advocates intense inquiry into the nature of
thought, mind, ego, self, and desire.
•
Jesus-style, dynamic-mind, spiritualized meditation engages the
spiritized creative consciousness and full awareness. The mind and
thinking processes are expanded rather than shut down, by-passed,
•
•
•
•
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distracted, or dulled. The only requirements are sincerity, persistence,
and God-consciousness.
•
Other styles of meditation incorporate physical fatigue, fasting,
psychic dissociation, profound aesthetic experiences, vivid impulses, fear,
anxiety, wild dancing, or psychotropic drugs to initiate "mystic
communion". Often these trancelike states of visionary consciousness are
considered as a religious experience or spiritually enlightening.
On every mountaintop of intellectual thought are to be found relaxation
for the mind, strength for the soul, and communion for the spirit. From
such vantage points of high living, man is able to transcend the material
irritations of the lower levels of thinking -- ego, worry, jealousy, envy,
revenge, and the pride of immature personality. These high-climbing souls
deliver themselves from a multitude of the crosscurrent conflicts of the
trifles of society, thus becoming free to attain consciousness of the higher
currents of spirit concept and celestial communication through the art of
meditation.
51
ON HEALING - FROM AN ESSENE PERSPECTIVE
We praise the healers of the Earth,
They who know the secrets of the herbs and plants
To the healers has the Angel of Earth
Revealed her ancient knowledge.
The Lord has created medicines out of the Earth
And he that is wise shall use them.
Was not the water made sweet with wood,
That the virtue thereof might be known?
And to certain of the brothers and sisters He has given skill
That the Law might be honored and fulfilled.
With such do they heal humankind,
And take away their pains,
And of their works there is no end;
And from them is peace over all the Earth.
Then give place to the healers, and honor them,
For the Heavenly Father has created them:
Let them not go from thee, for thou has need of them.
.
Wisdom has been created before all things.
One may heal with goodness,
One may heal with justice,
One may heal with herbs,
One may heal with the Wise Word,
Amongst all the remedies,
This one is the healing one
That heals with the Wise Word.
This one it is that will best drive away sickness
From the bodies of the faithful,
For Wisdom is the best healing of all remedies.
To follow the holy Law is the crown of Wisdom,
Making peace and perfect health to flourish,
Both which are the gifts of the Angels.
52
Essene Technique of the Great Gratitude
One of the keys of respect, and therefore of inner
happiness and enlightenment, is to learn to be grateful
and to say thank you with gratitude and right
understanding. You will certainly tell me that sometimes
there is really nothing to say thank you for, and that it
cultivates a naive, passive, and weak attitude. In truth,
gratitude is everything except weakness. It opens
the door to a higher knowledge and science. An act
which comes from gratitude is always beneficial and
beautiful. Not knowing how to say thank you is
absolutely not a strength; it is a weakness. One who is a
prisoner of discontent is plunged into negative states of
mind which steal his force and energy from him.
The phrase "thank you" is not merely a polite
convention; it is above all a truly magical phrase, a
sacred incantation, a powerful mantra which was
transmitted to all peoples by the greatest spiritual
teachers and their enlightened students. Yes, many
customs of life that we practice unconsciously were
originally instituted by beings of light who wanted to help
humanity. The phrase "thank you" has the power to
open the consciousness and to awaken into true
wealth. Those who know to say thank you when they
are plunged into trials prove their inner value and
connection with the higher consciousness. Such a thank
you should come from a clear consciousness and a
perfect knowledge of the laws of life. Then, it possesses
the alchemical power to transform situations and states
of mind.
Correctly pronounced, it has also the virtue of purifying the
terrestrial soul and the relationships among beings. To say
thank you to someone is to purify the atmosphere
between you and this person. It sometimes clears up karmic
links and difficult situations. "Thank you" has a liberating
power; it makes detachment, letting go, and pardon
possible. It can become a true blessing for oneself and others;
it can be a bulwark against dark forces which often want to
interfere in our lives in order to slyly perturb, complicate, and
destroy everything. A solid foundation--on which it becomes
possible to build a useful, harmonious, rich, and conscious life-can also be established in the psychological life through
gratitude.
The virtues of gratitude are too numerous to describe them all;
53
it is simplest to know them from experience by putting
gratitude into practice. Indeed, we need a new perception of
the world, much more spiritual and subtle. It is in the
invisible world that "thank you" takes on all its dimensions. Of
course, if we live without spirituality, without consciousness, if
we turn our backs on the invisible world, then I admit that
"thank you" can become a weakness: for a brute, to say thank
you is to die. But I think we haven't come to that yet.
For those who are aware of their
spirituality, and therefore of the subtle
part of their beings and of life, to say
thank you is to increase the intensity of
life. Discontent narrows life, whereas
gratitude dilates, enlarges, increases
happiness, and opens the doors of
infinity, of love. Those who receive love
with gratitude receive it twice, whereas
one who is discontent loses it. Gratitude
is an art of tasting life with relish; it is
also an intelligence of acceptance and
work on oneself. The pampered child
cannot be joyful, as it believes that
everything is due to it. To live a lie is to
sentence oneself to misfortunes and
disillusion.
I am convinced that happiness depends on our attitude
with life. If your "thank you" contains all of heaven, then it
can become a fabulous prayer and gift of love. One who
pronounces such a "thank you" understands that nothing
belongs to him on the earth, and that everything is a gift from
higher beings who take care of him. Even his body, his
thoughts, his desires do not belong to him. To say thank you
for all of these blessings is to enter the path of acquiring them
truly, and of making something positive from them. When
"thank you" is transformed into prayer, it acquires the power to
triumph over all of the dark forces and negative states of mind
which poison life.
More and more, the world resembles a jungle infested with
insects and strange animals. To find oneself in situations where
dark states of mind invade the consciousness and the
sensitivity like a cloud of mosquitoes happens more and more
frequently. We do not know any more how to escape these
destructive states. The great "thank you"--the one which knows
the path to the higher invisible world--can deliver us. I repeat
myself, for it is important for me: the "thank you" which
soars toward the heavens with respect and gratitude is
the most beautiful prayer. Now it is the efficient prayer that
delivers human beings from the ascendancy of dark forces and
54
negative states of mind. The word "gratitude" also means
rebirth to oneself. We must finally understand that we have
allowed an artificial way of life which increases the negative to
develop. This is why, in the future and even in the present, the
techniques of inner alchemy will be more and more
indispensable. Without them, it will be impossible to struggle
and to keep one's dignity, one's treasure of soul, one's beauty.
We must reinvent a new way of living on the earth in order to
regain the forces of soul which open the doors of heaven and
illumination. This is a necessity for the future.
When human beings carry heaven and
earth within themselves, no negative
forces can enter them. Understand me
well: for me, discontent is a negative
force. Of course, there is a beneficial
discontent which allows us to get down
to work again and to reach perfection,
but this discontent is temperate and
controlled; it is a tool of creativity. I am
not speaking about this one, but about
the one which gets into the soul and
leads it to servitude, by closing the doors
of
higher
intelligence.
"Thank you" is a word which unites
heaven and earth. When the "thank
you" is sincere and filled with the force of
life, it has the power to touch and
awaken the intimate center which is in
the stomach and that the Japanese call
the "hara". Real force comes from the
deep "thank you" which touches the
center of the being and unites
heaven and earth. One who knows how
to say thank you to the earth finds the
foundation of psychological life. The
earth cleans, purifies, and heals him of
many psychological troubles, and even of
physical diseases, for both are basically
linked.
One who knows how to say thank you to the intelligence of
heaven finds the direction and the goal of his life. It is a light
which enlightens with true knowledge. All we need is to get
down to work. Many things in our lives depend on the way we
direct our energies.
Intelligence absolutely does not rest in swallowing in parrot
fashion, but in the ability to understand the positive meaning of
one's life and to walk in this direction for the good of oneself,
others, and the world. Everyone on earth should offer their
55
sincere and warm thanks to all beings--not to the little artificial
self in them, but to the Nameless One, who is present
everywhere. The acknowledgement of the divine, of the
sublime, of the infinite, of the immortal, through human beings
and through the Whole, is the perfection of the "thank you".
I am now going to teach you an old Essene technique.
56
Old Essene Exercise of Purification and Health
Stand in living nature, between the earth and the sky.
Feel the earth under your feet; feel how the earth carries you
and holds you up.
Feel the infinite sky above you; it inspires, straightens, and
elevates you.
In the sky, think of the origin of your spirit and of your
intelligence.
In the sky, think of the origin of your eternal soul, of the
higher universal consciousness.
In the earth, think of the origin of your terrestrial soul, of your
individual consciousness.
Feel yourself as a living union of the forces of the sky and the
earth, of the infinite and the development.
Kneel on the ground, and with your right hand, dig a little hole
in the earth.
Put your hands together in front of the center of your chest
(mystical heart), in the sign of prayer and inner union with
heaven and earth within you.
In this sacred posture, let a beautiful light, a force, a presence
of the heaven flow through you: the omnipresence of the
Father of all living beings. You can imagine a diamond light,
transparent like pure water.
Bend down with love before Mother Earth, and place your
hands around the little hole. Bend down completely so that
your mouth is laid on your hands.
Offer then by your word the "thank you" of heaven to Mother
Earth; offer also the "thank you" of your heart, and, through
it, the "thank you" of the heart of humanity.
Pronounce the words
"Mother Earth, I offer you the "thank you"
of my heart and, through it, the "thank
you" of the heart of all men and women.
May all beings that you carry within your
bosom, nurture, protect, and let grow be
blessed."
Stretch yourself out on the ground and
abandon yourself totally to the earth. That
your body and your soul born from it be
one with the Mother-Earth and her hidden
splendor.
Think and say:
"Mother Earth, take all of my illnesses and my faults according
your will, so that I may receive the blessing of the heavenly
57
Spirit to transmit it to all living beings according his will."
Remain in silent communion while letting the earth purify you
completely.
Rise to your knees again, and put your hands together in front
of the rose of the sun of the heart.
Think in your spirit, feel in your soul, and say with your force of
life:
"With love and gratitude,
I offer my loving "thank you" filled with light.
To the Mother Earth, thank you;
To the water of life, thank you;
To the precious air, thank you;
To the sacred fire, thank you;
To the stable minerals, thank you;
To the plants, thank you;
To the animals, thank you;
To humanity walking on the path of evolution, thank you;
To all of the angels, thank you;
To the cosmic intelligence which created my thought, thank
you;
To the ocean of love which created my sensibility, thank you;
To the universal life which impregnated my future with the seed
of individuality, thank you;
To all of the beings of the world, I give my "thank you" within
Him, the unique Source who unites all beings within the origin
and the goal."
Fold your arms on your chest, bow slightly your head, and
pronounce the word of conclusion: "Amen".
Then, refill the hole that you had dug to speak to the Mother of
the world.
By practicing such exercises, which are totally suitable
for our contemporary life, you will notice that you receive
a force of balance and harmony which lets you remain
more centered and be more yourself in life. The
technique of gratitude allows one to develop a finer
sensitivity to the higher world. Not an unhealthy
sentimentality, but an awakening which makes one
become more lucid, more strong, more fair. Our life is
our life; it is we who have to live it, and no-one else. But
it is obvious that, in order to live it in a beautiful way, we
need force and lucidity. The technique of gratitude allows
one to gain these and more.
One is generally afraid of sensibility, because one thinks
that the more sensible a person is, the more he/she is
unhappy and ill. Of course, if the "thank you" is not right,
it can make one ill, because the energies are not directed
toward the sky of the spirit, but remain unconscious and
58
too personal. The one who thinks he/she is the center of
the world while saying thank you only expresses a dead
conventional polite phrase in order to hide the true being
he/she is, for the sake of appearances.
The true "thank you" opens the perception of
beauty, wisdom, greatness, and love. If the human
being no longer perceives the reality of this omnipresent
higher world, then he is lost. It is only a matter of time;
downfall is inevitable. Only a right cultivation of a higher
sensibility can lead humanity toward a real evolution of
light and harmony, and enable it to overcome all trials
and temptations.
A source of well-being and intense beneficial life is to
offer oneself moments of solitude when harmony
with all of the forces of original good can be
cultivated in silence and calm, and when the magical
phrase of the great "thank you" can be spoken. One can
then share all this with others through simple acts,
friendly words, smiles filled with a light and a warmth
which come from a world where the human reigns
59
Essene Invocation-Meditation
for a Culture of Respect in the World
From the very beginning, initiatic science has taught to
all human beings and to all peoples the secrets of prayer,
invocation and active meditation, in order to make
positive forces come down into one's own body, one's life
and the atmosphere of one's community, land, of
humanity and the earth.
I give here a prayer-invocation-meditation, the goal of
which is to call within oneself and within the soul of
the world the presence of the angel of respect, so
that all beings can become sane and joyous.
This prayer-invocation-meditation has a magical power
which purifies thought, the heart and the destiny. It must
be pronounced with respect, consciousness and love. It is
good to cultivate within the right attitude, a state of calm
before the pronunciation.
Through the light of my awakened thought,
Through the heat of my heart,
Through the force of my consciousness, of my pure
intention,
Of my sincerity and of my understanding,
I call the Angel of Respect.
Angel of Respect, servant of the cosmic intelligence,
I aspire to enter your School of devotion.
Come and establish your dwelling in my thought,
My heart, my life and my deeds.
I want to become faithful to you in love
And to set the seal on a saintly alliance with you.
(A few seconds of meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits the earth,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the
earth.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all
beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
60
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the water,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the water.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the breath,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the breath.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the fire,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the fire.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the sky,
61
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the sky.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the living thought,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the living thought.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the immortal being who inhabits
the living knowledge,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the
I who animates the living knowledge.
It is my inner guide and the sacred
presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
You are the one who sees without
being seen,
Hears without being heard,
Understands without being understood,
Gives without receiving.
You are the invisible, the supreme and
perfect.
I want to see you,
62
To hear you,
To understand you,
To welcome you,
And to offer you my respect,
veneration, and love.
Without you,
No one sees,
No one hears,
No one understands,
No one gives,
No one receives.
Within you I want to be.
Within you I am.
(Meditation and inner silence.)
May the earth be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the water be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the breath be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the fire be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the sky be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the living thought be blessed within the presence IAm.
May the living knowledge be blessed within the presence
I-Am.
May the sacred traditions of the peoples be blessed
within the presence I-Am.
May the humanity of light be blessed within the presence
I-Am.
May all beings be blessed, find happiness and peace
within the sacred presence I-Am.
OM
AMIN
ATA OUMON
Feast of St. John, June 2000.
63
Advice for Healthy Eating -- The Hidden Virtues of
Food
Excerpt
Wheat is an excellent food. Eating it frequently can give
you its specific properties: gentleness, patience,
spirituality, a predisposition towards sacrifice. While
consuming it, you can internally ask to acquire the gifts
that it provides.
If you have good teeth, you can eat wheat raw, simply
soaking it overnight. Otherwise, pour four cups of boiling
water onto a cup of wheat and boil it 10 to 15 minutes.
Then let it cook very gently for two or three hours,
without salt. To eat it, you can add salt, or honey, nuts,
and cinnamon, which is delicious.
An excellent way to purify the body and to tonify it is to
put yourself on a diet of boiled wheat for 10 days at the
end of February. It is necessary to consume
approximately 300 grams of it per day, depending on
your appetite – that is, about one cup per meal. Drink a
cup of hot water beforehand. You can also eat, for an
identical period of ten days, a cup of wheat and a pear or
an apple per meal.
Eating wheat germ in the winter to support the heart is
very beneficial, even in serious cases, but you must be
sure to chew it well. To strengthen a weakened person,
it is recommended to eat about 50 grams of wheat germ,
10 to 15 minutes after breakfast or lunch.
To germinate wheat, you must wash it and soak it for a
day in a porcelain cup. The next day, throw out the
water and put the wheat germ on a plate; it has been
sufficiently moistened to produce germination.
Eating rye increases stamina and imparts idealism. You
can brown the rye before grinding it and then use it in
place of coffee.
Millet favors the tendency towards humility.
At the beginning of spring and for the two months
following, nettle supplies a highly reconstituting food. It
can be consumed in soup, in puree, or steamed. It is
64
very rich in vitamins and other indispensable elements.
Dried in the shade and reduced to a powder, it can be
used to season soups, salads, etc.
Fasting is an efficient method for toning up the nervous
system and renewing the cells. You can, for example,
fast each week for 24 hours by not eating on Thursday
evening and Friday morning. These days we recommend
are the most favorable.
To get rid of certain faults, or an illness, fast, for the
duration you have determined, during the waning moon
– that is, between the full moon and the new moon. If
you want to acquire a virtue or a quality, do the opposite
and fast during the waxing moon.
But, no matter how careful you are in choosing your
food, know that you will obtain only mediocre results if
you omit the most important thing – that is, making
goodness the foundation of your life. If you do not
respect each living being, if your thoughts are not pure
and elevated, if a high ideal does not guide you while
excluding all negative thoughts and feelings, you will
introduce poisons into your body. And, in this way, you
will destroy all that you have built. To avoid that, send
grateful thoughts, when you eat, to all of the beings, to
the animals, to the plants, to the elements, to the forces
that take part in maintaining your existence. Never sit at
the table in a mechanical fashion, without having a spirit
of gratitude towards the source of all life. The awareness
of the grandeur of life, and the sentiment of gratitude
that you will feel filling up your heart with a vivifying
warmth, will contribute to the development of everything
great and noble that you receive.
65
Mary, the Essene Virgin
The Birth of the Master Jesus
The comprehension of certain "historical beings" can prove to be
truly beneficial to man's evolution, education, and internal
formation. My opinion is that the cosmic intelligence generates
"historical beings" in order to bring a divine message to humanity.
This message goes beyond the life of a single individual, or even
that of a nation, to pertain to a comprehensive work. When the
work is finished, the evolution of a cycle is terminated and another
cycle can begin. The more we progress towards the outcome, the
more history is known in its entirety. For some, it is only
coincidence and the fruit of chance. For others, it is the work of the
divine
wisdom
and
the
book
of
High
knowledge.
History talks about man's free will and his being torn between two
opposite complementary forces: death and life, the shadows of false
knowing and the light of knowledge, the children of hatred and
those of love. The one who was called the Virgin because of her
inner purity, her mastery and her divine wisdom was a woman who
made the scales of history lean towards the side of the children of
light.
The Virgin is a historical personage and, to understand her, one
must place her back into her cultural context. She was part of the
fraternity of the Essenes. She was born in the bosom of this
fraternity and was raised in accordance with their mysteries and
their particular initiation. Her entire life, therefore, had been
dedicated to serving the knowledge of the Divine. The Essenes
considered themselves as the custodian people of the alliance with
God and his spiritual hierarchy. The goal of their entire life was to
keep this alliance alive through consecrated human beings. This
alliance was as real for them as fire, air, water or the earth are for
us. Just as a contemporary man can verify the accuracy of the
earth's fertility by planting a seed in it and watching it grow, an
Essene could ascertain the reality of the alliance through the
celebration of the mysteries. The goal of these mysteries was to
form "prophets"--that is, beings capable of sensing, feeling or
knowing the spiritual world and the will of the eternal Father. Not
all of them succeeded in becoming prophets, but each one worked
hard to it according to his own means, and they all participated in a
communal work: that of making the Divine triumph in humanity.
There were prophets of different categories, and those that the
fraternity sought to give birth to, within its bosom, were the great
spiritual Masters, those having the power to sow the world.
The technique of Essene initiation consisted in plunging deep inside
oneself to find again the source of divine existence which then
allowed one to recognize, in the inner level and also around, in the
outer level, the living and divine water which animates everything.
66
This water was called the blood of the lamb, the blood of the
prophets, of the spiritual Masters, of the great sages of the
fraternity and of the people of God. The Essenes considered
themselves to be the guardians of this spiritual blood and it is
through its intermediary that they succeeded in keeping alive the
alliance with the Divine. It was a whole state of mind, a culture,
that is very difficult to put into words now and match today's
mentality. It is this state of mind, voluntarily cultivated, that
opened up the doors of the spiritual worlds to them. Thus, an
Essene was conscious of belonging to a people, a tradition, a
lineage. It is only when he felt himself in harmony with this lineage
that he could really find his place and his fulfillment as an individual
amid the community. An Essene could not reach fulfillment outside
the lineage of light. Whatever he did in his individual life, had to be
linked to the global task. Some cultivated the soil, others were
craftsmen, others therapists or teachers… but all of them worked, in
one way or another, for the ensemble and the common goal.
The Virgin was born as an Essene; she had grown up among the
community and had even performed the role of the temple dove.
She was loved and recognized in the fraternity. Several had
prophesied about her, proclaiming that she would give birth to a
son of God, a great Master. However, before bringing Jesus into
this world, she had doubts and she wondered because the Essenes
had finally been caught by the letter that kills the spirit, and the
Virgin had perceived it. As with many instituted groups, the risk is
that, at a given moment, dogmas take over. However, the Essenes
were about to succeed because very great prophets and spiritual
Masters were soon going to emerge and to radiate the teaching in
the world. It is the dogmatism, the extremism and the fanaticism
that pushed the Virgin to distance herself from the community's life.
In her heart and soul, she has always been Essene, but, in her
body, she distanced herself from them. She joined dissident groups
that lived as a family. At the time Jesus is a child, these families
will play a very important role in the education of the Master.
Himself, like his Mother, he will distance himself from the official
and hierarchal Essenes.
At the time she was pregnant with the
Master, she traveled, sleeping and living in
the homes of simple people: farmers,
fishermen, craftsmen. Everywhere they’d go
with her husband, Joseph, they talked about
God, about the One With No Name; they
healed the sick and taught the art of the vine
growing and other secrets of the earth.
The Virgin knew that, in doing this, she was
constructing the body of her child so that
later he would feel close to simple people
and go towards them in love, simplicity and
67
free exchange. She did not want her child to
become a prisoner of dead dogma which
distances the human being from the simplest
and the most beautiful realities of life.
The Virgin wanted her child to be liberated
from everything that is "frozen" in life, but
she wished he would endeavor to live in
liberty and love, the reality of the inner
teaching of God. This is why she had always
wanted to be on the move, traveling and
going towards others with love, respect, and
divinity.
In labor, just as she was about to give birth, when the contractions
were very advanced and the child was getting ready to come out,
she heard the spiritual voice, the prophetic voice, the voice of God
which traditionally speaks to the people of the children of light. She
was surprised to hear this voice because she knew all that this
implicated. The voice told her that her son was wearing a mantle of
snow, that he had the hair of wisdom, and that, at the age of
seven, he would leave his home to become the Word of God. Thus,
the Virgin, who was suffering because of the contractions, thought
that she would lose her son and that he would be called by the
angels. She understood the message: her son was an Essene and
his life was consecrated to God. The mantle of snow was the white
robe of the Brothers and Sisters of the Order. The hair of wisdom
was the sign of alliance of the Essenes. The age of seven
represented the supreme degree of initiation that only the very
great Masters could successfully pass through in order to
consciously unite themselves with the angelic hierarchies and the
divinity.
It is in this state of mind, with great lucidity and a sublime love,
that she consecrated her child to God at the very moment he came
into the world. In this way, she accomplished the ancient rite and
the secular vow of the Nazarites. Jesus was born as an Essene, and
the Virgin, from that moment, deployed her will so that he would
receive the education and the transmission of the spiritual laws
issued by the fraternity. This is how, at the age of twelve, he was
able to astonish all the priests of the temple of Jerusalem .
Nevertheless, she made sure that he was educated by a dissident
and non-dogmatic branch of the fraternity. In fact, there were two
Essene communities: one external and official, and the other more
internal and quiet. One finds the same aspect in Christianity: on
one side, there is the church of St. Peter , which takes care of the
external side and which is very dogmatic and rigid; and, on another
side, the church of St. John , which seeks, in liberty and love, to live
Christ's teaching from the inside.
68
This will of the Virgin to remove Jesus from the external community
was very difficult to live with because that community wanted to
gain possession of the child for reasons that are very easy to
understand. Finally, through negotiations, the Virgin succeeded in
keeping the child with her and having him educated by the dissident
group. She succeeded in this thanks to the help of the angels who
were with her and who protected the Master Jesus. The Essenes
were sensitive to the angels and were used to obeying them.
It is the Essenes who taught the Master Jesus to eat, to walk, to
speak, to read, to write, to pray, and to unite himself with the One
With No Name, with the Father and the Mother of the world.
The Virgin made sure that his education would be intensive because
she wanted him to be almost an adult at the age of seven before
leaving with the angels. But, in fact, at the age of seven, he met
his inner being, his divine source, the people of God, his angel of
light who made him experience the divine world in its pure
manifestation and reality.
The Virgin supported her son all the time and she believed, for
many years, that he was an angel come to the earth.
Essene Prayer Said by the Virgin Mary
Within the Most High, my soul blossoms,
Leaps for joy at the sight of the ascendant path.
What is on high came to meet what is below,
And the Most High has impregnated my soul through his radiant look.
Out of all the generations, mine is blissful,
For the Almighty did great things for me;
He impregnated my soul.
Holy is his name, through the centuries runs his blessing
For those who, because of love, remain faithful to Him.
Sublime and untouched is the Most High,
Almighty is the power of his arm;
He scatters the proud, destroys those who only think of themselves,
Turns down the throne of those who only believe in their own power,
And lifts the humble, the simple, the pure and loving hearts up to his
Kingdom.
He showers with his gifts those who remain silent before him.
The Most High never gives up his children who serve him with wisdom and
love. Amen.
(Gospel according to St. Luke 1.46,55).
It’s an ancient word, a prayer said by the Virgin Mary. It was not only said
by her, but also by all the women who were pregnant in the Essene
community. Actually, one must become aware that the Essene, Nazarene
community gave a communal Teaching, a Teaching for the entire umanity,
69
and that the Virgin Mary was not regarded as a superior woman. She had
important responsibilities, but she was not regarded as a woman other
than an other woman. All the women who were expecting were respected
and practiced the same Teachings than the Virgin Mary.
Nazarene means consecrated to God,and also the one who knows the hidden things. This
universal brotherhood, which is not characteristic of the Jewish people, knew the secrets of
the impregnation of the soul, and regarded the fact that a woman was pregnant as something
deeply mystical. They didn’t fix their attention on the fact a woman was expecting; for them,
the woman represented a much higher secret than the woman as human being. For them, the
woman represented the soul, the hidden soul, the pure soul, the virgin soul, and also the Earth,
the Earth which is like a soul, reflection of the universal soul, in which all the souls (for
example, the souls of the flowers, of the trees, of the animals, all the souls, even the souls of
the angels) can appear as a unity of one same substance, which is the universal soul. This
substance is like impregnated by rays of the Very-High, like rays of the sun.This soul was
called "Ma"in the ancient mysteries, and gave the name "Maya" -- that is, the great illusion; it
gave also the name "Mary": "Ry", "Ra", or "R" is the Ray of the universal Mother.
So, in this Essene brotherhood-sisterhood, the woman, and notably the
pregnant woman, was regarded, not only as a pregnant woman, but as
the symbol, the writing, and the hieroglyph of the mysteries of the entire
cosmos, and even of the mysteries of Universe and evolution. All the
secrets, the secrets of Isis and of the woman were contained in the
pregnant woman.
St. John, who was Lazarus the Essene, reveals these secrets in the Book
of Revelation when a being comes and tells him: "I will show you the
mysteries of the woman."Then he talks about the great prostitute and
about the spouse for the wedding of the lamb. The great prostitute is the
soul that has given birth to the personality, the ego, separated from the
Very-High and doing as it pleases.
So you see, this was an entire universe, not only made of words, but
much more of realities: one didn’t need to talk about it, one just had to
see a pregnant woman, and straightaway one had all these mysteries of
the cosmos in front of oneself. In the same way, one now just needs to
see the letters of the alphabet to know the word; one doesn’t need to talk
about it, this is something which lives within the soul.
This Essene prayer is all the more important for our time since things
happen in the atmosphere of the Earth. And one should know them, as
the saying says: "Forewarned is forearmed." Things happen, things that
are in connection with this prayer, with the mysteries of the woman -which concern men also of course.
"Within the Most-High, my soul blossoms, leaps for joy at the sight of the
ascendant path. What is on high came to meet what is below, and the
Most-High has impregnated my soul by his look full of light." You see, this
is so beautiful".
"Out of all the generations, mine is blissful, for the Almighty did great
things for me; He impregnated my soul by his ray." The question is: "Who
70
can say this at our time?" Of course, a woman in order to become
Pregnant is impregnated by a ray. But here, the prayer talks about the
soul which is in the deepest; all things considered, about our soul, which,
turned toward the Most-High, leaps for joy and sees the ascendant path.
This is not an illusion, the path of awakening, ennoblement, and
transformation is not an illusion. I see it or I don’t see it, but there is no
illusion, there is no belief; it is the experience of a soul that tells what it
lives.
"Holy is his name; throughout the centuries runs his blessing for those
who, because of love, remain faithful to Him." Here, the Essene
community says: "Throughout the centuries, we incessantly become
incarnate, not by a dead filiation, but because we are faithful to the VeryHigh and because we dedicate our lives to Him. We dedicate our lives not
in order to find something, but because we cannot do it in another way,
because we see the reality: the Very-High, Love, Wisdom, and Intelligence
fill the cosmos. He is the Source of existence, I am within Him, by my life.
I am not the Master of my life, I am not the one who has created my life."
Now I am going to deepen the meaning of this prayer, beyond the
mysteries of the soul I have talked a little...
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The Essene Way of Life
The life of the Essenes was perfectly organized in a
hierarchy. There were those who lived in the villages
surrounded by a low wall, completely cut-off from the
cities, in the middle of nature. Their life was simple,
austere and pious, lulled into a rhythm by the seasons,
by the days of celebration, and by visitors. Others lived
in the cities, in large buildings which belonged to the
Community and which served simultaneously as their
home, as an inn and as a hospital.
Indeed, they devoted their time and their activity to
healing the sick and to providing hospitality to
strangers passing through. There were others who
traveled the roads, circulating news and information
around all of the centers spread out in every country.
This is how the Master Jesus was able to go out into the
world, benefiting from a minutely-detailed organization
which operated to perfection.
There were also those who lived in the monasteryschools situated precisely in certain places, in accordance
with the knowledge of the land of light, and of the doors
which exist between it and the earth that we know. The
Essenes who lived in these "temples" were almost always
unmarried.
When an individual from outside of the order asked to be
admitted--and after verification of certain aptitudes for the
inner life--the candidate had to practice a kind of meditation. In
complete calm, he examined his past life clearly, in order to
arrive at an objective summary of it--with the successes, the
failures, the motivations, the vibrations experienced, and the
wisdom acquired. He had to discern the impulses which he had
received from "heaven" and from "his angel" during his
childhood and throughout his life, and look at how he had
responded. Had he moved away from them, or had he
remained faithful?
Through this analysis, a new bond with the higher world of the
free spirit could be forged; and the candidate was led to
discover his own mistakes--the cause of all of his suffering. In
this way, he could bring about changes within himself, take
control of his life, become responsible in the initiatic sense of
the word, and prepare himself effectively, and in full
awareness,
to
enter
the
Community
of
Light.
He entered the sacred world on the royal path.
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After his initiation, which made him a
full-fledged Brother (or Sister) of the
community, the newcomer received,
simultaneously with his white-linen
robe, a mission to be accomplished
during his life. This mission had to be a
goal, an orientation which must never
leave him, and which was a way of
uniting him with God and making him
useful to the earth and to humanity. He
was never to stray from the conducting
thread of this mission. This is what gave
a positive meaning to his passage on
earth and made him a true human
being. For the School, to be a man
was to carry inside oneself a
beautiful light--to be offered to the
earth, to its inhabitants and to
oneself.
The white robe was a materialization of the power of his
baptism and the purity of his soul, which had to protect him
from
the
many
contradictions
of
the
world.
The staff, or cane, which he also received on this occasion
symbolized his knowledge of the secret laws of life and his
ability to use them harmoniously for the successful
accomplishment
of
his
task.
He was also required to take an oath to respect the earth as a
living, sacred and intelligent being. In order to maintain contact
with it, to honor it and to participate in its healthy evolution, he
had to be in contact with the ground through his feet--and,
sometimes, his whole body. This is why the Essenes were often
barefoot.
One had to be at least 21 years old in order to receive
this initiation.
The living knowledge of the laws of reincarnation (laws of
evolution and mercy) and of the laws of destiny (laws of
cause and effect) allowed the hierophants to choose a
mission which corresponded exactly to the work which
the soul had come to earth to accomplish.
In order to fulfill this particular mission, the Brother (or
Sister) often had to surpass himself, to question himself,
and to obtain the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
He was given techniques to help him; for example, he
had to examine himself and observe himself often.
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Periodically, he was to look back at himself--watching his
life unfold before him, image by image, like the pages of
a book: "Was what he saw inscribed in this book worthy
to be included in the Great Book of Life?"
Every thought, every feeling, every action, and its
motivations, had to be clearly outlined "in black and
white".
Then, it had to be determined if the idea of the mission,
the high ideal, was the source. The Essene Masters knew
from experience how quickly one can stray from the path
of light and get lost, unable to find the road again. The
task of the neophyte was to simplify everything within
himself, in order to become one with his ideal. If this
ideal shone only intermittently, as if to call him back to
order, then that was not a good sign. A problem was
taking root inside of him. He had to immediately clarify
his life, in order to keep alive and pure his bond with the
Most-High, with the sun of his soul. For him, this was the
source of all healing, and of all authentic healing power.
The necessity to purify oneself constantly--by washing one's
feet, hands and body--was very important to the Brothers and
Sisters. They cleansed themselves physically and spiritually
before entering someone's house, at the beginning and at the
end of the day, and before eating or praying. They also washed
each other's feet, as a sign of friendship and to cultivate the
idea that they must take care of one another, as the Father of
all took care of them. They also blessed one another by laying
their hands on the top of the head, in order to be always united
with the light and to reinforce the love which flowed among
them.
They possessed an advanced science of speech and were able
to cure certain illnesses just by chanting sounds. From
childhood, they learned to speak in a soft voice and to control
their words.
74
The Circle of God
A Nazarene view
75
Beliefs Religions Spirituality
Faiths Traditions Sacred Pathways
Many rivers flow towards the universal seas carrying our personal soul ships ever
closer towards union with the Divine. The first step towards appreciating different
Beliefs Faiths and World Religions is to understand their traditions, ritualistic
practices, sacred terminology, spiritual landscapes and symbology. Aboriginal
Dreamtime, Alchemy Alchemist, Cosmos Astronomy, Buddhism Buddhist,
Christianity Biblical, Daoism Confucian, Druidry Treelore, Heathenry Ásatrú,
Hinduism Vedas, Islam Sunnah, Judaism Talmud, Native American, Pagan
Wiccan, Shamanic Shaman and Shintoism Kami are all spotlighted and
synthesized for you here.
Our search for Goodness, for Goddess and God, for Unity amidst Diversity, for As
Above So Below, for Heaven on Earth, for Reason for Being, for meaning, and for
fundamental truths is the root or nexus point for all our Ways of Living, our
faiths, our beliefs, our religions, our philosophies, and our traditions. Rituals,
festivals, ceremonies, principles, and practices fulfill personal and community
needs for worship, for edification, for spiritual seeking, for ethical patterns, for
sanctification, and for law and order.
Whether a person or a group of people are non-believers, or followers of one
Belief Faith Religion Tradition, or walk an eclectic tapestry of many Beliefs Faiths
Religions Traditions, they are all fellow travellers on a journey through life. After
an in depth exploration of each of the Beliefs Faiths Religions Traditions, a
pattern of commonalities in the ethics, teachings, focuses, festivals, rituals, rites
of passage, and attitudinal perspectives emerges. Understanding what different
cultures have in common in their daily material and spiritual pursuits just might
make the passage of days a little smoother and serene.
Beliefs Faiths Religions Traditions practices vary depending on the frame of
reference of the followers and participants. One might assume that when
someone who professes to be a Christian uses the word God in a speech that
they are talking solely about reverence for God "Our Father in Heaven" when this
might not be the case at all. In the quest for truth in belief labeling, a reliable
dictionary was consulted to determine the prevailing cultural paradigm circa 1986
A.C.E. for the word "God", especially when use in the context of blessings and
invocations. For instance what does the word God in the statement "God
Bless...Whoever or Whatever" really mean to the person making it.
Is it gender specific? Does it always refer to one specific Being alone? Does it
refer specifically just to the God recognized by the Abrahamic religions (Judaism,
Christianity and Islam) alone? Or does it correlate to the concept of a Great Spirit
that is powerfully controlling but also wisely good? Is God a oneness made up of
many collective Goddess and God Beings? Can Divinity be defined in human
terms?
Well Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary dated 1986 A.C.E. defines the
word god in this way - "¹god \'gäd also gôd\ n [ME, fr. OE; akin to OHG got god]
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(bef. 12c) - 1 cap : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in
power, wisdom, and goodness whom men worship as creator and ruler of the
universe b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as
eternal Spirit : infinite Mind 2 : a being or object believed to have more than
natural attributes and powers and to require man's worship; specif: one
controlling a particular aspect or part of reality 3: a person or thing of supreme
value 4: a powerful ruler".
Please note that although the word god is not capitalized, the words Being, Spirit,
and Mind are capitalized within the context of the definition. So it appears that
name and form in regard to the word God "god" varies based on both individual
and collective cultural, religious, and spiritual frames of reference.
Beliefs and Religions Ocean Wave Washing Golden Sands
A cohesive pattern of Beliefs Faiths Religions Traditions, Matrixing Sacred
Pathway is followed for examining each Beliefs Faiths Religions Traditions in
depth with Beliefs, Background, Overview, and Traditions; as well as, Sacred
Symbols for that pathway. Generally the Beliefs Background Traditions and
Overview Pages discuss the origins of a Belief Faith Religion Tradition, how long it
was walked by others, its planetary distributions, a synthesis of overall beliefs,
definitions of sacred words and glossary terminology, and special things about
that Belief Faith Religion Tradition such as Ceremonies, Festivals, and Yoga
Paths.
For each Belief Faith Religion Tradition, pictures, images, and graphic art were
gathered that symbolized the beliefs and wisdom of that Hallowed Spirituality or
Sacred Pathway. They represent various sacred aspects of that Belief Faith
Religion Tradition. The synthesized synopses include deities, goddesses, gods,
archangels that were revered by followers of that Belief Faith Religion Tradition
and articles.
The first step toward appreciating Beliefs Faiths Religions Traditions that are
different from ours is to understand a Belief Faith Religion Traditions' principle
structures, ritualistic practices, and sacred terminology. Each Belief Faith Religion
Tradition has its own spiritual landscape of traditions and customs; each one
gives its own distinctive answers to many of the questions which perplex human
existence.
Each Belief Faith Religion Tradition is treated with the dignity, honor, and respect
that it deserves. Many colors make up a rainbow, each color is special and
different from the others; yet, it's core essence is still that of a color, and it is still
one of the many colors that make up a rainbow.
As a planet, we need to move beyond merely tolerating Beliefs Faiths Religions
Traditions that are different from our own, towards building a global rainbow
bridge of communication, commitment, communion, commonality, and
community that connects all our consciousnesses together.
We Are the Radiance of the Sun
Illuminating Shadowy Minds with Our Light
We Are the Empathy of the Moon
Healing Wounded Hearts with Our Love
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We are the Spirituality of the Stars
Nurturing Budding Souls with Our Power
We Are the Lifestreams of the Uni-verse
Flowing Towards Harmonic Resonance
We Are the Many Sacred Pathways
Connecting the Spirits of All Creatures
Hinduism Hindu Vedic Vedas
Background Beliefs Overview Traditions
Hinduism was the religion of the Hindu Vedic Scriptures. "The Vedas" and the
Universal Wisdom for the Hindus, "The Sangtana Dharma". Hinduism was an
ancient and complex religion with no single founding Hindu prophet or religious
leader. The roots of Hinduism date back to before 3,000 B.C. and encompass an
entire Hindu civilization and way of life for the Hindus. There are numerous Hindu
sects but Hinduism has no clearly delineated religious organization.
Due to the extreme hierarchical nature of the Hindu castes, as well as, the
divergent rituals, beliefs, and daily habits of the Hindus, the forms of Hindu
worship varied considerably between them. The complex system of hereditary
Hindu groups, ranked Hindus by their social strata and occupations (Brahmans,
priests and scholars, Kshatriyas, warriors and rulers, Vaishyas, farmers and
merchants, Shudras, peasants and laborers, and Panchamas, menials and
untouchables).
Although the Hindu castes also adhered to the principle of the four stages of life
for the Hindus (Brahmacharya, celibate student, Grihastha, householder,
Vanaprastha, forest hermitage, and Sannyasa, spiritual renunciation), in practice
the Hindu householder and the ascetic continued to be the main alternatives.
One billion adherents follow Hinduism today, mostly in India but there are large
populations in other countries. Hinduism was a family of myriad faiths that range
from an absolute monistic triad, (Brahma, the Creator, Vishnu, the Preserver,
and Shiva, the Destroyer) to a pluralistic Hindu theism (the Supreme Being
manifests as many gods and goddesses). The scriptures and Vedic hymns of the
Hindus espouse many different viewpoints on Ultimate Reality but there are still
many beliefs shared by all Hindus.
Brahman is the ultimate, unchanging reality, composed of pure being and
consciousness, Brahman, the all pervasive, was both immanent and
transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality. Brahman, the primal soul,
existed behind the apparent multiplicity of the phenomenal world, and was
fundamentally identical to the inner essence of the human being. This all
encompassing divinity, order, balance, harmony, law, principle of intelligence,
unified life energy, or pure consciousness underscored, emanated, and resonated
throughout all of existence.
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Dharma is a doctrine of virtuous living and of the religious and moral rights and
duties of each individual to live a life of good conduct. By following divine law;
being respectful of parents, elders, and swamis; by not doing mental, emotional,
or physical harm to others; and by doing heart centered works of selfless service,
pastlife karmas were resolved.
Karma is an individual's state in this life was the result of physical and mental
actions in past lives. Actions in this life will influence the circumstances of future
incarnations. By this law of cause and effect, individuals created their own
destinies by their deeds, words, and thoughts. The cycle of rebirth will continue
until all karmas were resolved and the soul attained spiritual knowledge and
liberation. To read more about karmic cycles.
Manifold Deities and Mahadevas, the Hinduism goddesses and gods were revered
with many different names and qualities. They were really different forms of the
one, all pervasive, supreme being. The Mahadevas with the assistance of
multitudes of angelic devas protected and provided daily guidance to Hindus. The
Mahadevas with the assistance of multitudes of angelic devas protected and
provided daily guidance to Hindus over the ages.
Hinduism recognized the valuable contribution of the Nature Spirits, the Devas
(Shining Ones), to the overall development and harmonic balance of India and
the planetary evolutionary spirals of the Hindus. The Landscape, the Divine
Forest, and the the Sacred Rivers were enlivened and hallowed by the presence
of the Nature Spirits. The elemental beings of air, water, fire, and earth enlivened
and sanctified all the Days and Ways of Hindu daily living.
Moksha or Mukti means by transcending karma or the results of one's actions,
attainment of liberation from rebirth occurred. This goal of liberation from
suffering and from the cycle of rebirth was accomplished by the elimination of
passions, through knowledge of reality, and union with divinity.
Hindus believe in the Doctrine of Reincarnation and Transmigration of the Soul.
After the death of the body, the individual soul entered a new existence based on
karma (the actions of the body and mind) which determined the quality of rebirth
(making it important to follow the dharma, doing what was right for the both the
individual and the universe). This cycle of rebirth occurred until the attainment of
mukti releases the soul from the wheel of incarnations.
The Vedas were ancient Hindu scriptures in the form of mantras or hymns were
the timeless and eternal religion, shruti (heard directly from the deities), wisdom
revealed through the inner spiritual experience of the seers and sages. The Rig,
Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas each contain four sections: Sanhitas (the
hymns), Brahmanas (prose explanations about the significance of the hymns),
Aranyakas (interpretations of the hymns), and Upanishads, (metaphysical
dialogs).
The mentors and benefactors of ancient Hinduism were from the ancient
civilization of Lemuria. They were Lemurian Eponan Shamans who relocated to
the Pleiades prior to the sinking of Lemuria and Atlantis. Most of Hinduism oral
traditions and storytelling arose from Lemurian traditions and spiritual teachings.
Many of the immortal, spiritually evolved goddesses and gods depicted as
divinities in the Hindu Classics and the Vedas were human beings of Pleiadian and
Orion lineage.
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In Hinduism the Sacred Writings included the Vedas, Vedangas, Upavedas, and
Upanisads. The Rig Veda was the oldest of the Hinduism Vedas. Dating from
1200-900 BCE, the Rig Veda was a collection of over 1,000 metrical hymns that
were meant to be recited loudly in poetic form. Divided into ten books, the Rig
Veda contained the mythology of the Hindu goddesses and gods. The contents
also included blessings, praises, and puja type sacrificial rites involving flowers,
fruits, and incense.
The Yajur Veda contained knowledge about reverence, veneration, and how to
perform the rites. Recited in a low voice, verses of the Yajur Veda described the
sacrificial formulas recited by the adhvaryu priests during the ceremony. The
Sama Veda contained cadenced liturgical verses from the Rig Veda sung by the
udgatri chanters, the melodious Sama Veda hymns of praise were recited at
sacrifices in order to destroy sin.
The Atharva Veda containing the knowledge of the sage Atharvan, the verses of
the final Veda was a mixture of poetry, daily guidance, and incantations.
Overtime the hymns of this rishi, eventually became a ritual handbook for the
Brahmans.
The Vedangas and Upavedas were texts that were additions to the Vedas. The Six
Vedangas were: Jyotisha, (astrology), Kalpa, (public rituals and domestic rites),
and Siksa, Nirukti, Candas, and Vyakarana (mantra recitation, knowledge of
phonetics, grammar and poetry). The Five Upavedas were: Artha, (statecraft),
Dhanur (archery, warfare, and weapons), Sthapatya (architecture), Gandharva
(dance, music, and theatre), and Ayurveda (health and medicine).
The Upanisads were the principle texts of the Hindu religion, the Upanishads
summarized the spiritual knowledge and commented on the philosophy of the
Vedas. Based on meditations on Vedic themes, they were teachings and
conversations between self realized souls and their students about universal
knowledge, absolute truth, liberation, and experiential oneness with Brahman.
Supplements to the Scriptures included the Sutras (Patanjali's Yoga Sutras),
Bhajans (devotional songs), Slokas (prayers and invocations), Arthashastra
(treatises on politics and administration), and Smritis (works of Hindu Law).
The Hindu Classics included the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, and
the Puranas. The Mahabharata was a classical epic of Hindu India composed by a
number of bardic poets (and later revised by priests) between 200 B.C. and 200
A.D.; and comprised of more than 90,000 couplets and eighteen books. The
Mahabharata was the longest single poem in world literature and the foremost
source regarding Hindu ideals, civilization, statecraft, theology, and morals.
Although there were many subplots and unrelated tales, the Mahabharata was
primarily a fabled account of civil war and dynastic struggle for the throne of
Kurukshetra in the region around modern Delhi.
The Ramayana was a classical epic based on many Hindu legends about the
adventures of Rama and his three half brothers who together formed the group
consciousness of the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Rama and his noble
wife Sita were forced into a lengthy exile after being tricked out of the throne of
Ayodhya. When Sita was abducted by a demon, Rama and his allies, the monkey
king Sugriva and his general Hanuman, fought a mighty battle in Sri Lanka. After
Sita's rescue, Rama's kingdom was restored to him.
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The Bhagavad Gita was one of the greatest religious classics of Hinduism and
part of the Mahabharata, this Sanskrit poem consisted of a dialogue between
Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna on the eve of the great battle of Kurukshetra.
Krishna convinced Arjuna to fight his kinsmen, teachers, and friends by teaching
him aspects of Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma Yoga. Grounded in devotion and armed
with the knowledge of spiritual discrimination, Krishna performed selfless action.
The Puranas were an essential component of Hinduism, these elaborate short
stories and narrations about popular concepts of divinity were composed in the
local vernacular by poet saints to explain universal concepts such as the cycles of
Braham, creation, Vishnu, preservation, and Shiva, dissolution. The Puranas also
taught morals, Dharma, and Vedanta, and brought to light the human attributes
of the divine.
In Hinduism there were many different forms of Yoga which were paths of
practice that led the aspirant to the ultimate goal of union with divinity and the
unity of all of Creation.
Just as many different colours make up the rainbow, there were a rainbow of
Yoga Paths that varied from heart and head centered focuses to the use of breath
(pranayama), mantras, sutras, meditation, yoga postures (asanas), and various
other techniques. Hindu Yoga Paths included Bhakti Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Jana
Yoga, Karma Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Laya Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Tantra
Yoga.
Bhakti Yoga was a Yoga Path of transcendent love, Divine Grace, and one pointed
devotion to an ideal conception of divinity with the Hinduism devotee choosing to
venerate deity as beloved, master, friend, parent/child. The Hindu Bhakti
tradition disregarded caste systems and focused on genuine inner feelings and
personal viewpoints to foster emotional well being, fulfillment, and the perceptual
awareness of divinity pervading all aspects of Creation. Doing heartfelt service,
Karma Yoga, was also integral to this path.
Hatha Yoga was a Yoga Path where the goal of the Hatha Yoga practitioner was
health and vitality through rigorous training that involves many practices
including breathing exercises (pranayama) and physical postures (asanas). When
the postures and breathing exercises were mastered and the will trained to
consciously control the vital energies of the physical and etheric bodies, the
kundalini force was awakened at the base of the spine and used to open, purify,
and vitalize the seven energy centers in the appropriate order.
Jana Yoga was a difficult but profound Yoga Path where the thinking philosopher
sought union, peace, and liberation through information and discernment.
Knowledge and wisdom were achieved by patiently releasing delusional thoughts
and feelings until the meditator was attuned with the reality of Spirit. As the
mind and heart blossomed with the illuminating realization that divinity was the
inherent nature of the individual soul essence - first transformation and then
eventual enlightenment occurred.
Karma Yoga was a Yoga Path where linked to the fourth center, the Anahata or
heart center, this yogic path centered on the universal karmic law of cause and
effect. Transformation occurred when one learns to act out of love without
attachment to immediately apparent results. By developing more responsible
habits and attitudes, "new actions", the practitioner changed his feeling and
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thought patterns through right action and service resulting in "new reactions",
realization and union with divinity.
Kriya Yoga was a Yoga Path where yoga of transformation, Kriya combined the
practices and disciplines of Bhakti, Jnana, and Raja Yoga. Over 5,000 years old,
the technique was traditionally conveyed from the Guru directly to the spiritually
mature initiate. The goal of the meditator was to achieve self realization by
raising the serpent force of kundalini to the ninth center, the thousand petaled
lotus, at the top of the head by following a daily program of devotion to divinity,
introspection, and self-discipline.
Laya Yoga was a Yoga Path where the goal of the meditator was to transcend the
lower levels of egoic, sensual, and material consciousness by awakening the
seven energy centers (five were along the spine in the tailbone, in the sacrum,
navel, heart, and throat areas; two were in the head in the third eye and crown
areas). By concentrating on each of these energy centers in turn under the
guidance of a qualified teacher, the meditator opened doorways to higher states
of consciousness.
Mantra Yoga was a Yoga Path where Mantrams like AUM (spirit or word of God)
were seed sounds that had been revealed to adepts which had the power to bring
into being the actualities they represent. There were thousands of them in the
Sanskrit language. As a meditator chanted these syllables, words, and phrases,
mindfully, with increasing spiritual focus, the music, meaning, and cadence of the
mantras repeatedly brought one to a transcendent state beyond intellect and
emotions, resulting in a higher state of consciousness.
Raja Yoga was a Yoga Path where the Yoga Sutras were used to move the
kundalini lifeforce from the base of the spine to the throat center where the
meditator transmuted the lesser passions into a desire to speak only of divinity
and to seek serenity. By focusing attention on the objects of meditation, the
practitioner then restored equilibrium to the mind and the emotions. Afterwards,
the energy of this balanced awareness was usually directed to the third eye area
called Ajna, in the middle of the lower forehead. This then resulted in the
achievement of a state of sublime tranquility.
Tantra Yoga was a Yoga Path where the devotee strove to break through barriers
of personal limitation and cross higher consciousness thresholds by using the fire
of a masculine/feminine harmonized kundalini to transform negative habit
patterns, obsessions, and subconscious blocks into the transmutative energy of
the creative force as an universal expression of Spirit. When the spiritually
awakened kundalini ascended and opened each energy center in turn, samadhi
(direct experience of the Supreme Reality) was attained.
The mentors and benefactors Hindu Goddesses and Gods of the Vedas and the
ancient Hindus were Pleiadian and Orion Star Teachers. Most of the Hinduism oral
traditions and storytelling arose from Pleiadian traditions and spiritual teachings.
Many of the immortal. spiritually evolved goddesses and gods depicted as
divinities in the Hindu Classics and the Vedas were human beings of Pleiadian
lineage.
Many of the ancient Vedic goddesses and gods are now serving the Hindus and
other peoples of the planet as Hierarchs of the Twelve Universals Rays. To read
more about the Hinduism goddesses and gods.
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Many more ancient Hindu goddesses and gods are in the process of joining them
as Hierarchs of the Twelve Universal Rays and selecting Sacred Sites focal points.
Once their Hierarchs of the Twelve Universal Rays and Sacred Site write-ups are
completed, they will be included below.
The Asvins (Tortoise Avatars, Kumaras) were twin Hindu physician gods who
travelled about together in a horse drawn chariot. They were depicted with birds,
books, herbs, and water jars.
Chandra (Arjuna, Dikpala, Tortoise Avatar) was an Epic and Puranic Hindu moon
god Candra who drove a chariot across the sky pulled by ten white horses.
Portrayed with a club, a lotus, a prayer wheel, and a sacred rope, he was the
keeper of the sanctified, golden elixir "soma" cup. He was also a "Dikpala"
guardian of the northern direction and the planetary alignment with the North
Star. Attended by the Goose Animal Totem, his color was white and his symbol
was a moon disc on a lotus blossom.
Chandra was also the hero archer god Arjuna of the Hindu Veda, Epics, and
Puranas. Mentioned in the Epic "Mahabharata". Although he was sometimes
depicted with a shield and sword, he generally was portrayed as carrying a great
bow especially crafted for him by Agni. Particularly reknown for his role in the
"Bhagavad Gita", Hindu "Song of Life", where he was mentored by Lord Krishna
who is now known as Hierarch Maitreya Shangdi Kumara. Arjuna was also
credited with convincing Vishnu to assume his Visvarupa form.
Durga (Kumari, Shakti, Aparajita) was the Hindu multiple armed, great mother
and ultimate warrior goddess who was revered throughout India from about 1700
B.C.E. until present times. Mentioned in the Vedas and other Hinduism texts as a
water, fertility, and spiritual warrior goddess, she was depicted in sculptures and
reliefs as the embodiment of the unconquerable female and family unity. Durga
was portrayed as a beautiful golden skinned woman with eight powerful arms.
She was also portrayed with a conch shell, bow, spoked disc, and a trident.
Kasyapa (Agni, Kasyapa Brahma, Dikpala) was the Hindu Vedic tortoise god
Kasyapa, he was the immortal personification tree heartwood and a source of
"primordial" creativity. He was the benefactor mentor of all the Devic aspects of
nature including air, earth, fire, and water elementals. Mentioned in the Vedas
and other Hinduism writings, he was portrayed in the guise of a tortoise guardian
who helped resolve difficulties and brought forth munificence. A Solar son of the
Pleiadian Lemurian Ra lineage, he was known briefly as the Hindu god Kasyapa,
before he left the Earth to soujorn in Orion and the Pleiades and literally faded
from Vedic traditions.
As Agni, he was a Hindu sacred fire progenitor god and guardian of the Dikpala
southeastern quarter. He was mentioned in the Rig Veda and other Hinduism
texts. Revered from about 1500 B.C.E. until the present day, he was depicted in
reliefs and sculptures with a chariot drawn by either parrots or red horses. Agni
was portrayed in ancient hymns as being the epitome of the celestial fire inherent
in all plants and trees. Hindus believed that this embryonic lifeforce emerged
when pieces of wood were rubbed together.
Parvati (Sakti) was a brilliantly benevolent Hindu agricultural fertility mother
goddess mentioned in Puranic texts and the Ramayana Epic. Revered from about
400 A.C.E. until the present times, she was depicted in reliefs and sculptures.
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Considered by many to be an earlier aspect of Sakti, the embodied of the
feminine aspect of creative divinity, she was portrayed with a conch, a decorated
headband, a lotus blossom, a mirror, a rosary, and, sometimes as a human
female with an elephant head.
Rudra (Siva) was an authentically compassionate Hindu forest fertility father god
mentioned in the Vedas and many Hinduism writings. Revered in ancient India
until around 300 B.C.E., he was depicted in reliefs and sculptures. Considered by
many to be an earlier aspect of Siva, the embodied of the male aspect of creative
divinity, he was portrayed with a beaded wood necklace, a bow, a staff, a drum,
a lotus, and, sometimes as a human male with a leafy head.
Saravati (Sarasvati, Saraswati) was an Early Tamil, Hindu, Vedic, Puranic white
swan triple mother and fecund discrimination goddess, who was revered
throughout India from about 1700 B.C.E. until present times. She was the Hindu
great white swan mother goddess of lotus discrimination, fertility, and wealth.
Mentioned in the Rig Veda and other Hinduism texts as a pure river waters and
fertile prosperity goddess, she was depicted in sculptures as the embodiment of a
speech Vagdevi and a wisdom Brahmi. Sarasvati was portrayed riding a lotus, a
peacock, or a swan. She was also portrayed with an arrow, bell, book, conch,
lute, lotus, prayer wheel, rosary, and water jar.
Skanda (Karttikeya, Karttiki, Tortoise Avatar, Shandanana, Subrahmanya) was
the Epic and Puranic Hindu war god, Skanda (Kumara, Karttikeya, Karttiki,
Karttiki, Shandanana Subrahmanya), who has been revered in India since around
300 B.C.E. or earlier. One of the forms of Skanda called "Karttikeya" was reared
by the Pleiades stars. The youthful and virile Skanda was associated with the
colour red and looked upon as the leader of a divine army of gods. He usually
carried a diverse array of weapons and items with him like a banner, cockerel,
conch, feather, hatchet, peacock, shield, spear, staff, sword, wheel, and wood
apple.
Perceived "As the One who Jumps" during fighting, Skanda was mentioned in the
Puranic texts, as well as, the "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana epics". Also depicted
in bronze and stone sculptures, he was known to have balanced his "Sakti" Divine
Feminine side "Karttiki" with his Divine Masculine side "Karttikeya". He is also one
of the nine Eponan Lemurian, Pleiadian brothers known as the Kumaras, who
have been shepherding the Earth over the millenium. They have also been called
the Kurmavatars or "Tortoise Avatars".
Surya (Diakara, Grahapati)was the Hindu multiple eyed great father and
invincible fighter god who was revered throughout India from about 1700 B.C.E.
until present times. Mentioned in the Rig Veda and other Hinduism texts as a
sun, fertility and cosmic order god, he was depicted in sculptures as the
embodiment of the heavenly sun and eternal wisdom. Surya was portrayed riding
in a chariot pulled by seven horses. He was also portrayed with a conch, club,
drum, prayer wheel, staff, trident, and two lotuses.
Vac (Vach Aditi, Svadha) was a Hindu sacred cow progenitor goddess and
guardian of the Vedic spoken word. She was mentioned as the original creator of
the four Vedas. Revered from about 1500 B.C.E. until the present day, she was
depicted in reliefs and sculptures either as a graceful woman attired in gold
garments or as a cow. Vac was portrayed in ancient hymns as being the epitome
of the quintessential soma sustenance of all truths and visions. Hindus believed
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that this immortal substance sparked Brahman Consiousness into full lotus
blossom manifestation.
As the Hindu Vedic cow goddess Aditi, she was the immortal personification of
solar radiance and a source of "primordial" creativity. She was the benefactor
mentor of all the Vedic aspects of communications including hearing, speech,
sight, and writing. Mentioned in the Vedas and other Hinduism writings, she was
portrayed in the guise of a cow guardian who cleared away obstacles and brought
forth prosperity.
There are India Galactic, Global, Environment, Proactive, Restoration, Safeguard,
and Virtue Omniangels Groups. The Sacred Site focal points for all of these
Omniangels groups as of summer 2005 are still a work in progress. Once the
selection of Sacred Sites focal points for each of the India Omniangel groups is
completed a write-up will be included below.
The names and descriptions of the 88,911 Omniangels in each of these groups
are not available at this time. Although each of the different kinds of Omniangels
groups has some special roles, unique tasks, distinctive functional
responsibilities, special operating procedures, and purposeful frames of
reference, in general, the Omniangels groups are empowered and sanctified to
act and operate within eleven distinctive ways or Spheres of Influence with the
evolutionary life spirals living on this planet and in the overlapping dimensions.
The general headings for these spheres are Blessings, Knowledge, Harmony,
Healing,
Illumination,
Inspiration,
Preservation,
Protection,
Renewal,
Transformation, and Warding. Each word has many descriptive, functional, and
symbolic meanings for the Omniangels. Since they are divine triage teams and
special operations forces, they have been provided with extensive discretionary
powers which include emergency intervention, search and rescue, and destiny
remapping. They also have been given a wide latitude in interpreting how they
will use them, as long as they ensure that their actions are always aligned with
divine will, divine harmony, and divine authority.
The Sacred Site focal point of the India Galactic Omniangels is Gulmarg
Biosphere Reserve, which is located 48 km southwest of Srinagar in the Kashmir
Region of Northern India. Encompassing around 180 sq kms, the altitudes of the
reserve range from 2,400-4,300 meters above sea level. The varied flora includes
a forest which is comprised primarily of conifers, dense vegetation, herbs, and a
variety of shrubs. The biosphere reserve provides habitat for many different
types of birds and mammals, as well as, several endangered species including
black bears, brown bears, hanguls, leopards, musk deer, red foxes, and serows.
The Sacred Site vocal point of the India Global Omniangels is the Thol Wildlife
Sanctuary, which is located in the Mehsana district about 40 km from
Ahmedabad, Gujarat, West India. Encompassing about seven square miles in
West India, the surrounding area includes a wetlands environment that sustains
many different types of wildfowl and wildlife. Thol Wildlife Sanctuary provides
habitat for a diverse array of fauna and flora. Some of the fauna includes black
ibises, grey pelicans, and wetland birds.
The Sacred Site of the India Environment Omniangels is Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife
Sanctuary, which is located in Upper Assam on the alluvial floodplains about 513
kilometers from Guwahati, Upper Assam in East India. Encompassing about 350
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sq kms, the park is a biosphere reserve with numerous islands and water courses
off the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river which that provides habitat for a
diverse array of flora and fauna. The flora includes bamboo, cane, deciduous
trees, evergreen trees, and many types of orchids. The fauna includes deer,
eagles, elephants, feral horses, gibbons, hornbills, kingfishers, leopards,
migratory birds, pelicans, river dolphins, semi-wild horses, storks, tiger, wild
buffalo, and white-winged wood ducks.
The Sacred Site focal point of the India Proactive Omniangels is the Bori Wildlife
Sanctuary, which is located on the southern slopes of the Satpura Range near
Panchmarhi in the Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh. Encompassing about
518 sq km, the topography of the sanctuary includes many rainy season, fast
moving rivulets and streams. Although, the large Towa river dries up, except for
a few stagnant water pools during the dry season, there is also a perennial
natural source of water in the area. The variegated landscape of the sanctuary
with its fertile soil mixed with sandy loam, rolling forest floor, and tropical
deciduous forests also includes a few hills like the Gottu Deo hills and Sakott hill.
Established in 1977 under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 as an Indus-Ganges
Monsoon Forest, Bori Wildlife Sanctuary provides habitat for a diverse array of
flora and fauna. Some of the fauna living there include: birds, deer, four horned
antelopes, mountain gazelles, guars, Indian foxes, Indian wild dogs, jungles cats,
leopards, striped hyenas, sambars, and tigers. There is a tropical deciduous
forest with stands of Teak trees, large areas of intact forests around Churna,
Dhain, and Bori, shrub undergrowth vegetation entwined with climbing plants,
and orchids.
The Sacred Site focal point of the India Northern Restoration Omniangels is the
Pong Lake Sanctuary, which is located about 65 km from Dharamsala in the
Kangra District in northern India. Encompassing 9,675 sq kms, the lake area is
an important wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds, as well as, barking deer,
clawless otters, leopards, sambars, and wild boars. Thousands of Siberian ducks
winter in the swamp area and shallow lake waters.
The Sacred Site focal point of the India Southern Restoration Omniangels is the
Bandipur National Park, which is located on the Decaan Plateau at Bandipur in
Karnataka twenty kms from the city of Gundulpet in Southern India.
Encompassing nearly 875 sq kms, the area is a verdant blend of deciduous
forests, evergreen forests, and scrub brush, all of which are kept well watered by
the Moyar River. The prominent fauna of this habitat include the Asian elephant,
black naped hare, chital, four horned antelope, gaur, Indian porcupine, mouse
deer, sambar, and wild pig. There are also two wildlife sanctuaries nearby,
Mudumalai Tamil Nadu and Wynad in Kerala.
Christianity - Christian Biblical Trinity
Background Beliefs Overview Traditions
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Christianity was founded in Palestine as a breakaway sect of Judaism by the followers of
Jesus Christ around 2,000 years ago. Christianity as a system of Christian beliefs, as a
Way of Life and as a communal tradition, has spread to nearly every country of the world.
Today there are more than two billion adherents of Christianity, mostly in the Americas
and Europe where it has made a significant historical and cultural impact. It is also the
predominant religion in large parts of Africa, Oceania, and the Phillipine Islands.
Over the years, many divergent denominations or sects of Christians developed because
of dogmatic disagreements. The primary ones were Roman Catholicism including Eastern
Catholic and Latin Rite; Protestantism including Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists,
Methodists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Reformed Presbyterians; and, Restorationists
(Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints); and, Eastern Christianity including
Assyrian (Nestorian), Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox (Armenians, Copts,
Jacobites).
Most of them; however, do share a core of common beliefs. Only part of the life of Christ
was known and that was gleaned from writings of others written long after his passing.
Many of the writings available about the teachings of the Christ in ancient times were not
included in what is considered the sanctioned and official collection of writings known as
the Bible.
Since Jesus broke away from traditional Judaism and founded a new religion based on
new teachings, it is doubtful that he would have recommended that the collection of
Judaic writings known as the Old Testament be included as part of the foundational
spiritual teachings of Christianity.
There is a period of time from when Jesus was thirteen until he began his ministry at age
thirty where there are no written records available to explain where he sojourned or what
he did during that timeframe. They are often called the "Lost Years of Jesus".
Some speculate that perhaps he lived for awhile as an Essence before he journeyed back
to Egypt, where he had lived as a child when his parents fled from the wrath of Herod.
After he studied at the ancient mysteries schools at sacred places like Luxor, he made his
way to India where he briefly studied Hinduism. Then he sojourned for many years at a
Buddhist monastery in the Himalayan mountains. The Gospel of Thomas is written in a
style similar to that of the Sutras of India.
From the gospels we do know that for the most part he preferred to give his sermons
outdoors in the Natural World like the Sermon on the Mount; and, that he was a
benevolent, loving man of peace who believed in the diversity and equality of all humans,
even sinners who had fallen into bad ways. The Gospel of Philip seemed to indicate that
he had a very special and loving relationship with Mary Magdalene, similar to that of
husband and wife.
Jesus preferred to teach by the oral tradition method as a storyteller of parables,
similitudes, and exemplaries. He was a kind hearted healer who performed miraculous
healings, cast out demons, manifested food to fed the hungry, and calmed troubled and
stormy seas. He also was a mentor and benefactor to his disciples, assuring them that in
due course, they would also be capable of performing the miraculous deeds which he had
accomplished...
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Islam Muslim Islamic Sunnah
Around the time of Muhammad's birth in Makkah in 570, both of his parents died so he
was raised by his uncle, from the respected tribe of Quraysh. Known as Al-Amin, the
truthful and the trustworthy, because of his profoundly religious nature, Muhammad often
meditated in the cave of Hira near the summit of the Mount of Light, Jabal al-Nur.
He married a forty year old, righteous widow, Khadijah, when he was twenty-five. At the
age of forty, he received his first revelation through the Archangel Gabriel, (Jibrail), while
meditating on Jabal al-Nur (Mount Hira). This revelation which became known as the
Quran, continued for the next twenty-three years.
Muhammad suffered such bitter persecution when he began to recite the revealed words
about Allah and a Day of Judgement that he emigrated to Madinah with his small group of
followers in 622, the date of this pivotal journey or Hijra, marks the beginning of the
Muslim calendar.
After he made a farewell pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Makkah in 630, the Prophet
Muhammad returned to Madinah where he died on June 8, 632.
Within ten years, Islam was established throughout the whole Arabian Peninsula. Over
the next hundred years, Islam spread as far as Spain and China. Muslims believe that
Muhammad was the final Prophet of Almighty God and His Messenger to all humanity.
Muhammad believed that the message he received from Archangel Gabriel sura by sura
was the same one which Allah had sent down to the earliest humans. It contained a
description of the way of life which Allah had established for people to follow while they
lived here on earth.
By agreeing to follow this way of life, people would essentially be submitting themselves
to Allah. The name of this way of life was simply "submission". In Arabic this is "Islam"
In Islam, the Quran and the living example of the Prophet satisfied both mind and heart
and formed the foundation of a way of life where the spheres of law, economics, and
politics surrendered to the central creed of the oneness and uniqueness of Allah.
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Judaism Jewish Judaic Talmud
Judaism is a religious culture Halacha, or Way, and religious beliefs based primarily on
The Torah (The Hebrew Bible), which is comprised of 613 commandments (Mitzvot) that
cover all aspects of life from birth to death (G-d's revealed instructions to the Jewish
people).
The beliefs and customs of Judaism originated among a nomadic and pastoral people who
later developed into the agricultural Hebrews.There is an extensive body of lore and
teachings gathered over the centuries that clarifies and explains the ancient Biblical texts:
The Talmud, the teaching or rabbinical text; and, The Aggadah, the philosophical texts,
stories, and poetry.
There is also a mystical branch of Judaism which illuminates the nature of the G-dhead
emanate in the world and in communion with him through the transcendent self that is
embodied in the texts of The Kabbalah, the received tradition; and, The Zohar, the book
of Splendor or Illumination.
During their 4,000 year history, the Jewish people have - been conquered and been the
conquerors; been occupiers and been occupied; been self-governing and been enslaved;
and been nationalists and been exiles. They have also been influenced by the cultures of
ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Persia. A Hebrew Bible passage from Deuteronomy
offers a thought provoking perspective on the often intense struggles of the Jewish
people with different cultures and peoples over the millenium.
Deuteronomy 11:22-25..."If you will diligently observe this entire commandment that I
am commanding you, love the Lord your G-d, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to
him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess
nations larger and mightier than yourselves.
Every place on which you have set foot shall be yours; your territory shall extend from
the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the Western
Sea. No one shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your G-d will put the fear and
dread of you on all the land on which you set foot, as he promised you"...
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Shamanism
Shamanism is an ancient spiritual path. Stone Age cave paintings show animal
skin clad Shamans wearing antlers surrounded by animals. A nonstandardized
system of beliefs that varies from age to age and from place to place,
Shamanism is characterized by personal transformation which only comes after
one lets go of personal agendas and confronts the enigma of the labyrinth.
The Shaman wears many masks: priest/priestess, healer, metaphysician, and
magician as a bridge between the worlds, living at the thresholds of what is real
and what is illusion or delusion. Shamans have journeyed far, (sometimes in an
Ecstatic Trance state), and endured much (often aided by Spirit Helpers) to gain
knowledge of both cosmology and consciousness. Both men and women are
capable of becoming Shamans.
Although, people usually associate the word, Shaman with indigenous religions,
especially American Indian, Shamanism is part of many different Sacred
Pathways. It is a large limb with many branches on the World Tree.
A Shaman is quite simply ONE WHO KNOWS; one who knows how to retrieve lost
soul essence; one who knows how to heal; one who knows what stones, herbs,
or other sacred tools one needs to become whole; one who knows how to
communicate with other spirits in this and other dimensions through telepathy or
empathy; one who knows how to modulate energy signature frequency so that
one can walk between worlds; one who knows how to be here now - not just in
one dimension but in many dimensions simultaneously; one who knows how one
acquires power and knowledge; and, one who knows how to transmit and teach
that knowledge to others.
Like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz", Shamans often journey far in their search for
wholeness, wellness, and wisdom for themselves and for others. Rather than
summoning up a tornado to assist their journey, today's Shamans use rhythmic
chanting, drumming, and dance to facilitate their soul journeys to the Spirit
Lands.
They also use visualization to send themselves through an opening in the earth, a
hole at the base of a tree, a spring, a mineshaft or some other portal to a place
where they can meet and talk to the spirit helpers who will give them the
information or knowledge that they seek to heal the sick, to find solutions to
problems, or to restore balance to the world
Eventually as Shamans evolve and grow, like Dorothy at the end of "The Wizard
of Oz", they realize that they do not really have to travel on extensive journeys,
the answers to their questions are right in their own backyards, berries for the
picking on the bushes of intuition and inner knowing.
Over at least twenty millenium, Shamans have shared many different functions
for the tribe, clan, or group (traditions keeper, magician, seer, poet, diviner of
the weather and of the hunt, and healer of mind, body, and spirit). Found in
many diverse cultures, they are the ecstasy travellers, the trance journeyers, and
the purveyors of spirit world knowledge.
Traditionally Shamans came to the path by hereditary transmissions, personal
choice, or they were called by intense encounters with death or dark nights of the
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soul (falling from heights, being hit with lightening, lucid dreaming experiences
that they almost did not return from, and life threatening illnesses).
Shaman are the wounded healers who have passed through thorny thickets of
pain and crisis to bring the message of the aliveness of nature, of the
interconnectedness of all spirit beings, of the partnership of the god and goddess,
of the wisdom of the spirit realms to all the people of the planet.
The Shamans are the water singers, the tree talkers, the cloud walkers, the rock
guardians who bring a feeling of sacredness and dignified meaning to the
mundane. Using feather and stone, smoke and sound, song and dance, ritual and
transformation, the Shamans journey up and down all homeward bound roads,
and feather float up and down all streams that flow to the cosmic seas.
Recognizing the sacred presence of the nature spirits, the Shamans gather their
wisdom and blessings for others. The teachings they receive from the Spirit
Worlds are often individually tailored to match the measurements of
understanding of the recipients of the knowledge or healing.
Truly the most ancient of days and ways, Shamanism, is a global rainbow bridge
that spans from Australia to Africa to Asia to Europe to the Americas touching
and connecting all continents and countries in between, in a reciprocal loop of
Dreaming. As a prototypical faith, Shamanism recognizes the equal importance of
the sanctity of Wholeness and Wellness, of the holy energies of the goddess
(chalice/cauldron), as well as those of her partner the god.
Shamanism extends backward in time to the deep mystery caves and looks
forward to a time/space when there is a universal harmonic resonance of all the
diverse soul essences that comprise this glorious life dance we all call Creation.
Traditionally clans and groups identified themselves with the spiritual essence of
an animal, plant, or tree whose presence as a mentor, helper, protector and
guide rooted them more firmly in the Earth and bonded them to the Land.
The spirit of their particular Animal Totem symbolized many things to the clan or
group. It was honoured by them in many ways such as ceremonial offerings and
carvings of its likeness. The animal totem was sacred to them, therefore, it was
taboo to injure or harm that animal in any way. Animism was a belief that
everything, everywhere is alive with Spirit and Beingness, which infuse and
animate all of Creation.
Plants, animals, humans, and spirits are all interconnected by energetic threads
of light. Shamanic power is obtained by journeying and by communicating and
communing with this collective of spirits. To enhance the pursuit of knowledge
and power, Shamans may use magical tools, altars, rhythmic rituals, and give
offerings to the spirits. Animism, when it is combined with spirit trance
journeying, forms a core essence of Shamanism.
The Dreaming was the foundational blueprint and energetics template that
interpenetrates and surrounds the dimensions. Each dimension is separate and
distinct in its own rite/right with each dimension sequentially (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th
etc.) vibrating at a slightly more refined or highly modulated frequency level,
enabling them to all to simultaneously co-exist in the same time/space
continuum of the eternal now.
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For example, the midrange frequency levels of the fourth dimension are the
realm or place where your more etheric body, part of your overall circle of soul
essence, journeys to every night when you dream. We are all Shamans
unawares.
Shamans undergo training so that they can leave their physical bodies at will and
journey, out of body, into the dimension of the Dreaming where spirit guides and
fairy helpers reside. Sometimes Shamans develop their abilities to the point
where they can fluidly and easily accomplish trance journeys in the waking state
into other dimensions or have visions, waking dreams, that originate there.
Drumming as a Shamanic practice encouraged a trance state conducive for
mental travelling into altered states of consciousness, or for journeying into other
realities. Drumming circles offered the participants the opportunity to share the
knowledge and wisdom of the spirits and to work together for individual, group,
or earth healing.
The Earth Mother, the whole planet is alive with Spirit. The wind, the clouds, the
stones, the seas, the ocean, the birds, are all alive with Spirit. All beings,
including human beings, have Spirit and are worthy of respect and consideration.
In the Elder Days, our ancestors talked and mediated with the spirits they shared
sacred space with as a way of life, not as a mythos that only special seers could
interpret accurately.
The Earth Mother provides shelter, food, and healing herbs for everyone. Since
she is the seat of spirituality for us in this universe, the Shaman knows that it is
important to develop a harmonic relationship with her, to respect and appreciate
nature, the land, and the gifts continually bestowed up us from the loving heart
of the Earth Mother.
Shamanic Ecstasy was a state of focused exalted consciousness induced by
shamans through drumming, fasting, meditation, breath control, chanting,
dancing, or the ingestion of entheogenic plants. This ultra-ordinary zone of
Ecstasy where universal unity and verity surrounds the Shaman in a shimmering
cloak of transformational energies can be used to heal others.
Traditionally, Ecstasy was only achieved after the Shaman had undergone a
lengthy period of initiation and training. The Shamanic experience of Ecstasy
transcends the perception of the sacred by involving the Shaman directly in the
transcendent reality itself where both waking and Lucid Dreaming play a
significant role.
A Lucid Dreaming was a Shamanic technique for working with and within the
dreaming state. It involves being consciously awake during an out of body
experience. While their physical body is asleep, the Shaman leaves it behind to
go into the Dreaming where the Shaman explores inner landscapes, observing
personal dreams as they unfold, and often actively participates in them as they
progress by altering and fine tuning aspects of the dream itself.
Nature Spirits are the elemental spirits of earth, wind, fire, air, water, streams,
forests, plants, trees, mountains, stones, the land, sky, and sea which are
sentient in their own right and how their own divine purpose and path which
often overlaps and intersects with the path of Shamanism. A Shaman may
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interact with nature spirits during interdimensional journeying and altered states
of consciousness.
An individual person, rather than a group or clan, forms close relationships with
the spirit of one or more Power Animals who instruct, protect, and guide the
individual. As the unique bond between the person and the power animal
continues to grow the person often takes on the spiritual attributes associated
with that power animal to the point where the power animal almost becomes an
alter ego.
Shamans that shapeshift will often assume the shape of their primary power
animal. Each power animal has distinctive traits which it embodies, for instance,
the butterfly is identified with transformation, the bear with introspection, and
the mountain lion with leadership. Power animals may appear as a person
performs routine daily activities or in a dream when they sleep. Each time that
they enter a person's life with a sacred communication, it is a blessing from
Spirit.
When a Shaman acts in the capacity of Otherworld guide to those making the
transition from this phase of existence to the next, the shaman is referred to as a
Psychopomp. The Shaman makes sure that the soul separates from the body
after death (important when the person who dies is senile, confused, does not
realize they have passed on, or has been traumatized by a sudden death), and
often directs the deceased to the place they need to go on the other side.
In cases where a person who has died is stuck between worlds because they are
still attached to someone they love, the Shaman works with spirit helpers to
release them so that they may continue their soul journey. The Shaman also
works with those who mourn for people they've lost to retrieve soul essence lost
through shock and grief. Part of the Shamanic work involves helping others
consciously, gracefully, and holistically undergo the process of death and of
dying, bringing them to a serene sense of forgiving closure.
The spiral flow of the universal Sacred River of life can be seen and heard by
those who resonate with the pure frequencies of light and empowered love. It is
the Spirit stream that infuses and permeates all levels of Being. Shamans have
the ability to move into the waters and follow the eddies and currents on
journeys of healing, restoration, and wisdom seeking.
As spiritual technicians both male and female Shamans act as a bridge between
worlds and live day to day at the edge of threshold boundaries. A state of ecstasy
was at the heart of traditional shamanic experience and custom, while,
journeying in its many manifestations was common to Shamans worldwide across
the ages.
To be a Shaman is to embark on many trips of transpersonal transcendence
beyond ordinary states of consciousness where the Shaman easily perceives
multiple levels of simultaneous existence. Although Shamans wear many masks
(magician, healer, metaphsyician, priest or priestess) each Shaman walks an
individual Shamanic path, a path for the resilient, the hardy, and the daring.
Shamanism is a path where one often receives a Shamanic Call (Shamanic
Sickness) where one is called to in diverse ways to Walk and Travel upon: by
Spirit, the Spirits, and/or their Soul. When the call comes from the depths of
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one's star core, it is the voice of the most primal essential Self, yearning for
home, for a sense of Wholeness. Not everyone who hears the call, chooses to
make the journey.
A common experience that accompanies the call (and it acts as an impetus for
change and growth by the potential shaman) is a physical, psychic, or spiritual
crisis where the shaman often has to heal herself or himself. (Healer heal
thyself). The Dreaming of the prospective shaman often is the venue for initiatory
experiences as well as spontaneous trance or waking dream states.
This Shamanic Sickness (marked by solitude; visions; singing; eccentric
behaviour; mood swings; and periods of illness and melancholy as one forgives
the past and releases pain, forgetfulness, and illusions) may go on for days,
months, or even years, providing the shaman with necessary between worlds
experience.
Shamanic Counselling is the journey a person undertakes with a shaman and the
help of their power animals and spirit guides to reconnect and restore wholeness
and wellness to their soul. It involves metamorphic change and transmutative
healing of mind, body, and spirit. The shaman helps by resolving issues,
answering questions, solving problems, providing personal power remedies, and
rejuvenating soul essence.
Shamans believe that a person or an animal becomes ill or diseased either
through power loss or power intrusions. Trauma, grief, bereavement, and shock
all are catalysts for soul essence loss. This creates an emptiness, a soul hole that
can be filled with negativity, or imbalanced power can intrude.
The purpose of Shamanic Healing is to restore strength by unblocking the flow of
energy (physical, mental, emotional, psychic, and psychological). The Shaman
journeys with the person to be healed into moments of intense pain or agony
that lie hidden in the shadowy recesses of their Spirit skein. Together with the
help of power totems and spirit guides, they shine the light of insight on them,
acknowledge them, and revitalize the soul essence.
Shamanic Journeying (Shamanic Flight/Soul Travel) takes many forms. There is
the journey the soul takes in other dimensions in the spirit or astral body. There
is the journey a Shaman takes between worlds and dimensions in varying states
of trance with either their whole consciousness or just a part of their overall
awareness. There is the journey of memory where the soul revisits past traumas
and episodic moments of soul loss or theft through mental remembrance.
There is the journey of the Shaman into an altered state of consciousness where
the energies of the spirit guides and animal totems reside which is undertaken
while the Shaman remains in a state of non-ordinary but controlled enlivened
awareness. There is the journey of the Shaman up and down the Sacred River,
the World Mountain, and the World Tree for the purpose of healing, divining,
gathering knowledge, and interceding with the spirits.
When Shamans travel in their spirit form, they often have the ability to make
themselves visible to others. Since their spirit bodies are malleable to their
thoughts, they often Shapeshift (Shapechange) into other forms such as birds,
cat, dogs, wolves, or the facsimile of another person. We all have the ability to
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shapeshift when we travel in our astral bodies while our bodies are sleeping or at
rest.
Some Shamans exercise this ability when they consciously journey about in their
astral (spirit) bodies and use their mental focusing power to downstep their
vibrations enough to be perceived visually by others in the third dimension who
are in the waking state. Rarer still are Shamans who actually assume the form of
an animal, bird, or other creature by temporarily rearranging their molecular
structure and shifting their shape
If someone feels that they are not the same after some physical or emotional
trauma, they have experienced the soul loss of life force, of psychic, or spiritual
energies. The part of them that remembers the trauma has splintered off and
needs to be retrieved. The process of doing so is called Soul Loss Retrieval. When
a relationship ends, often one or both of the partners takes a piece of the other
person with them if they have trouble letting go. Soul loss does not always have
to be dramatic or traumatic, it can happen because a person lacks discipline, so
that little by little, like a slow air leak or a dripping faucet, they lose soul essence.
Another person can steal an individual's vital energy without their being
consciously aware of it because they are immersed in the mire of a distressing
relationship. There can also be spiritual parasites in a person's energy field which
the shaman may see as insects or dark energy clouds that need to be removed.
Soul return is a kind of rebirth facilitated by shamanic healing and counselling.
Spirit Guides (Guardian Spirits) are numinous beings that have a personal
relationship with or interest in a person, wanting to help them with their
visionquest to fulfil their higher purpose and to guide them with answers to their
spoken and unspoken questions. Shamans receive advice, teaching, protection,
and assistance on their journeys from spirit guides by visions, dreams, altered
states, telepathic communications, and empathetic observations of nature.
Trance States are states of awareness (light, medium, deep) where the shaman
is totally conscious while journeying to other dimensions and alternate realties
that are contiguous with ordinary waking state consciousness; yet; beyond the
normal perceptual range of most individuals. During these trance states shamans
are in control of their awareness as they communicate with spirits, have visions,
and gather information.
The trance states vary from being similar to the state of being deeply engrossed
in a book to being similar to the state of vivid imagery which often occurs during
the moments between sleep and wakefulness. The deep trance states are most
similar to Lucid Dreaming where the dreamer not only has vivid sensory images
but also interacts with them.
Whenever the shaman seeks personal path revelations, the guiding spirits call for
a period of withdrawal, of solitary reflection, prayer, and meditation. This
transformative and transmutative inward journey of purification, healing, and
intuitive growth is called a Visionquest. It can be a dangerous journey where the
shadows within often confront the soul as the imperfections of character are
brought to the surface for cleansing. "The caterpillar dreams of ways to become a
butterfly and wakes up knowing how".
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The World Mountain and the World Tree are both symbolic representations of
Spirit as the axis of the world, the center of the planet. The foundations of both
the World Mountain and the World Tree reach deep beneath the earth below and
way up high into the heavens above. They also represent the flow of Spirit, the
Spiral Path, used by Shamans to journey between worlds.
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Shintoism
The Kami Way of the goddesses and gods, the indigenous faith of the Japanese
people, Shintoism has neither a founder nor sacred scriptures like the Bible or the
Sutras. As old as the people themselves, Shinto was deeply rooted in Japanese
traditions which included Creation myths, folklore about the kami, as well as, the
Kojiki and Nihongi sacred texts. Shintoism is an optimistic faith that believes all
humans are intrinsically good and that all evil is caused by evil spirits. In Shinto
everything is spiritual with no separation between the material and spiritual.
The architecture of the shrines, Noh theatre, calligraphy, and the court dance
music (Gagaku) are all important features of Shinto. Most of Shinto rituals focus
on prayers (either at a home altar or at a shrine), purification, and offerings to
keep away evil spirits. Since animals sometimes do mischievous or harmful
things to people, Shinto rites are performed to console and placate the animal
spirits. In the university medical facilities of some universities, Shinto rites are
performed to console the spirits of animals killed during experiments.
Talismans to ensure good health, safe travel, success in business endeavours,
doing well in school examinations, trouble-free childbirth, and many other things
are obtainable at Shinto Shrines. Before opening a factory or a nuclear power
plant, Shinto Rites are also preformed to purify buildings to ensure that in the
future everything will operate safely and function correctly.
There is no written Shinto code of ethics and morals. In 285 A.C.E., the teachings
of the esteemed Chinese philosopher Kong Fuzi (Confucius), who lived in China
from 551-479 B.C.E., made their way from Korea to Japan. Over the centuries,
the important principles of consideration, humanity, loyalty and morality
(applicable to both individuals and countries) were instilled into Shintoism. Chu
Hsi Confucianism also greatly influenced Japanese education, government, and
society.
During the sixth century, the complex theories of Mahayana or "Greater Vehicle"
Buddhism were introduced into the Japanese culture via China and Korea. Even
though the ruling nobles of Japan at that time welcomed Buddhism as the new
state religion, the common people continued to prefer Shinto. After some early
differences, the followers of Shinto and Buddhism were able to reach a
complementary accord between their belief systems.
Most Japanese municipalities have at least one Buddhist temple or monastery
displaying sacred objects, while larger areas like Kyoto have several thousand of
them. Buddhism temples in Japan typically have main halls, lecture halls for
meetings, multi-storied pagodas, entrance gates to the temple grounds, temple
bells, and cemeteries with ancestors' graves.
Shinto became the state religion of Japan in the Meiji Period. At the time, Shinto
Priests became state officials and Shinto shrines were funded by the government.
The Japanese Creation myths were then used as a foundational impetus to
liberate Shinto practices by detaching them from any connections they might
have made with Buddhism. Following World War II, the religion of Shinto was
once again separated from state support.
Today over four million Japanese visit Shinto shrines to pray for good fortune; to
keep away evil spirits before special events; and to procure talismans. Most
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weddings are performed as Shinto rituals. Since followers of Shinto view death as
a cause of impurity, Buddhist rites are usually performed at funerals.
The Shinto goddesses and gods continue to assist the people of Japan and the
planet as Hierarchs and Archangels of the Twelve Universal Rays. For descriptive
information about Kami goddesses and gods (Amaterasu, Benten, Daikokuten,
Ebisu, Futotama, Hachiman, Inari, Inazuma, Izanagi, Izanami, Okuninushi,
Sengen, Susanowa, Tenjin, and Toyouke), please see Creation Myth, Goddesses
and Gods below.
Shintoism has a Creation Myth. The Shinto faith began with the mythological
belief that at the beginning of the universe there was only one thing that later
divided into two things, Heaven and Earth. Then kami appeared in Heaven and
the last of them was a male and female, kami couple who gave birth to the land,
to nature, to the kami, and to the people of Japan. Within this life giving power,
there is no substantial difference between humans and nature or the kami. We
are all children of kami. After their death people are revered at their home as
Ancestral Kami.
These Kami parents were Izanami (Izanami-No-Kami) who was the Japanese
Shinto earth mother and Izanagi (Izanagi-No-Kami) was the Japanese Shinto sky
father. Izanami (Izanami-No-Kami) who was the Japanese Shinto earth mother,
Primordial creator goddess, who represented all that was gracious and heavenly.
"The Female Who Invites" together with her husband, brother, and soulmate
Izanagi (Izanagi-No-Kami), "The Male Who Invites", Izanami was given the task
of creating the world.
Izanagi (Izanagi-No-Kami) was the Japanese Shinto sky father, primordial creator
god, and Initiator of the Cleansing Rites who represented all that was light and
heavenly. "The Male Who Invites" together with his wife, sister, and soulmate
Izanami (Izanami-No-Kami), "The Female Who Invites", Izanagi was given the
task of creating the world.
Izanagi and Izanami stood together on the floating bridge of the heavens called
"Ama-no-ukihashi" and immersed a bejeweled spear deep into the sea. As they
gradually removed it from the waves, water droplets condensed to form the first
Japanese island where the kami and humans were born.
After their laborious endeavours together were finished, the Izanami needed a
lengthy rest and recuperation, so she retreated to the Otherworld for a long
period of time before returning to the Earthly realm to rejoin Izanagi.
Kami are Shinto sacred spirits that are the objects to pray to for blessings and
grace and to worship for their spirituality. The kami can take various forms
including: the forms of natural elements like trees, rocks, mountains, the wind,
and the sun; the forms of national heroes and protectors of family clans; or
abstract things like fertility. Kami are the only things that have great influence on
daily life. The kami of natural phenomena are worshiped: kami of the seas, kami
of the rivers, kami of the thunders, kami of the rains, kami of the mountains. It is
important to perform rites for kami since although they usually guard and bless
people they can also get angry and bring misfortunes upon them.
The kami are neither omnipotent nor omniscient. In Shinto mythology, the
kamiah that gave birth to the land of Japan failed at first and had to ask for help
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from other kami in heaven who told them to search for the answers through the
practice of divination. There are no absolutes or perfect kami.
The people worship the divine spirits, Shinrei, because they have great influence
in their lives, and they are in awe of the Magatsuhi Kami who bring evil into the
daily living. Some of the most widely recognized of the Shinto gods and
goddesses were Amaterasu, Benten, Daikokuten, Ebisu, Futotama, Hachiman,
Inari, Inazuma, Izanagi, Izanami, Okuninushi, Sengen, Susanowa, Tenjin, and
Toyouke.
Many of the ancient Japanese Shinto kami goddesses and gods are now serving
the Japanese and other peoples of the planet as Archangels and Hierarchs of the
Twelve Universal Rays. More of these Japanese kami goddesses and gods are in
the process of joining them as Hierarchs of the Twelve Universal Rays and
selecting Sacred Sites focal points as of summer 2005. Once the write-ups about
them are completed, they will be included below.
Amaterasu (Ama Terasu, Omikami, Shinmei, Ten-sho-Ko-Daijan, O-Hiru-Me-NoMuchi), was a highly revered Japanese Shinto sun goddess. The daughter of the
Creator god Izanagi and goddess Izanami, Amaterasu was known as "She Who
Shines in the Heavens", "Illustrious Goddess" and "Ruler of the Plain of Heaven",
and the Japanese Imperial family was descended from her. Written about in the
Kojiki and Nihongi Japanese Sacred Texts, she has been revered since at least
600 A.C.E. The principal Kami of Shintoism, Amaterasu has been depicted in
artistic paintings and sculptures.
Honoured at every family shrine, her primary Sacred Site is the Ise Naiku Shrine,
where the body of Amaterasu is represented by a mirror. Located at Ise-Jingue
on Ise on the island of Honshu, the Naiku Shrine is pulled down every twenty
years and then rebuilt in its original form.
The tutelary goddess of the Emperor, Amaterasu created rice fields called "inada" where she
cultivated rice. She also taught the people how to cultivate wheat and silkworms, as well as, how
to weave with a loom. Amaterasu has reunited and reestablished her partnership with her
brother/husband god Susanowa and regularly spends some time with him at his Sacred Site at
Keino Matsubara, Awajishima.
Benten (Benten San, Benzai Ten, Benzai Tennyo) was a beautiful Japanese
goddess of the arts, good fortune, knowledge, language, water, wealth, and
wisdom. One of the Shichi Fujukin, "Seven Japanese Shinto Happiness Beings",
Enoshima Island rose from the waters to receive the footsteps of Benten. There
are many sanctuaries dedicated to Benten like the popular Zeniarai Benten
Shrine in western Kamakura. She was revered in both Japanese Shinto and
Buddhist traditional practices. Benten was also the protectress of children,
dancers, geishas, and musicians. Benten is often depicted holding a "Biwa"
instrument in her hand.
Daikokuten (Daikoku) was a Japanese Shinto god of luck, happiness, wealth,
agriculture, crops, farming, rice paddies, harvests, and kitchens. As Ta-No-Kami,
he was an agricultural, farming, and rice paddies god in western Japan. Often
portrayed as a wealthy rotund figure seated on two bales of rice with a sack of
jewels over his shoulder, he also held a hammer in his right hand. Frequently a
mouse was also depicted nibbling at one of the bales of rice. According to
Japanese traditions, whenever Daikokuten shakes his hammer a large amount of
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money falls out of it. Small gold talismans with representations of Daikokuten on
them are carried to ensure prosperity, abundance, and wealth.
Inari was a Japanese Shinto kami goddess of rice, agriculture, and foodstuffs. A
gifted shamanic healer, she often appears in the guises such as a bearded man
riding a white fox. She was revered as Miketsu-No-Kami revered at the imperial
palace. Most often Inari was depicted in pictures as a woman with long flowing
hair with sheaves of rice. She often also rode a white fox. Her animal totem is the
fox, an prolific animal endowed according to Japanese traditions with
supernatural powers. There were numerous statues of foxes at Inari shrines,
which were painted bright red. They also had rows of wooden portal tunnels
leading to the shrine. Inari was also associated with an unique pear shaped
implement encircled by small flames called a Hoju-No-Tama.
Okuninushi was the Japanese Shinto god of magic, marriage, and medicine who
as a skilled shaman journeyed to the underworld several times, and underwent
many spiritual tests. After he successfully completed them, Okuninushi returned
renewed and restored to become the symbol of the "dying and budding nature".
Using his mythological proportioned organizational skills, he consolidated,
secured and strengthened the creative efforts of Izanagi and Izanami before
fathering many offspring by numerous consorts.
Toyouke, Toyo-Uke-Bime, was a Shinto goddess of agriculture, earth, and
foodstuffs. As Toyouke-Omikami she was the goddess of grain. Mentioned in the
Kojiki as the great granddaughter of Izanagi and Izanami, she was a daughter of
Waku-Musubi-No-Kami. Her main sanctuary was moved in 478 A.C.E. from the
Tamba Shrine to the Geku Shrine after the emperor received a dream message
from Amaterasu.
Sengen, (Konohanasakuya, Ko-no-Hana-Saku-ya-Hime) was a Japanese Shinto
sacred mountain and blossom goddess. "Dawn of Good Luck", "Child-Flower",
"The Princess who makes the Tree-Blossom Bloom", and "Tsubaki, Pink Blossom
Princess", Sengen, who was also formerly known as Princess Konohanasakuya,
guards the secret well of eternal youth.
Susanowa, (Susanoto, Susano, Susano-Wo) was a Shinto wind, storm, weather,
and sea god. According to Japanese mythology, he was born from the nose of the
Izanagi and represents the both the physical world and the chthonic otherworld.
Susanowa was the archetypal shamanic journeyer, spiritual warrior, and vision
quester who gained notoriety as a Shinto god who followed the dictates of his
own inner voice and heart even if they were at odds with conventional wisdom
and the customary ways of the other Kami.
"Conquering Kami", "Powerful Transformative Healer of Illnesses, and "Wielder of
the Grass Cutting Sword", he was credited with wiping out the plaque, as well as,
defeating enemies and monsters. Portrayed artistically in paintings and
sculptures, Susanowa was also mentioned in the Shintoism Nihongi and Kojiki
Shintoism texts. The brother of the Shinto moon god Tsuki-Yomi and the sun
goddess Amaterasu, Susanowa represented both the physical world and the
chthonic otherworld.
Out of primordial necessity, Susanowo initially mated with his sister Amaterasu,
but their earlier partnership was short-lived since she was repulsed by his
temperamental excesses and sought refuge in a heavenly cave until she was
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eventually coaxed out by seeing the reflection of her divine purity in a mirror.
Grounding his passionate nature in the earthly realm, Susanowa later on fathered
offspring that included the harvest god O-Toshi-No-Kami with other consorts.
Then after the passage of many years, a more even-tempered, less volatile, and
seasoned Susanowa reestablished his partnership with sister/wife Amaterasu.
People visit Shinto Shrines seeking many different kinds of Ema blessings like
happiness, health, success, love, and wealth. After they arrive at the shrine they
write all their desires down on a wooden plate and leave the plated behind when
they depart with the hope that all of these wishes will be fulfilled in due course.
There are three types of artistically landscaped Japanese Garden Designs. They
are Chaniwa Tea Gardens, Karesansui Gardens, and Tsukiyama Gardens. The
effortless simplicity of the Chaniwa Tea Gardens are atheistically pleasing.
Usually stepping stones lead towards the tea houses where the sado tea
ceremonies are held. There are stone lanterns and a tsukubai stone basin where
guests purify themselves before participating in the customary ceremony. A fairly
popular Japanese pastime, the ritual way for the host to prepare the matcha
green tea for the guests to drink has been keenly affected by Zen Buddhism.
Each ritualized step must be committed to memory and nearly every hand
movement has been prescribed.
The Karesansui Gardens are dry gardens used for meditation that have also been
keenly affected by Zen Buddhism. This type of Japanese artistically landscaped
garden utilizes moss, gravel, sand, and stones to represent aspects of the natural
landscape like island, mountains, and rivers. In Tsukiyama Gardens there are
replicas of hills. Variable in size and perspective, they comprehensively depict a
reknown Japanese setting with bridges, flowers, trees, paths, ponds, streams,
and stones. Many of the larger Tsukiyama Gardens have circular scrolling paths.
Hanami refers to the sakura (cherry blossom), which usually only blooms for a
few days in the spring, is the unofficial flower of Japan. There are numerous
varieties of cherry trees, and, cherry blossom viewing parties are held by the
Japanese underneath the cherry trees to celebrate that time of year. Hanami,
which means flower viewing, figures prominently in Japanese culture.
For many centuries, people have gathered together across the country to enjoy
the intense beauty of the cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom viewing might include
a stroll through a park or garden in combination with a traditional picnic party
under the blossoms of a tree. Popular hanami picnic spots are usually reserved
ahead of time by spreading picnic sheets on the ground early in the morning.
Either the picnic sheet is marked with the party group's name and starting time
or else someone from the hanami party waits there until the rest of their group
arrives.
When viewed from a distance, groups of cherry trees in full bloom resemble
beautiful horizon clouds. Up close, the exquisite loveliness of a single cherry
blossom delights the viewer. Cherry blossom viewing is often an exceptionally
outstanding sight at shrines, temples, and castles, as well as, hanami spots that
are lit up in the evening.
Hogaku traditional Japanese music includes ancient Chinese and Korean court
music Gagaku), Folk songs (Minyo), Biwagaku music played on a four string
guitar like instrument called a Biwa, the music of Noh Theater (Nogaku), and
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Sokyoku music played on an Koto (a thirteen string zither) accompanied by a
Shakuhachi (long flute), and, a Shamisen (three stringed guitar that also
complements Bunraku and Kabuki performances).
Komainu are pairs of guardians at posted on both sides of the entrances to
Shinto shrines called Komainu. Usually pairs of dogs and sometimes pairs of
lions, at the Inari Shrines, the Komainu are foxes.
Makato connotes the Shinto ethic of roundedness - that good is found in inner
harmony, sincerity of heart, good will, and cooperation, while selfish desires,
social discord, hatred, and a malevolent heart only serve as an invitation for evil
to enter your life.
The pristine majesty of Nature and the Natural World with its sacred mountains,
hills, and forests places an important role in Shintoism. Nature encompasses
more than two thirds of the Japanese landscape (residential and industrial areas
cover less than ten percent of the environs). From subtropic Okinawa to subartic
Hokkaido, the archipelago showcases a splendidly diverse array of flora and
fauna that includes the bear, fox (kitsune), raccoon dog (tanuki), tropical snake,
Japanese monkey and deer, as well as, bamboo (take) and decorative plants like
the pine tree (Matsu), the Japanese maple tree (Momiji) and plum tree (Ume).
Bamboo (Take), a quickly growing evergreen tree, has traditionally been used for
construction and in arts and crafts, while, the tree shoots (taeknoko) continue to
be a perennial spring delicacy. The pine tree (Matsu), which retains its greenery
all year long and symbolizes youthful longevity, is a common decorative plant in
Japanese gardens along with the Japanese maple tree (Momiji) with its
spectacular autumn foliage. The plum tree (Ume) heralds spring when its
blossoms bloom several weeks before the cherry blossoms.
There are two types of Theatre in Japan. They are Noh Theatre and Kyogen
Theatre. Noh Theatre originated as a traditional form of classical Japanese
theatre in the fourteenth century. Actors wearing masks stage a dramatic artistic
production that includes a chorus, musical instruments, poetry, speech, song,
chants, poetry, and dance. There is also a lighter comedic side to classical
Japanese theatre called Kyogen which emphasizes dialogue more than
music.Sharing a common heritage, Noh and Kyogen are performed alternately on
the same program with Kyogen actors performing roles during the Noh
interludes. The plays are usually staged outdoors under a roof with four columns.
They often showcase the Kami Gods and Goddesses. Musical instruments used
include hourglass shaped drums (kotsuzumi okawa or otsuzum) and a transverse
flute (nokan).
The Japanese randomly pick pieces of Omikuji paper that predict upcoming
events in their life like good luck (daikichi) or misfortune (daikyo). When they
visit a shrine or temple they attach these future prophecies to tree branches with
the hope of encouraging fortuitous outcomes and avoiding those that are less
auspicious.Whether at home or at a shrine, Shinto prayers follow a pattern. First
the mouth and hands are cleansed with clean water. Then, offerings are given of
food at home or coins at the shrine, bow deeply twice, clap your hands twice,
bow deeply once more, and pray.
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The Shinto priests, who perform the rituals, are private persons (male and
female) who can marry and have children. Miko in white kimonos, young
unmarried ladies who are usually the priest's daughters, usually support the
priests by helping them at rituals and in other tasks in the shrine. There are
several educational institutions and examinations for those who want to become
priests or obtain a higher priestly grade or status.<BR>
<BR>
Within the Shinto priesthood there are six grades (the Superior, the First, the
Second, the Semi-Second, the Third, and the Fourth grades); and five ranks
(Johkai, Meikai, Seikai, Gon-Seikai, and Chokkai). With rare exceptions, priests
must have served in shrines for more than twenty years as Shinto priests before
they can be given grades above the Semi-Second. To become a Guji, chief priest,
the priest must have obtained a rank higher than Gon-Seikai for an ordinary
shrine, and higher than Meikai to serve as the Guji of certain eminent shrines.
Weather Kami were known as Raijin. Raijin Kami included a large group of Shinto
deities that controlled the rain, thunder, and storms that such as Aji-Shiki-TakaHiko-Ne, Fujin, Hayaji, Inazuma, Kamo-Waka-Ikazuchi, Shina-Tseu-Hiko, ShinaTsu-Himes, Susanowa, and Taka-Mi-Musubi-No-Kami.
The life of the ancient Japanese was deeply rooted in the Sacred Forest. After
being handed down from generation to generation, Shinto today is still a "religion
of the forest" where the natural landscape, steep mountains, deep valleys, and
even planted forests are sacred places where the Kami dwell. A grove itself was
considered a shrine and a sacred place for the village. Jinja shrines are
surrounded by sacred groves because the Kami who live in deep valleys or on
steep mountains need a place to stay for awhile when they come to visit. The
people can then conduct festivals and rituals in the grace of the deity.
There are no Shinto scriptures per se but there are certain Sacred Writings that
embody the spirit of Shinto and are central to it. They include: the Kojiki (Record
of Ancient Matters) and the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan) classics which
contain the mythology of the Kami, the founding of Japan and its imperial line,
and the records of the early emperors; the Shinto ritual texts on purification, the
Engishiki; and the ritual dances of the Kagura-uta; and the Man'yoshu,
(Anthology of Poems).
In Shintoism there are seven important Kami, the Shichi Fujukin, who are
benefactors of the Japanese people bringing them Good Fortune and Luck. This
group of "Seven Happiness Beings" includes Benten, Bishamon, Daikoku, Ebisu,
Fukurokuju, Hotei, and Jurojin. Symbolically the Shichi-Fuku-Jin are portrayed
travelling in a treasure ship called Takara-Bune which holds a limitless purse, an
invisibility hat, heavenly treasury keys, and other magical objects. After carefully
cleaning their homes for Sanganichi, the Japanese New Year, people make
prayerful requests to these "Seven Happiness Beings".
Shimenawa refers to the boundary to something sacred like a torri gate, sacred
stone or tree is marked with a straw rope Shimenawa. For ritual ceremonies, the
highest ranking sumo wrestler wear a similar rope called a yokozuna rope.
The Sumiyoshi-No-Kami include a group of three Sea Kami called the MunakataNo-Kami who safeguard fisherman and seafarer and also function as the tutelary
benefactors of poets, The Sumiyoshi also have a cleansing and purifying role as
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well. Besides Munakata Taisha, One of their main shrines is Sumiyoshi Taisha
located in Osaka.
Sumo wrestling originated in ancient Japan as religious performances for the
Shinto Kami. Many of those rituals are still practiced today. Sumo wrestlers are
highly trained athletes who are usually between the ages of twenty and thirtyfive. Every year there are six sumo wrestling tournaments that each last for
fifteen days. Three are held in Tokyo, one in Fukuoka, one in Osaka, and one in
Nagoya. Sumo wrestling matches normally last only a few seconds. Sumo
wrestlers win when their opponent either touches the floor with something other
than the soles of his feet or leaves the ring. The highest rank a sumo wrestler
can achieve is that of "yokozuna".
Torri gates indicate the approach and entrance to shrines. Although torri are
usually constructed from wood and painted orange, sometimes other colours and
materials are used.
The Ume tree, occasionally referred to as the Japanese apricot tree, has been
associated with the beginning of spring since plum blossoms are among the first
blossoms to open, heralding springtime. Ume Matsuri (plum festivals) are usually
celebrated in February and March in public parks, shrines and temples in the
Tokyo area, as well as, across the country. The colours of the strongly scented
plum blossoms range from dark pink to white. Although most of the plum
blossoms are five petalled, there are some cultivated species called yae-ume that
have more than five petals and weeping plum trees called shidare-ume.
Shinto perceives the sacred in nature and the presence of deities in trees, rivers,
thunder, stones, waterfalls, mountains, and valleys. The numinous kami are
worshiped, as well as, the ancestral and guardian spirits, and the spirits of
national heroes. More than two thirds of Japan is covered with forests, hills, and
mountains, while, urban and industrial areas like Tokyo, Osaka, and the coasts of
Tokaido and Sanyo occupy like less than ten percent of the land.
Ancient folk beliefs and rituals were deeply rooted in a distant past. Remains with
magical significance have been discovered that are from the Jomon period around
200 B.C. Local shrines where festivals take place are the focal point of the
community. Every home has a Kamidana, Kami goddess god shelf, which is the
focus of daily offerings and reverence.
Worship of the kami usually takes places in shrines located in the beauty of
nature, but they may be revered anywhere. The Sun goddess, Amaterasu is the
chief of the kami, and the patron deity of Japan. These three traditions have been
woven together into the tapestry of Japanese ethics, customs, culture, attitudes,
and overall outlook on life. Some Shinto virtues to be emulated are: observation
of Shinto Rites with attentiveness, purity of heart, and authenticity; gratitude for
the blessings of the Kami and the beneficence of ancestors; and helpful service to
others and the world without regard for reward.
Over time, Shinto has ripened into four main forms: Jinja Shinto (The Shrine
Shinto), Koshitsu Shinto (Shinto of the Imperial House), Minzoku Shinto (The
Folk Shinto), and Shuha Shinto, (The Sect Shinto). The Four Main Forms of
Shintoism Shinto are Jinja Shinto, Koshitsu Shinto, Minzoku Shinto, and Shuha
Shinto. In Jinja Shinto, the shrines are the homes of the kami and places of
worship where festivals, Matsuri, are regularly celebrated to show kami the world
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outside the shrine. Communities organized the Shinto shrines but imperial Shinto
rituals at the court were an important governmental task performed by the
emperor. In ancient times the rites were performed outdoors. A piece of
unpolluted land was roped off in a square and a stand of tree was erected as an
invitation to the kami. This place was called Himorogi. If a rock were chosen
instead of a tree, the place was called Iwasaka.
After Buddhism came to Japan, the image of Buddha was worshiped in a building.
This influenced Shinto to enshrine the kami spirit in a building and to perform the
ancient style of rituals before constructing the buildings. (Jichinsai). With the
exception of the medieval period from 1192-1603 when the Japanese enshrined
an image of kami that resembles Buddha, the kami have been worshipped
without an image.
The Jinja shrine is usually situated in a natural environment. To give the
impression of purity, the architectural style is simple. Many different styles
evolved under the influence of Yin-Yang thought and Buddhism. Plain wood and
thatched roofs developed into painted materials and sculptures affixed to the
buildings. Generally paper or cloth strips attached to a stand or a Heihaku mirror
were the objects of worship. A shrine grove and tree lined path leads to the main
shrine building (even in urban areas were they are maintained on a smaller
scale).
Principal Centre: Shinto shrines can be found in groves of trees all over Japan. All
the shrines have Torii, sacred gates, and often contain water for symbolic
purification of hands and mouth; larger shrines have main halls, buildings for
offerings, and oratories. Inside the main hall resides the Goshintai, god-body,
which is sometimes represented by a mirror, but more often, nothing at all. The
classic Shinto shrine is the world-renowned Ise Shrine, the primary cult site for
Amaterasu, the most important of the kami.
In Koshitsu Shinto, conclave rites are performed by the emperor, who under the
Japanese constitution, is the symbol of the state and the unity of the people. His
prayers for a long continuation of the state, for the happiness of the people, and
for world peace are centered around the goddess, Amaterasu Ohmikami, who
according to Japanese myth is the ancestral deity of the emperor. The Daijosai
Festival of Thanksgiving is the first Niinamesai (rite of thanksgiving) performed
by the newly crowned emperor of Japan in a temporarily built palace inside the
Imperial Palace, called Daijokyu. Other Koshitsu rites include rites performed at
the Grand Shrine of Ise where Amaterasu Ohmikami is enshrined.
Three imperial shrines were erected inside the palace in 1869 when the capital of
Japan in Kyoto was relocated to Tokyo. Amaterasu Ohmikami, the imperial
ancestral deity, is centrally enshrined in Kashikodokoro; the deities of heaven
and earth are enshrined on the east side in Shindenwhich; and the spirits of
successive emperors are enshrined on the west side in Koreiden. An additional
shrine Shinkaden was built in order to perform the rite of Thanksgiving,
Niinamesaithere. All the Koshitsu rites are performed in these shrines which are
interconnected by corridors.
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Sikh Religious Philosophy
"Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is Truthful Living." (Guru
Nanak, Sri Rag) There is only one God, he is the Creator, Sustainer
and Destroyer.
"You are the Creator, O Lord, the Unknowable. You created the Universe
of diverse kinds, colours and qualities. You know your own Creation. All
this is your Play." (Guru Nanak, Var Majh)
"The Formless Supreme Being abides in the Realm of Eternity. Over His
creation He casts His glance of grace. In that Realm are contained all the
continents and the universes, Exceeding in number all count. Of creation
worlds upon worlds abide therein; All obedient to His will; He watches
over them in bliss, And has each constantly in mind." (Guru Nanak,
Japji)
God cannot take human form.
"He neither has father, nor mother, nor sons nor brothers." (Guru
Nanak, Maru)
"Burnt be the mouth that asserts, the Lord takes birth. He is neither
born nor dies; neither enters birth nor departs. All pervasive is Nanaks
Lord." (Guru Arjan Dev, Raga Bhairon)
The goal of human life is to break the cycle of birth's and deaths and
merge with God. This can be accomplished by following the teachings of
the Guru, meditation on the Holy Name and performance of acts of
service and charity.
Without devotion to the Name Divine is birth in the world gone waste.
Such consume poison, poisonous their utterance; Without devotion to
the Name, without gain they die, and after death in transmigration
wander." (Guru Nanak, Raga Bhairon)
"True life is life in God, contemplation on the Name and the society of
the saints" (Guru Arjan Dev, Dhanasari)
"I shall merge in the Lord like the water in the sea and the wave in the
stream. The soul will merge in God and like air I shall look upon all alike.
Then why shall I come again? The coming and going is under the Will of
the Lord and Realising This Will, I shall merge in the Lord" (Bhagat
Kabir, Maru)
"The disciple of the True Guru (God) dwells upon the Lord through the
teaching of the Guru and all his sins are washed away" (Guru Ram Das,
Var Gauri)
"Our service in the world gets us a seat in the Court of the Lord" (Guru
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Nanak, Sri Rag)
"One known as disciple of the holy Perceptor must, rising at dawn, on
the Name Divine meditate" (Guru Ram Das, Raga Gauri)
The five cardinal vices are; Kam (lust), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed),
Moh (worldly attachment) and Ahankar (pride). If one can overcome
these, they will achieve salvation.
"Five thieves who live within this body are lust, anger, greed,
attachment and ego. They rob us of ambrosia, but the egocentrics do
not understand it and no one listens to their cries" (Guru Amar Das,
Sorath)
"I am in the Refuge of the Lord; Bless me, O Lord with your Grace, so
that the lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego may be destroyed"
(Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri Sukhmani)
Narm Marg; emphasizes daily devotion to the remembrance of
God.
"Meditation of the Lord is the highest of the deeds, through which
myriads obtain release, through which the thirst (of desires) is
quenched, through which one becomes all knowing, through which the
fear of death goes away, through which all the desires are fulfilled,
through which the dirt of the mind is cleansed and the Nectar of the
Name of God is absorbed in the mind" (Guru Nanak, Gauri Sukhmani)
Rejection of all forms of blind rituals such as fasting, religious
vegetarianism, pilgrimages, superstions, yoga, as well as any
form of idol worship.
"Let good conduct be thy fasting." (Guru Nanak, Var Majh)
"You keep the fast to please Allah, but slay life for your relish..But you
do not reflect on the Lord, Who is within you" (Bhagat Kabir, Asa)
"Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. They don't understand
truth nor do they meditate on it. Who can define what is meat and what
is plant? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian or a non
vegetarian?" (Guru Nanak, Var Malar)
"The world is in agony because of the filth of ego, the word is filthy
because of duality; The filth of ego cannot be washed away, even if one
bathes at one hundred holy places." (Guru Amar Das, Sri Raga)
"They go to holy places for a bath, Their minds are impure and bodies
are like thieves; If by bath their dirt drops down, they got on themselves
twice as much dirt and ego." (Guru Nanak, Var Suhi)
"Whosover controls the mind, he is a pilgrim" (Guru Arjan Dev, Maru
Solhe)
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"You calculate the auspicious moments, but do not realise, That God is
far above the effects of these auspicious moments." (Guru Nanak,
Ramkali)
"Good omens and ill omens stick to him Who does not remember the
Lord." (Guru Arjan Dev, Asa)
"The way to true yoga is found by dwelling in God and remaining
detached in the midst of worldly attachments." (Guru Nanak, Suhi))
"Pandits are busy studying Puranas, Yogis are busy in yogic meditations;
Sannyasis are intoxicated with ego, Tapsis are intoxicated with secrets of
Tapas; All are intoxicated, none is awake, With them are thieves robbing
them." (Bhagat Kabir, Basant)
"Five are the Muslim prayers; five their appointed hours, Five their
names. These be the true prayers: The first is Truth, the second is lawful
earning and the third is to beg the Graces of God for all, The fourth is
the right intention in the mind and the fifth is the praise of the Lord."
(Guru Nanak, Var Majh)
"He reads the holy books with commentaries, He does not remember
God, his way of living is not flowless. He instructs and makes other
people firm, But does not practise, whatever he says. Understand the
substance of the Vedas, O Pandit!" (Guru Arjan Dev, Ramkali)
"The stone he calls his god, in the end, drowns him with itself... Know
that a boat of stone carries one not across" (Guru Arjan Dev, Suhi)
"The stone neither speaks nor gives anything. Therefore its service is
fruitless and its worship is of no avail." (Bhagat Kabir, Bhairo)
Normal Family life (Grasth) is encouraged, celibacy or
renunciation of the world is not necessary to achieve salvation.
The devotee must live in the world yet keep his mind pure. He
must be a soldier, a scholar, a saint.
"Beauteous lady! hast not heard with thy ears, To the husband's home
must thou come, nor for ever canst thou in the parental home abide"
(Guru Nanak, Sri Rag)
"I that in the parents home on the Lord meditated, In the husband's
home bliss have found. Blessed is the entire life of such." (Guru Ram
Das, Sri Rag)
"Those known as celibates knowing not the right device, discard house
and home." (Guru Nanak, Asa)
"Forsaking the household, one's mind took him to the forest, but it could
not get peace even for a moment; but when it sought the refuge of the
Saint of the Lord, its wanderings ceased and it returned to its own
home. One abandoned his relatives and became a Sannyasi, but the
craving of the mind did not cease. One's desires are not finished without
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the Word of the Guru, which alone can bring peace. When hatred for the
world wells up in ones mind, he becomes a naked recluse, but the mind
wanders ceaselessly and these wanderings do not end his desires, but
when he meets the saints, he reaches the House of Mercy. Siddhas learn
numerous Yogic poses; but their mind only after miraculous powers
yearns. Thereby comes not to them fulfilment, content and peace of
mind." (Guru Ram Das, Bilaval)
The Sikh Holy Book (Guru Granth Sahib) is the perpetual Guru,
there is no place in Sikhism for a living Guru today.
"The bani is the preceptor and the preceptor is the bani, All the nectars
are present in the bani: If the faithful follows the bani of the preceptor,
The preceptor himself helps him in the realisation of his ideal." (Guru
Ram Das, Nat)
Sikhism rejects all distinctions of caste, creed, race or sex.
"All are created from the seed of God. There is the same clay in the
whole world, the potter (God) makes many kinds of pots." (Guru Amar
Das, Bhairo)
"Recognise the light (of God) and do not ask for the caste, There is no
caste in the next world." (Guru Nanak, Asa)
The Guru's stressed the full equality of women, rejecting female
infanticide, sati (wife burning), permitting widow remarriage and
rejects purdah (women wearing veils).
"We are born of woman, we are conceived in the womb of woman, we
are engaged and married to woman. We make friendship with woman
and the lineage continued because of woman. When one woman dies,
we take another one, we are bound with the world through woman. Why
should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is born
from woman; there is none without her. Only the One True Lord is
without woman" (Guru Nanak, Var Asa)
"They cannot be called satis, who burn themselves with their dead
husbands. They can only be called satis, if they bear the shock of
separation. They may also be known as satis, who live with character
and contentment and always show veneration to their husbands by
remembering them." (Guru Amar Das, Var Suhi)
Honest labour and work (Kirat Karna) are the approved way of
living ones life. It is considered honourable to earn ones daily
bread through honest work and not by begging or dishonest
means.
"He who eats what he earns through his earnest labour and from his
hand gives something in charity; he alone, O Nanak, knows the true way
of life" (Guru Nanak Dev, Rag Sarang, pg. 1245)
Vand Chhakna, sharing with others is also a social responsibility.
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The individual is expected to help others in need through charity.
Seva, community service is also an intergral part of Sikhism. The free
community kitchen (langar) found at every gurdwara and open to people
of all religions is one expression of this community service.
Hinduism
Bani Concerning Hinduism
Similarities
Reincarnation
Like Hinduism Sikhims believes in the transmigration of the soul. There are countless
cycles of births and deaths. One only breaks this cycle when they achieve mukhti
(merger with God)
Karma
Karma regulates the reincarnation and transmigration of the soul, Sikhism links Karma
with the doctrine of Grace.
"Mortals obtain a human body as a result of good deeds but he reaches the gate
ofsalvation with God's kind grace." (Guru Nanak, Japji)
Maya
The world is just an illusion and some get enchanted with this illusion and forget God
Differences
Sikhism rejects polytheism and accepts monotheism. Whereas Sikhism starts with one
God and universalizes Him, Hinduism starts with many Gods and occasionally gives
glimpses of 'One'.
"I do not accept Ganesha as important. I do not meditate on Krishna, neither on Vishnu.
I do not hear them and do not recognize them. My love is with the Lotus feet of God. He
is my protector, the Supreme Lord. I am dust of his Lotus feet." (Guru Gobind Singh,
Krishna Avatar)
Authority of the Vedas and the belief that the truth revealed in them is absolute and that
reading them one can realize perfection.
"I have read all the Vedas, but my mind's separation from God is not removed and the
five demons of my house (body) are stilled not even for an instant." (Guru Arjan Dev,
Ashtpadis, pg. 687)
Sikhism does not recognize any priestly class.
"Kabir, the Brahman may be the Guru of the world, but he is not the Guru of the saints.
He rots to death in the perplexities of the four Vedas" (Bhagat Kabir, Salok, pg. 1377)
Rejection of the Ashrama Dharma theory of dividing man's life into four stages. Instead
the Gurus emphasized living the householders life. Rejection of the Varna distinction of
division of human society into higher and lower castes.
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"There are four castes of the literates, warriors, cultivators and menials and the four
stages of life. He who meditates on the Lord is the most distinguished amongst men."
(Guru Ram Das, Gond, pg. 861)
"The Lord asks not mortals caste and birth, so find thou out the Lord's True Home
(truth). That alone is man's caste and that his glory, as are the deeds which he does."
(Guru Nanak, Parbhati, pg. 1330)
The Gurus rejected the Avtara theory of the incarnations of God. The Gurus not only
exposed the mortality of these gods but used stories to illustrate moral values, such as
'pride leads to a fall' illustrated by the story of Harnakhash, untouchability becoming
superior through devotion to God by Krishna stories and stories where Bhrahma, Vishnu
and Shiva are shown to be ordinary mortals. The Gurus stressed that there is only one
God and that these gods and goddeses were not true.
"In every age, the Lord creates the kings, who are sung of as His incarnations. Even they
have not found His limits." (Guru Amar Das, Ashtpadis, pg. 423)
"Millions of incarnations of Vishnu and Shiv, with matted hair Desire Thee, O Kind Lord,
with endless longing of their mind and body. Infinite and Inaccessible is Lord, the World
Sustainer, and He is the Omnipresent wealthy Master. The gods, perfect persons,
heavenly heralds and celestial singers contemplate on Thee. The greater gods and
heavenly dancers utter Thine praises. Myrids of kings, gods and many super human
beings remember the Lord and hail Him." (Guru Arjan Dev, Chhant, pg. 455)
Worship of idols and images.
"The blind ignorant ones stray in doubt and so deluded, deluded they pluck flowers for
worship. They worship the lifeless stones and adore tombs. Their service all goes in
vain." (Guru Ram Das, Malar, pg. 1264)
"They who say the stone is a god; in vain is their service. He who falls at the feet of the
stone; vain goes his labour. My Lord ever speaks. The Lord gives gifts to all the living
beings. The Lord is within, but the blind one knows not. Deluded by doubt, he is caught
in a noose. The stone speaks not, nor gives anything. In vain are the ceremonies of the
idolater, and fruitless his service." (Guru Arjan Dev, Bhairo, pg. 1160)
The Gita and Vedanta goal of a Mukt. Once he achieves salvation he does not live for the
community. In Sikhism the Gurmukh achieving salvation lives to save others.
"Abandon lust, wrath, avarice and worldly love. Thus be rid of both birth and death.
Distress and darkness shall depart from thy home, when, within thee, the Guru implants
wisdom and lights the Divine lamp. He, who serves the Lord crosses the sea of life.
Through the Guru, O slave Nanak, the entire world is saved." (Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri,
pg. 241)
Belief that reading of the six Shastras and their mastery will bring salvation.
"The greatly voluminous Simirtis and Shastras stretch out the extension of worldly love.
The fools read them, but know not their Lord. Some rare one knows Him by the Guru's
grace. Of Himself the Creator does and makes others do. By means of the True Bani, He
implants truth within the mortal." (Guru Amar Das, Maru, pg. 1053)
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"Many Shashtras and many Simirtis have I seen and searched them all. Nanak, they
equal not Lord God's invaluable Name." (Guru Arjan Dev, Gauri, pg. 265)
Rejection of Sanskrit or any language as being sacred.
Sikhism and Other Religions
Islam
112
Sikhism does not believe that any Holy Book takes precedence over all others or any
religions prophet is the final messenger of God.
"Say not that the Vedas and Muslim books are false. False is he, who reflects not on
them." (Bhagat Kabir, Parbhati, pg. 1350)
"The followers of the Vedas, the Bible and the Koran, standing at Your Door, meditate
on You. Uncounted are those who fall at Your Door." (Guru Arjan Dev, pg. 518)
"And many have been orthodox amongst the Muslims, and men of miracles, and
Ashvini Kumaras, and the part-incarnations of Vishnu, all O all went the way of death.
And many were the prophets and spiritual guides, yea, countless were they: they
sprang from the dust and to dust they returned." (Guru Gobind Singh, Akal Ustati)
Purpose of the Holy Book
"Thus We have revealed the Koran in the Arabic tongue and proclaimed in it warnings
and threats so that they may take heed and guard themselves against evil." (20:114
Quran)
"Upon this Plate, three things have been placed: Truth, Contentment and
Contemplation. The Ambrosial Nectar of the Naam, the Name of our Lord and Master,
has been placed upon it as well; it is the Support of all. One who eats it and enjoys it
shall be saved. This thing can never be forsaken; keep this always and forever in your
mind. The dark world-ocean is crossed over, by grasping the Feet of the Lord; O
Nanak, it is all the extension of God." (Guru Arjan Dev, Mundavanee, pg. 1429)
Sikhism believes that people of different religions are equally capable of achieving
salvation while still following their own religion.
"Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one
another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. Allah
does not guide the wrongdoers." (5:49, Quran)
"Mohammed is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers
but merciful to one another." (48:29, Quran)
"When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest
them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take
to prayer and pay the alms-tax, let them go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful."
(9:4, Quran)
"There is a garden, in which so many plants have grown. They bear the Ambrosial
Nectar of the Naam as their fruit. Consider this, O wise one, by which you may attain
the state of Nirvaanaa. All around this garden are pools of poison, but within it is the
Ambrosial Nectar, O Siblings of Destiny. There is only one gardener who tends it. He
takes care of every leaf and branch. He brings all sorts of plants and plants them
there. They all bear fruit - none is without fruit." (Guru Arjan Dev, Asa, pg. 385)
"The temple or the mosque are the same, the Hindu worship or the Musalman prayer
are the same; all men are the same; it is through error they appear different. Deities,
demons, Yakshas, heavenly singers, Musalmans and Hindus adopt the customary dress
of their different countries. All men have the same eyes, the same ears, the same
113
body, the same build, a compound of earth, air, fire, and water. Allah and Abhekh are
the same, the Purans and the Quran are the same; they are all alike; it is the one God
who created all. The Hindu God and the Muhammadan God are the same; let no man
even by mistake suppose there is a difference." (Guru Gobind Singh, Akal Ustat, pg.
275)
Sri Guru Granth Sahib places greater emphasis on love of God as the main motivation
for man rather than fear of God.
"Truly, none will take heed but the wise: those who keep faith with Allah and do not
break their pledge; who join together what He has bidden to be united; who fear their
Lord and dread the terrors of Judgement-day; who for the sake of Allah endure with
fortitude..." (13:18, Quran)
"Allah's reward is great. Therefore fear Him with all your hearts and be attentive,
obedient, and charitable. That will be best for you." (64:13, Quran)
"Within my heart, I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and celebrate the Word of the
Lord's Shabad. The Lord Himself is pervading and permeating the world; so fall in love
with Him!" (Guru Nanak Dev, pg. 790)
"Remembering Him in meditation, one abides in peace; one becomes happy, and
suffering is ended. Celebrate, make merry, and sing God's Glories. Forever and ever,
surrender to the True Guru." (Guru Arjan Dev, Asa, pg. 386)
Sikhism does not believe in the idea of Gods name being only those authorized in a
religious tradition or Holy Book.
"Many are Thy Names and infinite Thine forms and it cannot be told how many merits
Thou hast." (Guru Nanak, Asa, pg. 358)
Non-Sikhs are allowed to visit and enter the most sacred shrine of the religion, The
Golden Temple.
"Believers, know that the idolaters are unclean. Let them not approach the Sacred
Mosque after this year is ended" (9:26, Quran)
"Blessed is the place, and blessed are those who dwell there, where God's Name is
meditated upon. The sermons and songs of God's praises are sung there and there is
nothing but peace, poise and tranquillity." (Guru Arjan Dev, Raga Bilaval, pg. 816)
"If the Lord Allah lives only in the mosque, then to whom does the rest of the world
belong? …The God of the Hindus lives in the southern lands, and the God of the
Muslims lives in the west. So search in your heart - look deep into your heart of
hearts; this is the home and the place where God lives." (Bhagat Kabir, pg. 1349)
Attitude towards women. Sikh women are allowed to lead congregations of men at the
temple or administer all religious ceremonies involving either men or women.
"Man have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the
other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are
obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those
from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and
114
beat them." (4:34, Quran)
"We are born of woman, we are conceived in the womb of woman, we are engaged and
married to woman. We make friendship with woman and the lineage continued because
of woman. When one woman dies, we take another one, we are bound with the world
through woman. Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is
born from woman; there is none without her. Only the One True Lord is without
woman" (Guru Nanak Dev, Var Asa, pg. 473)
Sikhism does not believe in women wearing veils.
"Stay, stay, O daughter-in-law - do not cover your face with a veil. In the end, this
shall not bring you even half a shell." (Bhagat Kabir, Asa, pg. 484)
Sikhism does not believe in fasting or pilgrimages.
"The mind is not softened by fasting or austerities. Nothing else is equal to worship of
the Lord's Name." (Guru Nanak Dev, Ramkali, pg. 905)
"The pilgrimage to shrines, fasting, cleanliness and self-mortification are not of any
avail, nor are the rituals, religious ceremonies and hollow adoration's. Deliverance, O!
Nanak! is in the devotional service of God. Through duality the mortal is engrossed in
worldliness. (Guru Nanak, Sri Rag, pg. 75)
Sikhism rejects the killing of any animal evoking a prayer or by slow death. Muslim
Halal meat is forbidden for Sikhs.
"Yet holding the knife, the world they butcher. Wearing blue the rulers approval they
seek; With money derived from mlechhas the Puranas they worship. Goats slaughtered
over the unapproved Muslims texts they eat." (Guru Nanak, Raga Asa, pg. 472)
Sikhism rejects the idea of circumcision.
"Because of the love of woman, circumcision is done; I don't believe in it, O Siblings of
Destiny. If God wished me to be a Muslim, it would be cut off by itself. If circumcision
makes one a Muslim, then what about a woman?" (Bhagat Kabir, Asa, pg. 477)
Sikhism and Other Religions
Judaism, Christianity
115
Similarities
Submission to the will of God, Hukam.
Khalsa brotherhood and sacrament.
Brotherhood of man.
Fatherhood of God and salvation by grace.
Jewish emphasis on 'The Name'.
Differences
Salvation for the 'choosen people'. Sikhism believes anyone can achieve salvation
irrespective of the religion that they follow if they endear God in their heart and
daily actions.
Christian concept of Jesus as son of God. Sikhism regards all as €the children of
God.
Infant baptism. In Sikhism child baptism into the Khalsa brotherhood is
discouraged. One should only become a Khalsa when they are able to fully
understand the duties and responsibilities.
Special Day for worship. There is no special day like Sunday or Sabbath for
worship.
Heaven and Hell as physical entities. In Sikhism there are no such physical places.
Hell is equivalent to the cycles of births and deaths and heaven is equivalent to
the soul merging with God.
Priests. Guru Gobind Singh abolished the priestly class making Sikhism free from
their weaknesses and egos, the only priest is the Living Guru, the Guru Granth
Sahib which contains all the knowledge and which is available for reading by any
Sikh.
Sikhism Sikhism and Other Religions
Buddhism
116
Buddhism does not believe in the need for God, in that sense Buddhist doctrine is
absolutely atheistic.
"By forgetting the Supreme Lord, all the ailments cling to the man. The nonbelievers in the Omnipresent Lord suffer separation from Him, birth after birth."
(Guru Arjan Dev, Majh, pg. 135)
Buddhist belief that to live is to suffer.
"But rare is such a slave and serf of the Lord, who understands the Reality of the
union with Him. He (the follower) has no pain, but all comforts and with his eyes,
he sees only the One Lord." (Guru Arjan Dev, Kanra, pg. 1302)
"There is joy, bliss and happiness in my home. I sing the praise of the Name,
reflect on the Name and the Name is the support of my vital breath." (Guru Arjan
Dev, Kanra, pg. 1302)
The end of life is Nirvana, which is complete extinction. The Gurus idea of
Nirvana was eternal bliss as the soul merges with God.
"He who is devoted towards the Lord in his mind, he gets eternal bliss and
realises the Lord and the state of Nirvana" (Guru Ram Das, Asa, pg. 444)
Sikhism does not have any order of monks or nuns.
Sikhism and Other Religions
Yoga
117
"One
may
be
the
knower
of
six
schools
of
philosophy,
He may do the work of inhaling, exhaling and holding the breath
He may practice, Divine knowledge, meditation, pilgrimages, and ablutions,
He may cook his own food, touch not others and abide in wilderness,
If in his heart, he bears not love with the Lord's Name, then all that he does,
that is perishable. Superior to him, deem thou the lowest pariah, O Nanak, in
whose heart God, the Nurser of the Universe abides." (Guru Arjan Dev, Pauri,
pg. 253)
Sikhism and Other Religions
Jainism
118
Respect for all religions and prophets and a general tolerance for the
convictions of others.
Free community kitchen.
Differences
Belief in poverty and asceticism. Gurus believed one should lead the life of a
householder.
"To be a householder, who at least gives to some is better than this wearing
deceptive robes (of the recluse)" (Guru Amar Das, Slok, pg. 587)
The final stage of the Sufi is renunciation away from family and community.
There is no need to renounce these in Sikhism.
Belief that life is misery and the world nothing but an embodiment of pain.
"Ever meditate within thy mind on Him, by whose kindness thou dwellest
comfortably in thy palace. By whose kindness, thou abidest in comfort with
thy family, repeat thou His Name with thy tongue for all the eight watches.
Nanak, constantly meditate on Him, who is worthy of meditation and by
whose favour thou enjoyest love and pleasures." (Guru Arjan Dev, Ashtpadi,
pg. 269)
119
Paganism Pagan Wicca Wiccan Magic Magical
The roots of Paganism burrow deep into ancestral memories of Elder
Ages when it was natural to venerate Nature; to celebrate the
passage of the seasons; to honor the goddess and god in their many
aspects and guises; and to proactively seek personal spiritual growth.
Paganism is global in its antiquity and historical significance because
of its "expression rather than suppression of the feminine aspect of
divinity" in conjunction with the male aspect, hand in hand in
empowered partnership, journeying together through life; and, in its
respect for the wisdom of women as healers and teachers.
Paganism is a spiritual path that honours: the Old Ways of the Triple
Goddess and her consort the Triple God who have many names and
visages that vary from culture to culture; the blessings of Gaia, the
Earth Mother; the Moon Mysteries; and the transcendent wonder of
the human body as a reflective vessel of immanent divinity.
Some noteworthy historical highlights from prior Pagan cultures
include: Cultivation of modern day arts and sciences; Democracy
pioneered by the Greek, Athenians; Renaissance ideals of cultural
refinement culled from the writings of Cicero; Parliamentary
proceedings from the world's oldest Parliament in Iceland; European
parks and gardens inspired by the Greek and Roman Classical
traditions; and most Modern Holidays are based on Pagan ritual
templates for seasonal festivals.
Today's tapestry of Pagan and Wiccan practices is woven from some
common threads of past beliefs: life is a journey to gain knowledge
and wisdom; the Earth and all the animals, nature spirits, trees,
plants, rocks, and the land are sacred and worthy of respect; the
individual is responsible for personal thoughts and actions; the body is
a precious gift worthy of wholeness and wellness; and the practice of
Magic can alter reality and your life for the better.
Derived from the Latin word for country dweller, "Paganus", Paganism
is an ancient pre-Christian, polytheistic religion which also includes
the neo-Pagan offshoots of modern Witchcraft and Wicca. Wiccan is
derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, "Wicce" which is pronounced
"Witche "which means practitioner of the Old Religion or the Craft.
Pagans and Wiccans are most notable for their tolerance of other
paths; their emphasis on the importance of also honouring the
goddess, the feminine aspect of divinity; and their focus on the
personal connection to immanent divinity through natural magic. Both
Pagans and Wiccans incorporate non-dogmatic, dynamic religious
practices based on comprehensive systems of discernable beliefs and
accessible practices that facilitate the personal experience of the
sacred mysteries of life.
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Although Pagans and Wiccans trace their lineage to pre-Celtic Europe,
their current more mainstream resurgence is founded on four fairly
recent British Pagan and Wiccan traditions: Hereditary, Traditional,
Gardnerian, and Alexandrian. Hereditary is based on traditions that
have been handed down through families to their descendants; while,
Traditional is derived from knowledge from the oral traditions which
are imparted by the elders to each succeeding generation. Gardnerian
was founded by Gerald Gardner who is credited with a widespread
revival of the Craft; and Alexandrian is a further development of
Gardner's ideas by Alex and Maxine Sanders.
Pagan and Wiccan based traditions pervade all aspects of daily living.
Since Nature is a manifestation of divinity, there are elemental deities,
as well as, the gods and goddesses. Divination, Magic, and Healing
are integral to the successful navigation of the waters of spiritual
transformation of the self. Pagan and Wiccan rituals correspond with
the moon's phases and the seasonal changes in a concentrated effort
to restore balance to the Circle Dance of Life by attuning humanity to
the sacred rhythms of Nature.
The Land, the Divine Forest, the Sacred Groves, and the Holy Wells
were enlivened and hallowed by the presence of the Nature Spirits.
From the dancing blue tipped flames of the hearth fire to the sparkling
golden candle lights of the lapping brook, the elemental beings of air,
water, fire, and earth enliven and sanctify all the Days and Ways of
the landscape of daily living.
Over six million Americans follow some form of Pagan or Wiccan
based belief practice today; and, droves of European descendants
worldwide have donned the mantle of their ancestral heritage. Many
of them are solitary practitioners; while, others are involved in small
groups, covens, and circles. Most of them celebrate the eight seasonal
Sabbats, usually outdoors, and many of them strive to follow an
ethical behavior code that requires them to avoid harming themselves
or others in their pursuit of spiritual transformation and divine union.
Magic is enchantment, spellcasting, bewitchment, and using the will to
alter reality. Everything is interconnected and magic practitioners use
consecrated magical tools to focus and send forth energies from
within themselves, from the deities, or from natural power places to
influence and to shape desired outcomes and to pattern events. Gaia
and The Green Man, the Goddess and the God refers to The Earth
Mother and her consort The Green Man (often depicted as a face
made of leaves and vegetation).
Many of the magical tales involved stories about humans, goddesses
and gods shapeshifting into the likeness of animals and birds,
including that of Seagulls and Swans. Animal Totems that recurred
frequently in Druidic Storytelling were Bear, Boar, Cow, Horse, Hound,
Mare, Raven, Salmon, Otter, Owl, Pig, Seagull, Stag, and Swan. The
pure inspirational wisdoms and the joyful magnificence of the Natural
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pure inspirational wisdoms and the joyful magnificence of the Natural
World were embodied in the Salmon Animal Totem, who acquired
knowledge about everything by feeding on Rowan Berries. By
partaking of the essential magic of the Salmon, the magician gained
mystical learning, magical understanding, and sublime expressive
abilities in the creative arts of drama, poetry, prose, and song.
Both the Cow and the Hound were Sacred to the goddess. The Cow
was a source of nurturing prosperity. For the magician, the Cow was
symbolic of compassionate hospitality, generosity of spirit, receptive
giving, rightful ownership, and fair entitlement. The Hound signified
devoted companionship and kind thoughtfulness, especially in regard
to the deepest longings and needful wishes of the human spirit. Often
linked with the restorative and regenerative aspects of the
Otherworld, as a consistently faithful and supportive companion,
Hound conveyed healing through loving attentiveness, trustworthy
intimacy and reassuring vigilant consistency.
Bear as an Animal Totem connotated being vigilant in protecting
family belongings, conserving the beneficial communal kinfolk
resources, and ensuing that the rights of others were upheld.
Possessing great strength coupled with great endurance, Bears
hibernated for months during the wintertime, making them a Power
Totem for safe and productive Dreaming. One of the most complex of
Animal Totems, denoting death and rebirth, depictions of the Ravens
speaking to humans have been found on the walls of ancient caves.
The most common characteristic of Ravens, as Power Animals over
the ages, has been as prophetic, truth speaking, Otherworld
messengers. Often portrayed in this guise on coins and statuary, they
acted as benefactors bringing beneficial and fruitful gifts, like
insightful discrimination and truthful prophecy. The lasting beauty and
noble carriage of the Mare stood for the possibility of joyful revival
and renewed wholeness. The Mare was an Animal Totem lamppost,
shining healing hope into the darkness of hurtful abandonment,
traumatic betrayal, dangerous indignities, and hurtful wounds.
Many magical tales focus on the ability to Shapeshift (Shapechange)
or to morph or phase from the shape of a human into that of an
animal, bird, or fish for purposes of knowledge, initiation, training,
travel, reconnaissance, or escape. The magicians believed that it was
possible to shapeshift back and forth between the human and animal
realms of existence. To them the ethers and dimensions were fluidic
and malleable. If one could recognize the underlying matrix and
reason for being of the hare, then one could become the hare at least
for as long as one could hold the focus of "hareness". Even if one did
not want to experience being a particular animal, acquiring some of
the attributes of the animal might be desirable such as the swiftness
of the hare. The magical transformation of the caterpillar to the
butterfly attests to both the possibility and probability of the globally
linked human being morphing into a cosmically resonant harmonic
Being.
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Magical practitioners often forms close relationships with the spirit of
one or more animals who instruct, protect, and guide them. As the
unique bond between the magician and the power animal continues to
grow the magician often takes on the spiritual attributes associated
with that power animal to the point where the power animal almost
becomes an alter ego. Magicians that shapeshift will often assume the
shape of their primary power animal. Each power animal has
distinctive traits which it embodies, for instance, the butterfly is
identified with transformation, the bear with introspection, and the
mountain lion with leadership. Power animals may appear as a
magician performs routine daily activities or in a dream when they
sleep. Each time that they enter a magician's life with a sacred
communication, it is a blessing from Spirit. A Familiar is an animal,
pet, or a spiritual entity that appears in the form of animal, who
assists the practitioner in the practice of Magic. Common magical
helpers in folklore were cats, toads, hares, and lizards.
The Astral plane is the fourth dimension which is veiled or invisible to
normal vision for most people while their attention is focused on the
third dimension. It is the plane of existence where your Astral Body
goes while your physical body is at rest during sleep. Astral Projection
is the process of separating your astral body from your physical body
and moving about at will in the astral plane (Fly Astral Plane).
When magicians travel in their spirit form, they often have the ability
to make themselves visible to others. Since their spirit bodies are
malleable to their thoughts, they often Shapeshift (Shapechange) into
other forms such as birds, cat, dogs, wolves, or the facsimile of
another person. We all have the ability to shapeshift when we travel in
our astral bodies while our bodies are sleeping or at rest. Some
magicians exercise this ability when they consciously journey about in
their astral (spirit) bodies and use their mental focusing power to
downstep their vibrations enough to be perceived visually by others in
the third dimension who are in the waking state. Rarer still are
magicians who actually assume the form of an animal, bird, or other
creature by temporarily rearranging their molecular structure and
shifting their shape.
The five magical elements of earth (gnomes), air (sylphs), fire
(salamanders), water (undines), and spirit (other faeries) along with
the watchtower guardians of the four quarters are often invoked
before casting circles and spells. This is called the Call Up of the
Elements. The Nature Spirits and Elemental spirits of earth, wind, fire,
air, water, streams, forests, plants, trees, mountains, stones, the
land, sky, and sea which are sentient in their own right and how their
own divine purpose and path which often overlaps and intersects with
that of the magical practitioner. During rituals magicians often call
upon the Nature Spirit Elementals to assist them.
A magician might also interact with nature spirits during
interdimensional journeying and altered states of consciousness. The
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interdimensional journeying and altered states of consciousness. The
Nature spirits or elemental spirits of earth, wind, fire, air, water,
streams, forests, plants, trees, mountains, stones, the land, sky, and
sea which are sentient in their own right and how their own divine
purpose and path which often overlaps and intersects with the path of
the magical practitioner.
The air spirits are called Sylphs. Since they vibrate at a slightly higher
frequency rate than the other elementals, they often prefer to live
around heightened and more rarified places on the planet like
mountains and sea cliffs. The winds, gases, and ethers of the Earth
are their medium of expression. The Sylphs find disturbances in the
air currents generated by airplanes, helicopters, and other types of
oscillating machines dissonant, discordant and discomforting and
quickly work to restore harmony after the upsetting cacophony.
The earth spirits are called Gnomes. Since they usually live in the soil,
in rocks, beneath the ground, and under the tree roots, they are the
elementals who are most likely to imitate the customs and behaviours
of the people of prior civilizations, concentrating on aspects of daily
life that intrigued them and that they thought were worth emulating.
The Gnomes constantly journey back and forth maintaining the
textures and hues of the destiny tapestries that anchor the patterns of
human traditions in the material plane.
The fire spirits are called Salamanders. They are often regarded as the
most powerful of the elementals because fires would not exist without
them. Fire Spirits ignite the flame, giving matches and sparks the
impetus they need to burst forth in fiery light. On the spiritual level,
they also help to awaken kundalini. Wherever there are blazing
bonfires, burning candles, and crackling campfires there are fire
spirits. The Salamanders will always help people who are friendly
towards them and keep their heart fires burning.
Paganism Wiccan Magical Practitioner Candles Elixirs
Herbs
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Earth, the Planet is Her Body
Earth, Soulmother of Us All
Earth, Sun, and Moon
Ways of Future, Present, and Past - The Sacred Circle is Cast.
The water spirits are called Undines. Since their purpose is to direct
the flow and course of the waters of the planet, they live in coral
caves, fountains, lakes, marshlands, rivers, seas, waterfalls, and
underneath lily pads. Besides caring for plants both above and below
the surface of the water, the Undines are concerned with the
movements of water and how they relate to human emotions and soul
responses. They also are responsible for working with the
fundamental quintessences and vital fluids of animals, humans, and
plants.
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Since the dawn of this local universe, the Nature Spirits Elementals
had been charged with carrying out the requests or commands of any
magician sharing the same overall destiny mapping, manifestation
template who asked for their assistance in some matter of import to
them. So whenever a disharmonious or imbalanced dark magician
who had free will and chose to exercise it by putting a curse or hex on
someone asked an elemental to assist them in their attempts to
manipulate the fate of the target of their ire or wrath, the Nature
Spirit was required to comply even if doing so was distasteful or
repulsive to them. When the animals were granted the freedom of
choice by Cosmic Decree a few years ago Earth Time, the Nature
Spirits Elementals also requested and were given the same degree of
liberty and self-determination.
The Fairies want to continue to spell their name Fair-ies because soon
they will all once again be as Fair of Face as they were in days of yore
(before what they call the trying and turbulent Vendetta Times took
their toll, disfiguring a lot of their faces like moldy blight on the petals
of a rosebush). Together they sing, "Monday's child is Fair of Face.
Monday's child is Fair of Face. Monday's child is Fair of Face". Three
times for the Moon Goddess. Blessed Be Her Face of Grace. Then,
they add that they are the children of the Moon Goddess who rules
Monday and they are very pleased to announce that they have chosen
to be called Fairies once more. They add the postscript that mirrors
are now back in vogue again too.
Some of the tools that a Magical Practitioner might use include: an
Altar, an Athame, a Bell, a Besom, a Boline, a Cauldron, a Chalice,
and a Wand, Altar is a raised flat surface, preferably outdoors,
typically a table, a tree stump, or a large level stone that is used
during the casting of spells and rituals.
The arrangement of magical tools on the altar varies from sole
practitioner to sole practitioner and from coven to coven but usually
includes: candles, incense, salt, a pentacle, a chalice, a bell, an
athame, and some representation of the goddess and god. An Athame
is a ritual knife, usually double bladed with a black handle, that is
never used to cut anything physical. It is a magical tool charged with
the personal power energy of the owner and is used to cast magical
circles and to conduct their will during spells and rituals.
A Bell is a consecrated, hollow metal, altar bell that sends out a tone
when struck. Used to summon the deities; as charms and talismans;
and, for other magical purposes. A Besom is a straw broomstick used
before casting a circle to sweep away negative energies. It is also
used in ceremonies such as handfastings, as well as, for sympathetic
magic rituals, like showing the crops how high to grow by straddling
the broomstick and jumping up and down.
A Boline is a ritual knife with a white handle usually used for utilitarian
purposes like harvesting herbs, carving magical symbols onto
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purposes like harvesting herbs, carving magical symbols onto
talismans and candles, and cutting wooden wands and cords. A
Cauldron is a small cast iron pot with three legs used to burn incense
during spells, to brew potions potent with spellcraft, and for scrying.
The cauldron is a traditional magical tool that symbolizes the womb of
the goddess when its is placed on an altar.
A Chalice is a consecrated goblet or cup, symbolic of the water
element, which is used as a magical tool to offer consecrated wine or
juice during rituals or ceremonies. A Pentacle is a five-pointed star
surrounded by a circle that symbolizes: the elements of earth, water,
fire, air, and spirit; the human body surrounded by the protective
force of the goddess and the god; and the connectivity of the human
body to the earth. When written or drawn the magical symbol is called
a pentagram. In the past, the pentacle has been used magically to
banish, to control, and to invoke elemental natural forces.
A Wand is a stick that is in harmony with Nature that is used in
healing; to invoke and conduct powerful energies; to trace circles; to
stir cauldrons; and, to draw magical symbols on the ground. Magical
Divination also uses magical tools like Tarot cards and Tarot spreads,
Runes and Rune Scripts, and Scrying by gazing into a pool of water,
candle flame, or crystal ball to gain revelatory and prophetic visions.
All of these magical divination tools are useful for obtaining
information or insights about people, circumstances and happenings;
as well as, for answering questions about the past, present, and
future.
To the magician, the oracular Tarot Arcana are archetypal expressions
that encompass all aspects of being from the minutest particles and
cells of the body to the most distant galaxies and their largest stars;
from DNA spirals to emotional moods; from survival needs to vast
spiritual aspirations. The symbolism and meditative meanings of the
Tarot Arcana are a way to intuit and interpret the outworkings of the
One Mind, the Greek "Logos". Since the Arcana transcend the normal
boundaries of relative time and space, deciphering their mysteries
empowers the magician with the ability to transmute, change, restore,
revitalize, and transform.
Another magical divination tool for that the magician uses is
knowledge encoded in the Astrological Zodiac Oracle. The Zodiac,
which is comprised of the twelve Astrological Signs and their
corresponding planets, stars, and constellations, finds outward
expression through Astrology. The magician astrologer synthesizes
how the planets and stars at the time of birth on the Earth imprinted
the physical body, mind, emotions, psyche, and soul with patterns and
potentials that affect every area of life in progressive cycles of growth
and evolution. The truism "As Above So Below" is as apropos today as
it was in the times of Hermes and the ancient Egyptian magicians.
Since magicians sometimes work with breath, vitality, and the
alchemical Doctrine of Correspondences, they also sometimes use the
astrological Zodiac as a magical tool for divination before performing
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astrological Zodiac as a magical tool for divination before performing
magical rituals.
A Circle is a protective space that surrounds magical rituals and
ceremonies. Sabbat celebrations (where the holiday myths are
ritualized through dancing, singing, drama, revelry, and feasting) are
held within the sacred circle. Doing magical rituals Sky Clad in the
nude without energy barriers, clad only in the sky, is a common
practice with some sole practitioners and in the Alexandrian and
Gardnerian traditions. Although nudity brings witches closer to the
divinity of nature, many practitioners prefer to wear ceremonial robes
or everyday clothes, especially in group ceremonial circles.
The Cardinal Points and Directions are the four directions, quarters, or
watchtowers of North, South, East, and West (denoted during
ceremonies by green, red, yellow, and blue candles). A sunwise
movement clockwise during ritual is called Deosil which symbolizes
positive energy and life; while, a counterclockwise or backwards
movement is called Widdershins which symbolizes the uncasting or
ending of rituals.
A Cone of Power is a ritual where a sole practitioner or coven
visualizes a power cone of spiraling light energy rising from the circle
to be used for a specific purpose or goal and then releases it to
perform the magical charge or task. Cleansing is a ritual to remove
negativity or negative influences from a place or object; while,
consecration is a ritual to cleanse and bless a place or object by
charging it with positive power. A coven is a group of practitioners
from the same tradition, usually comprised either of thirteen members
(Coveners) or thirteen couples who meet together regularly at the
Covenstead (a home, a field, or other special place) for social or ritual
purposes and to perform ceremonies and magic.
Practitioners chose one or more new Craft Names when they are
reborn to their new life within the Craft. These special craft names are
customarily evocative of unique personal qualities and powers;
elemental and power animal affinities; or reflective of innately imbued
aspects of divinity. Practitioners may use their craft names all the
time or only during magical rituals. They may share them with others
even to the point of a legal name change; or, they many be secretive
about them, revealing them only to coven members or to other
trusted practitioners of the Craft.
Most Pagans use the common phrases Blessed Be and Bright Blessings
when they greet others, when they close a letter or other
correspondence, and when they make statements of agreement.
Although Pagan in origin, both of these phrases have made their way
into mainstream usage.
Witches and covens often transcribe their ritual ceremonies, magical
spells, recipes for potions and charms, traditions, and ethical
guidelines in a personally customized book called the Book of
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guidelines in a personally customized book called the Book of
Shadows. This written record of magical proceedings is highly
secretive and safeguarded. Most witches are reticent about sharing
their personal Book of Shadows with each other, and it is rarely
shared with people outside the coven or Craft.
Banishing is the magically repelling and warding off of someone or
something, typically: negative energies, entities, curses, or spells
from a ritual area, home, or person. Binding is using magic to restrain
someone from doing something such as stopping them from malicious
gossip, backbiting, or soul shrinking. A charm is any magical object,
amulet, talisman, fetish, shell, drawing, runic inscription, stone,
incantation, or song that has been highly charged with power and
consecrated for a specific task such as bringing love, luck, or fertility;
or for protecting against misfortune and other threatening influences.
The Power of Three, Triplication, or the power of a group of three, is
also used in magical rituals. There are the Three Kindreds (ancestors,
fairies, goddesses and gods). Magical Storytellers told tales of
goddesses and Otherworld beings appearing at critical life passage
moments in groups of three. Triple faced; triple headed deities were
venerated in various forms with the most popular being the triplicity
of the mother goddess energy. Sometimes the three goddesses
depicted were identical; while, at other times their overall potency
was heightened by showing three different aspects of the maternal
role.
Magical incantations or ritual activities; prayers or a set of actions;
thoughts or projections that are intended to produce certain results
such as healing or banishing; or, are directed to achieve goals like
granting wishes or changing conditions. For many practitioners of the
Craft the neo-Pagan Wiccan Rede and Three Fold Law act as ethical
deterrents to spellcraft that controls or manipulates others. There are
many different types of spells, from a few simple phrases to complex
rituals. Most practitioners believe that it is more important to
individualize spells, adapting them to personal circumstances and
desired outcomes, than it is to follow a precise pattern.
Prayers and spells are often ended or closed with this phrase. It
means "It must happen this way", and saying the phrase facilitates
the manifestation of the intended magic. "So Mote It Be" also
indicates agreement with the finality of what someone has just said
and/or that the listener has heard what they had to say and accepts
that a definitive and sometimes irrevocable choice has been made.
This phrase has spread beyond the Pagan traditions.
Spirit Guides (Guardian Spirits) are numinous beings that have a
magical relationship with or interest in a magician, wanting to help
them with their magic to fulfill their higher purpose and to guide them
with answers to their spoken and unspoken questions. Magicians
receive advice, teaching, protection, and assistance on their journeys
from spirit guides by visions, dreams, altered states, telepathic
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from spirit guides by visions, dreams, altered states, telepathic
communications, and empathetic observations of nature
The Sabbats are one of the eight seasonal festivals, equally spaced
during the year, that are generally celebrated by Pagans. There are
four major Sabbats: Samhain (Oct 31-Nov 1), Imbolc (Feb 1-2),
Beltane (Apr 30-May 1), and Lammas (Aug 1-2); and, four minor
Sabbats: Spring Equinox (Mar 20-21), Summer Solstice (Jun 20-22),
Fall Equinox (Sep 21-22), and Winter Solstice (Dec 21-23).
Samhain (October 31st - November 1st) marks the end of summer.
This first day of winter is a time of completions when the veils
between worlds are at their thinnest and the ancestral keepers of
wisdom and traditions are honoured. It is a time to use the open
doorways to communicate with the spirit worlds to contact the nature
spirits, the goddesses and gods. A magical gateway between seasons
and threshold passageways, Samhain is a favourable time for fortune
telling and predicting probable futures. It is celebrated with sprigs of
holly symbolizing rebirth, and jack o'lanterns.
Winter Solstice (December 20th - 21st) is the shortest day of the
year. It is a time of regeneration and new beginnings when the light
re-enters the world and the days first start to lengthen again. In the
stillness of the darkness of the void, inspiration dawns, and burning
sparks of creativity became the fire seeds of fertilized power. A
festival of peace and waxing sunlight, Winter Solstice (Yule) is
celebrated with greenery, holly, ivy, pine cones, and by burning Yule
logs. It is a time of resolution and release of held negative emotions,
of learning from prior mistakes and then moving forward with
renewed hope.
Imbolc (February 1st -2nd) is a fire festival of great joy and a time of
omens, of portents, of signs, of spring buddings, of stirrings, of
passion's first blush, of the whispered bird kisses of youthful love, and
of the glimmerings of future potentials. This is the rite of the divine
need fire and the goddess Brighid. It is celebrated by letting the
hearth fire die out completely the night before then rekindling the fire
with special care the following morning, using twigs from seven to
nine different trees. Other Imbolc customs are to plant fruit trees in
the morning and to pour milk or cream into the earth in thanksgiving
for the return of fertility. Auguries about the promise of new life are
also done at this household fire festival since the end of winter is in
sight.
Spring Equinox (March 21st - 23rd) is a celebration of the first day of
spring. The Spring Equinox is also a midway station on the seasonal
wheel between winter and summer when the earth stirs from winter
slumbers, awakens, and is receptive to wisdom. On this "Light of the
Earth Day", day and night stand together as equals. It is a time of sun
strengthening, of blossoming, and of nest building. The Spring
Equinox is celebrated by hiding eggs or rolling them down hills before
eating them. Crops are also sown; and, seeds and flowers are planted
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eating them. Crops are also sown; and, seeds and flowers are planted
in honor of the Earth Mother and sprinkled with well water. Group
poems are read with verve to renew bonds with nature.
Beltane (April 30th - May 1st) is a bright and brilliant fire festival
(which is opposite on the seasonal wheel from Samhain). Beltane
heralds the full glory arrival of Summer. This "Return of Life" time is
one of peak blossoming when fertility is waxing; as well as, a time of
creative vitality when no matter your age, you feel young again and
reconnect with your sensuality. It is the time to rethink plans and
goals and to make wish lists of desired future happenings. Beltane is
celebrated as May Day by dancing around a pole. Twin bonfires are lit,
symbolizing the alchemical integration of the male and female aspects
and union of the polarities. Young people leap over the fire for good
fortune in finding a partner; while, travellers jump the fire in hopes of
safe journeys.
Summer Solstice (June 21st -22nd) is a "Light of the Shore" festival
that happens on when the Sun reaches its zenith. It is celebrated on
the longest day of the year with the most complex of seasonal
ceremonies beginning with a solstice eve vigil around a fire, followed
by a sun rising ritual, with a further ceremony at high noon.
Midsummer's Day is a time of solar peaks, of ripening, of
accomplishing, of strengthening Nature Spirit connections (with the
land, sea, and sky), and of rebalancing (mind, body, and spirit).
Celebrated with a large bonfire, forest picnics and games, Summer
Solstice is a time to nurture the soul by expressing dreams and by
manifesting them in the world
Lammas (August 1st - 2nd) is a harvest festival or "Feast of Bread"
that signals the beginning of the harvest season as the season of
Summer starts its progression into the season of Winter. Lammas is a
time of harvests of first fruits, grains, herbs, and seeds, as well as,
gatherings, contests, games, handfastings, and marriages. Since the
wheel of the yearly cycle begins its roll down the hill at Lammas, it is
also a time to feel fulfilled and satisfied with creative endeavors or
with child rearing achievements, to pause and to reflect, to enjoy
home and family, and to open to future possibilities. Lammas
(Lughnasadh) is celebrated.
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Daoism Taoism Daoist Taoist Confucianism
The Chinese religious traditions of Daoism and Confucianism were interwoven
together in the souls of the people whose reverence for ancestors and striving for
harmony with nature were elevated by the ethics and ideals of them both. The
two traditions coexist peacefully, even within the individual follower.
Daoism (Taoism), which was based on the teachings of Laozi, was more of a way
to achieve personal enlightenment, while, the teachings of Kong Fuzi
(Confucianism), dealt more with ethics and education. Daoism has provided a
synergetic complement to the traditional teachings of Kong Fuzi in China.
Kong Fuzi (Confucius) and Laozi were contemporaries in China (6th century
B.C.). Born in the state of Lu, Kong Fuzi (551-479 B.C.E.) was a reformer who
endeavoured to elevate the most refined elements in the prevailing societal and
governmental traditions by travelling throughout China, giving advice to its
rulers, and teaching morality and ethics.
Known as the "Virtuous Teacher Kong", the profound thinking of Kong Fuzi, as
well as, the centuries of commentary that it inspired are both central and integral
to the cultural system of the Chinese. Kong Fuzi taught philosophy, the classics,
poetry, music, and his views on governmental reform to about three thousand
young male students during his lifetime. Of these, he chose the seventy-two best
and brightest to become known as his disciples.
For centuries, his four major classics, the "Analects of Confucius", the "Mencius",
the "Great Learning", and the "Doctrine of the Mean", shaped the foundation of
Chinese education. Besides China, the works of Kong Fuzi have also been an
inspirational influence on the cultures of several other countries in the area.
In "The Analects of Confucius", Kong Fuzi, (who believed there was a pervasive
thread of universal unity connecting everything), used analogy, examples from
his daily life experiences, short sayings, and tautology to answer the questions of
his students.
During the Qin dynasty most of the writings and teachings of Kong Fuzi were
destroyed. After they were overthrown by the Han dynasty, the surviving
scholars reconstructed New Script texts from their memory of the destroyed
texts. Later on people discovered burnt fragments of the original books and
compiled the Old Script texts.
Laozi founded Daoism in an effort to end the constant feudal warfare. His writings
describe the way to peace and how a ruler should led his life. According to
legend, Kongzi visited with Laozi and was very impressed with his superior
intellect, comparing him to a mysterious dragon
The keeper of the imperial library, Laozi, disappeared to the west through the
gate of the Great Wall in his old age, leaving behind the Book of the "Way of
Virtue", the "Dao De Jing". The Dao De Jing mainly emphasized Yin (female)
values like the fluidity of water, softness, and seeking knowledge about the
unseen mystifying aspects of life. Both Kongzi and Laozi continue to assist the
people of China and the planet.
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The Song dynasty scholar Zhu Xi, who taught at the White Deer Grotto
Academy, blended Confucian teachings with those of Daoism (Taoism) and
Buddhism. With the assistance of other scholars, he codified the "Analects of
Confucius", the "Mencius", the "Great Learning", and the "Doctrine of the Mean"
into the "Four Books", Confucian classics cannon; and, the "Classic of Poetry",
the "Classic of History", the "Book of Changes" (I Ching), the "Classic of Rites",
and the "Spring and Autumn Annals" into the "Five Classics".
Zhu Xi also wrote comprehensive commentaries on all of the Confucian classics
that explained the nature of humans and the world. He was a strong proponent
of the belief of Kong Fuzi that humans were innately good. Zhu Xi taught about
the universal element of Qi or vital physical force, and Li or rational law principle
based on the Great Ultimate of Tai Ji (Chi). Tai Ji moved Qi to create change in
the material world and generated the five elements of earth, fire, metal, water,
and wood, as well as, the two energy modalities of Yin and Yang. Meditation
focused on morality and feeling harmonious with the universe.
On September 30, 2004, for the first time since the People's Republic of China
was established in 1949, an official memorial ceremony was conducted to honor
the birthday of Kong Fuzi (Confucius). Thousands of people from around the
world including Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, the United States, attended the
celebration of the renowned ethicist and scholar's 2, 555th birth anniversary in
his hometown of Qufu City in east China's Shandong Province. His descendants,
government officials, and envoys from diverse walks of life saluted the altar in
turn. Flowers were offered before a stature of Kong Fuzi (Confucius), and, people
dressed in traditional ancient costumes re-enacted ceremonies from the early
Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Daoists focused on intuitive insights into Nature, while, those that followed the
teachings of Kongzi emphasized education and the rational, intellectual approach.
The two traditions have peacefully coexisted together for so long because the "I
Ching" (Book of Changes) and the metaphysical Yin-Yang cosmology were
included in both of them. The commentaries of the "Book of Changes" (I Ching),
a divination oracle, were imbued with the values and ethics taught by Kongzi.
Daoism was a path where the goal was for everyone to become one with the Dao
(Tao), the force which flows through everything, the primal cause of life. The
overall goal of the philosophy of Kongzi was to cultivate the ethical
transformation of the individual self while contributing to the attainment of an
ideal, harmonious society.
Aspects of Buddhism have also been interwoven into the synergism of the
teachings of Kongzi and Laozi. There are Archangels and Hierarchs from the
Chinese Buddhism cultural traditions that are serving on the Universal Lightrays
with Sacred Sites in China. Dhashizhi is now serving the planet as an Archangel
on the First Ray of Will Empowerment, Guanyin is now serving the planet as an
Archangel on the First Ray of Will Empowerment, Maitreya is now serving as an
Archangel on the Tenth Ray of Divine Illumination, and Tara is now serving the
planet as an Archangel on the Third Ray of Harmonics Restoration.
Daoists (Taoists) believed that people are by nature, good, and that one should
be kind to others simply because such treatment will probably be reciprocated.
The goal of everyone was to become one with the Dao. Tai Chi, a technique of
exercise using slow deliberate movements, is used to work all parts of the body
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and massage the internal organs. People should develop virtue and seek
compassion, moderation, and humility. One should plan any action in advance
and achieve it through minimal action. Daoist sages pursued a long life and
virtual immortality by seeking mystical union with the great pattern of nature and
its Dao. Becoming nameless, formless, and simple, they gain virtuous power.
There are about twenty million followers of Daoism, primarily in Taiwan, with
some followers in North America, where acupuncture, herbalism, martial arts,
meditation and traditional medicine are prevalent.
Some of the basic tenets of Daoism (Taoism) are: Non-contention, solve
problems by peaceful means rather than with conflict and violence; Non-action,
attune to the Dao then you do less and accomplish more; Non-intention, perform
virtuous deeds without regard to reward; Simplicity, make everyday living
uncomplicated and effortless; Wisdom, transcend the limits of logic by using your
intuition. Insights come from living the Dao rather than book knowledge;
Humility, the more you learn, the more you realize how much you do not yet
understand; Duality, all worldly qualities are defined by the existence of their
opposites, something is loud only by comparison to something that is quiet.
Confucianism (teachings of Kongzi) was a philosophy of a way of life that was
mainly about ethical relations that define the standards for family life and the
administration of the state. According to the teachings of Kongzi, the motive for
change must be right. It must be good for the whole, as well as, the self.
A moral self was cultivated through a path of virtue where Yi-Jen-Li were
integrated into righteous benevolent propriety. Kongzi's teachings also have a
deep reverence for the powers of Heaven and Earth that regulate nature and
effect the course of human events. There are about six million followers of the
teachings of the "Greatest Master" Kong Fuzi throughout the world. Most of them
live in China, Korea, and Japan with about 26,000 of them living in North
America.
Kongzi's ethical teachings included the following values and virtues: Chung,
loyalty to the state; Li, ritual, propriety, etiquette; Hsiao, love within the family;
Jen, benevolence, humaneness towards others; Yi, righteousness; and Xin,
honesty and trustworthiness. Four of life's passages were regulated by tradition:
birth; reaching maturity; marriage (with the six stages of proposal, engagement,
dowry, procession, marriage, reception); and death.
Chuang Tzu was a Taoist sage who lived sometime before 250 B.C. The book
Chuang Tzu, which is filled with vivid parables, contains both his writings and the
writings by others about him and his teachings. Meng Tzu was a philosopher,
(371-289 B.C.), who like Confucius traveled from state to state, conversing with
the government rulers.
Chinese Sacred Texts include the: Chuang Tzu, Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching), Si
Shu, and Wu Jing Classics, Chuang Tzu was named after its author, parables and
metaphorical tales with vivid imagery that contain the essence of early Taoist
thought.
The Si Shu include Lun Yu, the Analects of Confucius, Chung Yung or Doctrine of
the Mean, Ta Hsueh or Great Learning, and the Writings of Meng Tzu. The Wu
Jing Classics include the Shu Ching, writings of ancient Chinese rulers; Shih
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Ching, classical ritual and mythic poems and song Li Ching, a group of three
books on the Li rites of propriety.
Chinese virtues worthy of emulation included Chung, Hsiao, Jen, Li, Xin, and Yi.
Chung was the virtue of loyalty, fidelity, dedication, and commitment to the
state. Hsiao was the virtue of love within family matters that encompasses: love
of parents for their children, of children for their parents, and love among family
members. Jen was the virtue of benevolence, compassion, kindness,
consideration, and humaneness towards others. Li was the virtue of ritual,
propriety, decorum, correctness, etiquette, and good manners. Xin was the virtue
of honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity. Yi was the virtue of
righteousness, morality, decency, rectitude, correctness, and integrity.
The Dao (Tao) is the cosmic, mystical, ultimate principle that encompasses
everything and lies beneath all form, substance, and being. It is the cause of the
continual process of change, and the source of the universe and all of nature,
including the human body. Everything from quanta to solar systems coexist in
interdependent systems that derive their energy from the harmonic unification of
the Yin with the Yang.
Manifestation occurs through different patterns. Pa Kua captures the essence of
something through the way its pattern manifest itself. The Five Elements and
Correspondences referred to the five parts of the sky, water, fire, wood, metal,
and earth, which also correspond to the main organs and orifices of the body. To
read more about the Five Elements.
Earlier Heaven was an ideal state of existence where everything is in harmony,
concurrence, and accord and united together in its connection to the Tao. Later
Heaven was the nature of the phenomenal world in which there is discord,
conflicts, disputes, dissension, and where the Tao has been forgotten.
Wu Wei was non-active, non-volitional living, where by doing less you accomplish
more. Rather than thrashing about in the frothy rapids, the intuitive sage stands
like a rock in the river while the eddies and currents flow around him.
The Valley Spirit was the doorway of the immortal Mysterious Female from which
Heaven and Earth sprang. It existed within everyone as a metaphysical spiritual
well that never ran dry. Chi was the vital, fundamental, intrinsic, underlying
kinetic or electrical energy, air, breath, of each person. By nurturing the Chi
given to you, you balanced the flow of energy. Illness was caused by blockages
or lack of balance in the Chi. Ching was generative and creative energy. Shen
was Ling Chi or spiritual, mystical energy.
Tao, Yao Chi, or primordial void, Wu Chi symbolized by the circle; the
undifferentiated, original source, cause, and foundation of everything. Wang Chi
was the divergence or polarization of the Tao into a Yin and a Yang that are
completely distinct and separate from one another.
The Yin Yang Symbol symbolized the pairs of opposites which are seen
throughout the universe: good and evil, male and female, hot and cold, wet and
dry, light and dark, sweet and sour. Even though the Dao (Tao) pairs of
opposites are differentiated into Yin and Yang, each of the opposites also
embodies the essence of the other.
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Yin qualities include: stillness, silence, tranquillity, calm, impurity, autumn,
winter, right, introversion, earth, even, moon, dark, the ordinary person, female,
heavy, deep, night, cool, rest, feminine, north, profound, the number six, the
number eight, and the breath that formed the earth.
Yang qualities include: movement, expansion, increase, purity, clarity, precision,
spring, summer, warm, active, light, sun, heaven, the sage, male, weightless,
masculine, left, south, extroversion, odd, the number nine, the number seven,
and the breath that formed the heavens.
Tai Chi are Daoist (Taoist) exercises and rhythmic movement techniques that
work all parts of the body and massage the internal organs. Tai Chi enhances
digestion, increases blood circulation, eliminates wastes, lowers blood pressure,
stimulates the nerves, and gently tones the muscles.
The purification of the generative, vital, and spiritual energies takes place in the
Tan Tien fields within the human body resulting in spiritual growth. The three Tan
Tiens are: the lower Tan Tien, one inch below the navel, the middle Tan Tien,
centered at the solar plexus, and the upper Tan Tien, centered between the
eyebrows. The Tan Tiens are cauldrons where these energies are refined,
purified, and transmuted to spiritual energy (from generative to vital to
spiritual).The Ming Men, sometimes referred to as the Mysterious Gate because
its spiritual significance transcends the body, this area on the spine between the
kidneys controls the movement of generative energy in the lower Tan Tien.
Many of the ancient Chinese goddesses, gods, mystics, buddhas, bodhisattvas,
philosophers, and sages, such as Dhashizhi, Guanyin, Kong Fuzi, Laozi, Maitreya
Shangdi, and Tara, are now serving the Chinese and other peoples of the planet
as Archangels and Hierarchs of the Twelve Universals Rays. Others ancient
Chinese goddesses and gods will become Hierarchs of the Twelve Universal Rays
sometime in the near future.
Dhashizhi was the female Chinese Buddhist Bodhisattva, whose name means
"The Strongest." The insightful depth and profound power of her fervently
compassionate love enabled Bodhisattva Dhashizhi to empower and to assist
others to break free of the wheel of samsara and the cycles of life, death, and
rebirth. The grateful spirits of those she helped to soar free of the bonds of
karmic return, assumed the shapes of beautiful flowers when they appeared
before Dhashizhi to thank her for her support.
Guanyin was the Chinese Bodhisattva, Buddhistic prophet god who answered the
prayers and petitions of childless women. "He Who Hears the Weeping World", he
was also known as "He Who Contemplates the Supplicating Cries of the World".
Guanyin has great shapeshifting abilities and will manifest in any form necessary,
including that of a woman, to protect those who are under attack by demonical
forces of darkness, fire, sword, or water. Often depicted holding a lotus blossom
or a willow twig with a vase containing the heavenly nectar of immortality,
Guanyin rescues people from the samsara cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
Confucius, Confucian) was the Philosopher Kong Fuzi, a Chinese educator and
reformer of exemplary vision, who endeavored to elevate the most refined
elements in the prevailing societal and governmental traditions by traveling
throughout China, giving advice to its rulers, and teaching morality and ethics.
Confucius was a name given to Philsopher Kong Fuzi by a western missionary and
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has no meaning to the Chinese who call him Kongzi. Seasoned for more than
2,000 years, the philosophy of Kong Fuzi has been fully integrated into Chinese
culture.
Laozi was a Chinese Sage, Ascended Master, who founded Daoism in an effort to
end the constant feudal warfare. According to legend, Kong Fuzi (Confucius)
visited with Lao Zi and was very impressed with his superior intellect, comparing
him to a mysterious dragon. The keeper of the imperial library, Lao Zi,
disappeared to the west through the gate of the Great Wall in his old age, leaving
behind the Book of The Way of Virtue, the "Daode Jing", which describes the
nature of life, the way to peace, and how a ruler should lead his life.
Maitreya Shangdi was a Pan-Asiatic boddhisattva who has been revered since
around 500 B.C.E. Venerated by both the Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists,
he was mentioned in the "Sadhanamala" and tantric ritual texts. as well as,
depicted in paintings and sculptures. His local Chinese Buddhist name was Mi-Lo
Fo, a bodhisattva with a substantial appearance who was associated with a purse
and roses.
As Maitreya, "Most Loving Bodhisattva", he was renown for his caring,
compassionate disposition and his unwavering commitment to the enlightenment
of humanity by elevating their overall level of conscious awareness to greater
spiritual heights. Believed to be a Manusibuddha, a future human Buddhic
incarnation, his colour was golden yellow, the hue of the Maim mantra syllable
from which his name was derived. Maitreya was often portrayed triple headed or
triple eyed signifying his three-fold nature. His symbols were white blossoms,
prayer wheels, and water jars.
As Shangdi (Shang Ti, Yu Huang Shang Ti), the Chinese creator god , he was the
Daoist (Taoist) Supreme Deity in an earthly incarnation. Especially revered by the
Jade Emperor and the Sung Dynasty, he was visibly remote from the average
person. Considered a spiritual master of the fundamental cosmic principles of the
heavenly realms, he was not depicted symbolically.
Tara was an enlightened female bodhisattva, revered mainly in India, Nepal,
Tibet, Mongolia and Indonesia, and, somewhat in Japan. The form of Tara is
crystalline pure changing colors from blue to green to red to white to yellow
depending on the needs of the moment, as she safeguards travellers and
journeyers of all kinds from trader merchants to pilgrim seekers.
There are China Galactic, Global, Environment, Proactive, Restoration, Safeguard,
and Virtue Omniangels Groups. The Sacred Site focal points for all of these
Omniangels groups as of summer 2005 are still a work in progress. Once the
selection of Sacred Sites focal points for each of the China Omniangel groups is
completed a write-up will be included below.
The names and descriptions of the 88,911 Omniangels in each of these groups
are not available at this time. Although each of the different kinds of Omniangels
groups has some special roles, unique tasks, distinctive functional
responsibilities, special operating procedures, and purposeful frames of
reference, in general, the Omniangels groups are empowered and sanctified to
act and operate within eleven distinctive ways or Spheres of Influence with the
evolutionary life spirals living on this planet and in the overlapping dimensions.
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The general headings for these spheres are Blessings, Knowledge, Harmony,
Healing,
Illumination,
Inspiration,
Preservation,
Protection,
Renewal,
Transformation, and Warding. Each word has many descriptive, functional, and
symbolic meanings for the Omniangels. Since they are divine triage teams and
special operations forces, they have been provided with extensive discretionary
powers which include emergency intervention, search and rescue, and destiny
remapping. They also have been given a wide latitude in interpreting how they
will use them, as long as they ensure that their actions are always aligned with
divine will, divine harmony, and divine authority.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Galactic Omniangels is Mount Taishan,
which is located in the middle of Shandong Province about 70 kms north of Qufu,
China. Stretching across Tai'an, Jinan, Licheng, and Changqing, the scenically
beautiful and historic mountain, called Mount Daizong in ancient times, is the
UNESCO cultural and natural relic of the world.
Considered a fairyland of the heaven where "there is no other mountains higher
than here, the cloud is lower, the sun is newer, and the only thing above is the
sky ", its main peak, the Jade Emperor Peak, rises 1,545 meters above sea level.
There is a "Treasure or Buddhist Light" which often appears on Mount Taishan
from June through August on cloudy, misty mornings and evenings.
Besides the spectacular sunrises and sunsets and the Buddhist Light, there are
many other scenic spots at Mount Taishan including Bixia Temple, Confucius Cliff,
Daguan Peak inscribed wall, Jade Emperor Temple, Qingdi Palace, South Gate to
Heaven, Sun-watching Peak, Tanhai Stone, Temple of Confucius inscribed wall,
Tianjie Archway, Tianjie Street, White Cloud Cave, Xianren Bridge, Zhangren
Peak, and Zhanlu Terrace.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Global Omniangels is the Shaolin Temple,
which is located about 100 kilometers outside the city of Zhengzhou amidst holy
mountains at the western foot of Mount Songshan, China. The temple was built
during the Northern Wei Dynasty around 495 ACE.
Adjacent to the summit of Mt. Wuru, the temple faces Mt. Shaoshi. Steeped in
spiritual traditions, Shaolin Kung Fu is renown around the world. Some of the
temple complex highlights include Dharma Cave, Hill Gate, Depositary of
Buddhist Texts, a 30,000 square meter permanent courtyard, a 20,000 square
meter Forest of Stupas, and Six Founder's Halls.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Proactive Omniangels is the Lama
Temple, Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery, which is located in the
northeastern part of the city of Beijing across the road from the Confucius (Kong
Fuzi) Temple in China. Originally built in 1694 as an emperor's residence, the
temple was converted into a lamasery for Mongolian and Tibetan monks in 1744.
Although it is the temple of the renowned Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, it
currently houses more than seventy Mongolian lamas who will talk to visitors,
share stories with them, and also bless items like pendants for a small fee.
The temple has five main halls that are connected together by courtyards.
("Tianwangdian", Devaraja Hall; "Yonghegong", Hall of Harmony and Peace;
"Yongyoudian", Hall of Everlasting Protection; "Falundian", Hall of the Wheel of
the Law; "Wanfuge", Pavilion of Eternal Happiness). Besides the Gate of Peace,
the Bell Tower, and the Drum Tower, there are also two symmetrically opposed
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pavilions and slate engraved inscriptions of the history of the temple in Chinese,
Manchu, Mongolian and Tibetan.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Bamboo Sea Restoration Omniangels is
the Bamboo Sea, which in located in South Sichuan Province in China.
Encompassing an area of 110,00 mu, the sea of bamboo groves stretches along
the border of Changning and Jiang'an counties in Yibin to 300 km south of
Chengdu. The oceanic expanse of bamboo trees is a fresh air haven with
splashing waterfalls, reflective pools, imagination stirring fogs, and running
streams rich with susurrus.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Huangguoshu Falls Restoration
Omniangels is the Huangguoshu Waterfalls, which is located 15 kms southwest of
Zhenning country on the Baishui River about 137 kms from Guiyang in China.
When the Baishui River cascades noisily over the fractured riverbed at
Huangguoshu, the water forms a curtain 81 meters wide that hides a cave. As
the river falls 74 meters into Xinin Pool, it sprays waterdrops 90 meters into the
air. Spectacular views of the largest waterfall in China are provided by a pavilion
on the opposite bank.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Qufu Safeguard Omniangels is the
Confucius Temple, which is located at Qufu in China. The former living quarters of
his first grandson, the Temple of Confucius (Kong Fuzi) was built in 478 B.C., as
a place to revere the great philosopher and educator. Over the ensuing years, the
temple dedicated to Kong Fuzi has been destroyed, reconstructed, renovated,
and expanded.
Today it consists of over a hundred buildings that have retained their exemplary
artistic and cultural character because of the devoted care and attention of
emperors of the Western Han Dynasty and successive historical periods. The left,
middle, and right paths lead to the temple which is sheltered by ancient pine
trees and an outer wall with four corner towers. Along these three paths, there
are nine courtyards, pavilions, halls, and many other rooms. The temple houses a
collection of around 2,000 tablets, over 7,000 files from 1534-1948, and
numerous cultural artifacts, including stone statutes from the Han Dynasty.
The Sacred Site of the China Shanghai Virtue Omniangels is Yo Fo Temple (Jade
Temple), which is located on Anyuan Road in the western part of the city of
Shanghai, China. In 1882, a monk named Huigen built the Yo Fo Temple as a
sanctuary for five jade Buddha statues which he had brought to China from
Burma. The original Jade Temple was burnt down and replaced by a new one in
1918. Monks continue to live in the temple which was constructed in the
traditional style of the Song Dynasty with courtyards and halls.
The Sacred Site focal point of the China Qufu Virtue Omniangels is the Confucius
Temple, which is located at Qufu in China. The former living quarters of his first
grandson, the Temple of Confucius (Kong Fuzi) was built in 478 B.C., as a place
to revere the great philosopher and educator. Over the ensuing years, the temple
dedicated to Kong Fuzi has been destroyed, reconstructed, renovated, and
expanded.
Today it consists of over a hundred buildings that have retained their exemplary
artistic and cultural character because of the devoted care and attention of
emperors of the Western Han Dynasty and successive historical periods. The left,
141
middle, and right paths lead to the temple which is sheltered by ancient pine
trees and an outer wall with four corner towers. Along these three paths, there
are nine courtyards, pavilions, halls, and many other rooms. The temple houses
a collection of around 2,000 tablets, over 7,000 files from 1534-1948, and
numerous cultural artifacts, including stone statutes from the Han Dynasty.
The Sacred Site of the China Shanghai Virtue Omniangels is Yo Fo Temple
(Jade Temple), which is located on Anyuan Road in the western part of
the city of Shanghai, China. In 1882, a monk named Huigen built the Yo
Fo Temple as a sanctuary for five jade Buddha statues which he had
brought to China from Burma. The original Jade Temple was burnt down
and replaced by a new one in 1918. Monks continue to live in the temple
which was constructed in the traditional style of the Song Dynasty with
courtyards and halls.
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Kabbalah
Thiis article is about traditional Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). There is a separate
article about the controversial Kabbalah Centre.
Kabbalah
(Hebrew:
”׸֜׼ָ֑׷֧×‎,
Tiberian:
qabË É”ËˆlÉ”h,
QabbÄ lÄ h, Israeli: Kabala) literally means "receiving", in the sense of a
"received tradition", and is sometimes transliterated as Cabala, Kabbala, Qabalah, or
other permutations. Kabbalah esoterically interprets the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and
classical Jewish texts (halakha and aggadah) and practices (mitzvot), as expressing a
mystical doctrine concerning God's simultaneous immanence and transcendence, an
attempted resolution to the ancient paradox of how the ultimate Being—"that which
is not conceivable by thinking" (Isaac the Blind)—nevertheless comes to be known
and experienced by the created world.
Because of the interpretive liberties taken by kabbalistic thinkers, and the possible
heresies to which they may easily lead, study of Kabbalah was traditionally restricted
to a select few Rabbis and Torah scholars. As Joseph Albo puts it in his Sefer HaIkkarim (II:28, 15th century, Trans:Husik), "This is why the science treating these
things is called Kabbalah (lit. Tradition), because tradition must be followed in the
study and the practice of it, else one is liable to commit an error and to worship as
God some one other than the Lord."
The term Kabbalah originally refers to Talmudic texts from the Gnostic era, among the
Geonim (early medieval rabbis) and by Rishonim (later medieval rabbis) as a
reference to the full body of the oral tradition of Jewish teaching, which was publicly
available. Even the works of the Tanakh's prophets were referred to as Kabbalah,
before they were canonized as part of the written tradition. In this sense Kabbalah
was used in referring to all of Judaism's oral law. Over time, much of the oral law was
recorded, but the esoteric teachings remained an oral tradition. Now, even though the
esoteric teachings of the Torah are recorded, it is still known as Kabbalah.
Thus, this term became connected with doctrines of esoteric knowledge concerning
God, the human being and the relationship between them. Ontology, cosmogony, and
cosmology are the main components of this esoteric lore. The reasons for the
commandments in the Torah and the ways by which God administers the existence of
the universe are also a part of the Kabbalah.
Origins
According to most segments of Orthodox Jewry, this esoteric Kabbalah dates from
Adam and is an integral part of the Jewish tradition. They believe that this esoteric
knowledge has come down from a remote past as a revelation to elect Tzadikim
("righteous men"), and for the most part, was preserved only by a privileged few.
According to contemporary scholarship, the various schools of Jewish esotericism have
arisen at different periods of Jewish history, each reflecting not only prior forms of
Jewish esotericism but also the intellectual and culture milieu of that historical period.
Questions of transmission, influence, and innovation vary and cannot be summarized
with a simple doctrinaire claim.
Protocol and influence
The proper protocol for teaching this wisdom, as well as many of its concepts, are
recorded in the Talmud (second chapter of tractate Haggiga). In the Talmudic texts
the esoteric teachings are called Ma'aseh Merkavah and Ma'aseh B'resheyth. After a
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composition known as the Zohar was presented to the public in the 13th century, the
term Kabbalah began to more specifically refer to teachings derived from or related to
the Zohar; at an even later time, the term began to generally be applied to Zoharic
teachings as elaborated upon by Arizal. Historians generally date the start of Kabbalah
as a major influence in Jewish thought and practice with the publication of the Zohar
and climaxing with the spread of the Arizal's teachings. The majority of Haredi Jews
accept the Zohar as the representative of the Ma'aseh Merkavah and Ma'aseh
B'resheyth that are referred to in Talmudic texts.
Dispute
There is more dispute among Haredim as to the status of Arizal's kabbalistic
teachings. While a portion of Modern Orthodox Rabbis, Dor Daim, and many students
of the Rambam completely reject Arizal's kabbalistic teachings, as well as deny that
the Zohar is authoritative or from Shimon bar Yohai, all three of these groups
completely accept the existence of the esoteric side of Torah referred to in the Talmud
as Ma'aseh Merquva and Ma'aseh B'resheyth. Their disagreement is only over whether
the Kabbalistic teachings promulgated today are accurate representations of those
esoteric teachings to which the Talmud refers. Within the Haredi Jewish community
one can find Rabbis who both sympathize with such a view, while not necessarily
agreeing with it, as well as Rabbis who consider such a view absolute heresy.
Origin of Jewish mysticism
The Tree of life.
According to adherents of Kabbalah, the origin of Kabbalah begins with secrets that
God revealed to Adam. According to a rabbinic midrash[citation needed] God created the
universe through the ten sefirot. When read by later generations of Kabbalists, the
Torah's description of the creation in the Book of Genesis reveals mysteries about the
godhead itself, the true nature of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life, as well as the interaction of these
supernal entities with the Serpent which leads to disaster when they eat the forbidden
fruit, as recorded in Genesis 2[1].
The Bible provides ample additional material for mythic and mystical speculation. The
prophet Ezekiel's visions in particular attracted much mystical speculation, as did
Isaiah's Temple vision (Chapter 6). Jacob's vision of the ladder to heaven is another
text providing an example of a mystical experience. Moses' experience with the
Burning bush and his encounters with God on Mount Sinai, are all evidence of mystical
events in the Tanakh, and form the origin of Jewish mystical beliefs.
The 72 names of God which are used in Jewish mysticism for meditation purposes are
derived from the Hebrew verbal utterance Moses spoke while the Red Sea parted with
the presence of an angel, allowing the Hebrews to escape their encroaching attackers.
This is the greatest miracle of the Exodus which led to Moses receiving the Ten
Commandments and the Jewish Orthodox view of the acceptance of the Torah at
Mount Sinai creating the first Jewish nation approximately three hundred years before
King Saul.
Some scholars have even proposed an Indian origin for this mystic system. They
credit it to the Sage Kapila who founded the Indian system of Samkhya-Yoga.
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Claims for authority
Historians have noted that most claims for the authority of Kabbalah are based on an
argument of authority based on antiquity (See, for example, Joseph Dan's discussion
in his Circle of the Unique Cherub). As a result, virtually all works pseudepigraphically
claim or are ascribed, ancient authorship. For example, Sefer Raziel HaMalach, an
astro-magical text partly based on a magical manual of late antiquity, Sefer ha-Razim,
was, according to the kabbalists, transmitted to Adam (after being evicted from Eden)
by the angel Raziel. Another famous work, the Sefer Yetzirah, supposedly dates back
to the patriarch Abraham. This tendency toward pseudepigraphy has its roots in
Apocalyptic literature, which claims that esoteric knowledge such as magic, divination
and astrology was transmitted to humans in the mythic past by the two angels, Aza
and Azaz'el (in other places, Azaz'el and Uzaz'el; also harut and marut in quran) who
'fell' from heaven (see Genesis 6:4) (see Holy Quran, Chapter 2, verse 102) (third
part).
This appeal to antiquity has also shaped modern theories of influence in
reconstructing the history of Jewish mysticism. The oldest versions of the Jewish
mysticism have been theorized to extend from Assyrian theology and mysticism. Dr.
Simo Parpola, professor of Assyriology at the University of Helsinki, remarks on the
general similarity between the Sefirot of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the Tree of
Life of Assyria. He reconstructed what an Assyrian antecendent to the Sephiroth might
look like,[2] and noted parallels between the characteristics of En Sof on the nodes of
the Sefiroth and the gods of Assyria. The Assyrians assigned specific numbers to their
gods, similar to the numbering of the Sefiroth. However, the Assyrians use a
sexagesimal number system, whereas the Sefiroth is decimal. With the Assyrian
numbers, additional layers of meaning and mystical relevance appear in the
Sefiroth.[citation needed] Normally, floating above the Assyrian Tree of Life was the god
Assur, corresponding to the Hebrew En Sof, which is also, via a series of
transformations, derived from the Assyrian word Assur.
Parpola re-interpreted various Assyrian tablets in terms of these primitive Sefirot,
such as the Epic Of Gilgamesh. He proposed that the scribes had been writing
philosophical-mystical tracts, rather than mere adventure stories, and concluded that
traces of this Assyrian mode of thought and philosophy eventually reappeared in
Greek Philosophy and the Kabbalah.
Skeptical scholars find attempts to read Kabbalah back into the pre-Israelite Ancient
Near East, as Parpola does, to be implausible. They point out that the doctrine of the
Sefirot started to seriously develop only in the 12th century CE with the publication of
the Bahir, and that for this doctrine to have existed undocumented within Judaism
from the time of the Assyrian empire (which fell from cultural hegemony in the 7th
century BCE) until it "resurfaced" 17–18 centuries later seems far-fetched. A
plausible alternative, based in the research of Gershom Scholem, the pre-eminent
scholar of Kabbalah in the 20th Century, is to see the sefirot as a theosophical
doctrine that emerged out of Jewish word-mythology of late antiquity (as exemplified
in Sefer Yetzirah) and the angelic-palace mysticism found in Hekalot literature being
fused to the Neo-Platonic notion of creation through progressive divine emanations.
Textual antiquity of esoteric mysticism
Jewish forms of esotericism did, however, exist over 2,000 years ago. Ben Sira warns
against it, saying: "You shall have no business with secret things" (Sirach iii. 22;
compare Talmud Hagigah 13a; Midrash Genesis Rabbah viii.).
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Apocalyptic literature belonging to the second and first pre-Christian centuries
contained elements that carry over to later Kabbalah. According to Josephus, such
writings were in the possession of the Essenes, and were jealously guarded by them
against disclosure, for which they claimed a hoary antiquity (see Philo, "De Vita
Contemplativa," iii., and Hippolytus, "Refutation of all Heresies," ix. 27).
That books containing secret lore were kept hidden away by (or for) the "enlightened"
is stated in IV Esdras xiv. 45-46, where Pseudo-Ezra is told to publish the twenty-four
books of the canon openly that the worthy and the unworthy may alike read, but to
keep the seventy other books hidden in order to "deliver them only to such as be
wise" (compare Dan. xii. 10); for in them are the spring of understanding, the
fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.
Instructive for the study of the development of Jewish mysticism is the Book of
Jubilees written around the time of King John Hyrcanus. It refers to mysterious
writings of Jared, Cain, and Noah, and presents Abraham as the renewer, and Levi as
the permanent guardian, of these ancient writings. It offers a cosmogony based upon
the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and connected with Jewish chronology
and Messianology, while at the same time insisting upon the heptad (7) as the holy
number rather than upon the decadic (10) system adopted by the later haggadists
and the Sefer Yetzirah. The Pythagorean idea of the creative powers of numbers and
letters was shared with Sefer Yetzirah and was known in the time of the Mishnah
(before 200 CE).
Early elements of Jewish mysticism can be found in the non-Biblical texts of the Dead
Sea Scrolls, such as the Song of the Sabbath Sacrifice. Some parts of the Talmud and
the midrash also focus on the esoteric and mystical, particularly Chagigah 12b-14b.
Many esoteric texts, among them Hekalot Rabbati, Sefer HaBahir, Torat Hakana, Sefer
P'liyah, Midrash Otiyot d'Rabbi Akiva, the Bahir, and the Zohar claim to be from the
talmudic era, though some of these works, most notably the Bahir and Zohar, are
considered by modern scholars to clearly be medieval works pseudepigraphically
ascribed to the ancient past. Traditional orthodoxy, however, does not agree to this.
In the medieval era Jewish mysticism developed under the influence of the wordnumber esoteric text Sefer Yetzirah. Jewish sources attribute the book to the biblical
patriarch Abraham, though the text itself offers no claim as to authorship. This book,
and especially its embryonic concept of the "sefirot," became the object of systematic
study of several mystical brotherhoods which eventually came to be called baale hakabbalah (בעלי הקבלה "possessors or masters of the Kabbalah").
Mystic doctrines in Talmudic times
In Talmudic times the terms Ma'aseh Bereshit ("Works of Creation") and Ma'aseh
Merkabah ("Works of the Divine Throne/Chariot") clearly indicate the Midrashic nature
of these speculations; they are really based upon Genesis 1 and Book of Ezekiel 1:428; while the names Sitrei Torah (Talmud Hag. 13a) and Razei Torah (Ab. vi. 1)
indicate their character as secret lore. In contrast to the explicit statement of the
Hebrew Bible that God created not only the world, but also the matter out of which it
was made,[citation needed] the opinion is expressed in very early times that God created
the world from matter He found ready at hand — (according to some, this is an
opinion probably due to the influence of the Platonic-Stoic cosmogony).
Eminent rabbinic teachers in the Land of Israel held the doctrine of the preexistence of
matter (Midrash Genesis Rabbah i. 5, iv. 6), in spite of the protest of Gamaliel II. (ib.
i. 9).
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In dwelling upon the nature of God and the universe, the mystics of the Talmudic
period asserted, in contrast to the transcendentalism evident in some parts of the
Bible, that "God is the dwelling-place of the universe; but the universe is not the
dwelling-place of God". Possibly the designation ("place") for God, so frequently found
in Talmudic-Midrashic literature, is due to this conception, just as Philo, in
"the
commenting on Genesis 28:11 says, "God is called ha makom (המקו×
place") because God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything"
(De Somniis, i. 11). This type of theology, in modern terms, is known as either
pantheism or panentheism. Whether a text is truly pantheistic or panentheistic is
often hard to understand; mainstream Judaism generally rejects pantheistic
interpretations of Kabbalah, and instead accepts panentheistic interpretations.
Even in very early times of the Land of Israel as well as Alexandrian theology
recognized the two attributes of God, middat hadin (the "attribute of justice"), and
middat ha-rahamim (the "attribute of mercy") (Midrash Sifre, Deuteronomy 27); and
so is the contrast between justice and mercy a fundamental doctrine of the Kabbalah.
Other hypostasizations are represented by the ten "agencies" (the Sefirot) through
which God created the world; namely, wisdom, insight, cognition, strength, power,
inexorableness, justice, right, love, and mercy.
While the Sefirot are based on these ten creative "potentialities", it is especially the
personification of wisdom which, in Philo, represents the totality of these primal ideas;
and the Targ. Jerusalem Talmud i., agreeing with him, translates the first verse of the
Bible as follows: "By wisdom God created the heaven and the earth." Genesis Rabbah
equates "Wisdom" with "Torah."
So, also, the figure of the Sar Metatron passed into mystical texts from the Talmud. In
the Heichalot literature Metatron sometimes approximates the role of the demiurgos
(see Gnosticism), being expressly mentioned as a "lesser" God. One text, however,
identifies Metatron as Enoch transubstantiated (III Enoch). Mention may also be made
of other pre-existent things enumerated in an old baraita (an extra-mishnaic
teaching); namely, the Torah, repentance, paradise and hell, the throne of God, the
Heavenly Temple, and the name of the Messiah (Talmud Pesahim 54a). Although the
origin of this doctrine must be sought probably in certain mythological ideas, the
Platonic doctrine of preexistence has modified the older, simpler conception, and the
preexistence of the seven must therefore be understood as an "ideal" preexistence, a
conception that was later more fully developed in the Kabbalah.
The attempts of the mystics to bridge the gulf between God and the world are evident
in the doctrine of the preexistence of the soul, and of its close relation to God before it
enters the human body — a doctrine taught by the Hellenistic sages (Wisdom viii.
19) as well as by the Palestinian rabbis. The mystics also latch on to the phrase from
Isaiah, as expounded by the Rabbinic Sages, "The whole world is filled with his glory,"
to justify a panentheistic understanding of the universe.
In the 17th century, Baruch Spinoza may have had this passage in mind when he said
that the ancient Jews did not separate God from the world. This conception of God
may be pantheistic or panentheistic. It also postulates the union of man with God;
both these ideas were further developed in the later Kabbalah. (Spinoza was
excommunicated from the main Jewish community by the rabbis at the time for
publicly espousing these views, more likely out of fear of Christian reaction then out of
their own outrage).
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Kabbalah in the Middle Ages
From the 8th-11th Century Sefer Yetzirah and Hekalot texts made their way into
European Jewish circles. Modern scholars have identified several mystical
brotherhoods that functioned in Europe starting in the 12th Century. Some, such as
the "Iyyun Circle" and the "Unique Cherub Circle," were truly esoteric, remaining
largely anonymous. One well-known group was the "Hasidei Ashkenaz," or German
Pietists. This 13th Century movement arose mostly among a single scholarly family,
the Kalonymus family of the French and German Rhineland. There were certain
rishonim ("Elder Sages") of exoteric Judaism who are known to have been experts in
Kabbalah. One of the best known is Nahmanides (the Ramban) (1194-1270) whose
commentary on the Torah is considered to be based on Kabbalistic knowledge as well
as Bahya ben Asher (the Rabbeinu Behaye) (d. 1340). Another was Isaac the Blind
(1160-1235), the teacher of Nahmanides, who is widely argued to have written the
first work of classic Kabbalah, the Bahir.
Sefer Bahir and another work entitled "Treatise of the Left Emanation", probably
composed in Spain by Isaac ben Isaac ha-Cohen, laid the groundwork for the
composition of Sefer Zohar, written by Moses de Leon and his mystical circle at the
end of the 13th Century, but credited to the Talmudic sage Shimon bar Yochai, cf.
Zohar. The Zohar proved to be the first truly "popular" work of Kabbalah, and the
most influential. From the thirteenth century onward Kabbalah began to be widely
disseminated and it branched out into an extensive literature. Arthur Green argues
this public coming out of Jewish esoteric thought at this particular time coincides with,
and represents a response to, the rising influence of rationalist philosophy in Jewish
circles. Orthodox Judaism rejects the idea that Kabbalah underwent significant
historical development or change such as has been proposed above.
The ban against studying Kabbalah
The ban against studying Kabbalah was lifted by the efforts of the sixteenth century
Kabbalist Rabbi Avraham Azulai (1570-1643).
I have found it written that all that has been decreed Above forbidding open
involvement in the Wisdom of Truth [Kabbalah] was [only meant for] the limited time
period until the year 5,250 (1490 C.E). From then on after is called the "Last
Generation", and what was forbidden is [now] allowed. And permission is granted to
occupy ourselves in the [study of] Zohar. And from the year 5,300 (1540 C.E.) it is
most desirable that the masses both those great and small [in Torah], should occupy
themselves [in the study of Kabbalah], as it says in the Raya M'hemna [a section of
the Zohar]. And because in this merit King Mashiach will come in the future – and
not in any other merit – it is not proper to be discouraged [from the study of
Kabbalah]. (Rabbi Avraham Azulai)
Lurianic Kabbalah in Early Modern history
Following the upheavals and dislocations in the Jewish world as a result of the Spanish
Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the trauma of AntiSemitism during the Middle Ages, Jews began to search for signs of when the longawaited Jewish Messiah would come to comfort them in their painful exiles. Moses
Cordovero and his immediate circle popularized the teachings of the Zohar which had
until then been only a modestly influential work. The author of the Shulkhan Arukh
(the Jewish "Code of Law"), Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), was also a great scholar
of Kabbalah and spread its teachings during this era. As part of that "search for
meaning" in their lives, Kabbalah received its biggest boost in the Jewish world with
the explication of the Kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) by his
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disciples Rabbi Hayim Vital and Rabbi Israel Sarug, both of whom published Luria's
teachings (in variant forms) gaining them wide-spread popularity. Luria's teachings
came to rival the influence of the Zohar and Luria stands, alongside Moses De Leon,
as the most influential mystic in Jewish history.
Kabbalah of the Sefardim and Mizrahim
The Kabbalah of the Sefardi (Spanish/Mediterranean) and Mizrahi (African/Asian)
Torah scholars has a long history. Kabbalah flourished among Sefardic Jews in Tzfat
(Safed), Israel even before the arrival of Isaac Luria, its most famous resident. The
great Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Arukh was part of the Tzfat school of
Kabbalah. Shlomo Alkabetz, author of the famous hymn Lekhah Dodi, taught there.
His disciple Moses ben Jacob Cordovero authored Sefer Pardes Rimonim, an
organized, exhaustive compilation of kabbalistic teachings on a variety of subjects up
to that point. Rabbi Cordovero headed the Academy of Tzfat until his death, when
Isaac Luria, also known as the Ari, rose to prominence. Rabbi Moshe's disciple Eliyahu
De Vidas authored the classic work, Reishit Chochma, combining kabbalistic and
mussar (moral) teachings. Chaim Vital also studied under Rabbi Cordovero, but with
the arrival of Rabbi Luria became his main disciple. Vital claimed to be the only one
authorized to transmit the Ari's teachings, though other disciples also published books
presenting Luria's teachings.
Kabbalah in various forms was widely studied, commented upon, and expanded by
North African, Turkish, Yemenite, and Asian scholars from the 16th Century onward.
Among the most famous was the Beit El mystical circle of Jerusalem, originally a
brotherhood of twelve, mostly Sefardic, mystics under the leadership of Gedaliyah
Chayon and Shalom Sharabi in the mid-18th century. The group endured into the
20th Century and there is still a yeshivah of that name in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Kabbalah of the Maharal
One of the most important teachers of Kabbalah recognized as an authority by all
serious scholars up until the present time, was Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (15251609) known as the Maharal of Prague. Many of his written works survive and are
studied for their deep Kabbalistic insights. The Maharal is, perhaps, most famous
outside of Jewish mysticism for the legends of the golem of Prague, which he
reportedly created. During the twentieth century, Rabbi Isaac Hutner (1906-1980)
continued to spread the Maharal's teachings indirectly through his own teachings and
scholarly publications within the modern yeshiva world.
The failure of Sabbatian mysticism
The spiritual and mystical yearnings of many Jews remained frustrated after the death
of Rabbi Isaac Luria and his disciples and colleagues. No hope was in sight for many
following the devastation and mass killings of the pogroms that followed in the wake
the Chmielnicki Uprising (1648-1654), and it was at this time that a controversial
scholar of the Kabbalah by the name of Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) captured the
hearts and minds of the Jewish masses of that time with the promise of a newlyminted "Messianic" Millennialism in the form of his own personage. His charisma,
mystical teachings that included repeated pronunciations of the holy Tetragrammaton
in public, tied to an unstable personality, and with the help of his own "prophet"
Nathan of Gaza, convinced the Jewish masses that the "Jewish Messiah" had finally
come. It seemed that the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah had found their "champion"
and had triumphed, but this era of Jewish history unravelled when Zevi became an
apostate to Judaism by converting to Islam after he was arrested by the Ottoman
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Sultan and threatened with execution for attempting a plan to conquer the world and
rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Many of his followers, known as Sabbateans, continued to worship him in secret,
explaining his conversion not as an effort to save his life but to recover the sparks of
the holy in each religion, and most leading rabbis were always on guard to root them
out. The Donmeh movement in modern Turkey is a surviving remnant of the
Sabbatian schism. The Sabbatian movement was followed by that of the "Frankists"
who were disciples of another pseudo-mystic Jacob Frank (1726-1791) who eventually
became an apostate to Judaism by apparently converting to Catholicism. This era of
disappointment did not stem the Jewish masses' yearnings for "mystical" leadership.
Spread of Kabbalah during the 1700s
The eighteenth century saw an explosion of new efforts in the writing and spread of
Kabbalah by four well known rabbis working in different areas of Europe:
1. Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) in the area of Ukraine spread teachings
based on Rabbi Isaac Luria's foundations, simplifying the Kabbalah for the
common man. From him sprang the vast ongoing schools of Hasidic Judaism,
with each successive rebbe viewed by his "Hasidim" as continuing the role of
dispenser of mystical divine blessings and guidance.
2. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772 - 1810), the great-grandson of the Baal
Shem Tov, revitalized and further expanded the latter's teachings, amassing a
following of thousands in Ukraine, White Russia, Lithuania and Poland. In a
unique amalgam of Hasidic and Mitnagid approaches, Rebbe Nachman
emphasized study of both Kabbalah and serious Torah scholarship to his
disciples. His teachings also differed from the way other Hasidic groups were
developing, as he rejected the idea of hereditary Hasidic dynasties and taught
that each Hasid must "search for the tzaddik ('saintly/righteous person')" for
himself—and within himself.
3. Rabbi Elijah of Vilna (Vilna Gaon) (1720-1797), based in Lithuania, had his
teachings encoded and publicized by his disciples such as by Rabbi Chaim
Volozhin who published the mystical-ethical work Nefesh HaChaim. However,
he was staunchly opposed to the new Hasidic movement and warned against
their public displays of religious fervour inspired by the mystical teachings of
their rabbis. Although the Vilna Gaon was not in favor of the Hasidic movement,
he did not prohibit the study and engagement in the Kabbalah. This is evident
from his writings in the Even Shlema."He that is able to understand secrets of
the Torah and does not try to understand them will be judged harshly, may God
have mercy". (The Vilna Gaon, Even Shlema, 8:24). "The Redemption will only
come about through learning Torah, and the essence of the Redemption
depends upon learning Kabbalah" (The Vilna Gaon, Even Shlema, 11:3).
4. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (1707-1746), based in Italy, was a precocious
Talmudic scholar who arrived at the startling conclusion that there was a need
for the public teaching and study of Kabbalah. He established a yeshiva for
Kabbalah study and actively recruited outstanding students, in addition, wrote
copious manuscripts in an appealing clear Hebrew style, all of which gained the
attention of both admirers as well of rabbinical critics who feared another "Zevi
(false messiah) in the making". He was forced to close his school by his
rabbinical opponents, hand over and destroy many of his most precious
unpublished kabbalistic writings, and go into exile in the Netherlands. He
eventually moved to the Land of Israel. Some of his most important works such
as Derekh Hashem survive and are used as a gateway to the world of Jewish
mysticism.
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The modern world
Two of the most influential sources spreading Kabbalistic teachings have come from
the growth and spread of Hasidic Judaism, as can be seen by the growth of the
Lubavitch movement, and from the influence of the writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac
Kook (1864-1935) who inspired the followers of Religious Zionism with mystical
writings and hopes that interpreted the rise of modern day Zionism as the onset of the
atchalta dege'ula - the "beginning of the redemption" of the Jewish people from their
exile, in expectation of the arrival of the "final redemption" of the Jewish Messiah. The
varied Hasidic works (sifrei chasidus) and Rabbi Kook's voluminous writings drew
heavily on the long chain of Kabbalistic thought and methodology.
"Due to the alienation from the "secret of God" [i.e. Kabbalah], the higher qualities of
the depths of Godly life are reduced to trivia that do not penetrate the depth of the
soul. When this happens, the most mighty force is missing from the soul of nation and
individual, and Exile finds favor essentially... We should not negate any conception
based on rectitude and awe of Heaven of any form - only the aspect of such an
approach that desires to negate the mysteries and their great influence on the spirit of
the nation. This is a tragedy that we must combat with counsel and understanding,
with holiness and courage." (Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook Orot 2 )
Another influential and important Kabbalah character is Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag
1884-1954 (also known as the Baal HaSulam — a title that he was given after the
completion of one of his masterworks, The Sulam). Ashlag is considered by many to
be one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time. He developed a study method that he
considered most fitting for the future generations of Kabbalists. He is also notable for
his other masterwork Talmud Eser HaSfirot — The Study of the Ten Emanations —
a commentary on all the writings of the ARI. Some today consider this work as the
core of the entire teaching of Kabbalah. Baal Hasulam's goal was to make the study of
Kabblah understandable and accessible to every human being with the desire to know
the meaning of life. There are several organizations that are actualizing his ideas
today.
Renewed interest in Kabbalah has appeared among non-traditional Jews, and even
among non-Jews. Neo-Hasidism and Jewish Renewal have been the most influential
groups in this trend.
Sefer Yetzirah
Yetzira (יצירה) (" Book [of] Formation/Creation"), also known as Hilkhot
Yetzira "Customs of Formation" The first commentaries on this small book were
written in the 10th century, perhaps the text itself is quoted as early as the 6th
century, and perhaps its linguistic organization of the Hebrew alphabet could be from
as early as the 2nd century. Its historical origins remain obscure, although many
believe that it was authored by Abraham. It exists today in a number of editions, up
to 2500 words long (about the size of a pamphlet). It organizes the cosmos into "32
Paths of Wisdom", comprising "10 Sefirot" (3 elements - air, water and fire - plus 6
directions and center) and "22 letters" of the Hebrew alphabet (3 mother letters, 7
double letters plus 12 simple letters). It uses this structure to organize cosmic
phenomena ranging from the seasons of the calendar to the emotions of the intellect,
and is essentially an index of cosmic correspondences.
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Bahir
Bahir (בהיר) ("Illumination"), also known as "Midrash of Rabbi Nehunya ben
Ha-Kana" - a book of special interest to students of Kabbalah because it serves as a
kind of epitome that surveys the essential concepts of the subsequent literature of
Kabbalah. It is about 12,000 words (about the size of a magazine). Despite its name
"Illumination", it is notoriously cryptic and difficult to understand (but not impossible).
Much of it is written in parables, one after the other. The Bahir opens with a quote
attributed to Rabbi Nehunya ben Ha-Kana, a Talmudic sage of the 1st century, and
the rest the book is an unfolding discussion about the quote. Jewish tradition
considers the whole book to be written in the spirit of Rabbi Nehunya (or even literally
written by him). It was first published in Provence France (near Italy) in 1176.
Historians suspect Rabbi Yitzhak Ha-Ivver (also known as Isaac the Blind) wrote the
book at this time, albeit he incorporated oral traditions from a much earlier time about
the Tanakh, Talmud, Siddur, Yetzira, and other Rabbinic texts.
Sefer Chasidim
Sefer Chasidim ("Book [of] Pious Ones") arose in the late 12th century as a central
ethical text of the German Pietists. It is anonymous but sometimes credited to Shmuel
Ben Yhuda He-Chasid [citation needed]. The text resembles a FAQ with about 1200
frequently asked questions whose answers range from exhortations to illustrative
stories to homilies, about any aspect of Medieval Ashkenazi Judaism. The bulk of the
book is devoted to a severe but readily understood pietism for those volunteering to
do halakha above and beyond the basic duties. Some material, however, concerns
Jewish mysticism: the divine economy, secrets of prayer, and paranormal phenomena
such as divinatory dreams, witches, vampires, and poltergeists.
Sefer Raziel HaMalakh
Raziel Ha-Malakh (×¨×–×™× ×œ ×”×ž×œ× ×š ) ("Raziel the Angel") - an astralmagical text published in the 13th century in Germany and probably written by Eliezer
of Worms. It cites the text of the Yetzira, explains the concept of mazal "fortune,
destinity" associated with Kabbalah astrology, and records an encrypted alphabet for
use in mystical formulas.
Zohar
Zohar ( זהר ) ("Splendor") - the most important text of Kabbalah, at times
achieving even canonical status as part of Oral Torah. It is a mystical commentary on
the Torah, written in Medieval Aramaic. For much of the twentieth century there had
been had been an academic consensus regarding the medieval authorship of the
Zohar but most traditional Kabbalists agree amongst themselves that the oral author
of the Zohar was Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and the text was scribed by Rav Abba, a
student of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Gershom Scholem argued that Moshe de Leon
was the sole author of the Zohar. More recently, Yehuda Liebes contended that while
de Leon may have been the primary author, he incorporated or recast selections from
contemproary kabbalists (e.g. Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, Rabbi Joseph of Hamadan, Rabbi
Bahya ben Asher). Most recently, kabbalah scholars such as Ronit Meroz, Daniel
Abrams, and Boaz Huss have been demonstrating that the materials within the zohar
underwent several generations of writing, re-writing, and redaction. de Leon had
claimed to discover the text of the Zohar while in the land of Israel and attributed it to
the 2nd-century Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai who is the main character of the text. The
text gained enormous popularity throughout the Jewish world. Though the book was
widely accepted, a small number of significant rabbis over the subsequent centuries
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published texts declaring Rabbi Moshe invented it as a forgery with concepts contrary
to Judaism. However, many of these Rabbis were not Kabbalists themselves. This was
a major point of contention made by a community among the Jews of Yemen, known
as Dor Daim (a religious intellectual movement that called for a return to a more
Talmudic based Judaism). Other communities in Italy and the Andalusian (Spanish
Portuguese) lands also questioned the content and authenticity of the Zohar. While
organized into commentaries on sections of the Torah, the Zohar elaborates on the
Talmud, Midrash Rabba, Yetzira, the Bahir, and many other Rabbinic texts. To some
degree, the Zohar simply is Kabbalah.
Pardes Rimonim
Pardes Rimonim ( פרדס ×¨×™×ž×•× ×™× ) ("Garden [of] Pomegranates") the magnum opus of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, published in Spain in the 16th century
and the main source of Cordoverian Kabbalah, a comprehensive interpretation of the
Zohar and a friendly rival of the Lurianic interpretation. Among other important books
by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero is Tomer Devora.
Etz Hayim
Etz Hayim ( ×¢×¥ ×—×™×™× ) ("Tree [of] Life") - useful text of the teachings of
Rabbi Yitzhak Luria (also known as the Ari), collected by his disciples, principally
Chaim Vital (the Ari published nothing himself). It is a popular interpretation and
synthesis of Lurianic Kabbalah. It was first published in Safed in the 16th century in a
form entitled Shemona She'arim (eight gates): this arrangement is still authoritative
among Sephardi and Mizrahi Kabbalists. The term Etz Hayim refers to a three-part rearrangement published later in Poland, and used by Ashkenazim.
Sulam
Sulam ( ×¡×•×œ× ) ("Ladder"), also known as Zohar im perush Ha-Sulam ("Zohar
with the Explication of the Ladder") - a translation of the Zohar into Hebrew that
includes parenthetical comments. Despite being a late text by a modern Kabbalist, it
is widely distributed. Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ashlag wrote and published it in Palestine in
1943. In the Sulam, the text of the Zohar includes parenthetical notes that explain
some of the cryptic metaphors found in the Zohar, according to the interpretive
tradition of Rabbi Yitzhak Luria. Much of the Zohar remains meaningless without the
Sulam, and virtually every student of Kabblah must at some point refer to it.
Talmud Eser HaSfirot
Talmud Eser HaSfirot (תלמוד עשר הספירות) ("The Study [of
the] Ten Sefirot"), a commentary on all the writings of the ARI written by Rabbi
Yehuda Leib Ashlag
The Torah
In Judaism the Torah was given to Moses, by God, on top of Mount Sinai. In this act
God chose the people of Israel to fulfill the divine will, laid out in the
commandments.[3]In the first chapter of the Torah, Genesis, the world is created in
the ten utterances of God. Each of these divine surges of energy are what lie behind
all reality. Everything in the world can be referred back to the Torah, because the
world was created through the Torah.[3] For kabbalists the ten utterances are linked to
the ten sefirot, which is the divine structure of all being.[3]According to the Zohar and
the Sefer ha-Yihud, the Torah is synonymous with God.[4] More specifically in the
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Sefer ha-Yihud, the letters in the Torah are the forms of God. The kabbalist looks
beyond the literal aspects of the text, to find the true meaning. The text not only
offers traditions and ways of thinking, but it also reveals the reality of God.[3]One of
the first Jewish philosophers, Philo of Alexandria (20BCE-40), said that Abraham knew
the essential Torah, before it was given. He did this by looking around and inside
himself, to discover the laws of nature. With this idea of an inner Torah, Abraham
fulfilled all of the commandments, not just in a literal sense, but in a spiritual sense.
Later in the nineteenth century the Sfas Emes made the assertion that it was actually
Abraham’s deeds that became Torah. The Torah is seen as an ongoing story
played out through the lives of the Israeli people. [3] The Torah is an important text
because even the most minor traditions of the Kabbalah will acknowledge its aspects
of the divine.[4]
Theodicy: explanation for the existence of evil
The ten Sephiroth or 'emanations' of God
Kabbalistic works offer a theodicy, a philosophical reconciliation of how the existence
of a good and powerful God is compatible with the existence of evil in the world. There
are mainly two different ways to describe why there is evil in the world, according to
the Kabbalah. Both make use of the kabbalistic Tree of Life:
•
•
•
The kabbalistic tree, which consists of ten Sephiroth, the ten "enumerations" or
"emanations" of God, consists of three "pillars": The left side of the tree, the
"female side", is considered to be more destructive than the right side, the
"male side". Gevurah (גבורה, "Power"), for example, stands for strength
and discipline, while her male counterpart, Chesed (חסד, "Mercy"), stands
for love and mercy. Chesed is also known as Gedulah (גדולה, "Glory"),
as in the Tree of Life pictured to the right. The "center pillar" of the tree does
not have any polarity, and no gender is given to it. Thus evil is really an
emanation of Divinity, a harsh byproduct of the "left side" of creation.
In the medieval era, this notion took on increasingly gnostic overtones. The
Qliphoth (or Kelippot) (קליפות, the primeval "husks" of impurity)
emanating from the left side were blamed for all the evil in the world. Qliphoth
are the Sephiroth out of balance. Sometimes the qliphoth are called the "death
angels", or "angels of death". References to a word related to "qlipoth" are
found in some Babylonian incantations, a fact used as evidence to argue the
antiquity of kabbalistic material.
Not all Kabbalists accepted this notion of evil being in such intimate relationship
with God. Moses Cordovero (16th century) and Menasseh ben Israel (17th
century) are two examples of Kabbalists who claimed "No evil emanates from
God." They located evil as a byproduct of human freedom, an idea also found in
mythic form in Rabbinic traditions that claim most demons are either the "dead
of the flood" or products of human sexual debauchery.
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Kabbalistic understanding of God
Ein Sof(in-finite) and the emanation of angelic hierarchies (Universes or olamot
עולמות)
Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches that God is neither matter nor spirit. Rather God
is the creator of both, but is himself neither. But if God is so different from his
creation, how can there be any interaction between the Creator and the created? This
question prompted Kabbalists to envision two aspects of God, (a) God himself, who in
the end is unknowable, and (b) the revealed aspect of God that created the universe,
preserves the universe, and interacts with mankind. Kabbalists speak of the first
aspect of God as Ein Sof (× ×™×Ÿ סוף); this is translated as "the infinite",
"endless", or "that which has no limits". In this view, nothing can be said about this
aspect of God. This aspect of God is impersonal. The second aspect of divine
emanations, however, is at least partially accessible to human thought. Kabbalists
believe that these two aspects are not contradictory but, through the mechanism of
progressive emanation, complement one another. See Divine simplicity; Tzimtzum.
The structure of these emanations have been characterized in various ways: Four
"worlds" (Azilut, Yitzirah, Beriyah, and Asiyah), Sefirot, or Partzufim ("faces"). Later
systems harmonize these models.
Some Kabbalistic scholars, such as Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, believe that all things
are linked to God through these emanations, making us all part of one great chain of
being. Others, such as Schneur Zalman of Liadi (founder of Lubavitch (Chabad)
Hasidism), hold that God is all that really exists; all else is completely undifferentiated
from God's perspective. If improperly explained, such views can be interpreted as
panentheism or pantheism. In truth, according to this philosophy, God's existence is
higher than anything that this world can express, yet He includes all things of this
world down to the finest detail in such a perfect unity that His creation of the world
effected no change in Him whatsoever. This paradox is dealt with at length in the
Chabad Chassidic texts.
The Sefirot in Jewish Kabbalah
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Category:Sephiroth
v • d • e
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Sefirot
The Hebrew word Sefirah (סְפִירָה) literally means "Numbering" or
"Numeration". Sefirot is the plural, "Numerations". Sometimes, Jewish midrashic
interpretations reread the Hebrew letters of this word to mean "Spheres" or
"Narrations".
Ten Sefirot as process of Creation
According to Kabbalistic cosmology, Ten Sefirot (literally, Ten Numerations)
correspond to ten levels of creation. These levels of creation must not be understood
as ten different "gods" but as ten different ways of revealing God, one per level. It is
not God who changes but the ability to perceive God that changes. While God may
seem to exhibit dual natures (masculine-feminine, compassionate-judgmental,
creator-creation), all adherents of Kabbalah have consistently stressed the ultimate
unity of God. For example, in all discussions of Male and Female, the hidden nature of
God exists above it all without limit, being called the Infinite or the "No End" (Ein Sof)
- neither one nor the other, transcending any definition. The ability of God to become
hidden from perception is called "Restriction" (Tzimtzum). Hiddenness makes creation
possible because God can then become "revealed" in a diversity of limited ways, which
then form the building blocks of creation.
Ten Sefirot and physical sciences
Notable is the similarity between the concept in Kabbalah that the physical universe is
made of Divine Light, and the modern concept in Physics that it is made of energy.
Moreover in Kabbalah, Divine Light is the carrier of consciousness.
"The human soul is a part of the Creator [that is, Divine Light]. Therefore, there is no
difference between Him and the soul. The difference is that He is the 'whole' and the
soul is a 'part'. This resembles a stone carved from a rock. There is no difference
between the stone and the rock except that the rock is a 'whole' and the stone is a
'part'". (Yhuda Ashlag, Introduction in Ha-Sulam.)
Thus, a human's consciousness is a part of the Divine Consciousness, where the rest
of the infinite Divine has been hidden from the human. This kabbalistic concept that
consciousness is an aspect of Divine Light is similar to the protoscientific hypothesis
that the electromagnetic field generated by the brain is the carrier of consciousness.
In other words if the hypothesis is correct, consciousness would be an aspect of light
(electromagentic radiation) and not an aspect of the physical brain per se.
The Ten Sefirot mediate the interaction of the ultimate unknowable God with the
physical and spiritual world. Some students of Kabbalah suggest that the Sefirot may
be thought of as analogous to fundamental laws of physics. God's "Restriction"
(Tzimtzum) within the spiritual levels is often compared with the Big Bang in the
lowest physical level. Just as the resulting gravity, electromagnetism, strong force,
and weak force allow for interactions between energy and matter, the Ten Sefirot
allow for interactions between God and creation. (Compare Theory of Everything.)
The Ten Sefirot are sometimes mentioned in the context of the Ten Dimensions that
some physicists suspect the Superstring Theory may require.
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Ten Sefirot as process of ethics
Divine creation by means of the Ten Sefirot is an ethical process. Examples: The
Sefirah of "Compassion" (Chesed) being part of the Right Column corresponds to how
God reveals more blessings when humans use previous blessings compassionately,
whereas the Sefirah of "Overpowering" (Gevurah) being part of the Left Column
corresponds to how God hides these blessings when humans abuse them selfishly
without compassion. Thus human behavior determines if God seems present or
absent. "Righteous" humans (Tzadikim) ascend these ethical qualities of the Ten
Sefirot by doing righteous actions. If there were no "Righteous" humans, the blessings
of God would become completely hidden, and creation would cease to exist. While real
human actions are the "Foundation" (Yesod) of this universe (Malchut), these actions
must accompany the conscious intention of compassion. Compassionate actions are
often impossible without "Faith" (Emunah), meaning to trust that God always supports
compassionate actions even when God seems hidden. Ultimately, it is necessary to
show compassion toward oneself too in order to share compassion toward others. This
"selfish" enjoyment of God's blessings but only if in order to empower oneself to assist
others, is an important aspect of "Restriction", and is considered a kind of golden
mean in Kabbalah, corresponding to the Sefirah of "Adornment" (Tiferet) being part of
the "Middle Column".
The human soul in Kabbalah
The Zohar posits that the human soul has three elements, the nefesh, ru'ach, and
neshamah. The nefesh is found in all humans, and enters the physical body at birth. It
is the source of one's physical and psychological nature. The next two parts of the
soul are not implanted at birth, but can be developed over time; their development
depends on the actions and beliefs of the individual. They are said to only fully exist in
people awakened spiritually. A common way of explaining the three parts of the soul
is as follows:
•
•
•
Nefesh (× ×¤×©) - the lower part, or "animal part", of the soul. It is linked to
instincts and bodily cravings.
Ruach (רוח) - the middle soul, the "spirit". It contains the moral virtues
and the ability to distinguish between good and evil.
Neshamah (× ×©×ž×”) - the higher soul, or "super-soul". This separates man
from all other lifeforms. It is related to the intellect, and allows man to enjoy
and benefit from the afterlife. This part of the soul is provided at birth and
allows one to have some awareness of the existence and presence of God.
The Raaya Meheimna, a section of related teachings spread throughout the Zohar,
discusses the two other parts of the human soul, the chayyah and yehidah (first
mentioned in the Midrash Rabbah). Gershom Scholem writes that these "were
considered to represent the sublimest levels of intuitive cognition, and to be within the
grasp of only a few chosen individuals". The Chayyah and the Yechidah do not enter
into the body like the other three - thus they received less attention in other sections
of the Zohar.
•
•
Chayyah (×—×™×”) - The part of the soul that allows one to have an
awareness of the divine life force itself.
Yehidah (יחידה) - the highest plane of the soul, in which one can
achieve as full a union with God as is possible.
Both rabbinic and kabbalistic works posit that there are also a few additional, nonpermanent states to the soul that people can develop on certain occasions. These
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extra souls, or extra states of the soul, play no part in any afterlife scheme, but are
mentioned for completeness:
•
•
•
Ruach HaKodesh (רוח הקודש) - ("spirit of holiness") a state of the
soul that makes prophecy possible. Since the age of classical prophecy passed,
no one (outside of Israel) receives the soul of prophesy any longer. See the
teachings of Abraham Abulafia for differing views of this matter.
Neshamah Yeseira - The "supplemental soul" that a Jew can experience on
Shabbat. It makes possible an enhanced spiritual enjoyment of the day. This
exists only when one is observing Shabbat; it can be lost and gained depending
on one's observance.
Neshamah Kedosha - Provided to Jews at the age of maturity (13 for boys, 12
for girls), and is related to the study and fulfillment of the Torah
commandments. It exists only when one studies and follows Torah; it can be
lost and gained depending on one's study and observance.
Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word,
number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and
it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such
method is as follows:
Number-Word mysticism
Gematria:As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed Torah (first five books of the
Bible) contains encoded message and hidden meanings. Gematria is one method for
discovering hidden meanings in Torah. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a
number - Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate
numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find
hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by
various schools. An example would be the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria[1].
There is no one fixed way to "do" gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different
methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a
word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word's
"key", and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same
key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternate or hidden meanings
of scripture may be derived. Similar procedures are used by Islamic mystics, as
described by Idries Shah in his book, "The Sufis".
Divination and clairvoyance
Some Kabbalists have attempted to foretell events or know occult events by the
Kabbalah. The term Kabbalah Maasit ("Practical Kabbalah") is used to refer to secret
science in general, mystic art, or mystery. Within Judaism proper, the foretelling of
the future through magical means is not permissible, not even with the Kabbalah.
However, there is no prohibition against understanding the past nor coming to a
greater understanding of present and future situations through inspiration gained by
the Kabbalah (a subtle distinction and one often hard to delineate). The appeal to
occult power outside the monotheist deity for divinative purpose is unacceptable in
Judaism, but at the same time it is held that the righteous have access to occult
knowledge. Such knowledge can come through dreams and incubation (inducing
clairvoyant dreams), metoscopy (reading faces, lines on the face, or auras emanating
from the face), ibburim and maggidim (spirit possession), and/or various methods of
scrying (see Sefer Chasidim, Sefer ha-Hezyonot).
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Practical applications
The Midrash and Talmud are replete with the use of Divine names and incantations
that are claimed to effect supernatural or theurgic results. Most post-Talmudic
rabbinical literature seeks to curb the use of any or most of these formulae, termed
Kabbalah Ma'asit ("practical Kabbalah"). There are various arguments for this; one
stated by the Medieval Rabbi Jacob Mölin (Maharil) is that the person using it may
lack the required grounding, and the spell would be ineffective. Yet the interest in
these rituals of power continued largely unabated until recently. And in fact, since the
Talmud exempts virtually all forms of magical healing from this prohibition
(Whatsoever effects healing is not considered witchcraft - Tractate Shabbat), there
has been the widespread practice of medicinal sorcery, amulets, and segullot (folk
remedies) in Jewish societies across time and geography.
Other dramatic examples of such "practical" power include: the knowledge required to
produce a Golem, a homunculus or artificial lifeform. Some adherents of Kabbalah
developed the idea of invoking a curse against a sinner termed a Pulsa diNura (lit.
"lashes of fire") although the majority of Kabbalists reject the notion that a person can
actually cause it.
Many kabbalistic rituals require the participation of more than one individual, i.e. the
creation of a Golem, for which (at least) three individuals are required. [citation needed]
Still, Kabbalah itself could only be taught to a very small group of select individuals
who had mastered the other branches of Torah - for these reasons, the English word
"cabal" came to refer to any small, secretive and possibly conspiratorial group.
Gnosticism and Kabbalah
Gnosticism frequently appears as an element of Kabbalah. Gnosticism - systems of
secret spiritual knowledge, or some sources say - — that is, the concept Hokhmah
(חכמה "wisdom") - seems to have been the first attempt on the part of Jewish
sages to give the empirical mystic lore, with the help of Platonic and Pythagorean or
Stoic ideas, a speculative turn. This led to the danger of heresy from which the Jewish
rabbinic figures Rabbi Akiva and Ben Zoma strove to extricate themselves.
Original teachings of gnosticism have much in common with Kabbalah:
1. Core terminology of classical gnostics include using Jewish names of God.
2. Mainstream Gnostics accepted a "Jewish Messiah" as a key figure of gnosticism
3. A Key text of Gnosticism - Apocryphon of John - mentions 365 powers who
created the World. 365 is a number of recurrent interest in the Dead Sea Scroll
(the solar year figured prominently in their thinking).
However there are also aspects of Gnosticism at odds with Kabbalah. Most glaring is
the fact that within most of the Christian Gnostic groups the Jewish creator God was
looked down on. This ranged from somewhat sympathetic pity for what the Gnostics
felt was a deranged abortion, to outright identification of the Jewish God with evil
incarnate.
Criticisms
Dualism
One of the most serious and sustained criticisms of Kabbalah is that it may lead away
from monotheism, and instead promote dualism, the belief that there is a
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supernatural counterpart to God. The dualistic system holds that there is a good
power versus an evil power. There are (appropriately) two primary models of Gnosticdualistic cosmology. The first, which goes back to Zoroastrianism, believes creation is
ontologically divided between good and evil forces. The second, found largely in
Greco-Roman ideologies like Neo-Platonism, believes the universe knew a primoridal
harmony, but that a cosmic disruption yielded a second, evil, dimension to reality.
This second model influenced the cosmology of the Kabbalah.
According to Kabbalistic cosmology, the Ten Sefirot correspond to ten levels of
creation. These levels of creation must not be understood as ten different "gods" but
as ten different ways of revealing God, one per level. It is not God who changes but
the ability to perceive God that changes. While God may seem to exhibit dual natures
(masculine-feminine, compassionate-judgmental, creator-creation), all adherents of
Kabbalah have consistently stressed the ultimate unity of God. For example, in all
discussions of Male and Female, the hidden nature of God exists above it all without
limit, being called the Infinite or the "No End" (Ein Sof) - neither one nor the other,
transcending any definition. The ability of God to become hidden from perception is
called "Restriction" (Tsimtsum). Hiddenness makes creation possible because God can
become "revealed" in a diversity of limited ways, which then form the building blocks
of creation.
•
Later Kabbalistic works, including the Zohar, appear to more strongly affirm
dualism, as they ascribe all evil to a supernatural force known as the Sitra Ahra
("the other side") that emantes from God. This "left side" of divine emanation is
a kind of negative mirror image of the "side of holiness" with which it was
locked in combat." [Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 6, "Dualism", p.244]. While
this evil aspect exists within the divine structure of the Sefirot, the Zohar
indicates that the Sitra Ahra has no power over Ein Sof, and only exists as a
necessary aspect of the creation of God to give man free choice, and that evil is
the consequence of this choice - not a supernatural force opposed to God, but a
reflection of the inner moral combat within mankind between the dictates of
morality and the surrender to one's basic instincts.
•
Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb notes that many Kabbalists hold that the concepts of,
for example, a Heavenly Court or the Sitra Ahra are only given to humanity by
God to give humanity a working model to understand His ways within our own
epistemological limits. They reject that a Satan or angels actually exists. Others
hold that non-God spiritual entities were indeed created by God as a means for
exacting his will.
•
According to Kabbalists, humans cannot (yet) understand the infinity of God.
Rather, there is God as revealed to humans (corresponding to Zeir Anpin), and
the rest of the infinity of God as remaining hidden from human experience
(corresponding to Arikh Anpin). One can have a reading of this theology which
is totally monotheistic, similar to panentheism; however one can also have a
reading of this theology which is essentially dualistic. Professor Gershom
Scholem writes "It is clear that with this postulate of an impersonal basic reality
in God, which becomes a person - or appears as a person - only in the process
of Creation and Revelation, Kabbalism abandons the personalistic basis of the
Biblical conception of God....It will not surprise us to find that speculation has
run the whole gamut - from attempts to re-transform the impersonal En-Sof
into the personal God of the Bible to the downright heretical doctrine of a
genuine dualism between the hidden Ein Sof and the personal Demiurge of
Scripture." (Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism Shocken Books p.11-12)
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Perception of non-Jews
Another aspect of Kabbalah that Jewish critics object to is its metaphysics of the
human soul. Since the Zohar, most Kabbalistic works assume that Jewish and nonJewish souls are fundamentally different. While all human souls emanate from God,
the Zohar posits that at least part of Gentile souls emanate from the "left side" of the
Sefirotic structure and that non-Jews therefore have a dark or demonic aspect to
them that is absent in Jews.
Later Kabbalistic works build and elaborate on this idea. The Hasidic work, the Tanya,
fuses this idea with Judah ha-Levi's medieval philosophical argument for the
uniqueness of the Jewish soul in order to argue that Jews have an additional level of
soul that other humans do not possess.
All this theologically framed hostility may be a response to the demonization of Jews
which developed in Western and Christian thought starting with the Patristic Fathers.
By the Middle Ages, Jews were widely characterized as minions of Satan, or even
devilish non-humans in their own right. This Kabbalistic view of non-Jews may also be
compared with the Christian doctrine that baptized Christians form part of the Body of
Christ while (at least according to Augustine of Hippo) all others remain in the massa
perditionis.
In an article that appears in The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth, David Halperin
theorizes that the collapse of Kabbalah's influence among Western European Jews
over the course of the 17th and 18th Century was a result of the cognitive dissonance
they experienced between Kabbalah's very negative perception of gentiles and their
own dealings with non-Jews, which were rapidly expanding and improving during this
period due to the influence of the Enlightenment.
Modern Judaism has rejected, or at least dismissed this outdated aspect of Kabbalah
as non-relevant,[citation needed] as it possibly persists in only the most recondite and antimodernist corners of the Jewish world.
Debate about Kabbalah in Judaism
Although it has been criticized by a number of rabbis, Kabbalah has nevertheless
remained an influential ideology in Jewish theology since the 13th Century, and is
particularly influential in Hasidic and Sephardic thought. As well, the Vilna Gaon, the
greatest leader of the Mitnagdim - former opponents of the Hasidim - was also a
major Kabbalist. Gershom Scholem has written that between 1500 and 1800
"Kabbalah was widely considered to be the true Jewish theology". Though the
medieval rationalists, Dor Daim, and many in Liberal Judaism and Modern Orthodoxy
do not subscribe to Kabbalah, other Liberal and Orthodox Jews still consider it a
fundamental part of Jewish thought and belief, though different individuals and groups
subscribe to different schools of Kabbalistic thought.
Critiques among Orthodox circles
The idea that there are ten divine sefirot could evolve over time into the idea that
"God is One being, yet in that One being there are Ten" which opens up a debate
about what the "correct beliefs" in God should be, according to Judaism.
Rabbi Saadia Gaon teaches in his book Emunot v'Deot that Jews who believe in
reincarnation have adopted a non-Jewish belief.
162
Maimonides (12th Century) belittled many of the texts of the Hekalot, particularly the
work Shiur Komah with its starkly anthropomorphic vision of God.
Rabbi Avraham ben haRambam, in the spirit of his father Maimonides, Rabbi Saadiah
Gaon, and other predecessors, explains at length in his book Milhhamot HaShem that
the Almighty is in no way literally within time or space nor physically outside time or
space, since time and space simply do not apply to His Being whatsoever. This is in
contrast to certain popular understandings of modern Kabbalah which teach a form of
panantheism, that His 'essence' is within everything.
Rabbi Yitzchak ben Sheshet Perfet (The Rivash), 1326-1408; he stated that Kabbalah
was "worse than Christianity", as it made God into 10, not just into three. The
critique, however, is considered irrelevant to most kabbalists. Most followers of
Kabbalah never believed this interpretation of Kabbalah. The Christian Trinity concept
posits that there are three persons existing within the Godhead, one of whom literally
became a human being. In contrast, the mainstream understanding of the Kabbalistic
sefirot holds that they have no mind or intelligence; further, they are not addressed in
prayer, and they can not become a human being. They are conduits for interaction not persons or beings. Nonetheless, many important poskim, such as Maimonidies in
his work Mishneh Torah, prohibit any use of mediators between oneself and the
Creator as a form of idolatry.
Rabbi Leone di Modena, a 17th century Venetian critic of Kabbalah, wrote that if we
were to accept the Kabbalah, then the Christian trinity would indeed be compatible
with Judaism, as the Trinity closely resembles the Kabbalistic doctrine of sefirot. This
critique was in response to the fact that some Jews went so far as to address
individual sefirot individually in some of their prayers, although this practise was far
from common. This interpretation of Kabbalah in fact did occur among some European
Jews in the 17th century. To respond, others say that the sefiros (To clarify for the
reader not accustomed to the jargon, Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum says "The names of
God are the Ten Sefiros of which the kabbalists spoke. The Ten Sefiros are ten kinds
of revelation of God's powers that are accessible to us: these are His Ten Names, as
explained in the Zohar and Sefer Yetzirah") represent different aspects of God. In
order, the first six are Chesed (kindness), Gevurah (might). Tiferes (harmony),
Netzach (victory), Hod (splendor), and Yesod (foundation). The German Jews may
have been praying for and not necessarily to those aspects of Godliness.
Rabbi Yaakov Emden, 1697-1776, wrote the book Mitpahhath Sfarim (Scarf/Veil of the
Books) which is a detailed critique of the Zohar. He concludes that certain parts of the
Zohar contain heretical teaching and therefore could not have been written by Rabbi
Shimon ben Yochai. Opponents of the book claim that he wrote the book in a drunken
stupor.
Rabbi Yihhyah Qafahh, an early 20th century Yemenite Jewish leader and grandfather
of Rabbi Yosef Kapach, also wrote a book entitled Milhhamoth HaShem, (Wars of the
L-RD) against what he perceived as the false teachings of the Zohar and the false
kabbalah of Isaac Luria. He is credited with spearheading the Dor Daim. Dor Daim
continue in Rabbi Yihhyah Qafahh's view of Kabbalah into modern times.
Yeshayahu Leibowitz 1903-1994, brother of Nechama Leibowitz, though Modern
Orthodox in his world view, publicly shared the views expressed in Rabbi Yihhyah
Qafahh's book Milhhamoth HaShem and elaborated upon these views in his many
writings.
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Within Conservative and Reform Judaism
Since all forms of reform or liberal Judaism are rooted in the Enlightenment and tied
to the assumptions of modernity, Kabbalah tended to be rejected by most Jews in the
Conservative and Reform movements, though its influences were not completely
eliminated. While it was generally not studied as a discipline, the Kabbalistic Kabbalat
Shabbat service remained part of liberal liturgy, as did the Yedid Nefesh prayer.
Nevertheless, in the 1960s, Rabbi Saul Lieberman of the Jewish Theological Seminary,
is reputed to have introduced a lecture by Scholem on Kabbalah with a statement that
Kabbalah itself was "nonsense", but the academic study of Kabbalah was
"scholarship". This view became popular among many Jews, who viewed the subject
as worthy of study, but who did not accept Kabbalah as teaching literal truths.
According to Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson (Dean of the Conservative Ziegler School of
Rabbinical Studies in the University of Judaism), "many western Jews insisted that
their future and their freedom required shedding what they perceived as parochial
orientalism. They fashioned a Judaism that was decorous and strictly rational
(according to 19th-century European standards), denigrating Kabbalah as backward,
superstitious, and marginal".
However, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries there has been a revival in interest
in Kabbalah in all branches of liberal Judaism. The Kabbalistic 12th century prayer
Ani'im Zemirot was restored to the new Conservative Sim Shalom siddur, as was the
B'rikh Shmeh passage from the Zohar, and the mystical Ushpizin service welcoming to
the Sukkah the spirits of Jewish forbearers. Ani'im Zemirot and the 16th Century
mystical poem Lekha Dodi reappeared in the Reform Siddur Gates of Prayer in 1975.
All Rabbinical seminaries now teach several courses in Kabbalah, and both the Jewish
Theological Seminary and the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies of the University of
Judaism in Los Angeles have fulltime instructors in Kabbalah and Hasidut, Eitan
Fishbane and Pinchas Geller, respectively. Reform Rabbis like Herbert Weiner and
Lawrence Kushner have renewed interest in Kabbalah among Reform Jews.
According to Artson "Ours is an age hungry for meaning, for a sense of belonging, for
holiness. In that search, we have returned to the very Kabbalah our predecessors
scorned. The stone that the builders rejected has become the head cornerstone
(Psalm 118:22)... Kabbalah was the last universal theology adopted by the entire
Jewish people, hence faithfulness to our commitment to positive-historical Judaism
mandates a reverent receptivity to Kabbalah".[1]
Kabbalah Centre
A recent modern revival has been initiated by the controversial Kabbalah Centre
founded by Philip Berg in Los Angeles in 1984, and run by him and his sons Yehuda
and Michael. With a number of branches worldwide, the group has attracted many
non-Jews, including entertainment celebrities such as Madonna, Demi Moore, Ashton
Kutcher, Mick Jagger, and Anthony Kiedis. Britney Spears was also involved at one
point. To its proponents, the Kabbalah Centre is a spiritual organization which teaches
the principles of Kabbalah in a unique and user-friendly system accessible to anyone,
regardless of religion, race or gender. To its detractors, the Kabbalah Centre has been
described as an "opportunistic offshoot of the faith, with charismatic leaders who try
to attract the rich and vulnerable with the promise of health, wealth, and happiness."
The Kabbalah Centre comprises Jewish and non-Jewish teachers and students.
Therefore, it is not supported by much of the religious establishment. Jewish
organizations frequently distinguish it as non-Jewish and often consider participation
164
by Jews in it to be a problem since classical Judaism forbids Jews from participating
with non-Jews in religious rituals...
Ironically, the Kabbalah Centre embraces many of the criticism apllied to it by
traditional Judaism, by pointing out that these crticism only prove the insiduous
tendency for organized religion, Jewish or otherwise, to ultimately preach superiority
and exclusion rather than universal love and equality, which the Kabbalah Centre
maintains is the single most important foundation of Kabbalah itself (both traditional
and at the "Centre"...)
Kabbalah in non-Jewish society
Kabbalah eventually gained an audience outside of the Jewish community. NominalChristian versions of Kabbalah began to develop; by the early 18th century some
kabbalah came to be used by many hermetic philosophers, neo-pagans and other new
religious groups.
The Eastern Orthodox Christian theological view
The Kabbalah's idea of emanations can be compared to the distinction made by
fourteenth-century Eastern Orthodox theologian Gregory Palamas. Palamas drew a
distinction between God's essence and energies, affirming that God was unknowable
in His essence, but knowable in His energies. Palamas never enumerated God's
energies, but described them as ways that God could act in the universe, and
particularly on people, from the light shining from the face of Moses after Moses
descended Mt. Sinai, to the light surrounding Moses, Elijah and Jesus on Mt. Tabor
during the transfiguration of Jesus. For Palamas, God's energies were not some other
thing separate from God, but were God; however the idea of energies was kept
distinct from the idea of the three Persons of the Trinity. The unity of the Three
Persons of the Trinity being united by Gods transcendent Essence. In the Eastern
Orthodox tradition another similar example may be found in the writings and system
of Nikitas Stithatos. "Nikitas Stithatos' decad has affinities with the decads of both the
foregoing theories (kabbalistic and pythagorean decads), although it cannot be
identified with either. It has roots in the conception of the celestial hierarchy or
concatenation formulated by St Dionysios the Areopagite. This hierarchy constitues a
threefold structure, each level of which consists of three orders or ranks of celestial
intelligences, giving a total of nine such interlocking and mutually participating orders.
The function of the lowest of these orders, that of the angels, has two aspects. The
first is to transmit the divine grace and illumination, which it has received from God
through the meditation of the orders about it, to the order below it, the human order,
that taken as a whole thus represents the tenth order, the second is to convert the
human intelligence, the "finest of all the offerings; that can be made by this human
order, so that it mounts upward and stage by stage returns, again through the
meditation of the celestial hierarchy, to a state of union with its divine source and in
this way achieves Divinization. This double meditation descending and ascending,
constitues the cyclic movement...." In Nikitas Stithatos's book "On Spiritual
Knowledge" verse 99 it is written: "The nine heavenly powers sing hymns of praise
that have a threefold structure...." The Highest Rank: Thrones, Cherubim and
Seraphim. The Middle Rank: Authorities, Dominions and Powers. The Lowest Rank:
Principalities, Archangels and Angels. Humanity is the last component to complete the
Decad.
165
Hermetic Qabalah
The "Kircher Tree": Athanasius Kircher's 1652 depiction of the Tree of Life, based on a
1625 version by Philippe d'Aquin.This is still the most common arrangement of the
Tree in Hermetic Qabalah.
The study of Kabbalah is widespread within non-Jewish Western Esoteric (or
Hermetic) Tradition. In this context it is most often transliterated as Qabalah to
differentiate it from the Jewish tradition.
Kabbalah was absorbed into the Hermetic tradition at least as early as the 15th
century when Giovanni Pico della Mirandola promoted a syncretic world-view
combining Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Hermeticism and Kabbalah. This
was further developed by Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit priest, hermeticist and
polymath, who wrote extensively on the subject in 1652, bringing further elements
such as Orphism and Egyptian mythology to the mix. Modern Hermetic Qabalah
retains this syncretism, but continues to share much with Jewish Kabbalah. Hermetic
Qabalah has been a major influence upon both the neo-Pagan and New Age
movements.
Hermetic Qabalah probably reached its peak in the Hermetic Order of the Golden
Dawn, a 19th century organization that was arguably the pinnacle of ceremonial
magic. Within the Golden Dawn the syncretic fusing of Qabalistic principles such as
the ten Sephiroth with Greek and Egyptian deities was made more cohesive and was
extended to encompass other systems such as the Enochian system of angelic magic
of John Dee and certain Eastern (particularly Hindu and Buddhist) concepts, all within
the structure of a Masonic- or Rosicrucian-style esoteric order. Many of the Golden
Dawn's rituals were published (with some accuracies) by the occultist Aleister
Crowley; eventually the entire corpus was published in book form by Israel Regardie,
an author of some note.
Crowley's own writings on the Qabalah were idiosyncratic, and in some cases
purposely blasphemous. However his book Liber 777 is a good illustration of the wider
Hermetic approach. It is simply a set of tables relating various parts of ceremonial
magic and Eastern and Western religion to thirty-two numbers representing the ten
spheres and twenty-two paths of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The attitude of
syncretism embraced by Hermetic Qabalists is plainly evident here, where for instance
the correspondences of Chesed (חסד "Mercy") are given as Jupiter, Isis, the color
blue (on the Queen Scale), Poseidon, Brahma, and amethysts. These associations are
not shared with the Jewish Kabbalah.
166
Kabbalah in film and fiction
•
Guy Ritchie's 2005 film, Revolver, functions as a Kabbalistic cinematic text on
liberation of the self from the material world. It implies that those who are
'enlightened' by this process are able to control the material world in ways that
were previously unachievable.
•
Umberto Eco's 1989 novel Foucault's Pendulum weaves Kabbalistic concepts
into an imagined global conspiracy involving Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry,
druidism, and the Knights Templar. The book's ten sections are named after the
ten Sefiroth.
•
In The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Richard Zimler is plotting a murder mystery
which takes place in 16th century Portugal.
•
Another novel that deals with Jewish mysticism and mythology is The Righteous
Men by Sam Bourne.
•
In Darren Aronofsky's Pi, number theorist Max Cohen is pursued by a group of
Kabbalah mysticists who are trying to unlock the secrets of the Torah through
numbers.
•
Kabbalistic themes and symbols fugure heavily in the anime Neon Genesis
Evangelion
•
The comic Promethea by Alan Moore features a Crowleyite version of the
Qabalah. Over a number of issues, the characters undergo a journey that takes
them along the 32nd path, through most of the stations of the Qabalah.
•
The storylines in the video game series Xenosaga, and its predecessor
Xenogears, are built on a foundation of Kabbalistic themes. The
storylines are further fleshed out by the inclusion of concepts that are
themselves based in Kabbalah, like alchemy and the writings of Carl
Jung.
167
A to Z World Religions and Traditions
168
A
Abba
Abhibhvaya Tana
Abhiseka
Abishabis
Abiya
Ablution
Abraham
Absolution
Abstinence
Acedia
Acosmism
Adi Granth
Aditi
Adonai
Adoration
Adventists
Aeon
Affective Prayer
Agamas
Agape
Agati
Aggadah
Agni
Agnus Dei
Air Spirit
Ajal
Akal Tahkt
Akasha
Akashic
Akusala
Allah
Alpha & Omega
Amrita
Anamnesis
Ancestor Spirits
Angel
Angeloi
Angelology
Anointing
Anti Christ
Apocrypha
Apostle
Aquinas St Thomas,
Ara Pacis
A’raf Al
Archangel
An Aramaic word for Father.
In Buddhism, one of the preparatory stages of meditation.
In Buddhism, an initiatory rite sprinkling a person with water.
Refers to the Cree American Indian religious movement.
In Judaism, the four levels of reality, or the four worlds, through which a
Jewish mystic perceives God.
A religiously prescribed washing of part of the body, or of ceremonial objects.
The Father of many Nations-born 2160BC.
In Roman Catholicism, and other churches, it is a remission of sins by a priest
in favour of a penitent.
A penitential practice of doing without meat or another food or drink.
Spiritual sloth, characterized by laziness or indifference.
A belief that everything is God.
The Sacred Scriptures of the Sikhs.
In the Vedic phase of Hindu mythology, the personification of the Infinite and
the Mother of a group of celestial deities.
Old Testament term for God.
Act whereby man acknowledges God as the supreme perfection and
domination.
Christian American Sect.
An Order of spirits, or spheres of beings emanating from God.
A type of mental prayer. Since the 17th century, figures in Carmelite and
Franciscan spirituality.
A class of Hindu Tantric writings.
Greek word describing love through Jesus Christ.
In Buddhism, means taking the wrong path.
Segments of the Talmud.
Fire God of the Hindus.
Latin for ‘Lamb of God’.
Term used by Inuit, meaning spiritual force permeating the universe.
In Islam, terms means appointed time, moment of death.
Throne of the eternal ‘Sikh’.
In Buddhism, space as the spiritual essence of space.
In occultism, a pictorial record or memory of all events.
In Buddhism, unwholesome-refers to greed, late delusion.
In Islam, word for deity.
The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, used to express the eternity of
God.
In Buddhism, term used to mean immortal, deathless.
Greek word meaning remembrance
Souls or ghosts of deceased persons or mythical heroes.
Means messenger of God.
Greek word for Angel –messenger of Source.
In Zoroastrianism, a hierarchy of angels.
Biblical term rubbing body with oils.
Chief enemy of Christ.
Any writings of dubious authority.
In Greek, means the ‘One Sent’.
Born 1225-1274, known as the ‘Angelic Doctor’, Christian theologian and
member of the Dominican Order of Preachers.
A Peace Alter.
Title of the seventh Sura of the Koran.
One who serves God and is above the rank of Angel.
169
Ark of the Covenant
Armageddon
Asana
Ascension
Asceticism
Ashrama
Asperges
Assisi St Francis of
Astral Religion
Asura
Asvalayana
Atar
Atheism
Atonement
Augury
Avatar
Avesta
Azazel
Astec Religion
In the Old Testament, the chest containing the tablets bearing the ten
commandments of God received by Moses.
In the New Testament, place where the Kings of the Earth under demonic
leadership, will wage war on the forces of God at the end of world history
symbolizes the struggle between good and evil.
In Buddhism, a position in meditation.
The bodily ascent into heaven of Jesus Christ on the fortieth day after
Resurrection.
In religion, the practice of the denial of physical and psychological desires to
attain the spiritual ideal.
A word in Hindu religious usage referring to: hermitage where austerity is
practiced.
In Roman Catholicism, during ceremonial rite, the alter, Priest and people are
sprinkled with blessed water.
(1181-1226) Italian Roman Catholic Mystic and founder of Franciscan
Spirituality.
Worship of celestial bodies, the sun, moon, planets, stars etc.
In Buddhism, elemental forces, projections of the forces in men’s minds.
Vedic manual of sacrificial ceremonies.
In Zoroastrianism, the deity of fire, a son of Ahura.
The denial of God.
In Christianity, the covering over of sin –reconciliation between God in Christ
with man.
The Roman Art of discerning the will of God.
A descent from heaven.
Sacred Body of Zoroasterian.
One of evil spirits.
Religion of Mexican tribe.
B
Baptism
Baptismal Candle
Barzakh
Beatification
Beatitudes
A religious rite of initiation that confers purification by the use of water.
A candle lit from the Easter candle, symbolizing Christ.
In Islam, seen as an obstacle or a hindrance barrier.
Second stage in canonization in the Catholic Church.
The promises of Christ concerning happiness, or blessings as proclaimed in
the sermon on the mount.
Benedictine Spirituality
The practice of prayer and life in a community of men and women
dedicated to St Benedict.
Benediction
A verbal blessing of persons, things and places.
Bi Shevat
Jewish festival day called ‘New Year of the trees’.
Blasphemy
Insult or defamation of God by spoken or written word.
Blessed Sacrament
In Roman Catholicism, the sacrament of the Eucharist is called ‘Blessed’,
because all graces and blessings spring from it.
Blessing
Act of involving divine favour, happiness upon another or others.
Blessings Way
Rites of the Navajo people.
Bodhi Tree
The tree under which Buddha attains enlightenment.
Book of Hours
Book of prayers to be said at the Canonical hours, widely used by laymen
during the late Middle Ages.
Byzantine Rite
Liturgical practices and disciplines observed by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
C
Cabala
Chakra
A body of esoteric Jewish mystical doctrines referring to God-perceived by as
a modern day cult.
Wheel or disc of energy symbolizing the eightfold path leading to nirvana.
170
Commitment
Counsel
Covenant
Covenant Rainbow
Refers to spiritual dedication of oneself to God.
One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In religious terms, it describes the special relationship between God and his
people.
A covenant between God and all flesh, as represented by Noah and his family.
D
Darkness, Biblical
Devotion Godly
Dirge
Disciple
Diskos
Distraction
Divination
Divine Healing
Divine Office
Divine Person
Diwali
Dominations
Druids
Druise
Darkness is associated with God’s own presence.
Reverence, service and worship to God.
In biblical terms, a composition, lyrical, musical, such as the grief occasioned
by the death of a friend or loved one; an elegy.
a follower of a founding religion, sect or group.
The plate used in the Byzantine divine liturgy to hold the bread that is offered
in worship.
In prayer, alien images or thoughts that cause our diversion in prayer.
Prediction of future events by means of oracles, omens or signs.
Is a gift or charisma of the Holy Spirit to impart healing to another, or others.
In Roman Catholicism, the name formerly used for the public prayer of the
church designed to sanctify the hours of the day.
One of the substances in the Holy Trinity.
A major Indian festival celebrating the lighting of special lamps.
One of the classes of supernatural beings, or angels.
An order of ancient Celtic priests in France, Britain and Ireland.
Adherent of a religion dated 11th century.
E
Easter
Ebionites.
Principal festival of the Christian Church.
An early Christian ascetic sect that retained and exaggerated the Jewish
emphasis in Christianity.
Ecce Home
Latin meaning ‘Behold the Man’.Refers to Pontius Pilate when he presented
Christ to the Jews.
Ecclesiology
The study, or theology of the church in any or all of its aspects.
Echehart Meister
(1260-1328) German Dominican Mystic.
Ecstasy
A term used in mysticism to describe an experience of an inner vision of God.
Ecumenical Movement
A movement among Christian Churches in the 20th century.
Eden
In Biblical terms, a region in which the Creator planted a garden for Adam
and Eve.
Embalming
The treatment of a body so as to sterilize it and protect it from decay.
Ember Days
In the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, four times set apart for special
prayer and fasting for the ordination of clergy.
Emmanuel
The name given to Christ and refers to the human nature and the divine in
Christ.
Emotionalism
An excessive emphasis upon emotions in religion.
Endowment
Among Mormons, the name for the secret temple rites.
Energies Divine
In Byzantine theology, the term describing the presence and action of God-inself-revelation, or God outside himself, as opposed to in the existence of Godin-himself.
Ephpatha
An Aramaic expression used by Jesus to heal a deaf man with a speech
impediment.
Epistle
Originally simply a letter, eventually forming a more formal letter used by the
early disciples.
Essenes
Ascetic Jewish sect that flourished prior to 70. Living in their own
communities, usually in or near the wilderness, they practiced communal
ownership of property.
Evangelical
Word derived from the Greek for the gospel.
171
Exorcism
The expulsion of demons from places or persons, common in pagan religions
and found also in Judaism and Christianity.
F
Faith
Faith Healing
Feast Days
Fertility Cults
Fitna
In Christianity, the divinely inspired human response to God’s historical
revelation in Jesus Christ.
Spiritual healing using prayer and spiritual healing to cure people of their
illnesses.
Days set aside for special celebration of the Saints.
Sets of practices, beliefs and customs with religious and mystical significance
and pertaining to the fertility of the soil.
In Islam, term denoting temptation, enchantment, evil, war, strife.
Flowers, flowers symbolically interpreted, especially in the Middle Ages and Renaissance
abundantly provides Symbolism Christian art.
A partial list includes the following:
# Crocus
Joy
# Fleur-de-lys
the Virgin –Annunciation Lilly
# Daisy
the innocence of the Christ Child
# Hyacinth
Christian prudence and peace of mind
# Iris
the sorrow of Mary at the Passion of Christ
# Lily
purity
# Pansy
remembrance and meditation
# Violet
humility
# Poppy
sleep, fertility, extravagance
# Rose
pride and triumphant lover
# Narcissus
selfishness and self love
Foot Symbolism
reference to the foot in the Scriptures. The foot is a symbol of humility,
willing service and penitence.
Foot Washing
A practice based on John 13:4-20. Early Lutherans strongly repudiated the rite
as a Roman abomination. The Anabaptists and Mennonites gave prominence
to the practice to signify brotherhood and humility, it has been observed by
them as equal in significance to the Lord’s Supper.
Forgiveness
The art of pardoning an offender; ceasing to feel resentment toward him.
Fortitude
One of the four cardinal virtues and one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Four Last Things
Death, personal judgement, heaven and hell.
Four Noble Truths
In Buddhism, the basic truths as set forth by the Buddha are:
1. Dukka: There can be no existence without suffering.
2. Samudaye: The cause of suffering is egoistic desire.
3. Nirodha: The elimination of desire brings the cessation of suffering.
4. Magga: The way to the elimination of desire is the noble Eightfold Path.
Forty Hours Devotion In Roman Catholicism, a three-day period of worship before the Blessed
Sacrament.
Franciscan Crown
A rosary of seven decades introduced in 1422, and is said in honour of the
seven joys of the Blessed Virgin. The rosary is also known as the seraphic
rosary.
Franciscan Spirituality The spirituality that bears the name of Saint Francis is purely Christian. The
adjectives customarily employed to describe it include:
# Evangelical
# Christocentric
# Apostolic
# Seraphic
# Ecclesial
172
#
#
Marian
Mendicant
Fravashis
Fundamentalism
In Zoroastrianism, pre-existing external higher souls or essences of man.
desire to return to an ‘ideal’ Islam, perhaps that of the ages of Rashidun.
G
Gahanbars
#
#
#
#
#
#
In Zoroastrianism, six festivals, occurring at irregular intervals
throughout the year, which celebrate the seasons and six stages of
creation of the world, which lasts for five days.
Water
The Earth
The Heavens
The Vegetable world
The Animal World
Man
Gate of Heaven
An explanatory term used in Genesis 28:17 in relation to the sanctuary of
Bethel. Such a high place served, according to the ancient conception, as a
point of contact between earth and heaven.
Important Jewish religious book.
regarded as one of the 12 traditional fruits of the Holy Spirit.
a bending of the knee as a sign of adoration and reverence.
Major ritual Islamic washing of the whole body to achieve a state of purity,
before visiting a mosque.
Gemara
Generosity
Genuflexion
Ghusl
Gifts of the Holy Spirit the gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural graces freely given to the
soul with sanctifying grace and enable the graced person to respond freely
and promptly to the inspiration of God. The seven gifts are:
# Wisdom
# Understanding
# Counsel
# Fortitude
# Knowledge
# Piety
#
Fear of the Lord
Gift of Tongues
God
Grace-Sacramental
the ability to speak in a language that is not known to the speaker.
the Supreme Being that created us and who will judge us according to the life
we have lived on earth.
Divine gifts through Jesus Christ.
H
Heaven
The residence of God, the angels and the righteous after death.
Hell
Holiness
Holy Communion
Holy Water
A place where darkness prevails.
Setting apart from all things sinful, evil, wicked.
Celebration of Christ’s body in form of bread –known as the Eucharist.
Water that has been blessed by priests in the Episcopal, Orthodox (Catholic,
Russian and Greek) Churches.
173
I
Immersion
Immortality
Incarnation
Incense
Intercession
The most ancient manner of baptizing, i.e. by submerging the candidate –still
the practice of the Eastern Churches.
A belief in the continued life of the human being after death is found in both
primitive and advanced societies. It is common to most religions and
philosophies.
Son of God took human form as Jesus and was fully man and fully God.
A grainy substance made from resins of various plants that give off an
aromatic odour when burned. Incense is used mainly in divine worship but is
also used by healers and therapists to cleanse a room, person and place before
a treatment.
Prayers offered on behalf of others.
M
Mantra
Meditation
Mercy
Miracle
In Buddhism, a magical formula or invocation using sounds, words connecting
to a universal force.
A religious practice used in the attainment of spiritual insight and tranquillity.
The virtue that inspires compassion.
A wonderful event exceeding the known laws of nature –associates with God.
O
Obedience
Obedience Religious
Oils, Holy
The morale virtue which inclines one to submit to the law of God.
Voluntary submission to the authority of another for religious motives.
Various priests and nuns of different religious beliefs make a vow to God
through the head of their community.
Oils used for religious purposes, for example, baptism, anointing of the sick
and the ordination of men to priesthood.
R
Retreat
Retreat House
A special period of prayer, reflection and solitude for deepening one’s
relationship with God.
A special place used primarily for people to stay and connect with God in
silence.
S
Soul Loss
Spiritual Life
Departure of the soul from the body.
The term used to describe a personal spiritual relationship between God and
man.
W
Will of God
Wisdom
Wudu
Discerning God’s plan for you so you can begin to move forward in your faith
journey.
One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
In Islam, minor ritual of washing parts of the body before prayer.
Y
Yawn Al-Qiyama
Yidam
In Islam –last Day of Judgement.
In Buddhism, means deity.
Z
Zabaniyya al
Zoroastrianism
In Islam, principal angelic guardians of hell who appear in the Koran.
Ancient pre Islamic religion of Iran.
174
Zuad Arabic word for asceticism, renunciation of worldly goods.
“Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your
heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.”
—Psalm 37:4-5
175
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.
176
A Different Approach
Francis of Assisi, on the other hand, attained the heights of contemplation
through a penetrating vision of creation. With a basic education in reading
and writing, Francis came to prayer from a popular and lay experience.
His family belonged to the rising merchant class in Assisi. His father, a
cloth merchant, owned a shop in Assisi where Francis apparently worked.
He was not only familiar with the daily business of buying and trading
cloth, but also came into contact with many different types of people—
farmers, craftsmen, artists, bakers—people who worked with their hands
and valued the material things of the earth.
The idea of transcending this world to contemplate true reality would have
been foreign to Francis’ thinking. Rather, he regarded earthly life as
possessing ideal, positive potential as God’s creation. Some regard him as
“the first materialist” in the best sense of the word because of the way
Francis looked on the material world—not for what it is but for how it is:
God’s creation.
For Franciscans, the journey to God is not linear but a journey inward,
toward a new relationship with God in which God takes on flesh anew in
one’s life. The Good News of Jesus Christ, as the Franciscans understood
it, is that we do not “go to God” as if God sat in the starry heavens
awaiting our arrival; rather, God has “come to us” in the Incarnation.
“The eternal God has humbly bent down,” St. Bonaventure wrote, “and
lifted the dust of our nature into unity with his own person” (Sermon II on
the Nativity of the Lord). We move toward God because God has first
moved toward us: This is the Franciscan path of prayer.
The journey of prayer for Franciscans is the discovery of God at the center
of our lives. We pray not to acquire a relationship with God as though
acquiring something that did not previously exist. Rather, we pray to
disclose the image of God in which we are created, the God within us, that
is, the one in whom we are created and in whom lies the seed of our
identity.
We pray so as to discover what we already have—“the incomparable
treasure hidden in the field of the world and of the human heart” (Clare of
Assisi, Third Letter to Agnes of Prague). We pray not to “ascend” to God
but to “give birth to God”—to allow the image in which we are created to
become visible. We pray to bear Christ anew. In prayer, therefore, we
discover what we already have—the potential for the fullness of life, and
this life is the life of Christ.
The Monastic Approach
According to the Rule of St. Benedict, the most influential of medieval monastic Rules, a monk must flee the world to seek God because the world
poses obstacles in the search for God. The monastic life is a renunciation
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of one’s will, the place to do spiritual combat for Christ so that one may
strive for the Kingdom of heaven.
Monks sought to live the “life of the angels” through the Opus Dei, the
work of continuous prayer that anticipated life in the heavenly Jerusalem.
For Benedict, “nothing is to be preferred to the work of God” (Rule, 43.3).
Monastic life has a strong eschatological dimension, a desire for heaven
and union with God. The monk strives for the Jerusalem above, the place
where far from the world and from sin, one draws close to God, the angels
and the saints who surround him. Here below, a monk’s life anticipates
the life of heaven where the angels already enjoy the vision of God.
Anyone who reads the Benedictine Rule might surmise that Benedict had
little interest in contemplation as part of monastic life. Rather, the goal of
this life was simply to seek God. Even though at the end of his Rule (Ch.
73), Benedict indicates that monks who had a special gift of grace could
strive for contemplation, that is not the goal of their life.
While Benedict spoke little of contemplation, his biographer Gregory the
Great held that the contemplative life is the heavenly life, which cannot be
lived perfectly “in this world.” Rather, contemplation is given to monks so
that by purity of heart they may anticipate the incorruption of heaven.
Gregory claimed that the contemplative life is superior to and better than
the active life and thus should be preferred to the active when possible.
For monastic spiritual writers in general, contemplation could only be
attained in the monastery because it anticipated union with God in
heaven. To strive for such union required listening in silence and solitude,
being alone in the presence of the transcendent One. The busy
marketplace of the world with its sinful practices hindered the search for
union with God.
It is no wonder that, up to the 13th century and the rise of the
Franciscans, contemplation for the ordinary Christian was unthinkable.
Few were believed to have the grace of this lofty pursuit. With the rise of
Franciscan evangelical life, a new path to salvation emerged in the quest
for God.
The Franciscan Path
The Franciscan path “to God” is an inversion of monastic values. Rather
than fleeing the world to find God, God is to be found in the world. The
idea that “the world is our cloister” finds its root in Francis of Assisi.
Disillusioned as a valiant knight after being wounded in battle, Francis had
a profound experience of God in the broken-down church of San Damiano,
which he visited one day. Face-to-face with the wounded and glorified
Christ on the cross, Francis met the God of compassionate love, a God
“bent over” in love in the wounds of the crucified Christ.
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Bonaventure describes this encounter in his Major Legend (1.6) where he
writes: “While [Francis] was praying and all of his fervor was totally
absorbed in God, Christ Jesus appeared to him as fastened to a cross.”
Bonaventure indicates that there was no exchange of words. Rather, “his
[Francis’] soul melted at the sight, and the memory of Christ’s passion
was impressed on the innermost recesses of his heart.”
This encounter with the other, crucified God changed Francis in the very
core of his being. As Bonaventure states: “From then on he clothed
himself with a spirit of poverty, a sense of humility, an eagerness for
intimate piety.” The expression of God’s self-giving love in the cross
impressed Francis in such a way that he began to change. This event
marked the beginning of Francis’ spiritual journey.
The God whom Francis discovered in the cross of Jesus Christ was, as we
already pointed out, a God “who delights to be with the simple and those
rejected by the world” (Thomas of Celano, First Life, 12.31). Impressed by
the love of the Crucified, Francis could no longer remain alone in his
search for God. Rather, he had to find God in relation to the fragile
creatureliness of others: his neighbor, his brother and, yes, even the tiny
creatures of nature.
The necessity of the other for Francis thrust him into radical poverty
whereby everything that hindered his relation to the other was stripped
away. Seeing God in the wounds of the Crucified drew Francis to a new
level of compassion and to sharing his goods, indeed, his very self, with
others.
Bonaventure writes that “to poor beggars he wished to give not only his
possessions but his very self, sometimes taking off his clothes...ripping
them in pieces to give to them” (1.6). The encounter with Christ as other,
therefore, gave Francis a new openness and freedom. Embraced by the
compassionate love of God, Francis was liberated within and went out to
embrace others in love.
According to Bonaventure, Francis discovered his own identity through
encountering the crucified Christ, that is, he discovered his own
woundedness in the image of the crucified man. This self-knowledge
enabled him to go out to the poor and sick.
Describing Francis as the truly humble person, Bonaventure writes: “As
Christ’s disciple he strove to regard himself as worthless in his own eyes
and those of others. He used to make this statement frequently: ‘What a
person is before God, that he is and no more’”(6.1).
Naming the truth about himself before God freed Francis to make the
journey to the other person and back again. Only in relation to the other
did his weaknesses become strengths, for it was in naming his
weaknesses that Francis matured in authentic human love.
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Because of the mystery of Christ and the embrace of God’s compassionate
love in the wounded Christ, Francis grew spiritually as a person, finding
his true self to be a relational self. The deeper he grew in relationship with
Christ, the deeper he grew in relationship with others.
As Francis deepened his relationship with Christ, the other became less for
Francis an object and more a brother. Community became the concrete
expression of the Christ mystery for Francis. The deeper he entered into
the mystery of Christ in his own life, the more he recognized Christ in the
world around him, in his brothers, the lepers, in the sick and in the tiny
creatures of creation.
“In all the poor,” Bonaventure wrote, “Francis saw before him a portrait of
Christ” (8.5). Even animals represented Christ to him. Seeing the birth of
a lamb, for example, Francis exclaimed, “Alas, brother lamb, innocent
animal, always displaying Christ to people!” (8.6).
Bonaventure highlights the idea that the one who dwells in Christ dwells in
the other, because the fullness of who we are in Christ can only be found
in the other. The difference of the other, therefore, was not an obstacle
for Francis in his search for God but rather a celebration of God. For he
found his own identity in God and he found God in the fragile, wounded
flesh of his brothers and sisters.
It is prayer, according to Bonaventure, that impelled Francis to see the
world with new vision, a contemplative vision that penetrated the depths
of reality. The world became Francis’ cloister because he found it to be
permeated with the goodness of God.
Jesus: Revelation of the Father
In his writings, Francis showed less a personal relationship to Christ than
to the Father—the source of all goodness and the Most High. Yet Francis
realized that the Son is the beloved of the Father; thus the deepest
reason for clinging to Jesus is that he reveals the Father. Francis believed
that Christ alone is the One in whom the Father takes delight because the
Son satisfies the Father in everything.
Instead of relating to Jesus in a personal way, Francis often used the
expression “Word of the Father” when speaking about the person of
Christ. This is surprising for one who was considered a “second Christ” in
the Middle Ages. Yet we have evidence of this understanding in Francis’
writings.
In the second version of his Later Admonition and Exhortation, for
example, he states that, “Through his angel, St. Gabriel, the Most High
Father in heaven announced this Word of the Father, so worthy, so holy
and glorious, in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary” (4-5).
Francis saw God as communicative and expressive—perhaps like a divine
cell phone! The Father’s self-expression is his word. Jesus is the word of
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the Father. Francis saw a connection between the divine word, which is
entirely worthy, holy and glorious, and the Incarnate word, which
assumed our fragile human nature.
Francis emphasized to his followers that the word of the Father left his
divine riches in order to accept the poverty of humanity. God expresses
himself by giving himself away in love. The Incarnation is where the word
of the Father “descends” to embrace us in love. This movement of
descent, shown to us in Christ, is a daily event that we see and touch in
the Eucharist:
“Behold, each day he humbles himself as when he came from the royal
throne into the Virgin’s womb; each day he himself comes to us,
appearing humbly, each day he comes down from the bosom of the Father
upon the altar in the hands of a priest” (Admonition One).
The descent of the word into humanity reminded Francis of the humility of
God—not simply the humble circumstances of Jesus’ earthly beginnings
and life but rather another name for God, who is, above all, love. In his
Praises of God, Francis exclaimed, “You are love...You are humility.”
Francis called God “humility” because he perceived the love of the Father
in the descent of the Son in the Incarnation. In Bonaventure’s
terminology, the Father bends low in love to embrace us fragile human
beings in and through the Son, the Word of God. The Word incarnate,
Jesus of Nazareth, expresses the humble love of God.
Implications for Prayer
How does this theology of the word play out in Francis’ journey of prayer?
For Francis, God loves us where we are—with our frailty, weaknesses and
insecurities. This is the meaning of his encounter with the God of
compassionate love as seen in the cross of San Damiano.
Francis understands that while God is incomprehensible and ineffable, he
is at the same time “bent over” in love for us, in and through the Son,
Jesus Christ. God is infinite in love and intimate in love, far beyond us yet
intensely close to us.
By following in the footprints of Jesus Christ, we are led to the Father of
incomprehensible love through the Spirit, who joins us to Christ, who in
turn leads us to the Father. For Francis, Christ is the center of the Trinity
and the center of our relationship to God.
For Francis, prayer is not a flight from the world toward a transcendent
God; rather it centers on the mystical body of Christ and our participation
in this mystery. God took on our flesh that we might discover his eternal
face in ourselves. This is the good news of Jesus Christ and of our lives in
Christ. Prayer channels us into the depths of the Christ mystery where the
fullness of our humanity—and our happiness—lies.
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Help From St. Clare
In her Second Letter to St. Agnes of Prague, Clare directed her toward a
relationship with the God of self-giving love. Take some time to meditate
on the following words of Clare and consider whether or not your
relationship with God is leading you more deeply into the mystery of Christ:
“Gaze upon [Him], Consider [Him], Contemplate [Him], As you desire to
imitate [Him]. If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him, [if you]
weep [with Him], you shall rejoice with Him, [if you] die [with Him] on the
cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendor of
the saints and, in the Book of Life, your name shall be called glorious
among people.”
Clare’s words prompt the following questions for reflection:
1. Who is the God to whom you pray? What is your image of God?
2. How do you envision the journey to God? Does a ladder, a spiral or
another image capture your relationship to God?
3. Where do you find God? In silence? In other people? Only in liturgical
prayer? Is God “up above” you, transcendent and distant to you? Or do you
experience God’s intimate presence in your life?
St. Francis: Inspired By the Cross
By Jack Wintz, O.F.M.
A Vision of Christ's Burning Love
The San Damiano Cross
Francis' Prayer Before the Crucifix
Francis of Assisi’s Prayer Before the Crucifix does not start with “Woe is
me” or some dark misery of the heart. Rather, it focuses on the glory and
sublime beauty of God. I like to pray the text as composer David Haas sang
it in his concert video, Glory Day. The musical setting helps me focus on
the sublime.
“Most High, glorious God”: Just by saying the words in a spirit of praise, my
heart grows lighter. I feel as though I’m swept up into the glorious
presence of God! The prayer starts—as all prayer does well to start—with
words of adoration.
Adoration has a way of lifting me out of my self-absorption and anxiety.
Adoration itself helps enlighten the darkness of my heart.
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I’m pleased that Francis uses the word heart rather than mind when he
prays: “Enlighten the darkness of my heart.” The word mind takes me too
much into my head. And that is not the real St. Francis. Heart is very much
St. Francis. Heart suggests the complexities of human love and the mystery
of one’s innermost yearning—with all its related joys and sorrows.
A Vision of Christ's Burning Love
Francis, of course, had a heart very much attuned to the mystery of God’s
overflowing love. Once, while praying in a solitary place, Francis had a
vision of Christ looking at him from the cross with such intense and burning
love that “his soul melted,” according to his biographer, St. Bonaventure
(1221-1274). One can only believe that, after this soul-melting event,
every time Francis prayed before a crucifix, he experienced a similar
outpouring of God’s incredible love.
And when Francis asks in his prayer, “Give me right faith,” this right faith
would somehow entail—or encapsulate—this same heart-transforming
vision of God’s overflowing love, a love whereby God holds nothing back
from us! That’s the kind of right faith that Francis—as well as you and I—
requests in this prayer. And does not this right faith, which is the glorious
core of God’s self-revelation, enlighten the darkness of our hearts?
Next, we pray with Francis for the “sure hope” that flows from “right faith.”
And where is there a better place to find this sure hope than in the
resurrection of Jesus? The disciples literally witnessed sure hope when the
risen Christ appeared to them on that first Easter Sunday. I think especially
of the Apostle Thomas in this regard. The risen Jesus so illumined this
apostle’s doubt-darkened heart that Thomas, in adoration, proclaimed
without hesitation: “My Lord and my God!” (see John 20:28).
Just as Francis sees Jesus on the cross handing himself over to the whole
human family with a total, perfect love, so Francis asks that he may be
given the same kind of “perfect charity.” This enables Francis to respond to
God’s love with the same kind of total generosity. Francis further asks
Christ to “fill me with understanding and knowledge that I may fulfill your
command.” This “command” is really God’s glorious plan that all God’s
children persevere in the love of Christ and someday rise with Christ into
God’s loving embrace.
The San Damiano Cross
Franciscan documents of the 13th century indicate that the crucifix before
which St. Francis prayed this prayer was none other than the famous
crucifix in the little chapel of San Damiano, near Assisi. This beloved
crucifix, familiar to followers of St. Francis worldwide, is known as the San
Damiano Cross.
The body of Christ, as painted on this cross, is not bloody or twisted in
anguish. Rather, his body is quite luminous, as if it were already risen,
radiating the fullness of God. Instead of a crown of thorns, this image of
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Christ has a glorious halo. And his body with outstretched arms appears to
be ascending to heaven. In short, the image clearly suggests the risen
Jesus.
If, indeed, this was the image of Christ upon which St. Francis was gazing
as this prayer arose in his heart, it makes perfectly good sense that Francis
would address Jesus as “Most High, glorious God!”
O glorious God of overflowing love, enlighten the darkness of my heart!
Next month: The Memorare
Francis' Prayer Before the Crucifix
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart;
Give me right faith, sure hope, and perfect charity.
Fill me with understanding and knowledge,
that I may fulfill your command.
Friar
Jack
Muses
About
Better
Understanding Between Muslims and
Christians
As a Franciscan and a Christian, I feel uneasy
about the violent conflictin Afghanistan. It is
clear that the kind of terrorism that
traumatized our nation in September, killing
several thousand innocent people, must
beresisted and stopped as effectively as
possible. Indeed, every nation must protect its
citizens and guests from such murderous
attacks. And it's hard to see how the terrorists
can be stopped and brought to justice without
physical conflict and confrontation, but are we
doing everything right in Afghanistan?
I feel highly concerned about the frequent
reports (and, yes, we need to be aware of the
propaganda factor) of innocent civilians being
killed or made homeless and forced into harsh
refugee situations. Some accidental deaths of
civilians and severe dislocations seem sadly
unavoidable in warfare, but is our nation doing
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everything it reasonably can to value and
protect such lives? I am similarly concerned
about what is happening to Christian-Muslim
relations—and the level of respect and
understanding that all people of good-will want
to see between these two world religions. It
seems rather clear that Muslims around the
world who seek to live out the true spirit of
Islam abhor the terrorist attacks of September
11, as well as the lame attempts of extremists
to link such incredibly cruel behavior to the will
of God.
Our nation is sincere, I believe, in saying that
our war is not against Islam but terrorism. Yet,
how does it look to many Muslims around the
world when they see the incessant and violent
pounding of a Muslim land (Afghanistan) with
our massive air attacks. And what do Muslims
think when they hear repeated reports of
civilian casualties of Muslims and the
worsening plight of Muslim refugees. For
example, many fear that thousands and
thousands of refugee children may starve or
die in the freezing cold as winter sets in.
It's imperative that we find ways to show
concern for the precious lives of innocent
civilians
and
children.
Otherwise,
our
insistence that we are fighting terrorism in
Afghanistan and not Islam will become harder
and harder to believe. In this country, too,
there are instances of brothers and sisters
being harassed, threatened or assaulted by
bigoted individuals because they are Muslim—
or simply because they are Arab or Middle
Eastern in appearance. This can only add to
the impression in Muslim circles that Islam
itself is under attack. We need to work harder
to bring our actions into greater harmony with
our words.
At this point, we look to an incident in the life
of St. Francis that can serve as a model for
solving conflicts in a nonviolent way and for
improving understanding between Christians
and Muslims. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226),
who lived during the time of the Crusades, had
come to distrust violence and war. In the year
1219 he sought a non-violent way to solve the
conflict between Christians and Muslims.
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Francis journeyed to Damietta, Egypt, near the
mouth of the Nile, determined to have a
meeting with the Sultan of Egypt, even as
Christian crusaders were engaged in bloody
conflict with the Muslim forces nearby.
Francis succeeded in getting an audience with S
el-Kamel. Though Francis tried to persuade the
good news of Jesus' saving love for all, the Su
drawn away from his own faith and convictions
Francis' enthusiasm and courage and liste
courteously and with admiration. He saw to
that Francis was given safe passage back to
camp. In our day, we need to follow the ex
Francis and the sultan and reach out in respe
with our brothers and sisters of different
cultures. I'll tell you about one recent example
conclusion to my musings, below.
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Sacred Symbols
"Nature is a temple where, from living pillars,
Confused words are sometimes allowed to escape;
Here man passes, through forests of symbols,
Which watch him with looks of recognition"
--Charles Baudelaire
Symbols are the symbolic language of the soul. Carl Jung theorized that we are able to
go beyond the artificial barriers imposed by language to speak directly to our
unconscious. These symbols and images allow us to become time travellers as we
connect to our past as well as connect to other nations and religions.
Jung recognized that the universal symbols common to many world religions are
archetypal products of humankind’s natural religious function. Two of the most
important universal symbolic images that he studied were the circle, or mandala--a
symbol of unity and eternity--and the cosmic tree, which can be regarded both as a
symbol of the self, or as a cosmic axis linking the underworld, earth and heavens.
Some other cosmic symbols are:
Seed: potential of life
Dot: Supreme Being
Sun: male principal
Moon: female principal
Square: earth
Spiral: cosmic force
Wheel: solar power
Square: manifestation, foundation
Rainbow: a bridge between earth and spirit, the celestial serpent, the highest state of
spiritual attainment before enlightenment.
Cross: cosmic axis, union of Earth and spirit, union of Opposites, spiritual union,
sacrifice
Star of David: the downward –pointed triangle-the solar masculine principle-life. The
upward pointing triangle-the lunar, feminine principle.
The Interlocking Triangles: as above, so below.
Egg: source of life
Water: unconscious, the feminine, the Great Mother, birth, purification
Fire: transmutation, purification, power, passion, illumination, and inspiration
Air: breath, thought, communication, and intellect
Earth: The Great Mother, fertility, nourishment, physical body, foundation, solidity
Cosmic Mountain: creation of the world
Ying/Yang Circle: represents opposition and synergy to the Taoists
AUM: the Hindu sacred syllable, the essence of all sounds
The Ankh: the ancient Egyptian sign of life, which seems to prefigure the Christian
cross
Sacred symbols contain cosmic beliefs and therefore can be used as powerful tools in
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our own spirit journey. By honouring them we gain access to enormous resources
which we then can use in our personal and collective rituals and spiritual practices.
As Clare Gibson in Sacred Symbols (Saraband Inc.) so elegantly writes, "Because sacred
thought involves the intangible and supernatural, it cannot help but be expressed
symbolically. The primary function of a symbol is to express a concept by employing a means
of visual shorthand A symbol has many advantages over the written or spoken word: it
transcends the barriers of language; its message can be instantly registered and absorbed; and
most importantly in terms of the sacred, it encourages a mystical or metaphysical reaction in
achieving a closer communion with the sacred. Symbols are powerful and complex forms of
communication despite their graphic simplicity."
"In any kind of inner work, whether it be in dreams, meditation, contemplation, guided
imagery, or creative visualizations, symbols appear to us as signposts or keys and they
function as containers, revealers, or concealers of meaning to enable us to penetrate deeper
into the mystery of life." --Angeles Arien, The Tarot Handbook (Arcus Publishing Co).
Symbolism in the Tarot
According to Angeles Arien "the tarot is a symbolic map of consciousness.
Here are some of her interpretations of the Major Arcana or the twenty-two universal
principles or laws:
The Fool: one who walks without fear
The Magician: the communicator
The High Priestess: the independent self-knower
The Empress: the nurturer, comforter, beautifier
The Emperor: the pioneer, builder, doer, visionary
The Hierophant: The teacher, counselor, and consultant
The Lovers: synthesizer of dualities, polarities and oppositions
The Chariot: the generator, motivator, and traveler
The Adjustment/Justice: the mediator, adjuster, and arbitrator
The Hermit: the mediator, philosopher, sage, wise man
The Wheel of Fortune: abundance prosperity, fortune
Strength: passion, awareness, and aliveness
The Hanged Man: the transformer
Death/Rebirth: releaser, eliminator, and expander
Art/Temperance: the creator, the alchemist
The Devil: the joker, worker, and stabilizer
The Tower: restoer, healer, and renovator
The Star: self-confident,self-esteem
The Moon: the chooser, the romantic
The Sun: the originator,co-creator
Judgment: the analyst, evaluator, and seer
The Universe: the completion, the initiator
Animal Symbolism
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Many cultures have traditionally used animals as symbolism. Native people often
view animals as teachers, as each represents a beneficial quality that can help
strengthen and educate a person. Once we understand each animal’s essence--the
specific gifts and strengths the creature represents--we can then incorporate a
particular animal into a ritual and ask its guidance.
For further information see Animal Medicine Cards (Jamie Sams and David Carsson,
Bear and Company).
Bear: introspection, incubating ideas and bring them to fruition, cultivating power
and support
Beaver: architecture and building, teaches structure, problem solving, and the ability
to work with others
Butterfly: transformation, moving forward, trusting life to support you
Cat: independence, playfulness, caution, and gracefulness
Crow: intuition, justice
Deer: gentleness, peace
Dog: loyalty, guardian, and protector
Dolphin: power of play, unconditional love, the ability to release stored emotions
through breath
Dove: peace, calm, and simplicity
Eagle: ability to see above the mundane, clarity, vision, and connection to the divine
Fox: confidence, cunning, and independence
Frog: connection to water rituals, a cleansing of spirit, body and mind, easing change
Horse: power, dependability
Hummingbird: joy, celebration life, and the ability to feel emotionally "lighter"
Lion: leadership, action, assists one in moving through fear
Owl: wisdom, clairvoyance, and clarity of thought
Peacock: wholeness, authority of self, and the expression of one’s own beauty
Rabbit: creativity helps one face fear
Raccoon: unmasking the truth helps one accept hidden aspects of the self, the ability
to play many roles in life
Snake: sexuality, psychic energy, death and rebirth, immortality
Spider: integration, inner connection, and creativity
Swan: ability to see one’s own beauty and goodness
Tiger: confidence, spontaneity, and strength
Turtle: connection with earth grounding helps one slow down and focus on the
present
Wolf: teaching, the ability to establish healthy boundaries, encourages friendship and
sense of community
Our ancestors express themselves to us in the sacred symbols of our cultures and
religions. For example, my grandfather, being Cherokee, comes to me when I light a
cigar and call his name. He appears in the clothes and age when I most needed him in
my childhood. I know he is near me when I smell cigar smoke for no obvious reason.
Coyote: people mistakenly dismiss coyote as a trickster, but he is much more than a
trickster. Through humor, coyote brings together opposing cultures worldviews and
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people who think that they are enemies. By making them laugh at themselves and each
other, they can see how silly their differences appear to the spirits and animals. Coyote
embodies the fool. --Lewis Mehl Madrona, Coyote Medicine (Fireside).
(Barbara Biziou and Lewis Mehl Madrona will be facilitating a weekend retreat in August on
"The Wisdom of the Ancestors.")
Crystals as Symbols:
A crystal is an earth element--a mineral or gemstone. Both ancient cultures and modern
science have utilized the mysterious qualities of crystals, which have the ability to receive and
transmit energy.
Amber: balance
Amethyst: spiritual awareness, transmutation, healing
Aquamarine: purification, healing, calming
Bloodstone: courage, physical energy
Calcite: balance, peaceful meditation
Carnelian: sex, self-esteem, creativity
Copper: purification, inspiring love, making peace
Fluorite: healing, releasing unwanted energies
Gold: courage, self-awareness, self-confidence, wealth, and virtue
Hematite: encouraging willpowr, concentration
Herkimer Diamond: dream recall
Jade: fertility, wisdom, and tranquility
Lapis Lazuli: communication, healing
Malachite: protection, money
Moonstone: love, psychic awareness, feminine principle
Nickel: youth, beauty, growth, and adaptation
Obsidian: inner growth, psychic development
Opal: passion, love, and emotional expression
Pearl: purity, integrity, focus, wisdom
Quartz: change, focus
Red Jasper: compassion
Rhodolite: love
Rose Quartz: love, compassion
Silver: fertility, nourishment, and growth
Tiger’s Eye: empowerment, willpower, courage, and clarity
Tin; flexibility
Topaz: new beginnings
Tourmaline: healing, balance
Turquoise: balance, friendship, positive thinking
Symbolic images can communicate an essence of their meaning even to people from different
cultures and religious faiths. For example, walking the labyrinth has become a popular event
although few realize that they are re-enacting a symbolic Christian pilgrimage or the route
that Theseus took to kill the minotaur, half-bull, half-human beast, that King Minos is
supposed to have kept at the heart of a labyrinth in ancient Crete. One can appreciate the
beauty of the gardens of the Taj Mahal without being of the Islamic tradition which views
these gardens as images of paradise containing cypress trees, symbolizing death, and fruit
trees, symbolizing life.
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In Japanese Zen Buddhism, gardens are made to symbolize the whole of creation, while many
use this symbolism in rituals to celebrate Mother Earth.
Sacred Herbs and Flowers:
For thousands of year, we have used flowers and herbs to symbolize the power of earth. Here
are a few:
Basil: clarity, prosperity
Bay Leaf: protection
Bamboo: good fortune
Daffodil: new beginnings
Iris: love
Lotus: rebirth
Parsley: protection
Rose: love
Tobacco: fertility
Sage: purification
Rosemary: loyalty, friendship
Thyme: courage, health
Ylang-Ylang: sexual energy
Food and Drink
Food, itself, can be used symbolically. Many cultures offer food on altars, believing that it
will give sustenance to the deities as well as to their ancestors. Hindus and Buddhists share
this belief, and Hindus often use fruit as an offering. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New
Year, an apple, symbolizing nature, is dipped in honey to bring sweetness into the coming
year. Native Americans use corn or cornmeal to signify the abundance of a harvest. And when
a family moves into a new home, friends often bring bread, sugar, and salt, signifying
nourishment, sweetness and purification.
We can use food to represent where we live, where we came from, and its meaning to our
loved ones and us. In America, everyone expects cake on his or her birthday, while children
associate chocolate bunnies with Easter, turkey with Thanksgiving, candy canes with
Christmas.
Bread: earth, harvest, and abundance
Cake: celebration, sweetness
Citrus Fruits: joy, vitality
Corn: earth, harvest, and abundance
Grains: earth, harvest, and abundance
Hot spices: sexuality, creativity
Mangoes: sensuality
Pomegranate: rebirth, abundance
Salt: purification
Seeds and sprouts: new potential
Wine: celebration, bounty, creation of new life (red wine: feminine power-white winemasculine power)
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Feel free to use any symbols that have meaning to you and your family.
Sacred Symbols
Click the thumbnail to view the entire image and order prints.
Shri Yantra
I Ching
Trinity
Flower of Life Ankh
Blessings
Eternity
Phoenix Rising
Star of David
Hinduis
m
Many Paths to
One God
Mantras And Sacred Symbols
"The Vedas are mantric teachings. They consist of various
mantric chants or hymns cognized by different seers or Rishis
from the Cosmic Mind. They set forth Dharma or natural law,
which is mantra in manifestation."
A mantra is a thought manifest in, or encapsulated by, a sacred utterance
that possesses profound spiritual significance. Sound holds a key place in
Hindu thought. Some writers believe that it preceded the creation of the
universe, and its vibrations are thought to bind the atoms of the world.
192
Mantras are sacred syllables that encapsulate particular forms of cosmic
power (shakti).
In Hinduism, a mantra is sacred and spiritually beneficial. By chanting a
mantra repeatedly with love and devotion a person can become spiritually
illumined. He develops a pure mind which enables him to see God.
Each mantra has a presiding deity over it who is supposed to be giving the
results of chanting of mantra (mantra phala) .Mantra means which has to
be repeated and understood. Literally it means the verse which explains
the prescribed meaning:
Man- to repeat (manana) and
tra - the power of trana.
There are different forms of mantra, such as the "seed" (bija) mantra,
which is thought to be an energy pervading both the human body and the
universe. The deities are believed to be manifestations of bija mantras:
Shiva, for example, is linked with the mantra "hrim" and Kali is associated
with the syllable "krim".
There are mantras that accomplish many kinds of wondrous deeds simply
by correctly chanting them. Other mantras help purify one's
consciousness, give spiritual enlightenment, and put one in touch with the
Supreme.
Hindus also believe that a mantra received from a saint or holy man is far
more effective than mantras picked from a book.
A mantra that has already helped someone to have God-realization is
believed to have great spiritual potency. Such a mantra is called a siddha
mantra.
There are two mantras that are especially recommended in the Vedic
literature. One is omkara or the om mantra, and the other is Hare Krishna
Maha Mantra. Hindus believe that these two mantras can deliver one to
the realm beyond material existence.
Mantra-Yoga
Mantra-yoga is a tradition found in almost every spiritual path and religion
in the world. It may involve the repetition or chanting of a prayer or
mantra for one's own meditation, or it may involve the congregational
singing of spiritually uplifting songs, prayers, or the sacred names of the
Supreme Being. Mantra yoga helps a devotee to focus his/her mind on the
Supreme, which helps spiritualize his/her consciousness.
Man means the mind, tra means deliverance.
193
Therefore, a spiritual mantra is the pure sound vibration for delivering the
mind from material to spiritual consciousness. This is the goal of any
spiritual path.
Mantra Yoga is said to be a gradual path to wisdom, on which the yogi can
accumulate a host of siddhis (accomplishments). Many orthodox Hindus
still see Mantra Yoga as a magical system which has origins in the
intonations chanted by Vedic priests during sacrifices. These priests
derived much authority from their claims to be able to summon the gods
by uttering the correct sounds, thereby becoming more powerful than the
gods themselves.
In Bhagavad-gita God Krishna explains that He is the transcendental OM
mantra and that the chanting of japa (chanting a mantra quietly for one's
own meditation) is the purest of His representations and sacrifices. It is
understood that by chanting japa and hearing the holy sounds of the
mantra,
one
can
come
to
the
platform of spiritual realization. The energy in the sound vibration of the
mantra prepares and opens one's consciousness to higher levels of reality.
This is the process of mantra-yoga.
Chanting the names of God brings a devotee in direct contact with God in
proportion to the chanter's purity. This process of self- realization is the
way of success for everyone. The Bhagavatam (2.1.11) discloses that the
chanting of God's names in the manner of the great authorities is the
doubtless way to spiritual success for everyone, no matter whether they
are full of material desires or free of all desires, or self-satisfied because
of their spiritual knowledge.
Simply by relying on the chanting of the holy names of God, one need not
depend upon other processes, rituals, paraphernalia, or persons. One
does not even have to be initiated by a spiritual master to chant mantra.
As the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila, 15.108) says, one does not have
to take initiation, but only has to chant the holy names. Thus, deliverance
is available to all kinds of people.
Sound
There are generally believed to be four classes of sound (shabda):
1. Supreme sound (para shabda) is the most subtle of the four, and is
the sound made by the base chakra.
2. Visible sound (pashyanti shabda) is associated with the heart and is
manifested as the prime syllable Om.
3. Middle sound (madhyama shabda) incorporates the basic sounds of
the Sanskrit alphabet and is the source of secondary mantras.
4. Manifest sound (vaikhari shabda) is the sound of human speech,
and is considered the lowest of the four classes.
Popular Mantras
194
Sacred Symbol of OM
Namaskar Mantra
HRIM
KRIM
HUM
SHRIM
The Four Great Goddess Mantra
The Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra
Shiva Prarthana
Shiva Dhun
Hare Krishna Maha Mantra
Krishna Worship
Intimacy with God
by Fr. Thomas Keating
The Sacred Symbol
as a Gesture of Consent
Chapter 7 Part I
As we saw in the last chapter, our consciousness can be likened to a river,
with our thoughts passing like boats along its surface. The surface of the
river represents our ordinary psychological level of awareness. But a river
also has its depths, and so does our awareness. Beneath the ordinary
psychological level of awareness, there is the spiritual level of awareness
where our intellect and will are functioning in their own proper way in a
spiritual manner. Deeper still, or more "centered," is the Divine Indwelling
where the divine energy is present as the source of our being and
inspiration at every moment (see Diagram 4). Personal effort and grace
meet at the most centered or inward part of our being, which the mystics
call the "ground of being" or the "peak of the spirit."
195
Diagram 4
LEVELS OF AWARENESS
Many methods of meditation make use of "sacred words," but these words
are used in different ways, aimed at different levels of our awareness.
The sacred word is a gesture of the consent of our spiritual will to God's
presence in our inmost being. The word appears in our imagination but
exercises no direct, quieting function on the level of our ordinary stream
of consciousness. Rather, it only expresses our intention, the choice of our
will to open and surrender to God's presence. This is the difference
between Centering Prayer and a practice that utilizes some form of
attention, as in looking at a candle, repeating a mantra, or visualizing
some image. That is why we do not have to repeat the sacred word
continuously We only use it to maintain our intention of faith and love
toward God. As long as thoughts go by like boats on the surface of the
river without attracting our desire or causing an aversion, we do not need
to return to the sacred word. In these instances, there is no interruption
in the orientation of our intention toward God.
When we consent to the presence and action of God using the sacred
word as a symbol of our intent, this movement of our will manifests itself
very delicately in our imagination. The word does not have to be carefully
articulated. It is neither reflected upon nor analyzed. It is simply a gesture
or a symbol. Starting from one of the external senses (we can use a
sacred gaze or breath as well), we move to the spiritual level and to the
spiritual senses, which are analogous to the external senses. The sacred
word comes from the heart and reverberates in the imagination only
momentarily, whereas a mantra or a concentrative process is designed to
slow down the flow of thoughts.
196
The primary function of the sacred word is not to push thoughts away or
to thin them out. It is rather to express our intention to love God, to be in
God's presence, and to submit to the Spirit's action during the time of
prayer. It is only when one of the boats does not simply go by but attracts
or repels us that we need to return to our sacred symbol. The reason is
simple: when we are attracted to a particular thought, we have begun to
lose the purity of our general loving intention to be in God's presence.
The sacred word, as we saw, is like a focusing apparatus on a camera, but
the focus adjusts not an image but our intention. At the start of our
prayer, we direct our general loving attention toward God, but there is no
content. That is why it may be difficult for some to feel at ease with this
practice at first. We let all particular thoughts go by without exception, no
matter whether they are pleasant or painful or whether they bring
spiritual consolation or a bombardment of thoughts and feelings.
Occasionally, if we are bombarded by a particularly heavy siege from the
unconscious, it may be difficult or impossible to return to the sacred word.
Then we just sit with it, and the pain itself becomes our sacred symbol.
Such surrender is still a deep consent to God's presence and action within.
There will be more on this in Chapter 8.
All methods that lead to contemplation are more or less aimed at
bypassing the thinking process. The reason is that our thinking process tends
to reinforce our addictive process - our frenzy to "get something" from the outer
world to fuel our compulsions or to mask our pain. If we can just rest on a regular
basis for twenty to thirty minutes without thinking, we begin to see that we are
not our thoughts. We have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts. Most people
suffer because they think that they are their thoughts and if their thoughts are
upsetting, distressing, or evil, they are stuck with them. If they just stopped
thinking for a while every day as a discipline, they would begin to see that they
do not have to be dominated by their thoughts.
Please remember that the term "thoughts" in our explanation of Centering
Prayer includes not just concepts or images, but feelings, sense
impressions from within and without, and even spiritual sensations. Every
perception whatsoever goes under the umbrella of "thoughts."
The various methods that prepare for contemplation speak to the psyche
in different ways. If we look at the whole spectrum of these varied forms
of preparation, we can see that they range from receptive methods to
concentrative methods. A concentrative method would be one in which we
do much or all of the work - that is to say, when we constantly repeat a
mantra, focus on our breathing, look at a candle or similar object,
maintain a certain posture, or think about a Zen koan (an unresolvable
conundrum). In a receptive method such as Centering Prayer, there is no
attempt to focus attention. Our effort remains minimal.
Some methods are more concentrative; others are more receptive (see
Diagram 2, page 56). In Zen there is a particular practice that is quite
close to Centering Prayer in that one just sits in the prescribed posture,
paying no attention to thoughts. Maintaining the posture, at least in the
beginning, requires some effort. Centering Prayer, which, does not even
197
require posture beyond "relaxed but alert " is about as far in the receptive
mode as one can go.
It is intentionality that distinguishes Centering Prayer from other forms of
prayer. The difference between attention and intention is a difficult
distinction for people who are not doing Centering Prayer. They see the
external similarities between Centering Prayer and other forms of
meditation and think they must be the same.
In Centering Prayer, we are not even attending to the thoughts going by.
Indeed we are abstracting from the whole level of our ordinary
psychological awareness in order to cultivate spiritual awareness.
We all begin life as a single cell. This is our personal big bang, so to
speak. But there is enough energy in the single cell to sustain the whole
rest of our lives. Let us call that our inmost center, or the divine ground of
our being (see Diagram 4, page 67). From that center unfolds the true
self and the right manifestation of that energy. We know that for reasons
we call the human condition, we are not in contact with our true self. In
response to the pain that may go back to infancy, birth, or even prior to
birth as some recent therapeutic practice suggests, we develop very early
in life what is called the false self, which represses the true self and hides
its potential from us. This false self interacts with our environment under
the influence of pain and self-protectiveness with the net result that we
experience ourselves most of the time dominated by external events and
our emotional reactions to them. The false self is functioning when we are
dominated by external events instead of acting with freedom.
Our ordinary psychological awareness is somewhat like being at a movie
that is extremely engrossing. Being dominated by events and our
emotional reactions to them is like being at a movie that is so good that
we identify totally with the plot or with one or another of the characters
and forget that we are in the theater. Similarly, we are most of the time
out of touch with the spiritual level of our being and allow events to
dominate us rather than choosing what to do with them. As we work on
this process through Centering Prayer and recognize the dynamics of the
unconscious, our spiritual faculties and true self are being liberated. That
experience relativizes our emotional investment in symbols of happiness
demanded by the false self. The reason is we are beginning to experience
inner peace, which is the happiness we really seek. In the practice of
Centering Prayer, we encounter the same emotional reactions we had
before, only now we notice them instead of blindly reacting to them. It is
essential that we learn to recognize the tendencies of our false self if we
want to be happy, because only in recognizing them can we change them.
We do not have to analyze them; we just have to notice them and let
them go.
As interior freedom develops, we become like people at a lousy movie who
know that they can get up and leave anytime. We also know that we are
free to stay. This is the difference between a spiritual practice that is
working and one that has not yet begun. In a process that has not begun,
198
we continue to allow ourselves to be dominated by other people,
circumstances, and the inner dynamics that were set in place in early
childhood and over which we did not have control. As we begin to
practice, we know that we have to own these dynamics in order to move
beyond them, become our true selves, and manifest all the creative
possibilities that God has given us. As this realization grows in us, we
begin to act from our center. The chief effect of Centering Prayer is to live
from our center This of course does not mean that we do not interact with
the world. On the contrary, we interact better than before because we are
not defending ourselves from people or circumstances, but living reality as
it unfolds. Centering Prayer, then, is not just a method of prayer but
initiates a process that involves the response of our whole being to the
gospel and its values. Excerpted from Intimacy with God by Fr. Thomas
Keating
199
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minded persons.
A non charitable venture benefiting the local community
and beyond.
The Tau Community provides:
•
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•
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Monthly Meetings providing Healing Support, Retreat Days and therapies.
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PASTORAL SUPPORT and information about monthly support groups,
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Or
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Tau Tree of Life Healing Community 2007
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