|Devotion: Thy Will be Done|
Each of us has a unique experience of devotion, an experience that comes from a private place in the heart.(1) This chapter is a complete guide to a weekend worship retreat that you can enjoy at home, or at a retreat location -- in the woods or wilderness, on the shore or in a conference center. The workshop may be taken by a leaderless group or by a group with a leader, who can act as a facilitator.
Devotion, which leads to the experience of God, is beyond words. It is a form of intense listening. It is the melting of the inner into the outer and of the outer into the inner. It is openness to the receipt of grace, which is constantly raining down on us.
Devotion is humble and grateful. It is permanent, while nothing else in life is permanent. It consists of total surrender to God and to God's will. It is vibrant, fully alive and aware. It is as safe as a baby lying on her mother's breast and gazing into her eyes without feeling any separation from her. It is full of bliss and joy.
This workshop provides an intense and enduring experience of devotion. It begins Friday night at 7:30 p.m. when the group may be called together and candles may be lit, as a reminder of the penetrating light of God.(2) Then take time for group prayer, with each person praying from the depths of their heart about what is separating them from God and what they pray to happen for them in the workshop. Next, ask people to speak of their lives, including how life has hurt them, how they have failed, and how they have found strength. After each person has spoken (or have declined to speak), ask people to pick partners, to make eye contact with their partners in silence, and to share in turn (about three minutes each turn), about their personal pain, their doubts, and their experiences of inner strength.
The people who are sitting opposite one-another as partners should be told that they are to be teachers for each other during the weekend. They should be asked to discuss, for five minutes, what this "partnership" means to them and how they can be of support to one another. They should be asked to exchange information about how they can reach one another during the weekend.
The evening should close with a half hour of silent meditation. (See Chapter 9, on meditation, for full instructions on meditation.) With beginners, loud music may help to facilitate meditation. With experienced meditators, either use the music of the tamboura, which evokes the mood of meditation, or meditate in silence. Prior to the meditation, you may choose to sing the hymn, "Spirit of the Living God, Fall Afresh on me." I suggest you sing that hymn repetitively for a full half hour, alternating parts between men and women or singing it in unison. The song has the power to evoke the presence of God, who may be felt as calm and bliss in the heart.
During the weekend each person in the workshop is asked to complete each of the exercises prior to the Guided Meditation. Each of the exercises has a major heading (large, centered heading). To complete each of the exercises, each person should pray first by themselves and study the texts with reverence. Each should have a notebook handy and take notes concerning their reflections about what is personally important to them.
The workshop includes early morning meditation (beginning
between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.) each morning. After the meditation,
and before breakfast, the group may sit together for one full hour
together and share their experiences, their thoughts, and their
On Sunday, closing exercises begin with a Guided Mediation
at 2 p.m. This is an essential concluding exercise, in which the
meditation leader will ask each person to invite Jesus, or their own
concept of God, to enter every room of the house of their heart.
In a sense, the entire workshop leads up to this key experience,
which is cleansing and which may initiate some participants into a
relationship with Christ and may intensify the relationship of all
|Friday||7:30 p.m.||Candle lighting, witnessing, prayers, choosing partners, sharing|
|9:45 p.m.||Hymn singing, meditation|
|Saturday||5:30 a.m.||Meditation (hymn singing optional)|
|6:30 a.m.||Sharing experience and thoughts|
|xxxx||xxx||Spend one full hour, at a time of your
choosing, on each exercise in this chapter.
Each exercise has a major heading.
Stop looking for exercises when you see the heading, "Guided Meditation," which will be done as one group.
THERE ARE NINE DIFFERENT HOURS TO SCHEDULE.
|xxxx||xxxx||Schedule one or two full hours with a facilitator or chosen teacher|
|xxxx||xxxx||Meals scheduled in common or separately|
|xxxx||xxxx||Schedule 40 minutes of meditation, by yourself, each day|
|Sunday||6:00 a.m.||Meditation (hymn singing optional)|
|7:00 a.m.||Sharing experience and thoughts|
|2:00 p.m.||Jesus meditation|
|4:00 p.m.||Closing exercise, meditation, hymn|
|REMAIN SILENT DURING THE WORKSHOP EXCEPT DURING SCHEDULED TIMES, OR FOR ESSENTIAL COMMUNICATION.|
As part of your workshop experience, schedule one or two individual sessions with the workshop leader or the person you have chosen as your teacher for the workshop. During these sessions, share from your heart. Share your experience, your grief, your worries, your anger, your fears and your joy.
Remain silent during the entire workshop, except during periods when you are participating in exercises that require speaking or when it is absolutely necessary because of something that has to be done. You may also speak briefly to the person you chose as your teacher. When necessary, use those few words that may be needed to get activities accomplished.
In addition to the exercises and to early morning meditation (which you may have by yourself or with the workshop leader), you are invited to have one additional forty minute to one hour period of meditation and prayer each day. This may be done in silence, refusing any interruption. Or you may use music for all or part of the period if you choose. You will use a repetitive prayer selected by you(3), with the aid of the group leader if necessary.
You may take a one hour nap each afternoon. Saturday evening is not scheduled, but you should do whatever you choose to do with reverence and the full awareness of the presence of God. Use words sparingly during this period, remembering that God is present in silence and in the space between words.
You may alter the suggested schedule as you see fit. You may also continue to review these materials subsequent to the workshop. The more contact you have with these materials, the more they will be able to serve you in deepening your experience of devotion.
What is the importance of silence?
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for forty days being put to the test by the Devil.
Now it happened in those days that he [Jesus] went onto the mountain to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer to God. When day came he summoned his disciples and picked out twelve of them; he called them 'apostles' . . . .Luke 9:12:
Now it happened that he [Jesus] was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?1 Kings 19:8-10:
. . . [H]e [Elijah] walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, God's mountain. There he went into a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of Yahweh came to him saying, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I am full of jealous zeal for Yahweh Sabaoth . . . . .'Revelation 8:1:
The lamb then broke the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.Proverbs 21:23:
Watch kept over mouth and tongue, keeps the watcher safe from disaster.James 1:19:
Remember this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to human anger.James 3:1-12:
Someone who does not trip up in speech has reached perfection and is able to keep the whole body on a tight rein. Once we put a bit in the horse's mouth, to make it do what we want, we have the whole animal under our control. Or think of ships: no matter how big they are, even if a gale is driving them, they are directed by a tiny rudder wherever the whim of the helmsman decides. So the tongue is only a tiny part of the body, but its boasts are great. Think how small a flame can set fire to a huge forest; the tongue is a flame too. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a whole wicked world: it infects the whole body; catching fire itself from hell, it sets fire to the whole wheel of creation. Wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish of every kind can all be tamed, and have been tamed, by humans; but nobody can tame the tongue it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless the Lord and Father, but we also use it to curse people who are made in God's image: the blessing and curse come out of the same mouth. My brothers, this must be wrong does any water supply give a flow of fresh water and salt water out of the same pipe? Can a fig tree yield olives, my brothers, or a vine yield figs? No more can sea water yield fresh water.Gurumayi(4) II: 208:
You can say God is an idea, a fantasy, your own creation, as long as you have not had the experience of God, but if you say such things after having an experience, your tongue will roll out of your mouth. If your ears hear such things, they will fall off your head.Gurumayi, II: 287:
Kabir said that once the experience takes place, trying to describe it is like a mute person trying to describe the sweetness of candy that he has just eaten: the senses fall silent. Silence is the language of God. [Emphasis added.] Therefore, after praying and praying, you finally become silent. In that silence, you find everything. In human love, when you talk to the person you love, you talk and talk, but eventually you fall silent. In that silence the perfect relationship occurs. Silence is the language of love, the language of God. Silence is the language of the stillness of the senses.
A great saint said:
Just as a flame is utterly still
where there is no wind,
May your mind be totally still all the time.
Although clouds appear and disappear in the sky,
The sky remains untouched by them,
Similarly, happiness and unhappiness
arise and subside,
Stay calm; stay still.
A lotus grows in mud, yet it is so divine
There may be misery in your life,
but stay free from all of it.
The swami says, remain content, totally content.
When you are content, you will receive everything,
And you will perceive everything.
Meditation kindles the inner fire. When people observe silence for a minute in commemoration of some great person's death, something marvelous happens in that silence, even though it is in memory of someone who is dead. So you can imagine what must happen when you become silent to experience the living God. Then this raging fire of yoga, of meditation, can be rekindled in the serenity of our own Self.Swami Muktananda(5) I: 82:
If we do not observe any restraint and discipline in our life, if we do not observe any self-control in eating and talking, and if we do not meditate regularly, we will lose the Shakti." [Shakti is divine energy. It is the inner self. It is the Holy Ghost.]
Swami Muktananda II: 491:
Absolute silence is the most perfect lecture, the greatest lecture, and therefore the Guru removes the disciple's doubts through his silent teaching. You read every day in the Guru Gita that God is silence. He is without memory, without thought, without reflection, without outside, without inside, without height, and without depth. When everything has been denied, the Self remains.
To speak about Him and to know Him as He is, is nothing but silence. The Guru's long and silent lecture destroys a disciple's doubts. The best question is silence, and the best answer is silence.
God will listen to us in our most desperate moments.
We are well aware that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of flesh and blood sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand my own behavior; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate. While I am acting as I do not want to, I still acknowledge the Law as good, so it is not myself acting, but the sin which lives in me. And really, I know of nothing good living in me in my natural self, that is for though the will to do what is good is in me, the power to do it is not: the good thing I want to do, I never do; the evil thing which I do not want that is what I do. But every time I do what I do not want to, then it is not myself acting, but the sin that lives in me.Romans 8: 1-5:
So I find this rule: that for me, where I want to do nothing but good, evil is close at my side. In my inmost self I dearly love God's law, but I see that acting on my body there is a different law which battles against the law in my mind. So I am brought to be a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? God thanks be to him through Christ our Lord.
So it is that I myself with my mind obey the law of God, but in my disordered nature I obey the law of sin.
Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. What the Law could not do because of the weakness of human nature, God did, sending his own Son in the same human nature as any sinner to be a sacrifice for sin, and condemning sin in that human nature. This was so that the Law's requirements might be fully satisfied in us as we direct our lives not by natural inclinations but by the spirit.
PSALM 102: Prayer in MisfortuneYahweh, hear my prayer,
let my cry for help reach you,
Do not turn away your face from me
when I am in trouble;
bend down and listen to me,
when I call, be quick to answer me!
For my days are vanishing like smoke,
my bones burning like an oven;
like grass struck by blight, my heart is withering,
I forget to eat my meals.
From the effort of voicing my groans
my bones stick out through my skin.
I am like a desert-owl in the wastes,
a screech-owl among ruins,
I keep vigil and moan
like a lone bird on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
those who once praised me now use me as a curse.
Ashes are the food that I eat,
my drink is mingled with tears,
because of your fury and anger,
since you have raised me up only to cast me away;
my days are like a fading shadow,
I am withering up like grass.
But you, Yahweh, are enthroned for ever,
each generation in turn remembers you.
Rise up, take pity on Zion!
the time has come to have mercy on her,
the moment has come;
for your servants love her very stones,
are moved to pity by her dust.
Then will the nations revere the name of Yahweh,
and all the kinds of the earth your glory;
when Yahweh builds Zion anew,
he will be seen in his glory;
he will turn to hear the prayer of the destitute,
and will not treat their prayer with scorn.
This shall be put on record for a future generation,
and a people yet to be born shall praise God:
Yahweh has leaned down from the heights of his sanctuary,
has looked down from heaven to earth,
and set free those condemned to death,
to proclaim the name of Yahweh in Zion,
his praise in Jerusalem;
nations will gather together,
and kingdoms to worship Yahweh.
In my journeying my strength has failed on the way;
let me know the short time I have left.
Do not take me away before half my days are done,
for your years run on from age to age.
Long ago you laid earth's foundations,
the heavens are the work of your hands.
They pass away but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment,
like outworn clothes you change them;
but you never alter, and your years never end.
The children of those who serve you will dwell secure,
and their descendants live on in your presence.
Gurumayi, I: 111:The unsteady mind is always restless. It moves up and down, here and there, but it cannot find peace in this changing world where nothing and no one ever stays the same. A monk becomes a householder and a householder, a monk. A rich person becomes poor, a poor person, rich. A happy person grows unhappy, and finally becomes totally dejected.
Since this world is constantly changing, if you try to find lasting peace and ultimate joy in it, you cannot. This is why Baba kept saying, "Turn within. Meditate on your own Self." As we constantly hear this message, we become numb to it. We forget that the being who is teaching us has experienced all that he teaches. Having himself suffered through life, he tells us that joy, God, and the Truth all lie within, and that this Truth does not change. Yet somehow we totally ignore what he says.
John 14:13:Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me for anything in my name,
I will do it.
If you love me you will keep my commandments.
I shall ask the Father,
and he will give you another Paraclete
to be with you for ever,
the Spirit of truth
whom the world can never accept
since it neither sees nor knows him:
but you know him,
because he is with you, he is in you.
Then he said to his disciples, "That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouses and no barns; yet God feeds them. And how much more you are worth than the birds! Can any of you, however much you worry, add a single cubit to your span of life? If a very small thing is beyond your powers, why worry about the rest? Think how the flowers grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of them. Now if that is how God clothes a flower which is growing wild today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will He look after you, who have so little faith! But you must not set your hearts on things to eat and things to drink; nor must you worry. It is the gentiles of this world who set their hearts on all these things. Your Father well knows you need them. No; set your hearts on his kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well.
Sheer futility, Qoheleth says. Sheer futility: everything is futile! What profit can we show for all our toil, toiling under the sun? A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. The sun rises, the sun sets; then to its place it speeds and there it rises. Southward goes the wind, then turns to the north; it turns and turns again; then back to its circling goes the wind. Into the sea go all the rivers, and yet the sea is never filled, and still to their goal the rivers go. All things are wearisome. No one can say that eyes have not had enough of seeing, ears their fill of hearing.What was, will be again,
what has been done, will be done again,
and there is nothing new under the sun!
Take anything which people acclaim as being new; it existed in the centuries preceding us. No memory remains of the past, and so it will be for the centuries to come they will not be remembered by their successors.
Life of Solomon
I, Qoheleth, have reigned over Israel in Jerusalem. Wisely I have applied myself to investigation and exploration of everything that happens under heaven. What a wearisome task God has given humanity to keep us busy! I have seen everything that is done under the sun: how futile it all is, mere chasing after the wind!
What is twisted cannot be straightened,
what is not there cannot be counted.
I thought to myself: I have acquired a greater stock of wisdom than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I myself have mastered every kind of wisdom and science. I have applied myself to understanding philosophy and science, stupidity and folly, and I now realize that all this too is chasing after the wind.Much wisdom, much grief;
the more knowledge, the more sorrow.
I thought to myself, 'Very well, I will try pleasure and see what enjoyment has to offer.' And this was futile too. This laughter, I reflected, is a madness, this pleasure no use at all. I decided to hand my body over to drinking wine, my mind still guiding me in wisdom; I resolved to embrace folly, to discover the best way for people to spend their days under the sun. I worked on a grand scale: built myself palaces, planted vineyards; made myself gardens and orchards, planting every kind of fruit tree in them; had pools made for watering the young trees of my plantations. I bought slaves, male and female, had home-born slaves as well; herds and flocks I had too, more than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold, the treasures of kings and provinces; acquired singers, men and women, and every human luxury, chest upon chest of it. So I grew great, greater than anyone in Jerusalem before me; nor did my wisdom leave me. I denied my eyes nothing that they desired, refused my heart no pleasure, for I found all my hard work a pleasure, such was the return for all my efforts. I then reflected on all that my hands had achieved and all the effort I had put into its achieving. What futility it all was, what chasing after the wind! There is nothing to be gained under the sun.
My reflections then turned to wisdom, stupidity and folly. For instance, what can the successor of a king do? What has been done already. More is to be gained from wisdom than from folly, just as one gains more from light than from darkness; this, of course, I see:The wise have their eyes open,
the fool walks in the dark.
No doubt! But I know, too, that one fate awaits them both. Since the fools fate, I thought to myself, will be my fate too, what is the point of my having been wise? I realized that this too is futile. For there is no lasting memory for the wise or the fool, and in the days to come both will be forgotten; the wise, no less than the fool, must die. Life I have come to hate, for what is done under the sun disgusts me, since all is futility and chasing after the wind. All I have toiled for under the sun and now bequeath to my successor I have come to hate; who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all the work into which I have put my efforts and wisdom under the sun. That is futile too. I have come to despair of all the efforts I have expended under the sun. For here is one who has labored wisely, skillfully and successfully and must leave what is his own to someone who has not toiled for it at all. This is futile too, and grossly unjust; for what does he gain for all the toil and strain that he has undergone under the sun since his days are full of sorrow, his work is full of stress and even at night he has no peace of mind? This is futile too.
There is no happiness except in eating and drinking, and in enjoying one's achievements; and I see that this too comes from God's hand; for who would get anything to eat or drink, unless all this came from him? Wisdom, knowledge and joy, God gives to those who please him, but on the sinner he lays the task of gathering and storing up for someone else who is pleasing to him. This too is futility and chasing after the wind. [Emphasis added.]
Ecclesiastes 3:12-22:I know that there is no happiness for a human being except in pleasure and enjoyment through life. And when we eat and drink and find happiness in all our achievements, this is a gift from God. [Emphasis added.]
I know that whatever God does will be for ever.
To this there is nothing to add,
from this there is nothing to subtract,
and the way God acts inspires dread.
What is, has been already,
what will be, is already;'
God seeks out anyone who is persecuted.
Again I observe under the sun:
crime is where justice should be,
the criminal is where the upright should be.
And I think to myself: the upright and the criminal will both be judged by God, since there is a time for every thing and every action here.
I think to myself: where human beings are concerned, this is so that God can test them and show them that they are animals. For the fate of human and the fate of animal is the same: as the one dies, so the other dies; both have the selfsame breath. Human is no way better off than animal since all is futile.Everything goes to the same place,
everything comes from the dust,
everything returns to the dust.
Who knows if the human spirit mounts upward or if the animal spirit goes downward to earth? I see there is no contentment for a human being except happiness in achievement: such is the lot of a human being. No one can tell us what will happen after we are gone.
Ecclesiastes 12:13:To sum up the whole matter: fear(6) God and keep his commandments, for that is the sole duty of everyone. For God will call all our deeds to judgement, all that is hidden, be it good or bad.
Proverbs 1:7:The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge;
fools spurn wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 9:10:The first principle of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh,
What God's holy ones know -- this is understanding.
Proverbs 9:8:Do not rebuke the mocker, he will hate you,
rebuke the wise and he will love you for it.
Gurumayi II: 242-3:In a bhajan,(7) a devotee sings:O Lord, give me one spark.
I have spent my whole life like this.
I see that my life is ending very fast;
I am losing my life.
I do not find light in my consciousness;
I do not see light in my body.
O Lord, give me one spark of Your light!As we meditate, this spark is kindled inside. As long as this spark is not kindled, we find ourselves restless even in the midst of all this beauty: beautiful mountains, beautiful lakes, beautiful land, beautiful paths, and beautiful people. When the spark is not lit inside, we feel we are lacking something, and often we do not know what it is. We think we feel this lack because something external is missing, and we keep on trying to find out what it is. But what we are looking for, what we are longing for, is the kindling of the inner flame that will reveal God to us.
Muktananda II: 240:Love is something that exists inside all the time. It is constant. You will never lose your love. Even if you think you have lost your love, you can attain it once again in the heart. If love is lost because you lost a person, because you lost that loving event, it was not true love. It was merely an illusion of love.
The nature of true love is existence, consciousness, and bliss. It is always there; it is always shining inside. The person that you love may go away, but love is always going to be there inside. Love is something that resides in the heart.
Muktananda II: 243:After attaining the nectar of love, one doesn't have any petty desire. Nor does one wonder, What will happen to me tomorrow or the day after? Nor does one have any hatred, because for one who has attained this love, only love exists, nothing but love. Only God exists and nothing else.
1 Corinthians 13:Though I command languages both human and angelic if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now, I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.
Take one hour for physical exercise that is vigorous for you but that you can enjoy. For some this could be a leisurely walk. For others, it could be a complete workout at a gym. If you have never used weights before, you could choose to use light weights that do not cause you to strain but that give you a feeling of having used your muscles. Be aware during the entire time of the exercise. Repeat your chosen repetitive prayer. If you have not selected a prayer, call the workshop coordinator and select one.
Your body is a great gift to you. Notice your breathing. The motion of your limbs. Use repetitive prayer to fill your body and chase away troubling thoughts. Do not make this a competition. Make it an experience of worship of your body. Do not exhaust yourself. Finish with a shower. Be aware of the pulsing water falling on your skin and of the touch of the towel as you dry yourself.
HumilityMatthew 18:1-4:At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?' So he called a little child to him whom he set among them. Then he said, 'In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
Luke 14:11 and 18:14:For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be raised up.
John 13:5:[H]e [Jesus] then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.Luke 7:38:One of the Pharisees invited him to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
* * * *
. . . For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love. . . .
Luke 21:26:[T]he greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!
Joshua 5:13-15:Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him, grasping a naked sword. Joshua walked toward him and said to him, "Are you on our side or on that of our enemies?" He replied, "On neither side. I have come now as the captain of the army of Yahweh." Joshua fell on his face to the ground, worshiping him, and said, "What has my Lord to say to his servant?" The captain of the army of Yahweh answered Joshua, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
Exodus 3:4-5:When Yahweh saw him going across to look, God called to him from the middle of the bush. "Moses. Moses!" he said. "Here I am," he answered. "Come no nearer," he said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
Proverbs 15:33The fear of Yahweh is a school of wisdom,
before there can be glory, there must be humility.
Proverbs 16: 18-19:Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.
Better be humble with the poor
than share the booty with the proud.
Micah 6:8:You have already been told what is right
and what Yahweh wants of you.
Only this, to do what is right,
to love loyalty
and to walk humbly with your God.
Gurumayi I: 145-6:Humility comes first. The hardest task we face in sadhana(8) is to let go of our pride, the ego, because no matter how much we think others are manipulating us, it is always just our own ego. Everything that we say or do is to please our ego. We are constantly trying to make it feel good; we are completely at its mercy.
All the scriptures say that you cannot serve two masters in one house. Who are the two masters? One is the ego, and the other is God. You cannot please them both at the same time, because they do not like the same things. They are very different! Either you serve your ego or you serve God. Kabir said:As long as I existed,
I had not met my true Master.
Now that I no longer exist,
There is no more ego,
There is only the Guru.(9)
The path of love is narrow.
There is not room on it for both the ego and the Lord.
Do you want to drink from the cup of love
And at the same time maintain your pride?
Two swords have been lodged in one sheath.
Kabir says that it is necessary to make a choice.The path leading to the Lord
Is easy and straight,
But you walk on it crookedly,
O ignorant wretch!
You do not know how to dance,
So you complain that the floor is crooked.
The path of love is narrow,
But it is perfectly straight.
Only one thing takes us straight to the Almighty, to the inner experience, and that is humility. Letting go of the hard shell of the ego gives the true experience of God. When there is humility, there is love; and when there is love, there is humility.
Vignettes from the Life of Abdu'l-Bahá: 19:Each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high and your own station as low.
The Power of God's Name
Yahweh our Lord,
how majestic is your name throughout the world!
Whoever keeps singing of your majesty higher than the heavens,
even through the mouths of children, or of babes in arms,
you make him a fortress, firm against your foes,
to subdue the enemy and the rebel.
I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers,
at the moon and the stars you set firm
what are human beings that you spare a thought for them,
or the child of Adam that you care for him?
You have made him little less than a god,
you have crowned him with glory and beauty,
made him lord of the works of your hands,
put all things under his feet,
sheep and cattle, all of them,
and even the wild beasts,
birds in the sky, fish in the sea,
when he makes his way across the ocean.
Yahweh our Lord,
how majestic your name throughout the world.
Salvation in Christ a free giftAnd you were dead, through the crimes and the sins which used to make up your way of life when you were living by the principles of this world, obeying the ruler who dominates the air, the spirit who is at work in those who rebel. We too were all among them once, living only by our natural inclinations, obeying the demands of human self-indulgence and our own whim; our nature made us no less liable to God's retribution than the rest of the world. But God, being rich in faithful love, through the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, brought us to life with Christ it is through grace that you have been saved and raised up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18:Always be joyful; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks; this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 139:9-18:If I speed away on the wings of the dawn,
if I dwell beyond the ocean,
even there your hand will be guiding me,
your right hand holding me fast.
I will say, 'Let the darkness cover me,
and the night wrap itself around me,'
even darkness to you is not dark,
and night is as clear as the day.
You created my inmost self,
knit me together in my mother's womb.
For so many marvels I think you;
a wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.
You knew me through and through,
my being held no secrets from you,
when I was being formed in secret,
textured in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes could see my embryo.
In your book all my days were inscribed,
every one that was fixed is there.
How hard for me to grasp your thoughts,
how many, God, there are!
If I count them, they are more than the grains of sand;
if I come to an end, I am still with you.
Vignettes from the Life of Abdu'l-Bahá: 9-10.To me prison(10) was freedom.Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, not with dull resignation, but with radiant acquiescence, one cannot attain this freedom.
Troubles are a rest to me.
Death is life.
To be despised is honor.
Therefore was I full of happiness
all through that prison time.
When one is released from the prison of self [ego],
that is indeed freedom!
For self is the greatest prison.
When this release takes place,
one can never be imprisoned.
Awareness of God
Practice repetitive prayer, with conscious awareness of everything (including your breath, the feelings in your body, and all of your environment), for about 50 minutes. Remember to continue the prayer for this entire time. Use beads to remind you to continue; or, if you prefer, touch your thumb to each of the fingers of your hand with each repetition of the prayer. Or you may use your breath to time your prayer.
Take an aware, cleansing shower. Towel off consciously. Dress comfortably for the outdoors. Find a natural area suitable for this exercise: a nearby park, a lake or a river.(11) Walk through the area at a natural, possibly a variable pace. You may stop and sit. You may at times stand still. Notice the many ways that God is revealed through the creation: trees, earth, sky, water, rocks, your own hands and body, breeze, colors, the faces and bodies of other people, vehicles and machines, buildings. Experience each as part of the glory of God. Remember that you, too, are a miracle. Be aware of the gift of your own breathing, your consciousness, and your mantra. Let the sound of the prayer fill your heart. Let the sound be accompanied by your gratefulness for the beauty of the creation.
Thy Will Be Done
Matthew 6:10-15:Our Father in heaven
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we have forgiven those
who are in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the Evil One.
Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.
Reread Luke 12:22.
Gurumayi II: 278-9:If you do not go deep inside yourself, you are living in one illusion after another. It has different names on different days, depending on your moods, but always it is Maya,(12) the power of illusion. Some people are terrified of it, panic-stricken, while others just walk through it. But Maya, the power of illusion, is so strong that if you do not become free from it, your life becomes a disaster; your intellect goes crazy.
Shankaracharya says,Remain detached from friend or enemy,
son or relative, peace or war.
If you want to become one with God quickly,
without losing any time,
Then consider all things to be equal,
and do not get stuck.
God alone dwells in you, in me, in everything.
Your anger is futile, as well as your impatience.
See yourself in everyone,
And renounce diversity, the power of Maya.
Practice self-control and control of the breath.
Distinguish the transitory from the eternal.
Repeat God's holy Name, and calm
your restless mind.
Apply yourself wholeheartedly to
unchanging spiritual law.
Human life is as uncertain as raindrops
resting on a lotus leaf.
All mankind is prey to grief, ego, and disease
Remember this without fail.
Why do all kinds of things agitate your mind?
Has your reason left you?
Don't you have a guide to hold you firmly,
to teach you about life and death?
Cherish the Guru's grace,(13) and free yourself from
the bondage of this world.
Control your senses, control your mind,
And see the Lord within your own heart.
It is for this experience, to see God in our own hearts instead of weeping because of Maya, that we continuously do our spiritual practices. We chant the holy Name to make our mind become restful, to give it some peace. There is no experience of grace unless we bring it out from within, because that is where the source of everything lies.
John 3:5:Jesus replied:In all truth I tell you,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
without being born through water and the Spirit;
what is born of human nature is human;
what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Do not be surprised when I say:
You must be born from above.
The wind blows where it pleases;
you can hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes from
or where it is going.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
Psalm 104 The Glories of CreationBless Yahweh, my soul,
Yahweh, my God, how great you are!
Clothed in majesty and splendor,
wearing the light as a robe!
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
build your palace on the waters above,
making the clouds your chariot,
gliding on the wings of the wind,
appointing the winds your messengers,
flames of fire your servants.
You fixed the earth on its foundations,
for ever and ever it shall not be shaken;
you covered it with the deep like a garment,
the waters overtopping the mountains.
At your reproof the waters fled,
at the voice of your thunder they sped away,
flowing over mountains, down valleys,
to the place you fixed for them;
you made a limit they were not to cross,
they were not to return and cover the earth.
In the ravines you opened up springs,
running down between the mountains,
supplying water for all the wild beasts;
the wild asses quench their thirst,
on their banks the birds of the air make their nests,
they sing among the leaves.
From your high halls you water the mountains,
satisfying the earth with the fruit of your works:
for cattle you make the grass grow,
and for people the plants that they need,
to bring forth food from the earth,
and wine to cheer people's hearts,
oil to make their faces glow,
food to make them sturdy of heart.
The trees of Yahweh drink their fill,
the cedars of Lebanon which he sowed;
there the birds build their nests,
on the highest branches the stork makes its home;
for the wild goats there are the mountains,
in the crags the coneys find refuge.
He made the moon to mark the seasons,
the sun knows when to set.
You bring on darkness, and night falls,
when all the forest beasts roam around;
young lions roar for their prey,
asking God for their food.
The sun rises and away they steal,
back to their lairs to lie down,
and man goes out to work,
to labor till evening falls.
How countless are your works, Yahweh,
all of them made so wisely!
Then there is the sea, with its vast expanses
teeming with countless creatures,
creatures both great and small;
there ships pass to and fro,
and Leviathan whom you made to sport with.
They all depend on you,
to feed them when they need it.
You provide the food they gather,
your open hand gives them their fill.
Turn away your face and they panic;
take back their breath and they die
and revert to dust.
Send out your breath and life begins;
you renew the face of the earth.
Glory to Yahweh for ever!
May Yahweh find joy in his creatures!
At his glance the earth trembles,
at his touch the mountains pour forth smoke.
I shall sing to Yahweh all my life,
make music for my God as long as I live,
May my musings be pleasing to him,
for Yahweh gives me joy.
May sinners vanish from the earth,
and the wicked exist no more!
Bless Yahweh, my soul.
Isaiah 62:5:Like a young man marrying a virgin,
your rebuilder will wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.
Philippians 4:4:Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-2: With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross, disregarding the shame of it, and has taken his seat at the right of God's throne. [Emphasis added.]
Isaiah 55 Final InvitationOh, come to the water all you who are thirst;
though you have no money, come!
Buy and eat; come, buy wine and milk
without money, free!
Why spend money on what cannot nourish
and your wages on what fails to satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and you will have good things to eat
and rich food to enjoy.
Pay attention, come to me;
listen, and you will live.
* * * *
Seek out Yahweh while he is still to be found,
call to him while he is still near.
Let the wicked abandon his way
and the evil one his thoughts.
Let him turn back to Yahweh who will take pity on him,
to our God, for he is rich in forgiveness;
for my thoughts are not your thoughts
and your ways are not my ways,
For the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your thoughts
and your ways are not my ways,
For the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.
For, as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
and do not return before having watered the earth,
fertilizing it and making it germinate
to provide seed for the sower and food to eat,
so it is with the word that goes from my mouth:
it will not return to me unfulfilled
or before having carried out my good pleasure
and having achieved what it was sent to do.
This guided meditation is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. Everyone should prepare for this time by reflecting on what God looks like to them or in what form God would appear to them. The leader should remind people, as they arrive, to reflect further on how God will appear to them in their meditation.
When everyone is assembled, the leader may play music very softly and unostentatiously in the background. She asks everyone to find a separate place to sit or lie, either on a chair or separately on the floor. People sitting on a chair may place their feet flat on the ground, their knees slightly apart, and their hands resting uncrossed on the knees. If sitting on the floor, sit in a cross-legged(14) position with your back erect. Sit quietly and comfortably, with the head balanced in an erect position so that there is no strain in holding it upright. The lying-down position is called "corpse position" and is especially well suited to people who find sitting highly uncomfortable. Place a pillow under the head and knees, lying on the back. Let the feet be about shoulder-distance apart and let the toes fall out to the side. The hands may rest palm up by the side or, from time-to-time, they may be placed gently over the heart. In any of these positions, close your eyes and relax in silence.
The leader should ask everyone to become aware of their breathing and to relax. Breathing is a process of grace, taking energy into the body and discharging wastes. Be aware, as you inhale, of the place outside your nostrils from which the air is drawn. Be aware of the passage of air through your nostrils and down to your lungs. Be aware of the deepest place to which the air is drawn. Watch the passage of air out again with the same attention. Be aware of the furthest place from your nostrils to which exhaled air moves. With each inhalation, breathe in energy. With each exhalation relax and sink into the floor. Let all the tightness of your body go.
Know that meditation is never wrong. Whatever happens for you is perfect. It does not matter whether you "follow the directions" or not. Whatever happens for you is exactly what is supposed to happen.
As we begin our meditation, have in mind these words of Saint Augustine:
My heart has ears ready to listen to you, Lord. Open them wide and whisper in my heart, I am here to save you. I shall hear your voice and make haste to clasp you to myself. Do not hide your face away from me, for I would gladly meet my death to see it, since not to see it would be death indeed.
My soul is like a house, small for you to enter, but I pray you to enlarge it. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see: this I know and do not hide. But who is to rid it of these things? There is no one but you to whom I can say: if I have sinned unwittingly, do you absolve me. Keep me ever your own servant, far from pride.
Relax even more. Imagine a blackboard.(15) On the blackboard, in clear white numbers on a pure black background, is the number 10. See the numbers clearly. (The leader should go slowly for the first few numbers and then slightly increase the pace.) Now, the number 10 disappears completely, leaving a completely black board. The number 9 appears in its place. Bright white, clear numbers. Then the 9 disappears. . . . [Repeat this cycle through the number "1".] Now, the number zero appears. White. Bright. Clear. As you watch it, the zero begins growing slowly in size. It keeps growing. It begins to look like a light tunnel. It is large enough to enter into. You step in and you begin gliding effortlessly through the tunnel. You feel very light. Very safe and free. You keep gliding along. You do not want this elated feeling to stop. Not ever. Then, you see some green at the end of the tunnel. It looks like a grassy field. The green grows larger. As you approach the grass, you step out of the tunnel. The light feeling is still with you. It is a beautiful place. Grass. Trees, clothed in the full, lush leaves of Spring. There is a gurgling stream. Clear, beautiful. A few, lazy white, cottony clouds. A bright, noon-time Sun. Then, as you turn toward your right, you are surprised to see, right near you, the face of God. Standing there right by you. Filling you with an inner smile. Causing your heart to be full and your blood to course warmly through your body.
God speaks to you, saying, you are my child. I am here to go with you on a visit to your house. This house we will see together is the house of your heart. It is like the house of your dreams, but it contains rooms no earthly house contains. Let us walk together now. [Leader says, "As you walk with God, I will be talking about what happens. Each time I talk about God, remember how God appears to you. For simplicity and a sense of closeness, I will refer to God as Jesus. Remember to understand that the name Jesus stands for your personal image of God.]
And as you walk, the beauty of the stream, the grass and the Sun, fill you with joy. It is so light and so beautiful. Then, up ahead of you, on a low hill, there is a house you have never seen before. You know instantly that it is the house of your heart. Reflect on precisely what that house looks like as you approach it. [Leave at least three or four minutes for this reflection, leaving more time if the room is still and people are participating fully in this exercise.] You are thrilled to be walking up to your house in the company of Jesus.
As you approach the front door of the house, you and Jesus both pause. You look at him and he hands you the key. Receiving the key from him fills your heart and produces a surge of warmth in your body. You open the door.
You are now in the front hall of your house. This room represents the part of you that everyone sees first. There may be furniture or pictures. Perhaps there is a little clutter off in the corner. As Jesus looks around in the hall, he notices everything, even though you sense that he already knows everything about you anyway. See how it feels to have Jesus examining the front hall of your house. [Pause for about three minutes.] Jesus turns around and looks you in the eye and says, calmly and firmly, "This is a good room."
Now you are passing into the library. Here are magazines and books you have read and a record of movies and TV shows you have seen. This room has pictures on the walls and furniture that reveals your tastes. Reflect on what Jesus sees and touches in this room. [Pause for about four minutes.] Jesus says, lovingly, while looking you directly in the eye, "This is a good room."
Next is the kitchen, which is the window to all your tastes in food and all the sensory experiences that delight your pallette or your eye. Jesus opens all the cabinets and peers inside the refrigerator. He notices and touches everything. See how it feels to have Jesus carefully examining your kitchen. [Three minutes.] Jesus looks at you and says, "It is a good room."
Next is the dining room and living room. Here are all your friends and acquaintances, the ones you remember and the ones you forget; the ones you have treated well and the ones you have treated shabbily; the ones you have admired and the ones you have ignored or judged; the ones who have thought well of you and the ones who have thought ill of you. Jesus looks all around this room, examining all your interactions with friends and strangers. [Five minutes.] Jesus looks at you tenderly, with a tear falling down his left cheek, and he tells you, "This room is good."
In the bedroom, Jesus begins examining how you have treated the closest people to you, your spouse or lovers, the family that raised you, your children and relatives. He examines your anger, your fear, your pride and humility, your truthfulness or deceitfulness, your selfishness and your caring. He sees it all, as if it were an open book. He sees through the appearances into the heart of the matter. He sees how loving or unloving you have been with your sex life and how you have used or abused drugs or alcohol. He sees your deeply ingrained habits. There are no secrets from him. He sees the truth. [Six minutes.] Tears of mercy stream down Jesus's face as he looks deeply into your eyes and says, "This is all good."
In the children's room, you discover that this is your room as a child. In it, Jesus sees how you were raised. How your family nurtured you and injured you, how you played, how you studied, how you treated your family and friends. He sees your triumphs and your failures. He sees how it was for you on the day you left home for the last time and how has been for you when you visit relatives and family. He sees the truth, objectively, about how you behaved and thought during your childhood. [Four minutes.] Jesus looks into your eyes with deep empathy and acceptance and whispers, "It is all good."
The next room feels like it does not belong in your house. It is the room of your work in the world. It includes photographs and mementoes of all your jobs and also all your volunteer or religious activities. It is furnished to reflect the poverty or richness of your service in the world. There are people in this room that you have known in your jobs and your volunteer or religious activities. [Four minutes.]
The next room also feels like it does not even belong in your house. It is a room for worship and it has a feeling that reflects your prayer life. It may be stark and bare or ornate. It may be totally bare of all decoration. It has objects that reflect your worship experience with Jesus. [Three minutes.]
Now you take Jesus into the garage, where he sees the vehicles you have owned or used, including public transportation you have used. He seems to be reflecting on your tastes in vehicles, on your driving habits and whether you have had accidents, on how well you have observed the safety laws, and on how you treat people while you are driving. He asks you to take him for a spin. [Three minutes.] As you pass back into the house from the garage, Jesus winks at you and says, warmly and in a level voice, "This garage has been OK."
The next room contains all the secrets you have tried to keep from Jesus. You have known all along that there is no way to keep secrets from him, but this room contains all the secrets you have tried to keep. Reflect on what secrets you have kept and on how you feel to have Jesus in this room. [Four minutes.] Jesus says, "This is a good room."
Now you approach a shallow closet. On the wall of the closet are four keys. One is labeled, "Gift to Jesus." Another says, "Loan to Jesus." A third says, "For visits when you are invited." A fourth says, "Counterfeit Key: No Admission." Jesus turns to you and speaks as a true friend. He says that every person has some degree of faith in me. He asks, "Which of these keys are you sincerely willing to give to me. There is no right or wrong answer, for I know your heart already. Which is the key that you would truthfully give to me?" You look at the keys and decide which one to select. [Leader: read the meaning of the keys over again.][Six minutes.]
Jesus looks at you gratefully and says, "Thank you for this key." He pauses and then says, "And now it is time to leave this house. Please take a moment to reflect on what it has meant to you that I have accompanied you on this tour." [Four minutes.]
You leave the house with Jesus and walk beside him along the route you took before, but it all seems even more beautiful now. You and Jesus walk closely together, with your arms thrown about each other's waste. From time to time, you look in each others' eyes and you laugh together. You skip for a while, reminding you of your childhood again. Tears unexpectedly come to your eyes and you and Jesus share a compassionate moment. You notice the trees, the grass, the warm breeze, the sun glinting on the surface of the stream, the leaves of the trees rustling in the breeze. You notice the joyful feeling of the movement of your own body.
As you approach the tunnel, Jesus and you turn squarely toward one another. You look deeply into each other's eyes and then grab each other in a warm, accepting hug. You feel his heart beating against your chest and notice the rise and fall of his chest. Then you let go and look in his eyes once again. Reflect on what you will say in parting from Jesus. [Three minutes.] Tell Jesus whatever you have chosen to say. [Three minutes.]
Now you turn and go back into the tunnel, taking one last look at Jesus before you go. This time as you enter the tunnel you feel light and joyful, but you notice that you were already feeling as if all the heaviness had melted away from your body. You realize that you had allowed Jesus to help to cleanse you of all your heaviness and everything that had separated you from God.
You move through the tunnel as before, floating down it. Still floating. Now you see the other end of the tunnel. What you see grows larger. It reminds you of this room, the room you were in before you left on this journey. You become increasingly aware of this room. You step out of the tunnel and now you are aware of your body, sitting or lying down in this room. You move your hands and feet. You stretch your neck. With each in-breath you become more and more alive. You prepare to return your consciousness and awareness to this room. You open your eyes and are with us once again. You move your limbs and feel the blood coursing through your muscles. You flex your muscles. You rejoin the group.
Read and reflect on these materials:Yes, you will go out with joy
and be led away in safety.
Mountains and hills will break into joyful cries before you
and all the trees of the countryside clap their hands.
Cypress will grow instead of thorns,
myrtle instead of nettles.
And this will be fame for Yahweh,
an eternal monument never to be effaced.
Gurumayi, II: 322-3:When you have a brave heart, it does not matter what happens. You are able to go through everything. When you have a brave heart, you do not mind losing yourself in meditation, or losing yourself in chanting, or losing yourself in the actions you perform.
Baba said:The flame of a lamp is not affected by soot.
Fire burns equally in noble and wicked households.
The sun observes all actions, remaining untainted.
Similarly, the qualities of the mind cannot affect the Self.
It does not matter what we are going through. The flame within is not affected by anything. The Self remains unaffected, totally untainted. Lord Krishna said to Arjuna, "O Arjuna, perform your duty." The Self is not affected by this duty. We perform our duty because it is the nature of the body to act. We cannot just sit and become lazy, for then we would not be following the dharma of the body. However, the Self is not affected by any of our actions. It is totally free, totally above everything. It is always ecstatic.
In his song, Rumi said:Come out of the circle of time,
And into the circle of love.
As human beings, we live in the circle of time. Whether it is the past, the present, or the future, whether it is the waking state or the dream state, somehow we remain in the circle of time. Memories, fantasies, wishes, desires time makes all these look very stable. We feel that no one can take our past away, or our present, or our future. We get stuck in them. So Rumi says:Come out of the circle of time,
And into the circle of love.
Enter the street of taverns,
And sit among the drunkards.
If you want a secret eye,
Then shut your eyes.
When Rumi says, "Sit among the drunkards," he is not inviting anyone to a bar. He is talking about the mad lovers of God, about satsang, good company. When you are with people who talk about God all the time, your heart becomes very tender. Therefore he says, "Sit among the drunkards."
Another Sufi saint said:I am totally ecstatic!
Without being drunk, I am so high.
Everyone should come together now and sit in a circle, either on chairs or on the floor. (If you are sitting on the floor, some people may choose chairs because of comfort.) Become aware of all the group members and how you feel about them and about yourself. Sense the silence in the room and see what it means to you at this time.
Have one person read this text. Have everyone else close their eyes and reflect. In the course of the weekend, there have been many experiences and thoughts. By reflecting on those experiences, you can decide what they mean to you, and you can use words to summarize the most important things you have learned. By using words, these experiences may become lasting lessons in your life. So reflect seriously. What have you experienced that is significant? What have you learned from those experiences? [Five minutes.]
Spend from 60 minutes to 90 minutes sharing your experiences. If you seem to have completed before 60 minutes is up, continue sitting in silence so people can take a second or third turn. This time spent sitting together in silence can be very important.
Stay sitting, and join in common prayer. In turn, have each person say out loud a prayer for one or more of the other members of the group. When that turn for prayer has concluded, have one more round of prayer, this time each person saying out loud a prayer for themselves.
Have one person say a prayer for the entire group, including prayers that people will remember what they have learned and keep building on it. Pray also that people will adopt practices that will permit them to get closer and closer to Jesus. After the prayer, the person praying should invite the group to take 15 minutes saying goodbye to each other.
Come back together. Close with 15 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of singing Spirit of the Living God.
1. We need not always pray in a secluded location, but we always pray from a "private room" or a "secret place." Matthew 6:5-6.
2. An optional opening exercise, if your faith permits, is to begin by serving communion, after which silence should be maintained for ten minutes.
3. Suggested repetitive prayers include: Thy Will be Done; Jesus; Lord Jesus, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me; Om Namah Shiviah (I honor the inner self or the Holy Spirit), Ham Sah (Sanskrit for "I am that"), Yahweh (the Hebrew name of God). Each is coordinated with the breath. The last two are coordinated so that the first syllable is on the in breath and the last on the out breath.
4. Citations are to Kindle My Heart, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda.
5. From the Infinite to the Finite, Swami Muktananda.
6. "Fear" in the Old Testament means "respect, love and be devoted to".
7. A song of devotion to God.
8. Spiritual practices pursued with discipline.
9. The Guru is an inner force. It is the Self or the Holy Ghost. It is found in the heart. It is the higher self.
10. Abdul-Baha was wrongfully imprisoned for 30 years.
11. In Washington D.C., consider Great Falls (the Virginia side), Dumbarton Oaks (in Georgetown) or Hanes Point.
12. Maya is a name for that aspect of God that creates the illusion that the physical world is real and that the meaning of our life may be derived from our physical existence. Maya is thought of as a Goddess.
13. This may be translated in words that have a similar meaning for those with a different spiritual orientation: "Cherish the Holy Spirit, or cherish the love of Jesus Christ."
14. It is not necessary to sit in lotus position, although I experienced that practicing to sit in that position is worthwhile. It is a very stable position to sit quietly in for a long time, and the legs feel more like one unit, helping to reflect the unity of God.
15. The inspiration for this meditation is from Bradbury's taped meditation on shame.
Back to the Table of Contents| Forward to Chapter 6|