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Readings Week of June 10th.


  

 

Daily Contemplative Pauses Readings

from last week



Monday June 10th with Joy

 

Reading: "There is something powerfully unboundaried that goes on as you sit in meditation, no matter what method you use. Beneath the surface micro-activity of saying a mantra, letting go of thoughts, following your breath, or gazing at an icon, some mysterious capaciousness beyond the reaches of your usual planning mind kicks in and carries you into a far more vibrant bandwidth of knowing. If you don’t immediately try to grab the fruits to prop up your usual sense of self, you are carried still further and gradually become accustomed to these unusual but strangely familiar depths. You stop grabbing; you simply rest and allow yourself to be carried." — Cynthia Bourgeault’s course on Nonduality, Spirituality & Practice 

 

Chant: Purify my heart, let me rest in you (by Joy Andrews Hayter)

 

Tuesday June 11th with Joy

 

Reading: "When meditation first caught on big time in the West during the 1970s and 1980s, it was typically positioned as a personal wellness practice, the foundational practice for calming stress, quieting the mind, and slowly coming into a state of inner balance and equanimity. Sometimes (as in Centering Prayer teaching) it is explicitly presented as a catalyst for psychological uncovering and healing. In more ancient Christian times, however, meditation — or as its nearest equivalent was called in those times, contemplation — was not simply a pursuit of inner quiet, peace, or emptiness. It was a pathway of luminous seeing — “knowledge impregnated by love,” as the sixth century spiritual master John Chrysostom famously put it — and its intended domain was not personal healing but objective truth.

 

With the small mind tethered and quiet, the more spacious mind nested behind it was set free to roam in realms infinitely more subtle and coherent than our own, and it returned bearing fruits that expressed themselves not as information but as doxa, glory. In this way — and only in this way — one became a theologian, a bearer of the logos, the eternal and ever-creative ordering principle of God. Theo-logy literally means “God-Word” — with the “word” part implying not a stream of intellectual discourse but a direct transmission “of, from, and toward” that logos, that objective ordering principle. Theology was literally the work of an entirely different order of intelligence at work within us, fully accessible to our human comprehension, but only when the mind had been liberated from its bondage to our usual egoic selfhood.

That, of course, is a far cry from how we usually think of theology nowadays. But it’s not so far a cry from how we think of nonduality. Among the multiplicity of descriptions we’ll be considering shortly, the one steady thread is that nonduality has to do with a whole different way of seeing, often described as direct perception. The annoying translator mechanism that seems to pervade our normal way of thinking, giving everything a deduced and slightly stale quality, suddenly lifts, and we see as dazzlingly as when the smog suddenly lifts from the Los Angeles basin and we find ourselves staring straight at the mountains. If you think this is a rare and miraculous occurrence, you call it a “mystical experience.” If you think it can become a steady state, you call it a “level of consciousness.”

 

These early Christian spiritual masters were better phenomenologists than we moderns give them credit for. They didn’t use the word “levels of consciousness” explicitly. But they were clearly aware that this kind of “theological” seeing could be trained and developed, and that it was in fact necessary to do so in order to fully comprehend and integrate the teachings of Jesus, arguably the West’s first bona fide nondual teacher.

— Cynthia Bourgeault’s course on Nonduality, Spirituality & Practice  

 

Chant: Be who God meant for you to be, you will set the world on fire (words by Catherine of Siena) 

 

Wednesday, June 12th with Chris

 

Reading: "The heart is a pulsating core of our aliveness in more than merely the physical sense. …The key word in speaking of the heart is “together.” The heart is center of our being where intellect and will and feelings, mind and body, past and future come together. When we discover that spot where our life holds together, we discover the heart. ….

When we reach our innermost heart, we reach a realm where we are not only intimately at home with ourselves, but intimately united with others, all others. The heart is not a lonely place. It is the realm where solitude and togetherness coincide. Our own experience proves this, does it not? Can one ever say, “Now I am truly together with myself, yet I remain alienated from others”? Or could one say, “I am truly together with others, or even just with one other person I love, yet I remain alienated from myself”? Unthinkable! The moment we are one with ourselves, we are one with all others. We have overcome alienation. And the heart stands for that core of being where, long before alienation, primordial togetherness held sway. — Brother David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, pp. 26-29

 

Chant: Bind my head and my heart in you, Holy One, Holy One, Holy One

 

Thursday, June 13th with Chris

 

Reading: "The German poet Rainier Maria Rilke celebrates both our longing for healing and wholeness and our primordial conviction that God’s healing power wells up in our innermost heart. Rainier Maria Rilke finds God in “the spot that is healing,” ... If only we could quiet all that agitation within and around us, the din that distracts us. In our silence a thousand scattered thoughts would gather into one. And in the thousandfold power of that concentration we would be able to hold God one smiling moment long in a single thought. Just long enough to give that Divine Presence away to all life. And what form would we find for that giving? Rilke’s answer is thanksgiving:

 

      Oh, if for once all were completely still!

      If all mere happenstance and chance

      Were silenced, and the laughter next door, too;

      If all that droning of my senses

      did not prevent my being wide awake—

 

      Then, with one thousandfold thought,

      I would reach your horizon

      and, for the span of a smile, hold you

      to give you away to all life

      as thanksgiving.

— Brother David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, p. 33

 

Chant: And God said I am made whole, by your life, every soul, every soul completes me (words from Hafiz put to chant by Marilyn Scott)

 

Friday, June 14th with Catherine

 

Reading: “All life requires a rhythm of rest. There is a rhythm in our waking activity and the body’s need for sleep. Ter is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quieted by the necessary dormancy of fall and winter. Ther is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the great sea. In our bodies, the perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale.

 

We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.” — Wayne Muller, Sabbath, p.1

 

Chant: Move with the Mystery, slow be the pace, Surrender to the rhythm of redeeming grace

 

Saturday, June 15th with Catherine

 

Reading: "There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of head or hands. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a reverie, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness while the birds sang around. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.” — Henry David Thoreau

 

Chant:  Be right here in the heart of God (by Henry Schoenfield)

 

Sunday, June 16th with Catherine 

 

Reading: The hour is striking so close above me,

so clear and sharp,

that all my senses ring with it.

I feel it now: there’s a power in me 

to grasp and give shape to my world.

 

I know that nothing has ever been real

without my beholding it.

All becoming has needed me.

My looking ripens things

and they come toward me, to meet and be met.

 

— Rilke, The Book of Hours, trans by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

 

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