Defining God

The opening sentence of the Tao Te Ching says something simple yet very profound.

The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named is not the eternal name

What LaoTzu, the ancient Chinese sage, was referencing is the fact that as soon as we begin to describe the Divine, we are limited by our language and thus we fall short of an adequate explanation.

Recently a major media source in the U.S. gave its readers a challenge.  They asked them to define God.  This task initially seemed simple enough, however, there was a catch.  To describe God they could only use one word.

The top 10 results looked like this:

10. Omnipotent (all-powerful)

9. Fiction

8. Non-existent

7. Almighty

6. Imaginary

5. Amazing

4. Creator

3. Awesome

2. Everything

And the most popular response:   LOVE

There is an ancient legend in Christianity surrounding the youngest of Jesus’ disciples, John.

St. Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians, tells a story of John in his extreme old age.  Church leaders would carry him to the gathering place on Sunday and place him before the faithful.  No doubt the crowd would be hanging on his every word since he was the last living disciple of Jesus.  As John would open his mouth all he would say is, “Little children, love one another” over and over again.

Finally, when some grew tired of hearing this same mantra they would ask him why this is all he shares.

“Because”, he replied, “it is the Lord’s command, and if this only is done, it is enough.”

 

all-religion-same-thing

 

Global Spirituality

This past month, a group from Stillpoint traveled north to Salt Lake City for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.  The event undoubtedly changed us as individuals and gave us a glimpse into the future of a Global Spirituality.

The very first Parliament of the World’s Religions took place at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.  This event brought together 5,000 religious delegates from around the world and marked the first formal gathering of the Eastern and Western traditions and launched global interfaith dialogue.

1893 Parliament

Chicago 1893

Today, interfaith dialogue continues to grow and is showing the world tremendous signs of hope for the future.  The event in Salt Lake hosted 9,500 people from around the world who came to teach others about their traditions, learn from other faiths, and unite on our many common bonds.  Given what we see in the media, one would think this environment would be ripe for disagreements, proselytizing, and misunderstanding.  In reality, the opposite was true.  What really happened was a truly unique spiritual event.  One that we continue to foster at Stillpoint.

Despite the differences in culture, practice, and doctrines, all attendees found so much that was held in common.  Our beliefs that the care of the environment, poverty,  injustice, war, and suppression of women and minorities around the world are all signs of the spiritual failure of mankind.  As people of faith (and no faith) it is our moral imperative to speak truth to these darker aspects of our world.  Our faiths demand this of us!

Stillpoint: Center for Spiritual Development is an interfaith center for all who are seeking the Divine.  In light of this, look for all future blog posts to conclude with some links to stories of various spiritual traditions throughout the world.

Are You Ignoring Your Spiritual Alarm Clock?

Stillness – Thich Nhat Hanh

Charter for Compassion – Changing the world

What is Spiritual Development?

What Is Spiritual Development?

The answer to this question can never be simple, rather, to find the answer one must embark upon an exciting, unpredictable journey that lasts an entire lifetime.

There are as many spiritual journeys in the world as there are people. Our spiritual awakening happens as a result of many factors and experiences which make up our unique lives.

To boil it down to its simplest form, I believe the path of spiritual development encompasses four main areas in our lives.

  • Spiritual – our understanding of the metaphysical world
  • Mental – the development of the mind
  • Physical – our bodily connection to the spirit and mind
  • External – our outward actions toward others

“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.” – Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
merton-photo

The first category, Spirituality, is the broadest and most difficult to succinctly summarize. It can often be centered in one’s religion, personal spiritual practices, and affiliation with communities of like-minded individuals. We commonly see it as any practice done with the purpose of connecting with the Divine. At Stillpoint, our foundation is rooted in the ancient spiritual practices of Spiritual Direction, Lectio Divina Prayer, and Centering Prayer.

The Mental aspect of spiritual development centers on the development of our mind. The Christian tradition calls for a “renewing of the mind” in the book of Romans.  Buddhist sages teach of the need to “awaken” or “enlighten” the mind. Crucial aspects of this mental process are the need to develop imagination and to expand our knowledge. While these ideas are often seen as academic pursuits, they are also vital to a spiritual development.

The Physical connection to our spiritual development is often easily overlooked. All religions tend to agree on the importance of caring for one’s body or “physical temple” as described by St. Paul. The ancient traditions of Asia serve as an excellent example of the unity between mind, spirit, and body. Qi Gong, Tai Chi, martial arts and yoga all have foundations built on the importance of spiritual development. Even mindfulness in walking or jogging can have a deep influence in our lives.

Finally, we have learned from those who have gone before us that true spirituality will ultimately produce Service for the greater good of our human race and our planet. When we are infused with a Divine understanding of the world we begin to see in us a desire to bring justice and peace to those who are hurting and in need.

With these four cornerstones as the foundation of Spiritual Growth, Stillpoint: Center for Spiritual Development seeks to provide ways for everyone to be encouraged and strengthened on their journey.

 

Pace e bene,

Brian