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Building bridges among the Spiritual Traditions


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Desiderata 
"You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars." text +audio.

"Anyway"  The famous poster and the hit song. Read, listen, or watch it and feel inspired.

"You are the Light of the World" movie is a peaceful way to reconnect with your inner light to heal your world. "You do not need the world's permission to shine your light upon the dark."

Return to Innocence 
the song, words and photo.


Promotion Resources


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Visit our Tradition Pages:  Buddhist  Taoist   Hindu 


June Focus:

Christianity

Spiritual Tradition


Symbols associated with Christianity

Christianity is the second major religion that celebrates One God. It has nearly 2 billion adherents worldwide. The religion is a celebration of both the life and death of the Wayshower Jesus of Nazareth, said to be the son of God. His message included forgiveness, love of one's neighbor, the importance of inner as well as outer observance of spiritual law. Jesus is also said to have performed miracles such as walking on water, healing the sick, and restoring the dead to life. He had twelve key disciples during his life. 

The earliest Christians were converts from Judaism who believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who would usher in God's kingdom on Earth.

The core Christian scripture is the Bible, made up of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) which recounts the story of the Jews and the New Testament, written in Greek by Jesus' followers. Included are the four Gospels which tell of the Holy Family, the Acts of Jesus and his apostles, The Epistles which interpret the new faith and provide counsel to converts, and The Revelation with prophecies about the messiah's return and the day of judgment.

Candles often represent The Light Within

An important symbol associated with Jesus is Light. "I Am The Light of the World" The Christ Consciousness is a reflection of this light within, being tuned into the soul, the good, kind, loving, sharing part of each person.
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May Focus:

Egyptian  

Spiritual Traditions

The Great Sphinx of Giza

The State religion of Egypt is Islam, with approximately 88% of the population professing the Muslim faith (mainly Sunni).  The greatest innovation in Islam came out of Egypt, which was Sufism, the mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God.  Many know of it through the Persian poet Rumi who practiced Sufism in the 13 th Century.

As the cradle of civilization, the area now known as Egypt has a rich history of spirituality that differs from the present religious picture.   Khemitology addressed the study of ancient Khemit, the name the indigenous and the ancients used to describe Egypt, or the “Black Land”, named for the rich, dark alluvial soil that the Nile nourished its banks with during its annual flooding each summer. Flooding of the Nile was a much celebrated event, as it was responsible for the abundance of food supplied from a rich agriculture, and symbolized fertility of all things.

There is evidence of a sophisticated civilization that lived in Khemit from 10,000 to 65,000 years or more ago, whose self-awareness and deep resonance with nature enabled them to develop devices and advanced technologies that mystify us today.  The people of ancient Khemit were the original 42 tribes of Africa who, recognizing their connectedness to all that is, considered themselves equal in every way. People we now refer to as Hebrews, Tibetans, Russians, Europeans and the many tribes of our Black African Nations, were all, according to the indigenous tradition, originally tribes of ancient Khemit.

These were a highly advanced people, who were capable of great feats of manifestation, alchemy, and trans-dimensional journeying. They had no need of a written or oral language, or the confines of labels, and lived peacefully and naturally with the rhythms, energies and frequencies of their environment and the cosmos.

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The evolution of religion and spirituality as well as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and concepts of the chakras all had their origins in ancient Egypt and were spread to various parts of the world and transformed by civilizations over time. The Khemit School of Mysticism holds that long cycles of transformation (4,000 – 6,000 years) affected consciousness on the planet; and that the Age of Taurus (Hanut) (approx, 2,000 years beginning around 4,500 BC) was a period that marked the Fall into Separation and matter, good and evil, patriarchy, divide and conquer, and the fear of death.

According to one description of astrological ages, The Age of Aries ushered in efforts to replace polytheism with monotheism. The earliest known attempt was by the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, who, in about 1350 BC, decreed the Sun God Aten to be the supreme deity. After his death, however, power reverted to the original polytheistic priests, who re-established the old religion.
The Khemit School is researching the possibility that we are again ascending in an arc toward greater enlightenment after a 6,000 year period of darkness. Mass consciousness and spiritual senses are rising in the Age of Aquarius but will not be out of total darkness again until we reach the age of Scorpio (6,000 years). However, the Khemit School of Mysticism believes that we can jump into a new cycle, individuals having the choice to evolve at any time.
References: From Light Into Darkness and Land of Osiris by Stephen S. Mehler.


Egyptian Symbols. There are several “transformational” symbols arising from Egyptian (Khemitian) sources, meaning that later civilizations interpreted them based on their history and wisdom. The Ankh is perhaps the most well known symbol in Egyptian spirituality. It represents the Key of Life and is sometimes called the Knot of Isis. Its key-like shape includes both feminine and masculine spirituality. The circular head represents the womb, or Life born of sky or Spirit. The vertical portion is Spirit that connects sky to the earth. The horizontal midline represents wings connecting earth to matter. Source: Khemitology.com

An ankh was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs that mean "strength" and "health." In Egyptian art, gods were sometimes portrayed touching a mortal with an ankh, symbolizing conception, or conferring the gift of life on a dead person's mummy. Its key-like shape encourages the belief that it unlocks the gates of death, and it is viewed this way by the modern Rosicrucians and other hermetic orders. Coptic Christians have used it as a symbol of life after death.
[1]source: www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ankh

The Eye of Horus. Horus was an Egyptian sky god whose eyes were said to be the sun and the moon. However, he soon became strongly associated with the sun (and the sun god "Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons", while Thoth was associated with the moon.) An ancient myth describes a battle between Horus and Set in which Horus´ right eye was torn out. Thoth magically restored Horus´ eye, at which point it was given the name "Wadjet", meaning "whole" or "healthy". The myth relates to the waxing and waning of the moon during which the moon appears to have been torn out of the sky before being restored once every lunar month. Horus served many functions among the Egyptians, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting, and later became associated with the pharaoh.

Khemitologists assert that ancient Egyptians did not worship many gods but revered the many forms, senses and powers of God. The Wadjet or all-seeing eye is also a symbol of all the aspects of Deity or 360 neters (natures, senses, powers). There was once a time in pre-recorded history that human beings possessed all 360 Neters; and they were able to navigate magnetically. The belief is that “all are light, expressing themselves through frequencies.”

The Egyptian Beetle or Scarab is a symbol of rebirth and regeneration; also of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. In ancient Egyptian religion, the sun god Ra is seen to roll across the sky each day, transforming bodies and souls. Beetles of the Scarabaeidae family (dung beetle) roll dung into a ball as food and as a brood chamber in which to lay eggs; this way, the larvae hatch and are immediately surrounded by food. For these reasons the scarab was seen as a symbol of this heavenly cycle and of the idea of rebirth or regeneration. The Egyptian god Khepri or Kheper, Ra as the rising sun, was often depicted as a scarab beetle or as a scarab beetle-headed man. The ancient Egyptians believed that Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it above the horizon, then carried it through the other world after sunset, only to renew it, again, the next day.
 

Earth Day Celebration
Conference Call

Friday April 22 nd

Please donate to the OA Youth fund
April Focus:

Mayan 

Spiritual Tradition

Mayan Celebration

The Mayan civilization arose in Mesoamerica around 250 AD, influenced by the culture and religion of the Olmecs. The Mayan urban culture especially flourished until about 900 AD, but continued to thrive in various places until the Spanish conquest.

Mayan religion was characterized by the worship of nature gods (especially the gods of sun, rain and corn), a priestly class, the importance of astronomy and astrology, rituals of human sacrifice, and the building of elaborate pyramidical temples.

The main Gods (which have a benevolent side and a malevolent side) are Itzamna (god of fire and hearth), Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent and Bolon Tzacab, a god of royal descent.

To the Maya, science and religion were one and the same. The Maya developed an impressive system of mathematics and astronomy, which was intimately related to religious rituals. Their mathematical achievements included positional notation and the use of zero; in astronomy, they accurately calculated a solar year, compiled precise tables of positions for the Moon and Venus, and were able to predict solar eclipses.

The Mayan calendar was very advanced, and consisted of a solar year of 365 days. It was divided into 18 months of 20 days each, followed by a five-day period that was highly unlucky. There was also a 260-day sacred year (tzolkin), divided into days named by the combination of 13 numbers and 20 names.

The Maya practiced a form of divination that centered on their elaborate calendar system and extensive knowledge of astronomy. It was the job of the priests to discern lucky days from unlucky ones, and advising the rulers on the best days to plant, harvest, wage war, etc. They were especially interested in the movements of the planet Venus — the Maya rulers scheduled wars to coordinate with its rise in the heavens.

Some aspects of Mayan religion survive today among several million Mayan Indians of Mexico and Central America, who practice a combination of traditional religion and Roman Catholicism. Primarily Guatemala cities have ceremonial centers, with the majority of the Maya living a rural, agricultural life around the cities.

www.religionfacts.com
 

March Focus:
Rastafarism
Spiritual Tradition

Traditional head covering

About a million people worldwide follow the Rasta movement and prefer to not be referred to Rastafarians as they reject a formal religion category. Founded in the slums of Jamaica in the 1920’s and 1930’s, it is considered a “new” religion.

The founder of Rastafarism is Martin Garvey, a black Jamaican who taught in the 1920’s and is considered the second John the Baptist. The movement is named for Ras Tafari Makonnen, who was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in 1930. Selassie is considered a God on Earth by his followers.
 

One of the holidays cerebrated yearly is Nov.2, when the Emperor was crowned. Rastafarians believe in the Judeo-Christian God, whom they call Jah. In general, Rastafarian beliefs are based in Judaism and Christianity, with an emphasis on Old Testament laws and prophecies and the Book of Revelation.

Rastafarians do not believe in an afterlife, but instead look to Africa (called "Zion") as a heaven on earth. True Rasta’s are believed to be immortal, both physically and spiritually, a concept called "everliving." An important Rastafarian concept is "I and I," which is said instead of "you and I." It emphasizes the oneness between humanity and God as well as the equality of all humans.

One of the most famous Rastas is Bob Marley with his worldwide presence of reggae music. One of the beliefs of the Rasta lifestyle is Tal, a dietary commitment to the most natural of foods and for some, is close to veganism.

Source: www.religionfacts.com
 

February Focus:
Norse
Spiritual Tradition
Asatru: Nordic Religion

Asatru is the modern revival of the pre-Christian Nordic religion as described in the Norse epic Eddas. Today, there are small groups of Asatru adherents throughout Scandinavia and North America.  Ancient Norse paganism and modern Asatru are polytheistic, belief in more than one God.

In the Viking Age (9th-11th century),  Asatru followers believe in an afterlife based on virtuous or non-virtuous life.  They also believe in rebirth with the family line.  In modern times, they are quick to state that they are not overly concerned with the afterlife and live in the here and now.

Communities of Asatru are called Kindreds, Hearths, or Garths. Priests are call Gothi and priestesses Gythia.  A central Asatru ritual is a blot which means sacrifice and followers offer mead, beer, or cider to the gods.  Another major practice is sumbel, a ritual toast in three rounds: the first round is to the Gods, second round to ancestors, and the third round is open.  One Asatru holiday that we are all familiar with is Yule which starts on the Winter Solstice and lasts for 13 days.

 

In place of a list of commandments, followers of Asatru try to follow these “Nine Noble Virtues:

Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance and Perseverance.

 

January Focus:
Jain
Spiritual Tradition

 

Jainism is an ancient religion originating from India that is older than Hinduism.  It teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation. Most Jains live in India, and according to the 2001 Census of India there were around 4.2 million living there.

The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself.

Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by Jainism. Jain principles that he adopted in his life were asceticism, compassion for all forms of life, the importance of vows for self-discipline, vegetarianism, fasting for self-purification, and mutual tolerance among people of different creeds.

Season for Nonviolence: (January 30 - April 4) is a national 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that non-violence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. Celebrated in the United States, it goes from the anniversary of the death of Gandhi to the anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King.

Beliefs:

-Jains believe that animals and plants, as well as human beings, contain living souls. Each of these souls is considered of equal value and should be treated with respect and compassion.

-Jains are strict vegetarians and live in a way that minimizes their use of the world's resources.

-Jains believe in reincarnation and seek to attain ultimate liberation - which means escaping the continuous cycle of birth, death and rebirth so that the immortal soul lives for ever in a state of bliss.

-Liberation is achieved by eliminating all karma from the soul.
-Jainism is a religion of self-help.
-There are no gods or spiritual beings that will help human beings.

-The three guiding principles of Jainism, the 'three jewels', are right belief, right knowledge and right conduct.

-The supreme principle of Jainistic living is non violence (ahimsa).  This is one of the 5 mahavratas (the 5 great vows). The other mahavratas are non-attachment to possessions, not lying, not stealing, and sexual restraint (with celibacy as the ideal).

-Mahavira is regarded as the man who gave Jainism its present-day form.


-The texts containing the teachings of Mahavira are called the Agamas.

-Jains are divided into two major sects; the Digambara (meaning "sky clad") sect and the Svetambara (meaning "white clad") sect.
- Jainism has no priests. Its professional religious people are monks and nuns, who lead strict and ascetic lives.
 

Now Solstice Celebration
and
Healing Circle Teleconference


Tune Into your Ancient Spiritual DNA and Join in Solstice Celebration Via Teleconference!

Monday December 21, 9:30 PM EST (6:30 PST)

Be with others in opportunity for spiritual renewal!

Join us for special holiday celebration of the Solstice.
Be part of the solution for lasting Peace on Earth.
Get insights into your success in 2016.

Free teleconference: 712-432-0140, pin 167201#
Be the bridge that brings unity and love to the world.

Don't let the drama of the season steal your light, let's expand it and share it with everyone, one smile at a time!!   Qualities of a Wayshower

December Focus:
Maori
Spiritual Tradition

Māori - the Polynesian indigenous people of New Zealand


Koru: 
shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond 

Maori

 

The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, immigrating from Polynesia and the Hawaiian Islands on seven great ocean-going canoes and navigating by the stars and ocean currents around 800 years ago. This event was known as the "Great Fleet". When they first sighted the land, it was shrouded in cloud, hence the original name of Aotearoa “Land of the long white cloud”.
 


Māori consider all things in the natural world to have mauri (life force) and wairua (a spiritual dimension). Respect for the spiritual integrity of the environment and the atua (god) that created it will ensure that the environment (taonga) can be protected and passed on to succeeding generations. They view the land and environment as a living system infused with spirituality.

Māori view themselves as an integral part of the natural world. The spiritual beliefs held by Māori link their culture to their original parents Papa-tu-a nuku (Earth mother) and Ranganui (Sky father) as part of a complete living system.

The Maori have a rich culture and spirituality, steeped in tradition and legend. Legend is passed down through the generations by story telling - stories that tell of the creation of the islands of New Zealand and much more. Their spirituality is deeply linked with the land and sea, from which their food source is harvested.

Maori people define themselves by their tribe, or iwi. Family, or whanau, is very important within the Maori culture, and encompasses immediate family, in-laws and all those connected by blood ties.
Māori elders, the Kaumatua, have many important roles in their families and tribes, including preserving traditions and knowledge, providing leadership, and nurturing the younger generations.


Maori Meeting House

Maraes, (communal villages where the Maori people meet), provide a focus for social, cultural and spiritual life within the Maori community. The Marae includes a wharenui (meeting house) and wharekai (dining room).

previous info on Maori


November Focus:
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST
Spiritual Tradition

Unitarians Universalists are a congregation of people with diverse religious backgrounds and a wide range of beliefs. Theme-based ministry honors their theological diversity while creating language, symbols, and practices that can be shared by all.  Practitioners draw inspiration and insight from many sources – including humanist teachings embracing scientific reason as well as spiritual beliefs; earth-centered traditions celebrating the sacred circle of life and the harmony with nature; Jewish and Christian teachings calling us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Unitarian Universalism believe that religious wisdom is ever changing. They celebrate the unfolding truths known to teachers, prophets, and sages throughout the ages.  They believe in the importance of individual belief and honor differences of opinion, expression, and practice.

Seven Principles and Purposes:

1) The inherent worth and dignity of every person

2) Justice, equity and compassion in human relations

3) Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations

4) A free and responsible search for truth and meaning

5) The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large

6) The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all

7) Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

History

Christians in the first centuries of the Christian era held a variety of beliefs concerning the nature of Jesus. The Council of Nicea declared the doctrine of the Trinity – God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost – and denounced all those who believed differently as heretics. In the 16th century, Christian humanists in Poland and Transylvania studied the Bible closely and affirmed the unity or oneness of God. Hence they acquired the name “Unitarian.”

The 16th century Unitarians advocated religious freedom for others. Today Unitarian Universalists are determined to follow their own convictions and embrace tolerance as a central principle.

In the 17th century, reformers in Europe and America in researching the Bible believed that the concept of hell had been grossly misinterpreted. They found in their hearts and in the Biblical references an unconditionally loving God. They believed that God would grant salvation to all human beings. They called themselves Universalists.

Each UU congregation is part of a heritage going back hundreds of years to the pioneering Massachusetts settlers and founders of the republic. Well-known Unitarians and Universalists include John Adams, Clara Barton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan B. Anthony, and Adlai Stevenson.

In continuity with Unitarian and Universalist forebears, UU hold fast to the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. They are one of the present-day churches that welcome individuals of many religious practices and life choices including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals  (LGBTQ)

More than 1000 congregations in the United States belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) of Congregations with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. The oldest congregations are in Romania. Other locations include India, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, France, great Britain, Canad, Australia, Nigeria, South Africa, the Philippines and Japan.

 

October Focus:
Jewish 
Spiritual Tradition

Greetings and Expressions (in Hebrew)

Shalom (shah-LOHM) Literally, means “Peace.”
It is a way of saying "hello" or "goodbye" to friends, family, etc.

Mazel Tov (MAH-zl TAWV) literally means, “Good luck!”
This is the traditional way of expressing congratulations. It can be used to congratulate someone for getting a new job, graduating from college, or any other happy event. It should not be used to wish someone luck in the future. Rather, it is an expression of pleasure at the good luck someone has already had.

Yasher koach (YAH-shehyr KOH-ahkh) Literally, means “Straight strength.” Figuratively, “May you have strength, or may your strength be increased.”
It is a way of congratulating someone for performing a good deed. In essence, you are wishing this person the strength to continue doing this good thing. It is most commonly used in synagogue, to congratulate someone after he or she has participated in some aspect of the service.

Shabbat Shalom (shah-BAHT shah-LOHM) means, “Sabbath Peace or peaceful Sabbath.”
This is an appropriate greeting at any time on Shabbat, although it is most commonly used at the end of a shabbat service.

L'Shanah Tovah (li-SHAH-nuh TOH-vuh) meaning - “A good year.”
It is a common greeting during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

info from last year
 

September Focus:

Inuit 

Spiritual Traditions

The Inuit

The people of the Canadian Arctic are known as the Inuit. They used to be called Eskimos, which came from a Native American word for 'eater of raw meat'. Now the Arctic people are officially known as the Inuit, which means 'the people', or singularly, Inuk, which means 'the person'.

The Inuit were the last native people to arrive in North America. All the good land to the south was already occupied by hostile Indians so they settled in the Arctic. Nobody else wanted it because it was one of the most extreme climates in the world. But the Inuit were masters at adapting to sustain their people over thousands of years.

The Inuit lived in an area comprising a large part of northern Earth, including Northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia.

The languages of the Inuit can be divided into many different languages and dialects. However, all of the Inuit languages come from one main language family: the Inuit-Aleut, also known as the Eskimaleut language family.

The Inuit have a distinct culture and appearance from other First Peoples groups in Canada, which really set them apart. Historically, the Canadian Inuit were divided into eight main groups: Labrador Inuit, Ungava or New Quebec Inuit, Baffin Island, Igloolik, Caribou, Netsilik, Copper and Western Arctic Inuit.
_______________________________

The traditional Inuit (Eskimo) culture is similar to those found in other circumpolar regions: Northern Russia and the Northern Scandinavian countries. Life has been precarious; there are the double challenges of the cold, and the continual threat of starvation. (The popular name for the Inuit, "Eskimo", is not used by the Inuit.).

Their religious belief is grounded in the belief that anua (souls) exist in all people and animals. Individuals, families and the tribe must follow a complex system of taboos to assure that animals will continue to make themselves available to the hunters. Many rituals and ceremonies are performed before and after hunting expeditions to assure hunting success.

An underwater Goddess Sedna or Takanaluk is in charge of the sea mammals. She is part human and part fish. She observes how closely the tribe obeys the taboos and releases her animals to the hunters accordingly. There is an corresponding array of deities who release land mammals; these are Keepers or Masters, one for each species.

The Angakut or Shaman is the spiritual leader of each tribe. He is able to interpret the causes of sickness or lack of hunting success; he can determine the individual or family responsible and isolate the broken taboo. In a manner similar to Shamans in may other cultures, he enters a trance with the aid of drum beating and chanting. This allows his soul to leave his body and traverse great distances to determine the causes of sickness and other community problems.

 www.Firstpeoplesofcanada.com

The Spirits of All Things

Traditional Inuit beliefs are a form of animism, according to which all objects and living things or beings have a spirit.  The belief is that all things happen though the involvement of some spirit. Spirits can affect people's lives and can be controlled by magical charms and talismans.

Various taboos were observed to make sure that animal spirits were not offended, and when animals were killed for food, it was done according to certain rituals. Communal rites centered on preparation for the hunt as this was the most important activity for survival in a hostile environment.

Although anyone with the appropriate charms or amulets could have some control over these spirits, the person best equipped to control spirits was the shaman - the central religious figure in traditional Inuit culture. His functions included blessing the hunt, treating sickness, and providing advice in times of crisis.

In Arctic Canada, Greenland, Labrador, and southern Alaska, large numbers of Inuit have converted to Christianity.

Ceremonies and Music

  • The main instrument of Inuit ceremonies and dances is the shallow, one-sided drum.

  • Most drums are made from caribou skin, or walrus stomach or bladder stretched over a wooden hoop.

  • Drum dances usually occur inside large snowhouses (igloos) with up to 60 people.

  • In song and dance they tell stories of the spirits.

  • Some dances are religious in nature, while others welcome travelers or celebrate a successful hunt.

  • Throat singing, performed by two women in competition, use different sounds made in their throats and chests. One woman seta a short rhythmic pattern; then the other woman will set her own pattern.

Art, Carvings and MasksIntuit Shaman Mask

  • Inuit art played an important role in their culture.

  • They used resources that were available to them, such as, parts of animals, stone, and driftwood.

  • Carvings were made out of stone, bone, and ivory (from walruses and whales).

  • Most of their carvings were of Arctic animals, people, or spirits.

  • Most masks were made out of driftwood or whalebone.

  • Masks were used in ceremonial dances.

  • Yup'ik masks represent encounters with the spirit world. They were made to show what spiritual leaders, like the Shamans, saw while they were in a trance.

Inukshuks

Inukshuks are large rock Cairns made from balancing rocks that were heaved to the surface by the frozen earth (permafrost)

Family

  • Family groups are the most important social unit in Inuit culture.

  • They usually live in family groups of around 5-6 people.

  • Each family would live and hunt together with 6-10 other families.

  • Marriage is important for the Inuit people. Some marriages were arranged, most by choice.

·     The Inuit lived in smaller family groups with no real leader or Chief, unlike other First Peoples groups in Canada

 

INUIT WISDOM

“The great are they who attempt the different things, which lesser men avoid.”  Inuit Wisdom

“He that boasts of his own knowledge proclaims his ignorance.”   Inuit Proverb

“If you are afraid, change your way.”  Inuit Proverb

“May you have warmth in your igloo, oil in your lamp, and peace in your heart.”  Inuit Wise Saying

“Don’t let the windows of your home be so small that the light cannot enter your rooms.” 
Inuit  Proverb

“To know where you are going, you first have to know where you have come from.”  Inuit Proverb

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”  Inuit Proverb


The Seven Teachings of Aboriginal Peoples of Canada

1 - To cherish knowledge is to know WISDOM.

By listening to the wise Elders and studying knowledge, we will understand and cherish ourselves.

 

 2 - To find LOVE is to know peace.

A special, safe and peaceful protection which unites people who show care will give you love and freedom for yourself and without judgment.

3 - To honor all of creation is to have RESPECT.

Treasure the elders who are part of creation and who give us respect and life.

4 - COURAGE is to face life with integrity.

Continuing what you believe and standing strong, being brave and encouraging others will give us integrity in our outgoing ways.

5 - HONESTY in facing a situation is to be brave.

Courage, bravery, honesty and truthfulness in a situation means you are accepting your true self.

6 - HUMILITY is to see yourself as a sacred part of creation.

Being yourself is important in the world as a leader for the people with humility and truth.

7 – TRUTH is to know all these things.

Always stay truthful to yourself in an honest, smart and good way to be a true leader of the truth.

www.gov.mb.ca

Reference:  The Book of Wisdom For Eskimo  (1947 Canada Dept of Mines and Resources, Bureau of NW Terretories and Yukon Affairs, Lands Parks and Forests Branch, Ottawa)

 

August Focus:

African

Spiritual Traditions

Religious Beliefs

  • There is widespread belief in a supreme God, unique and transcendent.

  • There is a deep sense of the sacred and a sense of mystery; sacred times are celebrated.

  • Belief in the afterlife is incorporated in myths and in funeral ceremonies.

  • The invisible world of spirits and ancestors is always present; the intentions of these spirits can be discerned.

  • Religion enfolds the whole of life.

  • Ancestors mediate between God and man.

  • Belief in the use of intercessory prayer is widespread.

  • It is believed that sin harms public good, periodical purification rites promote public welfare.

  • Worship requires a fundamental attitude of strict discipline and reverence.

  • Pardon is final and acknowledged by all: an offence, once forgiven, is never recalled.

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. ~ Ethiopian proverb

Rituals

  • Rites form an essential part of social life; rich and meaningful traditions.

  • Ancestors and the dead are invoked by rites.

  • The seasonal cycles and the stages of life are sanctified by ritual action.

  • The whole person, body and soul, is totally involved in worship.

  • In worship and sacrifice there is co-responsibility; each person contributes his share.

  • Symbols bridge the spheres of the sacred and secular for a balanced, unified view of reality.

  • Rites of passage, of initiation and of consecration are widespread.

  • There are many rites of purification of individuals and communities.

  • The sick are healed in rites involving their families and the community.

  • Religious sacredness is preserved in ritual, in dress and the places of worship.

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams. ~ Nigerian proverb
 

Cultural Values

  • Attention is given to locating man within his environment and making him feel at home in it.

  • Tradition is handed down through stories, poems, hymns, proverbs, art.

  • The whole community is involved in the training and education of the young.

  • The moral education of youth is taken seriously.

  • Life has a festive dimension and is celebrated in adequate rites.

  • Old folk are held in high esteem. The community regards their wisdom as prophetic, to give direction for living in the present day.

  • Silence is treasured as a value.

  • Marriage is an alliance between families and persons; cultural provisions support it.

    If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

Social Values

  • Hospitality is a duty and is the most common value in African Traditional Religion all over Africa.

  • Between people of the same clan, there is a very strong sense of sharing and of solidarity and belonging.

  • Efforts are made to secure and promote justice and peace within the community.

  • The nuclear family and the extended family have been the pivots of the African social system.

  • Respect for authority, sanctioned by the ancestors, is strong and represents the common will.

  • Care for the poor and the sick, widows and orphans.


Babalao priest with divination shells

Moral Values

  • There is respect for life: children are treasured, abortion is not condoned.

  • The sacredness of human life is guarded by taboos and rituals.

  • There is respect for the dignity of man; each man has his own inalienable chi ("selfhood", "destiny").

  • To be faithful in undertakings is regarded as becoming a man.

  • Sin is perceived in both its personal and communal dimensions.

  • Moderation in the use of alcohol and required in every aspect of behavior; only adults may drink.

  • Drunkenness is shameful.

www.assatashakur.org


African Gbo fetish priest


African Quotes on Wisdom

When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him.
~Ashanti Proverb

Wisdom is wealth. ~ Swahili

Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. ~ Akan proverb


The fool speaks, the wise man listens.
~ Ethiopian proverb

Wisdom does not come overnight.
~ Somali proverb

The heart of the wise man lies quiet like limpid water.  ~ Cameroon proverb

Wisdom is like fire. People take it from others.  ~ Hema (DRC) proverb

Only a wise person can solve a difficult problem.  ~ Akan proverb
 

Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand. ~ Guinean proverb

In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.
~ Nigerian proverb

If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom. ~ African proverb

A wise person will always find a way.
~ Tanzanian proverb

Nobody is born wise. ~ African proverb 

A man who uses force is afraid of reasoning. ~Kenyan proverb

Wisdom is not like money to be tied up and hidden. ~ Akan proverb

www.afritorial.com

 

July Focus:

Baha'i

Spiritual Tradition

Bahai Home Page

Symbols Clockwise: (top) Baha'i, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, 
Jainism, Shinto, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism

Nine-pointed Star 

A simple nine-pointed star is generally used by Baha'is as a symbol of their Faith. The number nine has special significance in the Baha'i Revelation.

The word "Baha" (Arabic for “Glory”) corresponds to the number nine in the Arabic system of numerology, known as the Abjad system. Nine years after the announcement of the Bab in Shiraz, Baha’u’llah received the intimation of His mission in the dungeon in Tehran.

Nine, as the highest single-digit number, symbolizes completeness. As the Baha'i Faith claims to be the fulfillment of the expectations of all prior religions, this symbol, as used, for example, in nine-sided Baha'i Houses of Worship, reflects that sense of fulfillment and completeness.

Core Beliefs

The principle of the oneness of humankind 
is the pivot around which all the teachings of Baha'u'llah revolve.

Baha'u'llah taught that humanity, after a long and turbulent adolescence, 
is at last reaching a stage of maturity in which unity in a global 
and just society finally can be established. 

To this end, the Baha'i Faith prescribes laws of personal morality and behavior, as well as social laws and principles, to establish the oneness of humanity.


Angels in Training

"Array yourselves in the perfection of divine virtues. 
I hope you may be quickened and vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit. 
Then shall ye indeed become the angels of heaven whom Christ promised 
would appear in this Day to gather the harvest of divine planting."

   'Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 7

Baha'is Believe
" We must investigate truth for ourselves, without preconceptions.
One of the main sources of conflict in the world today 
is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically 
follow various traditions, movements, and opinions.
   Bahá’u’lláh emphasizes the fundamental obligation 
of human beings to acquire knowledge 
with their "own eyes and not through the eyes of others."
http://www.bahai.org 


Humanity is understood to be in a process of collective evolution, and the need of the present time is for the gradual establishment of world peace, justice and unity on a global scale.

The Baha’i religion does not force its new converts to reject their former beliefs and doctrines in order to embrace the tenets of the Baha’i faith. One of the goals of the Baha’i religion is the unity of all religions and the preservation of all that is good from all world religions.

The Baha’is see the central figures in other religions, such as Buddha and Christ, as manifestations of the same Absolute Reality, so new converts to Baha’i have no reason to reject these personages. 
 
----------------------

"By God, verily the Lord of Hosts is your support, the angels of heaven your assistance,
the Holy Spirit your companion and the Center of the Covenant your helper."
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p 362)

 


Ways to Promote Unity

Recognize the essential nobility of the human soul - many of 
the symptoms of racism are a result of either projecting or internalizing 
feelings of unworthiness - when we like ourselves, we fear less need to hate or fear others;

Develop a personal awareness of the Oneness of Humanity 
as a spiritual and scientific reality; 

Read the Holy Writings of the world's religions - including the Bible, Koran 
and the Baha'i writings - and pray for guidance every day.


Backbiting

The founder enjoined his followers to “regard backbiting as grievous error, 
and keep … aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as 
backbiting quenches the light of the heart, and extinguishes the life of the soul.”


 Comparison Chart: Baha'i, Islam, Christianity, Judaism 
Major world religions  

 

WCF Annual Meeting

Sunday July 5th, 9am; Iowa Conference Center

 forms (Proxy, Membership)

OA Youth Fund
Donation Drive

.

Operation Action – Leading By Example

Wayshowers Community Fellowship is committed to backing our leaders of all ages to be the “wayshowers” in their lives and to share their creativity and inspiration in reaching their apprentices around the world.

Operation Action (OA) & Growing Executives of Tomorrow (G.E.T.) programs were established to back our old souls in younger bodies (ages 0-28).  The Operation Action program has been a stronghold for backing youth to unfold their self-respect, entrepreneurial spirit, creative teamwork, and practical application of spiritual guidance.

Wayshowers Community Fellowship sponsors Youth Scholarships to back our Leaders of Tomorrow during our annual Summer Camp.

To donate to the OA Youth Fund:  Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover and PayPal can all be used.  Click the “Donate” Button above. To use a credit/debit card, fill out the form and ignore the PayPal box. Or you can make Credit Card donations by phone by calling 785-424-7466.

This year’s Summer Camp is from June 29 - July 27. OA Week is from July 6-11, 2015, For information on OA camp fees, click OA Registration Form

To nominate a youth to be considered for one of the scholarships, click the OA Scholarship Application

   
June Focus:
Sikh
Spiritual Tradition

SIKH Religion
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a monotheistic religion which originated during the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in the Sanskrit words meaning “disciple or student.”

Beliefs

The goal of every Sikh is to build a close, loving relationship with God. Sikhs believe in a single formless God with many names who can be known through meditation. Similar to Islam whose followers believe in a single God who has 99 names. 

The Mool Mantar, the first hymn composed by Guru Nanak, is recited daily by many Sikhs. God’s name is Truth; He is the Creator; He is without fear; He is without hate; He is beyond time (immortal); He is beyond birth and death; He is self-existent.

Sikhs believe in samsara (the repetitive cycle of birth, life and death), karma (accumulated sum of one’s good and bed deeds, and the belief of a rebirth following death. Their beliefs are similar to Hinduism.

Sikhs reject the caste system of the Hindu religion. They believe that everyone has equal status in the eyes of God. This principle permeates all Sikh beliefs, behaviors and rituals.

   
May Focus:
Wiccan
Spiritual Tradition


Celtic Trinity Knot of Protection


The Wiccan religion, also known as "The Craft," "Wicca," "Benevolent Witchcraft," and "The Old Religion" is a diverse and decentralized religion that is part of contemporary Paganism. Today, there are thousands of individuals and groups practicing various forms of the Wiccan religion and other Pagan paths throughout the United States, Canada and around the world.

Wicca is a belief system and way of life based upon pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious and balance way of life which promotes oneness with the divine and all which exists.

Wiccans believe that the spirit of the One, Goddess and God exist in all things. This means that man must treat “all things” of the Earth as aspects of the divine. Wiccans learn from and revere the gift of nature from divine creation by celebrating the cycles of the sun, moon and seasons.

They revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water which combine to manifest all creation. From these four elements, mankind can obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives.

May the positive energy of the Universe surround you,
bring to you peace to your mind,
love to your heart and calm to your spirit.


     Celtic Tree of Life
Wicca and witchcraft, while similar in many respects, are not the same. One can be a “witch” without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian, without being a Baptist. Wiccan practice in ancient history was known as the “Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. To be a “witch” is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver and a protector of all things. Wicca might best be described as a modern religion, based on ancient witchcraft traditions. Because witches have been persecuted for so many centuries, modern-day Wiccans believe in religious freedom first! They do not look at their path as the only way to achieve spirituality, but as one path among many.

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?”
At the second gate, ask, “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate, ask, “Is it kind?


Wiccan Spiritual Practices - Wiccans and other Pagans also honor the Elements of Nature -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit -- and their associated directions -- North, East, South, West, Center -- in the sacred Circles where rituals are held. Rituals usually include a combination of meditation, invocations, movement, music, and the use of magical tools.
As part of their spiritual practice, many Wiccans and other Pagans develop their intuitive abilities and practice magic, directing psychic energy for particular healing and helping purposes. In working magic, Wiccans are to adhere to the Wiccan Rede, which is the central ethical law of the religion: "And it harm none, do what you will." Most Wiccans acknowledge that whatever magical force is sent out returns magnified to the sender. 
 

Celtic Tree of Life Symbol .

2-Minute House Magic for Spring

1. Wash your front door with warm water and a little essential oil of spearmint to refresh the energy and welcome in wealth.

2. Bless a candy dish of chocolate eggs with the energy of new beginnings and place it on a coffee table or counter.

3. Mist with rosewater into which you’ve added honeysuckle flower essence to activate luck and get the energy moving.

Magic is not always serious or solemn.
It is a joyous celebration and merging with the life-force.

Scott Cunningham, American author on Wiccan and Pagan rituals
 

April Focus:

Tarahumara

Spiritual Tradition

Tarahumara family at Easter

HISTORY

The Tarahumara are a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability. The ancestors of the Tarahumara Indians may have arrived from Asia, crossing the Bering Strait, approximately 20,000 years ago. When the Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico in the 16th century, these indigenous tribe retreated to the high sierras and canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental to protect themselves from being forced to work in the mines for the invading Spaniards.

Most of the approximately 100,000 people of the Tarahumara still live in relative isolation and practice a traditional lifestyle, inhabiting natural shelters like caves, under cliffs and in small cabins, living on a mostly plant-based diet.


RUNNERS

The name TARAHUMARA means “where the night is the day of the moon.” The Indians refer to themselves as “Raramuri,” which means “runners on foot” or “those who run fast.” These extraordinary endurance runners run in huarache sandals and maintain a long-distance running tradition as part of their ceremonial traditions and community competitions. ”

To be a true “raramuri” you must have time and care for each other, and to love people more than goods.

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND RITUAL

The Tarahumara religion is a mixture of Roman Catholicism Christianity and indigenous customs. The principle deities are “our Father” and “Our Mother” associated with the sun and the moon respectively. In many communities, the Christian God and the Virgin Mary have been assimilated to these deities.

Tarahumaras still maintain a belief that death occurs when people’s souls permanently abandon their bodies. They believe that the soul ascends a series of heavens, is reincarnated after each death, and after three lives becomes a moth on earth, representing the final existence of the soul.

They believe in a simple law called the “attitude of humble silence,” which is love, humility, hope, & joy.

RITUALS AND COMMUNITY PRACTICES
Their mythical and religious festivities are made up of dances. One of their prominent dances is the “Matachine” dance, a lively, colorful dance performed by 8-12 couples. To them dancing is a prayer. By dancing, they seek forgiveness, and give thanks.

A shaman (spiritual guide or doctor -- “owiruame” --is the guardian of all social traditions of the people. The Tarahumara perform rituals and ceremonies at their homes to cure ailments, to promote good health in people, livestock and crops, and to send offerings to their deities and the dead. Two prominent religious events are the Easter celebration (Semana Santa) and the Fiesta Guadalupana in December.

The Tarahumara consider illnesses to be of two types: those that afflict people’s bodies and those that afflict their souls. Plant medicines are used for the former. Illnesses of the soul requires intervention of the shamans who rely on their dreams to discover the causes of illness.

References everyculture.com  raramuridesign.com  manataka.org
 

March Focus:

Tibetan Buddhist 

Spiritual Tradition

Endless Knot
Wisdom and Compassion

Tibetan Buddhism, the teaching of the Buddha as practiced and taught in Tibet, is at last becoming known to the world. Because of Tibet’s secluded location, the Buddhist tradition developed there for fourteen centuries in relative isolation. link

Change, Inner Peace, World Peace

Global change must come from individuals – not large organisations like the United Nations.
We have an opportunity and a responsibility to make a small contribution
to a better and more compassionate world.
Firstly the individual must start with their own inner peace,
then extend this to the family, then to the community.

World peace must come from inner peace

-Dalai Lama

References The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Padma Sambhava (Compiler),Robert Thurman (Translator), et al amazon.com

Prayer Flags decorate Tibetan monasteries, houses and even mountain passes. It is believed that the special blessing power of the mantras printed on them is spread all over the world by the wind. Traditionally, prayer flags have a combination of mantras, special prayers and auspicious symbols printed on them. Prayer flags are not only strung on ropes to hang between two poles, they can also be hung like a flag from one pole. Usually, the flags come in five different colors: blue corresponds with the sky, white with clouds, red with fire, green with water and yellow with earth.

Prayer Wheels are another typical Tibetan phenomena. They are usually filled with mantras, and similar to prayer flags, it is taught that the power of the mantras will spread when the wheel is turned. The more mantras, the better. Prayer wheels come in many variations; from handheld, like the one on the left, to huge ones that require serious muscle power to set in motion. They can be moved by hands, water or wind- with this cool tool, even your hard disk can function as a prayer wheel. They are also called Mani-wheels, as the wheels usually contain the famous Tibetan mantra OM MANI PADME HUM.

Karmapa Dream Flag

The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, well known for his visions and prophesies, designed this flag from a vision that came to him in a dream. He called it “Namkhyen Gyaldar (Victorious Flag of Buddha’s Wisdom).” He proclaimed, “Wherever this banner is flown the Dharma will flourish.”

According to the outer meaning the blue represents the sky or heaven. The yellow symbolizes the earth. The wave symbolizes the Buddhadharma penetrating heaven and earth.

According to the inner meaning the blue represents vision and spiritual insight and the yellow symbolizes our experience of the everyday world. The symmetry of the wave pattern shows the interdependence of the absolute and relative levels of reality.

According to the secret meaning, the blue symbolizes emptiness-wisdom and the yellow represents compassionate action. The wave is Mahamudra: the union of compassion and wisdom- the ultimate realization of one’s true nature.

viewonbuddhism.org/symbols_tibet_buddhism

THE FOUR DIGNITIES

The Four Dignities are mythical animals which represent various aspects of the Bodhisattva attitude, like strength, protection and cheerfulness.


Dragon
The Dragon thunders in the sky with the sound of compassion that awakens us from delusion and increases what we can know through hearing. Dragons have the power of complete communication. Just as we do not see sound, we do not see dragons -- at least not usually. Displaying a dragon banner is said to protect one from slander and enhances one's reputation. Associations: main quality is power, dominance over the sea, and the water element.


Tiger
The Tiger abides in the South, symbolizing unconditional confidence, disciplined awareness, kindness and modesty. It is relaxed yet energized; resting in a gentle state of being that has a natural sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, referring to the state of enlightenment. Associations: main quality is confidence, air element.


Snow Lion
The Snow Lion resides in the East and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind free of doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a body and mind that are synchronized. The Snow Lion has a youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight. Sometimes the throne of a Buddha is depicted with eight Snowlions on it, in this case, they represent the 8 main Bodhisattva-disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha.
Associations: main quality is fearlessness, dominance over mountains, and the earth element.

Garuda
The Garuda is daring and fearless and abides in the north. With great strength and power it soars beyond without holding back. It symbolizes freedom from hopes and fears, the vast mind without reference point. It is a powerful antidote to the negative influences of Nagas (spirits) which can cause disease and all kinds of harm.
Associations: main quality is wisdom, dominance over the sky, and the fire element.


Eight Auspicious Symbols

The set of Eight Auspicious Symbols is most popular in Buddhist Tibet.

1. Right-Coiled White Conch Today the conch is used in Tibetan Buddhism to call together religious assemblies. During the actual practice of rituals, it is used both as a musical instrument and as a container for holy water

2. Precious Parasol The Precious Parasol symbolizes the beneficial activities of keeping beings from the harms of illness, harmful forces, obstacles and so forth. It also represents the enjoyment of a feast of benefit under its cool shade.

3. Victory Banner The Victory Banner represents the victory of the Buddha's teachings over death, ignorance, disharmony and all the negativities of this world.

4. Golden Fishes The sea in Tibetan Buddhism is associated with the world of suffering, the cycle of samsara. The Golden Fish have been said to signify fearlessness and happiness for they have complete freedom in the water.

5. Dharma Wheel Golden Wheel or Dharma Wheel symbolizes the auspiciousness of the turning of the precious wheel of Buddha's doctrine, enabling beings to experience the joy of wholesome deeds and liberation.

6. Endless Knot The Endless Knot is a geometric diagram which symbolizes the nature of reality where everything is interrelated and only exists as part of a web of karma and its effect, having no beginning or end.

7. Lotus Flower The lotus flower symbolizes the complete purification of body, speech and mind, and the full blossoming of wholesome deeds in blissful liberation. The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment. Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface.

8. Treasure Vase The Treasure Vase symbolizes an endless rain of long life, wealth and prosperity and all the benefits of this world and liberation. It is a sign of the inexhaustible riches available in the Buddhist teachings. Treasure Vases filled with saffron water are found near the shrine offerings in a Tibetan Buddhist temple, the water of which is used to purify offerings.

www.tibetanlanguage.org/

Healing Webinar

Join Wayshowers from around the world on Friday, February 13th at 7:30pm EST. 
You can participate by Internet or phone. Click here for details

   
February Focus:

Candomble 

Spiritual Tradition

Candomble is an African-Brazilian religion with around two million followers. It is a combination of various beliefs. At the core of the religion are traditional African beliefs with additional elements of Christianity, particularly of Catholicism. Candomble means “dance in honor of the gods.” Accordingly, dance and music play important roles in the religion.

At the center of Candomble is God or Oludumare. Deities called “orixas” serve Oludumare (God). Orixas are deified ancestors from recent or ancient history; they are spirit gods that link humans to the spiritual world and act as a protector. Each orixa is connected to a force in nature including a certain food, animal, and more. A person's personality is a reflection of their orixa.

references: typesofreligion.com/candomble.html


An part of this African-Brazilian religion, followers believe in one all-powerful god who is served by lesser deities. Individual initiates have their personal guiding deity, who acts as an inspiration and protector. There is no concept of good or evil, only individual destiny.

The moral code of Candomble is regulated by the Baba Egum, who ensures the continuity of morals from one generation to the next.

During major rituals (such as the sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death, priests and priestesses disguise as Baba Egum. The worship takes place in the form of dances and songs. Dances call the orixa (spirits) to enter the body. A dancer enters a trancelike condition and publicly acts out scenes from the community life through dance. Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.

Candomble Rituals

Women play a significant role in Candomble religion. Women, called “mothers of the holy one”, lead services and train future priestesses. The sacred places for followers of Candomble are the terreiro, or temples. These structures have indoor and outdoor sections and designated places for the gods. Worshippers enter the terreiro in clean clothes. They also splash water on themselves before entering so they clean themselves from the impurity of the outside world.

New Year's celebrations include wearing all-white garb, lighting candles and setting small boats loaded with trinkets into the ocean, in offering to the sea goddess Yemenja. At a ritual gathering, everyone is encouraged to dress only in white, so as to respect the Orixás, the African deities. Guests are prohibited from bringing cameras to the ritual, as the worshippers believe that when a photo is taken during a Candomblé ritual, the camera captures a soul.

Twelve people who are the higher priests and priestesses, and able to “receive” the gods, enter into a trance-like state. They remain in the center of the room, forming a circle and dancing to the beat of drums and percussion Many practitioners believe that the instruments are vested with healing powers and possessed with axé force. When one receives a god, the priest’s own spirit must leave the body in order to allow the god to enter; so the priest is essentially possessed by the god while in this trance-like state.

At various times throughout the hour, each of the twelve priests begin to spin in wild circles, which signal that they are about to receive a god. Once the god “enters” the body, each person may react differently. A priest or priestess can receive a god at any age, as they are born with this capability. If one of their parents is able to receive a god or goddess, that child will most likely be born with the ability as well, as it is passed down throughout families. Each priest or priestess receives the same god during each ritual, and the god whom they receive is either known at the time of birth (in this case, it would be the same god whom their parent received), or determined through a fortune-telling practice called búzios, which is reading of shells.

New Healing Webinar

Join Wayshowers from around the world on Friday, February 13th at 7:30pm EST. 
You can participate by Internet or phone. Click here for details

January Focus:

Shinto 

Spiritual Tradition

Shinto, an indigenous religion of Japan, is practiced by nearly 80% of the population of Japan. It is defined as an action-centered religion, focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently. 

The word “Shinto” combines two terms - shin, meaning "spirit" (kami) and "to", meaning a philosophical path or study (from the Chinese word dào).

Kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms: rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places, and even people can be said to possess the nature of kami. Kami and people are not separate; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity.

Most of the Japanese attend Shinto shrines and beseech “kami“ without belonging to an institutional "Shinto" religion. The beliefs are not focused on absolute right or wrong. Shintoists acknowledge that nobody is perfect. They view humans as fundamentally good, with the evils of the world caused by troublesome spirits (kami). 

It provides a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. The customs and values of Shinto are inseparable from those of Japanese culture.

Practices and Rituals
Central to the Shinto tradition is the concept of purity. There are daily traditional Shinto practices and rituals and many that happen at various shrines across Japan. 

One of the main practices of Shinto faith is “omairi” which means venerable participation, done best by visiting Shinto shrines throughout Japan. When visiting a shrine, one must bow respectfully before entering, then show respect by cleaning oneself with water at one of many handwashing stations.

Many of the Shinto rituals are to keep away the evil spirits. Misogi Hari is a daily ritual performed at the shrines. It involves purifying oneself by ritual use of water while reciting prayers. 

References
personal.stthomas.edu/smsletten/yasukuni/shintoism/shintoismworld.html 

kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Reln275/Shinto-purification-rituals.htm   

Shinto Mythology
Early Japanese myths emphasize harmony with nature and maintaining the balance between the human and natural world. The most popular deity in Japan is the Goddess Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. She is protector of Japan and is worshipped at Ise (left), the most important shrine in Japan. From her are descended all the gods, the emperor and the Japanese people.

The Divine State
In Shinto, human beings are believed to be born pure, with a gentle and clear disposition. To be pure is to approach godliness; indeed it is to become one with the state of the divine. It is Shinto's prayer, Shinto's heart, to return to that original human state, and live a daily life which is at one with the kami, indigenous folk deities of Japan.

Shinto Shrines and Festivals:
Shinto shrines are regarded as the spiritual home of the Japanese. They are dedicated to the kami. A Shintu shrines is usually within a sacred grove, as reverence for Nature forms an important part of the Shinto tradition. The shrine is approached through a gateway called a torii, signifying entrance to a sacred space. Festivals to honor the folk deities, called ‘matsuri’, take place at the shrines, involving young and old.

Purity, Washing, Cleansing 
One important aspect of Shintoism is purity. Shintos believe that all humans are born pure and that humans collect “badness” over time. The human can get rid of the impurity in their life through purifying rituals. The most common purifying agents are water and salt.

The purification takes place at the beginning of the ceremony when the hands and face are washed. Many Shintos perform these purification in large groups, especially at the beginning of a new year.

Misogi Hari is a daily ritual performed at the shrines. It involves purifying oneself by ritual use of water while reciting prayers. When visiting a shrine, one must bow respectfully before entering, then show respect by cleaning oneself with water at one of many hand washing stations.

References
stthomas.edu/smsletten/yasukuni/shintoism/shintoismworld 

Shinto purification rituals    colleenday.wordpress.com/tag/shinto-religion/  

“A single sincere prayer moves heaven. 
You will surely realize the divine presence of heaven through a sincere prayer.”  
- Shinto Wisdom

Weddings 
The traditional Shinto wedding ceremony is a private, formal event, usually attended by the immediate family and closest friends of the couple. The ceremony symbolizes both the union of two people and the joining of two families. 
In the traditional "san san kudo" or "three times three" ceremony, the couple exchange cups of sake. Similar cups of sake are exchanged between members of the families to signify the union. Following these exchanges, the couple offer twigs of the "Sakaki" sacred tree in worship to the gods.

December Focus:

Christian 

Spiritual Tradition
The Swedenborgian Church of North America 

The Swedenborgian Church of North America is a community of faith based on the Bible as illuminated by the teachings of Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) a Swedish scientist, inventor, and theologian who made significant discoveries in many of the natural sciences, including astronomy, anatomy, geology, and mineralogy.

This inclusive Christian denomination is a member of the National Council of Churches. It was instrumental in organizing the first Congress of World Religions, held in Chicago in 1893, and one of the first churches in the western world teaching that salvation is an inner experience rather than acceptance of a particular doctrine.

For Swedenborgians, God is the Creator, the source of every positive human quality and the very energy which is slowly leading humanity towards the creation of heaven on earth. The essence of God is perfect love and wisdom which draws all people to heaven so that they would enjoy the fulfillment for which we were created.

Here is the message on the Home Page of their website www.swedenborgian.org 

“Welcome to a church where you hear an optimistic message. Our church affirms freedom of choice as we follow life’s path experiencing both good and evil. From stone to stone, we step to the truth we choose: feeding the good in our lives, loving the good in all people, acknowledging the living spirit that enlightens our experience.”

Dec 12, 2014

The first Swedenborgian church was organized in London in 1787. Swedenborg’s teachings were brought to America and a church was started in Baltimore in 1792. The Swedenborgian Church has since grown and spread throughout the world.

A forward-looking Christian denomination, the Swedenborgian Church was founded to help people be more open to the Lord’s presence and leading, to facilitate the spiritual well-being of people, and to increase awareness of the new age in which we live.

Since the beginning, The Swedenborgian Church has become a haven for seekers who share Swedenborg’s quest for a religion that interconnects with all of life, and for a system that allows reasoned questioning of life’s deepest religious issues. To this day, the Swedenborgian Church encourages inquiry, respect for differences, and acceptance of other traditions of life and religion.

At the core of Swedenborg’s thought is the understanding that our purpose in this life is to progress spiritually—to learn, to grow, to do good works, and, ultimately, to allow as much of God’s love as possible to enter into us and manifest through us.

Heaven and hell are not rewards or punishments distributed on judgment day but the present inner experience we freely choose. We may choose to enjoy peace and openness, or to close ourselves in fear. Life is an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. As we choose between giving and taking, loving and hating, right and wrong, we participate in the creation of our own spiritual character. This spiritual self, or soul, is who we really are, and this is what lives forever.

Dec 19

"All my experience in heaven bears witness to the fact that the divine nature that comes from the Lord, affects angels, and constitutes heaven, is love. In fact, all the people there are forms of love and thoughtfulness. They look indescribably beautiful. Love radiates from their faces, from their speech, from every detail of their behavior.

Further, there are surrounding auras of spiritual life that emanate from every angel and from every spirit and envelop them. By means of these auras one can recognize even from a distance the quality of the affections of their loves, since these auras flow out from the life of their affection and consequent thought—that is, from the life of their love and consequent faith. The auras that emanate from angels are so full of love that they touch the deepest reaches of life of the people they meet. I have been aware of them a number of times, and they have moved me deeply."

Famous Swedenborgians
Swedenborg's ideas have influenced people as diverse as Helen Keller, Andrew Carnegie, Johnny Appleseed, William Blake, Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson, D.T. Suzuki, Jorge Luis Borges, and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Helen Keller, 1880-1968 was introduced to the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg by John Hitz, a longtime friend who was a member of the Church of the Holy City in Washington, DC. As she began to read Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell, she remarked, "my heart gave a joyous leap." She lived her life in accordance with Swedenborg's "divine love and wisdom." She went on to write, in My Religion, of the spiritual odyssey that brought her to Swedenborgianism and endowed her with the inner resources to triumph over her handicaps and live a life of selfless service. She remained a devoted member of the Church of the Holy City and on one occasion preached from its pulpit. Her extensive study of Swedenborg's works gave her the sustaining power of faith that energized and shone through the great work of her life.

 “What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Helen Keller

Dec 26

The Swedenborgian Church is a Christian denomination and a member of the National Council of Churches. It was instrumental in organizing the first Congress of World Religions, held in Chicago in 1893, and one of the first churches in the western world teaching that salvation is an inner experience rather than acceptance of a particular doctrine.

Wayfarers Chapel is The Glass Church sponsored by the Swedenborgian Church and designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Nestled in a grove of towering redwood trees, the natural sanctuary of stone and glass gives unique expression to the sacred space that welcomes all wayfarers along life's path. The mission of the Chapel is to nurture the spiritual journey of wayfarers. It is a church without a membership that welcomes people of all faiths. It has served as a special venue for wedding couples from all religious backgrounds.

Sharing:
Heaven and hell are not rewards or punishments distributed on judgment day but the present inner experience we freely choose. We may choose to enjoy peace and openness, or to close ourselves in fear. Life is an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. As we choose between giving and taking, loving and hating, right and wrong, we participate in the creation of our own spiritual character. This spiritual self, or soul, is who we really are, and this is what lives forever

"We cannot be spiritually reborn without some knowledge of the new or spiritual life, of the true ideas that we ought to believe and the good things that we ought to do. We cannot learn these things on our own, because on our own we can comprehend things only through out physical senses. Our physical senses give us information about the material world and ourselves, but not about heaven and God. Spiritual knowledge comes only from revelation." 
Emanuel Swedenborg

Healing Webinar

Join Wayshowers from around the world on Saturday, December 6th at 8 pm EST. 

You can participate by Internet or phone. The hour is for personal healing, inspiration, and soul celebration, to back you to keep your Wayshower light shining brightly through the Holiday Season and into the New Year! 
Click here for details on how to join in.

November Focus:

Native American -Navajo

Spiritual Tradition

The Nightway Chant by Wallace Begay

The Navajo Night Chant (or Nightway) goes back around 1000 b.c.e. when it was first performed by the Indians that lived in the Canyon de Chelly, known today as eastern Arizona. It is celebrated in late fall or early winter for 9 days and is the most sacred of all Navajo ceremonies.

The Night Chant is basically a healing ritual performed for patients who suffer from paralysis, epilepsy, arthritis, or from loss of hearing or vision problems. Other sensory disorders and ailments of the nervous system may also be treated in a Night Way, after the patient or family seeks the help of a diviner who diagnoses the problem and determines the proper rite(s) for treatment.

The intention is to either heal those that are sick, and/or, to restore order and balance to relationships within the Navajo universe. Illnesses and disorders are considered far more than mere organic or physical manifestations. An individual's body, mind, and spirit must be realigned for true healing to occur. The ceremony uses techniques to scare off sicknesses and ugliness. Once disorder is gone, then order and balance are restored through song, prayer, sand painting and other aspects of the ceremony.

The Night Chant is led by a trained Medicine Man (doctor-priest) who has had a long apprenticeship and learned the intricate and detailed practices that are essential to the chant. Navajo music plays a crucial role in the religious ceremonial complexes called Chantways. A certain class of songs known as Yeibichai songs belong to the public parts of Nightway.

Dancers in the ceremony represent the gods. Many teams dance as the chant is performed without any variation and has a hypnotic effect on the listeners. The dancers wear many masks, made of sacred buckskin to impersonate the gods. The masks are important to the application of many "medicines" to the patient. They also play a vital role in the 
initiation of the young. The female goddess masks are really worn by men since women are not allowed to minister to the person for whom the chant is being sung.

There are 12 different sand paintings that are appropriate for the Night Chant ceremony, of which half are usually chosen (4 large, 2 small). The patient (and family members) usually have input into which sand paintings are used. Each sand painting is associated with a particular story and is accompanied by specific songs, prayers and ceremonial procedures.

The whole purpose of these sand paintings is to allow the patient to absorb the powers depicted in them. The patient does this by sitting or sleeping on it. The medicine man will apply items from his jish (sacred bundle) to the gods that are depicted in the sand painting. Then he'll do it to the corresponding part of the patient's body.

References  Beliefnet -Treating Disease the Navajo Night Way

Nov. 14, 2014

Celebrating the Traditions of the Navajo people, 
Native Americans from the Southwest US

The Navajo prefer to be called the "Diné" meaning “The People” or “Children of the Holy People”. The Navajos base their way of life on a belief that the physical and spiritual world blend together, and everything on earth is alive and their relative. They worship the winds, sun, and watercourses. The Navajo are also cautious about death, and rarely talk about it. Almost every act of their life—the building of the hogán, the planting of crops, etc.—is ceremonial in nature, each being attended with songs and prayers.

Navajo Song -- Coming Home

Where my kindred dwell, there I wander.
Child of the White Corn am I, there I wander.
The Red Rock House, there I wander.
Where dark kethawns are at the doorway, there I wander.
With the pollen of dawn upon my trail. There I wander.
At the yuni, the striped cotton hangs with pollen. There I wander.

Going around with it. There I wander.
Taking another, I depart with it. With it I wander.
In the house of long life, there I wander.
In the house of happiness, there I wander.
Beauty before me, with it I wander.
Beauty behind me, with it I wander.

Nov 21, 2014

Navajo families are headed by women, and matrilineal, 
so the woman and her children are of the clan of their mother and grandmother
.

Changing Woman is the most respected deity of the Navajo Indians, a benevolent fertility goddess, symbolizing the ever-changing and ever-fertile earth, the changing of the seasons, and the life cycle, birth, maturity, and death. She is known as Changing Woman because of her capacity for infinite regeneration, renewal or rejuvenation. She created the four original clans of the Diné Nation, and she taught the People of the Earth's Surface how to live in a state of "Hózhó" (beauty and harmony).

All Navajo ceremonies must include at least one song dedicated to Changing Woman. According to legend, Changing Woman changes continuously but never dies. She grows into an old woman in winter, but by spring, she becomes a young woman again. In this way, she represents the power of life, fertility, and changing seasons. Ceremonies dedicated to Changing Woman are performed to celebrate childbirth, coming of age for girls, and weddings and to bless a new home.

Spider Woman - Na'ashjéii Asdzáá (nah-ahsh-jay-ee ahs-dzah)

Spider Woman is one of the most important deities of traditional Navajo religion. Unlike the Hopi Spider Grandmother, the Navajo Spider Woman is not considered the creator of humans, but she is their constant helper and benefactor. Spider Woman was the advisor of the heroic twins Monster-Slayer and Born-for-Water, taught the people the arts of weaving and agriculture, and appears in many legends and folktales to "save the day," protect the innocent, and restore harmony to the world.


Spider Woman Cross 
Weaving Design

Navajo woman weaving
 
October Focus:
Sufi
Spiritual Tradition


Sufism, mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God. It consists of a variety of mystical paths that are designed to ascertain the nature of humanity and of God and to facilitate the experience of the presence of divine love and wisdom in the world. (October 3, 2014)

“The vibrations of music free the soul 
and take from a person all the heaviness 
which keeps (them) bound.” 

TEN PRINCIPAL SUFI THOUGHTS

There is One God, the Eternal, the Only Being.

There is One Master, the Guiding Spirit of all Souls, 
who constantly leads his followers towards the light.

There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, 
the only scripture that can enlighten the reader.

There is One Religion, the unswerving progress in the right direction 
towards the ideal, that fulfills the life's purpose of every soul.

There is One Law, the law of reciprocity, that can be observed 
by a selfless conscience, together with a sense of awakened justice.

There is One Brotherhood, the human brotherhood that unites 
the children of earth indiscriminately in the Fatherhood of God.

There is One Moral, the love that springs forth 
from self-denial and blooms in deeds of beneficence.

There is One Object of Praise, the beauty that uplifts the heart 
of its worshippers through all aspects from the seen to the unseen.

There is One Truth, the true knowledge of our being
within and without, which is the essence of all wisdom.

There is One Path, the annihilation of the false ego in the real, 
which raises the mortal to immortality, 
in which resides all perfection.

from sufiorder.org/ten_thoughts        (for Oct 10)


Poetry: Sufism and the encounters that Sufism facilitates --encounters with God, love, and the deepest aspects of human consciousness-- have evoked feelings in Sufis that have provided some of the most beautiful and profound poetry ever written. Some of the most prominent of the Persian Sufis who wrote poetry were Rumi, Attar, and Hafiz.

Oracle: In the Persian tradition, whenever one faces a difficulty or a fork in the road, or even if one has a general question in mind, one would hold that question in mind, and then ask the Oracle of Shiraz Hafiz for guidance.

More often than not, Hafiz, in his own enigmatic way would sing to the questioner and through the song, would get the questioner to look in the mirror of his/her soul. Upon reflection in the mirror of Hafiz's Ghazal, one would be inspired with an answer, a guidance or a direction. Traditionally, the first line upon which the eyes of the reader fall, would give the answer to the direct question, and the rest of the Ghazal would give further clarification.

Message for the Week (October 17)

“The One who knows joy, youthfully glows.” 
-Hafiz

.
Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. Iranians, Turks, Afghans, Tajiks, and other Central Asian Muslims as well as the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy in the past seven centuries. 

His poems have been widely translated into many of the world's languages and transposed into various formats. 


THE SUFI POET RUMI SPEAKS OF THE MYSTERY OF LIFE COMING FROM GOD

This being human is a guesthouse.
Every morning, a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a pain, a meanness.
Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
They may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The Essential Rumi

Message for the Week (October 24)

SUFI WHIRLING 

Rumi’s poetry sought to explain a Heavenly love which flowered in his soul,. The practice of whirling is a technique Sufis believe can actually open that love.

Sufi whirling is a form of Sama or physically active meditation through which dervishes (those who practice whirling, who seek to reach the source of all perfection). 
This is sought through abandoning one's egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

Whirling the body represents the earth and the heart represents the sun. As the earth rotates around the sun, the Divine is showing you that when you are moving towards that process of enlightenment you will find God present in your heart.

The focus in Sufism is always on the heart. Other systems focus on different chakras and different endocrine centers, but these are all of secondary importance in comparison to the heart chakra. If the heart is sick, the whole body will be sick because the heart is the source of all power and energy in the body.

nurmuhammad.com October 30

Meditation

O ye who believe, 
be conscious of God [in your heart], 
and keep the company with those who are truthful.
(9:119)

September Focus:
Jewish - Judaic
Spiritual Tradition

Jewish Beliefs (for Sept 5)

One God - Unlike many religions, Judaism has no dogma, or formal set of beliefs which one must hold in order to be a Jew. Central to Judaism is the belief that there is only one God, who created the world and is all-knowing and all-powerful. Judaism is the oldest surviving monotheistic religion.

The Ten Commandments - were given by God to Moses at Mount Sinai and must be observed by all Jews. Five Commandments deal with the individual's relationship with God and five deal with the individual's relationships with other people.

The 613 Commandments - or mitzvoth - are found in the Torah and include the Ten Commandments. Because Judaism focuses more on actions than beliefs, religious Jews are expected to follow all 613 commandments. In actuality, many pertain to rituals carried out in the First and Second Temples by the priests and are not relevant today. Some commandments have been adapted to modern times, such as the prohibition against lighting a fire on the Sabbath. This has been interpreted to include turning on electricity, which is forbidden on the Sabbath even though it was unknown in Biblical times.

Maimonides Principles of Faith - Moses Maimonides lived from 1135 - 1204. He was a rabbi, physician and philosopher who was born in Spain, lived in North Africa and Palestine, and died in Egypt. He wrote many theological works which remain important today. He composed 13 principles of faith that are widely accepted. These include the uniqueness of God, the importance of the Torah as God's law, the coming of the messiah (redeemer), and the resurrection of the dead.

Jewish Proverbs

If you wait to find the meaning of life, 
will there be enough life left to live meaningfully?

As he thinks in his heart, so he is.

As you teach, you learn.

Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.

First mend yourself, and then mend others.

A bird that you set free may be caught again, 
but a word that escapes your lips will not return

(earlier


Jewish Denominations and Worship (for Sept 12)
Judaism is divided into three major movements in the United States: Orthodox Judaism (the only movement of Judaism recognized in Israel today; Reform Judaism, which believes that the individual has the right to adapt religious beliefs and traditions to suit contemporary society, and emphasizes the ethics of Judaism; and Conservative Judaism - which attempts to conserve Jewish law and tradition, while adapting it to contemporary needs.

Worship
Religious Jews are required to say their prayers three times a day. Most of the prayers can be said alone, but certain prayers require the presence of a minyan, consisting of ten adult male Jews. In addition, prayers and blessings are recited throughout the day before eating and drinking and on other occasions.

While praying, Jewish males wrap themselves in a white prayer shawl. A skull cap, called a kippah or yarmulke, is always worn during prayers and religious Jews wear one at all times. Phylacteries or tefillin, two small leather boxes containing portions of the Torah, are wrapped around the arms and head by black leather straps during the morning prayers.

Besides the Torah, which is the Hebrew Bible, two other important Jewish Religious books are The Talmud (a compilation of discussions by rabbis over several hundred years), and The Kabbalah (a series of writings growing out of the tradition of Jewish Mysticism.

Jews go to synagogue to pray together. The synagogue acts as a house of study, for traditional Jewish males continue to study throughout their lives. In Orthodox synagogues, the men and women are separated from each other with a partition. Services are usually conducted by the rabbi, but members of the congregation can also lead the service, and a rabbi is not required. The heart of the service is the reading of a portion of the Torah.

All Reform, and most Conservative synagogues have egalitarian participation, in which women read from the Torah and lead services.

Jewish Proverb
Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.
---


Inspirational message


Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah (for Sept 19)
Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are Jewish coming of age rituals. Bar is a Jewish Babylonian Aramaic word literally meaning 'son', while bat means 'daughter' in Hebrew, and mitzvah means 'commandment' or 'law'. Thus bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah literally translate to "son of commandment" and "daughter of commandment".

Today many non-Orthodox Jews celebrate a girl's bat mitzvah in the same way as a boy's bar mitzvah. The age of b'nai mitzvah roughly coincides with physical puberty.[1] The bar or bat mitzvah ceremony is usually held on the first Shabbat after a boy's thirteenth and a girl's twelfth birthday, following an intensive period of study.

According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13 years old, they become accountable for their actions and become a bar mitzvah, and are called to read the Torah in the synagogue. The boy is now considered a man in the eyes of the Jewish religion and obligated to fulfill the commandments of the Torah. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12 according to Orthodox and Conservative Jews, and at the age of 13 according to Reform Jews.

Prior to reaching bar mitzvah, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's actions. After this age, the boys and girls bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics, and are able to participate in all areas of Jewish community life. In addition to being considered accountable for their actions from a religious perspective, b'nai mitzvah may be counted towards a minyan (prayer quorum) and may lead prayer and other religious services in the family and the community.

Jewish Inspiration
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." Anne Frank


Jewish Holy Tablets


Shabbat, The Jewish Sabbath and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (for Sept 26)
Holy days are celebrated in prayer and family time. The weekly holy day is Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, celebrated every week from sundown on Friday to nightfall of Saturday. It is a time to regroup and pray, to eat and rejoice, to spend time with family and friends, to study and share—to focus on a person’s spiritual side.

Yom Kippur, known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. This year it is celebrated on October 3-4. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and prayer, spending most of the day in synagogue services.

Its central themes are atonement and repentance, to release the “sins or transgressions” of the past. The message of Yom Kippur from the Torah is about discernment:

“Just as God separated the light from the darkness (Gen 1:4) so we are called to discern between the realms of the holy and the profane, the sacred and the common, and the clean and the unclean.” 

Shabbat, The Jewish Sabbath (for Sept 26) -additional info
In Hebrew, Shabbat means "resting." As is recounted in the beginning of the Book of Genesis, when God created the world in six days and refrained from creating on the seventh. The observance of Shabbat by the Jewish nation is mandated in the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

Shabbat is ushered in on Friday afternoon with the lighting of candles by women and girls. Following the special Friday night Shabbat evening prayers (preferably in the synagogue) the family partakes of a festive meal which is an integral part of oneg Shabbat, "delighting in the Shabbat." It is opened by the Kiddush blessing over a cup of wine or grape juice, and the Hamotzie blessing over two whole loaves of bread called Challah. As cooking and baking is not allowed on Shabbat, much of the food preparation is done in advance.

On Shabbat morning, the family holds a prayer service which features the weekly public reading of the Torah. After the prayers is another festive meal, complete with Kiddush and Hamotzie. In the afternoon, the family enjoys a smaller meal, called Seudah Shlishit.

Shabbat ends after nightfall on Saturday. It is marked with the brief Havdalah, (separation) service which marks the departure of the holy day of rest.

Jewish Proverb
"I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders."

August Focus: Aboriginal Spiritual Traditions see below  

July Focus:
Islamic
Spiritual Tradition

The Star and Crescent
The Star and Crescent

Islam takes its name from the Arabic word, islam, meaning making something safe and secure, something whole and sound; entering into peace and tranquility. Sala'am means peace in Arabic. "The word jihad in Arabic does not mean a holy war," according to Isam, principal of Salaam Academy in Albuquerque, who emigrated from Kuwait. "It means nonviolent struggle. Jihad can be speaking out against tyranny. To say righteous words before an unjust leader is the highest level of jihad."

Muslims
A follower of Islam is called a Muslim. Fewer than 15% of Muslims are Arab; a sizable minority of Arabs are Christians of various denominations. Countries with the largest Muslim populations are Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Next in size are Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Morocco. The two primary divisions within Islam are the Sunni (85% of the world-wide Muslim population) and Shi'i providing 15% of the Muslim population. Muslims primarily use the word "islam" to refer to the doctrines and teachings of the prophet Muhammad. 

The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, teaches that Islam existed before Muhammad and was the path taught by all the prophets of God. It contains what Muslims believe to be the literal revelation of God to Muhammad over a 23-year period through verses which address the nature of God (Allah), stories of the prophets (including Muhammad), descriptions of the Judgment Day and afterlife, plus the five pillars of faith and moral commands. 

Muslims believe Muhammad to be the last human being to receive genuine divine revelation. The Qur'an names a number of prophets, many of whom also appear in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures (Adam, Noah (Nuh), Jonah, Abraham (Ibrahim), Lot, Isaac, Ismael, Jacob, Joseph (Yusef), Moses (Musa), David, Solomon, John the Baptist (Yahya) and Jesus (Isa). 

Five Pillars

1. Shahada (Witnessing to Faith) – declaring one's faith through affirmation of the shahada, a short formula that asserts the unity of God and the messengership of Muhammad.
2. Salat (Ritual Worship) – a combination of praise of God and recitation of the Qur'an. This is the cornerstone of the daily Islamic Spiritual discipline performed 5 times a day.
3. Zakat (Charity) – one distributes 2.5% of one's wealth once a year to those in need.
4. Sawm (Fasting) – fasting during Ramadan, by refraining from eating, drinking, smoking or sexual relations from dawn until sunset.
5. Hajj (Pilgrimage) – a holy visit to the city of Mecca, at least once during one's lifetime.

Ramadan
The entire month of Ramadan is one of fasting and prayer. During one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the Laylat al-Qadr (the "Night of Power") when the Qur'an first descended from heaven.

Sufism
Sufism is a tradition of mystical discipline emphasizing the internal, spiritual dimension of Islam. It contains the elements to understand God and the world through mystical insight. There is no one theosophy, but key ideas include: nearness to God, spiritual poverty, knowing God through experience, true unity of all things in and through God, development of ability to move beyond self-interest and small-heartedness, and ascending to the state of fana, ecstatic union with the divine.

Organization of Islamic Cooperation
This representative body unites Muslim nations across the globe. It is the largest inter-governmental organization in the world apart from the United Nations, with membership in over 57 countries. The aim of the organization is to keep the interests of the Islamic states at heart, and to safeguard and protect the plight and prosperity of its people in the true spirit of promoting international peace and harmony amongst the world's diverse collection of cultures.  


The Symbols of Islam
Islam is a religion that began in Arabia and was revealed to humanity by the Prophet Muhammad. There are no official religious Islam symbols, but several symbols have a special place in Islam.


The Word Allah in Arabic

The Star and Crescent:
The star and crescent is the best-known symbol used to represent Islam. The crescent was not a symbol used for Islam by Muhammad, as Islam is against appointing "holy symbols" (so that during the early centuries of Islam, Muslim authorities simply did not want any geometric symbols to be used to symbolize Islam, in the way that the cross symbolizes Christianity, the Star of David a commonly occurring symbol of Judaism and Jews, etc.). This is why early Islamic coins were covered with Arabic writing, but contained no other visual symbols.

During the past two centuries the crescent and star has featured on the flags of Pakistan and other Muslim countries.

The Color Green
The color green has a special place in Islam. It is used in the decoration of mosques, the bindings of Qur'ans, the silken covers for the graves of Sufi saints, and in the flags of various Muslim countries. Green has been associated with Islam for many centuries. According to Muslims the color green symbolizes nature and life. 

June Focus:
Mayan
Spiritual Traditions


Mayan Calendar

Mayans and the Summer Solstice

June 20th is the day we celebrate the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and what a magnificent day it is! The Summer Solstice is a magical time in the year when you can connect to the ancient Mayan energy and recharge your mind, body and spirit. In the Spiritual energy of "Unfolding The Light," it is a time for expanding our light, our positive energy, our solutions. 

The word "solstice" comes from the Latin terms "sol" meaning "sun" and "sistere" meaning "to stand still." Our Summer Solstice is the day when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from our hemisphere and appears to stand still before it heads south again. It is the day when the tilt of our planet in its hemisphere is most inclined towards the sun. It is also the longest day and shortest night of the year. While those of us in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate in June, folks in the Southern half of the Earth have their Summer Solstice celebration in December.


Mayan Calendar Periods 

A major celestial event, the Mayans believed the Summer Solstice to be a time for spiritual initiation and change. They held special ceremonies on the solstice dates to balance the earth's energy. The Summer Solstice for the Southern Hemisphere this December also happens to be the same date that marks the end of the Mayan calendar. While there are many theories about the significance of the Mayan calendar end and December's Summer Solstice, signifies a time when our world as we know it will change for the better, and a new consciousness will spread across the Earth. So the Summer Solstice is indeed a time for celebration and change!

Like the Mayans who were very aware of their different states of altered consciousness, you can learn to increase your own consciousness and embody your self-awareness and higher self during this enchanted time. The Summer Solstice is an ideal time for you to let go of your ego and old patterns of suppression and focus on what you wish to bring into your life. This is a time for you to invite the sun's energy and connect with your higher self. And this is the perfect occasion for you to feel inspired, to follow your dreams, and to truly listen to your higher self.


Mayan Dancer


When the Spanish arrived in Central America, they forced the Maya to become Christians. While adhering to the Christian doctrine imparted by the Spanish friars, the Mayans maintained their ancient beliefs and rituals which are still practiced today.


Chitzen Ize

Most spiritual ceremonies involve prayer, burning of copal incense and the burning of candles. The "Four Corners of the Earth" (or the earth's cardinal points) are important to the Maya, presented by four colors: white, black, red and yellow. The colors of the above and below are green and blue.

The Mayans have a special prayer that they recite upon awakening before they start their day.

Mayan Prayer for the Seven Spiritual Directions

From the East, House of Light
May wisdom Dawn in us
So we may see all things in clarity

From the North, House of the Night
May Wisdom Ripen in Us
So we may know all from within

From the West, House of Transformation
May Wisdom be transformed into right action
So we may do what must be done

From the South, House of the Eternal Sun
May right action reap the harvest
So we may enjoy the fruits of Planetary being

From Above, House of Heaven
Where star people and Ancestors gather
May their blessings come to us Now
From Below, House of Earth
May the heartbeat of her crystal core
Bless us with harmonies to end all war

From the Center, Galactic Source
Which is everywhere at once
May everything be known
As the light of mutual love

Oh Yum Hunab Ku Evam Maya E Ma Ho
All Hail the Harmony of Mind and Nature

May Focus:
Polynesian & Maori
Spiritual Traditions

Māori - the Polynesian indigenous people of New Zealand


Koru: 
shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond 


MAORI SPIRITUAL TRADITION 

The Maori are believed to be the indigenous people of New Zealand, immigrating here from Polynesia on canoes many years ago. This event was known as the "Great Fleet".

The Maori have a rich culture, steeped in tradition and legend. Legend is passed down through the generations by story telling - stories that tell of the creation of the islands of New Zealand and much more.

Maraes, (communal "plaza" areas where the Maori people meet), provide a focus for social, cultural and spiritual life within the Maori community. The Marae includes a wharenui (meeting house) and wharekai (dining room).

Maori people define themselves by their tribe, or iwi. Family is very important within the Maori culture, and encompasses immediate family, in-laws and all those connected by blood ties.

Dance for the Maori people is a very important part of their culture. Kapa haka (Maori performance art), incorporates singing, dancing and facial expressions. Each action within the dance has a meaning, tying it to the words. The traditional Maori war dance, known as the haka, is performed by the All Blacks (our National Rugby Team), before each game.

MAORI WISDOM 

Whakatauki (proverbs) play a large role within Maori culture. They are used as a reference point in speeches and also as guidelines spoken to others day by day. It is a poetic form of the Maori language often merging historical events, or holistic perspectives with underlying messages which are extremely influential in Maori society.

Whaia te iti kahurangi ki te tuohu koe me he maunga teitei
Aim for the highest cloud so that if you miss it, you will hit a lofty mountain

He kai kei aku ringa
There is food at the end of my hands (Use your basic abilities and resources to create success)

Moe atu nga ringa raupo
Marry a man with calloused hands

Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi
With red and black the work will be complete
(This refers to co-operation where if everyone does their part, the work will be complete. The colours refer to the traditional kowhaiwhai patterns on the inside of the meeting houses.)


Ho-ala Huna – Hawaiian Spiritual Wisdom

Certain groups of Hawaiians believe that Hawaii was settled as much as 1,500 years earlier that anthropologists believe.

These people say the ancestors came here from the stars at tens of thousands of years ago. They brought with them a sacred wisdom called Ho'ala Huna (Hawaiian words that mean: "that which causes an awakening to the secret or sacred awareness of Reality.") This knowledge was said to be the ultimate science of the world of spirit as well as the world of form.

This knowledge was kept a treasured secret among a special priesthood lineage known as the Mo'o or dragon priests. These priests are said to have used this knowledge to build a powerful culture in a land called Mu, which later spread to Egypt and regions of Central and South America. 

Due to a contentious battle this motherland was completely destroyed. To preserve elements of this sacred knowledge, the priests who were its keepers in Egypt migrated eastward across northern India and southern Asia. Their goal was to reach a land in the middle of the ocean where the knowledge could be preserved until a time when it could once again "Fly around the world as if on wings of a bird."

As they migrated eastward they founded centers of learning which became the forerunners of many of the world's religions. They eventually arrived in Hawaii sometime before 600 BC.
(750 BC to 1,250 AD) 


Island of Kauai

Ho'ala Huna resulted in a civilization so advanced that its people lived in what can only be described as paradise. These people thrived in total peace and harmony for nearly 2,000 years. They had no need for kings, armies, tax collectors, police or jails. Its system of conflict resolution and justice was a model of effectiveness. Its family's exemplified the ideals of safety and nurturing and produced people who were strong of body, mind, and spirit.

Each person saw life as a Divine opportunity to develop one's spirit. In learning how to master their spirits they learned how to master the flow of life energy. By learning how to master the flow of life energy, they learned how to master their Divine ability to create. By taking personal responsibility for how they created their lives they grew in terms of personal enlightenment and empowerment.

This enlightened society was governed by counsels of family elders and supported by a hierarchy of highly skilled, yet humble priest-teachers known as kahuna - keepers of the wisdom - whose entire lives were unconditionally dedicated to the task. Originally, their headquarters was the Big Island of Hawaii.

This ancient system affirms that God is found not in a church but in the essence of one's being because each person is a part of the ALL THAT IS that is God. 

It sees each person's life as a perfect, and Divinely inspired path and that each person will eventually wake up back home, that place where each of us are completely aware of our Divine nature.

The teachings of Ho'ala Huna are firmly rooted in universal truth. It postulates that enlightenment is the purpose of life, that expanding consciousness is the nature of Divinity, and that the attainment of total consciousness is the nature of Godhood, and the eventual destiny of every conscious being.

Ho'ala Huna affirms that priests cannot teach anyone anything they don't already know. As a part of God, each of us are already KNOW everything. Kahuna can only provide perspectives that allow a person to remember that, which has been forgotten. Out of respect for each person's path, Kahuna offer no perspective unless it is sincerely requested in a spirit of humility.

Pa'ao, a kahuna of the Order of Ku, organized an invasion of the Big Island of Hawaii in 1250 A.D.  Pa'ao replaced the enlightened Hawaiian culture with a class-based society known as the Ali'i (royalty based system) and installed his Tahitian relatives to be kings over the native Hawaiians. 

Except for a few high priests known as Kahuna of the Order of Kane (Kah-nay) the high priests of the Mo'o clan) who escaped to the northern-most island of Kauai, the knowledge of Ho'ala Huna became lost to the Polynesian people and the world.

The only island Pa'ao could not conquer was the island of Kauai. He mounted three invasions, but due to freak storms and other unusual problems, his soldiers never set foot on the island. Through time, other Tahitian kings also attempted to invade Kauai. Even Kamehameha mounted three unsuccessful invasions. It was primarily on Kauai, and in the mountainous regions of the Big Island and Molokai that Ho'ala Huna was preserved among the Mo'o priests who were able to avoid capture.

from http://www.hunawisdom.com

   

April 2014 Focus:
African
Spiritual Traditions


The indigenous religious beliefs and practices of African peoples include various traditional religions which have some characteristics in common. Generally, they are oral not written, include belief in a supreme being, belief in spirits and other divinities, a veneration of ancestors, use of magic, and traditional medicine. The role of humanity is generally seen as one of harmonizing nature with the supernatural.

Spiritual Rituals: Dagara, Burkina Faso Tribe (West Africa)
When a woman is pregnant, a hearing ritual is performed. In this ritual, elders will ask the unborn child, "Who are you? Why are you coming here? Why do you bother, this world is too messed up. What can we do to ease your journey?" The baby takes over the mother's voice and speaks back, "This is who I am. I am coming to help uphold the knowledge of the of the ancestors," or, "I am coming to do this and this". 
And based on that information, the elders will prepare an appropriate ritual space in which to receive the chills and make sure that everything is ready here before the child is born. 
After the birth, the elders make sure they surround the child with things that will help her remember and accomplish the purpose she has described. 
And when she reaches adolescence and goes through initiation, she has to go back to the time before she was born to remember what she said. -from "The Spirit of Intimacy" by Sobonfu Somea


Traditional African society was matriarchal, yet everyone in the village was actively involved in child-rearing, particularly the elders. Instruction of the youth was the principal responsibility of the elders.

The traditional African Rites of Passage involved far more than manhood and womanhood training. It was a process that followed the entire life of the child. Beginning at age three, each year the child would learn certain principles and demonstrate that knowledge through mastering something: perhaps a dance, that demonstrated a certain understanding.

Children were taught a world view in which everyone and everything is interdependent. A view that establishes the importance of each child and each child’s obligation to be a dependable, reliable, knowledgeable, and wise link in the chain of life.

“It’s a long way to the watering hole. Explicitly and consciously raise your children, and teach them the values of their ancestors. Then you can take the bars down from your doors.” 

 

March 2014 Focus:

Buddhist
Spiritual Tradition

 
Buddhist beliefs center on correct understanding of human nature and ultimate reality. Buddha urged his followers to focus on the Four Noble Truths by which they can free themselves from suffering.

Four Noble Truths

Why are we here? Why are we not happy with our lives? 
What is the cause of our unsatisfactoriness? 
How can we see the end of unsatisfactoriness and experience eternal peace?

The Buddha's Teaching is based on the Four Noble Truths. To realize these Truths is to realize and penetrate into the true nature of existence, including the full knowledge of oneself. When we recognize that all phenomenal things are transitory, are subject to suffering and are void of any essential reality, we will be convinced that true and enduring happiness cannot be found in material possessions and worldly achievement, that true happiness must be sought only through mental purity and the cultivation of wisdom.

The Four Noble Truths are a very important aspect of the teaching of the Buddha. The Buddha has said that it is because we fail to understand the Four Noble Truths that we have continued to go round in the cycle of birth and death. In the very first sermons of the Buddha, the Dhammachakka Sutta, which He gave to the five monks at the Deer park in Sarnath was on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. 

What are the Four Noble Truths? 

The Noble Truth of Dukkha
The Noble Truth of the Cause of Dukkha
The Noble Truth of the End of Dukkha
The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the end of Dukkha

There are many ways of understanding the Pali word 'Dukkha'. It has generally been translated as 'suffering' or 'unsatisfactoriness', but this term as used in the Four Noble Truths has a deeper and wider meaning. Dukkha contains not only the ordinary meaning of suffering, but also includes deeper ideas such as imperfection, pain, impermanence, disharmony, discomfort, irritation, or awareness of incompleteness and insufficiency. By all means, Dukkha includes physical and mental suffering: birth, decay, disease, death, to be united with the unpleasant, to be separated from the pleasant, not to get what one desires. 

However, many people do not realize that even during the moments of joy and happiness, there is Dukkha because these moments are all impermanent states and will pass away when conditions change. Therefore, the truth of Dukkha encompasses the whole of existence, in our happiness and sorrow, in every aspect of our lives. As long as we live, we are very profoundly subjected to this truth.

K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera http://www.budsas.org/

“All the holy words you read and all the holy words you speak are as nothing if you do not act upon them. Even if you read little and say little but live the right way, forsaking craving, hatred and delusion, you will know the truth and find calmness and will show others the path.”  - The Buddha 


Footprints of Buddha


Prayer Wheel


February 2014 Focus on
Spiritual Tradition:
Wiccan 


Celtic Cross


Wicca draws from the Old Traditions of Witchcraft. Witchcraft and Wicca, while similar in many respects, are not the same. All Wiccans are Pagans but not all Pagans are Wiccans. One can be a Witch, without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian, without being a Baptist. Wicca is a recognized religion, while Witchcraft itself is not considered a religion. Thus, Wicca might best be described as a modern religion, based on ancient Witchcraft traditions.

Wicca is a legally recognized religion in the United States, and in many aspects of Canadian bureaucracy as well. A conservative estimate of 400,000 makes Paganism the seventh largest religious organization in the USA. Some Wiccan traditions are associated with a culture. Examples are Celtic Wiccan, Strega, Norse, Welsh, Dianic and Egypt. These paths are rooted in the society or culture they are named for. These groups follow and teach the history, mythology, anthropology, & archeology of the culture they are named after.

Witchcraft in ancient history was known as "The Craft of the Wise" because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave council and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. They understood that mankind is not superior to nature, the earth and its creatures but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen that combine to make the whole. 

Wiccan learn from and revere the gift of nature from divine creation by celebrating the cycles of the sun, moon and seasons. "We search within ourselves for the cycles that correspond to those of the natural world and try to live in harmony with the movement of this universal energy. We also revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water that combine to manifest all creation. From these four elements we obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives."

Celtic-Wicca webpages: lifetempleseminary.org/celtic-wicca  -- wicca.com/celtic/wicca/wicca.htm 

WATER CLEANSING RITUAL From The Book of Runes, by Ralph Blum

This beautiful and simple ritual of cleansing is associated with LAGUZ, the water rune, whose attributes are water, fluidity, the ebb and flow of emotions, of vocations and relationships.

Whenever your body comes in contact with water, use this prayer to ritualize the cleansing and healing of your body and spirit. Any time you dip your hands into water or take a shower or jump into a pool, lake, or the ocean, think or speak these words.

I cleanse myself of all selfishness, resentment, critical emotions towards my fellow beings, self-condemnation, and ignorant misinterpretations of my life's experiences.

I bathe myself in generosity, appreciation, emotions of praise toward my fellow beings, self-acceptance, and enlightened understanding of my life's experiences.

Watch what comes to mind as you repeat these words aloud or in silence. Use this Prayer of Intention with love and gentleness. You are not making yourself wrong or punishing yourself. Rather, you are embodying in words a yearning for more clarity, more Light in your life.

   

January 2014 Focus on
Spiritual Tradition:
Taoism


The term Tao means "way", "path" or "principle", and is found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes something that is both the source and the driving force behind everything that exists. The Tao represents the essence of all creation, and the spiritual tradition emphasizes living in harmony. 

Taoism idealizes a natural world characterized by ever-changing cyclical correspondence between the "inner" (microcosm) and the outer (macrocosm). All life energy ("chi") is composed of differing combinations of female yin energy and male yang energy, for balance. 


Lao Tzu 

The founder of Taoism is considered to be Lao Tzu (Laozi) who lived in the 500s BCE, and introduced the elements of Taoism through his book Tao Te Ching.

 

Many scholars believe Taoism arose as a countermovement to Confucianism. The basic spiritual philosophies are much the same and Lao Tzu is traditionally held to have been a teacher of Confucius. Taoism favors natural approach vs. ritual, spontaneity, and individualism vs. a defined social order. Representatives of early Chinese Buddhism were deeply influenced by the Taoist keystone texts which embrace "this life" and "living every moment."

The practices of Taoism evolved over time, developing through a number of different schools. Taoists recognize five basic elements (wu-hsing) of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Practitioners focus on benevolence, and inner peace. One goal is to seek spiritual enlightenment through action without effort (wu-wei). 

Throughout Chinese history, Taoism was nominated as the state religion several times until the 17th century, when it fell from favor. Although suppressed in the first decades of the People's Republic of China (PRC), and enduring persecution during the Cultural Revolution, Taoism is one of five religions recognized in the PRC today.

Estimates for the number of Taoists worldwide range from 20 million to possibly as many as 400 million in China alone, especially in regions populated by Chinese people like mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore.

Symbols: The taijitu (yin and yang symbol) as well as the Ba Gua (Eight Trigrams of Feng Shui) are associated with Taoist symbolism. Originating around the 10th century, the Taijutu is used by almost all Taoist organizations on their flags, logos, temple floors, or stitched into clerical robes. Taoist temples may fly square or triangular flags that feature mystical writing or diagrams intended to provide guidance for the spirits of the dead, to bring good fortune, increase the life span, etc.

Exercises: A recurrent and important element of Taoism are rituals, exercises and substances aiming at aligning oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, at undertaking ecstatic spiritual journeys, or at improving physical health and thereby extending one's life, ideally to the point of immortality. Enlightened and immortal beings are referred to as xian.

Martial Arts: A number of martial arts traditions, (like T'ai Chi Ch'uan) embody Taoist principles to a significant extent, and some practitioners consider their art to be a means of practicing Taoism.

Other Spiritual Practices: Fortune telling - including astrology, I Ching, and other forms of divination - have long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuits. Mediumship is widely encountered in some sects (tongji or marial form and spirit-writing). 

---
Recurrent and important elements of Taoism are rituals, exercises and substances aiming at aligning oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, at undertaking spiritual journeys, or at improving physical health and thereby extending one's life, ideally to the point of immortality. Enlightened and immortal beings are referred to as xian.

  • A number of martial arts traditions, (like T'ai Chi Ch'uan) embody Taoist principles to a significant extent, and some practitioners consider their art to be a means of practicing Taoism-
  • Divination, including astrology and the I Ching, has long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuit.
  • - Mediumship is widely encountered in some sects (tongji or marial form and spirit-writing). 

"Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river" -Laozi, Tao Te Ching

 

December Focus:

Christianity

Spiritual Traditions


Symbols associated with Christianity

Christianity is the second major religion that celebrates One God. It has nearly 2 billion adherents worldwide. The religion is a celebration of both the life and death of the Wayshower Jesus of Nazareth, said to be the son of God. His message included forgiveness, love of one's neighbor, the importance of inner as well as outer observance of spiritual law. Jesus is also said to have performed miracles such as walking on water, healing the sick, and restoring the dead to life. He had twelve key disciples during his life. 

The earliest Christians were converts from Judaism who believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who would usher in God's kingdom on Earth.

The core Christian scripture is the Bible, made up of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) which recounts the story of the Jews and the New Testament, written in Greek by Jesus' followers. Included are the four Gospels which tell of the Holy Family, the Acts of Jesus and his apostles, The Epistles which interpret the new faith and provide counsel to converts, and The Revelation with prophecies about the messiah's return and the day of judgment.

Candles often represent The Light Within

An important symbol associated with Jesus is Light. "I Am The Light of the World" The Christ Consciousness is a reflection of this light within, being tuned into the soul, the good, kind, loving, sharing part of each person.


Christianity may be the largest religion in the world today. There are approximately 2.2 billion followers, nearly one-third of the world's population. 

Pope Francis, the current head of the Catholic Church, has been inspiring and challenging people with his more hands-on approach as a spiritual leader. Here is a passage on "building bridges" from one of his addresses to representatives of more than 180 countries, sovereign orders and international organizations. As the mission of WCF is to help "build bridges between the spiritual traditions of the world," it is a hopeful message:


Pope Francis with Dove

Building Bridges
"One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, 
builder of bridges with God and between people. 
My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to 
build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that 
everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, 
but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced."
- Pope Francis

To read more of his insights, see page 2 of the Fall issue of Spirit Is Our River. 

   

Prayer for Being Filled With Christ's Light

Lord, help me follow Your Light today,
Let Your Light be in all I say, 
Let Your Light be in all I do,
Lord, let my heart reflect from You,
Your holy love, Your peace, and joy,
Let my life shine for You, Lord!

Oh Jesus, Light of the world, my Friend,
Fill me with Thy Light and send
My heart, my mind, and all my being
Into the world Your light to bring,
Your Truth in all You do through me
From now until eternity.
In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

  -by Suzanne Davis Harden


 

A Christmas carol (also called a noël) is a carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics reflect the theme of Christmas or the winter season in general. Carol singing is a tradition celebrated worldwide, particularly in the period immediately surrounding the December holidays. 

The first specifically Christmas hymns for Christians that we know of appear in fourth century Rome. About 500 early carols, which included wassailing songs, songs in English and Latin and some “macaronic” (mixture of Latin and English) carols were found in museums in the 19th century. Singing carols in church was instituted on Christmas Eve 1880 in Truro Cathedral, Cornwall. At that time the words “hymn” and “carol’ began being used almost interchangeably.

Carols are a vocal “Light” of the holiday season, with many celebrating the light of angels.  Among the favorites:

A song celebrating the sounds and songs of angels is Angels We Have Heard on High," a Christmas carol in the public domain. The song commemorates the story of the birth of Jesus Christ found in the Gospel of Luke, in which shepherds outside Bethlehem encounter a multitude of angels singing and praising the newborn child. The words of the song are based on a traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos campagnes (literally, "Angels in our countryside") composed by an unknown author in Languedoc, France.  Its most common English version was translated in 1862 by James Chadwick, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, northeast England.

Angels we have heard on high 
Sweetly singing o’er the plains 
And the mountains in reply
 
Echoing their joyous strains 
Gloria in Excelsis Deo  
(Glory to God In The Highest)

 

“It Came Upon The Midnight Clear is a poem and Christmas carol written by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts at the request of his friend, William Parsons Lunt, pastor of United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts.

“It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:

"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,

To hear the angels sing.

   --- 

Other Carols Celebrating Angels:  
Silent Night, 
The First Noel, 
O Holy Night, 
O Come All Ye Faithful, 
O Little Town of Bethlehem

 

The Symbol of the Angel in World Religions

Belief in angels is not limited to Christian traditions. The Christians inherited Jewish understandings of angels, which in turn may have been partly inherited from the Egyptians. Angels to Christians represented the spirit of love and messengers of the Spirit of God in Jesus the Christ 

The angels are represented throughout the Christian Bible as a body of spiritual beings intermediate between God and men: "You have made him (man) a little less than the angels ..." (Psalms 8:4-5). Some Christians believe that angels are created beings, and use the following passage as evidence: "praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts ... for He spoke and they were made. He commanded and they were created ..." (Psalms 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16). The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) declared that the angels were created beings. The Council's decree Firmiter credimus (issued against the Albigenses) declared both that angels were created and that men were created after them. The First Vatican Council (1869) repeated this declaration in Dei Filius, the "Dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith". Of note is that the Bible describes the function of angels as "messengers" and does not indicate when the creation of angels occurred.

Adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (generally referred to as "Mormons") view angels as the messengers of God. They are sent to mankind to deliver messages, minister to humanity, teach doctrines of salvation, call mankind to repentance, give priesthood keys, save individuals in perilous times, and guide humankind. --Wikipedia

10 References to Angels in the Bible

Psalm 91:11 
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

Matthew 18:10 
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father 
who is in heaven.

Hebrews 13:2 
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby 
some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 1:14 
Are they not all ministering spirits 
sent out to serve for the sake of those 
who are to inherit salvation?

Matthew 4:11 
Then the devil left him, and behold, 
angels came and were ministering to him.

Revelation 5:11 ESV 
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders 
the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,

Revelation 14:6 ESV 
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Matthew 26:53 
Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Genesis 1:3 
And God said, "Let there be light," 
and there was light.

Job 33: 23
"If a man has an angel to whom one would listen once in a thousand times, 
the angel would show him the way of uprightness.

November Focus:

Hindu
Spiritual Traditions


Hindu Creation Symbol

Hindu Tradition

Hinduism is the dominant tradition in Southeast and Central Asia. The Hindu spiritual tradition has no founder. Membership is gained through birth into the caste system, and conversion is not generally permitted.

With a history of more than 4,000 years, there are a some common features:

- Samsara, a cycle of birth, death and rebirth
- Brahman, a cosmic and universal principle underlying reality; the absolute soul.
- Karma - a system of merit, and demerit that determines the favorableness of the next rebirth
- Moksha, the state of mastery, when the soul achieves union with Brahman

Religious Holidays

Among the most popular and universally celebrated religious holidays are Diwali, an autumn celebration of light over darkness; Holi, the spring festival of colors; and Raksha Bandhan, which honors brother-sister relationships.

  Diwali - Festival of Lights

Diwali is India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (or deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.

Diwali, celebrated in October or November each year, originated as a harvest festival that marked the last harvest of the year before winter. India was an agricultural society where people would seek the divine blessing of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as they closed their accounting books and prayed for success at the outset of a new financial year. Today, this practice extends to businesses all over the Indian subcontinent, which mark the day after Diwali as the first day of the new financial year.

Indians celebrate with family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi. Some believe that Lakshmi wanders the Earth looking for homes where she will be welcomed. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi in.

Creation, Gods, Festivals, Gatherings

There are many stories of creation. One tells of Brahma, the god of creation, born of a lotus emerging from the navel of the god Vishnu. The Sanskrit is an ancient language that only male Brahmins are traditionally allowed to learn.

       Hindu Gods

 Hinduism has many gods and goddesses which are finite manifestations of Brahman. In modern Hindu practice, Shiva (the goddesses) and Rama and Krishna (as avatars of Vishnu) are at the center of most ritual.

Hindus may keep weekly or monthly fast days and perform puja (devotional rituals) either at home or by visiting a local mandir (temple). They may occasionally go on a yatra (pilgrimage) to pay homage at a major regional temple on a festival day.

Communal gathering is referred to as a satsang. It may involve listening to bhashan (religious messages) and the singing of bhajans (devotional hymns). 

 

Right: Bali Statue  

Dietary Practice, Arranged Marriages

Among high-class Hindus, there exists a strong tradition of vegetarianism, a dietary practice associated with ritual purity. The higher one's caste, the greater the number of rules required to maintain a state of ritual purity. However, the diet of coastal areas usually includes fish, and in practice, many Hindus eat meat, particularly in northern India, which has experienced centuries of Muslim influence.

 

Arranged marriage is the norm for most Hindu families. Brides usually live with their in-laws in a joint-family system, with several members of an extended family sharing the responsibilities of domestic life in one collective dwelling.

 

Hindu Prayer

In a Hindu's life, the prayer forms an important component. Every action, event and the ensuing circumstances, success or failure, is filled with prayers. Therefore, in Hindu tradition, prayer takes different and numerous forms compared to other cultures, though the object and motive remain the same.

Arguably, Hinduism is the one religion with maximum number of prayers, worship, rituals and ceremonies. Waking up, going to sleep, bathing, eating meals, studies, travel, name giving, birth, death, marriage, taking medicine and commencing a new venture - to name some, prayers form the important part in all these and the whole life.

Typical Hindu Ritual Worship or Puja

Puja is essentially a ritual expressing a symbolic offering of our lives and activities to God. Every object associated with the ritual of Puja is symbolically significant. The flower that we offer to the deity stands for the good that has blossomed in us. The fruits offered symbolize our detachment, self-sacrifice and surrender, and the incense we burn collectively stands for the desires we have for various things in life. The lamp we light represents the light in us, that is the soul, which we offer to the Absolute. The vermilion or red powder stands for our emotions.

Hindu Prayer to the Lord
O Lord of Lords! 
You alone are my mother and father. 
You alone are my relative and friend. 
Only you are my wealth and wisdom. 
You alone are everything for me!
Hindu Prayer for Guidance and Peace
Lead me from untruth to truth. 
Lead me from darkness to light. 
Lead me from death to immortality. 
Om, peace peace peace 
(Note: Peace in all three realms: 
Surroundings, body and mind.)
Hindu Prayer for Protection
May Lord protect us. May Lord nourish us. 
May he energize us. May he make us brilliant. 
May we be congenial. 
Om, peace peace peace 
Hindu Prayer for Brahman 
(the one and only Supreme Lord)
Brahman is the offering, Brahman is the oblation
Brahman is the fire to which Brahman makes the offering
Brahman indeed is attained by one who is absorbed in action.
Hindu Prayer for Prosperity and Happiness
May all be happy, may all be healthy. 
May all prosper, may none suffer. 
Om, peace, peace, peace 

 older Hindu Tradition page

October Focus:

Native American

Spiritual Tradition

Native American groups have inhabited the territory of New Mexico for thousands of years, many centuries before Europeans reached the Americas. Reminders of their ancient presence are throughout the state: cliff dwellings and pit houses, kivas (underground ceremonial chambers), abandoned cities along ancient trade routes, and symbols etched in rock.

New Mexico is home to 22 tribes, which includes the Navajo Nation, Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache, and 19 pueblos.

The Navajo Nation is the largest American Indian tribe in North America and their reservation is located in northwest New Mexico, northern Arizona and southeast Utah. The Jicarilla Apaches live in northern New Mexico and the Mescalero Apaches reside in southern New Mexico. A majority of the 19 pueblos are located in northern New Mexico. Each tribe is unique and they have their own traditional language, customs, values, prayers, songs, ceremonies, traditional attire, and way of life.

Most pueblos still celebrate and honor their Native American traditions with feast day celebrations, which often include dances in brilliant attire and sacred rituals. The corn, deer and buffalo dances are commonly open to the public. Drums beat with an insistent cadence and the air is filled with the fragrance of piñon smoke. The sights, sounds and smells of the pueblo celebrations are a feast for the senses.

Each dance tells a different story and serves a different purpose. The ceremonial dress worn by the dancers are more than just decorative; the feathers, jewelry and beads all communicate part of the story. Every dance is considered a prayer, not a performance, and as such, outsiders are privileged to observe them.

Healing Practices of Native Americans 

Many healing practices and spiritual ceremonies that are being practiced today by healing practitioners and metaphysical groups have been adopted from traditions that originated from various Native American tribes. History indicates that each tribe would have one or more elders who were groomed in the healing arts. These individuals would serve as herbalists, healers, and spirit communicators. Today's tribal leaders often frown on terms such as Shaman, and even Medicine Man.
The duties and types of healing arts and spiritual ceremonies performed would naturally vary from tribe to tribe.

Animal Totems: The appearance of birds and animals, either in reality or dreamtime, are considered to be totem messengers offering spiritual guidance.

Sweat Lodges: The Native American sweat lodge or purification ritual cleans and heals the body, mind, and spirit.

Dreamcatchers: The earliest dreamcatchers (sacred hoops) were crafted for children to protect them from nightmares.

Feather Fetishes: Fetishes are sacred objects used as a tool to facilitate an awakening into your whole self, used in prayer, or utilized for protection and healing.

Prayer Ties: Prayer ties are offered to The Great Spirit in exchange for blessings.

Smudge Sticks: Using a smoking smudge wand for purification is part of many Native American traditions.

Ceremonial Peace Pipes: The Native American pipe is smoked in a ceremonial or ritual to call upon the four elements and give an offering to the Great Spirit.

Curanderismo: Blending and evolution of Native and Hispanic healing techniques involving herbs, sweats, diet, and magick.

Medicine Wheels: Each direction of the medicine wheel offers its own lessons, color association, and animal spirit guide.

Talking Sticks: Passing the talking stick from speaker to speaker is a respectful way to communicate and share opinions. This tradition is especially helpful in keeping disagreements from getting out of hand.

 Ref.  www.About.com 


Native American Spiritual Beliefs 

One general truth that threads throughout the Native American spiritual beliefs is the belief of the Mother Earth spirituality. The Native Americans felt that the earth was our mother, the sky our father, and all things were interconnected. The many Creation myths of the Native American stress the mutuality and interdependence between people and other forms of life. There is mutual respectfulness required when interacting with trees, birds, and plants and also natural forces such as the wind and the rain. Their creation stories empathize that Creation did not just happen a million years ago and end there, but that the Spirit that first infused the world is still with us now and can be experienced as "immanence", the spirit which imbues all things.

 

     Plains Indian Praying

Plains Indian Praying 

A Native American Prayer for Peace

O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, I raise my pipe to you.
To your messengers the four winds,
and to Mother Earth who provides for your children.
Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect,
and to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace in mind.
Let us learn to share all the good things you provide for us on this Earth.
-- U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 

 

 

 

 

 

Drumming

1. Drumming has been used for centuries by tribes for ceremonial dancing, communication and meditation. It is based on the beating of the heart, consistent energy vibrations that evoke healing and spiritual awareness. Cycles, such as the changing of seasons, the full moon, etc, are often the focus of ceremonial drumming.
2. Gather a group of persons with drums and other percussion instruments who wish to tune into the heartbeat of Mother Earth.
3. Drumming can be combined with chanting and dancing to create harmonic rhythms. (Try drumming and/or dancing in a fellowship for an hour or so).

Here is a section on Native American Traditions
Visit our page on Native American Traditions
 

September Focus:
Jewish
Spiritual Tradition

Be "a light unto the nations" 
Isaiah 42:6

Hanukkah - Festival of the Lights

Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah or Chanukkah), or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Greeks in 2nd century BCE. When the Maccabees entered the temple to purify and rededicate it, they discovered that there was only enough oil to light the temple menorah for one day. They lit it anyway and a miracle happened. The lamps burned continuously for eight days until more oil could be brought to the temple. That is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. This year, Hanukkah will occur between November 27-December 5, 2013. 

The spiritual meaning of Hanukkah is one of faith in God; in remaining true to one's traditional beliefs even when forbidden to do so by the authorities and is a story about the courage of the Maccabees. They risked their lives and won against all odds because they believed in the courage of their convictions.

Candle Lighting Ceremony
The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash (or shamus) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for practical use. Using the Hanukkah lights themselves for purposes other than celebrating and meditating on the Hanukkah is forbidden. 

Candles are added to the menorah from right to left (like Hebrew writing). The shamus candle is lit first, then the blessings are recited while holding the candle. Using the shamus to light the Hanukkah candles, they are lit from left to right (newest to oldest). Candles must burn for more than half an hour and are left burning until they go out on their own ( normally one hour).

Blessing over Candles
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe 
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us 
to light the lights of Chanukkah. (Amen) 

Blessing for the Chanukkah Miracle
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe 
Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time 

Shehecheyanu (Who Has Kept Us Alive)
This blessing is recited only on the first night of Chanukkah. 
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe 
who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season (Amen) 

Ref: jewfaq - chanukah 
Ref: ehow.com - meaning-chanukah 

ROSH HASHANAH

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and like most Jewish holidays there are food customs associated with it. One of the most popular and well-known food customs on Rosh Hashanah has to do with dipping apple slices into honey. This sweet combination stems from an age-old Jewish tradition of eating sweet foods to express our hope for a sweet new year. 

In addition to symbolizing our hopes for a sweet new year, according to Jewish mysticism the apple represents the Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of God). During Rosh Hashanah some Jews believe the Shekhinah is watching us and evaluating our behavior during the past year. Eating honey with apples represents our hope that the Shekhinah will judge us kindly and look down on us with sweetness. 

Beyond its association with the Shekhinah, ancient Jews thought apples had healing properties. Rabbi Alfred Koltach writes in The Second Jewish Book of Why that whenever King Herod (73-4 B.C.E.) felt faint he would eat an apple, and that during Talmudic times apples were frequently sent as gifts to people in ill health (pg 328).


The Blessing For Apple and Honey
Though apple and honey can be eaten throughout the holidays, they are almost always eaten together on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. Jews dip apple slices into honey and say a prayer asking God for a sweet New Year. There are three steps to this ritual:

1. Say the first part of the prayer, which is a blessing thanking God for the apples: 
Blessed are you Lord, our God, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the tree. (Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, Borai p'ree ha'aitz.)

2. Take a bite of the apple slices dipped in honey.
3. Now say the second part of the prayer, which asks God to renew us during the New Year: 

May it be Your will, Adonai, our God and the God of our forefathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year. 
(Y'hee ratzon mee-l'fanekha, Adonai Elohaynu v'elohey avoteynu sh'tichadeish aleinu shanah tovah um'tuqah )


The Shofar

The shofar is a Jewish instrument most often made from a ram's horn, though it can also be made from the horn of a sheep or goat. It makes a trumpet-like sound and is traditionally blown on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
 

According to some scholars, the shofar dates back to ancient times when making loud noises on the New Year was thought to scare off demons and ensure a happy start to the coming year. 

The shofar is such an important part of this holiday that another name for Rosh HaShanah is Yom Teruah, which means "day of the shofar blast" in Hebrew. 
 

The shofar is blown one hundred times on each of the two days of Rosh HaShanah. If one of the days of Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbat, however, the shofar is not blown. The person who blows the shofar is called a Tokea (which literally means "blaster") and it is no easy task to perform each of these sounds. 
 

According to the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides, the sound of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is meant to wake up soul and turn its attention to the important task of repentance (teshuvah). 


The Psalms 

For time immemorial, whenever Jews found themselves in difficult situations, whether individually or communally, they would open up the Book of Psalms and use King David's ageless poetic praises and supplications to beseech God for mercy.
The Midrash tells us that when King David compiled the Psalms, he had in mind himself, as well as every Jew of every generation and every circumstance. No matter who you are and what the situation, the words of the Psalms speak the words of your heart and are heard On High.

A Psalm by David 
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. He lays me down in green pastures; 
He leads me beside still waters. He revives my soul; 
He directs me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name. 
Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, 
for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff-they will comfort me. 
You will prepare a table for me before my enemies; 
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup is full. 
Only goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, 
and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for many long years.
ref. www.chabad.org

   The Torah

The Torah is composed of 5 books called in English Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They chronicle the history of the Hebrews and also contain the commandments that Jews are to follow. Rabbinic Judaism holds that the Torah extant today is the same one that was given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. Maimonides explains: "We do not know exactly how the Torah was transmitted to Moses. But when it was transmitted, Moses merely wrote it down like a secretary taking dictation....[Thus] every verse in the Torah is equally holy, as they all originate from God, and are all part of God's Torah, which is perfect, holy and true."

The Talmud

The Talmud is the repository of thousands of years of Jewish wisdom, and the oral law, which is as ancient and significant as the written law (the Torah) finds expression therein. It is a conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy, a blend of unique logic and shrewd pragmatism, of history and science, anecdotes and humor... Although its main objective is to interpret and comment on a book of law, it is, simultaneously, a work of art that goes beyond legislation and its practical application. And although the Talmud is, to this day, the primary source of Jewish law, it cannot be cited as an authority for purposes of ruling... Though based on the principles of tradition and the transmission of authority from generation to generation, it is unparalleled in its eagerness to question and reexamine convention and accepted views and to root out underlying causes. The talmudic method of discussion and demonstration tries to approximate mathematical precision, but without having recourse to mathematical or logical symbols. ...the Talmud is the embodiment of the great concept of mitzvat talmud Torah - the positive religious duty of studying Torah, of acquiring learning and wisdom, study which is its own end and reward.
Ref: Wikipedia 


SPIRIT CALL Sept 13 - President's Message on the Jewish Tradition

YOM KIPPUR

Considered the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur is the day when Jews reflect on the past year as they atone for their sins. Known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Sept. 13 and continues until nightfall on Sept. 14, At this time, Jews use the time as a time of cleansing to seek forgiveness for sins committed between man and God. They make a pledge to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the new year.

The holiday includes a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer. There are five prayer services over the course of the day.

The singular prayer of Yom Kippur is the "Al Chet", a recitation, said aloud and in unison, of a formal list of 44 sins and omissions expressed throughout the Day of Atonement. The goal of the "Al Chet" prayer that is said many times during Yom Kippur services is to get to the root of the problem, so you can eliminate it entirely. These 44 statements are not a list of mistakes, but rather identify the roots of mistakes.

Some examples of the 44 "sins and omissions" include: We atone 

For the mistakes we committed before You under duress and willingly. 
For the mistakes we committed before You through having a hard heart.
For the mistakes we committed before You without thinking (or without knowledge).
For the mistakes we committed before You through harsh speech.

The prayer is also as an expression of *group* responsibility for the sins of the individuals. 

Traditional Jews thump their chest with their fist at every sentence. Usually this is done gently, symbolically, but traditional men may vigorously "beat their chests" in expressing their repentance.

The blast of the shofar (or ram's horn) signals the end of the Day of Atonement and marks the time when congregants head home for the highly anticipated "breaking of the fast" meal and family celebration.

We acknowledge the spirit of this sacred holiday and wish our Jewish brothers and sisters a peaceful celebration. 


SPIRIT CALL Sept 6- Message from the President

The holy celebration of Rosh Hashanah begins this weekend, signaling the beginning of the Jewish New Year. This inspiration is called "Meaning In Time," shared during the Morning Service of Rosh Hashanah: 

"God of all lands and ages, the ground under our feet is holy; the light that shines for us is Yours; the world glows with your presence. You are just beyond the horizon of the mind, a vision new to us yet seen before, like a memory of the future, a promise already kept.

We remember Abraham and Isaac walking together toward their mountain; Jacob dreaming of a ladder to link heaven and earth; Moses turning aside to look at the common bush burning with a divine flame; David dancing before the Arc of Your Covenant; a shepherd prophet roaring Your word like a lion; the days and years of our own lives - a search for light in a dark and dusty time. And we remember a rainbow." 
    
-from Gates of Repentance

 

August Focus:
Mayan
Spiritual Traditions


Mayan Calendar

from 
Dreams In Mayan Spirituality: Concepts of Dreaming
By Elena Levi

In contemporary Mayan religion, dreams are sacred. Sleeping and dreaming are more than just that ordinary, nightly routine that everyone takes part in. Dreams are important, they have meaning. 

The concept of dreams in contemporary Mayan spirituality can be broken down into three general ideas. First of all, Dreams are a special time for your spirit, soul and consciousness to leave your physical resting body and travel. Secondly, dreams act as another means of interacting with Ajaw (the Creator, the All, Light) and the ancestors. This interaction occurs mainly through rocks, called camahuilles, which can carry the voice of Ajaw, various saints or the ancestors. And finally, dreams unveil an individuals´ nawal, their individual calling and destiny.

Dreams connect you with your adiosich, your soul, spirit and consciousness. The adiosich (soul) actively travels when dreaming. That is the source of guidance, destiny, and meaning of life. Dream interpretation and the connection with your soul or spirit through dreaming is an ancient concept that although has evolved, is still alive in the Mayan world today.

A "bad" dream can expose one's inner consciousness, the inner soul, and show a need to release negative thoughts. Dreams are thus sacred, they are reality, and they are taken very seriously as a means of communication in Mayan spirituality.

Ahua (Light) 
(pronounced a-how)

Common Mayan Usage: lord, ruler, flower
Qualities: union, wholeness, ascension, unconditional love, solar mastery, Christ consciousness, language of light, ecstasy, limitless bliss, crown
Symbols: sun, dove, crown chakra, light, angel.
Number: twenty; Color: gold; Element: fire; Direction: south

Shadow Wisdom: limiting self; loving conditionally with expectations and judgments; issues of ideals and identification
Shadow Transformation: Being love's presence sets you free. Examine your concepts of self and divinity. Practice the art of acceptance and allowance in order to embody unconditional love.

Mudra (technique): palms facing toward you at eye level, a shoulder width apart, until hands tingle; then rotate palms outward, opening arms to radiate solar consciousness

Meditation: "The same golden bird that dwells in the human heart, dwells in the Sun." 
Affirmation: "I Am that I Am. ... I Am that I Am. ... I Am that I Am." 
This mantra of Ahau is a meditation for accessing the I Am presence that contains great power and universal truth. Ahau is your solar home, the Great Central Sun.

As you move toward your core of light, you will find a clear-light awareness that is innately innocent. In this place, the mind is restored to its original state of receptivity. Clarity and freedom become expressions of being, and bliss becomes the body. At this core of light, a new reality is born. From the union of the divine masculine and feminine is birthed the solar androgyny of cosmic consciousness.

Now we find ourselves in a great awakening. We have the opportunity to retrace our steps, to return to union with Original Cause. We who have deepened the illusion of separation are now poised to retrieve what seemed to be lost forever. 

Through the gift of rebirth and ascension, we are reclaiming our original state of union with God. We are going home. If you choose to walk this path, know that in the embodiment of your "I Am" self, you will learn to accept all things unconditionally, forgiving and releasing all judgments of yourself and others.

Be at peace. Stay identified with the power of the Sun. Sail on golden solar currents to your home in the stars! Move joyfully toward whatever creates bliss and ecstasy for you! Forgive, release, and love all beings, all creation, as the unconditional caress of the Sun. Honor and trust the language of light held within your feelings, a spiritual compass that guides you home. Open your heart as a flower to the Sun, and become the same love that holds universes together!

from writings by Uros Muluk, muluk.net 


Mayan Oracle Interpretation 
by Ariel Spilsbury and Michael Bryner

In Mayan, Ahau (A-how) is a Sun God who devotes his song to the universe.

I Am Ahau,
I Am that I Am,
Inexhaustible supply of love,
  sourcing infinitely in all worlds,
  the seed of solar mastery
  containing the stellar hologram of your return,

I am the Sun's love made visible as you.
In Ecstatic ascent, I spread solar wings,
  awakening in you the immensity of a love,
  that joins all things in the joyful dance of light.

I Am Ahau, the golden ecstatic one.
I Am yourself -- there is no other!

Mayan Cosmology - Myth of Mayan Creation

Mayan civilization is one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Their rich and colorful history included myths, cosmology and art. To people of Mayan civilization, the universe was viewed as the Yakche or "World Tree". "World Tree" was considered a Mayan cosmos because on 13th August 3114 BC (believed by Mayans to be the beginning of life on planet earth), the Milky Way had run from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere, dividing the earth into four directions - east, west, south and north. 

The tree is the representation of the cosmology. The branches of the tree are the heaven where the Gods reside and the roots that grow underground denote the "Underworld". They believed the sun shone during the day and at night rested in Xibalba, the Underworld. The cosmology of Mayans consisted of Xibalba, Cab, Caan and Yakche which were the underworld, heaven, earth, and the "World Tree". 

The Ancient Mayans were among the first to propose an organized sense of each level of a developing state of consciousness, its purpose, and its temporal connection to humankind. The pyramid of consciousness has defined Mayan thought since the dawn of its civilization around 2000 BCE. 

Shamans and priests defined consciousness as an awareness of being aware, commonly referred to as a branch of metacognition (knowing about knowing). Because consciousness incorporates stimuli from the environment as well as internally, the Mayans believed it to be the most basic form of existence. (This is about "living in two worlds at one time").

This existence, which they referred to as a loose translation of Cosmos, was made up of nine underworlds (or levels of consciousness). Within these nine underworlds are a specified "day" and "night", symbolizing periods of enlightenment, increased consciousness, and a heightened ability to interact with the universe.

THE PYRAMID OF CONSCIOUSNESS 
 
(with keywords from Dr. Francisco Coll teachings)

Cycle

First Year

Consciousness Developed

Description

Cellular

16.4 billion years ago

Action/Reaction

Developed all physical laws, chemical compounds, star fields, solar systems, and planets  (A-Zone)

Mammalian

820 million years ago

Stimulus/Response

Individual cells from the Cellular cycle began to develop a survival mechanism with increased consciousness toward stimuli and responses  (feeling nature)

Familial

41 million years ago

Stimulus/Individual Response

Recognition of individuals and establishment of the family relationship as opposed to herd, school, or flock mentalities  (loyalties)

Tribal

2 million years ago

Similarities/
Differences

Development of "the mind" to detect similarities and differences in our experience  (intellect/discernment)

Cultural

102,000 years ago

(Shared) Reasons

Search for reasons for everything, as a basis of all cultural understanding  (the ‘why’)

National

3115 BCE

Law

Concept of right and wrong  (loyalty and responsibility)

Planetary

1755 CE

Power

Understanding and derivation of power from natural laws (rhythms and routines)

Galactic

January 5, 1999

Ethics

Understanding of ethical matters (spiritual laws, live and let live, power of attraction)

Universal

February 10, 2011

Conscious /Co-Creation

Achievement of godlike all-knowing consciousness (balance, oneness, creation, freedom)  (D-Zone)


Connection To the Earth
The Maya are one of many indigenous cultures around the world that engages in what is known as a nature-based religion.

When the Spanish arrived in Central America they forced the Maya to become Christians. The Maya were called pagans and mistreated if they did not adhere to the Christian doctrine that Spanish friars required them to follow. As the Maya converted to Christianity, they developed a blend of beliefs that included the Roman Catholic Church and their ancient religion. With the exception of the Maya who are part of the Protestant denominations that were brought into the area in the 1970s, many of the ancient beliefs and rituals are still practiced today.

Spiritual significance is found in all living things. The Maya revere each animal and plant. One tree - the ceiba or cottonwood tree - holds special significance as the Maya use it as a symbol of the power of nature. Symbolically, the branches hold up the sky and the roots keep the earth together. The copal tree is sacred as well, as it produces the resin and the bark that are burned in censers during spiritual ceremonies.

The "four corners of the earth" or the earth's cardinal points are also important to the Maya; they are even associated with specific colors. The colors of blue and green are also important as they signify the sky and the environment. The four corners are important when praying; for example, a man may look to or turn to all four corners as he prays in his milpa prior to planting his corn.

THE LIVING MAYA

Cultural and Community Events
Cultural events are part of the traditional way of life for the Mopan and Q´eqchi´ Maya. These activities can be categorized into festivals and dances, religious observances, and family/community celebrations. It is common for events in any of these categories to be related in some manner to the to the Maya's spiritual or religious beliefs.

Dances and festivals are taken very seriously by the Maya. There is a great commitment to engaging in these cultural celebrations in an authentic manner. Each costume, mask, and the dance looks the same as it did many years ago. The spiritual essence of events has also been kept intact over the years. Elders teach other interested family and community members how to perform the same dances or play the same musical scores that they were taught in their youth. It is a wonderful example of how cultural knowledge is passed through the generations in the Maya land. In addition, musical instruments are not only played but also made by local craftsmen.

Family and Community 
Events that include all aspects of the lifecycle are celebrated through family gatherings that sometimes involve music and dancing. Communal activities involve the larger "village family" in celebrations, such as wedding feasts as well as events, such as fajinas and village meetings.

Spiritual Practices
There are specific rituals attached to the planting and harvesting of corn, hunting and fishing, the blessing of a structure, and the use of ceremonial items. During these spiritual occasions the Maya may be:

Requesting permission to engage in an activity that will in some way effect the environment. (planting, hunting, fishing)

Expressing a special favor they need from the spirits

Asking that the spirits are benevolent to them; that no harm comes to those who engage in a certain activity or reside/work in a new structure

Expressing their reverence for the spirit that lives in an object such as a ceremonial mask, a musical instrument, or a residence

Spiritual activities are solemn and filled with ritual. Each generation of Maya has passed to the next the specific way that spiritual practices are to be carried out. Rituals may involve a certain order of activities, the voicing of specific prayers, and the involvement of particular people in the ceremony.

Spiritual activities may last for several minutes, hours, or days depending on the ritual that is being performed. One family, a small group, or a whole village may be included in the activities.

There are elements of a spiritual ritual that are common. Most spiritual ceremonies involve prayer, burning of copal incense, and the burning of candles. If the spirit of an item is being revered then in addition to actions noted above, the item may be given some food, the blood of an animal, or cacao drink.

After some spiritual rituals there may be a designated time of celebration where food and alcoholic beverages are served. Music may also be part of a spiritual ceremony. After some ceremonies, an activity, such as hunting, fishing, or planting simply begins.

Conservation
Mayan elders have always respected the land. They conserve natural resources not out of fear or lack, but rather out of respect for the land and the spirits that inhabit every living element. They understand their connection to the land. In fact, they see themselves as being part of the natural environment. To hurt the land would be to hurt themselves.

The conservation of natural resources is the traditional approach used by villagers as they interact with the land. The wisdom of village elders is an important aspect to consider when discussing conservation in a historical context because elders grew up with respect for their environment and the spirits connected to the natural elements. According to their spiritual beliefs, theirs is a partnership with the land and the spirits, as opposed to a need to have control over the elements.

Mayan prayers ask permission to plant "on the back" of the land or hunt "the animals of the gods." Their celebrations focus on giving thanks for their harvests and hunting bounties. Out of respect, they take only what they need and no more. Conservation is a natural and ongoing process. The concept of environmental waste is not part of their lives. If it is taken, it is used.

Healing
Healing traditionally includes spiritual practice. This practice connects the person who is sick, the healer, and the spirits of nature. Healers feel that cures will not work unless both the healer and the patient are "thinking as one." Very few traditional healers simply grow herbs and dispense them to friends and family without there being a spiritual element involved.

Most individuals come to traditional healers for problems they themselves cannot cure. Most village elders have a working knowledge of the herbs for common health problems they have experienced over the years. A trip to a traditional healer - commonly called a bush doctor - occurs when a family member does not get well after a period of time.

A healer is usually one who: has the knowledge of how to use herbs to effect positive change in the body;?has a deep reverence for nature and practices traditional spiritual rituals; one who apprenticed with a village elder in his younger years.

Traditional healers spend time gathering herbs that grow wild in the rainforest. A traditional healer has a keen eye for the plants he intends to gather. Prior to cutting the plant he says a prayer requesting permission for the plant to be cut. A traditional healer may use several diagnostic techniques, including investigating an individual's symptoms, prayer, and using a stone - a sastun - at which the healer gazes during a period of meditation.

The most famous contemporary Mayan healer in Belize, Elijio Panti of the Cayo District, also used a patient's pulse to form a diagnosis. Treatments include the use of herbs in either a tea or a poultice, instructions to engage in a particular behavior (such as staying inside or saying certain prayers), or a combination of the two.


Toltec Wisdom: The Four Agreements 
 as popularized by Don Miguel Riuz in his book The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
-- more

 
July Focus:
Aboriginal
Spiritual Traditions


Australian Aborigines at the Olympics

Aboriginal spirituality is the belief that all objects are living and share 
the same soul or spirit that Aboriginals share.
-Eddie Kneebone, Aboriginal Reconciliation campaigner and painter

Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, 
even with all that does not live or breathe.
-Mudrooroo, Aboriginal writer

Aboriginal spirituality "is a feeling of oneness, of belonging", a connectedness with "deep innermost feelings". Everything else is secondary. An Aboriginal person's soul or spirit is believed to "continue on after our physical form has passed through death", explains Eddie Kneebone. 
After the death of an Aboriginal person their spirit returns to the Dreamtime from where it will return through birth as a human, an animal, a plant or a rock.

Spiritual Song of the Aborigine
I am a child of the Dreamtime People
Part of this Land, like the gnarled gumtree
I am the river, softly singing
Chanting our songs on my way to the sea
My spirit is the dust-devils
Mirages, that dance on the plain
I'm the snow, the wind and the falling rain
I'm part of the rocks and the red desert earth
Red as the blood that flows in my veins
I am eagle, crow and snake that glides
Thorough the rain-forest that clings to the mountainside
I awakened here when the earth was new
There was emu, wombat, kangaroo
No other man of a different hue
I am this land
And this land is me
I am Australia.

 by Hyllus Maris


Aboriginal Spirituality and Beliefs

Aboriginal spirituality is relating to indigenous groups in Australia. Aboriginal spirituality is inextricably linked to land, "it's like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where I'll go. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity."

Dreamtime and Dreaming are not the same thing. Dreaming is the environment the Aboriginal people lived in and it still exists today "all around us".  None of the hundreds of Aboriginal languages contains a word for "time".

The Creation Period - The Dreamtime

Similar to other religions, there was a time in Aboriginal belief when things were created. This "Creation Period" was the time when the Ancestral Beings created landforms, such as certain animals digging, creating lagoons or pushing up mountain ranges, or the first animals or plants being made. The Aboriginal word for this Creation Period varies throughout Australia. Aboriginal people often interpret dreams as being the memory of things that happened during this Creation Period. Dreams are also important because they can be a time when we are transformed back into that ancestral time. This linking of dreams to the Creation Period has led people to adopt the general term "The Dreamtime" in order to describe the time of creation in their religion. The term "Dreamtime" in Aboriginal mythology is not really about a person having a dream, but rather, a reference to this Creation Period.

Australian Aboriginal Funerals

They have no regular hour of burial. The body is placed in a grave about four feet deep, generally in a sitting posture facing the direction of its birthplace, and is covered over with paper bark. Then the grave is filled in with earth. If the deceased has been a good warrior they encircle the grave with boughs and decorated with a few relies. All men attending the burial are in war paint, and on some occasions, the body is similarly dressed. If the deceased has been a good sportsman they often place his body among the rocks, and after a time his family circle gather and keep in their possession his small bones, which are supposed to impart to them his skill in hunting. 

The near relations, as a semblance of mourning, refrain from eating fish or kangaroo, unless the latter is a very small one. This they call being "Chadgie" until the season has passed, when one of the elders terminates the observance by rubbing them across the mouth with a piece of kangaroo flesh, when the fast is broken. 

Stone piles representing two moieties. Photo: David M. Welch.  
Stone piles representing two moieties. Photo: David M. Welch

Moietie Throughout Australia, the moiety system divides all the members of a tribe into two groups, based on a connection with certain animals, plants, or other aspects of their environment. A person is born into one or other group and this does not change throughout their life. A person belonging to one moiety has to marry a person of the opposite moiety. This is called an "exogamous" system, meaning that marriage has to be external to the group. 

The Mother-in-Law Rule
 The ban on speaking to one's mother in law

Aboriginal custom all over Australia bans a person from talking directly to their mother in law. This rule applies to both men and women talking to their mother in law. Perhaps this rule was developed to overcome such a common cause of friction in families, when a husband or wife has to endure many years of disagreement or argument from their mother in law! To allow this rule to work, communication took place via a third person. So, if you wanted your mother in law to do something for you, you might ask your spouse or another person: "Please ask your mother (so and so) to do (so and so) for me". 

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June Focus: African
Spiritual Traditions

Symbol of Majesty and Supremacy of God


Mount Kilimanjaro (info)

Traditional African Healing

Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions. 

Diagnosis is reached through spiritual means and a treatment is prescribed, usually consisting of an herbal remedy that has not only healing abilities, but symbolic and spiritual significance. 

Traditional African medicine, with its belief that illness is not derived from chance occurrences, but through spiritual or social imbalance, differs greatly from Western medicine, which is technically and analytically based. In the 21st century, modern pharmaceuticals and medical procedures remain inaccessible to large numbers of African people due to their relatively high cost and concentration of health centers in urban centers. In recent years, African medical practitioners have acknowledged that they have much to learn from traditional medical practice.

In an instant illumination can be achieved, 
it is as easy as turning on a light, 
the problem is finding the switch in the dark.

-Moroccan Proverb

African Naming Ceremony

African religion has ceremonies that mark the milestones in life just like any other religion: One type of ceremony is a baptism type ceremony. 

Consider the state of your life before you name a child.
-proverb, Yoruba of Nigeria

Choosing a child's name is a very important matter in all African cultures. This ceremony marks the infant's rites of passage. In many parts of Africa it is believed that the name parents give an infant can determine the child's success in life. They value highly family and family history - thus African naming is a family affair. The ritual contains 3 components:

  1. They are a spiritual package reconnecting the living with their ancestors. A newborn baby may be named for a family trait - the practice reconnects the clan with its past. 

  2. They are a social commentary about who you are and what your family is about. 

  3. They reflect the hopes and aspirations of the family. Names given to off spring tend to reflect a desire for them. 

For it's through our names that we first place ourselves in the world. 
Our names, being the gift of others, must be made our own. 
They must become our mask and our shields and 
the containers of all those values and traditions 
which we learn and/or image 
as being the meaning of our familiar past.

-Ralph Ellison

We desire to bequest two things to our children - 
the first one is roots; 
the other one is wings.

- Sudanese Proverb

African Wedding Ceremonies

In marriage ceremonies, there are as many traditions as there are different tribes and cultures. Here are two examples of unique traditions. 

Wedding Traditions of the Woyo People - Congo/Zaire

Marriage is a key moment that follows immediately after initiation among many peoples because both events serve to break the bonds of the individual with childhood and the unmarried state, and to reintegrate the individual into the adult community. 

Among the Woyo people, a young woman is given a set of carved pot lids by her mother when she marries and moves to her husband's home. Each of the lids is carved with images that illustrate proverbs about relations between husband and wife. 

If a husband abuses his wife in some way or if the wife is unhappy, she serves the husband's supper in a bowl that is covered with a lid decorated with the appropriate proverb. She can make her complaints public by using such a lid when her husband brings his friends home for dinner.

Kola Nuts

The kola nut is most often used for medicinal purposes in Africa. It is also essential in most African weddings. The kola nut symbolizes the couple's willingness to always help heal each other. In Nigeria, the ceremony is not complete until a kola nut is shared between the couple and their parents. Many African-American couples incorporate the sharing of a kola nut into their ceremonies, and then keep the nut in their home afterwards as a reminder to always work at healing any problems they encounter.


Symbols are (L to R): the Supremacy of God, Harmony, Adaptability, Energy, Intelligence.
Adinkra symbols from the Akan people of Ghana in West Africa.

Reference: religious map of Africa

 
African Fish Eagle (info)
 

May Focus:
Polynesian & Maori
Spiritual Traditions

Māori - the Polynesian indigenous people of New Zealand

 
Koru: 
shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond 

Maori Beliefs and Culture

Though some of their war tactics have been savage, the Maori are known as a spiritual people who incorporate beliefs and ritual into everyday life. Although some of the beliefs and traditions have been diluted due to outside influence over the last 150 to 200 years, many are still revered and commonly practiced. For example, Maori believe that ancestors and supernatural beings are ever-present and able to help the tribe in times of need. 

Another of the group's foremost beliefs is that everything and everyone are connected and therefore a part of their whakapapa (genealogy). Whakapapa includes genealogies of spiritual and mythological significance, as well as information about the person's tribe and the land he or she lives on. In short, whakapapa tells the story of each person's spiritual and physical existence, traditionally beginning with the arrival of ancestors in canoes and progressing to present-day. The Maori strongly believe future mistakes can only be avoided by acknowledging the errors of the past. The act of reciting whakapapa helps accomplish this noble feat by continually reminding them of past mistakes. 

The Maori also emphasize the importance of mana (honor, prestige, influence, authority, power). They believe in three forms of mana: 

  • Mana achieved by birth. This mana comes from the person's whakapapa, and can be attributed to the rank or status of descendents. 

  • Mana given by other people. This is more easily understood as recognition for good deeds. Humbleness is particularly appreciated among the Maori.

  • Mana of the group. Outsiders who visit or stay with a group influence this type of mana. Mana is increased if they pass along the word that the group treated them well during a stay.

Religious Beliefs The Maori held an essentially spiritual view of the universe. Anything associated with the supernatural was invested with tapu, a mysterious quality which made those things or persons imbued with it either sacred or unclean according to context. Objects and persons could also possess mana, psychic power. Both qualities, which were Inherited or acquired through contact, could be augmented or diminished during one's lifetime. 

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you." -Maori Proverb.

Little Spotted Kiwi
Apteryx owenii

Polynesian Religions

As in all aspects of Polynesian religion, human beings are seen as powerful and capable. They are not terrified and overpowered by phenomena of the dead. Inborn talent, trained sensitivity, and education enable them to handle gods and spirits as naturally as they do the winds and the waves. Indeed, Polynesian Christians, living in the same world as their ancestors, often supplement their new religion with such traditional beliefs and practices. The combinations they create are compelling and broadening. The Polynesian's understanding of family as a spiritual power, of deceased family members as continuing sources of love and care, of the closeness and communion of the living and the dead, and of the human being's capacity to manage death as well as life are a genuine contribution to the world.

The yam, or sweet potato, is one of the basic food crops of Polynesia. A number of myths explain the origin of this important food. One Maori myth tells how the god Rongo-maui went to heaven to see his brother Wahnui, the guardian of the yam. Rongo-maui stole the yam, hid it in his clothing, and returned to earth. Soon after, he made his wife, Pani, pregnant, and she later gave birth to a yam, the first on earth. Rongo-maui gave this food to humans.

Read more: Polynesian Mythology - Myth Encyclopedia - god, legend, war, world, creation, life, hero, people, children mythology 

Read more: Polynesian Religions - world, body, life, beliefs, time, person, human Religions 

Wisdom of the Polynesian Tradition

The Huna tradition represents a unique expression of indigenous wisdom emerging from the secret teachings of the ancient Polynesian culture of Hawaii and the South Seas islands. All these island cultures are linked by a common root language, common mythology, shared shamanistic practices and similar approaches to everyday relating, commerce, health and community. The Huna path in its broadest scope represents a remarkable approach to life, grounded in insights linked to the deepest origins of humankind, yet applicable directly to our current society.

When we look closely at the two short Polynesian words that make up the word huna, we gain instant insight into the deeper nature of the Huna wisdom tradition. First of all, in this ancient language, hu refers to all things "masculine," while na refers to all things " feminine." Thus the word huna is a verbal expression of the primary creative act of merging the world's energy poles into one living whole, just as the Chinese express it through the yin-yang symbol. Depending on the context, we also find that hu refers to action, movement, chaos, change, or power ... while na refers to the qualities of order, calm, peace, and endurance. 

Thus, the underlying nature of hu-na is the practice, in all dimensions, of bringing our different aspects into a greater harmony and balance so that we become whole spiritual beings, capable of potent material manifestation and compassionate relating. 

One of the greatest discoveries of the ancient kahunas, master of huna, was that love works better than anything else as a tool for effective action. Because love implies being in harmony with the world, a truly loving intent is the most powerful spiritual force the world can know. 

The Hawaiian word for love is the well-known term aloha. Traditionally, the word aloha meant "the joyful sharing of life in the present moment," or equally, "our hearts are singing together." When we understand alo as meaning "to be with" and oha as meaning "happiness" - the deeper intent of the word becomes clear. 

Furthermore, the core term ha means "breath of life." When combined with alo, the meaning of alo-ha becomes "to be joyful together and filled with the breath of life."

Songs from the Heart CD hear sample songs and order yours.

 

March Focus:
Islamic
Spiritual Tradition

  New Islamic Spiritual Adventures

Six Articles of Faith

Muslim doctrine is often summarized in "Six Articles of Faith." According to this list, to be a Muslim one must believe in:

  1. One God
  2. The angels of God
  3. The books of God, especially the Qur'an
  4. The prophets of God, especially Muhammad
  5. The Day of Judgment (or the afterlife)
  6. The supremacy of God's will (or predestination)

    This list is sometimes shortened to Five Articles of Faith, which leaves 
    off belief in the supremacy of God's will.

See Through the Illusions

God made the illusion look real and the real an illusion. 
He concealed the sea and made the foam visible, the wind invisible, and the dust manifest. 
You see the dust whirling, but how can the dust rise by itself? 
You see the foam, but not the ocean. 
Invoke Him with deeds, not words; 
For deeds are real and will save you in the infinite-life.
- Rumi

Peacemaking

Shall I not inform you of a better act than fasting, alms, and prayers? Making peace between one another: enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.

Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

-the Prophet Muhammad

Islam Daily Prayers

Perhaps the most well known Muslim practices among non-Muslims is ritual prayer, or salat, which is performed five times each day: at dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset and evening. Prayer is always directed in the direction of the Ka'ba shrine in Mecca. A prayer mat, sajjada, is commonly used during salat. Salat may be performed individually, but it carries special merit when done with other Muslims. The focal prayer of the week is the midday prayer at the mosque on Fridays. Salat must always be preceded by ablutions of ritually washing the face, hands, and feet. This can be done with sand when water is not available. At the five appointed times, a muezzin announces a call to prayer traditionally from a mosque's minaret. The words of the shahada feature heavily in the call to prayer:

God is most great 
I bear witness there is no god but God 
I bear witness Muhammad is the 
prophet of God 
Come to prayer 
Come to wellbeing 
Prayer is better than sleep 
God is most great 
There is no God but God 

Reality of Angels

In common folklore, angels are thought of as good forces of nature, hologram images, or illusions. Western iconography sometimes depicts angels as fat cherubic babies or handsome young men or women with a halo surrounding their head. In Islamic doctrine, they are real created beings who will eventually suffer death, but are generally hidden from our senses.

They are not divine or semi-divine, and they are not God's associates running different districts of the universe. Also, they are not objects to be worshipped or prayed to, as they do not deliver our prayers to God. They all submit to God and carry out His commands. 

In the Islamic worldview, there are no fallen angels: they are not divided into 'good' and 'evil' angels. Human beings do not become angels after death. Satan is not a fallen angel, but is one of the jinn, a creation of God parallel to human beings and angels. 

Angels were created from light before human beings were created, and thus their graphic or symbolic representation in Islamic art is rare. Nevertheless, they are generally beautiful beings with wings as described in Muslim scripture. 

Angels form different cosmic hierarchies and orders in the sense that they are of different size, status, and merit. The greatest of them is Gabriel. The Prophet of Islam actually saw him in his original form. Also, the attendants of God's Throne are among the greatest angels. They love the believers and beseech God to forgive them their sins. They carry the Throne of God, about whom the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said: 

"I have been given permission to speak about one of the angels of God who carry the Throne. The distance between his ear-lobes and his shoulders is equivalent to a seven-hundred-year journey." (Abu Daud)

Sufism

Sufi mystics of Turkey and Persia and whirling is one of their modes of worship. Sufism got its content and rituals from Islam, but also picked up elements from older religious practices. Sufism developed gradually in early Islam, but there is little proof of real Sufism before 800 AD. Today there are some five million Sufis, mostly in Egypt and Sudan

Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are 
and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, 
"When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets." 

- Robert Frager
Heart, Self & Soul, The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony"

 

February Focus

Judaic

Spiritual Tradition

Star of David and Menorah

be "a light unto the nations" 
Isaiah 42:6

How to Live

“There are only two ways to live your life. 
One is as though nothing is a miracle. 
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

-Albert Einstein

Trust Yourself - Flames of Achievement

“Trust yourself. 
Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. 
Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility 
into flames of achievement.”

-Golda Meir, fourth Prime Minister of Israel

Interconnected

"The life of all creatures and our own lives are One; 
profoundly dependent upon each other.... 
We call our ancient scroll of wisdom, the Torah, a 'tree of life', 
for it, like Earth's great forests sustains us. 
Torah teaches that creation, in its great diversity, 
is harmoniously interconnected. 
Like the trees, we too need strong deep roots for nourishment. 
The uplifted branches of trees point to our future. 
The Psalmist was right when he said, 
'like a tree planted by the waters, we shall not be moved.'" 

- Rabbi Warren G. Stone


The Torah
"The general purpose of the Torah is twofold: 
the well-being of the soul and the well-being of the body. 
The well-being of the soul is ranked first but … the well-being of the body comes first."
- Maimonides (1135-1204) 
the foremost rabbinical Torah scholar, physician, philosopher

i.e. The well-being of the soul is more important, 
but the well-being of the body comes first, for it is the context for spiritual development.

Jewish Kabbalah Wisdom
Your deep soul hides itself from consciousness. So you need to increase aloneness, elevation of thinking, penetration of thought, liberation of mind - until finally your soul reveals itself to you, spangling a few sparkles of her lights.

 -from "The Essential Kabbalah", Daniel C. Matt, ed., 1996 amazon 


Inner Wisdom & Daily Experiences

Spiritual teachers ultimately agree that true wisdom does not come from outside of us, but from within. And it does not come from within because we want it.  It comes when we live in a way that invites wisdom. It comes through direct experience....

We can learn about the spiritual experiences of others, or we can bring meaningful practice into our own daily lives. We can learn about mysticism, or we can practice being mystics.

-from "God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism," 
by Rabbi David A. Cooper   book  amazon 


Protection and Abundance

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; 
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalms 23


Songs from the Heart CDNEW Songs from the Heart CD   - - now available 
 An inspirational selection of seventeen songs that will rejuvenate, heal  and create a loving heart. You will develop an inner Circle Of Love that will transcend the pressures and negativity in daily living.
 Songlist, sample tracks, ordering info 
(CD also available as a digital download)
Operatioin Action CDNEW OA Sings! - the Song CD of Operation Action! 
Their enthusiasm and love for singing is contagious. Lighten your spirit, and get an "energy elevator" lift for the day with songs like: I Can Sing A Rainbow, Soaring Around, Kookaburra, Tumba Ta Tumba, Thunderation!, Vive La Compagnie, Operation Action, Hey Hey OA, and more.

-- -- Order both CDs and save.  Description and ordering info 

January Focus:
Christian
Spiritual Traditions

       
Traditional Christian Symbols

 

Watch this page for coming topics such as:
- Did you know? Many Christian branches and denominations are in protest of a previous denomination. How do
they all relate to each other? [see below]
- Did you know? There have been many official editions of the Christian Bible. How "authentic" is each edition Christian Bible? Which parts of the Christian Bible are shared in common with other religions? [soon] 
- Did  you know? Some Christian churches seek to develop Spiritual Gifts of the individual. Which ones teach which Spiritual Gift? [soon]
- Did you know? Interesting facts on the role of women in denominations. [soon]
- Did you know? Which songs and hymns are spiritually inspiring outside of Christianity? [soon]
- Did you know? Ways to build a bridge with devout friends of different denominations. [soon]
- Did you know? Meditation is a solid Christian tradition. Who has practiced & taught it? [soon]
-send suggestions to webmaster@WCFworld.org for inclusion


CHURCH HISTORY and SPIRITUAL CHANGES

Jesus founded the Church through the apostle Peter. After a thousand years there was a major split into the Roman Catholic Church in Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople that is known as The Great Schism (1054AD). 

The Roman Catholic Pope was considered to speak for God and could be infallible. The Orthodox Pope was considered to be an elected representative of the Church. There are many other differences as well.

  Icon for the Daily Readings iphone app Orthodox Cross of the Eastern Orthodox Church


Creating Change from within the Church
Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Order within the Roman Catholic Church. Now k
nown as Saint Francis of Assisi (1181 –1226) he was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men's Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis for men and women not living monastic lives. The Franciscans are active today: Conventional Franciscans

Traditional painting of Saint Francis with animals
Traditional painting of Saint Francis with animals

The Tau Cross of St Francis - used as his Signature
The Tau Cross of St Francis

Francis used the TAU in his writings, painted in on the walls and doors of the places where he stayed, and used it as his only signature on his writings


St Francis with animals

The Reformations below created change, but broke with the Roman Catholic Church.


The Protestant Reformation Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Church - the Reformation begins

About 500 years after the Great Schism Martin Luther (monk, priest and Professor of Theology ) saw that the Roman Catholic Church had strayed in too many ways from its own purpose and published his 95 Theses by legendarily nailing them on the front door of the church. His founding of the Lutheran Church in 1517 started the Protestant Reformation. Soon other denominations were formed: the Mennonites (1537), Amish (1693), Quakers (1648), Presbyterians (1560) and Baptists (1609). Martin Luther changed many aspects of religious practice such as:

God speaks to directly to Individuals: An individual wanting spiritual guidance as a Catholic must seek it from a priest and the church teachings and the Bible was read and interpreted by priests, not individuals. In Protestantism the individual could read the Bible and determine his own answers. The new technology of the printing press, made famous by printing the Gutenberg Bible (first in 1450), made private ownership of Bibles possible and affordable.

Salvation is Free. Luther taught that the path to salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Many religions differ on the role of good deeds on the spiritual growth of the individual.

The Bible Speaks to each person. He challenged the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge, and considered all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. He translated the Bible from the esoteric Latin into a common language Bible so individuals could read it themselves. His hymns introduced singing into the churches. He said Protestant priests can marry.


The English ReformationCathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England

Emboldened by Martin Luther seventeen years later, King Henry VIII of England,  when he could not get the Roman Pope to grant him a divorce, formed his own Anglican Church in 1534 which later branched into the Congregational Church (1582), Episcopal Church (1607) and Methodists (1738). Divorce was allowed. There were other major  differences that caused the break-apart.

Today the major branches of Protestantism are called Anabaptist, Anglican and Episcopal, Baptist, Congregational, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Quaker, Reformed (Calvinism). Branches of Christianity chart-1  chart-2  denominations


Traveling Clergy and Revival Camps - A Great Awakening

Circuit Rider traveling from town to townThe early "circuit riders" were traveling clergy who rode between small towns, set up small study groups in homes, sang hymns, pray for healing and read the Bible. These traveling riders also taught reading in areas of no schools, so families could read the Bible between his visits and get direct inspiration for themselves. They also promoted his next month visit and the next regioinal Camp Meeting.Revival Camps in the 1800s had 10 - 25,000 attend for a week

"No family was too poor, no house too filthy, no town too remote, and no people too ignorant to receive the good news that life could be better."

The frontier Camp Meetings of the 1700s and 1800s in the southern states were organized by Methodists the Baptists. People would travel and camp for a week at these regional spiritual mega-events which featured many preachers and attracted up to 10-25 thousand regional settlers during that week. 
This period of time was called the Second Great Awakening.

Technique: read these last 3 paragraphs using "spiritual leader" in place of "traveling clergy" and see what insights are gained. 


Watch here for other topics on Christianity, e.g.
Books and authors on these topics
Women in Christianity: Saints, Church founders, Founders of Orders
Religious Knowledge Quiz
The denominations page will show distinctive denominational differences


Songs from the Heart CDNEW Songs from the Heart CD   - - now available 
 An inspirational selection of seventeen songs that will rejuvenate, heal  and create a loving heart. You will develop an inner Circle Of Love that will transcend the pressures and negativity in daily living.
 Songlist, sample tracks, ordering info 
(CD also available as a digital download)
Operatioin Action CDNEW OA Sings! - the Song CD of Operation Action! 
Their enthusiasm and love for singing is contagious. Lighten your spirit, and get an "energy elevator" lift for the day with songs like: I Can Sing A Rainbow, Soaring Around, Kookaburra, Tumba Ta Tumba, Thunderation!, Vive La Compagnie, Operation Action, Hey Hey OA, and more.

-- -- Order both CDs and save. 
Description and ordering info 

December Focus:
Buddhist
Spiritual Tradition

 visit our Buddhist page

About the Mayan "End of the World Calendar" 
Solstice of December 21, 2012
--- 
What Would Buddha Say?

Let us rise up and be thankful, 
for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, 
and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, 
and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; 
so, let us all be thankful.
-Buddha

The Road to Truth

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; 
not going all the way, 
and not starting.
-Buddha

Doubt vs Certitude

There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. 
Doubt separates people. 
It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. 
It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills. 
-Buddha

Sharing Happiness

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, 
and the life of the candle will not be shortened. 
Happiness never decreases by being shared
- Buddha

Pure Thoughts & Happiness

If a man speaks or acts with pure thoughts,
happiness follows him
like a shadow that never leaves.
    - Buddha

Happiness cannot be found through great effort and willpower, 
but is already there in relaxation and letting go. 
-Lama Gendun Rinpoche

Blessings and Healing

 

 By the power of every moment of your goodness,
may all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
May no obstacles come across your way.
May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.

 

For all in whose heart dwells respect,
Who follow the wisdom and compassion of the Way,
may your life prosper in the four blessings
of old age, beauty, happiness and strength.

 

-from a Buddhist Traditional Blessing and Healing Chant

 

See Clearly

"If we could see 
the miracle of a single flower clearly, 
our whole life would change." 
- Buddha

 

Every Day, Think as You Wake Up ...

Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, 
I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. 
I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, 
to expand my heart out to others; 
to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. 
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, 
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. 
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.

-Dalai Lama XIV

 

 visit our Buddhist page


Buddha's Birthday - A Holiday

The holiday that is fairly universal in the Buddhism countries is for the celebration of the birth of Buddha, 2,500 years ago.  This date is called Buddha day. Traditionally, Buddha's Birthday is known as Vesak or Visakah Puja (Buddha's Birthday Celebrations). Vesak is the major Buddhist festival of the year as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on the one day, the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June. This celebration is called Vesak being the name of the month in the Indian calendar.

 

Buddhist Festivals are always joyful occasions. Typically on a festival day, lay people will go the the local temple or monastery and offer food to the monks and take the Five Precepts and listen to a Dharma talk. In the afternoon, they distribute food to the poor to make merit, and in the evening perhaps join in a ceremony of circumambulation of a stupa three times as a sign of respect to the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. The day will conclude with evening chanting of the Buddha's teachings and meditation.

Buddhist New Year

New Year is the Buddhist countries of Sri Lanka are based on the Lunar Calendar and occurs in different months according to the culture. In Theravadin countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later.

 

November Focus:
Hindu
Spiritual Traditions


Be the change you wish to see.
Mahatma Gandhi
(attributed to Gandhi wikipedia)


OM Meditation - Hindu 
20 minutes of OM
Get comfortable and be transported

I am a spirit living in a body. 
I am not the body. 
The body will die, but I shall not die.
-Swami Vivekananda

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. 
Learn as if you were to live forever.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Acting without Effort 
(Diminishing Will, Letting Be, Wu Wei)

The Tao Te Ching allude to "diminishing doing" or "diminishing will" as the key aspect of the sage's success. Taoist philosophy recognizes that the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways; as a person exerts their will against or upon the world they disrupt the harmony that already exists. This is not to say that a person should not exert agency and will. Rather, it is how one acts in relation to the natural processes already extant. The how, the Tao of intention and motivation, that is key.

The Sage is occupied with the unspoken and acts without effort.
Teaching without verbosity,
producing without possessing,
creating without regard to result,
claiming nothing, the Sage has nothing to lose.
-Tao Te Ching

Wu Wei has also been translated as "creative quietude," or the art of letting-be.

As one diminishes doing - here 'doing' means those intentional actions taken to benefit us or actions taken to change the world from its natural state and evolution - one diminishes all those actions committed against the Tao, the already present natural harmony.
-- more on Wu wei

 

Yama: 10 Basic Human Values in Hinduism
#7 Madhuryam: A Hindu believes in possessing sweetness of disposition and a pleasing and pleasant personality. He is not rude or impolite and comes across as a balanced and likeable person

 Visit our Hindu page

October Focus:
Taoism
The Taoist Spiritual Tradition

Taoism is not a religion, nor a philosophy. It is a "Way" of life. It is a River. The Tao is the natural order of things. It is a force that flows through every living and sentient object, as well as through the entire universe. 

Lao Tzu's ancient text still resonates today. The Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-tzu at the end of the sixth century B.C.

All the world knows beauty, but if 
that
becomes beautiful, 
this
becomes ugly.

 -Tao Te Ching

WCF page on Taoism

Weekly meditation: 
Happiness
is like manna; it is to be gathered in grains, and enjoyed every day. 
It will not keep; it cannot be accumulated; 
nor have we got to go out of ourselves or into remote places to gather it, 
since it has rained down from a Heaven, at our very door.
- Tryon Edwards

We are never complete and our experience and situation are partial... Rather than searching for some center, we become effective in action - wise - by looking out and enlarging our perspective.  Indeed, life is a process of developing our perspective in conversation, creating and expanding ourselves by experimenting with others' experiences as well.
-from Wu-Weifarer, Daoist Quotes

 

Daoism, an Ancient Chinese spiritual philosophy. The tradition holds that all beings and things are fundamentally one. Daoism's focuses on nature and the natural order of things. Taoists strongly promote health and vitality, the pizzaz of life.  Development of virtue is one's chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation and humility.

 

This week on Sept. 23 we will experience the fall equinox. In China, where the Taoist tradition began,  the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated around (but not precisely) the time of the September equinox. This occasion dates back more than 3000 years and occurs around the time of the full moon. It celebrates the abundance of the summer's harvest and one of the main foods is the mooncake filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit.

This tradition originated from the ancient tradition of making offerings to the sun in the spring and to the moon in the autumn. It is also a time for families to get together and people often travel long distances to be with their loved ones. The streets are decorated with lanterns, incenses are burned and fire dragon dances take place.


The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action, watch the timing...

-from the Tao Te Ching

Tai Chi

There is a long history of involvement by Taoists in various exercise and movement techniques. Tai chi in particular works on all parts of the body. It "stimulates the central nervous system, lowers blood pressure, relieves stress and gently tones muscles without strain. It also enhances digestion, elimination of wastes and the circulation of blood. Moreover, tai chi's rhythmic movements massage the internal organs and improve their functionality." Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that illness is caused by blockages or lack of balance in the body's "chi" (intrinsic energy).

 - from religioustolerance.org

Tai Chi is believed to balance this energy flow. As one practices Tai chi, one moves the hands throughout the aura and performs a type of "spiritual cleansing" as one move through the Tai Chi form.

Here are 3 YouTube videos:
An Introduction To Tai Chi Tai Chi: Introduction -p/o the women's fitness video series by GeoBeats

Tai Chi---Morning exercise     

Simple Tai Chi Part 1  

September Focus:
Native American
Spiritual Traditions

Wakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart,
my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing,
the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit.
Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.
~ Lakota Prayer


Be Alive

Death is not the biggest fear we have;
our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive –
the risk to be alive and express what we really are.

- Miguel Ángel Ruiz


One Rendition of the Native American's Ten Commandments:

The Ten Commandments, Version 1
1. The Earth is our Mother; care for Her
2. Honor all your relations.
3. Open your heart and soul to the Great Spirit.
4. All life is sacred; treat all beings with respect.
5. Take from the Earth what is needed and nothing more.
6. Do what needs to be done for the good of all.
7. Give constant thanks to the Great Spirit for each day.
8. Speak the truth but only for the good in others.
9. Follow the rhythms of Nature.
10. Enjoy life's journey; but leave no tracks.

:
“ Humankind has not woven the web of life. 
We are but one thread within it. 
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. 
All things are bound together. 
All things connect."

-Chief Seattle, 1854, Native American

Earth Teach Me To Remember

Earth Teach Me to Remember
Earth teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
As old stones suffer with memory.

Earth Teach me humility
As blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
As the mother who secures her young.

Earth teach me courage
As the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
As the ant which crawls on the ground
As the eagle which soars in the sky.

Earth teach me resignation.
As the leaves which dies in the the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
As the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself
As melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
As dry fields weep in the rain. 

-Ute, North American

A Great Legacy

The Native American culture has provided a great legacy. One of the contribution made from the history Mohawk Native tribe was the creation of the Haundenosaunee Confederacy. From this form of government came the concepts of constitutional government and representative democracy.

 

Under this government a law was passed, called the Great Law of Peace and Good Mind that upholds principles of kinship, woman’s leadership, and the value of the widest community consensus.

It is believed that some of the early American leaders studies the Confederacy and this particular law and used it as a basis for setting up the American government. 

 

Happy Spiritual 
New Year! 
Theme: Successes of Now

Spiritual Book Club

Reading & Discussion Club  
join us  club details 

 

August Focus:
Mayan
Spiritual Traditions


Toltec Wisdom: The Four Agreements 
 as popularized by Don Miguel Riuz in his book The Four Agreements

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


The World According to the Maya 2012

The Maya believed the world was a horizontal plane with four corners, each represented by a color. East was red symbolizing the rebirth of the sun. West was black - the place for the sun's death. White represented north and yellow was south. A fifth vertical coordinate lay at the earth's center and its color was blue-green. In this center a big ceiba tree grew, uniting the Mayan universe. Its roots reached down to the underworld of the dead and its trunk stretched up into heaven, where the gods lived. In this landscape full of caves, it's easy to see how nature supports such a belief. The caves are cool and damp, much like you would imagine the Underworld. Often the roots of the trees stretch right through the cave roof in search for water. The mountains and caves were the transitions between the physical world and the spiritual world. As the Yucatan is nearly flat, the pyramids were seen as manmade mountains, as a center of power. A temple doorway represents a cave leading into the center of that mountain - and into the Underworld.

 

The Ancient Maya
The Maya occupied a vast area covering southeast Mexico and the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Mayan culture began to develop in the Pre-Classic period, around 1000 B.C. and was at its heyday between 300 and 900 A.D. The Maya are well known for their writing, of which a great part can now be read, as well as for their advanced mathematics, astronomy and calendrical calculations. Many people know of the Mayan calendar and that it is said to end in Dec. 2012 causing speculation that time is the end of the world as we know it.

 

The Maya had a complex religion with a huge pantheon of gods. In the Mayan worldview, the plane on which we live is just one level of a multi-layered universe made up of 13 heavens and nine underworlds. Each of these planes is ruled by a specific god and inhabited by others. Hunab Ku was the creator god and various other gods were responsible for forces of nature, such as Chac, the rain god.

 

Archaeologists today generally believe that a combination of elements brought about the collapse of the Mayan empire, probably brought on by severe drought and deforestation. Even though the ancient cities are gone, there are many Mayan descendents in the central Americas today. Present-day Mayan religion is a colorful hybrid of Catholicism and ancient beliefs and rituals.

Mayan Law of Time
The law of time affirms that by the nature of the universal timing frequency the  world  is one life.  It is only humankind who has chosen separation.  This spearationis reinforced by separate in time, living by the clock and irregular measure of the Gregorian calendar keep the world from being One life.

We are at a time when our traditional thought structures are crumbling, crating an opening for a new and lighter energy to emerge.  In this time of massive change, we are being called to transform ourselves from the inside out.  2012 marks the year of the Great self-transformation.  This means a willingness to surrender our conditional historical personality and concepts about  the universe in order to embody a higher truth.  We have had intimations and intuitions and  peripheral visions of greater realities, but now is the time to access these dimensions and expand our awarness of the vast reality that we inhabit. -- Catherine Bean Weser --

Mayan End Age 12-21-2012

Mayan Calendar "An Apocalypse (Greek: "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted." - Wikipedia 

"Both the Hopis and Mayans recognize that we are approaching the end of a World Age... In both cases, however, the Hopi and Mayan elders do not prophesy that everything will come to an end. Rather, this is a time of transition from one World Age into another. The message they give concerns our making a choice of how we enter the future ahead. Our moving through with either resistance or acceptance will determine whether the transition will happen with cataclysmic changes or gradual peace and tranquility. The same theme can be found reflected in the prophecies of many other Native American visionaries from Black Elk to Sun Bear."-
- Joseph Robert Jochmans


Many scholars believe that the ancient Maya's influenced the Native American tribes of North America.  According to author, John Heinerman, PHD, in his book " Spiritual Wisdom of the Native Americans" .  Native American tribes undoubtedly developed their agriculture, pyramidal mounds, ceramic art, and other evidences of culture though influences of the Maya. Artifacts found in a cave in southern USA bare a striking resemblance to Maya artifacts found in Mexico and Guatemala.  the Maya culture had a tremendous respect for the role of women in the society and the family structure was revered.  Raising of children as community effort and revering of ancestors are found in most Native American tribes and may have found the roots from the Maya culture


The ancient Mayan civilization understood the universal principles that create and sustain the world. These “first principles” underlie the physical laws that modern science has used to create technological miracles, but the first principles of Mayan sacred science embraced a much larger universe in which human beings were seen to be multidimensional and capable of traveling beyond time and space, beyond the confines that limit modern science with its “laws” that are valid only in the physical three-dimensional plane. But human beings, with our capacity for supra-sensory spiritual vision, are more than three-dimensional.


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April 2012 Focus:
Celtic
Spiritual Tradition

Eostara

Celtic Spiritual Tradition

The first day of spring is also known as the Vernal Equinox. Alban Eiler, which means, "Light of the Earth," is one of the two days that night and day stand equal. The equinoxes and solstices were holy times of transition for the ancient Celts, a celebration of the miraculous balance of nature and life cycles of renewal.

 

The Spring Equinox is the mid-point of the waxing year. The spark of light that was born at the Winter Solstice has reached maturity. Today the light and dark are equal; from this day forward, the days grow longer than the nights. We have survived another Winter and are once more surrounded by the delights of Spring. It is a time for celebrating the greening of the Earth, and crops are typically sown at this time. 

 

This is the time of full Dawn, and was the time of the festivals of the Grecian goddess, Eostre, and the Germanic Ostara, both goddesses of Dawn. Some believe that this is where we get the word "Easter". Since the Spring Equinox is a time to celebrate fertility, and many cultures see eggs as a symbol of Life or the home of the soul, decorated eggs have been part of spring celebrations for centuries.

GRACE
In the presence of my people
back to the beginning of life,
In the witness of the gods and the ungods,
In homage to the immense generosity of the universe,
I give thanks before my portion

.


NEW Two Web Experiences (PowerPoint):

Temples of India  with gentle background music; press Esc to stop

  Gandhi  press PgDn to advance; press Esc to stop

Seasons of Life (PowerPoint)
Desiderata now has audio  
Web Experience: Has Anyone Told You  
Web Experience: The Daffodil Principle  (PowerPoint)

2009 Message from the President here  

WCF Launches World Faith Project: 
Explore What's New This Month!  

Overview & Message from the President

Buddhist

Taoist Tradition
Native American Tradition 
Hindu Tradition

Mayan Tradition (temp)
Aboriginal Tradition (temp)
Polynesian Tradition (temp)

LOOK  Peace Community Church International 
has a new website at  www.PCCIworld.org

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