Monday, February 28, 2011

Live the Gospel message through daily activities

David Elliott writes the final post "Writing in the Sand – Conclusion" for his Florida group's journey through Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. Elliott shares, "These few pages contain line after line where the 'professor' Thomas Moore actually 'professes' who he is based on the Gospel message. The lines are based on living the Gospel spirit. The 4 basic statements are:
1. "Cultivate a deep respect for people who are not of your circle and whom society rejects."
2. "You do everything possible to deal effectively with the demonic urges in yourself and in society. You do something about aggression, paranoia, narcissism, greed, jealously and violence."
3. "You play the role of healer in every situation."
4. "You stay awake and don’t fall into the unconsciousness of the age." (p. 164)
Elliott writes, "Even though we understand so much about evolution and science and we are awed by it all, there still remains the need to emotionally relate to reality as something personally important to each of us. Life flows through me just as it flows through the plants, rocks and 7 billion other people on this earth as well as whatever there is in the rest of the universe." Thank you, David, for taking the time to compose these post summaries for your readers.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Grief forces us to open to new possibilities

Today SGF writes about the night sea journey in his post, "Spirituality of the Deep!" in which he quotes Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul: "The dark night serves the spirit by forcing you to rely on something beyond human capacity. It can open you up to new and mysterious possibilities." SGF shares a recent dream and his feelings: "It is a lonely journey. In therapy, my therapist has listened and supported me. She has pointed out that year two in dealing with the loss of a spouse can be the most challenging and I would have to say I agree. The support falls away and you are left alone to navigate this undulating sea. I understand that!" He shares favourite music clips in this entry.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wake up to breathe fresh air of the kingdom

"Come Out, Lazarus – An Invitation to Life" describes a book study group's reflections of Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. David Elliott summarizes this week's meeting about shamanism and the story of Lazarus:
"Thomas Moore’s knowledge of world cultures and the history of religions makes this chapter come alive. It was Joseph Campbell who, for me, first described the role of the shaman in cultures all around the world. From a modern view they were strange folk with rituals and habits far from the conventional. But they lived in 'two realities at once – the ordinary world we all know well and a deeper, higher reality, both transcendent and profoundly interior, where everything had a spiritual meaning… With his visionary ability to see the spiritual nature of an illness and perceive deep stories hidden within events, a shaman heals and advises his people.'" (p. 138)
Elliott writes about waking up to and in the river of life with Moore's description of Lazarus:
"'The teachings of Jesus tell how to come to life, how to be born in the spirit and how to resurrect. The word used for dead, nekron, doesn’t always refer to actual death but to a state of soul… Jesus’ teaching is all aimed at the resurrection of life in its fullness. Lazarus is the archetype of coming to life after being dead, and his story is about breathing the fresh air of the kingdom instead of the smelly atmosphere of deadly materialism.'" (p. 146)


Friday, February 11, 2011

Imagine your night sea journey constructively

Alison Blaine writes about "The Night Sea Journey" for world history and religion teachers. Her post includes a quote by Carl Jung and she references Thomas Moore's Dark Nights of the Soul, including Moore's suggestion:
"Imagine that your dark mood, or the external source of your suffering, is a large, living container in which you are held captive. But this container is moving, getting somewhere, taking you to where you need to go. You may not like the situation you're in, but it would help if you imagined it constructively."
The post concludes, "I like Moore's explanation for potential use in the classroom because it is relatable and lends authority to the point that sacred histories reflect the human psyche and can be read symbolically, not just literally."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bardo: a transitional place and transitional time

Today, Nine Hours Ahead shows Attraversiamo's blog entry about reading Thomas Moore's description of Bardo in Care of the Soul:
"I am reading a great book right now called Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. I am really digging this book, not just because he is talking about my favorite subject, the soul, but because he references Greek mythology which I used to be obsessed by when I was younger. And like a breath of fresh air, he also has introduced me to many new concepts, such as alchemy for the soul, homeopathic treatment for certain emotions, and now Bardo.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes Bardo as that time in between incarnations, the period before birth into life. Moore says that "Bardo takes time; it can't be rushed. There's no point in premature birth."
Bardo Mandala


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Sensuality plays an active role in the spiritual life

David Elliott contributes to his book group summaries of Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels in his post, "Mary Magdalen, Whom He Loved". He includes:
"Mark mentioned how he saw a growth and change in Thomas Moore’s insights between his older book The Soul of Sex and this latest chapter. The insights of the non-canonical gospels were not as tightly integrated into his thinking then as now. Moore is not as interested in historical comments about Jesus and Mary Magdalen as much as using their relationship to uncover the role of sensuality in the spirit life."
Elliott shares, "Mark brought in a book of images from Hindu temples that celebrated sex. "Tantric practitioners can also contemplate images of the male and female together in embrace. In Tantra, sex is in the service of spirituality... The intense passions aroused by a partner morph into the desire for union with God." (p.130) Can sexuality "hold the secret of the relationship between human and divine?" (p. 131).

This post also explores the interplay between physical touch and healing.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Caring for your soul includes feeling joy

"It never occurred to me that the yoga-going me and the toilet-cleaning me were the same person. Maybe the reason I was having such a hard time getting what I wanted –– a life as blissful as a yoga class –– was that on some level, I wasn’t giving myself permission to have it. Here I was, trying to reconcile two worlds, when what I was really doing was splitting my own whole life into pieces."
A "freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to two young boys" blogs about having a soul in "Soulfulness" where she describes a Sunday morning when she had 20 minutes to relax and reflect:
"I lay there, warm and cozy again, and thought of a conversation I had with my dad recently about Thomas Moore’s book, Care of the Soul. It had been ages since I read the book, but its title always resonated with me.

Care of the soul. Watering the plants. Feeding the animals. Mucking the stalls. Bringing the snacks. Each of these is an act of love. Each is an act of soulfulness. Each requires attention and time. Patience. I have done these chores repeatedly though my life, and yet, I haven’t really thought of myself as having a soul. It wasn’t that I thought I had no soul or was a soulless person. It was more that I thought of my soul the way I thought of, say, my small intestine. I knew I had one, but I didn’t really think about it while I was washing the dishes or tending to a conflict between my boys. I viewed my soul in an abstract sense, but not in an immediate sense. It was something I thought about but not something I felt. On some level, I believed that caring for the soul was for people with time on their hands. It seemed too indulgent for a middle-class person who had real work to do.

But lying there on Sunday morning, watching the grey sky lighten ever so slightly, it occurred to me that I too have a soul that needs care. I have a soul! It’s embarrassing to admit, but this was a revelation to me. I have a soul! I have a soul!

The idea that I too could care for my own soul filled me with joy for much of the day."
Read the post to see how joy continues during her morning activities.


Friday, February 04, 2011

Examine your commitment to positive acts in life

Rev. Howard Young, pastor of Woodland Worship Center in Hobart, blogs about Thomas Moore's book, A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do in today's "Faith Perspectives: Approach important tasks with passion" with the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Young writes, "Moore believes that passion is "the becoming" of a person. It is therefore a good thing that we examine our commitment to the positive acts of our lives within the context of our work, recreation or any worthwhile interest." Young also suggests, "Act passionately, and you become passionate. Saying it this way makes passion a discipline. Do things that require passion and nurture a sense of enthusiasm for certain things, and the passion will come."

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New Testament uses Agape more than 300 times

David Elliott blogs "Reinventing the Ego" in his continuation of the Florida book group's look at Thomas Moore's Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels. Elliott shares, "Moore studies closely the prayers of Jesus that mention Father and understands the father aspect as a "quality of life, the element that makes of you a story and a personality. It is the procreative factor, a force that can be felt in ordinary situations as generating your existence." (p.112) In earlier books Thomas Moore speaks of the soul, that which is your participation in creation (evolution), that which is both in you and in everything."

Elliott descibes members' reactions to the readings and their personal stories. He concludes, "As we were leaving Jim (overjoyed at Mark’s story) quietly added "you mean reading these books is supposed to change you?"

Elliott also considers,
"When pushed about the meaning of the book title Writing in the Sand, one perspective is that moments when the healthy, self-possessed ego is both aware of deep emotions and consenting to live according to "the will of the Father" are exactly that, moments. Each moment in our lives is a call to new decision and it passes. Just as evolution says that each cell in our body is recycled every 7 years or so, our lives are not filled with essence that is stable and forever. Terms like mother, father, son, working, retired, student don’t describe us so well. More accurate are our walks in the garden, the people we honor and the healing we perform before the writing in the sand disappears.

Finally, reinventing the ego or living in the tension of spiritual vision and human emotions cannot be left as an individual experience. “The word agape appears over 300 times in the New Testament, such is its importance. In context, it connotes a communal feeling of connection, which Paul spells out as being selfless and which is the opposite of narcissism." (p. 120)
Elliott invites all blog readers to share their reactions and responses.

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