Unformatted text preview: Human Spirituality
Class 4 Gratitude
Greed, Entitlement The Basic Practice
• The spiritual practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way
of life. But we prefer to think of it as a grammar — an underlying structure that
helps us construct and make sense out of our lives. The rules of this grammar
cover all our activities. Its syntax reveals a system of relationships linking us to
the divine and to every other part of the creation.
• To learn the grammar of gratitude, practice saying "thank you" for happy and
challenging experiences, for people, animals, things, art, memories, dreams.
Count your blessings, and praise God. Utter blessings, and express your
appreciation to everything and everyone you encounter. By blessing, we are
blessed. Why This Practice May Be For You
• The continuum of words related to gratitude go from greed and jealousy;
through taking things for granted and feeling entitled; to appreciation,
acceptance, and satisfaction. The practice of gratitude would be an
appropriate prescription whichever one of the above describes your attitudes.
• The rules of the grammar of gratitude are not as simple as they seem at first
glance, however. For example, often instead of rejoicing in what we have, we
greedily want something more, better, or different. We can't be grateful
because we are making comparisons and coveting other possibilities.
• When this happens on a personal level, when it's our ego that is dissatisfied, Reverence
Balances/Counters: Worth, Awe
Wastefulness, Ennui The Basic Practice
• Reverence is the way of radical respect. It recognizes and honors the
presence of the sacred in everything — our bodies, other people, animals,
plants, rocks, the earth, and the waters. It is even an appropriate attitude to
bring to our things, since they are the co-creations of humans and the
• Nothing is too trivial or second class for reverence. But it has to be
demonstrated with concrete actions. Don't abuse your body — eat right,
exercise, get enough rest. Don't abuse the earth by being wasteful of its
gifts. Protect the environment for your neighbors and future generations.
• Reverence is also a kind of radical amazement, a deep feeling tinged with
both mystery and wonder. Approaching the world with reverence, we are
likely to experience its sister — awe. Allow yourself to be moved beyond
words. Why This Practice May Be For You
• There is one unmistakable message in the spiritual practice of reverence:
because everything is touched by the sacred, everything has worth. This
practice, then, builds self-esteem.
• Its opposite is irreverence, the "dissing" of the Creation. Examples aren't
hard to come by: pollution, wasteful consumption, cruelty to animals,
exploitation of forests, overuse of the land. On a personal level, irreverence
may manifest as ennui, a kind of world-weariness. Or it may take the form Read Articles: • Beauty and the Art of Reverence:
• Blessing the Art and Practice: http://
Holistic way of life
The Basic Practice
• Separateness is an illusion. That's what we learn through the spiritual practice of
connections. Everything is interrelated — in time, space, and our very being. Both
religion and science reveal this truth — Hinduism's image of Indra's net, Buddhism's
understanding of interbeing, the experiences of the mystics, the teachings of ecology
and physics, even the Internet.
• One definition of spirituality is "the art of making connections." There are certain
givens: The one is made up of many. One thing always leads to another. Everything
is related to everything else. You practice connections, then, by consciously tracing
the links connecting you with other beings. Any point is a good starting place — your
family line, your work, your back yard. Watch for the moments when the separations
disappear. And don't be shy about naming mystical experiences as such when you
Why This Practice May Be For You
• The practice of connections reinforces holistic thinking and our awareness of how the
spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of our being interpenetrate and nourish each
other. It enables us to see the big picture.
• We need to engage in this practice when we have a tendency to compartmentalize
our experiences, to put them in neat little boxes instead of seeing them as parts of a
whole. This is a cultural as well as a personal habit. The history of the world is
plagued by dueling dualisms: mind vs. body, humans vs. nature, God vs. the world,
science vs. religion, country vs. city, male vs. female. The spiritual practice of
connections erases such arbitrary and unnecessary distinctions. Justice
Enhances: Equality, Dignity
Balances/Counters: Oppression, Fanaticism
The Basic Practice
Doing justice is a central imperative in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Buddhists are urged to be
socially engaged. Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and primal religions emphasize right
relationships within communities as building blocks of justice.
This practice applies to the whole range of human interactions, and today it is also being extended
to animals and the environment. It means that we deal fairly with others, recognizing the equality
and dignity of all. It requires that we work to insure that all people, especially the poor and the
weak, have access to opportunities. It assumes that none of us is free until all of us are.
Practice justice by demanding it. Words can be as forceful as deeds — the prophets of old proved
that. Name injustices when you see them. Speak boldly and put your body and your money where
your mouth is. Stand up and be counted.
Why This Practice May Be For You
Often we are propelled into the struggle for justice when we experience an injustice ourselves; we
are not treated fairly at work or our friendship is exploited by an associate. One day while reading
the newspaper, we may be shocked to learn of the treatment of certain groups in our society. Or we
may step back and realize that we have been ignoring what are clearly injustices around us. Our
very lack of concern can wake us up to the need for justice.
There is also a "shadow" side to this spiritual practice. Sometimes in our fervor for justice we decide
that we can ignore the rights and dignity of those who oppose us. Instead of being justice seekers,
then, we become fanatics.
• The Development of
the Hebrew Religion
four main periods The Pre-Mosaic Stage
The Hebrew faith is marked by
possible polytheism and animistic
practices; it is generally believed that
the introduction of Yahweh worship
and monolatry (the worship of only
one god although other gods are
recognized as existing) occurs
during the migration from Egypt. National Monolatry and
The Hebrews adopt a single, local god
as their god; eventually this religion
evolves into a monotheistic religion. The Prophetic Revolution
The cultural shock of the monarchy
inspires a radically new religion
under the intellectual leadership of a
few "prophets" or "prophetic" writers. Post-Exilic Revolution
The disaster of the Exile led to a
radical rethinking of the Yahweh
religion and the elevation of the
Torah as the single, unsullied law for
the Hebrews. The Birth and Evolution
The Pre-Mosaic Stage
(~1950-1300 BCE) Pre-Mosaic Stage
Little known about the nature of Hebrew worship
before the migration from Egypt.
In Hebrew history, Abraham is already worshipping
a figure called "Elohim," which is the plural for
"lord." This figure is also called "El Shaddai" ("God
the Mountaineer (?)," translated as "God
Almighty"), and a couple other variants.
The name of God, Yahweh, isn't learned by the
Hebrews until Moses hears the name spoken by
God on Mount Sinai. This god requires animal
sacrifices and regular expiation.
The proper human relationship to this god is
This god is anthropomorphic: he has human
qualities. Yahweh Cult
Hebrew monolatry and monotheism
began with the Yahweh cult
introduced, according to Exodus, in
the migration from Egypt between
1300 and 1200 BC. Becoming a Religion
Early Hebrew religion was polytheistic.
The earliest Hebrew religion was animistic, that is,
the Hebrews seemed worship forces of nature
that dwelled in natural objects.
As a result, the early Hebrew religion had a number
of practices that fall into the category of magic:
scapegoat sacrifice and various forms of imitative
Early Hebrew religion became anthropomorphic-god took on human forms; in later Hebrew
religion, Yahweh becomes a figure that
transcends the human and material worlds.
The most profound revolution in Hebrew thought,
though, occurred in the migration from Egypt,
and its great innovator was Moses. In the epic The Birth and Evolution
National Monolatry and
(~1300-1000 BCE) A Nation
The Hebrews became a nation and
adopted a national god on the slopes
of Mount Sinai in southern Arabia.
The migration itself creates a new
entity in history: the Israelites;
Exodus is the first place in the Torah
which refers to the Hebrews as a
single national group, the "bene
yisrael," or "children of Israel." Exodus
The flight from Egypt itself stands as
the single greatest sign from Yahweh
that the Israelites were the chosen
people of Yahweh; it is the event to
be always remembered as
demonstrating Yahweh's purpose for
the Hebrew people. Passover
Passover, originates in Egypt immediately
before the migration.
It commemorates how Yahweh spared the
Hebrews when he destroyed all the first
born sons in the land of Egypt.
During the period of the Sinai pericope,
Moses teaches the Hebrews the name of
their god and brings to them the laws that
the Hebrews, as the chosen people, must
The Sinai pericope is a time of legislation
and of cultural formation in the Hebrew
view of history. Monolatrous religion
Hebrews are enjoined to worship no deity
There is no evidence that the earliest Mosaic
religion denied the existence of other
The migration contains numerous references
by the historical characters to other gods,
and the first law of the Decalogue is that
no gods be put before Yahweh. YHWH
Semitic root of the verb, "to be."
In English, the word is translated "I
AM“. Anthropomorphic God
For a few centuries, Yahweh was an
qualities and physical characteristics.
The Yahweh of the Torah is angry;
series of plagues on Egypt
monarchical period, Yahweh strikes
someone dead for touching the Ark
of the Covenant; that individual,
Uzza, was only touching the ark to
keep it from falling over (I Chronicles Yhwh
no images of Yahweh to be made or
No afterlife in the Mosaic religion.
Focus is on living a righteous life. The Birth and Evolution
(~800-600 BCE) Children of Israel
the children of Israel settled Palestine
between 1250 and 1050 BC, believed
Yahweh to be their king and
Yahweh's laws to be their laws.
They were desiring a king. The tribes
of Israel were committing a grave act
of disobedience towards Yahweh, for
they were choosing a human being
and human laws of Yahweh and The Monarchy
Samuel warns them but they insist on
The first monarch, Saul sets the
pattern for disobedience towards
This pattern—the conflict between
Yahweh and the kings of Israel and
Judah—becomes the historical Prophets
In Hebrew, these religious reformers were called "nivea," or "prophets."
The most important of these prophets were Amos, Hosea, Isaiah (who is actually three people:
Isaiah and "Second Isaiah" [Deutero-Isaiah], and a third, post-exilic Isaiah), and Micah. These
four, and a number of lesser prophets, are as important to the Hebrew religion as Moses.
The innovations of the prophets can be grouped into three large categories:
the prophets unambiguously made Yahweh the one and only one God of the universe. The
prophets asserted that Yahweh ruled the entire universe and all the peoples in it. The
Yahweh religion as a monotheistic religion can really be dated to the prophetic
The Yahweh of the prophets can do nothing but good and right and justice. Yahweh
becomes in the prophetic revolution a "god of righteousness"; historical events. The
good and the just are always rewarded, and the evil are always punished. If there is any
evil in the world it is through the actions of men and women that it is committed. Ethics
The prophets re-centered the religion around ethics. Ritual practices, in fact, become
unimportant next to ethical demands that Yahweh imposes on humans: the necessity of
doing right, showing mercy, punishing evil, and doing justice.
There is no afterlife of rewards and punishments in the prophets, but a kind of House of
Dust, called Sheol, to which all souls go after their death to abide for a time before
disappearing from existence forever. There is no salvation, only the injunctions to do
justice and right in order to produce a just and harmonious society.
The monarchy brought with it all the evils of a centralized state: arbitrary power, vast inequality
of wealth, poverty in the midst of plenty, heavy taxation, slavery, bribery, and fear. The The Birth and Evolution
(~800-600 BCE) Exile
spiritual and cognitive crisis in Hebrew
history was the Exile.
Defeated by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, the
Judaean population was in part deported
to Babylon, mainly the upper classes and
In 586, Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to
Jerusalem and burned it down along with
The literature of the Exile betrays the
despair and confusion of the population
uprooted from its homeland. In
Lamentations and various Psalms, we get Post-Exilic
Hebrew religion shifted profoundly in the years of
Exile. These religious reformers reoriented Jewish
religion around the Mosaic books. The Mosaic
books began to take final shape under the
guidance of these reformers shortly after the
Exile. The Torah represented all the law that
Hebrews should follow: cultic practices, remaining
The central character of this period is reform, a
return to religious and social practice. Cyrus
ordered Jerusalem and the Temple to be rebuilt,
and in 538 BCE, he sent the Judaeans home to
Jerusalem for the express purpose of worshipping
Foreign elements creeped in to the Hebrew religion.
The Persian religion, Zoroastrianism, creeped into Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism (7th century BCE by a Persian prophet name
Zarathustra (Zoroaster is his Greek name), was a dualistic,
eschatological, and apocalyptic religion.
The universe is divided into two distinct and independent spheres. – One--light and good, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of light and
– One dark and evil, is ruled by a deity who is the principle of dark and
evil. The whole of human and cosmic history is an epic struggle between
these two independent deities; at the end of time, a final battle
would permanently decide the outcome of this struggle. The good
deity, Ahura-Mazda, would win this final, apocalyptic battle, and all
the gods and humans on the side of good would enjoy eternal
Absolutely none of these elements were present in Hebrew religion
before the Exile.
– The world is governed solely by Yahweh;
– evil in the world is solely the product of human actions—there is no
"principle of evil" among the Hebrews before the Exile. Innovations of popular
popular religion among the Judaeans and the Jews of the Diaspora include
After the Exile, the Hebrews invent a concept of a more or less dualistic
universe, in which all good and right comes from Yahweh, while all evil
arises from a powerful principle of evil.
Eschatology and Apocalypticism
Popular Jewish religion begins to form an elaborate theology of the end of
time, in which a deliverer would defeat once and for all the forces of evil
There is much talk of a deliverer who is called "messiah," or "anointed one." In
Hebrew culture, only the head priest and the king were anointed, so this
"messiah" often combined the functions of both religious and military
Popular Judaism adopts an elaborate after-life. Since justice does not seem to
occur in this world, it is only logical that it will occur in another world. The
afterlife becomes the place where good is rewarded and evil eternally
punished. The Twelve Tribes of Israel
Jacob fathered 12 sons. They are the
ancestors of the tribes of Israel, and
the ones for whom the tribes are
named. Each occupied a separate
territory (except the tribe of Levi--set
to serve in the Holy Temple). The Twelve Tribes
(Around the Tabernacle and
in order of their marches) The Eastern Tribes
The Southern Tribes
The Western Tribes
The Northern Tribes
*The sons of Joseph, Ephraim and
Menasseh, were also given the
status of independent tribes. Hebrew Scriptures
Ketuvim (Writings). Torah Torah: first five books of the Hebrew Bible:
Genesis: opening story of creation. Hebrew:
Brei’sheet – in the beginning.
3. Exodus: Sh’mot or Names—Ay-leh shemot b’nai
yisrael—names of the children of Israel. The
English Exodus focuses on the story of liberation
of the Jewish slaves from Egypt.
4. Leviticus: Va-Yikra delineates the laws
concerning animal sacrifices and other Temple
rituals which were supervised by the tribe of
5. Numbers: Ba-Midar is named for the census of
Israelites. It tells the story of Korahkh’s rebellion
against Moses’ leadership.
6. Deuteronomy: Devarim—this books consists of
Moses’ farewell address to the Israelites as they
prepare to cross over to the Promised Land. He
imparts his last thoughts to the nation he Nevi’im
21 books that trace Jewish history and the history of monotheism
from the time of Moses’ death and the Israelites’’ entrance into
Canaan, around 1200 BCE to the period after the Babylonians
destroyed the First Temple and the ensuing exile of Jews from
Jerusalem to Babylon (586 BCE).
I and II Samuel
I and II Kings
All are written in a narrative style.
Also referred to as the Early Prophets.
The later books, written in poetic form are referred to as the
prophetic books of the Bible. Focus on condemnations of Israelite
betrayals of monotheism’s ideals and of calls for ethical behavior.
Focus on evil, suffering and sin.
Prophet one who predicts the future; however, the corresponding
Hebrew word: navi—means spokesperson for God. Ketuvim
Last Books are known as Ketuvim and have little in
Some are historical: Ezra and Nehemiah—story of
the return to Israel following Babylonian exile. Chronicles I and II overview of Jewish history.
150 Psalms poems of beauty and humanity’s relationship
Job-question—Why does a God Who is good allow so much
evil in the world? Five Scrolls: The Song of Songs
Book of Ruth
Ecclesiastes Central Ideas of Bible:
There is One God over all humankind.
One universal moral standard of morality: People are obligated to
care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.
People should refrain from work one day a week and dedication
themselves to making that day holy.
Jews have been chosen by God to spread His message to the world—
have transformed both how men and women have lived and how
they have understood their existence.
The bible influences the thought patterns of nonre...
View Full Document