Class 4

Class 4 - Human Spirituality Class 4 Gratitude Enhances:...

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Unformatted text preview: Human Spirituality Class 4 Gratitude Enhances: Balances/Counters: Satisfaction 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 Enhances: 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 Creator. • 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: http:// =14260 • Blessing the Art and Practice: http:// =2813 Connections Enhances: Holistic way of life Balances/Counters: Separations, Dualism 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 experience them. 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 Monotheism 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 of Judaism: 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 obedience. 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 magic. 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 of Judaism: National Monolatry and Monotheism (~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 observe. 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 but Yahweh. There is no evidence that the earliest Mosaic religion denied the existence of other gods. 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 anthropomorphic God--human 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 worshipped. No afterlife in the Mosaic religion. Focus is on living a righteous life. The Birth and Evolution of Judaism: The Prophetic Revolution (~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 a monarchy. The first monarch, Saul sets the pattern for disobedience towards Yahweh's commands. 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: Monotheism 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 revolution. Righteousness 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 of Judaism: Post-Exilic Religion (~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 craftsmen. In 586, Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to Jerusalem and burned it down along with the Temple. 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 pure, etc. 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 Yahweh . 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 good; – 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 bliss. 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 religion popular religion among the Judaeans and the Jews of the Diaspora include several innovations: Dualism 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 and unrighteousness. Messianism 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 leader. Otherworldliness 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 Asher Benjamin Dan Gad Issachar Joseph* Judah Levi Naphtali Reuben Simeon Zebulun (Around the Tabernacle and in order of their marches) The Eastern Tribes Judah Issachar Zebulun The Southern Tribes Reuben Simeon Gad The Western Tribes Ephraim Manasseh Benjamin The Northern Tribes Dan Asher Naphtali *The sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Menasseh, were also given the status of independent tribes. Hebrew Scriptures Tanakh (Torah) Nevi’im (Prophets) 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 Levites. 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). Joshua Judges 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 common. 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 to God. 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 Lamentations 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 nonreligious. The idea that human beings are responsible for each other: Am I my brother’s keeper? Gen 4: 9 Deride excessive materialists for worshiping the Golden calf Ex 32: 4. Man does not live by bread alone Dt 8:3. A voice crying in the wilderness Is 40: 3—appeal to one’s conscience. Pride goes before the fall Prv 16:18—warns us. There is nothing new under the sun Eccl 1: 9. Judaism (2006) Origin Israel Prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham Adherent Jew Founder Abraham/Moses When 586 BCE God Yhwh, Elohim Devil No adversary This Life Now, plus test Afterlife EdenGehanna Redemption Prayer, Study Place of Worship Synagogue Holy Book Tanakh (Torah) Seeks Converts No Main Sects 40% Orthodox 30 Conservative 25% Reform Circumcision Yes Capital Punishment Kill for God Equality Chosen by God Original Sin No Women’s Status Improved Commandments: 3 for God and 7 Neighbor DVD • On Contemporary Judaism: • Roots and Wings: A Jewish Congregation • (Maryknoll World Productions) • PO Box 308 • Maryknoll, NY 10545-0308 • 800-227-8523 • Karen Armstrong: What is Religion? What is the overall human need for spirituality? • Spirituality is a practical approach towards living a complete life. • The method people use in achieving it is different and they do it differently by using the method differently. • When we follow a spiritual life we tend to practice Discipline in some or the other form which transforms our habits, approach and Goals in life. • We are always running after something… • Our real nature is about spirituality. • Spirituality helps us talk to our real self. Why is spirituality important? • Spirituality as a way of life concerns itself with aligning the human will and mind with that dimension of life and the universe that is harmonious and ordered. • Spiritual disciplines trainees or disciples to cultivate those higher potentialities of the human being that are more noble and refined virtue. • Many spiritual traditions across diverse cultures share similar vocabulary: "path", the "work", the "practice." • As a spiritual practitioner one seeks to become free of the lesser ego in favor of being more fully one's "true" "Self". What does it fulfill in the human psyche? • In psychoanalysis, the psyche refers to the forces in an individual that influence thought, behavior and personality. What similarities do religions share that have brought them to where they are now? • The historical origins of religion are to be distinguished from their psychological or social origins. • The first religious behavior appearing in the course of human evolution is probably relatively recent (Middle Paleolithic) and constitutes an aspect of behavioral modernity most likely coupled with the appearance of language. • The further development of religion spans Neolithic religion and the beginning of religious history with the first documented religions of the Ancient Near East (the polytheistic cults of Egypt and Mesopotamia). What similarities do religions share that have brought them to where they are now? Language and religion • A number of scholars have suggested that the evolution of language was a prerequisite for the origin of religion. • Rreligious behavior was present in human populations preceding the out of Africa migration some 60,000 years ago. Why is it called human SPIRITUALITY if we’re just surveying the world’s major RELIGIONS? • The need for spirituality may not be necessary for all human beings, but at least for millions of human beings. • Different religious traditions all have a spiritual potential to help humanity by promoting human happiness and satisfaction. • The aim or purpose of each religion is to answer the questions of seekers, etc. Is there a difference between faith and believing? Faith 1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability. 2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact. 3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims. 4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty. 5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith. 6.the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith. 7.the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles. 8.Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved. —Idiom faith, in truth; indeed: In faith, he is a fine lad. Is there a difference between faith and believing? Belief 1.something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat. 2.confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief. 3.confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents. 4.a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief. Why do humans insist on believing in a higher power? Awesome experiences force us to ask questions about the meaning life… and death. Why am I here? Why is there suffering? Why do my loved ones and I have to die? What is the meaning of love? Is it Normal to Believe in God? • Many people conclude that a God/gods exists, even though no one can see God/gods. Atheism a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. Agnostic 1.a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. 2.a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study. –adjective 3.of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism. 4.asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge. Does God exist? Existence of God includes: • personal experience • common human experience • human history • demonstrations based on reason What does Personal Experience Tell us about God? One’s experience can guide one to God. Some insights lead to the conclusion that there is a Creator who brought us into existence. An unquenchable thirst for happiness We want to be happy. St. Augustine: “You are great, Lord,… because you have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you” (Confessions, 1.1.1). Sense of Justice There is a fundamental feeling that things will be reversed someday, that there is a Power that will right all wrongs… Love Love is a spiritual reality that is not explained by the material universe. The human person Truth, beauty, sense of moral goodness, the ability to love, even at personal cost—all these reveal a spiritual depth to humans. What does our Common Experience tell Us about God? From the earliest of times human beings have testified to the existence of God/gods. Many cultures have believed in some being who is greater than any of its members. What does reason tell us about God? Thomas Aquinas: 5 proofs for the existence of God 2. Everything we know of in existence was the first cause—an uncaused cause which logically always existed. 3. Beauty 4. Immensity 5. Symmetry 6. Power of creation What is our Response to God’s communication? God’s self-communication and plan for us require a response on our part=faith. Where do we Get Faith? Faith is a free gift. The gift of faith enables one to submit one’s will and intellect to God/gods. For Discussion: 1. What was the most earthshaking experience of your life? Did it speak to you of God/gods? 2. Some people say it is impossible to ‘prove’ one person’s love for another; love must be experienced to be believed. Explain how you have experienced another’s love for you. 3. What proof for God’s/gods’ existence do you find most convincing? 4. What is the most significant question you ask about life? How might the existence of God/gods be an answer to that question? Rudolph Otto The Idea of the Holy • “If the human mind could fully explain God, then God would cease to exist.” (page 71). ...
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